Col. 2:1-3 “…attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The life-long search to discover the wealth of God’s mystery, Christ, provides the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that keep you from being deceived by the “fool’s gold” of persuasive arguments, philosophy, and empty deception of human tradition and the elementary principles of the world.
Col. 2:4-8 “…that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments…I am…rejoicing to see…the stability of your faith in Christ…having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith…that there is no one who takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception in accordance with human tradition, in accordance with the elementary principles of the world, rather than in accordance with Christ.”
Taking a look at Col. 2:2-23 will give us a few thoughts on how this pertains to disciple making.
Col. 2:2-3 says “…a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Paul is emphasizing the need for a deep understanding of Jesus as a defense against:
- Persuasive arguments (vs.4 I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments.)
- Empty deception and elementary principles (vs.8 See to it that there is no one who takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception in accordance with human tradition, in accordance with the elementary principles of the world)
- People acting as judges (vs.16 Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food and drink, or in respect to a festival or a new moon, or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.)
- Defrauding you of your prize (vs.18 Take care that no one keeps defrauding you of your prize by delighting in humility and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind)
- The appearance of wisdom and self-made religion (vs.20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 …in accordance with the commandments and teachings of man? 23 These are matters which do have the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.)
Here is the key – the pitfalls of “persuasive arguments” that Paul is referencing in this chapter primarily (if not all) come from religious teachers. This does not in any way say that religious teaching is bad per se. What it does say is that deep, personal discovery into Jesus is the best defense against religious teaching that could draw you off course.