Reason or Revelation- Colossians 2:6-8

In this passage, Paul has told the Colossians of his struggles for them and of the struggles they would also undergo in the world. He now tells them how they are to live in the midst of those struggles, and how to avoid letting those struggles get them off track. We begin in verse 6, in which Paul tells us that “just as your received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him”. We receive Christ Jesus by faith, and we also live in Him by faith, it is by faith from first to last. We have trusted Him for our salvation, and we are to continue to trust in Him for our sanctification. This faith is something we are to be “rooted and built up” in, we are to be rooted and built up in what we were “taught”. Paul then contrasts two different “teachings” here, two different ways of looking at the world, two different worldviews. These worldviews are not formed in a vacuum, we pick them up from others, they are “taught” to us, and our lives are built on the foundation of our worldview. Paul then tells them, in verse 8, to “see to” something, here as a present active imperative, a command to continually do something, and what they are to continually do is be on alert, for they have an enemy who continually wants to take them captive. The word take captive here is sulagogeo in the Greek, a term describing a prisoner of war, one who is carried off as a captive or slave, and we are taken captive through “deception”. How then are we deceived? Through “philosophy”, literally the love of wisdom. The term philosophy is used by Paul here basically as a synonym for our worldview, our way of thinking, the lens through which we see, understand and interpret everything. The philosophy through which we are taken captive is described as “hollow and deceptive” . The Greek word hollow here is kenos, “empty or vain”. It is described here as empty in contrast with verse 3, where in Christ are found all the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. We must note here a distinction in the Greek which is key to understanding what Paul is telling us here. The treasures found in Christ are referred to as wisdom, Sophia in the Greek. The empty “wisdom” found in deceptive philosophy is philosophia in the Greek. The contrast here is between wisdom and the love of wisdom. Our love is not to be of wisdom but of Christ. In other words, we are to live our lives rooted and grounded on revelation rather than reason. Revelation here is built upon Christ, upon a deepening knowledge of Him, while reason is built upon a foundation of “human tradition and the basic principles of this world” rather than on Christ. The Greek “human tradition” here is paradosin anthropos, literally the “teachings of men”, a way of looking at and understanding reality passed down to us from others, rooted in human reason rather than revelation, rooted in our own insight rather than in Christ. The term “basic principles” here is stoicheia in the Greek, a term originally used to refer to the letters of the alphabet. Letters are the building blocks of words, and words are the expression of thoughts, so the stoicheia here refers to the “principles” on which our thinking, our worldview is built. They are here described as the stoicheia of the “world”, of the system of philosophy grounded in and built upon human reason apart from Christ, built on reason rather than revelation. Paul, in this passage, informs us of two competing and contradictory worldviews here, of two different and contradictory ways of understanding and interpreting reality, of two different “philosophies”. The first is a worldly philosophy built upon human reason, the second a godly philosophy built upon the revelation of God in Christ, in which human reason functions at its fullest potential, only when it is submitted to Christ. As believers, we are told here that it is critical that we root and ground our lives in revelation, in the Word of God, rather than in human reason. We are to see everything through the lenses of the Scripture, to interpret all of reality according to its principles, and in this way avoid being taken captive by our enemy, who seeks to get us to interpret reality based upon the principles of human reason apart from Christ. We live our lives according to our worldview, and Paul here reminds us that our worldview, our way of seeing and interpreting reality, must remain rooted and grounded in the Scriptures if we are to live in true freedom and be all that God has created us to be.

No Comments Christian Philosophy  //  Conformed to the Image of Christ  //  Growing In Grace  //  Transformation

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