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Studies in Colossians. The Structure of the Book. 1v1-2 Introduction 1v3-14 Paul’s Prayer 1v15-23 The Supremacy of Christ 1v24-2v5 Paul’s Labour for the Church 2v6-7 The Danger of Seductive Teaching 2v8-15 Know Your Enemy – Part 1 2v16-19 Know Your Enemy – Part 2

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Presentation 05

The Structure of the Book

1v1-2 Introduction

1v3-14 Paul’s Prayer

1v15-23 The Supremacy of Christ

1v24-2v5 Paul’s Labour for the Church

2v6-7 The Danger of Seductive Teaching

2v8-15 Know Your Enemy – Part 1

2v16-19 Know Your Enemy – Part 2

2v20-23 New Teacher’s Bondage

3v1-17 Sanctification

3v18-4v1 Christian Households

4v2-6 Further Instructions

4v7-18 Personal Greetings

Presentation 05

Danger of

Seductive Teaching

Chapter 2v6-7

Presentation 05


Despite the simplicity of verses 6-7, it is easy to miss their significance. They contain more than a call to faithfulness and perseverance.

We do not learn from error by merely exposing its folly. We also need to ask, ‘what heart-longings does it seek to find resonance with?’ Let me suggest the following:

a. Fullness of spiritual life and experience.

b. Freedom from the stain and tyranny of sin

c. A zeal for spiritual things and challenge to complacency.

d. Encouragement to leave the kindergarten of the faith

for its university.

Clearly we cannot find fault with such heart longings.

And this is why false teaching can initially appear so


Presentation 05

The Heart of Paul’s Appeal

Paul holds two truths before us and insists they be kept in balance:

1. ‘Receiving Christ’ is not the end but the beginning of life... Foundations are for building on.

2. Progress in the Christian life must be consistent with its


To this end Paul gives 3 guiding principles each

referring to a different aspect of Christian

development, though they are similar in form:

a. As you live

b. As you were rooted... be built up.

c. As you were taught... be established in truth.

Presentation 05

The Heart of Paul’s Appeal

As You Live

Receiving Christ is intended to introduce us to a new way of life, a life of righteousness cf. Titus 2.14

The balancing truth is that the walk of the Christian should be consistent with his spiritual beginnings. We received Jesus into our hearts by faith and we are to continue to live by faith and that involves working out those graces that God has worked in.

What does it mean to ‘receive Christ’. It means

much more than receiving Jesus into our hearts.

When the earliest Christians received Christ,

they also received ‘a body of apostolic truth’

cf 1 Cor.15.1-3.



Presentation 05

The Heart of Paul’s Appeal

As You Were Rooted ...Be Built Up.

This is a summons to grow in Christ. We are to make the building up of one another our chief concern. For Paul many questions can be decided by the simple rule of 1Cor14.26 ... All things must be done for ‘the strengthening of the church’.

This time the balancing truth is the phrase 'in Christ'. Our growth takes place in relation to him. To be in Christ is to occupy the richest possible environment for growth. Beware of thinking that growth for a new convert is impossible unless he is

transplanted into another

‘more spiritual’ church


Presentation 05

The Heart of Paul’s Appeal

If in Christ alone all treasures are to be found, we must resist the argument that says: ‘Christ cannot fully be enjoyed and known except within the circles of a particular denomination or church fellowship, or where peculiar doctrines are accepted and taught!’ No denomination can claim to hold Christ within its own borders and so demand submission to its authority and teaching as the price to be paid for full incorporation into the deep things of God.

Presentation 05

The Heart of Paul’s Appeal

As You were Established in the Truth

Without a mature understanding of truth there can be no satisfying Christianity. The hallmark of the Spirit's work is an unquenchable thirst to learn. Paul’s balancing caution is that any ‘new learning’ must be consistent with the apostolic truth.

Further enlightenment must not contradict the saving truths first taught. Some have said they have, "grown out of simple gospel truths and have become more “intellectually enlightened”.

But this does not produce spiritual

growth – it produces a spiritual


Presentation 05

Know your Enemy

Chapter 2v8-19

Presentation 05


After Paul has taken us to the heart of his concern for the Colossian church, which was under the influence of seductive teachers he publishes three warnings. These are designed to fill out our understanding of how our enemy operates and can be viewed under these headings:

Don't let anyone capture you...v8

Don't let anyone condemn you...v16

Don't let anyone disqualify you....v18

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Don’t Let Anyone Capture You

Someone was out to capture the heart-allegiance of the Colossians. The language is that of a slave-trader carrying off his victims, or that of booty plundered by pirates from a cargo ship.

The ‘new teachers’ claimed to bring spiritual freedom. Paul says, ‘If you value your spiritual liberty stay away from them’.

Their ‘freedom teaching’ was a ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy.’

A new human tradition was seeking to

displace the tradition of apostolic truth.

What do you do when the traditions of

men clash with the word of God?

cf Mk7.1-13....

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

The Greek word ‘stoicheia’ in v8 has been translated as "basic principles of this world." or as “elemental spirits of the universe”. The latter which speaks of ‘spiritual beings’ best fits the context here. It was used in ancient Persian and Jewish documents to refer to powers of darkness. Paul’s point is that the inspiration for the false

teaching can be traced to demonic powers.

It may also be the case that these new teachers were

unduly preoccupied with demonic powers which

clearly do exist. They may have claimed a unique

power over them. These claims would appear to give

authority to their ministry and so hoodwink

the gullible.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Paul rejects their credentials for they 'are not according to Christ'. Christ alone is conqueror over evil powers that seek to tyrannise the world. He dealt them a decisive blow on the cross.

These new teachers had nothing to add to

Christ's victory. Once the Colossians

understood that they shared in Christ’s

victory, it is inconceivable that they would

want to look elsewhere for help.

And so in v9-15 we are led into an

invaluable summery of what it means

to be in Christ.

v9-10 Fullness in Christ

v11-12 Fellowship with Christ

v13-15 Freedom through Christ.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Fullness in Christ

We are reminded that all that God is can be found in Christ. The idea of ‘dwelling’ in this context refers to where God becomes accessible to us. God was accessible to the patriarchs at the alter of

sacrifice, and to Israel through a mediator at the

tabernacle /temple.

But now to believers God is accessible in Christ.

Through our union with Jesus, God is at home

to us. And we have direct and immediate

access to the power of God through Christ.

As a result it is said of Christian people:

"You have come to fullness of life in him".

This is a present and not merely a

future blessing.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Fullness in Christ

Note this blessing can only be found in our faith

union with Christ for it is here alone that God

has given himself fully to us.

This means, as far as Paul is concerned,

that when a person receives Christ, he is filled

with Christ. Forgiveness and redemption are

part and parcel of that gift of fullness. When we

come to Christ for salvation we find in him,

fullness of life. And that involves Christ's victory

over all rule and authority. There is therefore no

need for Christians to fear demonic powers – we

share in Christ’s authority over powers of darkness.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Fellowship with Christ

Paul introduces his remarks on baptism by speaking first of circumcision. He draws upon the OT teaching about the ‘circumcision of the heart’. Jer4.4. In Paul’s mind is the idea of putting off our sinful nature. When we come to faith in Christ we are circumcised in heart - we say goodbye to a selfish sinful lifestyle.

Did the new teachers claim that a physical

circumcision was necessary to show one’s

consecration to God? - a second initiation after

baptism to bring the believer into his full inheritance.

Many holiness teachers have seen the body as a

drastic hindrance to a higher spirituality. But the

sinful nature literally, ‘the body of flesh’ is not dealt

with by harming the body.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Fellowship with Christ

The ‘flesh’ is part of our Christian experience until death. Every Christian grieves over his own carnality cfRom 7.14.... These new teachers appear to have been offering the Colossians an instant solution to fallen human nature which was very appealing!

In reply, Paul speaks of an inward experience of

circumcision made without hands. This inner

work of purification is a process of putting to

death all that is opposed to Christ’s rule.

In this present life the ‘flesh’ continually requires

to be mortified cf 3.5.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Fellowship with Christ

Being baptised into Christ means sharing the benefits of his death as well as of his resurrection. Because Christians are united to him they have died with Christ and have been buried with him in his death.

Paul is not suggesting, that the evil principle of sin

has been rooted out and effectively neutralised.

But in Christ, our old unregenerate man, has been

judged, condemned and finally sentenced.

In Christ, we have newness of life which is free

from condemnation. We are still aware of our

carnality but praise God not of condemnation.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Fellowship with Christ

Then too, at conversion Christians were raised with Christ. Paul is speaking of present experience. New life in the Spirit. The risen life which is celebrated in 3.1. It was their initial faith in God, which led them to experience God's mighty power.

The Christian has therefore already shared with Christ

in his resurrection. This is important; Paul wants

them to recognise the greatest manifestation of

divine power, which raised Jesus, is the same

power which raised them to newness of life.

Included in this newness of life is a share in

Christ’s authority over the realm of evil spirits.

How could these new teachers claim to improve

upon this?

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Freedom Through Christ

In v13-15 we see that the blessings of God are initiated by him and are not something a human teacher can supply. God, by making us new creatures and bringing us into his kingdom, makes us his free-men. Paul uses dramatic terminology to explain how at the cross the authority of sin and evil have been overthrown.

1. The blessings of the gospel were perfectly won for us on the cross.

2. The demands of the law were nailed to the cross and so cancelled.

3. The evil principalities were disarmed and

overthrown at the cross

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Freedom Through Christ

The bond was cancelled. Think of the bond as a

promissory note which says we are bound to keep

God's laws and satisfy his demands.

Our plight is brought home to us, when like the young

Martin Luther we try to balance our spiritual and moral

account. Not only have we broken God’s law but we

cannot pay the debt we owe, the bond stands against us.

Wonderfully, Christ has cancelled the

bond, he has wiped it out just like wiping chalk

from a blackboard.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Freedom Through Christ

The bond was set aside or taken away. God has set aside its claims against us by nailing it to the cross. In Roman crucifixion a written accusation was placed above every condemned criminal for all to see. The accusation nailed above Jesus was a mockery and yet there was an accusation nailed there by the invisible hand of God.

As our substitute the sin for which we deserve to be

punished was written down - the accusation against us!

But it was borne by Christ cf Gal 3.13.

Therefore, when the Christian is accused of sin it is as

though God says ‘wipe it off’ for it has already

been paid for by another.

Presentation 05

Three Warnings: No.1

Freedom Through Christ

Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He points to our sin and says, “these sins must be punished”. The power of the accuser may seem strong but Paul tells us he has been disarmed. The powers of hell are stripped of their weapons [including their

accusing power].

Picture a Roman triumphal procession...

prisoners defeated in battle were shamed when,

exposed to public gaze, they followed the warrior

general into Rome. The people could see that

there was nothing to fear from these once

powerful enemies. Similarly, Jesus has defeated

all the powers of darkness the cross and now

parades his enemies before his people.

Presentation 05