Colossians 2:16-3:4 (Freedom From the Commandments and Teachings of Men)

Col 2:16-17 In the previous verses Paul taught that the Gentile believers were made alive together with Christ while they were yet dead in the uncircumcision of their flesh, and that in Christ man’s debt to the ceremonial law of the Jews was taken away and nailed to the cross.  What conclusion does Paul draw for the Colossians as a result of this truth?  See Col 2:16.  What does Paul call the decrees or elementary principles he mentions?  See Col 2:17.  What counterpart to these decrees do we find various religious groups hoisting on people still today?  Think: Roman Catholicism (no meat on Friday during lent; holy days of obligation, etc…), Adventism (dietary restrictions, Sabbath observance), legalistic protestants (alcoholic beverages, clothing, etc…), etc…  What is the substance found in Christ of the various decrees of the law Paul mentions in Col 2:16?  See John 6:27,35, 7:37, Rom 14:17, 1 Cor 5:8, 10:3-4, Heb 4:9-11.

Col 2:18-19 How does Paul describe the religion of those who were confronting the Colossians?  Note: “self abasement” refers to that false humility which comes from legalistic attempts to reign in the flesh, and “worship” of angels refers more to an interest in the “religion” of angels as mediators between men and God, such as that which would develop into the Aeons of the Gnostics.  Although a legalistic religion may give a person an appearance of humility, what is that person’s true nature?  See Col 2:18c.  What is the true Christian counterpart of the “fleshly mind” that puffs up one whose religion is rooted in legalism?  See Phil 2:5.  What modern religious groups do Paul’s words in these verses call to mind?  Note: “taking his stand” is from a Greek word of questionable meaning; some have suggested “going into curious and subtle speculation about things which he has seen in visions granted him” (see NIV).  What words of Paul in Col 2:19 describe the root problem of all such groups throughout history?  Note: “defraud you of your prize” means literally “act as an umpire against you”; in what way are such as those Paul describes in these verses inclined to “act as an umpire against” those who are not of their persuasion?

Col 2:20-23 What is it that identifies us with Christ’s death?  See Col 2:12.  In Romans 6:1-4 Paul taught that by dying with Christ we die to sin; in these verses, to what else does Paul say we die with Christ?  In Romans 6:1-2 Paul pointed out that it was a contradiction to believe one could be united with Christ and continue in sin.  What is the contradiction in belief and practice that Paul points out in Col 2:20-21, and why is it a contradiction?  See Rom 7:1-7.  Why are the commandments and teachings of men by which people are easily taken in so subtly deceptive and dangerous?  See Col 2:23a.  When the Bible talks about the carnal desires of the flesh, does it refer to the physical body?  To what does it refer?  See Col 2:11,13, Gal 5:13-24.  What is the distinguishing hallmark between such commandments and teachings of men and the commandments and teachings of God?  See Col 2:23b.

Col 3:1-4 In Col 2:12 Paul alluded to the two-fold nature of the gospel message; what are those two parts?  See also Romans 6:1-11, 1 Cor 15:3-4.  In the previous verses Paul emphasized some practical implications of our being united with Christ in His death; what are the implications he mentions in these verses of our being united with Him in His life?  Many who call themselves Christians only understand the gospel as Christ’s death as an atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins; why is this “half of the gospel” no gospel at all?  See 1 Cor 15:17.  What is wrong with only uniting ourselves with Christ in His death?  Is the ultimate goal of our Christian walk to die with Christ?  See Phil 3:10-11.  Was the ultimate purpose of Christ’s ministry to die for our sins?  See John 10:10.  In what practical ways can we put into practice Col 3:2?

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