A study of the letters that Paul wrote is always beneficial and educational. There are so many different aspects of the Christian life that he addresses. Keep in mind, that although he was the earthly penman, the Scriptures came from God (1 Cor. 14:37). With that being understood, let us notice a challenging command that Paul gave to first century brethren, which still applies to Christians today.
In his letter to the Christians in Colosse, Paul was concerned about their continued faithfulness. He warned them, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). Unfortunately, back then, like as now, there were some people who were not content to accept God’s Word as the standard for life. Instead, there were attempts to mingle what Christians had learned with the teachings and philosophies of that day. Paul made it clear that there was no reason to deviate from what they had been taught and obeyed. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:9-12). As Paul said, the brethren in Colosse were “complete” in Christ. There was not any need to search for other doctrines or traditions. When speaking to Timothy about the Scriptures, Paul indicated that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Christian is “perfect”/mature/“complete” when He obeys the Scriptures. There is nothing that man can add to the Scriptures to make them any more sufficient. Likewise, there is nothing that a man can do, outside of obeying the Scriptures, that will make him any better spiritually.
With all of that being understood, we can understand why Paul pleaded with the Christians in Colosse to beware. Up until that time, there were certain brethren who had not met Paul physically. Paul struggled with that because he wanted to be as much help to his brethren as possible. He wrote, “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:1-3). These brethren needed to know that they could have “full assurance” and “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” without compromising the Scriptures by adding to them. Paul gave his reason for writing such. “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words” (Col. 2:4). In Paul’s absence, there were false teachers trying to influence the Colossian Christians. Paul let them know, “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ” (Col. 2:5). Thankfully, the brethren in Colosse were not deviating from the truth. However, the possibility of falling was still very real. That is why Paul encouraged those brethren, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6-7).
Today, Christians should heed the same instructions. We do not need additions to God’s Word. We do not need the new doctrines and philosophies of men. What we really need is brethren who faithfully and loyally adhere to the Scriptures. If we do that, then we become stronger and able to endure whatever comes our way. We will be like a mighty oak tree, whose roots run deep and wide. Storms of life, false teachers, and all the fiery darts of the devil will not be able to cause us to fall. We will be so strong that we can be assured that nothing will break us as long as we stay true. So, in closing, how “rooted and built up in” Christ are you? I hope that you continue to grow stronger each day (2 Pet. 3:18).
~ Corey Barnette