Crowning Him King
Introduction – In this Session, we begin Colossians Chapter 2 and explore verses 8-15, and continue with Paul’s corrective encouragements regarding the Colossian Heresy that mixed Jewish Angelic Mysticism and the Law with the knowledge of Messiah, Jesus Christ. As we approach Colossians 2:8-15, we will learn more about the Colossian Heresy and the nature of its influence on the Colossian Church.
When we look at heresies in Church History, we see the following commonalities:
1 – They are born by the influence of the demonic spirit of religion that seeks to frustrate relational approaches to God, distort the knowledge of God and restrain theological truth by false teaching.
2 – They deny the Person of Christ as revealed by the Apostles on the First Century and in the Scriptures.
3 – Heresies promote works-based religious expressions.
4 – Heresies rob God’s people of identity and purpose and shackles them to religious structures that do not promote spiritual freedom.
5 – Heresies, in their most demonic manifestation can lead people to eternal condemnation because they are propagating lies about Jesus Christ. See. 1 John 4:1-3.
We see the following 4 movements in the text:
1 – Paul identifies the religious spirit that is fueling the Colossian Heresy.
2 – Christ is God in the flesh and through Him we have a new life and a new nature.
3 – We see the goodness and kindness of God by forgiving our sins.
4 – We see the total and utter defeat of satan and his demons by the cross.
a) Paul begins to outline the tactics of the religious spirit that separates people from their grace-based experiential relationship with Christ. The goal of false teachers who are being influenced by a religious spirit is to take people captive. Paul describes the nature of the religious spirit as hollow and deceptive.
b) Greek – hollow – kenos – an empty vessel, empty handed, without a gift, metaph. destitute of spiritual wealth, of one who boasts of his faith as a transcendent possession yet is without the fruits of faith.
c) Deceptive philosophy – apatē philosophia – deceit, dishonest, love of wisdom. In this passage – used either of zeal for or skill in any art or science, any branch of knowledge. Used here in Colossians regarding the theology, or rather theosophy, of certain Jewish Christian ascetics, which busied itself with refined and speculative inquiries into the nature and classes of angels, into the ritual of the Mosaic law and the regulations of Jewish tradition respecting practical life.
d) Notice that the Colossian Heresy depended on human traditions, i.e. those things taught in the oral Jewish tradition. The Greek words in this verse mean that which was taught by religious Jewish oral tradition.
e) Elemental spiritual forces – This section of verse 8, is difficult to understand because the phrase is does not literally say “elemental spiritual forces”. It literally reads, “fundamental principles of the cosmos”. What is difficult here is that the word for fundamental (stoicheion) can mean alphabet, or first principles of a subject of study. Our translators added “spiritual” because the Colossian Heresy was based in spiritual deception. It is also necessary to mention that stoicheion was also used of pagans who connected these words to interceding to the spirits that controlled the earth, wind, fire and sky. To boil it down Paul seems to be pointing out that the knowledge of Jesus is not based on steps, or progressive initiations, but on the simplicity of relationship.
a) Paul destroys the religious spirit by pointing out that Jesus is God in the flesh, and in Jesus we have the full revelation of what God is like. We do not need religious works to receive revelation from God, we need relationship with Him to receive revelation.
b) In Jesus we have fullness. NKJV reads – and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. I like the NKJV here, because it captures the truth that we are complete in Christ. The atonement of Christ is totally sufficient for us. We are set free from the condemnation of sin, we are healed by the cross, we are sanctified by His blood, we are blessed with every blessing, every promise of God is activated by the cross, and we have access to the Father and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Fullness in Christ is available to all who activate it.
c) Jesus has all authority over all things, and this continues to point to the Deity of Jesus Christ. However, practically speaking, if Jesus possesses all authority, that means the devil possesses no authority. The exception is that the devil/demons only have authority in our lives by our agreements with him.
a) Now Paul draws parallels between the Law of Circumcision (Leviticus 12:3), which was the sign of the Covenant between the LORD and His people, and the reminder of their identity as godly moral people, contrasted to the New Covenant reality that all believers have been freed from being ruled by the sins of the flesh through the cross of Christ. See Galatians 5:16-21.
b) All Christians have an appetite for the things that honor God, we have an appetite to love God, as we cultivate our relationship with Him by walking in the Spirit.
c) Positionally, the old man or flesh (sarx) has been removed. However, sanctification of the flesh is gained by engaging the process of living for God.
a) Here we see baptism as the evidence of an inward change in us that was born in faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism symbolizes that our old life is now dead, crucified in Christ, buried in the grave. Emerging from the water, after being immersed symbolizes that we have been born again by faith and are now living the resurrection life by the Holy Spirit. Romans 6:4 – We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 8:11 – And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Colossians 2:13-14 a) Notice that all of us, before we knew Christ as Savior, are described as being dead and in need of being resurrected to life. In Genesis 3, the result of the Fall was the death of an intimate relationship with God and death in our physical bodies. But the tender mercy of God is displayed in Jesus’ life, and through the crucifixion, we have been made alive. Jesus’ death on a cross, means life to those who receive Him.
b) Notice that verse 13 ends with “he forgave us all our sins”. This captures the immensity of scope and the overwhelming power of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. All of our sins; past, present and future have been forgiven by Christ. None of us should live in shame, but we should live in freedom, drawing from the grace that has been given to us in Jesus. The Greek word for forgave is charizomai, meaning that God freely gave us forgiveness, because of His goodness. The word can mean to be kind, forgiving, to restore, to give as a favor.
c) Jesus cancelled the charges for the crime of sin and satisfied the Father’s outrage over the injustice of sin in our lives by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The Hebrew concept of Biblical justice is God making wrong things right. The Godhead, through the cross, has made us righteous, not by our works, but by Christ’s work.
a) Paul plays on to the cultural context when the Roman Army would march their war captives down the Appian Way into Rome. There would be those running ahead of the Roman Army, the were called apostles, who would cry out the good news (gospel) that Rome has defeated an enemy, and the Roman Army comes with plunder from the defeated enemies. The whole of Rome would come out and mock and jeer the enemies, throwing rotten fruit and other things at them to shame them. This was called the “public spectacle”.
b) Paul uses this metaphor to describe the total and utter defeat of the devil and his demons by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The collective Church is in the place of spiritual authority, power, and identity in Christ.