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Conflict for Christ
2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for those who have not met me face to face.
Paul wanted the churches to whom he was writing (Colosse and Laodicea, see Col. 4:16) to know that he had an interest and concern for them. He was always praying for them, even though he had never met them. He describes prayer as being like a conflict. It truly is a conflict, for there are spiritual powers arrayed against the church seeking to frustrate and destroy it (Eph. 6:12-18).
2:2 My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ.
Paul prays that the believers' hearts might be comforted (a word which conveys the idea of God drawing near to help them) and bound together in love so that they might know the full assurance of salvation and a more personal and intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ Himself, which Paul regards as being the greatest of treasures.
2:3 In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Those who know Christ are in full possession of all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor 1:30). Although hidden in Him, God's intention is to reveal Him to us (Col. 1:27).
2:4 I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable.
In speaking of God's wisdom, Paul is opposing those false teachers at Colosse who were trying to deceive God's people with their own (or worldly) wisdom. There were those in Paul's day who taught that to be saved, one had to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses. Just as the serpent deceived Eve, Satan is still out to deceive God's people by using false teachers and their teachings. Types of false teaching may be different but BEWARE! Satan is still active!
2:5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
Although Paul was not present in body, he could see in spirit that the church remained in good order and that their faith in Christ was unmoved by their trials. This brought him great joy.
Growing up in Christ
2:6 Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.
Paul tells the church (and us) that just as we have received the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to continue on in Him. We are to "regulate our lives and conduct our selves in unity and conformity to him" (AMPNT). How did we receive Christ as Saviour? By believing the gospel message. It was by grace, through faith. We are to continue in the same way, by grace and in faith.
2:7 Rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Just like a plant receives its nutrients and is anchored in place by sending its roots deep down into that soil, so are we to be rooted in Christ. Good roots make a strong , healthy plant. We are to receive all that we need from Him and know that we are being held secure by Him. Did you know that during drought, plants send their roots deeper into the ground to find water. When things are hard for us, we should not to turn back, but rely more on the Lord even more. Like a building, we are to be built up in Christ. Every house needs a foundation and so do we. Christ is our foundation, and we build our lives on Him (1 Cor. 3:11). We are to grow in the likeness of the Lord Jesus and in the grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18). We are to hold on to the good teachings of God's word that we have been taught and always be thankful to God.
Fullness in Christ
2:8 Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Paul again warns of those men who seek to deceive God's people by teachings which come from man's own understanding of life and existence (philosophy). These teachings come from mere men and not Christ. (NB they are not just human, but Satanic, see James 3:15 and 1 Tim. 4:1.)
2:9-10 For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
We are not to be deceived, for in Christ is everything we need. In Him the entire Godhead dwells in bodily form. That is, Christ is at the same time fully God and Fully man. As He is complete - perfect and entire- in His own being - and so are we complete in Him. We have all His fullness dwelling in us at all times, whether we feel it or not. We are made complete by virtue of our union to Him, who has all authority in heaven and earth and is superior to men and angels.
2:11-12 In him you also were circumcised — not, however, with a circumcision performed by human hands, but by the removal of the fleshly body, that is, through the circumcision done by Christ. Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead.
We have been circumcised with a circumcision performed by God Himself. Our bodies, which were sinful, were put to death with Christ. We died and were buried with him, as our baptism symbolises. Just as Christ has been raised from the dead, so we who believe in Him have been raised to newness of life (Rom. 10:9).
2:13 And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions.
We were dead to God because of our sin and unlike the Jews, we did not have the privilege of being in a covenant relationship with God, which circumcision symbolised. But now God has us made alive to Himself by uniting us with Christ and has forgiven us all of our sins (Eph. 2:1-6).
2:14 He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.
God's law was opposed to us. Since its requirements were holy, and we are sinners, it could only condemn us and bring us death. Christ fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law by his obedience and suffered the penalty that it demanded for transgression. Therefore the law can no longer stand between us and God. Christ took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross, so that we could be reconciled to God.
2:15 Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
What is more, by His death Christ has disarmed every power of darkness in this world. He triumphed over them in public - by His cross.
No Condemnation for those who are in Christ
2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days — these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ!
Since we are complete in Christ, we must not allow ourselves to be brought under the laws of men. The ritual rules of the law were only pictures foretelling the reality of what was to come to us in Christ. Now that the reality has come, we no longer need the pictures.
2:18 Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind.
We are not to allow anyone to disqualify us by saying "you cannot be saved unless..." Acts 15:1 We are not to be deceived into following their example of self-imposed humility (a monk-like form of self denial) and of worshipping angels or saints as is practised by the Catholics. Paul says that these people "speak of things they have not seen". They suppose the things of God are like they imagine in their own carnal minds.
2:19 He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
These people chose a way of "worshipping God" - practising a so-called "Christianity" but have no real and living contact with the Head of the body - Christ - and are not truly part of the body. Christ is the only source His church needs. From Him all the nourishment the church needs is supplied "through every joint and ligament" that is, God's people who are gifted by Christ and placed in His church. It is as the members of the church minister one to another that the body is knit together in love and grows as God cause it to grow. We all have some gift from God - are we using these gifts to minister to the body of Christ? If not, we ourselves and the whole body will lose out as a result.
2:20-22 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings.
Since we have died with Christ to this world, and its way of looking at things, how can we live as if we were still part of it? A dead man cannot be subject to rules about what he should eat and drink. (Note: the law had such regulations: what to eat, what to drink and about contact with unclean animals and dead bodies, sick people etc.) What we eat matters very little to God, for as Jesus said it passes into and then out of the body. Matt 15:17. Not only did some continue to keep the regulations of the law, but added many other rules to them. Paul, as Jesus did, refers to these as the commandments of men and not of God (Mark 7:3-8).
2:23 Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body — a wisdom with no true value — they in reality result in fleshly indulgence.
Such people make a big show of being godly and appear outwardly to have a form of spirituality, but religion and man made regulations have no power to bring spiritual life to the spiritually dead, nor can they deliver a soul from the power of sin. Christ has done this for us (Rom. 8:1-2).
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