Part 6 – Colossians 2:8-15
The early message in Paul’s letter to the Colossians has been consistent and clear. He wants the church to stay true to the core tenets of the Gospel. He exhorts them to walk in the same Jesus Christ that they have received, in order to remain established in their faith. In using this language, he is calling them to maintain their focus on Jesus, because it is clear that Paul believes the threat of false teaching and division is looming over the saints in Colossae.
For the first time, Paul specifically identifies some of the kinds of things he wants the Colossian church to avoid, things that people sometimes believe in “rather than Christ.” He warns them about four particular threats:
- Philosophy is the study of knowledge, ideas, and truth. Paul does not have any problem with critical thinking or healthy dialogue, but he does object to false teaching that’s based on flawed arguments.
- Empty Deceit occurs when outright lies are used to discredit Gospel truth.
- Human Tradition consists of ideas that are historical or preferred in a given culture for whatever reason. Again, there is nothing wrong with human tradition, but the wisdom of the Bible must rank more highly as the source of Truth.
- The Elements of the World refer to the natural ways we tend to think and feel as human beings. Because of our sin nature, sometimes our basic assumptions can be in direct opposition to the core truth of the Christian faith.
- John 1:1-17
- Acts 8:26-40
- Romans 2:25-29
- II Timothy 4:1-5
- I Peter 3:18-22
- What are some specific false teachings that are prevalent in our culture? In what way are these not according to the Gospel? How have you seen people “taken captive” by bad theology?
- Have you been baptized? If yes, share the details of your baptism. If not, what is preventing you from being baptized?
- How “rooted” do you feel in your faith in Christ? What are some specific steps you can take to grow those roots of faith deeper in order to “establish” your faith more strongly?
Once Paul has finished directly addressing these heretical threats, he returns to his previous practice of repeatedly reminding the Colossian saints of the fundamentals of the Gospel. He talks about the spiritual practices of circumcision and baptism, emphasizing the symbolic significance of each in the life of a believer. He then, once again, points back to the significance of Christ, that through His death on the cross God made us “alive with Him, “forgave us all our trespasses,” and has “erased the certificate of debt.” Over and over we see Paul reinforcing the same truths, making it clear that what is most important to Paul is to see Jesus at the center of the church.
We are midway through Colossians 2, and Paul has already specifically mentioned at least a dozen different spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Take a few moments to read back through the first two chapters of Colossians, keeping a list of each of these “blessings” as you go. For the next week, take a few minutes each day to read through this list and thankfully reflect on God’s grace and generosity.