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For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Questions to Consider:
1. A great little heremeneutical rule of thumb is that when you see the word “therefore” in the text, you look at the previous verses to find out what it’s “there for”. The same could be said of the word “for” at the beginning of verse 1. Paul is continuing a thought here that started in the last verses of chapter 1. Read back a few verses and summarize his entire thought in your own words. What else do we know about the church at Laodicea? (1)
2. What are some things Paul hopes to accomplish, via this epistle, in the churches at Colossae, Laodicea, and others? (2-7) What is the main goal of Paul’s teaching in this epistle? (4) What is the “therefore” in verse 6 “there for”?
3. Recall that the Colossian church was made up of both Jews and Gentiles, and that the Colossian Heresy Paul was combating with this epistle contained both Jewish and Gentile false doctrine. Examine the terms “philosophy” and “human tradition” (8) Do these seem to describe Jewish or Gentile teachings? What about “circumcision” (11-13), “food and drink,” “festivals,” and “Sabbath”? (16) How can Christians and the church avoid being deceived by false doctrine regardless of its source? (6-7, 19)
4. The Judaizers taught that Christians had to follow the Old Testament Mosaic law. What were some of those laws? (11, 16, 21-22) What did Paul tell the Colossians about the Old Testament law and why Christians are not bound by it? (17, see these verses also) How does Paul describe the “circumcision” Christians now receive? Who performs this new “circumcision” and what is “cut away”? (11) On which “body part” of a Christian is it performed? Compare these verses to Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6. How do all of these passages show that physical circumcision was only to be an outward sign of circumcision of the heart? What is the New Testament outward sign of circumcision of the heart? (12) How does Paul tell the Colossians to respond to the Judaizers’ pressure? (16)
5. Examine verses 20-22. What do believers die to in Christ? Are we to go back to worldly teachings and beliefs, as though we have not died to them, and continue to follow their unbiblical rules and regulations? If we are to be dead to these things, what are we to live to? Compare this passage to Galatians 3:1-9. How would these passages have demonstrated to Jewish believers that keeping Old Testament law was not required of them or of Gentile believers? Does your own church have any rules or teachings that Scripture does not require of Christians? What does following man made rules accomplish? (23)
Do you see the similarities between the Judaizers’ teachings and the modern day teaching of the Hebrew Roots Movement? Has anyone ever asked you why you don’t keep Old Testament law? List three teachings from the first two chapters of Colossians that you could use to persuade a friend not to follow the Hebrew Roots Movement or to explain why you’re free to eat lobster and wear poly-cotton blends.