Colossians 2:8
Parallel Verses
New International Version
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

New Living Translation
Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

English Standard Version
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

New American Standard Bible
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

International Standard Version
See to it that no one enslaves you through philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to the Messiah,

NET Bible
Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Beware lest any man rob you by philosophy, or by empty deception, according to the teaching of men and according to the principles of the world and not according to The Messiah,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Be careful not to let anyone rob you [of this faith] through a shallow and misleading philosophy. Such a person follows human traditions and the world's way of doing things rather than following Christ.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, according to the elements of the world, and not after Christ.

King James 2000 Bible
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.

American King James Version
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.

American Standard Version
Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ:

Douay-Rheims Bible
Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ:

Darby Bible Translation
See that there be no one who shall lead *you* away as a prey through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the teaching of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ.

English Revised Version
Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ:

Webster's Bible Translation
Beware lest any man make a prey of you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Weymouth New Testament
Take care lest there be some one who leads you away as prisoners by means of his philosophy and idle fancies, following human traditions and the world's crude notions instead of following Christ.

World English Bible
Be careful that you don't let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.

Young's Literal Translation
See that no one shall be carrying you away as spoil through the philosophy and vain deceit, according to the deliverance of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

2:8-17 There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God. To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. In him, not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law. Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 8-15. - SECTION V. THE CHRISTIAN'S COMPLETENESS IN CHRIST. The apostle has first defined his own doctrinal position in the theological deliverance of Colossians 1:15-20, and has then skilfully brought himself into suitable personal relations with his readers by the statements and appeals of Colossians 1:23-2:7. And now, after a general indication in ver. 4 of the direction in which he is about to strike, he unmasks the battery he has been all the while preparing, and delivers his attack on the Colossian error, occupying the rest of this second chapter, he denounces

(1) its false philosophy of religion (vers. 8-15);

(2) its arbitrary and obsolete ceremonialism (vers. 16, 17);

(3) its visionary angel worship (vers. 18, 19);

(4) its ascetic rules (vers. 20-22; ver. 23)

reviewing the whole system in a brief characterization of its most prominent and dangerous features. It will be convenient to treat separately the first of these topics, under the heading already given, which indicates the positive truth developed by St. Paul in antagonism to the error against which he contends - a truth which is the practical application of the theological teaching of the first chapter. Verse 8. - Beware lest there shall be some one who maketh you his spoil through his philosophy and empty deceit (vers. 4, 18, 23; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:20; 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4; Galatians 1:7; Acts 20:30). "Beware;" literally, see (to it), a common form of warning (Colossians 4:17). The future indicative" shall be," used instead of the more regular subjunctive "should be," implies that what is feared is too likely to prove the case (comp. Hebrews 3:12 and (with another tense) Galatians 4:11). "Some one who maketh (you) his spoil (ὁ συλαγωγῶν)" is an expression so distinct and individualizing that it appears to single out a definite, well known person. The denunciations of this Epistle are throughout in the singular number (vers. 4, 16, 18), in marked contrast with the plural of Galatians 1:17, and that prevails in the apostle's earlier polemical references. It is in harmony with the philosophical, Gnosticizing character of the Colossian heresy that it should rest on the authority of some single teacher, rather than on Scripture or tradition, as did the conservative legalistic Judaism. Συλαγωγῶν, a very rare word, hapax legomenon in the New Testament, bears its meaning on its face. It indicates the selfish, partisan spirit, and the overbearing conduct of the false teacher. Against such men St. Paul had forewarned the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29, 30). "And empty deceit" stands in a qualifying apposition to "philosophy:" "His philosophy, indeed! "It is no better than a vain deceit." This kind of irony we shall find the writer using with still greater effect in ver. 18. Deceit is empty (κενός: comp. Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 15:14; distinguish from μάταιος, fruitless, vain), which deceives by being a show of what it is not, a hollow pretence. From the prominence given to this aspect of the new teaching, we infer that it claimed to be a philosophy, and made this its special distinction and ground of superiority. And this consideration points (comp. Introduction, § 4), to some connection between the system of the Colossian errorists and the Alexandrine Judaism, of which Philo, an elder contemporary of St. Paul, is our chief exponent. The aim of this school, which had now existed for two centuries at least, and had diffused its ideas far and wide, was to transform and sublimate Judaism by interpreting it under philosophical principles. Its teachers endeavoured, in fact, to put the "new wine" of Plato into the old bottles" of Moses, persuading themselves that it was originally there (comp. note on "mystery," Colossians 1:27). In Philo, philosophy is the name for true religion, whose essence consists in the pursuit and contemplation of pure spiritual truth. Moses and the patriarchs are, with him, all "philosophers;" the writers of the Old Testament" philosophize;" it is" the philosophical man" who holds converse with God. This is the only place where philosophy is expressly mentioned in the New Testament; in 1 Corinthians 1:21 and context it is, however, only verbally wanting. According to the tradition of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ (vers. 17, 20, 22; Galatians 1:11, 12; Galatians 4:3, 9; 1 Corinthians 1:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 3:19-21; Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:8; 1 John 4:5; 1 Peter 1:18). This clause qualifies "making spoil" (Meyer, Ellicott) rather than "deceit;" human authority and natural reason furnish the principles and the method according to which the false teacher proceeds. "Tradition" does not necessarily imply antiquity (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6); "of men" is the emphatic part of the phrase. These words are characteristic of St. Paul, who was so profoundly conscious of the supernatural origin of his own doctrine (see Galatians 1:11-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:15: comp. John 3:31-35; John 8:23; 1 John 4:5). Similarly, "the rudiments of the world" are the crude beginnings of truth, the childishly faulty and imperfect religious conceptions and usages to which the world had attained apart from the revelation of Christ (comp. Galatians 4:3, 9; also Hebrews 5:12, for this use of στοιχεῖα). It is not either Jewish or non-Jewish elements specifically that are intended. Jew and Greek are one in so far as their religious ideas are "not according to Christ." Greek thought had also contributed its rudiments to the world's education for Christ: hence, comprehensively, "the rudiments of the world "(comp. 1 Corinthians 1:21). The blending of Greek and Jewish elements in the Colossian theosophy would of itself suggest this generalization, already shadowed forth in Galatians 4:3. Neander, Hofmann, and Klopper (the latest German commentator), have returned to the view that prevailed amongst the Fathers, from Origen downwards, reading this phrase, both here and in Galatians, in a physical sense, as in 2 Peter 3:10, 12; the elementa mundi, "the powers of nature," "heavenly bodies," etc., worshipped by the Gentiles as gods, and which the Jews identified with the angels (ver. 18; Hebrews 1:7) as God's agents in the direction of the world. This interproration has much to recommend it, but it scarcely harmonizes with the parallel "tradition of men," still less with the context of ver. 20, and is absolutely at variance, as it seems to us, with the argument involved in Galatians 4:3. Not the doctrine of Christ, but Christ himself is the substitute for these discarded rudiments (vers. 17, 20). His Person is the norm and test of truth (1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John 4:1-3). The views combatted were "not according to Christ," for they made him something less and lower than that which he is.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Beware lest any man spoil you,.... Or despoil you; rob you of the rich treasure of the Gospel, strip you of your spiritual armour, take away from you the truths and doctrines of Christ, and divest you of your spiritual privileges and blessings; suggesting, that the false teachers were thieves and robbers, and men of prey: or drive and carry you away as spoils, as the innocent harmless sheep are drove, and carried away by wolves, and by the thief that comes to steal, to kill, and destroy; intimating, that such as these were the heretics of those times; wherefore it became them to be upon their guard, to watch, look out, and beware, lest they should be surprised by these deceitful workers, who lay in wait to deceive; were wolves in sheep's clothing, who transformed themselves into the apostles of Christ; and therefore it became them to take heed, lest any man hurt them, be he ever so wise and learned, or be thought ever so good, religious, and sincere; since men of this cast put on such masks and false appearances, on purpose to beguile. The things by which they imposed upon weak minds are as follow, and therefore to be shunned, avoided, and rejected:

through philosophy: not right philosophy, or true wisdom, the knowledge of God, of the things of nature, of things natural, moral, and civil; which may be attained unto by the use of reason, and light of nature. The apostle does not mean to condemn all arts and sciences, as useless and hurtful, such as natural philosophy in its various branches, ethics, logic, rhetoric, &c. when kept within due bounds, and in their proper place and sphere; for with instances of these the Scriptures themselves abound; but he means that philosophy, or science, which is falsely so called, the false notions of philosophers; such as the eternity of matter, and of this world, the mortality of souls, the worshipping of demons and angels, &c. and also such principles in philosophy, which in themselves, and in the things of nature, are true, but, when applied to divine things, to things above nature, the mere effects of divine power and grace, and of pure revelation, are false; as that out of nothing, nothing can be made, which in the things of nature is true, but not to be applied to the God of nature, who has made the world out of nothing; as also that from a privation to an habit there is no return, which is naturally true, but not to be applied to supernatural things, and supernatural agency; witness the miracles of Christ, in restoring sight to the blind, life to the dead, &c. and therefore is not to be employed against the resurrection of the dead: philosophy may be useful as an handmaid; it is not to be a mistress in theological things; it may subserve, but not govern; it is not to be made use of as a judge, or rule in such matters; the natural man, on these principles, neither knows nor receives the things of the Spirit of God; judgment is not to be made and formed according to them; as of a trinity of persons in the Godhead; of the sonship of Christ, and his incarnation; of man's redemption by him, of reconciliation and satisfaction by his blood and sacrifice, of the pardon of sin, of a sinner's justification, of the resurrection of the dead, and such like articles of faith: that philosophy which is right, can only be a rule of judgment in things relating to it, and not in those which are out of its sphere: in a word, the apostle here condemns the philosophy of the Jews, and of the Gnostics; the former had introduced natural philosophy into the worship and service of God, and the things appertaining to their religion; and had made the tabernacle and temple, and the most holy place, and the things belonging thereunto, emblems and hieroglyphics of natural things; as of the sun, moon, and stars, and their influences, and of the four elements, and of moral virtue, &c. as appears from the writings of Josephus (r), and Philo (s); when they were types and representatives of spiritual things under the Gospel dispensation; and the latter had brought in the philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato, concerning abstinences, purgations, sacrifices, and ceremonies of worship, given to demons and angels: in short, the apostle's meaning is, that philosophy is not to be mixed with the pure Gospel of Christ; it has always been fatal to it; witness the school of Pantaenus in Alexandria, in the early times of Christianity, by which the simplicity of the Gospel was greatly corrupted; and the race of schoolmen a few centuries ago, who introduced the philosophy of Aristotle, Averrois, and others, into all the subjects of divinity: to observe no more, such kind of philosophy is here meant, which may be truly called

vain deceit: that is, that which is vain and empty, and has no solid foundation, even in nature and reason itself; and which being applied to divine things and religious observances, is deceitful and delusory:

after the tradition of men; either of the Gentiles, who had their traditions in religion; or of the Jews, called the traditions of the elders, and of the fathers, which the Pharisees were fond of, by which they transgressed the commandments of God; which the apostle was brought up in, and was zealous of formerly, but now was delivered from, and rightly condemned as idle, trifling, and pernicious:

after the rudiments of the world, or "the elements of the world"; not the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water; or the worship of the sun, moon, and stars, &c. among the idolatrous Gentiles, but the ceremonial laws of the Jews; see Galatians 4:8; which were that to them in religion, as the A B C, or letters, are in grammar, the elements and rudiments of it; and though these were to them, when children, useful, but now under the Gospel dispensation are weak, beggarly, and useless, and not to be attended to:

and not after Christ; what he has taught and prescribed, the doctrines and commandments of Christ, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge which are in him; and therefore all such vain and deceitful philosophy, human traditions, and worldly rudiments, are to be rejected; Christ and his Gospel, the revelation he has made, are the standard of doctrine and worship; he only is to be heard and attended to, and whatever it contrary thereunto is to be guarded against,

(r) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 4. 7. (s) De Congressu quaerend. Erud. p. 440. 441. de Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 665, &c. quod deterius pot. p. 184.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

8. Translate, "Beware (literally, 'Look' well) lest there shall be (as I fear there is: the Greek indicative expresses this) any man (pointing to some known emissary of evil, Ga 1:7) leading you away as his spoil (not merely gaining spoil out of you, but making yourselves his spoil) through (by means of) his philosophy," &c. The apostle does not condemn all philosophy, but "the philosophy" (so Greek) of the Judaic-oriental heretics at Colosse, which afterwards was developed into Gnosticism. You, who may have "the riches of full assurance" and "the treasures of wisdom," should not suffer yourselves to be led away as a spoil by empty, deceitful philosophy: "riches" are contrasted with spoil; "full" with "vain," or empty (Col 2:2, 3, 9).

after—"according to."

tradition of men—opposed to, "the fulness of the Godhead." Applied to Rabbinical traditions, Mr 7:8. When men could not make revelation even seem to tell about deep mysteries which they were curious to pry into, they brought in human philosophy and pretended traditions to help it, as if one should bring a lamp to the sundial to find the hour [Cauations for Times, p. 85]. The false teachers boasted of a higher wisdom in theory, transmitted by tradition among the initiated; in practice they enjoined asceticism, as though matter and the body were the sources of evil. Phrygia (in which was Colosse) had a propensity for the mystical and magical, which appeared in their worship of Cybele and subsequent Montanism [Neander].

rudiments of the world—(See on [2414]Ga 4:3). "The rudiments" or elementary lessons "of the (outward) world," such as legal ordinances; our Judaic childhood's lessons (Col 2:11, 16, 20; Ga 4:1-3). But Neander, "the elements of the world," in the sense, what is earthly, carnal and outward, not "the rudiments of religion," in Judaism and heathenism.

not after Christ—"Their" boasted higher "philosophy" is but human tradition, and a cleaving to the carnal and worldly, and not to Christ. Though acknowledging Christ nominally, in spirit they by their doctrine deny Him.

Colossians 2:8 Additional Commentaries
Context
Alive in Christ
7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. 8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,…
Cross References
1 Corinthians 8:9
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

1 Corinthians 10:12
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!

Galatians 1:14
I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

Galatians 4:3
So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world.

Galatians 5:15
If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Ephesians 5:6
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Colossians 2:20
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:

Colossians 2:23
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

1 Timothy 6:20
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,

Hebrews 3:12
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
Treasury of Scripture

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.

Beware.

Deuteronomy 6:12 Then beware lest you forget the LORD, which brought you forth out …

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, …

Matthew 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, …

Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said to them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the …

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware …

spoil.

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and …

Songs 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our …

Jeremiah 29:8 For thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your …

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brothers, mark them which cause divisions and …

Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things …

Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is …

2 John 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have worked, …

philosophy.

Acts 17:18,32 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, …

Romans 1:21,22 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, …

1 Corinthians 1:19-23 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will …

1 Corinthians 3:18,19 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise …

1 Corinthians 15:35,36 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what …

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself …

1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane …

2 Timothy 2:17,18 And their word will eat as does a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus…

2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and …

after the tradition.

Colossians 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments …

Matthew 15:2-9 Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for …

Mark 7:3-13 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands …

Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in my own …

1 Peter 1:18 For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible …

the rudiments. or, the elements.

Colossians 2:20 Why if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, …

Galatians 4:3,9 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements …

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, …

after Christ.

Ephesians 4:20 But you have not so learned Christ;

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