JohnSWilson3 Blog


“the Head, from whom the whole body…grows as God causes it to grow.”
July 8, 2010, 4:47 pm
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In this last section of Chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the organic church in Colosse he now moves to specifically deal with a number of issues that have caused the church to start moving away from its foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

After describing the wonderful reality of being dead to sin, being forgiven of ‘all our sins” and now being “alive with Christ” because of His triumphal work on “the cross” and being raised “from the dead” Paul describes issues related to things that can steer us away from Jesus Christ, who has already been described as “the head of the body, the church” and “head over every power and authority.”

Paul had earlier pointed out that we have “been rooted” in Christ and therefore must go on and have a rock solid “faith in Christ” by living a shared life together in the body, to prevent anyone from using “persuasive speech” to get us to think wrong things about Christ. False teachers are deceivers, whether they realize it or not, who mix truth with error. How sad Paul must have been when he told the mature followers of Christ from the church in Ephesis that “savage wolves will come in among you…even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” Our faith in Christ can only be strengthened as we live by His Spirit and are built up together ‘in him.” This will allow us to have discernment and see those things that will try and take us away from our walk with the Lord such as philosophy and things that are unprofitable for one another that are based on “human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” If anything, no matter what it is, tries to pull us away from Jesus Christ it is moving us away from our life with Him. Paul exhorts the church to not allow false teachings to cause them to lose connection with the headship of Jesus Christ over their gatherings and preempt their spiritual growth together.

“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

In the original language it is interesting that the translation “disqualify you for the prize” is actually the key point to this first part of this section. It sounds similar to his earlier letter to the church in Philippi. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.” We must “go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation…” Paul’s goal in “proclaiming him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom” was “so that we may present everyone perfect (fully grown) in Christ.” Paul wants the followers of Christ to know Jesus in the depths! But we have an adversary who is trying to cut in on that “prize” – knowing Christ together in the depths!

Lightfoot comments that these “false teachers (are) thrusting themselves in the way, attempted to trip them up or otherwise impede them in the race, and thus rob them of their just reward” of who they already were in Christ. (1) Paul says these false teachers are doing so with “false humility.” It is a humility that selfish and vain, completely opposite of what Paul told the Philippian church: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I have actually known people who will claim that we should serve others in order for them to do things for us. How selfish! Because these false teachers seemingly show themselves as being humble, they inject a counterfeit teaching that is completely void of Jesus Christ and His cross. They have “an over-scrupulous devotion to external forms,” “external rites of religion.” (2) One is “the worship of angels.” Perhaps Paul is referring to an issue that had occurred with the Corinthian church, that involved pagan idolatry. Somehow these false teachers were bringing in pagan ideas, that surrounded the culture of the Roman Empire, into the church. How often has this happened in the church throughout its history even to this very day! “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” There is only one kind of sacrifice and worship our Lord desires: “Therefore, I urge, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

People who feign humility and attempt to inject false teachings to try and pull us away from Jesus Christ will appear to be very spiritual. They can go “into great detail what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.” They will try and get the people of God to focus on perhaps the gifts of God, revelations of God, and on external things, human commands and teachings, regulations, such as what you shouldn’t “handle,” “taste,” and “touch,” and to focus on yourself, using your will power and “harsh treatment” of your body, to try and restrain “sensual indulgence,” to make you look righteous before God. It doesn’t work! It may look like it works for a while, it may “have an appearance of wisdom” but it is worthless and lacks any value, because it is Christless. This is nothing more than “spiritual pride.” (3) All the while it is removing you from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. How many times do we do this ourselves? How often we see more of our flesh, our failings, and less of Jesus? Perhaps as we grow closer to Jesus Christ, the reason we see more of our flesh is so that we would cling more to Him? But the counterfeits will try and do the reverse or because we do not have a solid faith in Jesus Christ we will tend to focus on the externals to the detriment of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord and our internal life with Him.

We have “died with Christ to the basic principles of this world”! Our old life is DEAD! He has “disarmed the powers and authorities,” in fact He “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”! Satan no longer has any power over us! He only has power when we take our eyes off of Jesus and His cross. We are now ALIVE “with Christ”! We will not grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ unless and only when He is head of His church! Not someone else or something else. Only “God causes it to grow” but it is based on one condition: The Lord Jesus Christ must be “the Head.” Only through the gathering together of the body of Christ, each one functioning under the headship of Jesus Christ, and in gathering together keeps Jesus Christ as head will God, through His Spirit, enable the building up of the body!

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Amen!

(1) Lightfoot, J.B., “St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon: J.B. Lightfoot’s Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, Third Printing, Hendrickson Publishers, 1995, 195.
(2) Ibid. 196.
(3) Ibid. 197.

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