For I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face. 2I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments. 5For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
You see in the attached map that Colossae and Laodicia lie in what is now Southwest Turkey. Although Paul had not visited these cities, he had established churches in the surrounding area, especially at Ephesus. This letter is intended to be read to those in Colossae, and then to those in Laodicia as well. Paul wants them to know that even though he has not met them face to face, he continues to struggle for them. Paul wants to encourage them, wants their hearts to be united in love, so that —
Always pay attention to the “therefore’s” and the “so that’s” in Paul’s writing. When he says “therefore” he is pointing to something that he has already said, and making the connection to the new, or next, thought – you could often say, “because”. When he says “so that” he is talking about purpose. The reason he wants the people in Colossae and Laodicia to be encouraged and their hearts to be united in love is so that, they might understand, and feel the assurance (“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine” – the hymn expresses this idea) of knowledge of God’s mystery. The mystery, of course, he has already said, is found in Christ himself. In Christ the treasure of all wisdom and knowledge are to be found, although they had been hidden.
Now he comes to the purpose of the letter – he is saying this, that all knowledge and wisdom are to be found in Christ, so that (purpose) the readers will not be deceived by arguments that, on the surface, sound plausible. In this letter Paul is warning the people of these two churches about a false teaching that he has already learned is being spread among them. Go back to the core of the gospel, he is saying, to Jesus himself, to find the truth of the matter. We, as well, might do the same – go back to the core of the gospel, to the teachings of Jesus, to find the truth of an issue or teaching. And once more, he encourages them – he is with them in spirit, even though not in person, and he rejoices to see their faith in Christ and their morale.