Summary: An exhortation and three warnings frame what might be another Christ hymn.
“YE ARE COMPLETE IN HIM”
I. The Apostle Paul is concerned that the Colossians should not be “beguiled with enticing words” - or “deluded with beguiling speech” (Colossians 2:4). Our enemy is subtle as a serpent, and would lure away even ‘the very elect, if that were possible’ (Matthew 24:24). No wonder, for he is quite capable of ‘masquerading as an angel of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:14).
The enemy was behind the party divisions in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:12-13). The enemy also bewitched the believers in Galatia into sliding back into the law (Galatians 1:6-9; Galatians 3:1-4). So, for the Colossians, Paul issues three WARNINGS relevant to their situation - and we also would do well to take heed.
1. Don’t let anyone “make a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit” (Colossians 2:8). Philosophy has its place, and tradition has its place - but beware of a vain deceitful worldly tradition, or man-centred philosophy which denies Christ (Colossians 2:8). ‘The wisdom of this world is folly to God’ (1 Corinthians 3:19), and ‘He takes the wise in their own craftiness’ (Job 5:13).
2. Don’t let anyone “judge” you in food or drink, holydays, new moons and Sabbaths (Colossians 2:16). Such things were but shadows, “but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). This is a subject taken up at length in Hebrews 7:23-28; Hebrews 8:4-6; Hebrews 10:11-12.
3. Don’t let anyone “defraud you of the prize” by tricking you into submission to his (or her) vain, puffed up, fleshy will (Colossians 2:18). Such “voluntary humility” and “worship of angels” is an intrusion into things which they have not seen, and therefore in which they have no authority (see also verses 20-23). This is to usurp the Headship of Christ in His church (Colossians 2:19).
II. In what seems to be another ‘Christ hymn’ (Colossians 2:9-15), the Apostle provides grounds which are relevant for all three areas of challenge. We were told in the first hymn, that ‘in Him all the fullness was pleased to (literally) take up dwelling’ (Colossians 1:19). Now we are told that “in Him dwells (present tense) the fullness of God” (Colossians 2:9) - and “ye (plural) are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10)!
In effect, Paul’s answer to those who suggested that the young church in Colossae needed ‘something more’ - some ‘deeper knowledge’ than the gospel which they had first received through the preaching of their faithful minister - was that “we are filled with the fullness of life in Him” (Colossians 2:10). As with Scripture, so with Christ: there is nothing to be added, nothing taken away (Revelation 22:18-19). Never let us forget that Christ is the head, not only of the church (Colossians 1:18), but of “all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10) - and, recognising their origin, let us vanquish such intrusions.