You Are Built Up in Christ
1For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those [believers] at [a]Laodicea, and for all who [like yourselves] have never seen me face to face. 2 [For my hope is] that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in [unselfish] [b]love, so that they may have all the riches that come from the full assurance of understanding [the joy of salvation], resulting in a true [and more intimate] knowledge of the [c]mystery of God, that is, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God]. 4 I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive [but thoroughly deceptive] arguments. 5 For even though I am absent [from you] in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, [d]delighted to see your good discipline [as you stand shoulder to shoulder and form a solid front] and to see the stability of your faith in Christ [your steadfast reliance on Him and your unwavering confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], 7 having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established [e]in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the [f]elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. 10 And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power]. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but by the [spiritual] circumcision of Christ in the stripping off of the body of the flesh [the sinful carnal nature], 12 having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God, [as displayed] when He raised Christ from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (worldliness, manner of life), God made you alive together with Christ, having [freely] forgiven us all our sins, 14 having canceled out the [g]certificate of debt consisting of [h]legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through [i]the cross.
16 Therefore let no one judge you in regard to food and drink or in regard to [the observance of] a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. 17 Such things are only a shadow of what is to come and they have only symbolic value; but the substance [the reality of what is foreshadowed] belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one defraud you of your prize [your freedom in Christ and your salvation] by insisting on mock humility and the worship of angels, going into detail about visions [he claims] he has seen [to justify his authority], puffed up [in conceit] by his unspiritual mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head [of the body, Jesus Christ], from whom the entire body, supplied and knit together by its joints and ligaments, grows with the growth [that can come only] from God.
20 If you have died with Christ to the [j]elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were still living in the world, do you submit to rules and regulations, such as, 21 “Do not handle [this], do not taste [that], do not [even] touch!”? 22 (these things all perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men. 23 These practices indeed have the appearance [that popularly passes as that] of wisdom in self-made religion and mock humility and severe treatment of the body (asceticism), but are of no value against sinful indulgence [because they do not honor God].