The Epistle of COLOSSIANS
[ ** A prerequisite to understanding this teaching and the type of study pattern used makes it necessary for you to first study The Epistle of James Chapter One. Please read at least the first three paragraphs of the teaching "The Epistle of James Chapter One" before proceeding.]
1. For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
Literal: For I will or wish (stated emphatically) you to know what great conflict, struggle, or trial I have for you, and those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in person.
2. That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Literal: That their hearts may be encouraged, exhorted and comforted, being knit together and united in love and to all riches of the full assurance (absolute sureness) of understanding, to the clear and exact knowledge of the mystery of God (CHRIST IN YOU) and of the Father, and of Christ.
Look at Ephesians 5: 20 where you will see that this verse also states "unto God and the Father". This could be a figure of speech where God is referring to Himself as 'God and the Father' since they have two different connotations, but are referring to one entity.
We need to understand that the phrase 'hearts knit together' takes time to develop. Knit your heart together with God and the fellow believers and He will take care of everything else. You are to fellowship with like-minded believers when it is available to do so. God has a surprise around every corner when you keep Him first and walk by the spirit of God within you.
Philippians 2: 13 -- For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Ephesians 2: 22 -- In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through (in) the Spirit.
We can limit God in our life by having our foot on the hose when we do not allow God to work within us. Just be yourself and feel free to do as you please when and if YOU ARE KEEPING GOD FIRST. It's not hard to do. It's a simple walk and life with God. You know what you need to do each day. Just do it. Don't look around. God will help you. Remember to study and pray to Him each day.
3, 4. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
Literal: Wherein or in which are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid. And this I say, that not (lest) any man may beguile you with persuasive speech or enticing words.
'Beguile' means to reason wrongly or falsely; to cheat or delude by false reasoning. Someone who beguiles you is a liar using persuasive speech and enticing words. 'Entice' means to attract by offering hope of reward or pleasure; tempt; allure. Many times people will come to you with enticing words trying to distract you from the Word and walking by the spirit and following your heart. They will get you to waste your time or your money listening to their lies and nonsense. The telephone is one way this can happen. Listening to salespeople ramble on about what they know little about is another subtle, seemingly harmless way where you could be beguiled. Remember this and keep it in mind. Don't allow people to waste your time. Excuse yourself politely and keep striving towards the goal for that day and time. Most importantly, and in reference to the Word, you must never allow anyone to cheat you out of keeping God first in your life but remember that these people and situations can do just that. Learn how to deal with the time-wasters and distracters. God is and will continue to help you realize that you are more than a conqueror in every single situation.
5. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit [pneuma], joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
Literal: For if indeed in the flesh I be absent, yet I am with you in the spirit rejoicing and seeing (joying and beholding) your order and arrangement and the firmness and solidity of your faith in Christ.
Most interesting here is the word 'pneuma' used for 'spirit', which has many different usages in the Bible. The word 'pneuma' here means issues that result from the operation of man's mind, such as acts of will, thoughts, desires and emotions. So Paul was saying that even though he was not physically with the believers, the saints were with him in his thoughts and prayers and in his believing for them and with them.
This usage here also refers to the gift as operated by the believer producing the manifestations of Holy Spirit. When Paul said I am with you in the spirit, he also meant that he was operating the manifestations in behalf of the believers that he was not physically with. He was speaking in tongues for them and believing for them along with operating word of knowledge, word of wisdom and discerning of spirits concerning what was happening in their lives and what, if any, action he should take regarding their welfare.
So there are two different meanings here for the word 'pneuma'. Also of interest in this verse is the phrase 'joying and beholding'. Focusing on joying, it means to rejoice or to be pleased with. But the word 'beholding' denotes the act of seeing. It applies to mental vision but implies greater vividness, to express a more intent, earnest spiritual contemplation. It is important to know the different usages of these words and phrases to have a deeper, more fuller understanding of God's Word.
6. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Literal: As therefore you have received (lambanoed--into manifestation) Christ Jesus the Lord, in him, walk, or walk ye in him.
'Walk' means to tread or walk about, to be walking. It means, by your own free will, to parallel the life of our Lord Jesus Christ by renewing the mind and then walking by the spirit and not by the senses. The phrase 'in him', the word 'in' is being or remaining within, with the primary idea of rest in any place or thing. We are to become like Jesus Christ and be or remain with him in our lifestyle via the renewed mind. And we do find REST in this lifestyle of walking by the Spirit of God. Remember this. You are supposed to be at rest and relaxed at all times. The peace of God is a primary reason for renewing the mind. This is what it means to be 'in Christ'. Paul is exhorting the believers not to be deceived by people who lie and deceive you with enticing words. He says he is praying for and believing for those saints even though he cannot be there in the flesh. Then he is telling them how to avoid practicing any doctrinal error that may have crept in the church by RENEWING THE MIND TO THE WORD OF GOD and therefore walking with and in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to dechomai (receive objectively by being born again) Holy Spirit, it must be lambanoed or brought into manifestation by study and actions in order to have the peace of God and be at rest and walk with the power of God.
7. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Literal: Having been rooted and being built up in him, and stablished or made steadfast in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving and gratitude.
Concerning the phrase "rooted and built up in him", 'rooted' is being born again and 'built up in him' is the renewed mind. 'Stablished' means confirm which is to make firm or strengthen; to prove the truth, make valid or verify. You are to be established in the firmly relying confidence of God and His Word. As far as the renewed mind is concerned, you are to establish AS TRUE THAT WHICH WAS DOUBTFUL OR UNCERTAIN. This process happens only with study and a teachable heart - being humble to God and His Word. How can you establish something in your heart that you are not aware of? The burden rests on your shoulders to study and it is the best part of the day.
8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Literal: Take heed and pay attention lest there shall be any man who through philosophy, worldly wisdom, worldly doctrine and empty deceit by false statements, makes prey of you! ... according to the tradition of men, according to the elements or principles of the world (of whom Satan is the God at the present time) and not according to Christ.
Man, through ego and pride will try to deceive you through worldly wisdom and false statements. We know from James that this wisdom is from beneath and is earthly, sensual and devilish. If you don't know and apply the Word of God, you don't have a chance. You've got to know the genuine to clearly recognize the counterfeit.
9. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Literal: For in him (Jesus Christ) dwelleth fixedly all the fullness (pleroma, from pleroo, full to capacity) of the head, God.
10. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Literal: And you are completely, completely, absolutely complete in him, who is the head of all principality and authority/exercised power.
In this verse, God put this verb 'complete' in the fourth conjugation which is very rare. This would be an extra extensive form in English and is difficult to translate but an attempt was made above. At best, we can know for a certainty that we are lacking nothing and we are sufficient. We have what Jesus Christ had available to him plus more. We can get people born again and we can speak in tongues.
Philippians 4: 13 -- I can do all things through Christ which (who) strengtheneth me.
11. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Literal: In whom also you were circumcised with the circumcision not made by hand. In the putting off of the body (depriving by force) of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.
In the law, God, working with Moses, set up circumcision, which was what every male Judean had done at a certain age which then marked that person as being one of God's chosen people. In this verse, 'circumcision' is used as a figure of speech in a spiritual sense meaning that when Jesus Christ was circumcised, we were also circumcised with him, spiritually. We are now marked out as being one of God's chosen people. The reference stems from the Old Testament law of Moses.
The fact that circumcision is referred to in a spiritual sense is made clear by the phrase 'not made by hand.' Also, the words 'putting off' means to strip or despoil or to deprive by force. This force is the force or power of the renewed mind. By your own free will, you force your mind not to sin by renewing it to the Word and by choice doing the Word in your life. You are to deprive the body from sin by the force or power of the renewed mind. Why? Because you were circumcised with Christ and are set free from sin and its consequences and are now one of God's chosen people - a child of God.
12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Literal: Having been buried with him (Jesus Christ) in baptism (baptisma) in which also you were raised with him through the faith of the active power or working of God who raised him from among the dead.
Legally, when he was buried, we were buried with him and when he arose, we arose with him 'through the faith of the operation of God'. God simply requires us to believe -- it is that simple. You don't have to grunt or groan or sweat and strain. Just believe in the active power of God to receive the benefits of God. The Bible was not written for the unbeliever.
The word baptism is 'baptisma' which is the result of baptismos. 'Baptismos' is the act of dipping or washing which is the act of baptizing. THIS DOES NOT OCCUR IN ANY CHURCH EPISTLE. There are only four occurrences in the Bible: Mark 7: 4 and 7: 8 and Hebrews 6: 2 and 9: 10. So baptisma is the result of being baptized. 'Buried with' is to bury with or together. "Buried with him in baptism (baptisma)" is a phrase that could cause some difficulty. When Christ died for our sins and was buried, we were cleansed from all sin -- we were baptized from our sins and received the result of being baptized. This is the meaning of baptisma in this verse. Had he not died, been buried and arose from the dead, we would not have been cleansed from all our sins. When all this occurred and was completed, we received the result of baptism.
13. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Literal: And you, being spiritually dead in your sins or offences and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (made alive) together with him (Christ), having forgiven us all trespasses.
"Forgiven" is to graciously pardon by doing a favor and being kind to. "Trespasses" is a falling aside from right truth or duty, lapse, sin. The term 'uncircumcision of your flesh' is used because Paul was speaking to the Gentiles who did not practice circumcision.
14. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Literal: Blotting out (plaster over; to wipe out; obliterate and leave no trace) the handwriting of ordinances or decrees that was against us and contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
A decree is an official order or decision. "Handwriting of ordinances" is an Eastern expression where the name of a man who went bankrupt was posted at the gate of the city by the elders stating the names of his creditors and the amount owed. When the debts were all paid, the elders would double the paper (Isaiah 40: 2) folding together the writ of debts so that all the debts were "blotted out." This document, folded together, would then be nailed up at the city gate so that all could see that the man's debt was paid in full. All the negatives against that man were wiped out. Jesus Christ paid in full for all our debts of sin. He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, nailing it to his cross. (You need to have some understanding of Eastern culture to rightly divide this verse.)
15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Literal: Having stripped or taken the value out of supra-mundane evil powers as they relate to men, ("having spoiled principalities and powers") he made a show publicly, in frankness, and with boldness and confidence, triumphing over them in himself.
He, Jesus Christ, took everything of value out of these evil principalities and worldly powers as they relate to men. This means that the adversary has no power or control over you at all unless you allow this to happen by not keeping God first in your life and staying in fellowship. You should read that sentence a hundred times. The word 'powers' is exousia or exercised power. Jesus Christ achieved all of what is mentioned in this verse once and for all.
Also, God gave Jesus a name which is above every name and he acquired this name by his conquest of sin, by his conquest of the devil, hell, sickness, and disease. He acquired an exalted name by His achievements.
16. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Literal: Therefore, let not anyone make a distinction or judge you for eating or drinking or in part of (in respect of) a feast (holyday) or new moon (month), or sabbaths (days of rest without labor set aside for worship).
17. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Literal: Which are a shadow or shade of things to come, but the body is of Christ.
Hebrews 10: 1 helps to make this verse more clear by stating that all of these things mentioned are OF THE LAW and are simply a shadow of things to come -- everything changed when Christ came. You need to remember that Colossians was written to 'correct' doctrinal error now being practiced by the believers to whom Paul, by revelation from God, was writing. Apparently, old habits of practicing the Law were creeping back into the lives and fellowships and Paul was correcting them and getting them back to right believing. Paul was reminding them that the Body, of which they are now a part, is of Christ and their beliefs and actions should no longer be influenced by the Old Testament Law.
18. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Literal: (Part a) Let no one cheat or deprive you of the prize or victory.
The word 'beguile' used in the King James version has a center reference that says "judge against or umpire". Beguile means to trick or cheat by deception. Let no one deprive you of the palm.
Another very good literal translation from the Lexicon is:
Literal: (complete verse) Let no one fraudulently defraud you of your prize, though doing it of purpose in humility/lowliness of mind and religion of angels, stepping or entering into things which he has not seen with the eyes, vainly puffed up or inflated by the mind of his flesh or his fleshly mind -- the old man.
What is Paul trying to say here? The believers were beginning to listen to men or women who were cheating them of their prize or reward. These men, although appearing to be humble, were influenced by devil spirits and then influencing the believers who were giving more heed to these people than to the Word of God. These people were stepping into areas that they had no experience and were on an inflated mind trip. Paul is warning them not to be cheated or judged by these people that are still out there today. That is why you must stay spiritually sharp and keep away from anyone that may influence you in a negative manner. These people who are influenced by devil spirits can only get at you if you allow them to. God makes a way for you to escape all temptation -- take it! Follow your heart and stay sharp. Don't be deceived by your senses and oftentimes learn to mind your own business and affairs.
19. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
Literal (1): And not holding the Head, (not being a master of the teachings and lifestyle of Christ who is the head of the Body), from which all the Body by the joints and bands, being supplied and knit together (joined or united), increases by growth, enlargement or amplification by the increase (to grow or grow up) which is received from God.
The word 'holding' is interesting here in that it means to have and hold in one's power -- to be master of. Not holding fast to the Head indicates that the person is not a master of the teachings of Christ and therefore does not have access to the power of God in his or her life. Remember this is a continuance of verse 18 in reference to the person influenced by devil spirits and deceiving and cheating people out of their rewards by their inflated fleshly, carnal minds.
This verse clearly states that the growth of the Church is from God downward, not man upward. It is from heaven to earth and not the opposite. The origin of the Body, the Church, is God who hath given Christ to be Head over all things to this Body. Christ is the source of all guidance and operation of the Body. The members of the Body of Christ work in the Body in the relationship that God has set, and not according to what men have set. Natural, earthly, carnal rules and regulations and ordinances do not enter into the growth of this Body of Christ in any way, for this Body is totally spiritual, heavenly and eternal. That is why you cannot completely understand what is happening and you never will in this life. You don't need to.
Taking a look back at the words 'joints and bands'. A joint is a ligature, a tie, by which the different members of the body are connected. A band is that which binds together like a bond; that which is bound together, a bundle. Let us recapitulate this verse 19 again to keep the logical thought content:
Literal (2): And not holding fast to the Head (not being able to tap into that power of Christ) from which all of the body by ties and bonds, being supplied, joined and united, grows and enlarges by the increase which is received from God.
20. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Literal: If you then died with the Christ from the elements of the world, (you are not under the elements, rudiments, or fundamentals of this world, but under the laws that God through Christ set down) why as if alive in the world and because of it, are you in subjection to decrees?
Why do you submit to opinions laid down as laws by an official order or decision of a church, government, or court if they contradict the Word of God? Sensible laws based on the Word, you obey. You may give up rights, but do not compromise on the Word. God Almighty will back you up and Jesus Christ himself will stand up at the right hand of God for you as you stand faithful and obedient to His Word. A verse in Galatians helps us to better understand this verse:
Galatians 4: 9 -- But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements (worldly rudiments), whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
21. (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Literal: (Touch not (do not apply one's self to), taste not (to experience or partake of), handle not, (touch lightly, just touch).
22. Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Literal: Which things all lead to corruption and destruction in the using) after the commandments/injunctions and teachings of men.
Tying the thoughts together to better understand the flow of ideas and skipping the parenthesis that, according to the Greek-English Interlinear begins with the word 'which':
Literal: (from the end of verse 20 through verse 22) Why do you subject yourself to decrees? Touch not, taste not, handle not, after the commandments and teachings of men?
This is what religion is made of -- ordinances for the flesh which are commandments and doctrines of men. They begin with the flesh and continue in fleshly corruption ending in death. The working of the Holy Spirit is the opposite. It shows us our sin and follies, frailties and infirmities, weaknesses and errors, faults and failings. There is another spirit who is at work to misdirect and deceive. Be sharp. Man's work is for those who glory in themselves. Stay your mind on God and mind your own affairs. God will show you your faults and failings and how to correct them. Do not let any man or woman, in any way, draw you back into that time-wasting manner of life that parallels your old man lifestyle. Stay put on God's Word and don't budge.
23. Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
Literal: Which are having an appearance indeed of wisdom in voluntary will worship and lowliness of mind, and severe or punishing treatment of the body (Interlinear "and unsparing treatment of the body"); not having any intrinsic value for satisfaction of the flesh.
This verse is referring back to the same subject mentioned in verse 18. Don't let a man or woman cheat you out of your prize because even though they appear humble, they are influenced by devil spirits. You must cut this influence out of your life and keep the knife sharp watching for future attempts. God will teach you how to operate 'preventative' believing which will counter the enemy's attacks.
The term 'will worship' is very interesting in the conclusion of this great Chapter Two of Colossians. It is a self-devised external form of ceremonial service, a mode of ceremonial worship chosen for ONE'S SELF.