“Remember my chains.” This is how the apostle Paul ends his letter to the church of Colossae. We are reminded a few other times in the text of Paul’s current imprisonment as he writes this heartfelt letter. However, it is in his last words to these people in which his circumstances really hit home. His last and final call to this church, “Remember my chains.”
To truly understand the gravity of Paul ending his letter like this, I think it important we read the entire text through this lens. Paul writes from prison, bound in chains, to a church that is very near and dear to his heart.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people.” ~Colossians 1:3-4
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you…for the sake of the church.” ~Colossians 1:24
Unlike many other letters Paul writes, this one is not to correct or rebuke the church for wrongdoing. Rather, this entire letter is one of encouragement to persevere. There are different theories as to what religious movement Paul is directly negating in this letter but four common thoughts are that Paul is trying to combat the false teachings of Gnosticism, Hellenism, Paganism, or Judaism. Whichever it was, the false teaching Paul is trying to denounce has its roots in fleshly desires and focuses on earthly accomplishments as a means to achieve holiness.
So while the Gospel has taken root and is flourishing within this church of Colossae, Paul’s dire concern is that the people will fall away from true holiness due to these false teachers and their false ideas of holiness. He makes a desperate plea to the Church that they continue to live in a way that is holy and pleasing to God.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” ~Colossians 2:8
While Paul’s purpose is to strengthen Colossae so that they may bear the false teachings surrounding them, the theme that he uses is the absolute fullness of Christ. Paul proclaims the supremacy of Christ and the life and power we have been given through his sacrifice.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” ~Colossians 2:9-10
This reminder as well as Paul’s call in chapter 3 to live lives that reflect our aliveness in Christ are made that much more powerful by his last reminder of where exactly He is writing from and why.
“…so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” ~Colossians 4:3
This mystery that the church of Colossae has been blessed to uncover, the mystery that everyone around them is trying to refute, the mystery through which believers are full and made alive, this is the mystery that Paul is in chains for. This is what he desires Colossae to remember.
And this is something I pray we as current Christians always remember.
We are surrounded more and more by beliefs that have their roots in fleshly desires and focus on earthly accomplishments as a means to achieve “holiness.” While the Gospel has taken root and is flourishing within our present-day church and within our own lives, I believe we should all share Paul’s dire concern that people could fall away and be enticed by these false teachers and their false ideas of holiness. His plea to the church that they continue to live in a way that is holy and pleasing to God is even more relevant and necessary in today’s times.
And if we are to accomplish this, the theme of our lives must be the supremacy of Christ. We must understand and take pride in his sovereignty. We must live lives that speak of his fullness. We must shed from ourselves anything that is not of Him, for in Him we are fully complete.
This is the truth that Paul and countless other apostles were in chains for, were tortured for, were martyred for. We must always remember. Remember the gravity of the Gospel. Remember we are surrounded by those who will attempt to distract us from the truth. Remember that in Christ we are made alive and are complete. And, we must remember his chains.
As you read the book of Colossians, take time to worship, pray, and listen to this song.