Col. 2:1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

Col. 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

The Greek for conflict is a reference to effort and anxiety.   I believe Paul is expressing his great concern for the spiritual welfare of the believers at Colosse and Laodicea.   His letters always indicate that he is a great prayer warrior on behalf of the Gentile church.  It didn’t matter whether he knew them personally or not; he was concerned for the health of the whole body of believers.  That is an area in which I need to grow.  I am much more focused on prayer on behalf of those I know and am personally connected with in some way; my desire is to grow as a prayer warrior for the whole body of believers. 

 

Verse two reflects the focus of his concern and, I believe, the substance of his prayers for these believers. 

 

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

            This prayer affirms the truth He had already taught His disciples.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

 

 

1Tim. 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

            And to the Ephesians……….

Eph. 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Eph. 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Eph. 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Eph. 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Eph. 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Eph. 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

I tend to look at verse 2 as a reference to the triune God.  Scripture tells us that God is a spirit, so God would be a reference to the Spirit of God.

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

He then goes on to reference “and” the Father, “and” Christ.  In other words this mystery was the purpose and plan of Spirit, Father and Son from the beginning; Their collective will is unified and inseparable. 

 

Col. 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

“In whom” = specifically refers to Christ, but includes Father and Spirit

Scripture declares God to be the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

Ex. 31:1 & 3 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

 

1Kings 10:24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.

 

Prov. 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

 

Is. 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge

 

Dan. 1:17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom:

The “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” is a reference to spiritual understanding of what is truly valuable.  I thought it was interesting that the Greek for treasures referenced “a deposit.”   It is “in Christ” that we obtain the deposit for all the blessings that are yet to come as a result of the salvation He has provided for us.  That deposit is in the person of the Holy Spirit.  Paul specifically states this truth in Ephesians.

Eph. 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in .

Eph. 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Eph. 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

 

“earnest” = a pledge, i.e. part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest……….a deposit

 

Col. 2:4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

Paul is declaring the truth clearly to the Colossians in hopes of preventing them from being deceived by smooth talking false teachers.  There are many people who know how to use words to deceive those who don’t possess spiritual understanding of the truth of God’s word.  I am amazed at how easily people are deceived today by those that claim to be more knowledgeable than they or by those who have a message that feeds their flesh.  Paul is very direct with his words to Timothy.

1Tim. 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

1Tim. 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

1Tim. 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

1Tim. 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

1Tim. 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

1Tim. 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.  

 

Note:  Verse 5 is a clear refutation of the prosperity gospel so popular today.  I also love the phrase “science falsely so called.”  There are so many who claim that science supports their antibiblical views; their claims, however, do not change the truth.

 

Col. 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

This verse is an expression of Paul’s spirit connection to the believers at Colosse.  He couldn’t be with them in the flesh; but since the body of Christ is a spiritual entity bound together in Christ through the Holy Spirit, he felt a spiritual connection with them.  That connection was enhanced through the report he had received from Epaphras.  The knowledge of their vibrant testimony brought happiness to Paul since it was a testimony of firm commitment to their faith in Christ as their Savior.  It is our consistent application of the truth of God’s word in our lives that gives evidence to the world of the sincerity of our faith.  It is the consistency of our testimony that encourages or discourages others in the body of Christ and that either encourages or discourages others to want what we have in Christ.

 

Col. 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Col. 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

This is Paul’s way of saying that your actions should prove your faith.  He agreed with the truth declared by James.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

To receive Christ Jesus as Lord is a declaration that you have accepted Him as the ruling authority in your life.  It is a commitment of your life to serve Him in faith and obedience.  This is a reasonable response from one who has received Jesus as Christ, the Messiah, God’s anointed Deliverer, their Savior.   Paul goes on to detail the characteristics of a person who has given their life to Christ as Lord.

 

Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Paul continues to instruct the believers at Colosse and warn them about false teachers who are skilled in rhetoric with deceitful intent.  They teach that the traditions of men and worldly reasoning are superior to the teachings of Christ. 

 

The enemy has been so adept at deceit.  The Jews began to turn more and more away from the truth of scripture and regard the teachings of their spiritual leaders as superior to God’s.  They strayed far from the intent of the law and totally embraced man’s adulteration of that law.  They regarded the traditions of men as superior to the scripture.  That is one of the main reasons that they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah.  This is also one of the main fallacies in the Catholic Church.  They regard the traditions of men as superior to the Word of God.  They have adulterated the truth of God’s word for political purpose.  This always happens when man applies worldly reasoning to scripture rather than seeking instruction from the Holy Spirit.  Man’s reasoning will always be a result of selfish motivation. 

 

Col. 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

To follow the teachings of Christ is to follow the teaching of God.  He is God in flesh.  (cf comments at 1:19)

 

Col. 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

It is “in Christ” that the believer achieves completion or perfection.

2Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

His righteousness in us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, equips us fully for any trial or testing that may come our way.  We possess access to His strength, His instruction, His comfort, His wisdom, His peace, His love--His provision for our every need.  There is no greater authority in heaven or earth than He.  He has complete authority over every created spiritual and physical ruler and authority to which we are subjected in this body of flesh.  We have absolutely nothing to fear “in Christ.”

 

Col. 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Col. 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh that was established as a public commitment to covenant with God for the Jewish people.  It was meant to convey a heart attitude that would be reflected in their faith and obedience to Him.  This is much akin to the baptism of the believer today.  Baptism is a public picture of our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection to new life—a life of eternal righteousness in His presence.  When we accept Jesus as Savior, He cuts away our sinful flesh and replaces it with His righteousness.  It is spiritual circumcision that only He is qualified and empowered to do. The Greek for operation is a reference to the effectiveness of God’s power and energy.  It is a result of your faith in God’s provision for you through His Son, just as surely as the Savior’s resurrection was an act of God in response to His faith.  True faith in the Son is faith in the Father.  Again, you can’t separate the One from the Other. 

 

Col. 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Col. 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Paul is contrasting the position of the believer before accepting Christ and after.  Before accepting Christ we are spiritually dead in our sins and are in subjection to the sinful nature of our flesh.  After receiving Christ we are given new spiritual life and forgiven of the sin that would condemn us before God.  The Father accepts His Son’s sacrifice as sufficient to redeem us and take us into His family.  He effectively circumcises our spirit and frees us from the power of sinful flesh and empowers us through the Spirit to live in righteousness.    By accepting His gift of grace we are no longer held accountable to the demands of the law.  Any accusation the enemy tries to bring against us has no legal validity.  Christ has nailed the affidavit detailing our sins to the cross and clothed us in His righteousness; the Father looks at us through the blood of Christ and sees us as pure and holy.

 

Col. 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

In context, we know that the principalities and powers being referenced by Paul are those that are evil.  Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were public events.  His resurrection openly proved His power and authority over Satan and all his evil forces.  Satan had tried in many ways to thwart the coming of the Messiah.  I am sure he thought he had finally won when Jesus was crucified and buried.  I think he had convinced himself that he had finally proven himself the most powerful—but he didn’t count on the resurrection.  I wonder if even now he truly thinks he has a chance at winning, or is he just determined to take as many with him as he can at his final defeat.  He knows the scripture as well as we.  He has always had to operate within the parameters that God has established for him—as evidenced by the record of his attacks on Job.  His commitment to his losing cause is amazing to me.  But isn’t that the pathetic mindset of many who reject the truth of God and His word.  It’s like they think if they believe something different hard enough and commit themselves to it with great passion, that it will prove to be true.  All that just to avoid humbling themselves before God and accepting the gift of salvation that He offers in His Son.  They just don’t want to be accountable to God.  They choose to put all their energy into serving the flesh and enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season instead of putting that same energy into serving God and enjoying His presence and His blessings for eternity.

 

Col. 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Col. 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Paul is warning the Colossian believers that these false teachers would try to provoke them to guilt by judging them for eating what they identify as unclean or for not observing set holy days.  This would indicate that they would make use of the Old Testament scriptures to teach that obedience to the law is what God demands of them, contrary to the freedom in Christ that Paul and the other apostles were teaching.  In fact, the law they were espousing was according to the traditions of men and not according to the intent for which God established it.  The laws and holy days were established to picture the ministry of the Messiah in the life of the believer.  They were but shadows to the reality that would be lived out by Christ in the flesh.

Heb. 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

The whole of the law and the holy days were dominated by a sacrificial system that required that an innocent animal without blemish be killed and its blood shed to provide temporary atonement for their sin.  This system along with the design of the tabernacle and temple and ministry of the priests all pointed to the coming Messiah who would willingly lay down His life as the only acceptable sacrifice before God to provide atonement for mankind once for all for all who would turn to Him in faith and repentance.

Heb. 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Heb. 10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

Heb. 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

Heb. 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

Rom. 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

Rom. 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

 

1Tim. 2:4-6 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

Col. 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Verse 18 is a hard verse; this is another one of those times that I wish I could read the original language.  Some of the other translations give a better understanding.

NIV - Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.

NLT - Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on self-denial. And don’t let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this. These people claim to be so humble, but their sinful minds have made them proud.

CJB - Don’t let anyone deny you the prize by insisting that you engage in self-mortification or angel-worship. Such people are always going on about some vision they have had, and they vainly puff themselves up by their worldly outlook.

NAS - Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

The main points of accusation seem to be false humility through self-denial or self-mortification and worship of angels.  It would seem that there were false teachers in Colosse that were promoting the worship of angels.  Scripture is clear that we are to worship no one but God.

Ex. 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

 

Matt. 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Worship of angels was the same as worship of idols or the hosts of heaven.

Deut. 4:19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

To give your worship to anyone or anything else is to reject God as Lord.  To allow yourself to be deceived into thinking otherwise is to be deceived and lost. Satan is a wonderful counterfeiter.  People can be very convincing who have allowed themselves to be deceived by visions of Satanic origin.  We are much more prone to give credence to what we experience over what we must choose to accept by faith.  As the old saying goes, “Seeing is believing.”  The problem is that “Seeing can be deceiving.”  Example:  There are many in this world today being deceived by visions of “Mary” calling herself the “Queen of Heaven.”  The message is one of concern and encouragement and is deceiving many people.  It is another evil spirit that is drawing attention to itself and away from the Savior.  The “queen of heaven” is identified in scripture by the prophet Jeremiah.

Jer. 7:16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

Jer. 7:17 Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

Jer. 7:18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

She was one of the pantheon of gods and goddesses worshipped in the ancient world.  Wikipedia offers the following information:

The Roman writer Apuleius' "Transformations of Lucius" gives us an understanding of Isis in the first century. The following paragraph is particularly significant.

"You see me here, Lucius, in answer to your prayer. I am nature, the universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are, my nod governs the shining heights of Heavens, the wholesome sea breezes.  Though I am worshipped in many aspects, known by countless names. . . some know me as Juno, some as Bellona . . . the Egyptians who excel in ancient learning and worship call me by my true name..Queen Isis."

There are some good free online resources on this subject at:

            http://www.eternal-productions.org/catholicism.html

 

Self-denial and self-mortification is another form of pride and setting oneself apart as more worthy than others.  It is a mentality of works salvation as opposed to faith.  This verse seems to tie directly to the truth Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy.

1Tim. 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

 

I decided to check out a couple of commentaries on this verse and found the information in the NIV Commentary enlightening.

Paul’s third warning brings before us two of the most puzzling verses in the NT. The expression “disqualify [GK G2857] you” has been rendered in many different ways. A technical meaning of the clause is “let no one act as umpire against you,” i.e., give an adverse decision against you. Perhaps it is only a stronger and more picturesque way of saying, “Let no one judge you” (cf. v. 16). The essential meaning is, “Let no one deny your claim to be Christians.”

 

The person attempting to make such judgment is described as one “who delights in false humility and the worship of angels.” The context suggests that someone was seeking to impose these things on the Colossians, and that this was the means by which he was attempting to disqualify them for their prize. “False humility” may be a technical term for fasting, since in the OT this was the usual way for one to humble oneself before God. Whether this be so or not, the word in this context appears to denote a mock humility. “Worship of angels” is an allusion to the deference the heretical teachers paid to the hierarchy of spirit-beings who, in their system, filled the whole universe. Perhaps the “humility” and the “worship of angels” were closely related. That is to say, the heretics probably insisted that their worship of angels, rather than appealing directly to the supreme God of all grace, was an expression of humility on their part.

 

Col. 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

These false teachers were not connected to the Head—Christ, the head of the body of believers.  They were promoting angels and even themselves—not Christ.  It is “in Christ” that the body of believers are knit together as a unified whole.  I believe that is accomplished supernaturally through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is only “in Christ” through the ministry of the Spirit that we as believers can be nourished to grow in spiritual development.  God provides for that growth through the Holy Spirit’s gifting in the body whereby we benefit from ministry to each other as we “speak the truth in love.”  This truth will always point us to Christ—not self or other men or angels.

Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Eph. 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Eph. 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Eph. 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Eph. 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Eph. 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

 

Col. 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

Col. 2:21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;

Col. 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Paul challenges the Colossian believers with a question, my translation:  “If you have died to the flesh and are new creations in Christ, why are you being tempted to submit to the doctrines of men rather than living in freedom in Christ?

 

Many of these false teachings were full of restrictions in areas that Christ has given us freedom.

In context, this seems to refer back to the self-denial or self-mortification spoken of in verse 18.  The religions of men always end up as expressions of ways that man can reach God through their works; Christianity is dependent upon God reaching down to man through His Son to provide for Him what He can in no way earn for himself.  Religion is based on works; Christianity is based on relationship.  Paul spent a great deal of time in the book of Romans on this subject.

Rom. 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Rom. 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

 

Rom. 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

And in his letter to the Galatians.

Gal. 2:19-21 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

 

Gal. 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

 

Col. 2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

I like the NLT translation of this verse.

These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline. But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires.

It is only through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome sin.  The Holy Spirit is only ours through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

 

1John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

 

1John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.