LET NO ONE KEEP DEFRAUDING
(beguile, cheat, defraud, disqualify) YOU OF YOUR PRIZE: medeis
humas katabrabeueto (3SPAM):
2:4,8; Ge 3:13; Nu 25:18; Mt 24:24; Ro 16:18; 2Cor 11:3; Ephesians 5:6
- note; 2Pe 2:14
1Jn 2:26; 4:1,2; 2Jn 1:7, 8,
9, 10, 11; Rev 3:11; 12:9; 13:8, 14)
DON'T LOSE YOUR
No one (3367)
(medeis from medé = and not, also not + heís =
one) means not even one, no one, no one whoever he may be.
Keep defrauding you of your
(katabrabeuo from katá = against + brabeuo = be a
judge or umpire and thus award the prize in a public game) literally
refers to an umpire who decides against one, declaring him unworthy of
the prize and so defrauding him of the prize of victory. To decide
against, to declare unworthy of the prize. Figuratively,
as used in this verse, katabrabeuo refers to the
depriving one of his or her spiritual reward.
The judge at athletic games was the brabeus and the prize was
the brabeion. The Greek word as noted above describes a referee
who excludes from competition any athlete who fails to follow the
rules. The contestant did not cease to be a citizen of the land,
but he forfeited the honor of winning the prize.
Katabrabeuo is translated "beguile"
in several versions which stresses the use of charm and persuasion in
The verb is in the
which when combined
with a negative, calls for the hearer to stop an action already in
progress. In other words...
Stop letting people act as your
umpire to disqualify you or beguile you of your prize
Webster says that to "defraud"
means to deprive
of something by deception and stresses depriving one of their rights
usually connotes deliberate perversion of the truth [defrauded of her
inheritance by an unscrupulous lawyer].
Paul is referring to a "disqualification" just
as when a judge disqualifies those who run out of their designated
lane in a race, etc. In the same way those
believers who turn from faithfully following Christ will be “robbed”
of their rewards from Him at the Judgment Seat (cp 2Co 5:10, 1Cor 3:10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 2Jn 1:8). These believers will not
lose their salvation, but they will lose their rewards. Paul is warning against
the false teachers who come in among the flock like savage wolves,
bringing a persuasive, perverse message (Acts 20:29, 30, 31) composed of
false doctrines that would rob believers of their spiritual blessings,
not only in this present life but in the life to come. Specifically the
Colossian saints were to be on guard for any teacher who came into
their midst and began to teach that they were not saved because they were not delighting in false humility
and in the worship of angels.
Paul's description helps us
recognize what we should be alert for and avoid being beguiled by --
those who show "false humility", always talking about angels, grand
visions. These people are not humble but in contrast are puffed up and
filled with hot air in their unregenerate minds.
Vincent says: "The attitude of the
false teachers would involve their sitting in judgment as to the
future reward of those who refused their doctrine of angelic
mediation. Paul speaks from the standpoint of their claim." We could
go a step farther and say that these false teachers would actually
deprive those Christians who would be led astray by them, of their
reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ by reason of the fact that their
Christian experience would be affected, and in a bad way.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
The Christian's career is the contest of the
stadium...Christ is the umpire, the Dispenser of rewards (Rev 22:12,
2 Timothy 4:8):
life eternal is the bay wreath, the victor's prize. The Colossians
were in a fair way to win this prize; they had entered the lists duly;
they were running bravely: but the false teachers , thrusting
themselves in the way, attempted to trip them up or otherwise impede
them in the race, and thus to rob them of their just reward.
Vine adds that...
A translation which is closer to
the proper meaning of the word, as given above, is “let no man decide
for or against you” (without any notion of a prize). This is in close
agreement with the preceding exhortation, “let no man judge you,” and
the meaning is “do not give yourselves up to the judgment and decision
of any man”
Eadie explains that...
The apostle warns them to listen to
none of these instructors, for their design was to rob them of that
prize, which, as the result of their spiritual victory, Christianity
set before them. If they yielded to any of the practices referred to
in this verse, then they followed the solicitation of one who would
rob them of that “prize of their high calling” for which they had been
pressing forward. It is thus a term of far deeper import than the
preceding krineto (krino = let no one act as your judge - Col 2:16-note),
For there is in it (katabrabeuo) not merely the giving of a
wrong judgment, but a judgment which involves in it the loss of all
that the gospel promises to the winner, a life of glory on high (A
Commentary on the Greek Text)
BY DELIGHTING IN
SELF-ABASEMENT: thelon (PAPMSN) en tapeinophrosune:
(thelo) refers to a desire that comes from one’s emotions and
represents an active decision of the will. Thus thelo implies
volition and purpose. The idea is that they are making a conscious
choice. It is a conscious willing and denotes a more active
resolution urging on to action. Note the
indicates this was their continual practice (and this should make them
easy to recognize).
We give thelo its common
meaning. Let no man beguile you—wishing to do it by his humility...The
preposition en ("in" self-abasement) denotes the means of
deception, or the sphere in which the deceiver moves. The humility
referred to, as may be seen from the last verse of the chapter, is a
spurious humility (see Col 2:23-note).
Fanatical pride is often associated with this humility, as when, for
show, the beggar's feet are washed; and the friar in his coarse rags
walks barefooted and begs. And men become proud of their
humility—glory in the feeling of "self-annihilation". The spirit of
the false teacher, with all its professed lowliness,
would not bend to the Divine revelation, but nursed its
fallacies with a haughty tenacity, and preached them with an impious
daring, for he was “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” (A
Commentary on the Greek Text)
Self abasement (5012)
[word study] from
tapeinos [word study]
= humble + phren =
think) refers to a quality of voluntary submission and unselfishness.
It represents self-effacement or humiliation of one's mind. This word
always conveyed a negative meaning in classical Greek. Christianity
and specifically Christ (cf Php 2:3, 4, 5-see notes
elevated this term to the supreme virtue - the antidote for the
self-love that poisons relationships. However this particular context
it is not a virtue but a vice!
Note that when one delights in humility it
ceases to be genuine humility and becomes pride!
was often used in connection with fasting and several Jewish Christian
writings specify that the consequence of this ascetic practice is
entrance into the heavenly realm. The idea in context seems to be that
the individual in question loves to talk on and on about his spiritual
experiences, but in reality they are only coming out of his own sinful
holding to (present
this is their "lifestyle" = they make "religious hypocrisy" their
practice) a form (morhposis = speaks of an outward appearance, like a
silhouette, like the Pharisees, who were lovers of self [flesh]
and concerned only about the outward form, about “the outside of the
cup and of the dish,” while “inside they are full of robbery and
self-indulgence” =Mt 23:25) of godliness,
although they have denied (perfect
speaks of a decision they have made at some point in the past to deny
the power of true godliness, a decision which has become permanent) its power
dunamis; Ed: How can you tell? Watch
their life - their moral/ethical conduct will clearly demonstrate they
have no power over their evil flesh nature); and
= not a suggestion but a continual command - Why? These men are
"toxic". They are like "spiritual arsenic", like a highly infectious
"spiritual plague".) such men as these. (2Ti 3:5-note)
AND THE WORSHIP OF THE
ANGELS TAKING HIS STAND ON VISIONS HE
HAS SEEN: kai threskeia ton aggelon a eoraken (3SRAI) embateuon (PAPMSN):
1:25; 1Cor 8:5,6; 1Ti 4:1;Rev 19:10; 22:8, 9) (Dt 29:29; Job 38:2;
Ezek 13:3; 1Ti 1:7)
Paul's description in
Romans 1 (written circa 57-58AD) aptly describes these
self-deceived (cp 2Ti 3:13-note)
For they exchanged the truth of God
for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the
Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Ro 1:25-note)
Paul later (circa 67AD)
warned Timothy that...
the Spirit explicitly says that in
later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to
deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (1Ti 4:1)
Angel worship is to be
sure quite "tempting", for even the apostle John (circa 90's AD) fell
briefly into this attractive trap (the one he bowed down before was
presumably an angel and a "good" angel at that)...
Then I fell at his feet to worship
him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of
yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God.
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev 19:10-note,
cp Rev 22:8-note)
Vine: There was no doubt an
appeal to the natural and sensuous mind in paying religious regard to
angels in an outward show of humility, and being subject to the
judgment of those who gloried in exerting an influence over their
dupes and detracted from the direct appeal to the throne of grace.
That is ever the tendency of external ritual.
In short, Paul is warning against
seeking of and dependence upon extra-Biblical, ecstatic, non-rational visions.
Worship of the angels -
Adoration of the angels.
John Eadie comments
extensively on the "pathogenesis" of angelic worship noting first
This is another of the instruments
of seduction. The genitive ton aggelon cannot be that of
subject, as if the meaning were, a worship like that which angels
present, or such as man may learn from them...The genitive is that of
object. The attempt of the false teacher was not to get them into an
ecstasy such as that felt by the “rapt seraph, who adores and burns,”
but it was a positive inculcation of angel-worship. Threskeia
is often followed by the genitive of object... The term, whatever its
derivation, denotes devotional service.
How angels came to be worshipped we
may not precisely know, though, certainly, it might not be difficult
to account for it, when one sees how saint-worship has spread itself
so extensively in one section of Christendom. The angels occupied the
highest place which creatures could occupy under the Theocracy. They
held lofty station and discharged important functions. The law was “ordained
by angels, in the hands of a mediator,” (Gal 3:19), nay, the
apostle calls it “the word spoken by angels.” (Heb 2:2) Jehovah
descended with ten thousand of His holy ones, when “from His right
hand went a fiery law.” (Dt 33:2KJV) The Jews, said Stephen, in his
address, “received the law by the disposition of angels.” (Acts
7:53KJV) Whatever be the meaning of these declarations, there is no
doubt that they indicate some special and important province of
angelic operation. Josephus expresses the same opinion—the current one
of his nation. No wonder that those beings, so sublimely commissioned
by God, and burning in the reflection of His majesty, command human
reverence, and are therefore themselves called “gods.” Ps 97:7,
compared with Heb. 1:6.
Now, the step from respect
to worship is at once short and easy, for it is but an
exaggeration. The heart, not content with feeling that a being so near
God and so like Him should be held in esteem and admiration, passes
into excess, and worships where it had honored.
And to fortify itself in the
practice, it perverted the angelic office. It raised those creatures
from attendants to mediators—from messengers to interested protectors.
It would seem that in the days of the patriarch Job such a feeling
existed in the early world. “Call now,” is the challenge of Eliphaz,
“if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints
wilt thou turn?” (Job 5:1KJV) and in another chapter mention is made
of an angel interpreter. In the book of Tobit, the Jewish belief is
incidentally brought out—that angels formally present prayers to God.
In the imagery of the Apocalypse (Revelation), we find an angel at the
altar, having in his hand a golden censer and much incense, that he
should offer it with “the prayers of all saints.” (Rev 8:3) In the
Testimony of the Twelve Patriarchs, and in the book of Enoch, the same
notion is prominently exhibited. And thus the prayer offered through
the angel, was by and by presented to him. It was first offered to him
that he might carry it to God, and then it was offered to him without
such ulterior reference or prospect. Again, that angels were entrusted
with the presidency of various countries and nations, was another
Jewish opinion; and it was with a superstitious people a matter of
extreme facility to pass from that obeisance (a movement of the body
made in token of respect or submission), which might be yielded to a
representative of Divinity, to that veneration (respect or awe
inspired by the dignity) which is due to Jehovah alone. If a man bent
one knee in loyalty, he soon bent both knees in worship;
and asked from the substitute what should be solicited from the
That the worship of created spirits
was widespread, thus admits of no doubt. The Fathers abundantly
testify to it. Origen affirms it of the Jews, and Clement
makes the same assertion; both of them, as well as the treatise called
the “Preaching of Peter,” describing the Jews as latreuontes
aggelois. An old Jewish liturgy distinctly contains angel worship,
and exhibits one form of it. Celsus also avers it. The Platonic
idea of demons—itself, in all probability, a relic of Eastern
Theosophy—spread itself, in Asia Minor, and combined with the Jewish
superstition. That such practices should take root in Phrygia is no
marvel, for there they found a congenial soil. Theodoret
testifies to their existence, and that they remained in Phrygia and
Pisidia for a long time.
The thirty-fifth canon of the
Council of Laodicea, a city in the vicinity, solemnly interdicted
(gave a prohibitory decree of) the practice, but did not wholly
eradicate it. In the days of Theodoret, the archangel Michael was
worshipped at Colosse; and a naos archaggelikos (temple of the
archangel) was built in his honor, and for a miracle alleged to be
wrought by him. Though those historical quotations refer to
post-apostolic periods, still they appear to describe the remnants of
earlier practices, and they afford at least some analogies that help
us to judge of the superstitions which the apostle mentions and
reprobates. The Catholic interpreters, Estius and a-Lapide, make a
strong effort to exclude this passage, from such as might be brought
against the worship of saints.
The two nouns, “humility and
worship of angels,” are closely connected, and mean a species
of humility connected with angel-worship. It was out of a fanatical
humility that service was offered to angels. It was thought that the
great God was too majestic and distant to be addressed, and they
therefore invented these internuncii (messengers or agents,
Commentary on the Greek Text)
from threskos = religious, pious)
refers to religion in its external aspect, worship especially
ceremonial service of religion, external ceremonial observances or
Threskeia - 4x in 4v -
Acts 26:5; Col 2:18; Jas 1:26, 27.
This word threskeia (worship) is
closely connected with the preceding by the bond of union of the same
preposition. There was an officious parade of humility in selecting
these lower beings as intercessors, rather than appealing directly to
the throne of grace. The word refers properly to the external rites of
religion, and so gets to signify an over-scrupulous devotion to
(aggelos) refers to one sent to tell or bring a message
and so a messenger or envoy. Here Paul uses aggelos to refer to a
transcendent power who carries out various missions or tasks.
Worship of angels is a practice
which the Bible clearly
prohibits (see Mt 4:10; Rev 19:10; 22:8, 9, 1Cor 6:3)
Taking his stand (1687)
(embateuo from en = in + bateuo = to
step) means to set foot upon, enter, visit, intrude into. Figuratively
as it appears to be used in this verse, embateuo means to go into a
matter, investigating it with the idea of impertinence. The only other
uses in Scripture are in the Septuagint in Joshua 19:49, 51.
ESV has "going on in
detail about visions". NET "goes on at great lengths about what he has
supposedly seen". NIV = "goes into great detail about what he has
The TDNT summarizes
embateuo as meaning...
a. “To enter,” “go into,”
usually military occupation in the LXX, entering on an inheritance in
the papyri, also used of gods coming to a holy place or a demon
indwelling a person.
b. The word is used for initiation in the mysteries.
c. “To approach with a view to examining,” i.e., “to inquire
into” is also a possible meaning, as in 2 Mac 2:30; Philo On Noah’s
Life as a Planter 80.
The only NT instance is in Col. 2:18. Exegetes favor sense b.
or sense c. Against b. it should be noted that the inscriptions
never use embateúein alone (as here) and it always takes place in a
sanctuary (unlike here).
The sense, then, seems to be c. What the false teachers try to
achieve by ecstasy and asceticism is opposed to adherence to the
exclusiveness of Christ (Col 2:19). All wisdom is present in Christ,
so that there is no need to enter by painful investigation into what
is seen in ecstatic visions, as the false teachers require (Kittel,
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament. Eerdmans)
NET Bible note
The idea in this context seems to
be that the individual in question loves to talk on and on (Ed:
= their continual practice) about his spiritual experiences, but in
reality they are only coming out of his own sinful flesh.
Wiersbe says embateuo was a technical
term used by the mystical religions of that day and it meant
foot in the inner shrine, to be fully initiated into the mysteries of
Rienecker proposes embateuo here could refer to
"the entering into heavenly spheres as a
sort of super spiritual experience."
John Eadie has some
interesting comments writing that...
The reference in the
clause—“intruding into what he has not seen”—appears to be the worship
of angels. The current theosophy spent no little of its ingenuity upon
the spirit-world. It wandered not only beyond the regions of sense,
but even that of Scripture. It mustered into troops the heavenly
orders. [Eph. 1:21.] This oriental propensity was a prevalent one. The
inquisitive spirit pried into the invisible world around it and above
it. It loved such phantasms, and lost itself in transcendental
reveries. The creed of the Zendavesta had its Ormuzd, its six
Amshaspands, its eight-and-twenty Izeds, and hosts of Feruers—all of
them objects of worship and prayer. Augustine says, with justice, that
many had tried the intercession of angels, but had failed; and not
only so, but—inciderunt in desiderium curiosarum visionum. How the
Jewish fancy strove to penetrate the curtain that conceals the unseen,
may be learned from the following quotation from a rabbinical
treatise. “As there are ten Sephiroth, so there are ten troops of
angels, as follows:—the Erellim, Ishim, Benei-haelohim, Malachim,
Hashmalim, Tarshishim, Shinanim, Cherubim, Ophanim, and the Seraphim.
Captains are set over each of them—Michael over the Erellim, Zephaniah
over the Ishim, Hophniel over the Benei-haelohim, Uzziel over the
Malachim, Hashmal over the Hashmalim, Tarshish over the Tarshishim,
Zadkiel over the Shinanim, Cherub over the Cherubim, Raphael over the
Ophanim, and Jehuel over the Seraphim.” Tertullian mentions some who
professed to divine their asceticism from angelic revelation, a remark
which serves at least for illustration. (A
Commentary on the Greek Text)
Ray Stedman has an
excellent exposition of this verse noting that...
The key elements in this portion of Paul's warning are "false humility
and worship of angels." Those are two invariable elements of false
teaching in this context. In Colossae there was an ancient teaching
(later called "Gnosticism," meaning knowledge) which held that there
is a hierarchy of angels between all human beings and God which must
be placated and acknowledged, and that one's knowledge, which began in
virtual ignorance, increased with such contact until at last one
entered into the fullness of understanding of the Oneness of all
things. That ancient heresy is known as the New Age Movement in which
adherents seek the true Oneness of things bc we are all part of the
universe of created matter, and are united in Oneness with God. It
claims to move you beyond self, but in actual practice, if you examine
teachings like this, you discover that they focus on self; that the
real goal is to develop all your self powers. That is why it is called
the human potential movement --- the idea that everything is already
there inside of you, and all you need to do is bring it out and
develop your possibilities and full potential (Cp Col 1:27). It's like
the sign on a wall "The Light you seek is in your own lantern." So the
teaching is that you already have it all---now discover it.
Houston sings, "To love yourself is the greatest love there is." which
could be the theme song for the human potential quest. What is the
danger of that? The apostle puts it very plainly: it "disqualifies you
for the prize."
He has been referring to this "prize" all through this
letter. It will eliminate you from the race, removing you from the
possibility of experiencing "Christ in you, the hope of glory." That
is the great mystery which God himself has provided us, by which we
have immediate and continual access to the fullness of deity in
Christ, and by him, strength, help and comfort along our way. Such
error will effectively remove all opportunity for the continued
experience of love, joy and peace. If you observe Shirley MacLaine
and other advocates of the New Age Movement you will discover there is
very little evidence that they derive real satisfaction from their
experiences. Fascination, yes; satisfaction, no! They are forever
seeking. They are never at rest. They are on a quest for a
will-o'-the-wisp, that seems to be further away from them the longer
they pursue it. Such pursuit effectively removes one from experiencing
the prize that God has in mind for his own: daily fellowship with a
loving, living Lord!
We all remember the claim made by Oral Roberts
that he had seen a nine hundred foot vision of Jesus who told him to
build a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now Roberts is under attack by
the media because of his statement that unless people send him four
and a half million dollars by March First, God is going to take his
life! This ridiculous claim has turned many people away from Christian
truth. But who are these strange creatures that are seen in these
visions? According to the Bible they are fallen angels, otherwise
known as demons, often masquerading as people who once lived on the
earth. Thus, they give some degree of credence to the teaching of
reincarnation, which is widespread in our day. (Read the full sermon
Colossians 2:16-23 Things
that can Ruin your Faith)
Visions are an
important element in Mormonism, Spiritism,
Catholicism (apparitions of Mary), and Swedenborgianism. Those who
are members of these inner circles are naturally proud of their secret
knowledge. Paul is warning against the false teachers in Colossae who
had visions and made contact with angels (remembering that 1/3
of the angels are "fallen" and constitute the demons ruled by Satan). In bypassing the Word of God
and the Spirit of God, they were opening themselves to all kinds of
demonic activity because Satan is a liar (Jn 8:44) and a deceiver (Rev
who is a master at creating counterfeit
experiences (2Cor 11:13, 14, 15).
He has seen - Vincent
which he imagines or professes that
he has seen in vision. Ironical. “If, as we may easily imagine, these
pretenders were accustomed to say with an imposing and mysterious air,
‘I have seen, ah! I have seen,’ — in relating alleged visions of
heavenly things, the Colossians would understand the reference well
INFLATED WITHOUT CAUSE BY HIS FLESHLY MIND: eike phusioumenos (PPPMSN)
hupo tou noos tes sarkos autou:
(Col 2:8; 1Cor 4:18; 8:1; 13:4) (Ro 8:6, 7, 8; Gal 5:19;20 Jas 3:14,
15, 16; 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
The ever present danger of
"gnosis" is that "Knowledge makes arrogant (puffs up =
phusioo), but love edifies" (1Co 8:1) Genuine Spirit wrought
love "is not arrogant" or puffed up (phusioo) (1Cor
"By definition" those who indulge in the pride producing practices
Paul warns against are devoid of genuine Christian love (cp his
related warning in 1Cor 13:1, 2, 3, 13)
Inflated without cause -
A T Robertson says this word describes a "Powerful picture of
the self-conceit of these bombastic Gnostics."
Vincent commenting on the
KJV rendering "Vainly puffed up" writes that...
characterizes the emptiness of such pretension; puffed up (phusioo),
the swelling intellectual pride of those who make it. See on 1Co 4:6;
and compare 1Co 8:1. The humility is thus characterized as affected,
and the teachers as charlatans.
Eadie writes that in this
clause (inflated without cause) one
discovers one prime ground of the
heresy, and shows the principal reason why the gospel was not
cordially received. It was not intricate enough, it did not deal in
any vain speculations, but it claimed and commanded attention to the
real and practical, and it showed not the way into the abstruse and
recondite. It did not harmonize with current notions of angelology and
asceticism, and it was outdone in those respects by Essene Gnosticism.
It did not forbid the humble spirit to raise itself to the Divine
throne; for it taught that the intervening distance was spanned by the
mediatorial nature of Christ. It exhibited the angels as “ministering
spirits,” or fellow-servants; but it held up no eccentric array of
visions and phantasms, which might beguile men into fanatical worship
and conceited contrition. In the fulness of its revelation it left to
no man the claim of discovery, or the merit of invention. He, then,
who did not receive it as presented to him, but wished to change its
nature and supplement its oracles, so that it might have the air and
the aspect of a transcendental theosophy, was “puffed up by his
fleshly mind,”—thought himself possessed of a higher knowledge, and
favored with profounder instruction than our Lord and His
apostles...The heretic was blown up with his delusion, verifying the
remark—“knowledge puffeth up.” (1Co 8:1) He was too proud to learn—too
wise to acknowledge any instruction beyond himself. The source of
inflation was a “fleshly mind,” “he was puffed up.” (A
Commentary on the Greek Text)
from phusia = a
pair of bellows!) means literally to puff up, to inflate, to cause to
swell up or blow up. Figuratively, as in the present passage phusioo means make proud
or arrogant (active sense) or to become conceited, proud or haughty
(passive sense as in this verse). To become puffed up or put on airs.
In classic Greek phusioo
was used to describe anger that swells (puffs up) the heart.
Moulton and Milligan
record an example of phusioo from ancient literature - "priding
themselves on their birth".
Phusioo describes one who has
an exaggerated self-concept (as indicated by the adverb eike = there
being no reason). The
pictures this self "inflation" as a continual practice.
Phusioo - 7x in 7v (not
in Septuagint) - 1Cor 4:6, 18, 19; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; Col 2:18. NAS =
arrogant(5), inflated(1), makes arrogant(1).
Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively
applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may
learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become
arrogant in behalf of one against the other.
1 Corinthians 4:18 Now some have become arrogant, as though I
were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord
wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are
arrogant but their power.
1 Corinthians 5:2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned
instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from
1 Corinthians 8:1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know
that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love
rightly remarks: The contrast is striking between puffing up and
building up — a bubble and a building.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
Colossians 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by
delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his
stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his
Clearly the concentration of
in the first epistle to the Corinthians reflects that spiritual pride
among the believers in Corinth was a serious spiritual problem. God is
inveterately opposed to the self inflated mindset (Jas 4:6-note,
cp Pr 6:16, 17, 29:23)
Without cause (1500)
means in vain, without a cause or legitimate reason, without just
cause, without reason, for no reason, for nothing.
Eike - 6x in 5v - Ro
Gal 3:4; 4:11; Col 2:18. NAS = nothing(1), vain(4), without cause(1).
Vainly characterizes the emptiness
of such pretension; puffed up, the swelling intellectual pride of
those who make it. See 1Cor. 4:6; and compare 1Co 8:1. The humility is
thus characterized as affected, and the teachers as charlatans.
Eadie comments that...
the idea with our exegesis is, that
the mental inflation of the errorists, which co-exists with his
humility and his angel-worship, and prompts him to pry into what is
concealed from him, is eike =— It is without ground. It has no
Fleshly mind - Literally
"by the mind of his flesh".
Eadie comments that
The expression ("by the mind of his
flesh") is peculiar, but darkly emphatic. Nous is mind—not
simply intellect, but mind as the region of thought and
susceptibility; while sarx is, as in so many other places, the
name of unregenerate humanity (flesh).
The expression denotes something more than mens imbecilla. Nor
is it enough to resolve the two genitives into the phrase—sarkikes
dianoias, or with Usteri, into noh/mata sarkika/. The genitive is not
a mere predicate, but is the genitive of possession.
The “flesh” possesses and
governs the “mind.” The mind did not struggle with the carnal
principle, but succumbed to it. It was wholly under the sway of a
nature unchanged by the grace of God, and which therefore exercised
its predominance to serve and please itself.
In all these mental efforts and
sentiments concerning Christianity, the false teacher was guided not
by any pure regard to the Divine revelation, or by a simple desire to
bow to the Divine will; but his “mind” was influenced by motives, and
determined by reasonings, which sprung from a (flesh)
nature wholly under the empire of sense and fancy; a nature which was
satisfied with an array of external puerilities—which preferred
ascetic distinctions to spiritual self-denial—reveled in imaginations
that at once sprung from it and lorded over it—and, in short, acting
like itself and for itself, coveted and set up a religion of man, but
spurned and thrust away that religion which is of God.
And thus, in a later century, and
in the same country, it was believed that the Holy Spirit communicated
to Montanus (see
Montanism) more and nobler
revelations than Christ had delivered in the gospel.
The “flesh” could not but
have a sensuous system—one resembling itself; and the “mind,”
acting under its sway, could not but devise a scheme in keeping with
such governing and prompting influence. (1Co 2:14) And, by this means,
the abettor of error was “vainly puffed up” that he possessed a deeper
enlightenment than the apostles, and a purer sanctity than the
churches; and, in his vanity, he dreamed of being able, by his
unhallowed reveries, to supply the defects and multiply the
attractions of the gospel. The three participles of this verse, and
that of the first clause of the following verse, have a close
connection—thelon expressing the desire of the
heresiarch (The founder or leader of a heretical movement) to make
converts by a specious snare—embateuon portraying one
special source and feature of his system—phusioumenos
indicating his moral temperament—and, lastly, kraton
pointing to the lamentable accompaniment and necessary result—“not
holding the Head” (Col 2:19) (A
Commentary on the Greek Text)
has numerous somewhat subtle meanings in the NT (see word study on
but in this verse is used in its ethical sense to refer to the sinful
and sensual power tending toward sin and opposing the Spirit's
working. It refers to life apart from the Spirit of God and controlled
is the principle of
evil which dominates fallen man (and is still resident in saved men
albeit it need not and should not dominate since it is a defeated
enemy [cp Ro 6:6-note,
Paul makes it very clear that genuine born again individuals walk
(conduct their lives) not...
according to the flesh, but
according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are (present
the dominant direction of their life) according to the flesh
set their minds (present
the pattern of their life) on the things of the flesh (flesh),
but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit
is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile
toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it
is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are (present
the dominant direction of their life) in the flesh cannot (absolutely
never can!) please God. 9 However, you are (absolutely) not in the
flesh (unbelievers by
definition) but in
the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if
anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Ro 8:6,7 ,8-note,
(nous) refers to the faculty and seat of intellectual perception
and understanding. The "thinking faculty".
Vincent explains this
The intellectual faculty in its
moral aspects as determined by the fleshly, sinful nature. See on Ro
("the mind of the flesh" - "mind" here = phronema = inclination
of the mind which includes act of understanding and of will) Compare
Ro 7:22, 23, 24, 25-notes;
The teachers boasted that they were guided by the higher reason. Paul
describes their higher reason as carnal. (Colossians 2: Greek Word Studies)
Vine makes the
interesting distinction that...
The false teachers claimed that by
their asceticism they purified themselves from the flesh, whereas they
were actually governed by it.
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Barclay comments that...
Gnostic prided himself upon special visions of secret things which
were not open to the eyes of ordinary men and women. No one will deny
the visions of the mystics, but there is always danger when a man
begins to think that he has attained a height of holiness which
enables him to see what common men-as he calls them-cannot see; and
the danger is that men will so often see, not what God sends them, but
what they want to see. There is the worship of angels [2:20]. Jews had
a highly-developed doctrine of angels and Gnostics believed in all
kinds of intermediaries. They worshipped these, while the Christian
knows that worship must be kept for God and for Jesus Christ." (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The
They took a superior attitude
toward others and created the impression that one could be happy only
through entering into these deep secrets. Much of this behavior is characteristic of the secret fraternal
organizations of our day. The Christian who is walking in fellowship
with his Lord will have neither time nor sympathy for such
Paul clearly states that the basic problem of the false teachers in
Colossae was their egoistic,
fleshly minds. Their professed "humility" was a cloak for
Religious knowledge and spiritual experience can be
occasions for sin when they lead to pride. Pride makes us concentrate
on ourselves and our desires rather than on Christ and the needs of
His church. The false teachers claimed that by their asceticism they
purified themselves from the flesh, whereas they were actually
governed by it!
Perhaps the best answer to
such a claim was expressed by G. K. Chesterton earlier in this century
when he said to someone who made a similar claim:
The person who worships through angels or saints now in heaven does
not prove his humility, for he is not submitting to the authority of
God’s Word. Actually, he reveals a subtle kind of pride that
substitutes man-made traditions for the Word of God. “His unspiritual
mind puffs him up with idle notions” (Col 2:18).
True worship humbles one, for
the mind that gets a glimpse of God is awed by His greatness and
responds with a heart filled with love and a will submitted to His
purposes. The ones who were defrauding by taking their stand on
their “inner secrets” resulted in big heads, but not burning hearts or
submissive wills (1Co 8:1). True worship always humbles a person. A
true spiritual experience with God leads to submission and service.
(Job 42:5,6, Isa 6:, Lu 5:8, Rev 1:17, etc).
F. F. Bruce writes:
"“Whatever may have been the precise nature of the spiritual
experience which this teacher had undergone, his exploitation of it
forms a remarkable contrast to Paul’s apologetic account of the
strange thing that happened to him once when he was ‘caught up into
Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a
man to utter’ (2Cor 12:4).”
But such is the difference
between the spiritual man and the man puffed up by his fleshly mind.
One glorifies Christ, the other glorifies himself and his experiences.
"The Worst Food You Ever Ate"...
The proprietors of the “Worst Food
in Oregon” restaurant say that what they serve in the “worst food you
ever ate, and the service is even worse.” Actually, the restaurant is
unusually clean and the food is very good. Diners are served generous
portions, and the prices are very reasonable. The name is just a
gimmick. It was the idea of the owner who, when tempted to call his
food “the best,” figured he might get more attention by calling it
Well, his strategy worked. Customers who come the first time out of
curiosity soon come back for more. They like the food so much that
they even ask what the chef recommends. With a twinkle in his eye he
tells them to “take their money and spend it at another restaurant
down the road.” Self-denial can be merely a cover for self-promotion.
Adapted from notes by Dr.
MYSTICISM differs from legalism in that the mysticism is
based on subjective experiences, which you think will make you
more "spiritual" than someone else who has not had that
experience. Mysticism is so subjective that no one can prove or
disprove it. Paul's main point in these first 2 chapters of "sound doctrine"
is all you need is Christ. You don't
need experiences outside of Jesus to make yourself complete.
Don't misunderstand, we are not saying believers will never have
supernatural experiences serving Christ, but just that those
experiences are not to become the focus of your spiritual life and you
don't begin to depend on always having them to the point that when you don't experience them, you think you are not
If someone keeps on
believer, they are actually sitting in judgment as they make the
determination that the one being judged does not "get the
prize" unless they have a specific "experience". It's not so much that
these "judges" are cheating you out of something, but it is more
the idea of
"Who has a right to come into
my life and say that I will not get the prize in the sense of my
fulfillment in Jesus unless I have a certain subjective experience."
These "defrauders" rob
one of his or her ability to walk worthy in the Lord, to share in the
inheritance of the saints, etc. No human has the right to judge
whether you get the prize for we all have one Judge, the Lord Jesus
Christ, in Whom we have been made complete.
SELF-ABASEMENT is the Greek word tapeinophrosune which is the word for humility or
humbling ones self. In the present context this word conveys
the idea of false humility. For example, the person who says you
don't get the prize, may try to show by his own example, how you
should get the prize. This person says
"Look how humble I am. I'm
not good enough to go to God so I have to go through angelic
Humility is a trait that can fool us
make us think that surely that person has got to be right with
the Lord since they manifest such a spirit of humility. But in
this case Paul says it is not genuine but false humility.
The word "intruding" was used in the Mystery
Religions of Paul's
day and when such a person was able to "intrude" into the
heavenly sanctum of these spiritual beings, that meant that he
had been initiated and passed the test so that he was
now qualified to be "spiritual" in that mystery
religion. The false teachers were saying that
you don't get your prize if you don't get initiated into the
inner sanctum, exalted into the heavens, communicate with the
Remember that the key problem is not holding fast tot he Head
Christ Jesus. If
one begins to hold to any experience outside of Christ, then
they are inflating their ego, and "blowing smoke". Remember that the entire
body of believers has access to Jesus,
so don't listen to others who say only certain ones are allowed
entry and that you don't qualify for the prize.
probably being alluded to in Col 2:20ff. Asceticism is the
practice of extreme self-denial which becomes extreme when it is
done to say something about your spirituality and your standing
There is a proper God ordained "self-denial" which Jesus taught in
anyone wishes to come after Me, he
imperative~ do this now, conveys sense of urgency)
himself, & take up his cross daily and follow Me"
A key question to ask
with any spiritual practice or spiritual discipline is
"What is my
motive? Am I doing it out of loving obedience to my Lord?"
We tend to cross
the line into asceticism when we begin to deny the body to prove
to ourselves and to others that we are "spiritual".
FASTING: (see notes
fasting) Have you
ever been around anyone who thought that fasting made them
SPIRITUAL? Who do you let know about it? No one. Then how do
they know you're spiritual? They won't unless you tell them! If
you tell them, then they'll think you're not spiritual because
you told them. Note that Fasting is not something that
makes you more spiritual. (For an excellent treatment of the
discipline of fasting see John Piper's free online book
A Hunger for God)
Fasting describes the environment in
which you prepare & thereby make yourself more sensitive to the
things that God is trying to communicate. You can fast once a
week & it may help your weight, but it has nothing to do with
your standing with God and really nothing to do with your
spirituality. Now if God tells you to fast, to prohibit certain
things, that's different. You do so out of love and you don't
talk about it. When a person does what does because he loves
Jesus and he keeps silent about it letting God take care of the
results, this is
& undefiled religion in the sight of our God & Father" (Ja 1:27)
If you're in a church that has come up with certain "standards"
which if you live by them, that makes you spiritual, then you're
in bondage. It doesn't mean that you have to leave that church,
but that if you're in Christ, you need to remember that you are complete in Him and are
called to walk worthy of Him. Whatever Jesus tells you to do is
right. Make sure you know His voice by constantly seeking of His
word so that your mind is being renewed daily. Then if some
of the practices in your own life suggest legalism to
someone else, don't worry about it, if that is what God told you
to do. You may have spiritual experiences in Jesus that you
explain to others and in fact you shouldn't even try lest it
foster spiritual pride in you and envy in your brother. Let that
experience be between just
you and Jesus. If you are led to to fast and/or to deny yourself material things, don't
try to make anyone think you're spiritual because you don't have
those things! There is the ever present danger of spiritual
pride rearing its ugly head! Remember to keep the balance and you will
be walking worthy.
(see note) All the regulations we've looked at have a reputation for
wisdom. A man keeps all the rules, has communication with
angels, denies himself, all to only gratify his own flesh and to
puff himself up, and is not in obedience to Jesus, it is
absolutely of no value. Chapter 3 exhorts us to stop listening
to what men are saying and to "set your mind on the things
above..." and all these other things will take care of
themselves. The message is to be very careful how you handle
someone else's supposed unspiritual behavior, because we live in
a very legalistic society. Remember that GRACE does not give us
license but it does enable balance in our Christian lives.