Colossians 2

Christ's Wisdom vs. Deceptive Errors


I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those at Laodicea (Colossians 2:1).

Laodicea was a nearby city, located only 9 miles (14.5 km) to the west of Colossae. Apparently Paul was concerned that the churches in both cities faced some of the same dangers. Unlike Colossae, significant excavations have been carried out at Laodicea, and a large portion of the city has been exposed and reconstructed.

Hidden Treasure

In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

Paul describes wisdom and knowledge using the metaphor of treasure. Ancient treasures would often include precious metals and would be hidden or buried in a safe place. The Copper Scroll is one of the most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Inscribed on sheets of copper, it provides a list of 64 underground hiding places in Jerusalem and the Judean wilderness. It describes treasures belonging to the Qumran community that total about 4,500 talents of precious objects.

Greco-Roman Rhetoric

I say this so that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech (Colossians 2:4).

In Paul’s day, “sophists” were professional rhetoricians whose goal was to win in debate, rather than to seek absolute truth. Their arguments were often clever but fallacious. In popular thought, they were often associated with moral skepticism and false reasoning. This bust of the famous orator Cicero was photographed at the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

Freedom to Eat and Drink

Therefore let no one judge you regarding food or drink (Colossians 2:16).

God had made it clear to the apostle Peter that the ceremonial food laws were no longer in force (Acts 10). This was the fulfillment of what Jesus had said, that it is not what enters a man’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of the mouth (Matt 15:11). This marble statue of a pig in a cooking pot was made in the 1st or 2nd century AD.


Such a person goes on at length about visions he has seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (Colossians 2:18).

The word “puffed up” (Gk. phusioō) eventually came to refer to one with an exaggerated self-conception, someone who thought more of themselves than was right. This is illustrated here by a statue of Narcissus, a Greek god known for his self-love. This statue was photographed at the Vatican Museums.


And in self-abasement and severe treatment of the body (Colossians 2:23).

Part of the intent of monasteries is to deprive or injure the physical body with the intent of helping the soul. Such practices can actually hinder, rather than help, spiritual growth, particularly when they are separated from Christ, the true source of spiritual life. The most famous of the Judean desert monasteries is Mar Saba, founded in the year 483 by Sabas. This became the largest of these monasteries and its golden age was in the 8th and 9th centuries. Much of the monastery was rebuilt following an earthquake in 1834. The monastery is located east of Bethlehem and is one of the few ancient monasteries still inhabited.

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