How did you receive
That is the most
important question you will ever answer. Your
response to Jesus Christ will determine your eternal
destiny. What is your relationship with Jesus
Jesus said, "For God so
loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but
have eternal life" (John 3:16, NASB95). God offers
the free gift of eternal life to all who will
receive it by faith in Jesus Christ. He went to the
cross and died in your place and rose from the dead.
Because Christ paid our debt to the righteousness of
God in full the Bible consistently teaches us to
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be
saved" (Acts 16:31). Again the words of Jesus, "I am
the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes
to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
Jesus Christ is the
infinite, all-sufficient Savior who offers salvation
full and free to every sinner. It is all of grace
and it is based on the death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ. God in grace reaches down to the lost
sinner and offers cleansing, forgiveness and eternal
life. He can be known only by the revelation of
Himself in His Son.
Salvation is God’s free
gift to all who will call upon His name. It is by
grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ
alone. "There is salvation in no one else; for there
is no other name under heaven that has been given
among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
ALIVE IN CHRIST
"Therefore as you have
received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him
having been firmly rooted and now being built up in
Him and established in your faith, just as you were
instructed, and overflowing with gratitude"
"Keep on walking" in
Christ just as you trusted Christ to save you. Just
as you trusted Christ to save you, keep on trusting
Him every day and live in your vital union with Him.
This new life in Christ is a vital union with Him.
How do we "walk" with
Christ? The apostle Paul explains: "walk in Him
having been firmly rooted and now being built up in
Him and established in your faith." We are rooted
once-for-all, permanently rooted in Christ, but we
also enjoy a continual process of being built up and
established in our faith in Him. The Christian is
always a work in progress.
"Faith" can refer to our
sense of trust in, reliance upon Christ. You can
compare it to a tree with roots going deep down into
the earth. Our roots of faith grow deep in Christ
and draw nourishment from Him. That faith is
nurtured by the body of truth. These Christians at
Colossae were in danger of being taken captivity by
a philosophy of empty deceit.
Christ cannot be
supplemented. You cannot add anything to the
finished work of Christ. Christ plus anything else
will send you to hell for all eternity. It is Christ
plus nothing. Accepting the finished work of Christ
gives eternal life.
Our hearts should be
overflowing with gratitude to God for His abounding
grace and mercy. We do not need anything else to
have a right relationship with God. Therefore, Paul
warns these believers in the church at Colossae to
not allow themselves to be carried away by any
teaching that is not according to Christ.
CHRIST IS ALL YOU NEED
Look out lest someone
takes you captive. The word blepete means to
be constantly looking out, keep a watchful eye open.
Take you captive or spoil is a rare word and was
used of carrying off a man’s daughter by kidnapping.
It has the idea "to carry off booty, carry off as a
captive or as a slave. There was a real danger of
false teachers taking these believers away like
captives in a war. We are always in danger of being
seduced spiritually in a spiritual war.
"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" (Colossians 2:8).
It is easy in our day to be led captive by
humanistic philosophy, empty deceit according to
human traditions and demonic spirits.
The believer must always
live in Christ or be taken captive by the culture of
the world. Be ever on guard lest someone takes you
captive by means of philosophy and empty deceit
The word "philosophy" is
used only here in the New Testament. The heretics
made use of it to impress on unsuspecting gullible
individuals that their knowledge was superior. The
word philosophy simply means "love of wisdom."
However Paul is using it here in a sense of vain
speculation as opposed to true knowledge. Paul was a
lover of wisdom and truth. He is not opposed to
philosophy per se. He is not afraid of real
knowledge and truth.
The kind of philosophy
Paul is concerned about in this context is
characterized as vain deceit, devoid of truth,
futile. It is filled with empty traditions and
religious ceremonies of washings, Essenic
asceticism, pagan secret mystery cults, etc.
Fullness of the
Godhead in Christ
"For in Him all the
fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him
you have been made complete, and He is the head over
all rule and authority" (Colossians 2:9-10). The
whole plentitude of God dwells in Christ. In Him
there dwells all the fullness of the absolute God
head. He was and is the absolute and perfect God.
Everything that makes God, God is found in the
person of Jesus Christ. He is God of Very God.
"Dwells" has the idea of
a permanently residence as opposed to a temporary
occupant. In Christ there is continuously and
permanently at home all the fullness of the Godhead
in bodily fashion. The entire fullness of the God
head permanently dwells in Christ. J. B. Lightfoot
said, "Christ is the fountainhead of all spiritual
M. R. Vincent emphasized
"the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him before His
incarnation, when He was ‘in the form of God’ (Phil.
2:6). The Word in the beginning was with God and was
God (John 1:1). It dwelt in Him during His
incarnation. It was the Word that became flesh and
dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, and His
glory which was beheld was the glory as of the
Only-begotten of the Father (John 1:14; cf. 1 John
1:1-3). The fullness of the Godhead dwells in His
glorified humanity in heaven. The fullness of the
Godhead dwells in Him in a bodily way, clothed with
a body. This means that it dwells in Him as one
having a human body." Moreover, "The fullness of the
Godhead dwelt in His person from His birth to His
ascension. He carried His human body with Him into
heaven, and in His glorified body now and ever
dwells the fullness of the Godhead."
"The actual deity of
Christ is combined with His actual humanity in one
person. All the attributes of God dwell in the Son
of God who is also the Son of man, the incarnate Son
of God," notes A. T. Robertson. "Jesus was the Son
of God before the incarnation, when He became the
Son of man. He took back to heaven with Him His
humanity and so obtained more glory than ever (Phil.
2:5-11)." Wuest observed, "Paul never speaks of the
divinity of Christ, only of His deity."
Wuest translates verse
nine, "Because in Him there is continuously and
permanently at home all the fullness of the Godhead
in bodily fashion."
You Are Made
Complete In Christ
The apostle Paul draws
out the contrast between the all sufficient Jesus
Christ and the empty deceit of the heretical
teachers. In Christ "you have been made complete,
and He is the head over all rule and authority." In
Christ we find all that we need to have a personal
relationship with God. He is all sufficient.
"In Him dwells the
fullness; being in Him, you are filled," notes
Vincent. "Your fullness comes from His fullness,"
says Lightfoot. It is in Christ that you are made
full. Our fullness comes from Christ’s fullness.
Ephesians 3:19 says "that you may be filled with all
the fullness of God."
It is important to note
carefully that the fullness of God communicated to
the believers does not consist of the divine essence
which is alone possessed by Deity, but of such
qualities as holiness, righteousness. We do not
become little gods. In Christ the Christian finds
the satisfaction of every spiritual need. Therefore
they do not need angelic powers, legalistic rituals
and pagan philosophies. The believer is in Christ.
Indeed, you are in a state of fullness in Him.
However, Paul does not say "we have now reached this
fullness or that we have the Godhead in us in the
same way that it is true of Christ. We have become
partakers of the divine nature by the new birth (2
Peter 1:4) but not in the sense that Christ is God’s
only begotten (John 1:18)," writes A. T. Robertson.
Against Judaistic Ceremonialism
Moreover, "In Him you
were also circumcised with a circumcision made
without hands, in the removal of the body of the
flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Colossians
Circumcision in Christ
The error of the
Colossian heretics was a denial of the
all-sufficiency of Christ. You don’t need
circumcision, worship angels, legalism, etc. for a
higher spiritual life. All you need is Christ!
The false teachers in
Colossae were either Pharisaic or Essenic, or both,
mixed with pagan Gnosticism. In the verses that
follow Paul draws out the contrast between true
living vital union with Christ and this heresy.
The apostle Paul taught
the new birth is Christian circumcision. It is the
work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the
believer. In Romans 2:28-29 Paul taught the
spiritual circumcision of the inner man, the
circumcision of the heart is the essence of Biblical
teaching. "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly,
nor is circumcision that which is outward in the
flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and
circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the
Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not
from men, but from God" (Romans 2:28-29). The
Jerusalem Church Council had previously declared
that Gentile Christians do not need the ordinance of
fleshly circumcision, but the circumcision which
belongs to Christ. Abraham had the circumcision of
the heart before he was circumcised of the flesh.
"He believed God, and that was placed to his credit.
The circumcision of the flesh was only the sign and
seal of the faith which Abraham already had," writes
Baptism with Christ
Baptism and circumcision
are both symbols of the spiritual change brought
about in those who are believers in Christ. Baptism
by immersion is a picture of the vital union with
Christ. It is the believer’s identification with
"Therefore we have been
buried with Him through baptism into death, so that
as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory
of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of
life. For if we have become united with Him in the
likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in
the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that
our old self was crucified with Him, in order that
our body of sin might be done away with, so that we
would no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:4-6).
Immersion in water
symbolizes the death and burial with Christ and
rising from the water the resurrection with Christ.
Baptism, of course, does not effect this change from
spiritual death to spiritual life. The work of the
Holy Spirit in the inner person does that. The power
of the sinful nature was broken by the death and
resurrection of Christ, and it by our identification
with Him it was deprived of its control over the
M. R. Vincent says, "In
spiritual circumcision, through Christ, the whole
corrupt, carnal nature is put away like a garment
which is taken off and laid aside." That is what
Christ has accomplished for the believer.
Lightfoot made the
following observation regarding circumcision: "(1)
It is not the external but inward, not made with
hands, but wrought by the Spirit. (2) It divests not
of a part only of the flesh, but of the whole body
of carnal affections. (3) It is the circumcision not
of Moses nor of the patriarchs, but of Christ."
Moreover, "in Him you
were also circumcised with a circumcision made
without hands, in the removal of the body of the
flesh by the circumcision of Christ having been
buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also
raised up with Him through faith in the working of
God, who raised Him from the dead" (Colossians
Our baptism not only
symbolizes the resurrection of Christ, and our vital
union with Christ, but it also speaks of the final
resurrection of the believer when we stand before
"When you were dead in
your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your
flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having
forgiven us all our transgressions" (Colossians
pictures just the opposite—the unbeliever dead in
trespasses and sins.
"You were dead in your
trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked
according to the course of this world, according to
the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit
that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of
our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of
the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even
as the rest" (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Paul’s message to the
church against the false teachers is powerful. Look
what Christ did for you. Christ died for you and
rose from the dead. Your identification as a
believer in Christ in His death broke the power of
indwelling sin. Moreover, His identification with
you in His resurrection gave you power to live the
Christian life. This is the work of the Holy Spirit
in the believer. We have a new spiritual life and it
is centered in Christ. We do not need anything else.
Christ is all sufficient.
Our Debt Has Been
Paul continues to give
encouragement saying God "canceled out the
certificate of debt consisting of decrees against
us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out
of the way, having nailed it to the cross"
J. B. Phillips
paraphrases verse fourteen: "Christ has utterly
wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and
commandments which always hung over our heads."
Other scholars translate: "Canceling the record of
debt" (ESV), "having blotted out the bond written in
ordinances" (ASV), "He cancelled the bond" (TCNT),
"cancelled the note that stood against us, with its
requirements (Williams). The NET Bible reads: "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"
The law is seen in this
verse as a bill of debt or bond that is owed by the
sinner. It was a charge list which set out all of
the charges, debts again the sinner. It was
literally an autograph, a hand signed note by a
debtor acknowledging his indebtedness. In our day we
call it an I. O. U. As depraved sinners we have a
mountain of debt to the righteousness of God. And
the wages of sin is death. No individual can
possibly pay his own debt. He is incapable. It is
completely out of his hands.
The word "cancelled out"
(exaleipho) means "to wipe off, to wipe away,
to obliterate, erase." William Barclay suggested the
ancient documents were written on papyrus or vellum
and the ancient ink had no acid in it. Therefore, it
did not bite into the surface of the writing
material. When the scribe needed to erase the
writing on the surface he took a sponge and wiped
the writing off. It was on the surface of the paper
and therefore not permanent. "The ink could be wiped
out as if it had never been." God has wiped our bill
of indebtedness completely clean by the shedding of
the blood of Jesus Christ. We are no longer under
the curse of the law.
Using another analogy,
Paul says our indictment has been nailed to the
cross. The bill has been marked "Paid in Full." The
debt has been wiped out, cancelled. "There is
therefore now no condemnation to them who are in
Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Why? It is because we
have been justified by grace through faith in Christ
Jesus. "For there is no distinction: for all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are
justified by his grace as a gift, through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put
forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be
received by faith. This was to show God's
righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he
had passed over former sins. It was to show his
righteousness at the present time, so that he might
be just and the justifier of the one who has faith
in Jesus" (Romans 3:22-26 ESV).
The saving work of Christ
is totally adequate for the believing sinner. Our
sins have been forgiven and we have been empowered
to live the new life in Christ. There is nothing
that any Gnostic philosophy can offer to the
Christian or non-Christian that will make a person
right with God. Christ has done everything already.
"When He had disarmed the
rulers and authorities, He made a public display of
them, having triumphed over them through Him"
We are Free from
"Therefore no one is to
act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in
respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath
day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to
come; but the substance belongs to Christ"
Name off any supposed
advantages of the Gnostic influences, worship of
angels, pagan philosophical sects you think might
help you spiritually. Not a single one can
come up to level of spiritual reality as the person
and work of Jesus Christ.
Paul Warns Against
"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 and not holding fast to
the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied
and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows
with a growth which is from God" (Colossians
2:18-19). The body severed from the head dies.
Did you notice Paul’s
answer to the threat of the false teachers? They are
"not holding fast to the head" Jesus Christ! From
Him the entire body receives its strength. Our
spiritual life is imparted and sustained by our
vital union with Christ.
"I am the vine; you are
the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in
him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you
can accomplish nothing" (John 15:5). Christ is our
"If you have died with
Christ to the elementary principles of the world,
why, as if you were living in the world, do you
submit yourself to decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle,
do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to
things destined to perish with use)—in accordance
with the commandments and teachings of men? These
are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance
of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement
and severe treatment of the body, but are of no
value against fleshly indulgence" (Colossians
The statement is a
fulfilled condition and it is in past tense. "If you
have died" is better "since you have died." "In view
of the fact that you died with Christ." These
Colossian believers died with Christ at the Cross.
This is true of every believer in Christ. We are
separated from all these things in verse 20-23. All
of our old relations, sin, law, world system, etc.
have been separated.
This is another reminder
of Romans 6. Again Paul stresses the message of the
cross and our identification with Christ. "We died
to self (2 Cor. 5:15), to sin (Rom. 6:2), to the law
(Rom. 7:6; Gal. 2:19), to the world (Col. 2:20;
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
Alexander Maclaren said,
"There is only one thing that will put the collar on
the neck of the animal within us, and that is the
power of the indwelling Christ."
God can be known only by
the revelation of Himself in His Son. In Jesus
Christ there dwells all the fullness of absolute
Godhead. As Trench declared, "He was, and is,
absolute and perfect God." He is God of very God.
Our evil nature is not
eradicated when we become Christians. That evil
nature remains in the believer until death. We
deceive ourselves if we think we are not still
sinners (1 John 1:8-10). Everyone else knows the
difference. However the power of sin is broken and
it has no more power over the believer than he
allows it to have. The penalty has been paid and the
power has been broken. One day we will stand before
God complete in Christ. We will have resurrected
bodies and our character will be conformed to the
likeness of Christ (1 John 3:1-3).
However, there is
absolute forgiveness and cleaning from all our sins
is we put our faith in Jesus Christ to save us.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). The reason is
because we have been justified by grace through
faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-28).