Colossians 2:6-15 — From Facts to Fundamentals
What is it you are really good at? Seriously. Think about what you do well, and hold that answer in your mind.
Why? Because I want you to consider the following. That thing you do well—do you have a specific approach, or formula, or theory about it? Let me ask that question differently. Do you have a set of fundamentals that you use over and over again? A set of sound principles that you are very good at applying?
Let me offer one example. I snow-skied for many years—from age 5. The fundamentals of snow skiing do not change, whether you are a beginner or expert. What changes is how steep and challenging the mountain slopes that you are skiing are. There are some real fundamentals, such as what leg you put your weight on, and how you shift that weight from leg to leg. The difference between the beginner and the expert is the ability to apply those fundamentals consistently, and repeatedly, in varying situations.
Consider your answer to what you do well. What are its fundamentals?
Paul, in this part of the letter, gives us the fundamentals—and he does it by poking at the people who are undermining the fundamentals of following Jesus.
Have you ever seen a political ad where they take the person they do not like, and using their name, they make a point? Consider someone running for office whose name is Cash. Imagine all the fun their political opponent would have at their expense.
Paul does the same thing, and you can see it in the original Greek. Look at the Greek spelling of this word: sylagogon. What word does it look like? Maybe synagogue? The first word, sylagogon, is the Greek word that we read, take captive (and he could have used other words).
My first point:
Paul is telling the Colossians to not be fooled by people who are morphing Jesus into the teachings of the synagogue.
Which leads to my second point: the fundamentals.
Stand firm in Jesus—grow and be built up in Him.
Don’t be taken captive—and there are many ways to be lured away from the fundamental foundation of Jesus. Philosophy, bold-faced lies, logic, and other spiritual pursuits.
Here are the fundamentals:
He is God—that is what the fullness of the deity dwells means.
You are filled into God—you are united, a part of Jesus’ body.
You do not need to do anything more to be with God—i.e., circumcision.
God has done everything in Christ—circumcised in Christ if you like.
In your baptism you were united with Jesus. It is the mark/symbol of this completion—in it you died to your old ways, old self, your trespasses, and were raised, and began, a new life.
Jesus’ part of your baptism pays the debt for your sin—Jesus makes you right with God—there is nothing you do.
Jesus paid that debt by dying on the Cross—you do not need to do anything more, such as keeping a long list of laws.
Jesus defeated the penalty of your debt by rising from the dead—and in the process he silenced all those who want to tell you that you are still need to come and do more.
I have written several times, that we “do not need to do anything more.” In the coming days, you and I will read much about what it means to follow Jesus—and it will involve us working (yup, working) to live this new life. The point is that if we are truly following Jesus we will look and live differently. After all, Paul even said that we must grow and be built up (verse 6).
Yet today, the huge FUNDAMENTAL is that we are right with God because of Jesus—not because of anything else. (As an aside, we ought to jumping for Joy over this fundamental fact.)
I am guessing you can hear that this letter is written to folks who, as followers of a risen Jew, they were faced with a challenge. They were having to deal with some Jews who were trying to merge Jesus into the Jewish faith (the synagogue play on words). They were trying to make Jesus subject and subordinate to the Jewish Law and Rituals (like circumcision).
These folks also lived in a very Roman world. It had plenty of distractions. It had plenty of ideas that sought to take Jesus captive as well (or dismiss him).