Welcome everyone to the Deeper Waters blog. For the past few months, we’ve been going through a Trinitarian Bible Study. That is, we’ve been going through the Bible and trying to understand the wonderful doctrine of the Trinity. We are in the Pauline epistles now and in the book of Colossians. Tonight, we’re going to be studying verse 9 of chapter 2, but to get the surrounding context we’ll be looking at 8-10. Let’s go to the text:
8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
To begin with, we are told to stay away from deceptive philosophy. Paul is not speaking about philosophy in general. I would even argue Paul was quite the philosopher himself and had read many of the philosophers, as is shown in his ability to debate and speak on Mars Hill in Acts 17.
In fact, all Christians should have some understanding of philosophy. I would that every Christian knew the basic thought at least of many of the great philosophers, particularly Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas.
The vain philosophies I believe are the false teachings that were going around, some of which we discussed yesterday in our look at the firstborn passage. These involved a sort of pantheon of lesser gods and the attempt to gain secret knowledge, which would blossom into full Gnosticism.
All of these are inadequate because of who Jesus is. Paul isn’t writing a letter and then suddenly deciding “You know, I think I should just drop in here something about the deity of Christ.” The deity of Christ is central to his argument. It is also important that it is a monotheistic system.
There is no pantheon of gods for Paul. You do not get just part of the deity in Jesus, as if such a thing were possible. Jesus is not just one of many. Jesus is not just one who represents one side of a supreme being. The fullness of deity dwells in the person of Jesus Christ.
In saying this, Paul is indeed giving an argument for the full deity of Jesus Christ in connection with the one God who exists. He is stating that this one God who exists has revealed himself in Christ and Christ is not lacking in being fully deity, that is, in having the nature of the one God. To make this anything less is to actually make the case for the opponents that Paul is arguing against.
What’s the end result? We aren’t captive by vain philosophies because all knowledge lies in Christ and we are in him. We are in the one who claimed to be the truth and there can be no knowledge of reality that contradicts the revelation that has been given in Christ.
For Paul, the deity of Jesus is not peripheral. It is essential.