By Graeme Tearle
Sometimes we face the accusation that our salvation is inadequate, and we need to do more to be properly saved.
In this passage, and the following, Paul embarks on a strong rebuttal of the false teaching which was bombarding the churches at Colossae and Laodicea at the time.
1. The Outside World.
The gnostics seemed to have a hidden agenda which would seek to bring Christians, who are freed from the penalty of sin, back into bondage and guilt.
In this passage, and in the following verses of chapter two, Paul lays out some of their specific attempts in advancing their so-called ‘advanced knowledge.’
Astrology was a common belief system in these times, and many people, including governors and emperors, would consult the stars for advice and their future.
In this passage, and in the remaining verses of chapter two, Paul gives warning about these people:
a. They were ‘preying’ on them, v8. Paul uses the word ‘sulagogeo’, which means literally to lead astray, and take captive as spoils of the heretics.
b. They used two tactics:
- Philosophy – the gnostics claimed special abilities, knowledge, and inner information about the way to God.
- Empty deceit - this is “deception or enticement, creating a pleasant illusion” – TDNT, a false sense of security in this new knowledge.
c. Their approach was based on the “elemental spirits of the universe” – this phrase relates to the common basic knowledge and principles of the world, as extracted through astrology, and imparted, theoretically, in simple forms, as in the ‘ABC’ of any given issue.
d. And this was continued in teaching about ascetism, as Paul enlarges on in v16.
The answer to false teachings about the way back to God, Paul expounds on the truth as in Jesus Christ.
a. Contrary to their teaching that the way to God was through a diluted being, part man and part God, in Jesus dwells the fulness of God in human form, v9.
b. God raised Jesus from the dead, v12, 13, proving that He was God’s Son, and fully divine.
c. And He is the Head of all rule and authority, v10.
d. Christ has taken the charge sheet of our sins, nailed it to the cross, and overcame man’s enemies through the resurrection, v14,15.
Through our belief in Christ, we share in His victory:
a. We have His fulness of life, v10.
b. Circumcision is spiritual, not a physical act but casting off the whole fleshly body, and demonstrating this in baptism, by putting to death the fleshly desires, v11,12.
c. We are raised with Him, and forgiven our trespasses as He has cancelled the charges and the penalties, v12-14.
Colossians : Points to Ponder.
Believe in the adequacy of Christ’s sacrifice, and there is no need to consult other ways for coming to God.