A Study of Colossians 2: 6-9 includes walking in Christ and in faith, avoiding capture by human devices and the fullness of Christ’s deity.
A Study of Colossians 2: 6-9. Walking in Christ and in faith
V.6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…
The Greek word for “walk” is pĕripatĕō, and means to live and deport oneself. Specifically, Paul means their Christian conduct. We sometimes treat the Christian faith like a two step process. First we receive Christ and then we follow in discipleship. But here, Paul links them together as one continued action. If you receive Jesus Christ as Lord, a Christian lifestyle naturally follows and visibly demonstrates it.
So what does this look like?
V.7 Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith…
The Greek word for “rooted” is rhizŏō, and means to root and become stable. It suggests the picture of a tree with roots planted deeply and permanently in the ground. “Built up” is the Greek ĕpŏikŏdŏmĕō, and means to build upon. The word is used in present tense and indicates an ongoing process. It brings to mind Matthew 7:24-27 where Jesus relates the wisdom of building a house on the foundation of rock.
“Established” is also translated “strengthened” and is the Greek word bĕbaiŏō, which means to confirm as in something certain and reliable. And “faith” is the Greek word pistis, which means conviction of and system of Christian truth. The “strengthening” and “establishing” Paul speaks of takes place in those convictions and within that system of Christian truth.
A Study of Colossians 2: 6-9. Avoiding capture by human devices
V.8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit…
Now Paul warns them about several things that might take them captive. The Greek word for “captive” is sulagōgĕō, and was commonly used to indicate war captives. It means to lead away as booty or spoils of war.
“Philosophy” is the Greek word philŏsŏphia, and literally means the love of wisdom. As a branch of the Humanities, philosophy is not inherently bad and Paul doesn’t suggest it. But it covers many areas and depths of thoughts. Some that offer “empty deceit.” The two respective Greek words, kĕnŏs, means empty or in vain and apatē, means deceit and delusion. In other words, philosophical ideas that lead you away from Gospel truth are empty and delusional. And Paul goes on to describe them more specifically.
According to human tradition…
“Human traditions” are the Greek words anthrōpŏs, which means human being and paradŏsis, which also means transmission. It suggests the passing down of stories orally from one generation to the next. Not exactly like the campfire stories your parents told you and you told your kids, but a similar idea anyway. Paul might mean Jewish oral traditions that were tacked on to the written law or pagan ideas that were floating around during this time.
According to the elemental spirits of the world…
The Greek word for “elemental spirits” is stŏichĕiŏn. It literally means something orderly in arrangement and is translated element, principle, and rudiment. Scholars differ on Paul’s specific meaning. The false teaching may have included angel worship, a form of astrology, or other spiritual deities. The point is, your sole focus should be on Jesus and not Jesus plus something else.
REFLECT & RECORD
- Describe what it means to walk in Christ?
- What does this look like in your life? Does it align with what Paul describes?
- Who is someone you know that you think has a strongly rooted faith? Why do you think that is?
A Study of Colossians 2: 6-9. According to Christ and the fullness of his deity
V.8 And not according to Christ.
Paul begins V.6 by telling the Colossians to walk in Christ and ends V.8 by reaffirming Christ alone. The capturing philosophies he identifies in between that include empty deceit, human tradition, and elemental spirits of the world are additions and therefore, “not according to Christ.”
V.9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily…
This phrase is essentially a repeat of 1:19, except Paul adds the word “bodily.” It’s from the Greek word sōmatikōs, which means physically, bodily, actually, and in solid reality. It foils any attempt to describe Jesus as some kind of spirit being, John 1:14 uses a similar expression to describe Jesus in human form. “Deity” is the Greek word thĕŏtēs, which means divinity and godhead. “Dwells” is the Greek katŏikĕō, which means to reside and house permanently, In other words, God in his complete divinity was present in Jesus’ physical body. Although it is beyond our comprehension, we accept it as Biblical truth.
REFLECT & RECORD
- What teachings have you encountered that represent empty deceit, human tradition, and elemental spirits?
- How have you navigated them?
- Why do you think the incarnation of Jesus into human form is a critical teaching? How has it impacted your faith journey?