Colossians 2:6-18 Warnings Against the Adoption of False Philosophies
“Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. “
What exactly had they been taught by Jesus? Did Jesus teach Sunday worship? NO! Luke 6:6 “And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.”
Luke 13:10-11 “And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.”
John 5:14-17 “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.”
If my goal is to live like Jesus it would only make sense to attend corporate worship on the Sabbath, or 7th day, which is Saturday. Paul continues on in verse 8…
“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 is speaking to the Laodiceans and we would have to know their inner workings to full understand why he was addressing this in this way. Laodicea was an ancient city built on the river Lycus which later became the Roman Province of Phrygia Pacatiana.
The town was originally called Diospolis, “City of Zeus” and under the first emperors, Laodicea, benefiting from its advantageous position on a trade route, became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on.
The city minted its own coins, the inscriptions of which show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors. The worship of Zeus was held at a number of caves at Knossos. This is where we get the term Knostic or Gnostic which means “esoteric knowledge” or “understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.” YHWH wanted every person to know Him and come to repentance, not just an elite few.
As a side note, it was in a cave that Ignatius of Loyola received his so-called prophesy of the Jesuit Order. The same thing happened to Muhammed and his dictates on Islam.
The Gnostics believed that they were privy to a secret knowledge about the divine, hence the name. Gnosticism is a religion that differentiates the evil god of this world, who is identified with the god of the Old Testament, from a higher more abstract God, revealed by Jesus Christ. It is a religion that regards this world as the creation of a series of evil archons/powers who wish to keep the human soul trapped in an evil physical body, a religion that preaches a hidden wisdom or knowledge only to a select group as necessary for salvation or escape from this world.
Returning to Colossians 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.” Paul is explaining to them that the governing bodies of the civic society have no authority over their private religious beliefs. This was a direct offense to the Romans as well as the Greeks. The required public worship of the gods because they believed they protected the city from invaders (obviously didn’t work for the Greeks with the Romans) and brought fertility not only to plants but also to people.
Verse 11 “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.” Circumcised here is G4059 περιτέμνω peritemno (pe-riy-tem’-nō) v. ‘to be precisely cut away from the remainder’. This will follow all the other scripture calling God’s people to be set apart.
2:12-13 “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. 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.”
“Having been buried” is G4916 συνθάπτω sunthapto (sïn-thap’-tō) v. to assimilate spiritually. This means the people have accepted the terms of the faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, having left any beliefs and customs of their prior religious system. Under the acceptance of this belief they have already violated the first commandment having worshipped other gods. Paul explains that the sacrifice of Jesus has already paid the price for this lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
The crowd in Laodicea was composed of a large percentage of Hebrews who were dispersed under the several sieges against Jerusalem by the like of Nebuchadnezzar 600 years earlier to the then current Roman occupation. Paul addresses these Hebrews in verse 14 & 15 “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. Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
The Pharisees and Sadducees had written an overlapping and overreaching list of ordinances for the whole of the Hebrew community to follow. Jesus speaks to this in His “woe to you Pharisees”: Mark 7:8 “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.”
In the letter to the Romans 10:12 Paul address these next verses in Colossians equally. Romans 10:12 “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” And yet both parties were squabbling back and forth about the “fine print” of the faith. This is why he states in 1 Corinthians 1:23 “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness”
The Greeks were looking for a more progressive, logical and linear methodology to religious matters and the Jews were wanted to maintain their grip on the legalistic behaviors of mankind. These believers of YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were now free from the extras penned from the Pharisees as well as the rules of their prior religion.
The call to the truth means that the people of YHWH would have to learn how to act like the people of YHWH. In their prior lives they would have not been exposed to the teachings of Moses and would have created patterns in life that centered on pagan worship like idols and blood sacrifices of animals and humans. Often the sacrifices were consumed by the participants as a way to transfer the power or magic of the sacrifice to the worshiper. This is the complete topic of conversation in Acts 15.
Paul is telling them in verses 16 & 17 the reason they will now follow the Torah and the feasts of YHWH is that in doing them they come to understand what eternity will look like (see Ezekiel 40-48) and how we are to live here according to the Spirit of God.
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!”
Christ was crucified on Passover, as our sacrifice, His blood covering the doorpost of our hearts. This is the reason He announces the wine and the bread is to be done in remembrance of Him. We are to carry forward the Feast of Passover in remembrance of HIM. Jesus rose on the first day of the Feast of Firstfruits, becoming the first being of flesh to resurrect from bodily death. This was a huge problem for the Sadducees as they disavowed any belief in life after death.
Christ would ascend into heaven on the exact day of the Feast of Shavuot exactly fifty days later. The fifty days represents 7 Sabbaths and the jubilee according to scripture. Leviticus 25:10 “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” This examples our return unto the hand of Father God.
The reference in Acts 20:7 “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Is confirming this exact premise. ‘The first day of the week’ according to the Greek is G4521 σάββατον sabbaton (saɓ’-ɓa-ton) n. the Sabbath which is shown to have its root meaning from the Hebrew H7676 שַׁבָּת shabbath (shab-bawth’) n-e. the seventh day being the day of rest.
18 “Let no one who delights in false humility and the worship of angels (these were the Gnostics) 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. (egotists because of their university training)”