At the conclusion of a special seminar conducted by a world-renowned detective, a group of cadets eagerly approached the investigator to speak with him. The topic of the seminar had been about anti-counterfeit measures and identifying falsified currency, in which the detective was extremely knowledgeable. Impressed with his insight and erudition, the cadets inquired, “How did you to learn all those different types of counterfeits? There must be thousands of variations!” The detective politely smiled and replied, “I never studied a single counterfeit. Instead, I focused all of my efforts on learning every minute detail of the true original. With that knowledge, it is easy to identify any fake.”
In a similar sense, the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossae, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col. 2:8). Notice that Paul does not go on to provide an outline of, or describe in any detail, nor dedicate any space to what those philosophies, traditions, and principles might be. Instead, he simply directs all attention to Christ. It is the very same principle that the investigator had applied. Essentially, Paul is saying, “Keep your eyes on Jesus. Concentrate on the truth of God’s word and all those other counterfeit teachings will be quickly exposed.” It really is that simple. If we learn all that we can about God’s will from the Bible, then we won’t be easily deceived by fraudulent imitations.
Paul begins this passage with a word that means “to use discernment, or to perceive by the senses.” In other words, a Christian should use cognizant vigilance, “lest anyone cheat you,” as the NKJV puts it; or as some other translations render it, “take you captive”, “fool you”, or “rob you”, through those deceptive, artificial devices. We can easily infer that Paul is condemning any system of thought that does not completely depend on Christ. The truth is, every Christian is in danger of being misled by false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1), unwittingly adapting to worldly rituals (Mark 7:9), or wrongly placing confidence in human wisdom (Luke 18:9). This is exactly why Paul exhorts the disciples of Jesus to keep growing in the faith (Col. 3:1-2), which only comes from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).
The fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Why focus solely on Jesus and not delve into those worldly matters he mentioned? It is because there is no one like Jesus. He was Deity in the flesh. Jesus was one hundred percent deity and one hundred percent human, not part one and part the other (John 10:30; Heb. 4:15). The word used here for “Godhead” is found only once in the New Testament and is sometimes translated as “Deity.” The whole idea of the Godhead – meaning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one and also separate – is a rather difficult concept for the finite human mind to comprehend. Yet, it is because of Jesus’ unique nature of becoming Deity in the flesh that allows Him to fully know and understand us as human beings, while at the same time, fully knowing and understanding God. With such perspective and knowledge, there is no greater system of thought (faith) that’s been made available to mankind.
You are complete in Him.
Think about that statement. If Jesus is the “fullness” of both Deity and “bodily” humanity, then adhering to His teaching, aspiring to His example, and relying on His wisdom is all that one truly needs. Ultimately, it can bring an obedient, faithful disciple to “completion,” or being “filled.”
Paul uses that same word for “complete” in his letter to the Philippians saying, “God shall supply [same word] all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (4:19). The identical principle is also found in that Scripture can thoroughly equip and complete the follower of Christ (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Therefore, Jesus is all you need, period (John 13:15, 14:6, Heb. 1:1-2)! There is no salvation in any other (Acts 4:12), nor can anything else lead one to righteousness.
The bottom line is this, focus solely on God’s word, the original source of wisdom. Just like that detective taught those cadets, why waste time or energy on anything else? Nothing about worldly philosophy, tradition, or principles can get you into heaven. Only knowing God’s word and being obedient to His will can get you into heaven!