The use of Colossians 2:8 elswhere in Scripture- This verse isn’t quoted anywhere else in Scripture, as epistles tend not to be, but its themes can be seen almost anywhere. The reason God gives Israel the law and commands them to destroy the nations around them is so that they don’t fall into their beliefs and practices (Ex. 23, Deut. 7:3-4). Paul warns Timothy to avoid the “irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith,” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). This is exactly the same concern that Paul has for the church in Colossae.
Relation of Colossians 2:8 to the Rest of Scripture- God’s people are to guard their hearts and minds from false teachings so that they don’t go astray and commit adultery against their Lord. This is why God had Israel destroy all of the cities and idols in the land He was giving them, so that they wouldn’t adopt the ways of those other nations. Colossians 2:8 is an unequivocal reminder that we need to guard our minds from deceitful philosophies, since because of them some have “swerved from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:21). How to do that is spelled out more in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Use of Colossians 2:8 in Relation to Theology- Everything about the human condition is fallen, even the intellect. We are prone to believing false doctrines because we are gullible or rebellious. This verse emphasizes the importance of Christ in our lives. Abraham Kuyper once said there isn’t one square inch of creation about which Jesus doesn’t cry “This is mine!” Christ owns the mind as well as the heart, and our minds are to be subject to Him and His truth.
Life Issues Present in Colossians 2:8- This verse reminds us that sin corrupts our intellect just as much as everything else, and we need to guard it. We’re “prone to wander” from God, and we need to think clearly about the different claims we hear espoused throughout the world. We shouldn’t just believe everything, but ask “Is this Christ exalting or diminishing?” “Does this contradict what the Scriptures say?” “Does this glorify God?”
Audience and Categories of Application of Colossians 2:8-
Audience- Paul was clearly writing this for the church in Colossae, but he also wanted it to be read to the church in Laodicea (4:16). Much of this letter applies to all Christians at all times. Even non-Christians can hear important truths in this passage, because they’re already falling for these deceits and need a change of mind that will lead them to Christ. The message Paul espouses in Colossians can be very helpful for us in the modern world since we’re exposed to opposing opinions and worldviews all the time. Many times the deceitful philosophies we see in books, movies, television, and video games are so subtle that we don’t notice the effect they’re having on us. The specifics may not apply to us today, but the principle will always be important.
Categories– Colossians mostly deals with the human tendency to diminish Christ in our minds through erroneous philosophes.
Time Focus and Limits of Application of Colossians 2:8- While Paul is responding to some specific teachings that we may not encounter today, the principles he teaches are timeless. We all have the capacity to fall away from the truth because we were persuaded away by false doctrines. We need to trust in the one from whom true knowledge and wisdom come, and that is from Christ (2:2-3). All who listen to His words are on the side of truth (Jn. 18:37)