Monday, September 24, 2012

Colossians 2

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Paul's Ministry to the Church [cont.] (v. 1-5)

Paul is hopeful that the Colossians and the people from Laodicea will gain knowledge of Christ.

This makes sense, he is both trying to help people and promote his church.

v. 4 Paul doesn't want them to be turned away from the faith with "plausible arguments"

I thought "plausible arguments" sounded weird so I looked at some other translations for this verse. My favorite was that Paul didn't want people turned away by 'deceit of words'.

There are 2 possible interpretations that I can think of. The first is that Paul is instructing people to not get in arguments with people because he doesn't want them to be tricked away from their faith. I think some people might quickly read this and get that takeaway message, but I think it is wrong.

I think the real intention of this verse is that people should really know their stuff. They should understand their faith, their church, and Jesus as best they can so that when they do get into arguments with people they can't be tricked by some specious argument from the other side. I think this is the correct interpretation because the previous verse was talking about knowledge, and the more I think about it the more I like it. I'm a big fan of education and knowledge and anything that promotes that way of thinking is good in my book.

Alive in Christ (v. 6-15)

Don't be taken in by worldly things that are not according to Christ.

This verse seemed pretty anti-intellectual. It is against philosophy and against anything that goes against Christ. I thought that verse 4 mentioned above could possibly be extended to education in general, but in light of this verse, it seems to be only applicable to Jesus stuff. What a shame.

One other note here, in the verse is the phrase 'elemental spirits', which sounds odd, but there is a footnote that says it could also be elementary principles, and looking at other translations, it almost looks like it is supposed to be science. If that is right this basically says follow Jesus, ignore philosophy and science. I gotta hand it to modern day fundies, they really follow this verse well.

Let No One Disqualify You (v. 16-23)

Many law from the old testament (the ones about food and drink and stopping indulgence) are no longer relevant.

I can't argue with that, in fact it goes as far as saying it has no value in stopping indulgence in the flesh. I have to agree with that as it seems that if you repress things they just fester and then present themselves in distorted ways.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation) 


2:3-4 Know as much as possible about Jesus so you won't be tricked by specious arguments

"in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments."

2:18,23 Laws about restricting indulgence and 'severity to the body' have no value

"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"

"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."


2:8 Ignore philosophy and science if it contradicts Jesus

"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."


  1. I think I agree with you on the deception. My translation reads, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to christ." I do wonder if this is what Christians tend to be a little weary when it comes to philosophy. I do remember my dad saying something once that lead me to believe that philosophy wasn't really reliable.

    Verse 11 also has more circumcision stuff.. There seems to be a lot of conflicting verses on this topic.

    The statement about ignoring some of the older laws is a little weird.. Jesus himself said himself that he was there to "uphold" the old laws.

    1. I think they are able to get a lot of mileage out of the phrase "I am here to fulfill the law" because it is not clear what it means. He didn't abolish the law, sure, but did him dying "fulfill" it, and now it no longer applies? That seems to be what a lot of Christian try to claim. It honestly sounds like nonsense to me, but like I said, I don't know what it means to fulfill the law, so it is hard to refute what they are saying. I guess that is what you get when you use terminology with so much wiggle room


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