Colossians 2

Colossians 2:1 them at Laodicea, and... as many as have not seen my face

"Some seven years earlier [Paul] had started his third mission by taking the land route from Antioch to Ephesus, visiting central Asia Minor (Acts 18:23) and going west from there through 'the upper regions' (Acts 19:1, NKJB). This is clearly the east-west route through the Lycus River valley and the three cities under discussion (Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis). Paul expresses his intense concern for the Colossians 'and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh' (Col. 2:1). To some people that means that he had never seen the Colossians and Laodiceans, but his earlier journey through their area suggests the opposite-that he was worried about those from each city that he had met and also about those later coverted who had never seen him." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 246.)

Colossians 2:2 that their hearts might be... knit together in love

Joseph B. Wirthlin

We need to pray for the gift of love so that those whom we serve will feel our love. Just as Christ's followers were bound one to another by his love, so too should the members in each ward and branch be "knit together in love" (Col. 2:2). ("Guided by His Exemplary Life," Ensign, Sept. 1995, 37)

Cheiko Okazaki

President Hinckley said something that I just love about our patterns of interconnectedness in the Church. He said: "To those of the Church, all within the sound of my voice, I give the challenge [to] ... never lose sight of the whole majestic and wonderful picture of the purpose of this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. Weave beautifully your small thread in the grand tapestry, the pattern for which was laid out for us by the God of heaven." (Ensign, Nov. 1989, p. 54.)

We may not know what contribution our small thread makes to the great tapestry. We may not understand the pattern that our lives make as they intersect, connect, separate, and intersect again, but God does. ("Cat's Cradle of Kindness," Ensign, May 1993, 84)

Colossians 2:3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge

Orson Hyde

And inasmuch as our Heavenly Father is accessible to all, it is far better to store our minds with the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, by our own spiritual labours and toil, direct from the great Fountain of celestial light and love, than to trust wholly to the testimony and teachings of others. Obtain the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy. Startle not at the idea of prophecy and prophets; for I would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 5: 71.)

Neal A. Maxwell

The doctrine of revelation is intrinsically offensive to others who exclude from credibility any knowledge which is spiritually acquired. Thus this gospel doctrine of revelation is "repugnant to one's prejudices" for many moderns. Yet revelation is the only way of knowing certain transcendent things:

Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations...

For the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be. (Jacob 4:8, 13.)

As George MacDonald has written,

No revelation can be other than partial. ... For what revelation, other than a partial, can the highest spiritual condition receive of the infinite God?... the true revelation rouses the desire to know more by the truth of its incompleteness. (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Series 1 [London: Alexander Strahan, 1867], pp. 35-36.)

...Sad, indeed, would the whole matter be, if the Bible had told us everything God had meant us to believe. But herein is the Bible itself greatly wronged. It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as the Word, the Way, the Truth. The Bible leads us to Jesus. . . . It is Christ "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," not the Bible, save as leading to him. (Unspoken Sermons, pp. 52-53.)

...The Lord does reveal Himself, truths, and elements of the future, but He does so on His terms! (A Wonderful Flood of Light [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], 73.)

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men

"In Paul's epistle to the Colossians, we find the earliest evidence for gnosticism in the early Christian Church. Gnosticism was a false philosophy that had at its focus a belief that spirit was perfect and holy but that matter, and all that was created of it, was entirely evil. This idea held that God was a being of pure spirit and could have nothing to do with man, a creature of matter (and therefore evil); so instead of worshipping God, gnostics revered an extensive hierarchy of lower deities. It is probable that in his letter to the Saints of Colossae, Paul attacked just such a heresy by denouncing what he called the 'worshipping of angels.' (Col. 2:18.)

"One problem Christian gnostics faced was that Christians believed Jesus Christ to have been both God and man. Because Jesus had a body of matter, his position in the heavenly hierarchies was problematic for gnostics. Paul responded forcefully to this ambivalence regarding the role of Jesus when he emphasized in Colossians 1:16-17 and 2:9-10 His preeminence over all. Note the power of his words as he defined Jesus' position:

'For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.' (Col: 1:16.)

"Paul proclaimed the Savior to be 'the head of all principality and power.' (Col. 2:10.) He warned the Colossians to '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.) Gnosticism and related heresies were a serious problem for the Church. Such beliefs were so antithetical to the doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles that attempts to merge and reconcile them contributed to the corruption of the original faith. Extra-biblical sources tell us that gnosticism played an important role in the first centuries of Christian history. Whereas the religion of the Apostles did not continue, its gnosticized counterpart did. (Kent P. Jackson, "Early Signs of the Apostasy," Ensign, Dec. 1984, 12)

Colossians 2:9 in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead

"'For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.' (Col. 2:9.) Some have interpreted this passage to mean that the Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost-are the same person, or three persons in one. Paul is anxious to combat the heretical notion that Christ was not a physical being and that his bodily suffering, death, and resurrection were only fictional. In countering this false notion, and in order to emphasize the supremacy of the Savior above man and angels, Paul teaches that the fulness of the Godhead's glory, honor, and power is in Christ physically, or bodily-that is, nothing is lacking in the Savior that requires man to seek some other source or means of salvation." (J. Lewis Taylor, "New Testament Backgrounds: Colossians," Ensign, Mar. 1976, 39)

Colossians 2:11 putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ

Bruce R. McConkie

[Here Paul refers to a] spiritual circumcision, which consists in accepting Christ and living his gospel, of cutting away, not a part of the body, but one's whole carnal nature. The contrast is with carnal or literal circumcision, which had in times past been a symbol of conformity to the law of carnal commandments which God gave Moses to remind Israel of her duties. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 33.)

Colossians 2:12-13 buried with him in baptism wherein also ye are risen with him

Rudger Clawson

"Oh! how simple is this ordinance, to some perhaps even foolishness, that a man or woman, by going down into the water and being immersed can have his or her sins washed away. . . By study and reflection, we can see the beauty of the ordinance. We can see that it is typical of death and the resurrection, and that as man goes out of the grave to a newness of life, to immortality and eternal life, so he goes into the water of baptism, is buried therein, and comes forth again to a newness of life upon the earth. Being relieved of his sins, he is a new creature, with a new heart, with new prospects, and with bright and glorious hopes before him." (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 2: 187.)

Theodore M. Burton

In other words, there must be a "death" to the type of life most people live. The wicked self must die. In my own thinking, I define wickedness simply as disobedience to God. Personal disobedience, or wickedness, must cease and die. Furthermore, disobedience to the laws of God must not only die and be buried but must remain dead and buried. Such a change of life for the better is normally called repentance. All personal disobedience to God must end and be replaced by a willingness to keep his laws and his commandments.

Repentance precedes baptism, and baptism is the ordinance by which former sins are washed away. The washing in water symbolizes the purification of our soul, just as bathing in water cleanses our bodies from the grime and dirt of everyday living and makes us feel refreshed again. But baptism symbolizes something more. It is the beginning of a new life. Just as the resurrection purges the dross and imperfections of mortality and renews and perfects the body, so baptism cleanses the soul from sin and prepares a person to lead a better, more perfect life in the future. We can see how apt Paul's simile was in which he compared baptism with death and the resurrection. ("To Be Born Again," Ensign, Sept. 1985, 67)

Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us

The Law of Moses was much more than the Ten Commandments. Through Moses were revealed many statutes and judgments which the children of Israel were bound to keep. Paul refers to these statutes and judgments as "the handwriting of ordinances." Perfect adherence to all these rules was impossible. The Law was a very strict schoolmaster, leaving little room for mercy. The Lord declared:

But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.

And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. (Lev. 26:14-18)

The curse of this judgment came from Jehovah. He set the standard for justice, but he would also be the One to dispense the mercy-by nailing the ordinances, statutes, and judgments of the Law of Moses to his cross-by taking away the curse of the law with his sacrifice-by declaring liberty to those taken captive by sin.

Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink

If Christ has taken away the curse of the law-especially with respect to the many rules and restrictions-why should new converts, whether Jew or Gentile, continue to live the ancient law? Why should they be bothered when Jewish converts tried to require them to be circumcised and keep all the traditions of the Jews? Paul is saying, "if your diet and observance of holidays doesn't fit with Jewish custom, don't worry! Faith in Christ is what matters."

Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge respect of...the sabbath days

"During Paul's ministry he was constantly annoyed by the Jews insisting that the converted Gentiles should obey the Laws of Moses with regard to circumcision, but at Colossia they appear to have taken another tack and assailed the Christian Sabbath, insisting that the seventh day be observed. Paul dismissed the question with the admonition, 'Let no man judge you... in respect of the new moon, or of the Sabbath day.'" (George W. Crockwell, The Sabbath Day, Improvement Era, 1915, Vol. Xviii. February, 1915. No. 4. .)

LeGrand Richards

This warning from the apostle Paul would have been entirely uncalled for were the saints worshiping on the Jewish sabbath, for the Jews then would have had no occasion to judge them on this matter. (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 334.)

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a ...worshipping of angels

"[Early heretical] beliefs added Jewish ceremonialism to the gospel, in some way dethroned Christ, and also explained away the divinity of his physical person.

"...Paul explains by building on his earlier testimony of Christ as the 'head of the body, the church' (Col. 1:18). But false teachers added the 'worshipping of angels,' inventing things they had 'not seen,' which took away their true 'head,' Jesus Christ (Col. 2:18-19). Medieval Christianity added angels to intercede for mortals, whose lowly condition did not allow them to approach God... some first-century Christians taught the more radical doctrine that the physical creation was an inferior act of a lower divinity. And they added angels or divinities above the Old Testament creator. Paul fought such heresies at Colossae, for Christ's authority as the true creator was being challenged as well as his physical reality. Paul raised the standard of revealed Christianity-of believing in Christ as the only head and mediator under the Father-of believing in the physicalness of Christ, having the form of the Father." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 254.)