Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world…
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. Mark -
I. THE NATURE OF THE PHILOSOPHY HERE CONDEMNED. It is philosophy inseparably connected with "vain deceit." There is a philosophy which is highly serviceable to religion, as it is the noblest exercise of our rational faculties; but there is a philosophy prejudicial to religion, because it sets up the wisdom of man in opposition to the wisdom of God.
1. The apostle refers to the Judaeo. Gnostics who regarded Christianity mainly as a philosophy - that is, as a search after speculative truth, and not as a revelation of Christ and a life of faith and love in him. The apostle claims for the gospel that it is thus "the wisdom of God."
2. He refers to the speculative result of such a philosophy. It tends to "vain deceit;" it is hollow, sophistical, disappointing, misleading. It is the "science falsely so called" which "puffs up" and cannot edify. It always tends to undermine man's faith in the Word of God.
II. THE ORIGIN OF THIS PHILOSOPHY. "After the tradition of men." It had its source in mere human speculation, and could not appeal to inspired books. Our Lord condemned the Pharisaic attachment to traditions (Matthew 15:2, 3, 6; Mark 7:8, 9). This later mystical tendency was strong in its traditions, which it reserved for the exclusive use of the initiated.
III. THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THIS PHILOSOPHY. "After the rudiments of the world." This seems to point to ritualistic observances worthy only of children, but not adapted to grown men. They belonged "to the world" - to the sphere of external and visible things. These rudiments were "beggarly elements," done away in Christ.
IV. ITS NEGATIVE WORTHLESSNESS. "And not after Christ."
1. It had not Christ for its Author; for it followed "the tradition of men."
2. It had not Christ for its Subject; for it displaced him to make way for ritualistic ordinances and angelic mediators. No philosophy is worthy of the name that cannot find a place for him who is the highest Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30).
V. THE DANGERS OF THIS PHILOSOPHY. "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you." It would have an enslaving effect, tartly by its ritualistic drudgeries and partly by its false teaching. There are worse losses than the loss of property or even children. This false philosophy would involve:
1. The loss of Christian liberty. (Galatians 5:1.)
2. The loss of much of the good seed sown in Christian hearts. (Matthew 13:19.)
3. The loss of what Christians had wrought. (2 John 10.)
4. The loss of first love. (Revelation 2:1.)
5. The loss of the joys of salvation. (Psalm 51:12.) - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.