Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world…
I. WISDOM IS A TREASURE for THE GREATEST TREASURY. St. Paul agrees with Solomon. Both exalt wisdom. It is a mistake to suppose that the gospel discourages knowledge and sets a premium on folly. It disregards worldly wisdom just because it brings a higher wisdom. It uses what the world calls the foolishness of preaching in order that it may confound the worldly wise and enlighten the ignorant with the true wisdom of God.
1. The treasury of wisdom is a jewel-chamber. Knowledge is good in itself. It is a treasure worth possessing for its own sake. The truly wise man would rather lose his money than his knowledge. Knowledge has these advantages over other possessions:
(1) it cannot be stolen;
(2) it is not lessened by being shared by many;
(3) it does not suffer corruption;
(4) it is a pure, calm, and elevating source of delight.
2. This treasury is a granary. Knowledge is good for the soul. The mind lives and grows upon ideas. The soul is nourished by the Word of God, which is the revelation of his wisdom. To know God is eternal life.
3. This treasury is a bank. True knowledge is like money. It is the means for procuring many other good things. It has a far larger purchasing power than gold and silver. Knowledge is power, just because it shows us how to use many things which are useless to ignorance. The knowledge of Divine truth helps us to the use of Divine grace and the performance of Divine Law.
II. CHRIST IS THE TREASURY OF WISDOM. The Gnostics looked elsewhere. St. Paul says that, not only some wisdom, but all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, are in Christ. They are part of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Nature is a mitre in which science discovers numberless treasures of knowledge, but it is knowledge about Nature herself, not about the supernatural, the Divine, and the spiritual. Speculation soars in search of knowledge. But what it flatters itself to have discovered as mountain heights of knowledge often turns out to be but the shadows of cloudland. All the highest and best knowledge is in Christ.
1. The knowledge is in Christ himself. It is not simply in his teaching, much less is it in doctrines about him. To know him in his life and character and nature is to have the treasure of the best wisdom.
2. The knowledge covers the most important subjects of inquiry. We may include these in three questions.
(1) Theological: What is God? Christ says, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." To know Christ is to know God.
(2) Anthropological: What are man and his destiny? In his earthly life Christ revealed the true nature and glory of humanity, and in his resurrection its great destiny.
(3) What is duty? The example of Christ is the answer to this question. Our duty is to follow him.
III. LOVE IS THE KEY TO THIS TREASURY OF WISDOM.
1. The treasure is hidden. A superficial glance at Christ will not reveal it. The merchantman seeks for goodly pearls; the purchaser of the field digs for the hidden treasure.
2. Nothing but love will open up the treasury. Gnostics thought intellectual enlightenment would do this; theologians in all ages have tried various keys - the rusty key of old world learning, the ponderous key of argumentation with its intricate wards; too often they have forgotten the golden key of love.
3. Love opens up the treasury of wisdom in Christ. St. Paul' desires the Colossians to be "knit together in love" (ver. 2) in order that they may "know the Mystery of God, even Christ," etc,
(1) This love must be love to Christ, that we may be in sympathy with man and so know him; and
(2) love to one another, that we may be in sympathy with Christ's way of regarding God and man. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.