20th June 2018

Colossians: Week 2 (Wednesday, June 20 2018)

 

Chapter 2

 

v1 I am working for you. I am working for the people who live in the town called Laodicea. I am also working for all the people who have not met me. I want you to know how hard I am working. v2 Here is the aim of my work. I want to encourage all these people. I want them to unite with each other because they love each other. I want them to have full certainty and to understand completely God’s secret plan. This plan is Christ himself. v3 Christ contains all knowledge and wisdom. v4 I am telling you this for a reason. Other people want you to believe something that is false. The way that they argue may sound good. They are trying to persuade you to believe them. v5 I am not present with you in my body, but my spirit is with you. I am pleased that you have discipline in your lives. And I am pleased that you remain firm, as you trust and believe Christ.

 

In this chapter, Paul refers to particular things that the false teachers taught. Also, he explains why Christ is superior.

Verse 1 Laodicea was a town about 16 kilometres (10 miles) west of Colossae. Paul wrote to the Christians who lived in each of these towns (4:16). You can read Jesus’ warning to the church that was at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22.

Verses 2-3 Paul wanted each Christian to be mature (1:28). But he also wanted each church to be mature. In 1:4, Paul had already praised the Christians at Colossae because they loved other Christians. This united them. They also needed to know and to believe the complete truth about Christ. They did not need the secret knowledge and wisdom that the false teachers had. Christ gives to Christians all that they need. This should encourage them, as they trust Christ.

Verse 4 When a person knows the truth, he will recognise lies. And he will recognise anything that is false. The false teachers were clever in the way that they discussed things. They could reason well. They wanted to persuade people. They wanted people to believe them. Therefore, the Christians at Colossae had to know more truth about Christ. Then they could recognise what was false.

Verse 5 ‘My spirit is with you.’ This means that Paul greatly cared about the Christians. And he prayed for them. He praised them because they still believed the truth. ‘Discipline’ and ‘firm’ are words that soldiers use. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul described how Christians are like soldiers. They oppose Satan. Jesus said that Satan lies (John 8:44). Christians oppose lies when they know the truth.

 

Continue to live with Christ in your lives

v6 You have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord. So, you must continue to live with him in your lives. v7 You have put your roots deep into Christ. Build your life on Christ. Someone taught you the truth about him. So be strong, as you believe the truth. Continue to thank God for what he has done for you by Christ.

 

Verse 6 The Colossians had started their Christian life in the right way. Jesus was the master of their lives. Paul did not want them now to follow false teachers instead of Christ.

Verse 7 Paul used pictures in his language in this verse. A tree grows roots that fix it into the ground. You cannot pull up the tree. It is strong. The storms cannot blow it over. When people become Christians, they fix their lives into Christ. People build a house on a strong, level base. That house will not fall down. A Christian who trusts and obeys Christ will be strong. Jesus taught this in Matthew 7:24-27. Epaphras taught the Colossians about Christ (1:7). So Paul urged them to continue to believe the truth.

Christians should be grateful to God for all that he has done by Christ. Then they will always praise God. In the Greek language, ‘continue to thank God’ means that the words should flow out.

 

v8 Do not let any people lead you away from the truth about Christ. Their philosophy does not contain the truth. They teach false things. They depend on people’s traditions and the basic principles of this world. They do not depend on Christ. v9 All God’s nature and all God’s power lives in Christ’s human body. v10 And you have all God’s nature and all God’s power when you trust Christ. He rules over every power and authority. v11 Christ circumcised you when you joined with him. This is different from physical circumcision. It means that Christ stripped off your wicked old nature. v12 At your baptism they buried you with Christ. Then you rose with him into a new life. You trusted God’s power because he made Christ alive again. v13 You used to be dead in your spirit because of your sins. Also, Christ had not stripped off your old character. Then God made you alive with Christ. God forgave all our sins. v14 He cancelled the record of our debts. This record came from the laws that opposed us. God took the record and put it onto Christ’s cross. v15 God took away the power that the evil rulers and authorities had. God defeated them on the cross. By Christ, God showed that he was the ruler over them.

 

Verse 8 Paul now explained why the false teachers were wrong. ‘Lead you away’ means to take you and make you into a slave. The false teachers taught that people had to obey many rules (verses 16, 20-22). But the truth about Christ makes people free (John 8:31-32, 36).

‘Philosophy’ refers to human wisdom and thinking. But wisdom without Christ is false wisdom. People’s traditions may seem to be good and wise. But they often have power to control people. Traditions depend on human ideas and human wisdom. They do not depend on God’s wisdom. The ‘basic principles of this world’ refers to evil spirits. People believed that spirits ruled the world. So people worshipped them.

Verse 9 Paul repeated what he wrote in 1:19. God fills Christ. He is the only true God. So, Christ is superior to everything that Paul had written about in verse 8.

Verse 10 The Christians at Colossae did not need to get anything from the false teachers. Christians already have all that they need. God himself fills them with his nature and his power. Christ rules over every *angel and spirit (1:16; 2:15). So Christians should not worship them.

Verses 11-12 Circumcision was the mark of every Jewish male. God linked it to his promise to all the Jews (Genesis chapter 17). If a Gentile man wanted to become a Jew, the Jews circumcised him. The Old Testament also referred to circumcision that was not physical. For example, circumcision of their hearts (nature) (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 9:25-26). When any Gentile or Jew becomes a Christian, Christ circumcises (removes) his or her old nature. Christ makes Christians free from the power of their old nature.

In the New Testament, the leaders *baptised people as soon as they became Christians (Acts 2:38-41; 8:34-38; 16:29-33). They went to a river or a deep pool of water. The new Christians went right down under the water. Then they came up out of the water. The water was like a grave. They buried their old *nature. Then they rose up and had Christ’s new life in them. This act was on the outside of them. But it showed what had happened inside them. Christ had died and he became alive again. At their baptism, Christians joined in Christ’s experience. Romans 6:1-10 explains more about baptism.

Verse 13 In this verse, ‘dead’ means separate from God (Ephesians 2:12). God is holy. Sin separates people from a holy God. God forgave our sins because of Christ’s death on the cross. But every person has to ask God to forgive his or her sins. When God forgives, he joins each person with Christ. And he puts the Holy Spirit in each Christian’s life (Ephesians 1:13).

Verse 14 In those days, the Romans punished criminals. Then they usually killed the criminals on a cross. To make the cross, the Romans stood a tall wooden pole in the ground. They attached another pole across the top of this pole. They made the criminal put his arms out each side on the cross. Then they hit nails through his hands and into the cross. They did the same with his feet. This was very painful as he hung on the cross. The Romans also wrote a record of the criminal’s sins. They put this on the cross with a nail. Then they left him on the cross until he died.

God made the laws which are in the Old Testament. God is holy. God can only accept holy people. But nobody was able to obey all God’s laws. The punishment for sin is to die (Romans 6:23). God sent Christ into this world to live as a man. Christ was perfect. He obeyed all the laws. God could not accuse Christ as he had never sinned. Instead, God put the record of our sins onto Christ’s cross. God accused Christ of all our sins. God removed from us the record of our sins. Then God gave Christ’s perfect record to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). This was a spiritual act, not a physical act.

Verse 15 ‘Evil powers and authorities’ refers to Satan and all his wicked angels (see 1:16). Christ never obeyed Satan. Christ never sinned. He completely obeyed God and he lived a holy life. Christ was a holy man when he died. So Satan could not accuse Christ that he had sinned. Therefore, Satan had no power over Christ. Instead, God had power over Satan.

 

Do not follow rules that people make

v16 Therefore, do not let anyone tell you what you should eat or drink. Do not let them tell you that you must have special holy days, ceremonies or Sabbath days (days for rest). v17 All these things were like a shadow of what was coming. Christ is no shadow. He is real! v18 Do not let anyone cheat you about Christ. Those people bend down and worship angels. Those people say that they have seen special things. The sin that is in their minds makes them proud. v19 People like this are not holding onto Christ. Christ is the true head of the body. The joints and muscles in the body hold it together. Christ makes the body strong. God makes the body grow.

 

Verse 16 In the Old Testament, God made laws about what things people might eat and drink. And he made laws about what they must not eat. God also told the Jews to have special holy days (Leviticus chapter 23). ‘Sabbath’ is the Jewish day for rest. It is on the seventh day of the week (Genesis 2:2-3). The Pharisees added hundreds of extra laws to God’s laws. The false teachers were like judges. They told the Christians to obey these laws too. They said that this would make them into better Christians. But Paul said that the false teachers were wrong. In Mark 7:19, Jesus said that the laws about food had ended. Christians may eat any foods. Paul wrote to the Galatians because they had started to obey the Old Testament laws too.

Verse 17 In the past, the Old Testament laws reminded the Jews that God is holy. The laws showed them how to live in the right way. But these laws did not give the Jews the power to live a holy life. However, every Christian in the world can live a holy life. This is because of Christ. The laws were good. But Christ is superior to the laws. The laws only showed people how to live in God’s way. But Christ actually lived in God’s way. And Christ gives his power to everyone who trusts him. Christians do not need the laws; they only need Christ.

Verse 18 In Exodus 20, God gave the 10 main laws. We call them ‘the 10 commandments’. The first two laws say that people should not worship anyone or anything except God. But some people in Colossae worshipped angels. They also said that they had special spiritual experiences. They thought that they were better than other people were.

Verse 19 Paul referred to Christ as the head of the body in Colossians 1:18. The false teachers and other people said that Christians were not good enough. They ought to add extra things (verses 16-18) to be real Christians. But Paul said that the false teachers were not true Christians. A Christian has everything that he needs in Christ (verse 10). Christ gives true life to his church (the Christians). The false teachers separated themselves from Christ. Therefore, they could not be part of Christ’s body, which is the church.

 

v20 You have died with Christ. He freed you from the basic principles of this world. So, you should not act as if you still belong to the world. You should not obey such rules as, v21 ‘Do not handle this. Do not taste that. Do not touch that thing.’ v22 These all refer to things that we use. But these things go as soon as we use them. Only people make these rules. v23 These rules may seem to be wise. But they are part of a religion that people have made. People pretend to be humble. They punish their bodies. But these rules cannot control a person’s evil thoughts and feelings.

 

Verses 20-23 For ‘the basic principles of this world’, see the explanation in verse 8. Paul did not mean that all rules are bad. He referred to the rules that the false teachers made. These rules may control what people do. But rules cannot control a person’s feelings or thoughts. Rules deal with outer behaviour. Christ makes people free because he strips off their old nature (verse 11).


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