Saturday, 29 April 2017
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— Colossians 2:20
The word “Therefore” is given to sum up his thoughts of the previous verses. However, it is lacking in many ancient manuscripts. Whether it belongs or not, the question he will ask still stands. And so he asks, “…if you died with Christ.” This is a rhetorical question which carries the intent of, “Because you died with Christ.” The idea of dying with Christ was explained in verses 11 and 12, but it finds a full explanation in Romans 6 (see verses 1-11).
Paul then notes that they have “died with Christ from the basic principles of the world.” This is speaking of the traditions and doctrines of men. It speaks of such principles which are earthly and not of Christ. Christ has fulfilled the law, therefore any ordinance of the law which He fulfilled would be included in this. And those things which were not even of the law, taught by supposed wise men of other cultures, don’t even have a starting point like the law did. If the law, which was once binding but is now annulled in Christ, is a part of what Paul is speaking of, how much more the things which were never even a part of the law!
Because of this, Paul asks, “Why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—” The single word translated as “submit yourselves to regulations” is unique to the Bible. It is more appropriately to be translated in the passive voice, and so it should read, “Why do you submit yourself to being dictated to?” In other words, these people are allowing someone else to come in among them and tell them what they should be doing when they are already freed from the very things they are being told to do because they are in Christ.
It would be like a person who had served his time in the military and had been honorably discharged, but then whenever an old superior that he served under comes to visit, he allows himself to get bullied around by that person. He has served, he has been discharged, and he is free from the constraints of his service, but he allows himself to be brought back under unauthorized authority. In this, he allows this person, without any true authority over him, to affect his relationship with his current employer. Who is being neglected then? The rightful, current employer! This is what happens when one places a principle of this world over the freedom found in Christ. Paul will give examples of this in the coming verse.
Life application: In having died with Christ, we are free from the bondage of the law, and from any other supposed spiritual principles of the world. We are to live in Christ, and for Christ. We are to trust in His grace which came at such a high cost.
Lord God, when considering the cross of Christ, it is right that we who accept that payment would then be willing to submit ourselves to what that payment signifies. We have been freed from the law, and so it is right that we serve the Lord who fulfilled it in our place, not trusting in our own deeds to please You, but being grateful for Christ who accomplished this for us. And so we do thank You, and we do praise You. Great are You, O God, and You are most worthy of our praise. Amen.