Paul's Pastoral Concern for the Believers of the Lycus Valley (vss.15)

VERSE 1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf (ga.r [declar.] Qe,lw [] u`ma/j [ac.p. su,] eivde,nai [pf.a.infin. oi;da] h`li,kon [ac.m.s.adj. h`li,koj, "how great"] avgw/na [ac.m.s.adj. avgw,n, struggle, fight] e;cw [] u`pe.r u`mw/n [g.p. su,]), and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all who have not personally seen my face (kai. tw/n [g.m.p.DA., "for those who"] evn Laodikei,a| [l.f.s. Laodi,keia, which lay farther down the Lycus valley] kai. o[soi [n.m.p. o[soj,, "as many as"] ouvc e`o,rakan [pf.a.i.3p. o`ra,w] to. pro,swpo,n [ac.nt.s. pro,swpon] mou [g.s. evgw,] evn sarki,( [l.f.s. sa,rx]),


  1. Paul also engaged in spiritual struggles for those he ministered to.
  2. Spiritual conflict is what is in view in vs.1.
  3. Physical exertion is mentioned in 2:29.
  4. Paul was engaged in a spiritual conflict for those he had never met.
  5. But who accepted BD as though they heard it from him directly.
  6. Those at Colossae and Laodicea were discipled by Paul's colleague, Epaphras.
  7. Paul reassures them that, his absence notwithstanding, he was engaged in a real spiritual struggle for them.
  8. The Christians of the Lycus valley were in his canon and on his prayer list.
  9. The spiritual struggle was significant.
  10. As their leader, he was in much thought, prayer, and anxiety over them.
  11. He knew the dangers to their pos. vol.; and both before and after Epaphras' report, he was in a struggle.
  12. His prayers for them were influenced by the good report (cf. 1:3ff; 9ff).
  13. He prayed for an increase in doc. so they could grow spiritually unimpeded.
VERSE 2 that their hearts may be encouraged (i[na [desire, wish] ai` kardi,ai [n.f.p. kardi,a] auvtw/n [g.m.p. auvto,j] paraklhqw/sin [ao.a.subj.3p. parakale,w]), having been welded together in love (sumbibasqe,ntej [ sumbiba,zw, 6X {Kittle, 7:763}: Act.9:22, "offer proof"; 16:10, "concluding"; 1Cor.2:16, LXX meaning "instruct"; Eph.4:16, "held together"; Col.2:2, "welded together"; 2:19, "held together". In Acts, the word means "to prove conclusively", Act.9:22; 16:33. In 1Cor.2:16, the LXX meaning "to instruct" is used. In Eph. and Col., the word means "to hold together", "to unite"] evn avga,ph| [l.f.s. avga,ph|, for the cultivation of Christian love in the local church]), and (attaining) to all the wealth (kai. ["and" introduces a separate but associated idea] eivj pa/n [ac.nt.s. pa/j] plou/toj [ac.nt.s., riches, wealth, abundance realm of divine blessing]) of the full assurance of the understanding (th/j plhrofori,aj [g.f.s. plhrofori,a, full assurance, total conviction, 4X: 1 Thess.1:5; Heb.6:11; 10:22. Verb plhrofore,w, accomplish fully, convince fully, 5X: Lk.1:1; Rom.4:21; 14:5; 2Tim.4:5,17. Refers to total intellectual conviction with no wavering] th/j sune,sewj( [g.f.s. su,nesij, understanding, insight, only 7X: Mk.12:33; Lk.2:47; 1Cor.1:19; Eph.3:4; Col.1:9; 2:2; 2Tim.2:7. Adj. suneto,j, intelligent, 4X: Mt.11:25; Lk.10:21; Act.13:7; 1Cor.1:19 {God will bring to nothing the understanding of the sunetoi}. Cognate vb. suni,hmi, understand, 29X]), resulting in a true knowledge of the mystery of God (eivj evpi,gnwsin [ac.f.s. evpignw,sij, true knowledge] tou/ musthri,ou [g.nt.s. musthri,on, mystery] tou/ qeou/( [g.m.s. qeo,j]), Christ (Cristou/( [g.m.s.apposition Cristo,j]),


  1. The purpose of Paul's intense concern for them is now stated.
  2. This verse is stated in terms reminiscent of his prayer in 1:9ff.
  3. He desires that they may have encouragement in their hearts.
  4. Believers need to have spiritual encouragement to stay the course.
  5. The soul must receive encouragement to continue in the faith.
  6. He realizes how important it is that they receive encouragement from one another.
  7. There must be a cultivation of fellowship among believers.
  8. This true encouragement will be present when their hearts are "welded together in love".
  9. The aorist pt. precedes the action of the main verb "encouraged".
  10. Encouragement arises out of their having been bound together in Christian love.
  11. The love they have and exhibit towards each other results in encouragement to continue with doctrine.
  12. The many applications (mental, verbal and overt) we are called to make as fellow members of the royal family constitute our being welded together in love.
  13. The isolation of the STA and the positive applications that are the fruit of the HS promotes mutual encouragement in the local church.
  14. Forbearance, avoidance of sins of the tongue, forgiveness, regard for the interests of others, living grace assistance, being grace oriented, etc., are the necessary products that encourage those who are receptive.
  15. Parallel to the uniting of believers in love must be a constant increase in doctrinal maturity and understanding.
  16. The wealth that Paul speaks of constitutes every blessing spiritual, physical, temporal and eternal that BD confers on positive volition.
  17. As to the spiritual blessings of walking in accord with the mandates of BD, we have:
    1. +H (happiness).
    2. Grace orientation.
    3. Inner peace.
    4. Confidence.
    5. Capacity for life.
    6. Hope.
    7. Mastery of the details of life.
    8. Faith-Rest.
    9. Discernment.
    10. Capacity for love.
    11. Self-discipline.
    12. Diligence, zeal.
    13. Integrity.
    14. Good decisions.
  18. BD promises many overt blessings on those who honor her (Pro.). (Details, long life and good health, honor, RM/RW, children, deliverance, category 3 friends, God with you in all you undertake, blessing by association, special opportunities to apply, desires fulfilled, etc.).
  19. Notice that everything God has for those who qualify comes from those who have a firm conviction arising from the insight of understanding.
  20. You must have a firm conviction with respect to the doctrine you know.
  21. It is not enough to simply possess some degree of intellectual awareness of doc.
  22. Confidence or conviction arises where there is a real hunger to learn and the requisite follow-up application.
  23. As you are taught regularly the truth, you develop insight into the plan of God.
  24. This insight (understanding) develops a settled conviction as to what is the proper course of action.
  25. Then comes the wealth or blessing.
  26. Those who waver will not enjoy the full blessings of doc.
  27. If a thing is right or true, it is worthy of our total support.
  28. Do not let plausible, emotional, or specious talk (has deceptive attraction or allure having a false look of truth or genuineness) influence you.
  29. Be sure that what you believe and practice has Scriptural support (does BD endorse such and such).
  30. It there is some doubt do not embrace it.
  31. The objective is redefined as the epignosis of God's mystery.
  32. GAP introduces us to and informs us with respect to God's mystery.
  33. God's mystery is said to be Christ.
  34. He is the embodiment of divine wisdom.
  35. Christ is a mystery revealed fully to those who have insight and real knowledge.
  36. BD gives the believer a true and personal knowledge of Christ.
  37. Apart from doc., there is a failure to appreciate who and what Christ is.
  38. You cannot be uninformed or misinformed with respect to BD and expect to have a total relationship and appreciation for the Lord.
  39. After all, BD is His mind (1Cor.2:16b).
VERSE 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (evn w-| [l.m.s. o[j] eivsin [p.i.3p. eivmi,] avpo,krufoi [n.m.p.adj. avpo,krufoj, secret, "hidden"] pa,ntej [n.m.p. pa/j] oi` qhsauroi. [n.m.p. qhsauro,j, treasure] th/j sofi,aj [g.f.s. sofi,a] kai. gnw,sewj [g.f.s. gnw/sij]).


  1. "In whom" refers to Christ seated at the right hand.
  2. The phrase "the treasures of wisdom" appears in Eccleasticus 1:25 (non-canonical book written between 200-180BC. Found favor with the early Church fathers. Never attained canonical status).
  3. Paul adds knowledge (gnosis) aimed at the Shibboleths (catchword, buzzword) of gnosticism.
  4. These treasures are hidden in Christ.
  5. But are freely made available to those who are positive and intellectually honest (Jam.1:15).
  6. There is no secret knowledge outside Christ and the canon of Scripture a believer needs for maturity.
  7. The temptation has always been for the Church to seek wisdom and knowledge outside the Bible.
  8. The wisdom and knowledge spoken of here is available to all believers.
  9. Provided we subscribe to the guidelines and approach specified in Scripture.
  10. These guidelines include:
    1. The local church the specified environment for GAP.
    2. The gift of PT versus plurality of teachers.
    3. The FHS.
    4. Prayer for understanding.
    5. Consistency and continuity.
  11. The qualifications and integrity of the PT is a critical factor.
  12. He sets the tone.
  13. Christ is for us the embodiment of God's wisdom (cf. 1Cor.1:24).
  14. If truth is hidden from people, it is their own fault.
VERSE 4 I say this that no one may delude you with persuasive argument (Tou/to [ac.nt.s. ou[toj] le,gw( [p.a.i.l.s.] i[na [hina is either a final or imperatival. In the case of a final hina, Paul would mean "I say this in order that no one may mislead you". The use as an imperative is "What I mean is this: nobody is to mislead you". I like the final use] mhdei.j [n.m.s.] paralogi,zhtai [pres.dep.subj.3s. paralogi,zomai, deceive, lead astray, 2X: Jam.1:22] u`ma/j [ac.p. su,] evn piqanologi,a|Å [instr.f.s. piqanologi,a, attractive {but false} argument, hapax]).


  1. What Paul has been saying is designed to protect them from the specious (having a false look of truth, having deceptive attraction or allure) arguments of the false teachers. (Syn. showy.)
  2. What Paul has said in vss.13 is done to protect them from the would-be intruders.
  3. While the arguments of the false teachers(s) are at times convincing and attractive, they go against the obvious teachings of Scripture.
  4. They knew that their present situation was the result of their adherence to an established doctrinal grid taught by Epaphras.
  5. God has blessed them much.
  6. There is no compelling reason to switch to something that has no clear Biblical support.
  7. We should avoid taking chances or experimentation.
  8. Pressures from outside the church to pursue actions not derived from exegesis should be resisted.
  9. Because an argument is persuasive and attractive does not mean it is valid.
  10. They are to retain that standard of sound words taught by Paulís faithful representative, Epaphras (2Tim.1:13; 3:14).
  11. Demand clear and unequivocal Scriptural support for anything you are asked to believe or practice or support.
  12. If you are among the truly positive, you will know truth when you hear it (Jn.8:47).

VERSE 5 For even though I am absent in body (eiv [although 1st] ga.r [declar.] kai. [even] a;peimi( [p.i.l.s., absent] th/| sarki. [l.f.s. sa,rx]), nevertheless I am with you in Spirit (avlla. [when used in a clause after ei,, it means yet, certainly] eivmi( [] su.n u`mi/n [d.p. su,n] tw/| pneu,mati [l.nt.s.pneu/ma]), rejoicing to see your good discipline (cai,rwn [p.a.p.n.m.s. cai,rw] kai. [and, not transl.] ble,pwn [ ble,pw] u`mw/n [a.p. su,, "your"] th.n ta,xin [ac.f.s. ta,xij military term. The term is used of military organization. It can mean rank, file, order. At Colossae, there was orderliness. Each believer was in his place within the local body and within the royal chain of command. Transl. "good discipline". Word occurs 10X: Lk.1:8, order of Aaronic priests; 1Cor.14:40, {quoted in the Maranatha Constitution an exhort}; Heb.5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,17,21, order of Melchizedek and Aaron]) and the stability of your faith in Christ (kai. to. stere,wma [ac.nt.s., hapax noun, adj. stere,oma, 4X: 2Tim.2:19, "firm foundation of God"; Heb.5:12,14, "solid food"; 1Pet.5:9, "firm in faith". Verb 3X: Act.3:7,6, lame man's legs "made strong"; 16:5, churches were established in doc. Also, a military term denoting a solid unbroken front in warfare] th/j pi,stewj [g.f.s. pi,stij] u`mw/nÅ [g.p. su,] eivj Cristo.n [ac.m.s. Cristo,j]).


  1. It was not possible for Paul to be with them.
  2. Yet he was very much with them mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
  3. Even though he had never seen them in person, he nevertheless regarded them as his beloved children in BD.
  4. The good report from a reliable source (Epaphras) was the basis for his affection and high regard.
  5. Positive volition is the basis for a bond between total strangers.
  6. Physical contact and an extended association is not needed to establish this spiritual bond.
  7. Where people know and love BD, an immediate spiritual bond exists.
  8. Ideally, it would have been best for him to be face to face with them.
  9. But this was not possible.
  10. They had adequate spiritual attention through Epaphras and this epistle.
  11. Paul expresses the +H he has, "seeing" through the report of Epaphras their corporate spiritual state.
  12. Like a well-trained and disciplined military unit, they possessed orderliness and self-discipline.
  13. The word translated "good discipline" means orderliness.
  14. They fulfilled 1Cor.14:40.
  15. Order, organization, formal structure, authority should characterize a local church.
  16. Efficiency results where there is established policy and a chain of command.
  17. All the individual parts can then most effectively serve the whole.
  18. Without formal organization and delegated responsibility, there is disorder and inefficiency.
  19. With such organization, each believer can readily plug into a duty suited to his/her gift and abilities.
  20. The second term has to do with their cohesiveness as a group of believers.
  21. They were not easily shaken or moved, but present a united front.
  22. There were likeminded with respect to their beliefs.
  23. They had strong Ph2 faith in the doctrine they had learned.
  24. They did not display a plurality of viewpoint and approach to the Christian way of life.
  25. What Epaphras taught by word and led by example, they followed.
  26. The organization, structure, orderliness, efficiency of a church reflects the leadership.

Continue as You Have Begun (vss.6, 7)

VERSE 6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord (~Wj [adv.] ou=n [conj.] parela,bete [ao.a.i.2p. paralamba,nw salvation adjustment, verb, cf. Jn.1:11 {neg. volition of Jews}; 1Thess.2:13 {how they received BD}; cp. Jn.1:12 {lambano of faith at point of salvation}]) to.n Cristo.n [ac.m.s. Cristo,j] VIhsou/n [ac.m.s. VIhsou/j] to.n ku,rion( [as.m.s. ku,rioj]), in Him walk (evn auvtw/| [l.m.s. auvto,j] peripatei/te( [p.a.imper. or ind.2p. peripate,w walk]),


  1. They are enjoined to continue as they have been.
  2. When Paul speaks of their having to receive Christ, he is referring to their saving faith.
  3. See Jn.1:11,12.
  4. Faith is the means by which they received the Lord.
  5. Faith is the only way to be saved (Eph.2:8,9).
  6. Christ is the designated object.
  7. Through Epaphras they were evangelized and received the apostolic witness.
  8. They received the true tradition respecting the historical account of what happened in the past His death, burial, and resurrection.
  9. In so doing, they accepted by faith the true doctrine and tradition of who and what Christ is.
  10. They accepted Him as the supreme authority as seen in the title, Lord (Eph.3:11 is closest parallel "Christ Jesus the Lord").
  11. Paul affirms Jesus' Lordship no doubt due to the heresy, which attacked the total person and uniqueness of Christ.
  12. They received Him by faith...they should walk by faith (cp. Rom.1:17).
  13. Both inhale and exhale faith are in view.
  14. We do not base our viewpoint and actions on what we see or feel (2Cor.5:7; cp. 4:18; Heb.11:1,13)
  15. Often what we see confirms what we believe.
  16. The imperative "walk in Him" refers to our daily experiential conduct.
  17. Walking is used metaphorically for our mental, verbal, and overt behavior.
  18. You can often tell something about a person by how they walk (slouch, strut, handicap injury, sexual overtones, age, conditioning [obvious on uneven or difficult terrain], fear, etc.).
  19. We are "in Him" but we are to walk by means of IHS (Gal.5:16).
  20. We are to walk not according to the spirit and fashion of our age but according to doctrine we have heard (Rom.4; 8:1,4; 13:13; Gal.6:16; Eph.2:10; 4:1,17; 5:2,8,15; Phil.3:16,17,18; Col.1:10; 4:5; 1Thess.2:12; 4:12; 2Thess.3:11; 2Pet.2:10; 1Jn.1:6,7; 2Jn.6; 3Jn.4).

VERSE 7 having been firmly rooted (evrrizwme,noi [ r`izo,w be firmly rooted, 2X: Eph.3:17 noun r`iza root; Perf., result]) and being built up (kai. [and] evpoikodomou,menoi [ epoikodome,w, build up or on, 8X: *Act.20:32; 1Cor.3:10,12,14; Eph.2:20; *Jd.20]) and established in Him by your faith (kai. bebaiou,menoi [ bebaio,w, confirm, establish, 8X: *Mk.16:20; Rom.15:8; *1Cor.1:6,8; 2Cor.1:21; *Heb.2:3; *13:9, deals with believer's conviction]) evn auvtw/| [l.m.s. auvto,j, positional sanctification]) th/| pi,stei [instr.f.s. h` pi,stij]), just as you were instructed (kaqw.j [adv.] evdida,cqhte( (ao.p.ind.2p. dida,skw, under Epaphras]), overflowing with gratitude (perisseu,ontej [ perisseu,w, abound] evn euvcaristi,a|Å [instr.f.s. euvcaristi,a]).


  1. There are 4 participles, which this verse revolves around.
  2. Their present capacity to "walk in Him" is tied to the 1st participle "having been firmly rooted".
  3. Like a tree (plant) with deep established roots in the soil of BD, they can persevere in the A/C.
  4. They were not new to BD but were firmly rooted in the truth.
  5. Their years as Paul's protégé were well spent.
  6. The perfect pt. indicates a prior condition plus existing results.
  7. The 2nd participle, "being built up", is a building metaphor for spiritual edification.
  8. Currently, they were still in a process of being built up in the faith as the present tense suggests.
  9. It is BD that builds up believers (Act.20:32; Jd.20).
  10. The 3rd participle, "being established", is also a present fact (present tense).
  11. It denotes Christian confidence or conviction with respect to the things learned (see 1Cor.1:6,8; Heb.2:13; 13:9, "strengthened").
  12. The word can suggest confirmation, conviction, strengthening.
  13. This results where there is repetition and reinforcement.
  14. The action of the present participles occurs in Christ (as do the others, of course).
  15. The means of the action of the 2 present participles is by faith (inhale).
  16. You must believe and be willing to act on what you heard.
  17. Edification and conviction comes from a steady diet of comprehensive systematic doctrinal exposure (5 times is not too much!!)
  18. Stability does not come from one's own personal Bible study but through formal instruction via the gift.
  19. They arrived at their present spiritual level and capacity through Epaphras.
  20. Note that it was doctrinal instruction over the years that secured for them their present desirable level.
  21. Paul observes, in the 4th present participle, that they are abounding in thanksgiving for all the doctrine they have.
  22. As you learn and come under the blessings associated with your positive volition, you should be "overflowing with gratitude".
  23. BD liberates us from enslavement to the STA and human viewpoint and provides us with every blessing, both spiritual and physical.
  24. God is now for us, not against us.

Warning to Avoid the Heresy and its Description (vs.8)

VERSE 8 See to it that no one take you captive (ble,pete [p.a.imper.2p. ble,pw] mh, [lest] tij [n.m.s., "one" anyone] e;stai [fut.ind.3s. eivmi,] o` sulagwgw/n [ sulagwge,w, to kidnap, 1X: used metaphorically of their potential seduction and reversionism] u`ma/j [ac.p. su,, you are the plunder]) through philosophy and empty deception (dia. th/j filosofi,aj [g.f.s. filosofi,a hapax: love of wisdom or an intellectual curiosity or interest in systems designed to explain reality] kai. kenh/j [g.f.s. keno,j] avpa,thj [g.f.s. avpa,th, deception]), according to the tradition of men (kata. th.n para,dosin [ac.f.s. para,dosij, 13X: tradition of the elders, traditions of the fathers {bad sense: Mt.15:2,3,6; Mk.7:3,5,8,9,13; good sense: 1Cor.11:2; 2Thess. 2:15; 3:6}] tw/n avnqrw,pwn( [g.m.p. a;nqropoj]), according to the elementary principles of the world (kata. ta. stoicei/a [ac.nt.p. stoikei/on, 7X: Gal.4:3,9, legalistic requirements of cosmos; Col.2:8,20, Colossian Gnostic heresy's requirements; Heb. 5:12, good sense ABC's of doctrine; 2Pet.3:10,12, physical elements of the material world] tou/ ko,smou [g.m.s. ko,smoj]), and not according to Christ (kai. ouv kata. Cristo,n\ [ac.m.s. Cristo,j]).


  1. Having encouraged them to steadfastly continue with that form of teaching they had over the years, Paul warns them not to entertain anything new or different.
  2. No matter how attractive or plausibly presented (cf.vs.4)
  3. Paul uses a very rare verb to express the result of their switch to another system of belief (occurs in the author Heliodorus, of the 3rd century AD, in the sense of "kidnap". It also occurs in Aristaenetus [uncertain date] with the meaning "plunder").
  4. Paul is saying "Don't let anyone carry you off as plunder".
  5. They, as we, must remain alert to false teachers and teachings.
  6. The false teachers did not seek to inculcate a godless or immoral way of life.
  7. Their teaching was a blend of the teachings of Judaism and the nature religion of pagans.
  8. It tended to incorporate higher or nobler elements of these religions.
  9. Paul calls it a philosophy, as there were many in the Roman world.
  10. At that time, anything that had to do with theories about God, the world, and the meaning of life was called 'philosophy'.
  11. This was true not only in the pagan schools but also in the Jewish schools.
  12. For all of its attractiveness, this particular hybrid philosophy was but "empty deception" (allusion).
  13. For it separated its adherents from "the simplicity and devotion to Christ" (cf. 2Cor.11:3, read vss.13).
  14. It could not relate the individual to the only reality, Jesus Christ.
  15. The words "vain deception" stress the twofold fact that the philosophy in question:
    1. Is devoid of genuine spiritual content.
    2. Tricks those who accept it into error.
  16. Observation: even the healthiest of believers can be taken in by the most obnoxious of teachings (stay alert).
  17. If they had fallen for it, they would be the losers.
  18. Next, Paul describes it as "the tradition of men".
  19. A tradition is something to be handed down to others, or carried on.
  20. The tradition might be Jewish (Mk.7:5ff) or Gentile (1Pet.1:18) or both.
  21. The term tradition is used in both a good (2Thess.2:15; 3:6) or bad sense (Mk.7:3).
  22. The traditions at Colossae were strictly man made and promoted a legalistic ascetic approach to God.
  23. It was a human tradition that ran counter to the basic and essential truths of Scripture.
  24. It sounded well, it appealed to natural religious instincts (legalism, asceticism).
  25. Paul describes this philosophy as being in "accordance with the elementary principles of the cosmos".
  26. The term "stoicheia" is used in both a good and bad sense in the N.T.
  27. Good or neutral usages include:
    1. Heb.5:12 of the ABC's of doctrine (basic).
    2. 2Pet.3:10,12 of the "elements" of the material universe.
  28. Paul uses the term in two of his epistles in a negative sense.
    1. Gal.4:3,9.
    2. Col.2:8,20.
  29. In both epistles these elemental principles are associated with their pre-salvation past.
  30. Something they were once in bondage to and beholding to but with their coming of age, so to speak, are liberated from (see Gal.4:3).
  31. In both epistles legalistic taboos are the elementary principles.
  32. In Galatians, the immediate source is the Judaizers; in Colossians, the Gnostics.
  33. Legalistic taboos and superstitions must be distinguished from establishment morality.
  34. In both cases, to submit to the decrees and dictates of the legalists constituted spiritual retrogression and reversionism.
  35. As Paul emphasizes in vs.20, they had bid a long farewell to all such things at salvation (see Gal.4:9).
  36. In the heresy at Colossae the term denoted the outline for the initial requirements of adherents to the sect.
  37. The methodology was after the natural religion of the cosmos, not after Christ.
  38. It was not centered in Christ and strictly scripturally based.
  39. Today we have many philosophies, religions, sects, cults, legalisms, etc. we must be alert to.
  40. Good sounding, well presented viewpoints by articulate, attractive persons must be rigorously held up to the light of scripture.
  41. Before you accept anything contrary to the doctrine, ask someone in the local church.
  42. Do not lead with your emotions.
  43. Sooner or later Satan will try to get to you with one of his bogus philosophies (Eph.4:14).
  44. Sometimes a bona fide principle is used to lure you into a situation that violates doctrine.

Present Realities Associated with Christ and Union With Him (vss.915)

Item #1: Christ's Uniqueness

VERSE 9 For in Him all the fulness of the godhead dwells in bodily form (o[ti evn auvtw/| [l.m.s. auvto,j] pa/n [n.nt.s. pa/j] to. plh,rwma [n.nt.s.] th/j qeo,thtoj [g.f.s. qeo,thj, godhead hapax, cp. qeio,thj of Rom.1:20 = deity. Here, godhead is the preferred translation] katoikei/ [p.a.i.3s. katoike,w, cp. 1:19] swmatikw/j( [adv., bodily form, human form]),


  1. Paul now states why believers should beware of substandard philosophies.
  2. Paul repeats the same doctrine as in 1:19.
  3. Here Paul emphasized the fact as to what the pleroma is and that it resides in Christ's humanity.
  4. The inclusive phrase "all the fullness" denotes all God is, in His divine attributes.
  5. No attribute of divine essence was omitted or diminished in the incarnation.
  6. Christ possessed, from the very beginning, the totality of divine essence.
  7. Deity cannot be diminished or lost.
  8. Even while still on earth Jesus declared His equality with the Father (Jn.10:30).
  9. Christ possessed the fullness of the Godhead.
  10. The noun Godhead refers to the divine attributes of the Trinity.
  11. All 3 persons being coequal and coeternal.
  12. This fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ, the only one in whom it could.
  13. This divine fullness dwells in Christ as true humanity.
  14. As God the eternal Son, Christ always possessed this fullness.
  15. Paul stated earlier that He existed before creation (1:1517).
  16. Paul asserts that He was God in the fullest sense of the word even after the incarnation.
  17. There was no loss or corruption of the divine attributes when He took upon Himself a full and true humanity.
  18. At no point of His earthly existence did He surrender His deity.
  19. When Paul wrote these words Christ had been glorified in the 3rd heaven some 30 years.
  20. The tense of the verb indicates 2 facts (present active indicative).
    1. He still had a physical body, albeit a glorified immortal one.
    2. He still had "all the fullness" in that body.
  21. When He became man, this fullness came to indwell human nature (aorist infin. of 1:19) and presently abides in His glorified hypostasis.
  22. The verb itself denotes a permanent residency.

Item #2: Our Positional Security

VERSE 10 and in Him you have been made complete (kai. evn auvtw/| [l.m.s. auvto,j] evste. [p.i.2p eivmi,] peplhrwme,noi( [ plhro,w, to complete, fulfill, a present fact with respect to all believers]), (and He who) is the head over all rule and authority (o[j [n.m.s., "and He"] evstin [p.i.3s. eivmi,] h` kefalh. [n.f.s.] pa,shj [g.f.s. pa/j] avrch/j [g.f.s. avrch,, rule] kai. evxousi,aj( [g.f.s. evxousi,a]);


  1. The simple connective "and" serves to join the truths of the fullness of God in Christ and the believer's completeness in Christ.
  2. Both are equally true.
  3. Both Christ and Christians have fullness, but for different reasons (pleroma and pleroo).
  4. All believers are complete in Christ.
  5. We all became such at salvation.
  6. This total Ph1 completeness has permanent continuity (as does the hypostasis) (perfect tense).
  7. God Himself brought this about as the passive voice indicates.
  8. We do not complete ourselves through works or self-effort.
  9. Our position, not experience, is in view here.
  10. There is a completeness strictly related to union with Christ.
  11. Heretics promote a spiritual caste system to attain the goal.
  12. Everything we need to enjoy the eternal future is ours in lieu of union with Christ.
  13. The One we are in union with and whose destiny we share is the head of Sovereign over all rule and authority.
  14. His superiority over all things arises from His work as creator (cp.1:17) and His work as Savior.
  15. We share in His victory over the Angelic order under Satan.
  16. We will, in Ph3, be superior to them experientially.
  17. We should not be subject to them now.
  18. Creation and conquest (2:15) gives Him preeminence over all demons.
  19. Why should we be in bondage to them via doctrine of demons?

Item #3: Our Deliverance from the ISTA

VERSE 11 (and) in Him you were also circumcised (evn w-| [l.m.s. o[j, "in whom"] kai. [also] perietmh,qhte [ao.p.ind.2p. perite,mnw, circumcise]) with a circumcision made without hands (peritomh/| [instr.f.s. peritomh,] avceiropoih,tw| [instr.f.s.adj. avceiropoi,htoj, not made by human hands, 3X: Mk.14:58; 2Cor.5:1; here, not in a physical sense]), in the removal of the body of the flesh (evn th/| avpekdu,sei [loc.instr.f.s. avpe,kdusij, removal, 1X: verb, avpekdu,omai, discard, disarm, put off; 2X: Col.2:15; 3:9] tou/ sw,matoj [g.n.t.s. sw/ma] th/j sarko,j( [g.f.s. sa,rx]) by the circumcism of Christ (evn th/| peritomh/| [instr.f.s. peritomh,] tou/ Cristou/( [g.m.s. Cristo,j, subjective gen. where noun in gen. produces the action]);


  1. In addition to our having been made complete in Him in a Ph1 sense, we have been circumcised in Him.
  2. "In Him" refers to union with Christ, or positional sanctification.
  3. This begins at the point of salvation.
  4. Among the various things that occur on behalf of and in connection with the individual's salvation is a circumcision.
  5. Paul points out that it is a nonphysical circumcision (as in the case of the ritual).
  6. The circumcision in view is an inward, unseen spiritual operation versus an external visible mark in the flesh.
  7. God the HS performs the inward circumcision (Rom.2:29).
  8. A complete Jew under the Law was one who had both.
  9. The physical circumcision was performed on the male child on the 8th day, according to the Law.
  10. The real or spiritual circumcision occurred on the day of his salvation.
  11. Ritual circumcision is the sign of the real circumcision.
  12. The gnostic legalists, with their Jewish customs, probably insisted on this ritual.
  13. These Gentiles were not to submit to the ritual they had the reality.
  14. Circumcision as a ritual is not commanded for the CA (Gal.5:6; 6:15).
  15. Circumcision has much greater prominence in Galatians due to its absolute insistence by the Judaizers.
  16. Here, at least, it was a potential, if not actual, point of abuse by the Colossian heretics.
  17. To understand real circumcision one must understand ritual circumcision.
  18. In ritual circumcision useless skin, called the foreskin, was surgically removed.
  19. In real circumcision a process occurs that involves the physical flesh.
  20. Note that Paul speaks of "the removal of the body of the flesh".
  21. And note vs.13 where he speaks of the "uncircumcision of your flesh".
  22. In the flesh of man resides the OSN-STA.
  23. Prior to salvation, the individual is viewed (from divine viewpoint) as being spiritually dead and enslaved to ISTA (Col.2:13; Eph.2:1; Rom.7:5,6; 8:1; 6:18).
  24. The sin nature resides in the genetic code of the flesh (called "flesh" in Scripture).
  25. At salvation the absolute rule of sin (ISTA) and death was broken.
  26. The STA is analogous to the foreskin that is removed.
  27. In the O.T. the foreskin equals the sin nature (cf. Jer.4:4; cp. Ezek.44:7).
  28. For the very first time in a personís life the STA is isolated at salvation.
  29. The HS cleanses the heart of sins and frees the soul from its attachment to the "foreskin" (Rom.2:28,29).
  30. Christ is the agent of real circumcision via the HS.
  31. In the case of "real" circumcision the believer can, and does, come back under the rule of the STA (See Doctrine of Rulership of Life).

Item #4: The "Real" Baptism Associated With Salvation

VERSE 12 having been buried with Him in baptism (suntafe,ntej [ sunqa,ptw, to be buried together with; 2X: Rom.6:4] auvtw/| [instr.m.s. auvto,j] evn tw/| baptismw/|( [l.m.s. baptismo,j]), in which you were also raised up (with Him) (evn w-| [l.m.s. o[j, "baptism"] kai. [also] sunhge,rqhte [ao.p.i.2p. sunegei,rw, raise together with; 3X: Col.3:1; Eph.2:6]) through faith in the working of God (dia. th/j pi,stewj [gen.f.s. pi,stij] th/j evnergei,aj [g.f.s. evne,rgeia, working, activity] tou/ qeou/ [g.m.s. Qeo,j], who raised Him from the dead (tou/ evgei,rantoj [ evgei,rw, raise] auvto.n [ac.m.s. auvto,j] evk nekrw/n\ [abl.m.p. nekro,j]).


  1. The introduction rite into Judaism is circumcision, the introductory ordinance of Christianity is water baptism (Mt.28:18-20; Act.2:41).
  2. Water baptism is merely an outward sign of an unseen greater spiritual reality.
  3. Some have distorted the ritual into reality.
  4. The baptism in view here is Spirit baptism (Eph.4:5; 1Cor.12:13).
  5. Spirit baptism occurs at the point of faith in Christ and enters us into union with Christ.
  6. That is, we become members of His body, the Church (1Cor.12:13).
  7. This is the One baptism which places us in union with Him (Eph.4:5).
  8. Water baptism (Christian) illustrates the believerís identification with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.
  9. The convert that is immersed in water at his baptism (water) illustrates what has already taken place at his salvation.
  10. To be buried together with Him in baptism means to be in union with Christ.
  11. We call this Retroactive Positional Truth, RAPT.
  12. Union with Christ's death(s) and burial means that the believer enjoys the same victory as Christ has.
  13. As far as the believer is concerned it means the rule of sin is broken.
  14. Rom.6:38 teaches retroactive positional truth and current positional truth.
  15. Sin and death are not the formidable foes they once were since:
    1. Jesus died for our sins.
    2. The sting of death is removed.
  16. We share in His victory over sin and the grave.
  17. The convert coming up out of the water illustrates Current Positional Truth, CPT.
  18. Both RAPT and CPT occur at the point of BHS.
  19. CPT truth identifies us with Christ's resurrection.
  20. RAPT looks backward, CPT looks forward.
  21. When He died, our old man (sins of body) was crucified with Him (Rom.6:6a).
  22. The ultimate blessing is that the OSN will be eradicated (Rom.6:6b).
  23. The immediate or Ph2 blessing is we no longer need to be slaves to it (Rom.6:6c).
  24. "In which" in Col.2:12 refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  25. "Raised up with Him" refers to current positional truth.
  26. Positionally, not yet experientially, we share His resurrection.
  27. As He was raised physically from the grave, so we shall be.
  28. The term "raised up together" is also used of current positional truth in Eph.2:6; Col.3:1.
  29. In Rom.6:59 Paul declares that retroactive positional truth necessitates current positional truth.
  30. The believer raised from the water of baptism also declares his readiness to walk according to the Christian way of life (Rom.6:4).
  31. In order to be placed in union with Christ and to share all He has secured, an act of personal faith must occur.
  32. "Through faith in the working of God" refers to saving faith in the resurrection of Christ and the whole gospel history.
  33. At salvation we are to be presented with the salient (prominent) facts of the Person and work of Christ.
  34. Paul asserts the climactic fact of the historical steps to our salvation that God raised Him up.

Their Advantages as Viewed From Their Pre-Salvation Condition

VERSE 13 And when you were dead in (your) transgressions (kai. o;ntaj [ eivmi,, being] u`ma/j [ac.p. su,] nekrou.j [ac.m.p. nekro,j] {evn} toi/j paraptw,masin [loc.nt.p. para,ptwma, 20X: This synonym for STA activity has behind it the idea of a false step. NAS translates it transgressions(s) 16X and trespass(es) 4X. Cognate verb is parapi,ptw fall away. Used of Adamís original sin, Rom.5:15-20; Israel's current corporate apostasy, Rom.11:11,12; general STA activity, Mt.6:14,15; Rom.4:25; 2Cor.5:19; Eph.1:7; 2:1,5,etc.]) and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (kai. th/| avkrobusti,a| [l.f.s. avkrobusti,a] u`mw/n( [g.p. su,] th/j sarko.j [g.f.s. sa,rx]), He made you alive together with Him (sunezwopoi,hsen [ao.a.i.3s. suzwpoie,w, 2X: in a parallel verse, cf. Eph.2:5, make alive together] u`ma/j [ac.p. su,] su.n auvtw/|( [instr.m.s. auvto,j]), having forgiven us all our transgressions (carisa,menoj [ cari,zomai, give, grant, bestow, deal graciously with, forgive] h`mi/n [d.p. evgw,] pa,nta [ac.nt.p. pa/j] ta. paraptw,mataÅ [ac.nt.p. para,ptwma]),


  1. Paul keys off the word "dead" from vs.12 to remind them of their spiritual plight before salvation.
  2. The death Paul speaks of here is spiritual death, not physical death (Eph.2:1,5).
  3. They were born physically alive but spiritually dead.
  4. Spiritual death occurs when Adamís Original Sin, AOS is imputed to man at birth (Rom.5:12-21).
  5. As goes Adam in the garden, so goes his progeny mankind.
  6. AOS led to his spiritual death and the acquisition of a sin nature.
  7. His progeny receives a sin nature via procreation and genetic engineering (male parent is the transmitter).
  8. They (Colossians), like all humanity, were born under spiritual death.
  9. Naturally they engaged in STA behavior called transgressions.
  10. They were spiritually dead while sinning.
  11. Also, they were enslaved to the "foreskin" of the soul, the STA.
  12. Obviously literal or physical uncircumcision is not in view but rather its spiritual counterpart (cp. Jer.4:4).
  13. Before salvation, all are totally enslaved to ISTA (Rom.6:17-23).
  14. The STA's tyranny is broken at salvation (Rom.7).
  15. We no longer, as believers, have to go on submitting ourselves to its dictates (Rom.6:6,7,12-14).
  16. In such a condition God provided a new life and a new standing before Him.
  17. They went form position in Adam, with its accompanying spiritual death, to union with Christ with its spiritual life.
  18. As Christ was raised bodily from the realm of physical death, so they were positionally raised to share His life E.L.
  19. In Eph.2:5,6 Paul says the same thing, adding the statement respecting CPT.
  20. At salvation E.L. is imputed by the HS and is in the sphere of union with Christ.
  21. Also, their status, with respect to all their sins, was reversed.
  22. At salvation the sinner is given total unconditional pardon of all past sins (Act.5:31; 13:38; 26:18; Eph.1:7).

VERSE 14 having cancelled out the certificate of debt (evxalei,yaj [ evxalei,fw, wipe out, away, blot out, rub out; 5X: Act.3:19; Rev.3:5; 7:17; 21:4] to. ceiro,grafon [ac.nt.s.adj. ceiro,grafon, record of debt. A word found commonly in the papyri and indicates a certificate of debt on which the signature of the debtor was inscribed. When the debt was paid, a large X was placed over the document, see Philm.19]) consisting of decrees against us (toi/j do,gmasin [l.nt.p. do,gma, decree, edict, rule, order, regulation, law; 5X: Lk.2:1, of Caesar; Act.16:4; 17:7, both of Caesar's edict; Eph.2:16, parallels this verse] kaqV h`mw/n [g.p. evgw,]) which was hostile to us ( o] [n.nt.s. o[j, i.e. certificate of debt] h=n [imperf.ind.3s. eivmi,] u`penanti,on [n.nt.s.adj. u`penanti,oj, 2X: Heb.10:27, "adversaries", against, opposed to] h`mi/n( [d.p. evgw,]); and He has taken it out of the way (kai. auvto. [ac.nt.s. auvto,j] h=rken [pf.a.i.3s. ai;rw, remove, take up, take away. See 1Jn.3:5; Mt.27:32] evk tou/ me,sou [abl.nt.s.adj. me,soj, "out of the way"]), having nailed it to the cross (proshlw,saj auvto. [, debt of certificate]) tw/| staurw/|\ [d.m.s. stauro,j]).


  1. Here, Paul explains how it is that God can forgive us all our transgressions.
  2. Christ Himself removed the barrier between God and man.
  3. The barrier consists of personal sins.
  4. In a similar passage in Eph., Paul likens personal sins to a barrier (Eph.2:13,14).
  5. Here, he likens personal sins to an I.O.U. or certificate of debt.
  6. A certificate of debt was a piece of paper that specified the nature of the debt.
  7. The debtor in this case is the sinner.
  8. The creditor is the Law, of which God is its author.
  9. The "decrees" are the various commandments of the Mosaic Law.
  10. Because man regularly violates the moral code of God, he is in debt and the Law is against him.
  11. The individual ordinances of the Mosaic Law declare the debt of mankind.
  12. Mankind owes God +R (righteousness), but is totally incapable of repayment.
  13. Mankind is under a curse because no one can keep all the decrees all the time (Gal.3:10; Jam.2:10).
  14. So the Law was "against us", offering us no hope or encouragement.
  15. Further, it was hostile to us, demanding wrath (judgment) for the unpaid debt.
  16. Jesus Christ came on the scene and did something about it.
  17. He cancelled our I.O.U.
  18. In fact, He permanently took away the debt burden.
  19. No sin was too great for Him to pay off.
  20. Christ received in His own body the penalty for every sin of all mankind (1Jn.2:2).
  21. The I.O.U. was nailed to the Cross, figuratively speaking.
  22. For on the Cross, He endured the penalty for all sins, thus canceling this tremendous debt.
  23. No subsequent action is required with respect to the debt He cancelled.

The Impact of the Cross on a Hostile Angelic Order (vs.15)

VERSE 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities (avpekdusa,menoj [ avpekdu,omai, 2X: disarm, discard, cf. Col.3:9; noun avpekdou,sij, Col.2:11] ta.j avrca.j [ac.f.p. avrch,] kai. ta.j evxousi,aj [ac.f.p. evxousi,a]), He made a public display of them (evdeigma,tisen [ao.a.i.3s. deigmati,zw, 2X. This rare word means "to exhibit", "to make public", "to bring to public notice", especially that which seeks concealment, so that it almost has the sense of "to expose". In Mt.1:19, the only other N.T. citation, Joseph did not want to expose Mary to public censure. Here in Col., the sense is "to make a public exhibition", not by mere proclamation, but in a triumphal procession] evn parrhsi,a|( [l.f.s. parrhsi,a, with openness "He exposed them openly"]), having triumphed over them through it (i.e. the Cross) (qriambeu,saj [ qriambeu,w, triumph over, 2X: used in 2Cor.2:14 of Christ leading Christians as willing captives. Also means to lead a triumphal procession (Plut.). He leads the archai and exousiai in as a Roman conqueror leads his captives] auvtou.j [ac.m.p. auvto,j] evn auvtw/|Å [instr.m.s. auvto,j ]The Cross is the antecedent; Christ is the subject of the verbs in vss.13-15]).


  1. Christ is the subject of the verbs in vss.13-15.
  2. The heretics incorrectly represented the role of angels in creation and redemption.
  3. Paul refers here to the triumph over Satan and the fallen angels through the Cross.
  4. The Cross effectively negated Satan's authority to keep men in the realm of darkness (Heb.2:14).
  5. The Cross broke Satan's back. He not longer has a legal claim to the planet.
  6. Christ, in a show of victory, made all the demonic forces appear in a triumphal procession in heaven.
  7. This occurred after His resurrection and at His ascension.
  8. As a Roman conqueror leads captives into Rome, so Christ leads rulers and authorities in heaven.
  9. This public display signaled Satan's final doom and failure.
  10. In Lk.11:20-22, Jesus taught the thing He did.
  11. Satan has been stripped of his power, and the post-ascension victory procession displayed Satan's impotence.
  12. He cannot postpone his final doom.
  13. He knows his vulnerability.
  14. Christ's triumph comes via the Cross.
  15. Through it, He lays legal claim to all things.
  16. From the grave, He arose victorious, stripping them of their power.
  17. They could not prevent the resurrection and ascension.
  18. They were unable to frustrate the incarnation and they will be unable to frustrate Christ's return.

VERSE 16 Therefore let no one act as your judge (ou=n [draws inference and application from what precedes] Mh. tij [n.m.s., "no one"] krine,tw [p.a.imper.3s. kri,nw] u`ma/j [ac.p. su,]) in regard to food or drink (evn brw,sei [l.f.s. brw/sij, food] kai. evn po,sei [l.f.s. po,sij]) or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day ( h' [or] evn me,rei [l.nt.s. me,roj, part, piece, w/en = with regard to] e`orth/j [g.f.s. e`oth,, feast] h' [or] neomhni,aj [g.f.s. noumhni,a new moon] h' sabba,twn\ [g.n.t.p. sa,bbaton]).


  1. The false teaching at Colossae consisted of a merger or a mixture of Jewish legalism, Greek philosophy (or incipient Gnostic philosophy) and possible Oriental mysticism.
  2. The false teaching was either Judaist Gnosticism or Gnostic Judaism (were the teachers Jewish or Gentile?).
  3. The heresy reflected a strong Jewish ritualistic character.
  4. The heresy prescribed for daily living a strict code of asceticism and legalism.
  5. A feature of Gnosticism was that it taught that all matter was evil and that mind or soul was intrinsically good.
  6. This led to a denial that the material world was the immediate creative work of God, who is a Spirit.
  7. Such a philosophy would deny the incarnation (true humanity), death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  8. If matter is evil, then the body is evil and the heresy sought to suppress the desires of the body through a rigid code of behavior.
  9. Even legitimate desires, like food and drink, were subjected to stringent regulations of an ascetic nature.
  10. Dietary laws of a Jewish kind were promoted.
  11. Animal flesh and wine and strong drink were especially targeted.
  12. The Mosaic Law did not forbid wine or strong drink (Deut.14:26).
  13. It restricted what the Jewish believer could eat by way of meat for ceremonial reasons.
  14. Jesus, in one comprehensive pronouncement, made all meats clean (Mk.7:19; cp. Act.10:15; Rom.14:14; 1Cor.10:25ff).
  15. The monasticism of later centuries forbid the consumption of red meat and wine (1Tim.4:15, see vs.6).
  16. New Agers promote a vegetarian diet, as do others.
  17. Paul introduces a further principle, which can impose a voluntary limitation on Christian liberty.
  18. That being consideration of respect for the conscience of the weaker believer (Rom.14:1ff; 1Cor.8:1ff; 10:23ff).
  19. This principle is invoked when Christians are asserting their liberty at all costs.
  20. At Colossae the principle of Christian liberty needed to be asserted in the face of specious (plausible) arguments to undermine it.
  21. The heretics and their followers were constantly criticizing the lack of legal conformity with the church.
  22. He exhorts them not to be influenced by or intimidated by the heretics.
  23. The same applies with respect to the holy days.
  24. Under the Law, the observance of such days was required.
  25. If a believer wishes to restrict himself in matters of food and drink, or wants to set aside a certain day for special commemoration, that is between him and the Lord (see Rom.14:16).
  26. To regard these things as matters of religious obligation is a mistake for Christians to make.
  27. Paul rebuked the Galatians for instituting a Christian calendar as a step backwards (Gal.4:8-10).
  28. The Colossians came under severe criticism for not observing feasts and new moons and Sabbaths.
  29. A festival was one of the 3 major feasts in the Jewish calendar: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Ex.23:14-18).
  30. The "new moon" marked the observance of the lunar calendar (Num.10:10; 28:11; 1Sam.20:18).
  31. Paul lamented believers' observation of it (Gal.4:10).
  32. "Sabbath days" pointed to Saturday, the day of weekly rest.
  33. This day was so designated from creation.
  34. It was a day to commemorate grace, as there was to be a suspension of all usual workaday activities.
  35. It was an institution (Ex.20:8-11; 31:12-18).
  36. Its observance is not a command for the Church Age.
  37. However, Sunday is the new Lord's day, since the first day of the week commemorates His resurrection (Rev.1:10; cp.Act.20:7; 1Cor.16:2).
  38. Sunday soon came to be to Christians what Saturday was to Jews.
  39. To require believers to adhere to the same rigid requirements as authorized under the Jewish Sabbath is unwarranted Biblically.
  40. We can still regard every day alike and still commemorate Sunday as the day of Jesus' resurrection.
  41. Because it was the day of His resurrection, it came to be the principal day of assembly and worship in the Christian world (except among the Adventists).
  42. With respect to Sunday, no special restrictions are enjoined except that of assembly.
  43. No one can legitimately criticize you for not strictly observing the Jewish Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday.
  44. Our civilization allows for sufficient time for R & R.

True Intent of Jewish Ritual

VERSE 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come (a[ [n.nt.p. o[j] evstin [p.i.3s. eivmi,] skia. [n.f.s. ????, 7X: shadow; Mt.4:16, "shadow of death"; Mk.4:32, shadow of a tree; Lk.1:79, same as Mt.4:16; Act.5:15, Peter's shadow healed people; Heb.8:5; 10:1, of O.T. types as in Col.2:17] tw/n mello,ntwn( [ me,llw, is used regularly of any impending prophetic and/or historical happening regardless of the actual time elapse, Mt.3:7; Lk.7:2]); but the substance (reality) belongs to Christ (de. [but] to. sw/ma [n.nt.s., body ®of a body that casts a shadow only here in N.T., though the thought is implicit elsewhere] tou/ Cristou/Å [g.m.s. Cristo,j, Gen. of apposition?]).


  1. Why must they refuse to be judged in these things?
  2. Because all these things belonged to a past order.
  3. The legal requirements of a previous dispensation were but a shadow of which Christ is the reality or substance.
  4. With His appearing and work a new era of liberty has been inaugurated.
  5. The contrast between the shadow and reality is especially elaborated in Hebrews (cf. Heb.8:5; 10:1).
  6. The Law contains an elaborate shadow, Christology and soteriology, as seen in:
    1. Calendar of feasts, starting with Passover.
    2. Dietary and hygiene code.
    3. Animal and crop offerings.
    4. Tabernacle and temple.
  7. Even certain historical events contained typological significance (1Cor.10:1,2).
  8. Since the reality or fulfillment has come, believers of the CA are not required to practice the shadows.
  9. A shadow is also called a type (tupoj Rom.5:14; Heb.8:5; parabolh Heb.11:19).
  10. The heretics at Colossae selectively incorporated certain Jewish legal requirements into their sect.

The Risk Associated With SG3

VERSE 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize (mhdei.j [n.m.s.adj., cardinal] katabrabeue,tw [p.a.imper.3s. katabrabeu,w, hapax officiate against; cp. verb brabeu,w, act as a judge or umpire of Col.3:15, "rule"; cp. noun brabei,on, prize of 1Cor.9:24; Phil.3:14. The verb is very rare and literally means "give an unfavorable ruling" upon a competitor in some athletic contest, the ruling given by the umpire. The RSV renders: "Let no one disqualify you". ARV: "give an unfavorable ruling". In the various renderings for the compound verb the notion of depriving someone of something which he would have otherwise possessed, is present] u`ma/j [ac.p. su,, as object]) by delighting in self-abasement (qe,lwn [ qe,lw, desire, wish] evn tapeinofrosu,nh| [l.f.s. tapeinofrosu,nh, humility in a good sense, cf. Act.20:19; Eph.4:2; Phil.2:3; Col.3:12; 1Pet.5:5; and of false humility, Col.2:18,23, "self-abasement". This N.T. compound is expressive of mental attitude humility. The term and associate words had a contemptible connotation outside the N.T. {except LXX}]) and the worship of angels (kai. qrhskei,a| [l.f.s. qrhskei,a, 4X, religion, worship: Act.26:5; Col.2:18; Jam.1:26,27; cp. qrh,skoj, Jam.1:26, religious. The term refers to the external practice of religion. A religion of angels was a prominent feature of the sect] tw/n avgge,lwn( [g.m.p. a;ggeloj]), taking his stand on (visions) he has seen (evmbateu,wn( [ evmbateu,w, 1X. This word puzzled interpreters, many of whom resorted to conjectural textual emendation. But Sir William Ramsay solved the problem when in 1913 he drew attention to a recently published inscription from the temple of Apollo of Karos, dating from the 2nd century AD. This inscription contains the previously unattested Greek verb evmbateu,w, which had baffled so many readers of Col.2:18. It is used as a technical term for some act in a mystery ritual. The effect of the verb as used here by Paul, says Ramsay, "depends on the fact it was a religious term familiar to his Phrygian readers". They would catch the suggestion that the person alluded to had formally "entered upon" his higher experience like someone being admitted to a higher grade in one of the mystery religions, and was now appealing to that superior enlightenment in support of his teaching] a] e`o,raken [pf.a.i.3s. o[raw, see ®experience]), inflated without reason by his fleshly mind (fusiou,menoj [ fusio,w, pass. be conceited or arrogant] eivkh/| [adv., in vain, without reason] u`po. tou/ noo.j [means ab.m.s. nou/j, mind] th/j sarko.j [g.f.s. sa,rx, descrip. indwelling STA] auvtou/( [g.m.s. auvto,j]),


  1. Paul introduces some more features of the heresy as he exhorts them to avoid any association with the cult.
  2. He warns, using as his analogy the games.
  3. If a player (contestant) did not play by the rules, a disqualifying judgment would be levied by the umpire.
  4. The contestant would be deprived of the prize he might otherwise have attained.
  5. They would lose the ultimate SG3 prize if they failed to maintain their doctrinal steadfastness to the end (cf. 2Jn.8).
  6. Compare similar observations in 1Cor.9:24 and Phil.3:14.
  7. The false teacher of the cult delighted in self-abasement or false humility.
  8. There are those who love to make a show of exceptional piety.
  9. And there are those who are prone to be taken in by such displays.
  10. They pretend to have found a higher plane of spiritual experience.
  11. This kind of claim impresses those who are looking for a one shot experience.
  12. Pride of appearance was a significant factor in his show of pseudo humility.
  13. Perhaps he felt he was unworthy to deal directly with God, hence the need for angelic intermediaries. (Probably both are involved.)
  14. This self-abasement and the forms it took, including severe ascetic regimens (cf. vs.23), he insisted on in his followers.
  15. The guru of the cult practiced extreme asceticism (the practice of extreme self-denial as a means of religious self discipline).
  16. Genuine humility and grace orientation, produced by the Holy Spirit, are commendable (Act.20:19; Eph.4:2; Phil.2:3; Col.3:12; 1Pet.5:5).
  17. Self-denial is also a part of each believer's Ph2, but it is not the same for all believers, and rarely is it extreme (John the Baptist).
  18. The worship or religion of angels has as its background the Gnostic belief that all matter is evil (explains the asceticism).
  19. To explain the existence of the material world, the heretics taught that a series of angelic emanations created it.
  20. According to them, God created an angel, who created another, who in turn created another angel, ad infinitum.
  21. The last angel in this series created the world.
  22. This angelic cosmogony denied God's direct creation and supervision of the world.
  23. They so stressed God's transcendence so as to deny His immanence.
  24. They denied His present work.
  25. This led to a worship of angels, which is never at any time authorized (cf. Rev.19:10; 22:8,9).
  26. We are never to pray to angels or saints (cf. Act.10:26).
  27. There is only one mediator between God and man the man Christ Jesus (1Tim.2:5).
  28. Angel worship was the non-Jewish aspect of the Jewish legalism and Gnostic asceticism we call the Colossian heresy.
  29. The phrase "taking his stand ... seen" refers to some spiritual experience which this teacher had undergone.
  30. He claimed to have had special visions and revelations that he alone witnessed.
  31. If he did in fact, then he was in contact with demons (as New Agers today are).
  32. He elevated extra Biblical content and based their authoritative teaching on what they had personally experienced.
  33. Exploitation of visions form a sharp contrast to Paulís account of his trip to Paradise (2Cor.12:4).
  34. All of this, and the attention he elicited, caused him to be swelled up with pride.
  35. Paul says that it was "without cause", meaning that his pride was not even the result of a genuine spiritual experience.
  36. Paul's temptation tendency to be proud due to his extraordinary experience was based on a legitimate happening.
  37. A thorn in the flesh was given him to check his STA.
  38. The source of his pride was his STA. (Quite a picture is made of this unnamed person: self-effacing, severely ascetic, inwardly proud, claiming sensational visionary and revelatory experiences.)

What He Is Not Doing

VERSE 19 and not holding fast to the head (kai. ouv kratw/n [ krate,w, seize, hold fast, grasp ® arrest] th.n kefalh,n( [ac.f.s. kefalh,]), from whom the entire body (evx ou- [ab.f.s. o[j] pa/n [ac.nt.s. pa/j] to. sw/ma [n.nt.s.]), being supplied and held together (evpicorhgou,menon [ evpicorhge,w, supply, 5X: 2Cor.9:10; Gal.3:5; Col.2:9; 2Pet.1:5,11. Noun evpicorhgi,a, 2X: Eph.4:16; Phil.1:19. This verb was used of a person who underwrote the pay for singers and dancers in a play. The noun is used of the function of joints and ligaments joining bones together. Not used of a husband providing for a wife] kai. sumbibazo,menon [ sumbiba,zw, 6X, unite: Eph.4:16; Col.2:2, "welded"; Col.2:19, "held together"; Act.9:22, "proving"; 16:10, "concluding"; 1Cor.2:16, "instruct"]) by the joints and ligaments (dia. tw/n a`fw/n [gen.f.p., 2X: cf. Eph.4:16] kai. sunde,smwn [g.m.p. su,ndesmoj, that which binds together ligament, 4X: Act. 8:23, fetter, chain "bondage"; Eph.4:3, "bond of peace"; Col.3:14, "perfect bond of unity". Verb sunde,omai, Heb.13:3]), grown with a growth which is from God (au;xei [p.a.i.3s. auvxa,nw, grow, increase] th.n au;xhsin [growth] tou/ qeou/Å [gen.m.s., source]).


  1. Pride in private subjective religious experience is not the result of maintaining contact with the Head.
  2. All parts of the body of Christ will only function properly so long as they maintain contact with the Head.
  3. The heretics and their followers did not hold fast to the Head.
  4. The way you hold fast to the Head is tenacity with respect to GAP (face to face).
  5. Neglect of GAP severs the believer from Christ experientially.
  6. A show of religiosity is not a substitute for the sound words of BD (1Tim.4:6).
  7. This must be a constant uninterrupted function or the part will malfunction.
  8. The false teacher(s) of Colossae were not holding fast to the Head, having repudiated the local ministry there.
  9. The verb "hold fast" is a strong word (krate,w, seize, arrest).
  10. Each part must resolve to hold fast to the invisible Head by adopting a hardcore approach to assembly (Heb.10:25).
  11. Those who put careers and job advancement over association with a sound local ministry make a big mistake.
  12. In order for the entire body (no part is an exception) to be adjusted to the Head, the body must be provided ("being supplied") for by the joints and ligaments.
  13. Joints and ligaments join bones and enable the bones to carry out necessary bodily movement.
  14. The skeleton has joints and ligaments at the appropriate places.
  15. The parts must function properly so the skeletal makeup can carry out commands coming from the Head.
  16. The joints are the places of contact between elements of a skeleton with the parts that surround and support it.
  17. The joints enable the body to move with the supporting parts.
  18. The ligaments are tough bands of tissue connecting the articular (of or relating to a joint) extremities of bones (or support an organ in place).
  19. In Paul's analogy, it is these two functions or parts that "supply" and unite ("held together") the body.
  20. Since each part equals a believer, the joints and ligaments must refer to a specialized function in the body of Christ.
  21. We conclude that these two parts or functions must refer to communication gifts like PT.
  22. They are listed in Eph.4:11.
  23. They are designed to supply the entire body with spiritual nourishment and direction.
  24. They serve to unite the various parts and functions for designated service (cf. Eph.4:12).
  25. Those who are designated to teach others because of a gift of communication are the joints and ligaments.
  26. Teachers provide for and unite positive volition.
  27. Any real growth that the body corporate or locally experiences comes from God.
  28. The teacher sows, God causes the growth.
  29. In Eph.4:11-16, Paul uses the same analogy in a parallel context.
  30. The overview is as follows:
    1. Christ gave communication gifts to men (vs.11),
    2. To equip believers for service, to build up the body, to attain unity within the body (vs.12,13).
    3. As believers, we are not to be influenced by alien concepts as we once were (vs.14).
    4. Instead, we are to adhere to the truth in love, making the MAJG (vs.15).
    5. The Head, namely Christ, through every functional joint (gift of communication), results in growth of the body.
  31. Those parts of the body that fail to hold fast to the Head via the gift are incapable of attaining the full measure of growth.
  32. No believer is an exception.

The Spiritual Implications of Retroactive Positional Truth

VERSE 20 If you have died with Christ (Eiv [1st] avpeqa,nete [ao.a.i.2p. avpoqnh,skw] su.n Cristw/| [d.m.s. Cristo,j]) to the elementary principles of the world (avpo. tw/n stoicei,wn [abl.nt.p. stoicei,wn 7X: good sense: Heb.5:12; 2Pet.3:10,12; bad sense: Gal.4:3,9; Col.2:8,20] tou/ ko,smou( [g.m.s. ko,smoj]), why, as if you were living in the world (ti, [interrog. ti,j, n.m.s.] w`j [compar.] zw/ntej [ za,w] evn ko,smw| [l.m.s. ko,smoj], do you submit yourself to decrees, such as (dogmati,zesqeÈ [p.dep.i.2p. dogmati,zw, 1X: obey rules]),


  1. Through BHS every believer shares in Christís victory over sin on the cross.
  2. We call this retroactive positional truth.
  3. We also share in His resurrection (cf. 3:1).
  4. On the cross, Jesus Christ was judged for the sins of the STA.
  5. Christ did all the suffering we share in the benefits.
  6. Because we share in His death(s), we enjoy the grace benefits associated with retroactive positional truth.
  7. Rom.6 contains the most detailed treatment of retroactive positional truth in the N.T.
  8. Verse 6 states the breakup and ultimate nullification of the STA's rule in the believerís life.
  9. Three steps are involved related to Ph1, Ph2 and Ph3.
  10. Verse 6a deals with the problem of the sins of ISTA: "Knowing this that our old self was crucified with Him," (Ph1).
  11. Verse 6b declares the fact of the eradication of the ISTA under ultimate sanctification "that the body of sin might be done away with," (Ph3).
  12. Verse 6c presents the experiential victory possible for each believer over ISTA "that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Ph2).
  13. In our verse, the idea is that since they share in His death over the STA and its activities, why do they enslave themselves to further STA corruption.
  14. Why are some returning to the elementary principles of legalism, asceticism, fear, and superstition?
  15. By submitting themselves to the rules of the heretics they enslave themselves to that which Christ's death liberates us from.
  16. Those who live as citizens and permanent residents of the cosmos are beholden to the elementary principles of the cosmos.
  17. In Christ we have liberty from the unscriptural doís and doníts of society.
  18. Insofar as these rules do not have scriptural sanction.
  19. Manmade traditions are not something we must follow when the Bible says otherwise.
  20. Establishment and moral principles are the exception since they are biblically based.
  21. Every society, culture, sect, religion, subculture, and family has its own set of rules.
  22. The Galatians had returned to the enslavement of the cosmos when they fell in with the Judaizers (Gal.4:8-12).
  23. Their separation from grace was not dissimilar from their pre-salvation enslavement "turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things".
  24. Review:
    1. Via retroactive positional truth, the believer has been liberated from the elementary principles of the cosmos.
    2. Death brings separation and freedom from prior obligation (cf. Rom.7:16, death of a spouse).
    3. These legalistic regulations originate within the realm of spiritual death and often represent a works approach to salvation.
    4. They are "weak" in that they cannot provide the 3 adjustments (salvation, RB, and MAJG)
    5. They are "beggarly" in that they cannot supply SG3.
    6. Therefore do not yield to legalism.
    7. When you do, you act as though you were a child of the cosmos.
    8. While we are resident aliens in the world, we are not of it (Jn.15:19).
    9. We should use it but not abuse it (1Cor.7:31).
VERSE 21 "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch (Mh. a[yh| [ao.m.subj.2s. a[ptomai, touch, cp. 2Cor.6:17] mhde. [conj.] geu,sh| [ao.dep.subj.2s. geu,omai, taste, experience] mhde. qi,gh|j( [ao.a.subj.2s. qigga,nw, touch, 3X: Heb.11:28; 12:20])!"

VERSE 22 (which {refer} to things destined to perish with the using) (a[ [n.nt. ?o|?] evstin [p.i.3s. eivmi,, destined] pa,nta [n.ny.p. pa/j, "things"] eivj fqora.n [ac.f.s. fqora,, decay, corruption, that which is perishable i.e. food, "to perish"] th/| avpocrh,sei( [l.f.s. avpo,crhsij, process of being used hapax]) ? in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men (kata. ta. evnta,lmata [ac.nt.p. e;ntalma, 3X: Mt.15:9, "precepts"; NAS, parallel: Mk.7:7, commandment, rule] kai. didaskali,aj [ac.f.p. didaskali,a, teaching] tw/n avnqrw,pwn( [g.m.p. a;nqrwpoj])? (ends question begun in vs.20)


  1. The sorts of taboos that the legalists at Colossae imposed are seen in these 3 prohibitions.
  2. They taught spirituality by abstinence.
  3. Since both the 1st and 3rd item deals with the sense of touch, the 1st command emphasizes sexual abstinence.
  4. The verb (a[ptomai) is so used in 1Cor.7:1 (encourages the single life).
  5. Paul did allow for temporary sexual abstinence in marriage for spiritual reasons (1Cor.7:5).
  6. The heretics took these things to an extreme, never intended by WOG.
  7. Paul prophesied of this distortion in the rise of the monastic orders (1Tim.4:3 not associated with food also).
  8. Sex is a mutual obligation within marriage (1Cor.7:24).
  9. Sex for R & R is biblically prescribed (cf. Prov.5:15-19).
  10. The second commandment prescribed a diet free of meat (especially red) as means of spirituality.
  11. However, Scripture allows for all foods to be eaten if received with thanks (1Tim.4:3-5).
  12. Jesus declared all foods clean for CA (Mk.7:19; cp. Act.10:15).
  13. Under the Law certain meats (like pork) were classified unclean for ceremonial reasons (Lev.11).
  14. It is okay to refrain from eating certain foods for health or personal preference reasons.
  15. The legalist even forbid touching such prohibited foods (as seen in the 3rd prohibition).
  16. This is reminiscent of Eve's response to Satan's inquiry in Gen.3:3.
  17. The legalist fears that even casual contact with the taboo item will defile him.
  18. Under the Law certain things were not to be touched (corpses).
  19. Besides, all the things that the ascetics forbid are subject to the temporary order.
  20. These things are material and transitory and cannot affect the soul.
  21. Paul declared that food and digestion were not permanent (1Cor.6:13).
  22. Food or what one eats is morally neutral (1Cor.8:8).
  23. Moderation in all things is always in order.
  24. Further, these taboos are of purely human invention.
  25. Behind the final phrase of vs.22 lies LXX of Isa.29:13 (this verse passed into general Christian usage as one of several O.T. testimonies to prove Jewish apostasy) quoted in Mt.15:9 (Mk.7:7).
  26. The scribes (and later heretics) nullified the WOG by their manmade traditions.
  27. Paul echoes this passage with its implication that humanly originated taboos frustrate the true teaching of BD.

Asceticism Cannot Control STA

VERSE 23 These are matters which have, to be sure (a[tina, [n.nt.p. o[stij, "these"] evstin [p.i.3s. eivmi,] e;conta [ e;cw] me.n [emphatic use, "to be sure"], the appearance of wisdom in a self-made religion (lo,gon [ac.m.s. lo,goj, "appearance", also reputation; idea or a report] sofi,aj [g.f.s. sofi,a] evn evqeloqrhski,a| [l.f.s. evqeloqrhski,a|, "self-made religion" Hapax 3:155 This word is probably one Paul coined {mm regards it as such}. Suggested translations include "a faked religion", Bate; a "self-made cult", Deismann. The word is a compound made up of qe,lw to will and qrhskei,a, worship, see 2:18 "worship of angels"]) and self abasement and severe treatment of the body (kai. tapeinofrosu,nh| [l.f.s. tapeinofrosu,nh, 7X: Good sense: Act.20:19; Eph.4:2; Phil.2:3; 1Pet.5:5; Col.3:12; and bad sense: Col.2:18,23] Îkai.Ð avfeidi,a| [l.f.s. avfeidi,a|, severe discipline, 1X] sw,matoj( [g.nt.s. sw/ma], (but are) of no value against fleshly indulgence (ouvk [not] tini [d.f.s. ti.j, any] evn timh/| [l.f.s. timh|/, honor, respect, price, value] pro.j plhsmonh.n [ac.f.s. plhsmonh, Hapax 6:128, satisfaction, pleasure] th/j sarko,jÅ [g.f.s. sa,rx, STA]).


  1. As we saw in vs.22, asceticism and legalism:
    1. First, permits the material to have authority over the spiritual (you are spiritual by the food you eat; Jesus taught differently, Mk.7:18-ff).
    2. Second, originates with men, not God.
  2. Third, it is hypocritical, says vs.23.
  3. It has quite a reputation with the cosmos.
  4. The ascetics usually awe the cosmos.
  5. The commandments and teachings of legalism carry an appearance or reputation for wisdom.
  6. Regarding this pseudo religious intellectualism, four observations are made.
  7. First, it worships the will of man placing it over the will of God.
  8. Human will replaces God's will; it is so because the individual says it is, without an external appeal to the Bible.
  9. So, it is a self-made cult.
  10. Second, it is marked by pseudo humility.
  11. This put on humility arises from pride (cf. 2:18).
  12. Third, it punishes the body imposing fasting, sleeplessness, exposure, and beatings (self-flagellation, etc.)
  13. Fourth, this abuse of the body is ineffective in dealing with the problem of the OSN/STA.
  14. Asceticism and legalism is of no value when it comes to dealing with ISTA.
  15. The more legalistic one becomes the more the STA asserts itself.
  16. Rules and extreme ascetic behavior cannot control sensual indulgence.
  17. Only BD and IHS can curb the appetites of the STA (and prayer).
  18. As we grow we learn to slow down and control our STAs.
  19. Ascetic and legalistic behavior results in some of the biggest hypocrites.
  20. Do not be impressed or influenced by ascetic regimes (they are not the Rx Scripture prescribes).



May 1992

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