For an introduction to this series, click here.
Paul has a lot to say in this chapter, and he gets started by explaining why he is writing this letter:
"For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments." (2:1-4)
Man's desire for knowledge often leads him astray. The gospel is quite simple, yet so many people add on to it, adding their own ideas or thinking too hard about irrelevant verses and coming up with odd doctrines. Paul wants the Colossians to be very careful to remain faithful to the simple truths about Jesus. They are not simple in that they are easy to understand completely, but they are simple in that God does not hide them from us in dark language.
Paul reiterates his warning again later in the chapter:
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead." (2:8-12)
Verse 9 is one of the most important verses to prove the deity of Christ. Paul is very clear that the "whole fullness of deity dwells" in Christ. In the first century church, of course, circumcision was a big deal, and Paul points out that spiritually, believers have been set apart in Christ the same way that circumcision set Jews apart physically.
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God." (2:13-19)
There is a pattern of thought that says the first part of the above passage, which talks about nailing the record of debt to Jesus' cross, has to do with the record of our sin. Of course it is a true statement that our sin debt was paid in the work of Christ. But when you read verse 14 in the KJV, it becomes more clear that Paul is talking about more than our sin debt being nailed to the cross: "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;" Paul is talking about the Old Testament law. It better explains why Paul spends most of the rest of the chapter talking about legalism. "Asceticism" is any sort of denying of yourself in order to make yourself more holy. Modern-day asceticism runs the gamut from Amish teaching to monasteries, but also can include rules about enjoying the things that are available to us.
I am going to stop here for now. I am very late. I will finish this up later, either by editing this blog or by posting a new one.