Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
In Colossae at the time (as we would see in later verses), different doctrines had begun to come up which lead to the writing of this letter. This doctrinal lies sound nice and pious and thus are easily ascended unto as the truth but they are not. Paul categorized into 3 arms;
- Philosophies - at the time, the greek philosophy prevailed in Colosse and they were being exposed to Gnosticism and Paul was warning them against falling prey unto it
- Traditions of men - Paul was referring to the Jewish traditions which was being forced upon gentiles such as circumcision to show their conversion even though it is absolutely unnecessary
- Rules of this world
We must recognize that men all trough time have attempted to add to the gospel of Christ. Salvation by grace is a simple and easy process that some people can seem to comprehend, thus, they seek to add things to it to make us more deserving of the finished work of Christ. Philosophies in modern days look like tweetable thoughts and Instagram quotes which have not basis on the word of God e.g. God helps those who help themselves, if you didn't feel God’s presence when you prayed your prayer wasn’t heard by God, meditation is emptying your mind and opening it up to God etc. I’m sure we have heard many of these high sounding ‘wise’ words that have no basis in scripture and maybe we have fallen for them before. Traditions in our day looks like covering the head, walking barefoot, not wearing trousers etc. which are not found under the new covenant but because they seem hard and difficult, we equate them to holiness and use them as yardsticks to measure salvation.
Paul’s warning is very clear - don’t let anyone spoil your salvation by anything not backed up by the word of God! To spoil means to corrupt, to cause to decay and perish. The greek word used here is sulagogeo and it means to carry off as booty, to plunder and rob. We know that the devil’s sole mission is to kill, steal and destroy and that applies to our assurance of salvation as well. The devil is the accuser of the brethren and he is always looking for opportunities to tell you that you are not saved enough or that you are not pleasing to God or that you need to be more holy. The devil and the instruments he uses aim to strip of your faith and lead you back into the path of hell and we are not to allow anyone do that to us! After allowing your life to be built on the solid rock which is Christ, you must now guard it against false teachings and vain philosophies that are flying around.
In verses 9 and 10, Paul is assuring us that the whole godhead dwells in us and we are already complete in Christ. Our salvation is complete and we don’t need to add anything else to it. The greek word for the ‘complete’ used in this verse is pleroo and it means to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.:--accomplish, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.
This is very clear, the salvation work is complete - we are have been filled up with it and there is space no longer for anything else. We are left wanting nothing. As since Christ is above all, there is nothing these lesser things can give us that he can’t.
“There is no necessity, therefore, that we should look to the aid of philosophy, as if there was a defect in the teachings of the Saviour; or to human strength, as if he were unable to save us; or to the merits of the saints, as if those of the Redeemer were not sufficient to meet all our wants. The sentiment advanced in this verse would overthrow the whole papal doctrine of the merits of the saints, and, of course, the whole doctrine of papal "indulgences." - Adam Clarke’s commentary