Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.
Philosophy and Christianity are both concerned with truth, so they often overlap. But for many philosophical arguments, there is an equal and opposite philosophical argument, so one person’s truth is another person’s fallacy. This makes philosophy an uncertain way of arriving at truth. What we really need is a word from God.
If you saw a picture of a man breaking into a house in the middle of the night, you might assume he was a burglar. But if you saw the picture from a wider angle, you would see flames coming out the roof, and a firetruck on the street. Then you would understand the man was not a burglar, but a fireman.
The big picture always determines the meaning of the little picture. Since God alone has the big picture of reality, God alone is able to say what is true. Do not be taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy. Just believe what God has said in his word. That is what Jesus did, and we are his disciples.
Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
Some people thought Jesus was truly human, but not truly divine (John 10:33). Others thought he was truly divine, but not truly human (2 John 1:7). They believed bodies were evil, and since God would not dwell in an evil body, Christ’s body could not have been real.
The biblical understanding of Christ is not someone who was either truly human or truly divine; but, both truly human and truly divine. If Jesus was not truly human, he could not have died for the sins of humankind. And if he was not truly divine, his death would not have been sufficient for the sins of humankind. So God took on our humanity, never to put it off. Jesus Christ is both is truly human and truly divine, and he will be so forever (Hebrews 7:17).
Colossians 2:10 [I]n Christ you have been brought to fullness.
There is no such thing as a fulfilled person apart from Jesus Christ. All our possessions, pleasures, achievements and relationships are not enough to fill us up. There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ (Blaise Pascal, paraphrased).
A young man found a trombone case, but did not know what it was for. He used it as a lunch box, but that didn’t work very well. Then he used it as a tackle box, but that didn’t work very well either. Then he used it as a tool box, but that didn’t work very well either.
Then one day, he went to a garage sale, where he saw a trombone, and bought it on a hunch. He put it in the case, and to his delight, it filled every crevice perfectly. Until people find God, they will put many things into their souls, but none will fill them up.
But even Christians are not fulfilled all the time, or as much as they would like to be. False teachers in Colossae took advantage of this by offering Christians something more. But whenever we feel empty, what we really need is more of Christ. We can turn to him repeatedly, and ask him to fill us again. In Christ we are brought to fullness.
Colossians 2:11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when God required him, and his posterity, to be circumcised (Genesis 17:1, 10-14). This symbolized the covenant between Abraham and God, like a wedding band symbolizes the covenant between husband and wife.
But symbols are no guarantee of what they symbolize. It is easier to wear a wedding band than to be a faithful spouse; it is easier to wear a cross than to follow Jesus Christ; and it was easier to be circumcised than to live in a covenant relationship with God. That is why Moses said, The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts . . . so that you may love him with all your heart (Deuteronomy 30:6).
Physical circumcision has now been replaced by circumcision of the heart: the indwelling Spirit who marks us as children of God (Ephesians 1:13). Physical circumcision is no longer required since, in Christ, we are circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.
Colossians 2:13 He forgave us all our sins.
Sin is so common that we underestimate its criminality, as well as its consequences. We think of sin as a minor lapse from our normally good behavior, when in fact, it is treason against the Most High God to whom we owe everything. Our greatest need at any moment is not oxygen, but forgiveness.
Since the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), followed by eternal fire (Matthew 18:8), the best news we can ever receive is that we have been forgiven. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not that God has forgiven some of our sins, or most of our sins, but that He forgave us all our sins.
Dictionaries define the word all in the following ways: the whole quantity, the whole extent, the whole amount, the whole number, the whole sum, every individual component, as much as possible, nothing left out. When Paul said He forgave us all our sins, that is what he meant. For by one sacrifice he has made [us] perfect forever (Hebrews 10:14), says Hebrews.
When my daughter was in the fourth grade, she came home from school distraught because she failed a math quiz. She was a conscientious child, and feared she might not make it into the next grade. The following day she talked to her teacher, and learned that it was her policy to throw out the lowest quiz, before calculating the final grade. With great excitement she exclaimed, It’s deleted, Dad! It’s completely deleted! Likewise, He forgave us all our sins.
Reflection and Review
How are philosophy and Christianity different?
Why did Jesus have to be both truly human and truly divine?
Why is sin so serious?