Colossians 2:13-19

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 3, 2009


Paul has been warning the Colossians about the dangerous heretical ideas that were beginning to enter their church. The beginning elements of what would be the Gnostic heresy were beginning to take form.  They were beginning to hear:

All matter is evil and all spirit things are good.

There are many gods.  Yahweh is the least of them all.

Jesus was just a ghost without a physical body.

Angelic are in charge of everything around us.

Secret knowledge will give you salvation.

A passerby stopped to watch a baseball game taking place at the local park. “Who’s playing?” he asked another observer. “The Masons against the Knights of Columbus,” he responded. “What’s the score?” “I don’t know. It’s a secret.”

Special rituals and practices will save you.

Last week we ended with Paul talking about the reality of two religious rituals:  Circumcision and baptism.

The best circumcision is the work that Jesus does in helping our hearts not to be fleshly. (Col. 2:11)

(Col. 2:12) buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

The ritual of baptism is supposed to paint a picture of our death with Christ (being put into the water), and our new life with Him (coming out of the water).

:13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,

Paul reminds them of their life before Christ.

Our sins made us spiritually dead, completely cut off from God.

Our hearts were consumed by our flesh, all we could think about was doing the wrong things.

:13 He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

made alive togethersuzoopoieo (“with” + “to live” + “to make”) – to make one alive together

Paul has used a series of “together” words in the last couple of verses.

We were buried together with Him. (vs. 12)
We were raised together with Him. (vs. 12)
We were made alive together with Him.

with Himsun auto – Paul uses the same preposition he’s used with the three previous verbs (buried with, raised with, made alive with), and now says one last time to make the point clear, it all happens with you are “with” Jesus.

Our spiritual life is dependent on our being “with” Jesus.

having forgivencharizomai – to do something pleasant or agreeable, to do a favor to; to grant forgiveness, to pardon

This word is built on the word for “grace”, charis. The root idea of charis is the idea of a gift, something that has been given to you.

What’s the gift involved in forgiveness?

If you have done something to offend me, you now owe me something in order to make it right. I now have something to hold over your head.
I say to you, “You better give me something nice if you want to pay the debt you now owe me”

And if you don’t give me my payment, I might even tell myself that I’m going to do something to make you pay.

But if I “grace” you, I don’t ask you to give me a payment. I give you the gift of erasing the debt you owe me.
You don’t have to pay me what you owe me. And I won’t hold it against you.

When God is involved in forgiveness, He is the one giving us a gift.

Jesus told a story about two people who owed a man a bunch of money …
(Luke 7:42 NKJV) "And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.

Jesus said the man “graced” them. Charizomai.

We do not have the ability to pay for our sins. We can’t afford it. The actual cost is a bit steep for us. The cost to pay our sins is hell. If that sounds like God is charging too much for our sin, it’s only because you don’t really understand how bad our sin is.
Yet God “graces” us. He gives us the gift of forgiveness.
We should have been the ones dying on the cross, but He dies in our place.

Hopefully we will learn this concept of “grace” so well that we will be able to turn around and “grace” others as well. Paul uses the same word in:

(Eph 4:32 NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

allpas – each, every, any, all, everything

trespassesparaptoma (“alongside” + “to fall”) – to fall beside or near something; a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness; a sin, misdeed

The verb form (parapipto) is translated “fall away”.

:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

handwritingcheirographon (“hand” + “writing”) – used of a certificate of debt or bond, an “IOU”. When you sign your checks with your signature, you are pledging to pay.

Paul uses the same idea when he writes to Philemon and promises to pay for the debt that Onesimus owed:

(Phile 1:19 NKJV) I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay.

requirementsdogma ordinance; the rules and requirements of the law of Moses

The commandments of God are the things that as humans we’ve signed our names to. They are the details of what we owe to God.

The Jews are obligated to the Law because that’s what Judaism is all about.

Gentiles are also obligated to the Law because we know in our hearts that it is the standard of right and wrong (Rom. 2:14).

contraryhupenantios – opposed to, contrary to, an adversary

The Law of Moses isn’t good to us. We don’t end up with a bonus from God because of the Law. We end up owing God big time.

wiped outexaleipho – to wipe off; to obliterate, erase, blot out

In Paul’s day, writing materials were expensive. If you got a letter on a nice piece of parchment made from an animal hide, you might take a knife and scrape off the old letter and reuse the material for your own letter. A reused parchment was called a palimpsest.

Jesus has taken all this list of obligations and scraped it clean. He’s wiped it out. He’s obliterated it. You couldn’t read it anymore.

taken itairo – to raise up; to bear away what has been raised, carry off

John the Baptist used this word to describe what Jesus would do:

(John 1:29 NKJV) …"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

The word is a “perfect tense”, meaning it has happened in the past and the results continue on to the present. Jesus has taken the things that condemn us out of the way. And they are still out of the way.

having nailedproseloo – to fasten with nails to, nail to

The list of debts against me has been nailed to the cross.

Your debts are not on a list in front of your face. They have been raised up and nailed to the cross. And they remain there.

Jesus died to pay your debts.
He did a good job. When He died, He exclaimed, “It is finished”, a phrase that means “the debt has been paid”.



Most of us spend the first six days of each week sowing wild oats, then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.

—Fred Allen, U.S. comedian (1894–1956)

I think that one of our greatest problems in our society is guilt.
We have lots of guilt.
We don’t know what to do with it.
We try to talk ourselves out of it – we tell ourselves that what we did wasn’t all that bad.
And we still feel guilty.
Some people try to deal with their guilt by punishing themselves.

Some think that one of the causes for neurotic behavior lies with guilt. We do bad stuff to ourselves to punish ourselves for our sins.

Do you want to live 10 years longer?

A few years back I came across an extensive global study performed by epidemiologist Prof. Ronald Grossarth-Maticek, head of the EU-funded Institute for Preventive Healthcare Research in Heidelberg.

He divided people into five groups of belief systems:

1. atheism; 2. neurotic atheism; 3. conventional religiosity; 4. neurotic religiosity; and 5. spontaneous emotional religiosity.

Group 5 tells of a positive personal relationship with God which has a pleasing, soothing, energizing and healing influence.

Religious group
Life expectancy
First severe chronic illness
1. Atheist
2. Neurotic atheist 
3. Churchgoers without relationship to God
4. Neurotic religious 
5. Personal emotional relationship to God

Source: Dr. Eberhard Rieth in 'Der Ringbote' and 'Autonomietraining' by Prof. Grossarth-Maticek (DeGruyter Verlag, 2002)

My point is not to say that if you come to know Christ that you’ll live longer. My point is to say that forgiveness is good for you.
God’s way to handle guilt is forgiveness.
When we come to Christ, we are given complete forgiveness.
Some of us as Christians need to get back to experiencing the forgiveness of God.

(1 John 1:9 NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

A cloud of doubt hangs over home run king Barry Bonds. On August 7, 2007, Bonds hit number 756, the home run that broke Hank Aaron’s record. Most of the talk about the new record, though, is whether it really should count, because Bonds is alleged to have used steroids. Sports buffs say if his name goes in the record book it should be accompanied by an asterisk. The asterisk, of course, means that the record is a sort-of record, a footnoted record. The asterisk means the record is tainted.
The asterisk idea didn’t go away. Mark Ecko, the man who bought the ball that Bonds hit to set the record, asked baseball fans in an Internet poll what he should do with it. The fans voted for him to brand the baseball with an asterisk and donate it to the baseball Hall of Fame. In the summer of 2008 that’s what Ecko did.
Having an asterisk by your name is actually something we all should be able to identify with. Scripture talks about the Book of Life, in which the names of each believer is recorded. With all the sins we have committed in this life, you would expect that each of us would have an asterisk by our name in this all-important Book. Tainted. Don’t really belong.
But so great is our justification in Christ, so perfect is his work on the cross, so just is God in justifying you, that in the Book of Life there will be no asterisk by your name. Because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross for you, you truly belong in the kingdom of God.
Craig Brian Larson, editor of; source: "Bonds' 756th HR ball lands in Hall," USA Today (7-2-08), 1C
What do you do with all those asterisks?
You take it all to Jesus. He’s paid for your sins. He scrapes off the asterisk. He takes the page and nails it to the cross. And that’s where it remains.

:15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

having disarmedapekduomai – wholly put off from one’s self; disarm

principalitiesarche – remember the “archons” of Gnostic theology? They were angels that rule the world.

powersexousia – power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); the power of rule or government; a ruler, a human magistrate; the leading and more powerful among created beings superior to man, spiritual potentates

make … a spectacledeigmatizo – to make an example of, to show as an example

publicparrhesia – freedom in speaking; openly, frankly, i.e without concealment; without ambiguity or circumlocution

triumphingthriambeuo – to celebrate a “triumph”; cause one to triumph

The picture is that of a Roman general who has been off fighting on foreign soil for Rome. The General has won a great victory, taken many of the enemy captive, and brought back much wealth for Rome. The General was honored by an official parade known as “the Roman triumph”. The captives and all the loot would be paraded through the streets.

Even thought the circumstance is a little different, you get a picture of this in the old 1963 Elizabeth Taylor movie, “Cleopatra”, when Cleopatra makes her grand entrance in Rome.

Paul hints at this in:

(2 Cor 2:14 NKJV) Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

While the Gnostics taught people to worship and fear these angelic powers that supposedly controlled the world, Paul says that Jesus has won the victory over these powers. Jesus won the battle with Satan at the cross.

:16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,

There is a practical side to understanding the victory that Jesus won on the cross.

The issue is this – just what makes you acceptable to God?

For the Gnostics, they had a whole lineup of things you needed to do in order to make it to heaven.

food or drink - To the Gnostics, they considered starving yourself or depriving yourself necessary to becoming freed from this evil, material existence.

foodbrosis – act of eating; in a wider sense, corrosion; that which is eaten, food, ailment

drinkposis – a drinking, drink

festivalheorte – a feast day. The Mosaic Law lists several times a year that the Jews were to appear before the Lord and celebrate the various feasts like Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.

new moonnoumenia One of the Jewish laws speaks about a burnt offering that was to be made on the first of every month. (Num. 28:11)

(Num 28:11 NKJV)  'At the beginnings of your months you shall present a burnt offering to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish;

Sabbathssabbaton The sixth commandment for the Jew was to honor God on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11).

:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

shadowskia – shadow; an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object; a sketch, outline

substancesoma – the body both of men or animals; that which casts a shadow as distinguished from the shadow itself

These things like the festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths were only the shadows. There was a person casting the shadow, the real thing, and that’s Jesus.

Real righteousness is not going to come from the shadows, but from the real thing.

Help is not going to come from the shadows, but from the real thing.

Suppose I stand in front of the projector and cast a shadow on the screen.

If one of my sons wanted to ask me for something, wouldn’t it be a little weird if they went up to the screen and talked to the shadow?
It is one thing if you were living in the Old Testament times and all you had was a shadow.
But we have the real thing. Why would we be so concerned about shadows when we have the real thing?

:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

The word used for “cheat” (sulagogeo – to carry off booty) in verse 8 seemed to paint the picture of “pirates”.

cheatkatabrabeuo – to decide as umpire against someone; to cheat someone of their rightful prize or victory

Watch the umpire video. Paul is warning the Colossians that when they get seduced into some of these heresies, that they’re going to end up having the Umpire call them “out” and they’ll lose the game.

taking delightthelo – to will, have in mind, intend; to take delight in, have pleasure

false humilitytapeinophrosune – the having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness; modesty, humility, lowliness of mind The word “false” isn’t in the Greek text. It’s just the word “humility”. But you get the idea. Some people make a big show of just how humble they are. And it’s fake. If humility is real, nobody has to talk you in to how humble they are.

worshipthreskeia – religious worship; esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies; religious discipline, religion

worship of angels – this was a part of Gnosticism. If the angels are the real ones controlling things, they thought they ought to be worshipped.

seenhorao – to see with the eyes

intrudingembateuo – to enter, to frequent, haunt; often of the gods frequenting favourite spots

It is an old word for going in to take possession (papyri examples also). W. M. Ramsay (Teaching of Paul, pp. 287ff.) shows from inscriptions in Klaros that the word is used of an initiate in the mysteries who “set foot in” (enebateusen) and performed the rest of the rites. Paul is here quoting the very work used of these initiates who “take their stand on” these imagined revelations in the mysteries.

vainlyeike – inconsiderably, without purpose, without just cause; in vain

puffed upphusioo – to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up; to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily, be proud


Don’t get cheated

There is one thing that will bring forgiveness.
Jesus. His death on the cross for you is all you need.
You don’t need Jesus and 25 Hail Mary’s.
You don’t need Jesus and a contribution to the church.
You just need Jesus.
The big boss was scheduled to speak at an important convention, so he asked one of his employees to write him a punchy, 20-minute speech. When the boss returned from the big event, he was furious. “What’s the idea of writing me an hour-long speech?” he demanded to know. “Half the audience walked out before I finished.” The employee was baffled. “I wrote you a 20-minute speech,” he replied. “And I gave you the two extra copies you asked for.”
I think sometimes we must not be thinking.  We make life a little too difficult.  All we need is Jesus.  In Him is the fullness of God.  We are complete in Him.

:19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

holding fastkrateo – not discard or let go; to keep carefully and faithfully

jointshaphe – bond, connection

ligamentssundesmos – that which binds together, a band, bond; of ligaments by which the members of the human body are united together

nourishedepichoregeo – to supply, furnish, present; to be supplied, ministered to, assisted

knit togethersumbibazo – to cause to coalesce, to join together, put together

Also used in:

(Col 2:2 NKJV) that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,
(Eph 4:14-16 NKJV) that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, {15} but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ; {16} from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

growsauxano – to cause to grow, augment; to increase, become greater

Would you say that it’s important to the health of a body to stay connected to the head?

What would you call a body that isn’t connected to the head? Dead. Wouldn’t you rather see the head in the right place?

The Colossians are running the risk of becoming disconnected to their Head.

But when a body is connected to the Head, then the rest can function. The joints and ligaments can do their thing.

increaseauxesis – increase, growth

the increase that is from God – Could it be possible that there is a “growth” or “increase” that is not from God? Could there be a growth that’s not healthy?  We call that cancer.

Unhealthy growth comes when we do things that are not based upon our holding fast to the Head.

Sometimes we can stray into thinking that we need gimmicks to get the church to grow.
Sometimes we might be deceived that there are others ways to grow as a person apart from holding on to Jesus.


Stay close to Jesus

There are always new things coming along that claim to make a person more spiritual.
There are always new gimmicks being marketed to the churches on how to grow your church.
I think that Paul would probably just point to Jesus and the work He did on the cross and say, “There. That’s what you need to focus on”.
We want God’s work in our lives, not some gimmick.
We want God’s kind of growth in the church.
(Acts 2:47 NKJV) …And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.