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Colossians Chapter Two                            


I. Content of the Chapter


Paul’s Expectations of the Church in Colosse

A.  He has a great conflict for the church so as to establish their faith by the knowledge of Christ (v.1-7).

B.  He exhorts them to beware lest they should be taken away by the heresy (v.8).

C.  He points out the reasons why they have to beware ---- the church shall have part in the fullness of God in Christ only (v.9-12);

D.  He shows that God has accomplished the foundation of enjoying the fullness of God for the church (v.13-15).

E.  He expects them to hold fast that the substance of God’s fullness is Christ and let no one judge them on any ordinances or regulations (v.16-23).


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Col. 2:1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,

YLT: “For I wish you to know how great a conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,”

The Background:Laodicea”: it was big city at that time, which was less than eighteen km away from Colosse. The church in Colosse often kept in touch with the church in Laodicea (Col. 4:16). 

Literal Meaning: “I have for you and those in Laodicea”, apparently this epistle shall also be given to the church in Laodicea (see Col. 4:16).

  This verse shows us how Paul cares for the difficult condition of the children of God in faith ---- he strives to pray for them with a mind of “contending” (1Cor. 9:25) and “fighting” (1Tim. 6:12; Phil. 1:30).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Believers shall have conflict for themselves as well as for others.

2)    A servant of the Lord should have the broad mind that “the whole world is my working land”, and even have conflict for those whom he has not seen without any discrimination.

3)    If the concern of the preachers to believers is truly out of God, there will no personal prejudice.

4)    He who has really burden in spirit must have conflict in his working. He who volunteers to do something may either be perfunctory or give up halfway.


Col. 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,

YLT: “that their hearts may be comforted, being united in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the full knowledge of the secret of the God and Father, and of the Christ,”

Meaning of Words:be encouraged”: be comforted, be exhorted; “be knit together”: be joined together, be united together;

Literal Meaning:that their hearts may be encouraged, here “encouragement” is more than comfort. Encouragement can inspire and strengthen men and restore men’s faith and morale. Paul encourages others by not only words but also his personal life and testimony of works (Col. 1:29-2:1).

“Being knit together in love, here, “knit” reveals that the body of Christ (the church) should be built in oneness (Eph. 4:16). Christians who live the life of faith shall not keep themselves clean and pure only, but have to establish contact with other believers. In the church, only the power of love produces the power of union.

“And attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding”, this verse shows that the firm faith is from understanding. And the assured faith brings about the “true knowledge” ---- “the knowledge”. “Knowledge” leads to “assurance”. And “assurance” leads to “true knowledge”. And “true knowledge” leads to “firm assurance” (see v.5, 7). Therefore, “knowledge” and “assurance” complement each other

“The mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ”, this “mystery” is in no wise the mysterious ceremony held in the heresy when someone joins them, but that the counsel of God’s redemption and administration of the kingdom is accomplished in Christ and fulfilled through the working of Christ (Eph. 1:3-12; 1Cor. 15:24-28; Col. 1:15-20).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Various kinds of teachings may often make believers’ heart moved and even doubtful about the word of faith. Therefore, they need be comforted and exhorted and encouraged.

2)    Besides the direct comfort and encouragement from God, believers shall also to comfort and encourage one another by words and works.

3)    Prayers may mostly make believers comforted and encouraged in spirit.

4)    Rationality leads to division, and yet love leads to union. The fundamental element of the oneness and building of the church is love, not rationality. If the love of one another in the church disappears, the church will be disassembled.

5)    In the spiritual warfare, unity means power. An individual believer is too weak to defeat the enemy. Only when the church is knitted together in love, can the church resist the attack of the evil power.

6)    Any member in the body can not exist separately. We should be united with other members. Once we are estranged from the church, we will become weak.

7)    If believers treat one another in love, all will be encouraged on account of the Lord’s love and thus attain to more assurance toward the Lord. Therefore, it is not only faith produces love (Col. 1:4) but also that love confirms faith.

8)    The faith of Christians is not blind faith, but sober faith with clear reasons. Such is faith is obtained by revelation through understanding.

9)    The more faith one has, the more Christ is he enabled to know. The more one knows Christ, the more is his faith established.

10) To Christians, the mystery of God is no longer a hidden secret, but an open secret. Once we have entered into Christ, we are enabled to know this mystery.


Col. 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

YLT: “in whom are all the treasures of the wisdom and the knowledge hid,”

Meaning of Words:treasures”: deposit, wealth; “hidden”: secret, hid;

The Background: the heretical teaching in Colosse at that time held that man could be saved by the possession of “wisdom” with some special “knowledge”, which was known by only a small minority of them. Man had to go through great trials in this sect. And after he was regarded as faithful by the sect, such knowledge would be imparted to him.

Literal Meaning:wisdom”, it refers to the talent of discerning the facts.

  “Knowledge”: translate the facts into the principles of life and works systematically through understanding and discernment;

  “Wisdom and knowledge”, both of them cannot be separated.

  “All”: the whole, not a part;

  This verse tells us that the wisdom of God and all the knowledge of His working are hidden in Christ. One can know the principles and works of God through Christ only and find them in Christ only. The heretical teaching emphasizes that men are saved by “wisdom and knowledge”. Paul here points that only those who are in Christ are able to have true wisdom and knowledge.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Christ is an all-inclusive treasury. He is the answer of every question. Therefore, the possession of Christ is the possession of the key of all questions.

2)    If one has the key but does not open the door to search out the treasures therein, his problem can still never be solved. Therefore, believers should still labor to seek more Christ and know more Christ.

3)    To know Christ is the only way of knowing God. The more knowledge of Christ is obtained by more experience of Him, not reasons or theories.

4)    All the knowledge outside of Christ is vain knowledge and dead letter.


Col. 2:4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.

YLT: “and this I say, that no one may beguile you in enticing words,”

Meaning of Words:persuasive words”: enticing words; “deceive”: beguile, delude;

Literal Meaning:anyone”, possibly, the one that preached the heresy to them at that time was an eloquent one.

  “Deceive”, it means being led astray by wrong teachings;

  “Persuasive words”, it is a legal word in the original ---- a defense lawyer is able to persuade the judge by his eloquence so as to let a sinner free from the just sanction of the law.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Words pleasant to hear may not be true words, and may often make the hearers deceived unconsciously.

2)    The heretical teachings is characterized by fair-sounding and mysterious and yet unpractical words.

3)    The preachers should cut in a straight line the word of truth (2Tim. 2:15). Believers should not despise their speaking, but shall judge (1Thess. 5:20-21; 1Cor. 14:29).

4)    The church should adhere to the truth, but not be deceived by any persuasive word.


Col. 2:5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

YLT: “for if even in the flesh I am absent -- yet in the spirit I am with you, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in regard to Christ;”

Meaning of Words: “steadfastness”: firmness;

Literal Meaning:good order”, it is military words, which mean that the army that are inspected are set in good order and keep rank.

  “Steadfastness”, it is also a military term, which refers to the stern orderliness and awesome majesty.

  This verse indicates that the church in Colosse, in the face of the attacks of heretical teachings, were supposed to keep the military discipline of the spiritual army and be steadfast in faith so as to make the hearers rejoice.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Though we believers are separated physically, we shall remember one other in spirit (1Thess. 2:17).

2)    The God that we believe is a God of order. Therefore, it is not only He makes the universe He created full of order but also that He rejoices that His church and saints walk decently and in order (1Cor. 14:40).

3)    The church will be able to manifest good order only when focusing on Christ and keeping firm faith in Him. The church in disorder can not strive for the fight of truth for the Lord.

4)    If believers in the church submit ourselves to one another in fear of Christ (Eph. 5:21), there will be good order spontaneously.

5)    How difficult to keep good order in the world at present. He who refuses to be contaminated by evil influences is yet despised. If we want to be steadfast in the faith of Christ, we shall pay the price.


Col. 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

YLT: “as, then, ye did receive Christ Jesus the Lord, in him walk ye,”

Literal Meaning:receive”: believe (see John 1:12); 

  Christ Jesus the Lord, this is the complete address to the Lord. “Lord” ---- He is the dominator who governs all things; “Christ” ---- He is the “Messiah” whom God promised to come to save the world; “Jesus” ---- He is the incarnated divine one; 

“Walk in Him”, there are three aspects of meaning: 1) walk according to His words (Matt. 7:24-27); 2) we shall do as He has done to us (John 13:15; 1John 4:17; Eph. 4:20); 3) He is the standard and principle of our walking (Col. 3:3, 11, 15, 17, 18, 23).

Christians always believe first and then walk, and therefore the life of faith is complete.

“Received…walk”, the different tenses show that the former is transient and the latter is permanent and gradual, and the former is having received and the latter is maintaining, and the former is “He is of me” and the latter is “I am of Him”.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    We have received Christ Jesus as our “Lord”. We have to commit ourselves unto Him utterly and let us governed by Him.

2)    Faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 26).

3)    We are favored on account of believing the Lord’s words, and are blessed because of walking according to the Lord’s words (Matt. 7:24).

4)    Believers have received Christ Jesus as the Lord because of faith and obedience, and shall live the life that “Christ Jesus is the Lord” by faith and obedience likewise.

5)    What believers have received is the Lord Himself, not knowledge. Therefore, what we should obey in our life is the living Christ who lives in us instead of any customs, or teachings or traditions. And therefore we have to pay good attention to the working of His Spirit in us.

6)    He who hears the heretical teachings has just not “walked in Him” and has thus forsaken Christ.

7)    Only when we live “in Him”, will we be able to have deeper union with Him and have the performance that believers are supposed to have in life.


Col. 2:7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

YLT: “being rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, as ye were taught -- abounding in it in thanksgiving.”

Meaning of Words: “establish”: confirm, stabilitate; “abound”: superabound, be in excess, excel;

Literal Meaning: “rooted”, it is just like the root of the tree that penetrates into the earth, which relates to the life of deep fellowship with the Lord. “Built”, it is like the building of the house that is built upward all the way from the foundation, which refers to the building of Christians’ personality. The former is the hidden part in Christians’ life and the latte is the manifest part in Christians’ life.

  “Rooted and built up in Him”, Christians must be rooted in Christ and appropriate Him as the fountain and power of life, and regard Him as the foundation of the building (daily life and works) and manifest Him externally so as to resist the attacks of the rainstorm (Matt. 7:24-27).

“And established in the faith”, the majority of Bible scholars hold that here “faith” is the object of being strengthened, which means that the faith becomes too assured to be moved. Here, it suggests that faith is established by being rooted and built in Him.

“As you have been taught, the clearer we have known the truth we have received, the more our faith will be established. Faith comes from the knowledge of God. The more we know God, the firmer our faith will be. The one whose faith is mostly established is the one who has the best knowledge of God.

“Abounding in it with thanksgiving”, it is like that the cup is full of water to overflowing. This verse unveils that we have deeply realized that it is due to the grace of God, not of our own strength, that our life is rooted and built and our faith is established, since we have clearly known the teachings of the truth we have received. Therefore, we are abundant in thanksgiving to God.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Believers shall take root downward in Christ first and then bear fruit onward.

2)    In daily life, we may suffer temptations, afflictions, failures, diseases, persecutions etc. if our faith is not firm, we must be paralyzed.

3)    Firm faith is the origin of the abounding of thanksgiving.

4)    Every spiritual accomplishment of believers is out of the grace of God. Therefore, we should give our whole-hearted thanks to God for our growth.

5)    The more one is spiritual, the meeker he will become. The pride of a man indicates that he has seldom experienced the grace of God.

6)    He who is not zealous in seeking the Lord must give little thanks to God. He who gives little thanks to God must be cold to God and to spiritual things, at most neither cold nor hot.

7)    Generally nine among ten are favored and yet do not give thanks (Luke 17:11-19). However, the biggest difference of believers from men in the world is the ever-increasing thanksgiving to God.


Col. 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

YLT: “See that no one shall be carrying you away as spoil through the philosophy and vain deceit, according to the deliverance of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ,”

Meaning of Words:philosophy”: love knowledge; “deceit”: delusion, deceivableness; “basic principles”: elements, constituent, something orderly in arrangement, rudiment;

The Background:the tradition of men”, the teachers of the intellectualism declared: their special teachings were dictated by Jesus in His flesh to a minority of men, through whom the teachings were continually dictated to another group of chosen men. .

“The basic principles of the world”, the intellectualists held that among the constellations there was a kind of “supernatural spiritual power” (namely, one of the meanings of the basic principles) controlling men’s fate. Therefore, they paid much attention to the working of the constellations and set it as their principles in life. This is also the origin of “astrology” today.

Literal Meaning:philosophy”: the system of heretics that emphasizes on wisdom and concludes a series of self-justified philosophic theories;

“Empty deceit”, the heretical teaching is apparently reasonable. However, it has no reality of the truth, only a pack of lies, i.e. vain lies.

“The tradition of men”, the mysterious secret handed down in some sects by pithy formulas;

“The basic principles of the world”, it indicates that the heretical teachings are secular, shallow and preliminary (Gal. 4:3, 9).

“Cheat you”, “cheat”, it is used to describe the people of vanquished nation, who are brought to the victorious nation to be slaves to them. Here, it suggests that the heretical teaching may entrap men to deep destruction.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Satan uses various kinds of men or things to cheat men so as to ensnare many ignorant ones to be its slaves. And the sharpest weapon that Satan uses to attack our faith is heresy.

2)    There are three characteristics of heresy: a) “not according to Christ”, though it mentions the Christianity, it preaches all that is nothing to do with Christ and even denies the salvation accomplished by Christ; b) “according to the tradition of men, it is not according to the revelation of God in the Scriptures, but according to men’s thoughts and words; c) according to the basic principles of the world”, it is apparently mysterious and subtle, but only preliminary general knowledge without any refined element after careful consideration. Therefore, it is full of contradictions and flaws

3)    There is also a crisis in the church, i.e. not according to Christ, but according to man’s tradition, or worldly principles, capturing men away from Christ by creating something unbiblical and resorting to sensationalism.

4)    If the research of and preoccupation with any theological knowledge has not led us to draw near and enjoy Christ, it has just fallen into the realm of Greek philosophy and relapsed into heresy.

5)    If any knowledge or teaching goes against the basic truth of the Bible, it is in no wise the teaching of Christians.


Col. 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

YLT: “because in him doth tabernacle all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,”

Meaning of Words: “Godhead”: divinity; “fullness”: make replete, be complete, be fulfilled; “bodily”: physically, corporately; “dwell”: house permanently, reside;

The Background: some heretical doctrines hold that it is insufficient to believe Jesus Christ only who is only a part of the fullness of the Godhead and the “fullness” can be attained to by adding some other divine things besides Christ.

Literal Meaning: “for”, it shows that the words from verse nine to fifteen are the reason why Paul asks them to “beware” in verse eight.

  “Godhead”, it inner nature of God;

  “The fullness of God”: the totality of God Himself and His divinity.

  “Bodily”: manifest vividly so as to be easily understood;

  This verse indicates that all the nature of the Godhead is in Christ. The incarnation of Christ makes all the fullness of the Godhead substantial, not abstract.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    One is able to have part in the disposition and life of God through Christ only.

2)    He who has gained Christ has gained everything of God. He who has no Christ has nothing of God.

3)    We are enabled to have concrete and real knowledge of the fullness of Godhead through the experience of Christ only.


Col. 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

YLT: “and ye are in him made full, who is the head of all principality and authority,”

The Background: the heretics believe that there are all principalities and authorities in the spiritual realm, who are the important medium connecting God and men. Men are enabled to come to God through them only.

Literal Meaning: note that the word “you” is mentioned three times from verse ten to twelve. And the three verses indicate how we have partaken in all the fullness of Godhead.

  “You are complete in Him, it means that the life and disposition of God have become the reality of men in Christ because of believing in Christ.

“Who is the head of all principality and power”, here it especially refers to the angel.

This verse points that it is quite enough for believers to have Christ. On one hand, there is abundant provision in Christ. And on the other hand, since He is the highest head of all principality and power, He can draw near to God directly without any medium.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The fountain of God’s life provides all the need of men richly.

2)    As Christ wants nothing, even so must the inner life and daily life in Christ want nothing.

3)    Once man has Christ, he needs no other principality or power.


Col. 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

YLT: “in whom also ye were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ,”

Meaning of Words: “put off”: divest, despoil, spoil;

The Background: circumcision”, it was a sign that God had made a covenant with His elect, the Israel (Gen. 17:10). The Jewish babies had to be circumcised eight days after birth. The heretical teachings may also cover the ritualism like circumcision, holding that men can be saved by circumcision.

Literal Meaning: “be also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, it is the physical circumcision.

“By putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ”: the true circumcision in spirit (Rom. 2:28-29).

This verse shows that the true circumcision is not to remove the physical prepuce of man, but to deal with the passions and lusts that corrupt the flesh in Christ.

Spiritual Meaning: “circumcision”, the spiritual meaning is dealing with the flesh or removing the intents and ability of sins of the flesh. Therefore, those who are physically circumcised and yet have not performed the real effect of circumcision in conversation are regarded not circumcised according to the Bible (Lev. 26:41; Jer. 6:10).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Believers will immediately fail without Christ. “In Him”, it is the secret of our victory.

2)    Men always tend to be fond of apparent and visible and tangible things or ceremonies. However, they may miss the true meaning that the ceremony represents.

3)    Today, the principle of “the circumcision made with men’s hands” is also widely indoctrinated among the children of God, many of whom deal with the flesh by manual means. How lamentable!

4)    We put off the troubles of the lusts of the flesh by Christ completely, not by our own struggle or our strict self-discipline.

5)    If man desires to fulfill the will of God by the flesh, it merely exposes the evil of his lusts of the flesh.


Col. 2:12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

YLT: “being buried with him in the baptism, in which also ye rose with through the faith of the working of God, who did raise him out of the dead.”

Meaning of Words:baptism”: immersion;

Literal Meaning:buried with Him in baptism, the “baptism” of believer manifests that he has been crucified with Christ and has been dead, so he has to be buried in water. “Burial” is the declaration of the fact of death, and the declaration of the conclusion of all the past.

“Through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead”, it means that the “baptism” will be efficacious “through the working of God’s power and man’s faith” only.

Spiritual Meaning: the spiritual meaning of the “baptism” is to let the flesh that committed sins in the past be buried “with Christ” unto death by faith in water (Rom. 6:3). Then the flesh will be no longer used by sins and thus believers are delivered from the world. Believers’ coming up from the water after baptism typifies that they are “raised with Christ” (Rom. 6:5-8) and become a new creature.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Baptism is not a kind of ceremony of joining the church, but a true experience of being delivered.

2)    The burial of every believer by water does not mean a miserable end, but a new life full of hope.

3)    No death, no life. If we have really died with Christ, we shall also live with him.

4)    It is indeed the power of God that believers are dead and raised with the Lord through baptism. However, if the believer does not do in faith, the effect of the baptism cannot be perfected in him.

5)    Believers experience the fact of deliverance by faith ---- be buried with Him (die with Him), and experience the fact of victory by faith ---- be raise with Him.

6)    Our deliverance and victory are the effect of God’s working in us. Only His life can swallow the death, and only His life can raise us.


Col. 2:13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

YLT: “And you -- being dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh -- He made alive together with him, having forgiven you all the trespasses,”

Meaning of Words:trespass”: side-slip, go out of the way;

Literal Meaning: the three verses from verse thirteen to fifteen show that how God makes us obtain the grace mentioned from verse ten to twelve.

  “The uncircumcision of your flesh”: the corrupt and evil nature in our flesh;

  “Be dead”, it refers to the spiritual death: be senseless to God and strengthless to sins;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    He who is dead has no strength. It is no wonder that many people were in thrall to moral corruption before believing the Lord.

2)    Since God has forgiven all out transgressions, He will no longer pursue our sins in the past.


Col. 2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

YLT: “having blotted out the handwriting in the ordinances that is against us, that was contrary to us, and he hath taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross;”

Meaning of Words: “wipe out”: obliterate; “against”: adversary, contrary to;

The Background: in the ancient times, the form of paper was papyrus made from the stem of reed or leather paper made from the skin of animals. Both of them were rather expensive, men would not waste them carelessly. And the ink in the old times was absent of acid, so it could not corrode the paper. And therefore it was easy to wipe out the words written on the paper. If man obliterates with a piece of sponge, the paper would become as clear as there is no previous writing on it. This is the origin of the words “wipe out”.

Literal Meaning:handwriting of requirements”, a commercial term, which refers to the proof of being in debt written by the debtor; God does not command the Gentiles to keep the law, but writes the law in their heart (Rom. 2:14-15). If one has offended God, his conscience will feel that he has owed God as he has personally signed the proof. Therefore, the law has become “against us and contrary to us, because it has accused us of our failure and exposed our debt to God.

  “Taken it out of the way, God has removed the accusation of the law against Christians.

“Having nailed it to the cross”, it means that the accusation of the law has no effect on believers since they have been crucified with Christ (Gal. 6:14).

What Christ has obliterated is not the law itself (Matt. 5:17) but the “curse of the law” (Gal. 3:13), namely, the part that men should be condemned if they are unable to keep.


Col. 2:15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

YLT: “having stripped the principalities and the authorities, he made a shew of them openly -- having triumphed over them in it.”

Meaning of Words: “disarm”: put off, spoil, divest wholly oneself;

The Background: “disarm” and “triumph over”, the words are originally used to describe the scene of the victory of the Roman army. When they captivated the officers and soldiers of the defeated nation, they would disarm the weapons and uniforms of the enemies, and put them in the triumphant procession in order to show the complete defeat of the adversary and their own victory.

Literal Meaning:principalities and powers”, it refers to all kinds of angels in a wide sense, and the evil power in the spiritual realm (Eph. 6:12). According to the context, it refers to the latter one.

  “Triumphing over them in it”, the cross has paid all our debt and torn the debit instrument and crucified our flesh, and therefore it has become our boast (Gal. 6:14).

Enlightenment in the Word:  

1)    The way of victory for believers is to know and experience the cross deeper.

2)    The cross has manifested its victory by wiping out the letter of the law (v.14) and leading captivity the power of darkness. In other words, the letter of the law may become the tool through which the power of darkness binds men.

3)    If we permit the principle of the letter of the law in the church, we have just indirectly permitted the enemy to have room in the church. Therefore, we have to sweep the poison of the religious letter out of the church and extirpate the shadow of all the letter or rules by the triumph of the cross so as to let all the children of God fully enjoy the liberty of the salvation of Christ.


Col. 2:16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,

YLT: “Let no one, then, judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths,”

Literal Meaning: “in food”, it refers to the rules of food, what can be eaten and what cannot;

  “Festival”, the festival rules every year;

  “New moon”, the first day of each month by lunar calendar;

  “Sabbaths”, the rule every week;

  “Let no one judge you”, it contains a meaning of “forcing you”. Therefore, it means “letting no heretic judge you”.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    One shall not turn to men and dare not stand for the truth because of the fear of men.

2)    We shall not be easily swayed by the “unlawful” things in men’s sight and even by the “lawful” things in men’s sight.

3)    Whether we are right or wrong, justified or unjustified lies in God’s judgment, not in men’s judgment.


Col. 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

YLT: “which are a shadow of the coming things, and the body of the Christ;”

Meaning of Words:things to come”: coming; “substance”: body;

Literal Meaning: the ceremonies, laws and customs in the Old Testament are merely description and revelation of the types of Christ. We have to pay attention to the bodily Christ. Since now Christ has come, if we still cling to the ceremonies, law and customs, we have just concentrated on details but forgotten the main purpose and failed to know their functions.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The real truth lies in Christ only. There is no truth without Him.

2)    Believers should sort the priorities in spiritual pursuit, lest we should burn our house to get rid of the mouse.


Col. 2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

YLT: “let no one beguile you of your prize, delighting in humble-mindedness and worship of the messengers, intruding into the things he hath not seen, being vainly puffed up by the mind of his flesh,”

Meaning of Words: “take delight in”: intend, please, love; “intrude into”: encroach, interfere, trespass; “vainly”: without a cause, groundless; “puffed up”: make proud, haughty, inflated;

The Background: there is a kind of heresy holding that God is highly above men and men cannot worship God directly and therefore men shall please God through worshipping the angels in a humble mind.

  There is another kind of heresy thinking that they are above others, because they have practiced unto an excellent degree that they are enabled to see the vision which the common people cannot see.

Literal Meaning: “in false humility”, it is not out of a true heart, but is the feigned humility.

  “Cheat you of”, the word in the original means that a referee disqualifies an unlawful athlete and gets him tossed out of a game.

  “Intruding into those things which he has not seen”, it relates to the desire and indulgence of the heretics towards the supernatural visions.

  According to the appearance, those “who worship the angels” seem to be “humble”. However, in fact, they think only they themselves “have intruded into the angels which they have not seen” ---- only they are able to understand the spiritual mysteries, so they are “puffed up”.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Humility is the virtue of Christians. If it is presented without cause, it will be of no value.

2)    The self-complacent humility is often false humility, and it is actually out of self-conceitedness.

3)    He who has earnest spiritual pursuit often makes a mistake ---- he considers himself as a holy one and yet despises others.

4)    There is never a self-righteous Christian who is a real good Christian.

5)    Believers should pay attention to the truth more than their experiences, because our experience may be wrong, but the truth of God is always right.

6)    If believers are satisfied with their experience in the past, they will not be increased in spirit.

7)    Men’s religious zeal for the worship and service of God may be out of the fleshly mind and desire.

8)    The mind of the flesh is death and the mind of the spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:6).


Col. 2:19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

YLT: “and not holding the head, from which all the body -- through the joints and bands gathering supply, and being knit together -- may increase with the increase of God.”

Meaning of Words: “hold fast”: seize, retain, lay hand on; “nourish”: supply;

Literal Meaning:and not holding fast to the Head”: not seizing Christ any more and being attracted to turn to seek what is outside of Christ;

  “Nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, it points that the head is the commanding center that joints all the parts of the body together and carries nutrient. Once the body is separated from the head, it will be of no life at all.

“Grows with the increase that is from God”: increase with the increase of God;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “Not holding fast to the Head”, it is the secret of the increase of the whole body. If the church is separated from the head Christ, she will be in disruption.

2)    The biggest fault of the common believers in the church today is holding fast one certain servant of God, or one certain aspect of truth or one certain kind of policy.

3)    Every believer is able to have direct contact with Christ Himself without any intermediator.

4)    The increase of believers lies in God, so men shall not uphold men (1Cor. 3:6-7).

5)    The normal increase of Christians’ life is the increase of God in them.


Col. 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--

YLT: “If, then, ye did die with the Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?”

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Believers have been delivered from the worldly things through the death with the Lord (Gal. 6:14).

2)    The regulations of the world cannot rule the dead, for the dead cannot obey them. If a believer has the mind of keeping the regulations, it proves that he has not died with the Lord.

3)    If man desires to keep any regulations, it shows that he is still under the control of the world.


Col. 2:21 "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,"

YLT: “-- thou mayest not touch, nor taste, nor handle --”

Literal Meaning: “do not touch”, it especially refers to the controlling of the indulgence of the flesh in the heretical teaching (Col. 2:23), e.g. do not touch the member of the opposite sex;

“Do not taste”: abstain from meats (1Tim. 4:3), e.g. do not take alcohol;

“Do not handle”: abstain from common things, e.g. food;  


Col. 2:22 which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men?

YLT: “which are all for destruction with the using, after the commands and teachings of men,”

Meaning of Words:perish”: ruin, corrupt, destroy;

Literal Meaning:which all concern things which perish with the using”, it means that all these things are corrupted once they are used (Matt. 15:17). It is an irony that the living person shall even be controlled and manipulated by dead things. How ridiculous!

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Men’s “commandments” and “doctrines” often make believers unable to hear the words of God.

2)    The “commandments” and “doctrines” that are not according to Christ cannot stand any test at all.


Col. 2:23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

YLT: “which are, indeed, having a matter of wisdom in will-worship, and humble-mindedness, and neglecting of body -- not in any honour, unto a satisfying of the flesh.”

The Background: the ascetics, one sect of the heresy, think men should take the body as a humble thing since it is evil ---- they have to scourge the body and let it suffer hunger and thirst and control the lusts of the body so as to achieve the purpose of their faith.

Literal Meaning:self-imposed religion”: the faith devised by men according to their own mind;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The regulations are inefficacious, for the lusts of the flesh can not be bound by several regulations, but be dealt with on the cross.

2)    Men’s commandments and doctrines often make the children of God “have an appearance of wisdom” only. However, they themselves suffer in the body ---- “neglect of the body”, and yet “of no value”.

3)    The liberty of Christians is not obtained by keeping the regulations or controlling their lusts, but by living with the Lord and letting the Lord reign in us.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Signs of the Faithfulness of the Church to the Lord

A.   Have the mind of encouragement (v.2);

B.   Be knit together in love (v.2);

C.   Have the knowledge of Christ in truth (v.2-3);

D.   Not be deceived by the persuasive words (v.4);

E.   Keep the order as it is in the army ---- good order and steadfastness (v.5);

F.    Walk in Him (v.6);

G.   Be rooted and built in Him (v.7);

H.   Abound with thanksgiving (v.7);


The Contrasts between Christ and the Heretical Doctrines

A.   The First Contrast (v.1-7):

1.    All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ can establish men’s faith.

2.    The heresy merely deceives men with persuasive words.

B.   The Second Contrast (v.8-15):

1.    All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, which leads men into triumph.

2.    The heresy is merely the empty deceit which makes men captivated.

C.   The Third Contrast (v.16-19):

1.    Christ is the substance of all types which make men increase.

2.    What the heresy keeps is merely shadow, which cheats men of their reward.

D.   The Fourth Contrast (v.20-23):

1.    Dying with Christ delivers men from the bondage of regulations.

2.    The death of the heretical regulations is of no value.


The Balanced Service of the Lord’s Worker toward the Saints (v.2)

A.   Who encourages them to be hopeful toward themselves ---- their hearts may be encouraged;

B.   Who encourages them to have love toward men ---- be knit together;

C.   Who encourages them to have faith in God ---- because of the knowledge of Christ in truth;


The Coherent Effects of Faith

A.   Once man has the full assurance, he will truly know that the mystery of God is Christ (v.2).

B.   Once man has the knowledge of Christ in truth, he will not be deceived and be more established in faith (v.3-5);

C.   Once man has been established in faith, he will be more united with Christ and walk in Him and abound with thanksgiving (v.6-7).


How to Discern the Heretical Doctrines (v.8)?

A.   Which present a series of seemingly subtle “philosophy”;

B.   Which are actually empty “deceit”;

C.   Which are “not according to the teachings of the truth of Christ”;

D.   Which pay more attention to the theoretical doctrines imparted by the leaders;

E.   If they are carefully analyzed, the elements of the world and superstition therein will be easily found.

F.    If men are careless, they will be captivated by them.


The Characteristics of the True Circumcision (v.11)

A.   It is not the circumcision made with hands, but “the circumcision of Christ”.

B.   If is not external or physical, but internal and spiritual.

C.   It is able to put off the body of the sins of the flesh.


What We Have Obtained in Christ

A.   Put off the body of the sins of the flesh (v.11);

B.   Bury with him and be raised with Him (v.12);

C.   The forgiveness of all trespasses (v.13);

D.   Be delivered from the handwriting of requirements (v.14);

E.   Be divorced from the bondage of the power of darkness (v.15);


The Judgments of the Heretical Doctrines (v.23)

A.   Have an appearance of wisdom ---- it is folly in fact;

B.   In self-imposed religion ---- it is not of God;

C.   False humility ---- it is puffed up;

D.   Neglect of the body ---- it is cruel;

E.   Be of no value against the indulgence of the flesh ---- be unable to control the flesh;


Be Rooted and Built up

A.   The Meaning of Being Rooted and Built up (v.7):

1.    In Christ ---- the realm of life;

2.    Be rooted ---- the hidden aspect;

3.    Be built up ---- the manifested aspect;

B.   The Help of Being Rooted and Built up ---- the Conflict of the Lord’s Workers (v.1):

C.   The Profits of Being Rooted and Built up (v.2-5):

1.    The hearts are encouraged;

2.    Be knit together in love;

3.    The full assurance;

4.    The knowledge of the mystery of God;

5.    Obtain all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ;

6.    So as not to be deceived;

7.    Good order;

8.    The steadfastness of the faith in Christ;

D.   The Connotations of Being Rooted and Built up (v.6-7):

1.    Walk in Him ---- live and act in Christ;

2.    Be established in the faith ---- not be deceived or moved;

3.    Be taught ---- be skilled in the word of righteousness;

4.    Abound with thanksgiving ---- because of the knowledge of God’s will;

E.   The Obstructions of Being Rooted and Built up (v.8):

1.    Philosophy;

2.    Empty deceit ---- politics

3.    The tradition of men ---- religion;

4.    The basic principles of the world ---- science;

F.    The Ways of Being Rooted and Built up (v.9-15):

1.    The knowledge of all the fullness of the Godhead;

2.    Obtain the fullness of Christ in Christ;

3.    Experience the circumcision of Christ which puts off the body of the sins of the flesh;

4.    Be dead, and buried and raised with Christ;

5.    The triumph by the cross;

G.   The Life of Being Rooted and Built up (v.16-23):

1.    Not stick to the regulations like food, or festival;

2.    Not stick to things which one has seen ---- false humility and worship of angels;

3.    Not be puffed up ---- hold fast to the Head and grow with the increase of God;

4.    Not live according to the basic principles of the world ---- not according to the commandments and doctrines of men;


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou