(Col 2:1 NASB) For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,
(Col 2:2 NASB) that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
(Col 2:3 NASB) in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Col 2:3: Paul says that he has a struggle on behalf of the Colossians and those in Laodicea that they be encouraged from the full assurance of understanding a true knowledge of Elohim’s mystery. The way this passage is translated it is almost deceiving in its wording.
We learned earlier that the mystery of Elohim is that the some Gentiles have Messiah in them and are a part of Israel also (Col. 1:25-27). That is made clearer in this chapter.
In Messiah are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
(Col 2:4 NASB) I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument.
Col 2:4: There were many Jews who tried to convince them otherwise by telling them they are not a part of Israel. Paul is going to clear this up for them and encourage them otherwise.
(Col 2:5 NASB) For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
(Col 2:6 NASB) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
Col 2:6: If they have received Messiah in their hearts, they are to walk as He walked (1 John 2:3-7). We are to be imitators of Elohim (Eph 5:1). We are to be holy for He is holy (Lev. 11:45-47).
(Col 2:7 NASB) having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
(Col 2:8 NASB) See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
Col 2:8: There were those who were attempting to deceive the Colossians with philosophy and empty deception, according to their traditions of men and the elementary principles of the world. The problem with deciphering Paul’s words is that Paul is answering questions or needs that certain people were having and we are not always privy to knowing what those questions or needs were. Who was trying to deceive the Colossians and those in Laodicea?
The answer is likely that this was the Pharisees and other Jewish teachers who rejected Messiah. This is clearer later in this letter.
(Col 2:9 NASB) For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
(Col 2:10 NASB) and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
(Col 2:11 NASB) and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
Col 2:11: Paul is pointing out the the New Covenant. The promise of having our hearts circumcised to follow Torah is a promise which comes from Torah (Deut. 30:6-8).
(Col 2:12 NASB) having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Col 2:12: We were buried with Him in baptism, or accompanied Him in our baptism, or in our rebirth through the New Covenant. We are raised up with Him through our faithfulness, which is the work of Elohim, not our own.
(Col 2:13 NASB) And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
(Col 2:14 NASB) having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Col 2:14: This passage is often used by Bible teachers to claim that Torah was nailed to the cross and now we should not follow it. That is an impossible interpretation of this passage for several reasons. The Greek word for “decrees” is dogma. Paul would not refer to Elohim’s Word as “dogma.” Paul is also saying that this dogma against us is “hostile to us.” Torah is not hostile at all.
Paul tells us that Torah is holy, good, righteous, and spiritual (Romans 7:12, 14). Paul tells us that the fullness of Torah is in one word, “love” (Romans 13:8-10). The Psalms tell us that Torah is perfect, soul-restoring, righteous, pure, eye-enlightening, true, more precious than gold, and in keeping Torah is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11):
We can plainly see that Paul is NOT saying that the pure, perfect, holy, good, and righteous Torah of Elohim is “dogma” that is “against us” and is “hostile toward us.” Paul is speaking of something else.
Paul is speaking of the traditions of Judaism that claimed the Gentiles were unclean and should not be associated with Elohim’s people, the Jews. That dogma and man’s tradition was nailed to the stake and taken out of the way. And the love of Elohim and His Torah, through the blood of Yeshua, goes out to the world to the Gentiles also.
Looking at this passage in conjunction with Paul’s earlier warning against being deceived through the traditions of men make this clear (Col. 2:8, 13-14).
However, it’s also possible that Paul was speaking of the “certificate of divorce” which Elohim gave Israel: (Isa 50:1 NASB) Thus says the LORD, “Where is the certificate of divorce, By which I have sent your mother away? Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you? Behold, you were sold for your iniquities, And for your transgressions your mother was sent away.
Isa. 50:1 According to Torah, husbands could give their wives a bill of divorcement if some indecency was found in her (Deut. 24:1). In this passage, Elohim is saying that He had already sent their mother away. He is speaking of the northern kingdom of Israel. Indeed, Elohim has given Israel a bill of divorcement (Jer. 3:1-8). He then asks Israel and Judah to return to Him and He says He will regather them (Jer. 3:9-16).
Elohim wrote a certificate of divorce to Israel. He specifically states this was because of their transgressions that He has written that certificate. Paul tells us that this certificate was done away with through the blood of Messiah and our transgressions have been forgiven (Col. 2:13-14).
Then He says “To whom of my creditors did I sell you?” Torah speaks of selling your children in times of severe distress (Ex. 21:2, 7-8, Lev. 25:39). Elohim did not have creditors with which to sell them. But for their iniquities, He has sold them and given them up (Lev. 25:39).
(Col 2:15 NASB) When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Col 2:15: The rulers and authorities that Yeshua disarmed were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and other Jewish religious leaders who were deceiving the people. He did this many times in the Gospels (Matt. 22:15, 22-23, 33-35, 46, Mark 12:34, Luke 20:39-40).
(Col 2:16 NASB) Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–
(Col 2:17 NASB) things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Col 2:17: The Colossians were a Gentile group new to Torah and trying to live according to the Word of Elohim. Apparently those Jewish leaders were telling them that they did not know how to keep Torah or the Feast days and were not capable. Paul tells them not to worry and not to let the Jewish leaders be their judge.
Paul reminds them that those things are a shadow of what is coming. (The word “mere” was added by the translator.) The Greek word for “substance” is swma. G4983. swma, of unc. or.; a body:– bodies(11), body(128), personal(m)(1), slaves(m)(1), substance(m)(1). Paul is saying that the body of believers does not belong to Judaism, but to Messiah.
(Col 2:18 NASB) Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,
Col 2:18: Paul is warning the Colossians not to be defrauded by those who delight in self-abasement or false humility. Once again, he is referring to the Pharisees and religious leaders of that day (Matt. 23:3-5).
When Paul warns of worshiping “angels,” he is likely warning them of worshiping the Pharisees and Saduccees who are those who claimed to be Elohim’s “messengers.”
The NKJV tells us that the last part of that verse states, “intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind…” This is almost certainly referring to the false accusations the Jewish leaders made against Paul (Acts 24:5-9).
When Paul talks about “and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,” he is talking about the Jewish religious leaders (Ezek. 13:1-3). This letter to the Colossians is warning the people against the false teachings and false accusations of the Jewish religious leaders.
(Col 2:19 NASB) and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
Col 2:19: The Head that the assembly is to hold fast to is Messiah (Col. 1:18). They are not to hold to the false teachings of the Jewish leaders, but to the solid teaching of Torah and salvation through the New Covenant taught by Messiah.
(Col 2:20 NASB) If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,
(Col 2:21 NASB) “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”
(Col 2:22 NASB) (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)– in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
(Col 2:23 NASB) These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Col 2:23: This is continuing the warning against the Pharisees who took their traditions of men and magnified them to the level of the Torah (Instructions) of Elohim. The Greek word for “decrees” in verse 20 is the Greek word “dogma.” Their teachings of ritualistic washings before they touch food and taste it (and other worthless traditions) are of no value against sin and against fleshly indulgence (Mark 7:1-13).
Keep in mind how Paul told the Colossians how Yeshua publicly humiliated the rulers and authorities when they tried to push these worthless traditions on the people (Col. 2:15, Matt. 15:1-20).
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas