Holding the Head the Body Increases
1. Paul has been warning the Colossian believers concerning the false teachers who sought to impose their contrary views upon the church.
2. Paul warned: Don’t let them judge you! (vs.16) (On these insignificant, earthly, shadows… such as dietary rules and holy days.
3. Paul warned again: Don’t let them beguile you of your reward… by convincing you to follow their scheme for sanctification and spiritual growth (vs. 18).
4. Then Paul contrasts their false way of spiritual progress with the TRUE method of spiritual growth and progress: holding on to Christ the Head! (vs. 19)
Holding the Head
A. The Concept of Holding the Head
1. The imagery comes from a common New Testament description of the church as a Body with Christ as its Head.
a. Col. 1:18 – Christ is the Head of the Body, which is the church.
b. Col. 1:24 – the Church is Christ’s Body
c. Eph. 1:22-23 – Christ is the Head and the church is His Body.
d. Eph. 5:23 – For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body.
e. The Head is organically united to the Body… and thus to every member in particular… and every member is united to the Head.
f. The Head and every other member of that body share the same life.
g. The LIFE and strength of the Head flow through the entire body.
2. It is vital for every member in the Body to be sure that the Body corporately is HOLDING fast to Christ, the Head.
a. It is extremely unhealthy for the head to be severed from the Body. I think we’d all agree with that statement.
b. It’s not good for the body.
c. It’s not good for any individual member in that body.
d. Growth does not occur without one’s head. (progress is lost)
e. One can’t see clearly without one’s head. (vision is lost)
f. One cannot think clearly without one’s head. (reason and sensibility are lost)
g. One cannot behave properly without one’s head. (chicken with its head cut off) (a worthy walk is lost)
h. When one’s head is severed, corruption soon sets in… and before you know it, the whole body STINKS! (health and vitality are lost)
i. Do you see the significance of Paul’s point here?
j. When a body or a member of that body does NOT hold fast to the head (abide in Christ; Christ-centered) terrible things begin to happen—and quite rapidly too!
k. Almost anything can be justified if we become man-centered rather than Christ-centered.
l. In the Body, Christ is to have all the preeminence! (Col.1:18)
3. Holding the Head.
a. Holding Defined: to have power, be powerful. 1ato be chief, be master of, to rule. 2to get possession of. 2ato become master of, to obtain. 2bto take hold of. 2cto take hold of, take, seize.
b. Matt. 28:9 – they held (same term) Him by the feet and worshipped Him.
c. Heb.6:18 – lay hold (same term) of the hope that is set before us.
4. NOT Holding the Head.
a. The false teachers and those who followed their teachings were no longer holding fast to Christ as Head of the Body.
b. Christ was DETHRONED from His rightful place as the preeminent One.
c. Christ was DISCARDED as Head of the Body.
d. Christ was DISPLACED as mediator to the Father and replaced with angels and visions.
e. The body was DECAPITATED.
f. The lifestyle offered by the false teachers in Colossae offered men access to God through angels and mystical visions… but in doing so they would LOSE their contact with Christ, the Head of the Body! It was hardly a good trade off!
g. Because they were not holding the Head, they would not SEE clearly spiritually; they would not THINK clearly spiritually; they would not be able to WALK spiritually; and CORRUPTION would take over!
h. This is true in any alleged Christian group when Christ is not recognized for who He is… and given preeminence… and His finished work is not given its proper place.
i. That group can’t possibly be seeing, thinking, or walking properly… not with holding the Head!
The Source of Nourishment and Unity
A. From the Head (from which)
1. FROM WHICH: (ek -out of as a source; from whom—namely, the Head)
a. It is FROM the Head as a Source that the body is supplied with nourishment, is knit together, and grows.
b. Christ is the Source of all of this supernatural work within the Body of Christ.
c. The nutrients, unity and growth all stem from the Head.
d. This is a similar truth to what Jesus taught in John 15 – the branches receive nutrients, grow, and bear fruit by abiding on the Vine… Christ is the Source of it all.
2. The false teachers offered special diets, holy days, traditions, mystical experiences, visions, and a whole menu of religious rituals in their attempt to allure the Colossians.
a. The false teachers assured the Colossian believers that godliness and increase came only through their methods.
b. And their methods MAY have been producing apparent results too.
c. But their methods did NOT result in the increase of God.
d. Their methods did not result in spiritual ministry within the body.
e. Their methods did not result in nourishing the body spiritually.
f. Their methods did not produce good fruit—the fruit of the Spirit. It was the fruit of the flesh.
3. Offering a whole menu of religious offerings that appeal to the masses does not necessarily nourish the body.
a. This is exactly what the church growth movement does today.
b. But the body and the individual members which are not drawing nourishment from Christ the Head will become weak and useless… undernourished spiritually and unable to function in the Body as God designed… unable to bear good fruit.
4. A personal, abiding relationship to Christ the Head while functioning in the Body, the local church is God’s plan for spiritual growth for the believer today.
a. However, it is possible for a church member to ATTEND the church meetings faithfully and NOT be nourished.
b. While the Body corporately may be holding the head, it is possible for an individual member to holding his own head, or focused on himself, or something other than Christ.
c. Perhaps that believer is attempting to live the Christian life… and even serve Christ APART from a close relationship to Christ… as Martha attempted unsuccessfully.
B. Joints and Bands
1. DIA: (through as a means)
a. Paul now tells us HOW Christ the invisible Head in heaven provides nourishment and unity for His Body on earth.
b. Christ the Head is the Source of the nourishment and unity, but He USES members of His body to accomplish His work.
c. It is THROUGH joints and bands that nourishment and organic unity occur within the Body.
d. It comes OUT OF Christ… and THROUGH joints and bands TO the Body.
2. Joints: the points of union where the supply of nourishment passes to the different members, furnishing the body with the materials of growth.” (Jamison, Faucet, and Brown)
3. Bands: that which binds and unites together;
a. The sinews, tendons, ligaments, or muscles are the particular members in the body which unite and bind the body together;
4. Joints and Bands… knit together…
a. These terms do not refer to particular members of the Body, but rather to their FUNCTION.
b. But the word “bands” does not refer to a ligament, a tendon or a muscle, but to the CONCEPT of being bound together.
c. The “joints” do not refer to a particular member of the body, but rather to the CONCEPT of two members joined together… a point of contact between members.
d. Some understand the joints and bands to be particular members of the Body.
• If so, then Paul is saying that only a special few members in the Body are used in the process of strengthening, nourishing, unifying the body.
• Some have wildly interpreted here too: joints = apostles; bands = teachers; etc…
• It is better to take the terms for just what they mean: an occurrence in the body where a joining together occurs… or a banding together occurs.
e. Knit together defined:
• Translated “compacted” in Eph. 4:16
• Used in Col. 2:2 – that hearts might be knit together in love…
• Members of the Body are knit together to each other…
• This expression does not refer to a particular member of the body, but again, to the CONCEPT of being knit together.
• Have you ever seen a medical chart of the body wherein you can see through the skin to the inside… and see the muscles and ligaments? They LOOK like they were woven together! We are fearfully and wonderfully made!
• Each member is knit together to the other members, and thus, we are being knit together to Christ… to His Body.
5. Joints and Bands, knit together: do not refer to particular members of the Body, but rather to points of contact between the members of the body.
a. Every body has contact points and places where members come in contact and bind together.
b. These terms refer not to any particular limb but rather to the points of contact… or the RELATIONSHIP between the members of the body… as being joined together… bound together… and later, knit together.
c. These terms speak of the close contact and fellowship that occurs in the Body among ALL the members as we fellowship and interact with one another in the Body of Christ.
d. When Spirit filled, Christ centered believers have contact together… they are spiritually nourished.
e. The body needs to receive nourishment… and having received it, it then works to bind the body together and make it strong… so that it can grow.
6. Having nourishment ministered… (one Greek word)
a. Defined: to supply; to furnish; to provide for; to support.
b. Present passive participle.
• Passive: indicates that the supply comes from an outside source: the Head!
• Present: As we hold on to Christ the Head, nourishment is CONTINUOUSLY being supplied!
c. And WHERE does this spiritual nourishment take place in the Body?
• It is at the joints and bands that nourishment is received by the members of the body.
• In other words, is when believers have contact with each other in normal functioning of the body that we are nourished… edified… strengthened… comforted… knit together… built up…
• Two supernatural works occur as members of the Body meet for fellowship and worship: nutrition and organic unity (bound together; knit together)
• These are both essential for the life and health of the Body.
• Eph. 4:16 – “every joint (same word as joint) supplieth (same word as nourishment)”
» Note here that Paul again states that the supply… the nourishment for the body comes from the joints… the places where members meet and have contact.
» The supply of nourishment for the Body comes FROM Christ THROUGH yielded members… as we minister to one another.
» And note that EVERY joint supplies some nourishment for the body… every time believers have contact and fellowship around Christ…
» And note also that EVERY PART (every member) is to be engaged in effectually working towards this goal of nourishing and edifying the body.
• Eph. 4:16 – and note also the similarity between being “joined together and compacted”… and being “knit together” in Col. 2:19.
» Spiritual fellowship unites the Body in a practical sense around Christ.
» When believers meet together for doctrine, prayer, fellowship, and breaking of bread, that contact strengthens the members and the Body.
» Those points of contact and fellowship among the saints—whether public or behind the scenes… all result in strengthening the Body.
» And note also that in BOTH passages (Col. and Eph. 4:15c-16a) the nourishment and growth stems from the HEAD to the body.
• As we come in contact with our Spirit filled Sunday school teacher we are built up; as we interact with a Spirit filled brother in the hallway and fellowship around Christ and discuss His Word, we are knit together and made stronger…
• As we call one another on the phone during the week with an encouraging word… with a reproof… with a word of wisdom…
• It is at those points of contact with the Body that believers are nourished spiritually.
• In the Body we are to MINISTER one to another according to the gifts God has given us.
• And as we fellowship and share together in the things of Christ, we are BOUND together in love… our lives and hearts are knit together…
• Close contact with the Body of Christ brings spiritual nourishment.
• And that nourishment is traced back to Christ the Head.
» It SOUNDS like the nourishment is coming from members of the body as we encourage one another…
» And while that is true on a human level, Paul traces the SOURCE of all spiritual life back to Christ the Head.
» It is HIS life which flows through the body and every member in particular.
» It is Christ who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (minister to His Body)
» Col. 1:28-29 – Paul was a member of the Body ministering to others, and as he did, it was really Christ working in and through Him.
» Col. 1:27 – the glory of this age is that Christ is IN us… and working through us.
» Col. 1:11 – as we minister our prayer should be that we would be strengthened with all might according to HIS glorious power working in us!
» I Pet. 4:10-11 – we labor and serve according to “the ability which God giveth.” Hence, when the work is done, God gets all the glory. It is HIS work in and through us. We are a mere vessel.
» When individual members are yielded to the Head, Christ moves in His body to carry out His purpose… of strengthening and nourishing each member… and edifying the whole body.
» In one sense, WE do the work of ministering.
» But in another sense, it is NOT I but CHRIST who lives in me and works His will through me.
» The life, power, nourishment, and edification are supplied to the Body from the Head.
» But it is through healthy, yielded, functioning members of the Body that that indwelling life and nourishment is actually MINISTERED to other members. Christ does the work… we are the channels of HIS work in HIS body.
» God fills us with His Spirit and resurrection power… God equips us to function in His Body… Christ orchestrates all such ministry from His heavenly holy of holies… and the end result is INCREASE, spiritual growth.
» God worked in us, so the increase is called the increase of God! He gets the glory.
d. The joints and bands perform two actions for the Body: nourishment and knitting together…
• In other words, when believers interact, fellowship, and minister to one another in the Body, wonderful things occur: nourishment, bound together, and knit together… strengthened… edification… united around Christ.
• Thus, believers who forsake the assembling of themselves together, are forsaking God’s means of their spiritual nourishment, strength, and unity!
• Note that it is not only the pastor or official Bible teachers who promote nourishment in the Body. This includes EVERY member that has personal contact with other members in the Body, and uses their gifts to serve.
• The result of all of these points of contact among the believers is that individuals and the Body corporately are nourished and become stronger.
• YOU are necessary to this church. If you are saved, yielded to God, faithful, and functioning in the Body, your presence and influence adds to the nourishment of the Body… and it helps KNIT the body together in love.
7. The human body is a marvelous, living organism that works as a unit under the direction of its head.
a. So is the Body of Christ.
b. Many members knit together in love… equipped by God to function in the Body…
c. Each and every member receives all the nutrition it needs from the Head… just as every branch on the Vine receives all the nutrients it needs from the Vine.
d. In the human body, if the connection between the head and body is damaged, there is instant paralysis.
• So too in our lives, if there is a disconnect between us and Christ the Head (namely sin—sin separates!) we too are instantly paralyzed spiritually.
• We can do NOTHING apart from Christ.
• Hence, we sing, “Nothing Between me and my Savior!”
Increaseth with the increase of God…
1. The Body increases with the increase of God the old fashioned way: through meeting together for prayer, doctrine, fellowship, and the breaking of bread! (Acts 2:42)
a. The devil knows that.
b. Why do you think so many churches are closing down their prayer meetings?
• Satan convinces believers that it isn’t worth going to…
• Satan influences believers to have no interest in praying together…
• Who needs it? I can pray at home! I don’t get anything out of prayer meeting anyways!
• As a result of that ungodly thinking, the body and members in particular are weakened…
c. Why do you think there is so little emphasis on doctrine today?
• Satan convinces believers that doctrine divides…and that doctrinal teaching will hinder the growth of a church…
• Some folks say, “I don’t like to go Sunday school. I don’t need to know about the rapture or sit through those dry lessons on the deity of Christ… etc…
• And we see short sermonettes… multi-media presentations…and now the super churches are offering video sermons!
• And thus, the body is not nourished. It is weakened.
d. Why do you think there is such little real fellowship occurring when believers meet together ostensibly for fellowship?
• Red Sox and Patriots galore!
• The new sale at Macys—another hot topic.
• But our fellowship is to be with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
• It is through points of SPIRITUAL contact that the body is nourished and grows!
e. Friendships might be strengthened and our social lives built up… but that is not the same as strengthening the fellowship and edifying our spiritual lives!
• Many folks look at the church as a social organization… looking for friendships and social activities. Many even choose a church on that basis.
• You can meet friends and get involved in social activities at the Elk’s Club. Friends and activities are fine in their place, but that’s not what the church is.
• We are concerned about SPIRITUAL growth… and an increase in the things of God.
2. The increase of God implies that there are also OTHER ways in which increase occurs.
a. That’s Paul’s point.
b. The false teachers in Colossae offered another way of living the Christian life…
c. And it may well have produced some great outward displays of increase.
• Perhaps their Bible studies were better attended than the ones held at the local church.
• Perhaps they were attracting a greater crowd.
d. They might increase, but it wasn’t the increase of God.
• The increase of God is traced back to Christ the head. HE was the source of their nutrition and growth.
• The increase of the false teachers is traced back to another kind of head: a head that was vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind! (vs. 18c)
• Vain, spiritually empty, proud minds can come up with a lot of successful ideas to produce an external increase.
• The works of the flesh can accomplish a lot—but NEVER the increase of God. Only God can do that—and God never works through the fallen fleshly nature.
• We are to keep the flesh inoperative through the cross… by reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin… and alive unto God and His life and increase.
e. As long as believers were NOT holding the Head, no spiritual nourishment and no spiritual ministry would take place.
• The spiritual life of the body would be diminished as long as they followed some other plan.
• Instead of increasing, they are growing DULL of hearing… forgetting that they were purged from their old sins… unable to digest strong meat…
• The outward FORM might appear to be increasing, but inwardly, those who follow false ways are becoming weaker not stronger.
• If we as believers are not holding the Head, we will not experience the life and resurrection power of Christ the Head!
• The new spiritual gimmicks of the false teachers came wrapped in appealing packaging… but it was empty and provided no real substance.
• They were appealing, exciting, and popular, but not nourishing to the soul.
• They drew believers away from Christ rather than drawing them TO Him…
• They were in effect plucking branches off Christ the Vine and promising spectacular fruit… when Jesus said, “Without Me ye can do nothing!”
• There is NO increase of God when not holding the Head. He is the source of ALL true, spiritual increase.
3. The ONLY increase we need or even WANT is that which comes by means of holding on to the Head.
a. This is the only “experience” we need.
b. The mystery cult in Colossae offered mystical experiences, visions, and interaction with angels… and CLAIMED to be able to lead the Colossians to a higher life.
c. Paul calls it all a lie and says that we are COMPLETE in Christ. He is all we need.
d. Our responsibility is simply to HOLD on to the Head… to stay close to Christ through His Word, prayer, fellowship of the saints, and by being knit together with other members of His Body, which is the church.
e. As the Body holds the Head and gives Christ the preeminence in everything, His LIFE flows through that Body, and this love for Christ and our union with Him is that which BINDS us together and makes us a Body… an organic whole… a unit…a fit habitation for God.
4. As a result of this abiding relationship to Christ, genuine fruit is borne… fruit that will receive a well done at the Judgment Seat of Christ… a worthy walk which manifests the indwelling LIFE of Christ… to the glory of God.
a. Spiritual growth and increase do not come by means of traditions, rituals, ceremonies, angels, visions, or the laws… which are but shadows. True spiritual growth and in crease come through Christ, the reality, the SUBSTANCE that cast those shadows…
b. Eph. 4:16 – the same principle: from the Head, the Body makes increase of the Body in the sphere of love. As we selflessly minister to one another in love… the body is nourished, strengthened, and thus increases… GROWS!
c. HOW SIMPLE and yet profound! If Christ is given the preeminence in the Body and in each member, then all will function smoothly… exactly as God ordained… and will bear fruit and increase with the increase of God.
• He that abideth in bringeth forth Me, the same much fruit.
• II Pet. 1:3 – through Christ and His Word we have ALL WE NEED for life and godliness.
d. And as WE are holding the HEAD, we will be filled with HIS character… and will be evangelizing the lost… for that is what Christ did…
e. And God will use the likes of US to increase the Body… and because it is GOD working in us, HE gets all the glory.
f. People who ADD other requirements to the process of spiritual growth, they are not helping but hindering. And any increase that may accrue is NOT supplied from the Head… and is NOT an increase from the Lord…and will NOT be rewarded.
g. When anyone ADDS to the simplicity of the Christian life… a life of faith, resting and abiding in Christ… not only will their scheme NOT produce increase, but it will in fact, take us away from the ONLY source of TRUE life, growth, and increase!
h. It is not really an addition. It is a subtraction!
i. Any time anyone ADDS a special diet, a holy day, a tradition, a ritual or ceremony, a vision, a mystical experience – or anything else… and presents it as a NECESSARY requirement in your Christian life… or your relationship to Christ, they are taking you AWAY from the only source of spiritual nourishment and growth and are BEGUILING you of your reward…
j. Don’t let anyone judge you. Don’t let anyone beguile you. Don’t let anyone cause you to loosen your grip on Christ the Head. Don’t let anyone cause you to give preeminence to anyone or anything else.
k. By following their ways, (no longer focused on the Head) the believer is robbed of his nourishment, strength, growth, and ultimately, robbed of his reward!