For I would have you know in how severe a struggle I am engaged on behalf of you and the brethren in Laodicea and of all who have not known me personally,
in order that their hearts may be cheered, they themselves being welded together in love and enjoying all the advantages of a reasonable certainty, till at last they attain the full knowledge of God's truth, which is Christ Himself.
In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are stored up, hidden from view.
I say this to prevent your being misled by any one's plausible sophistry.
For although, as you say, I am absent from you in body, yet in spirit I am present with you and am delighted to witness your good discipline and the solid front presented by your faith in Christ.
As therefore you have received the Christ, even Jesus our Lord, live and act in vital union with Him;
having the roots of your being firmly planted in Him, and continually building yourselves up in Him, and always being increasingly confirmed in the faith as you were taught it, and abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Take care lest there be some one who leads you away as prisoners by means of his philosophy and idle fancies, following human traditions and the world's crude notions instead of following Christ.
For it is in Christ that the fulness of God's nature dwells embodied, and in Him you are made complete,
and He is the Lord of all princes and rulers.
In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not performed by hand, when you threw off your sinful nature in true Christian circumcision;
having been buried with Him in your baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith produced within you by God who raised Him from among the dead.
And to you--dead as you once were in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your natural state--He has nevertheless given Life with Himself, having forgiven us all our transgressions.
The bond, with its requirements, which was in force against us and was hostile to us, He cancelled, and cleared it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross.
And the hostile princes and rulers He shook off from Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests, when by the Cross He triumphed over them.
Therefore suffer no one to sit in judgement on you as to eating or drinking or with regard to a festival, a new moon or a sabbath.
These were a shadow of things that were soon to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
Let no one defraud you of your prize, priding himself on his humility and on his worship of the angels, and taking his stand on the visions he has seen, and idly puffed up with his unspiritual thoughts.
Such a one does not keep his hold upon Christ, the Head, from whom the Body, in all its parts nourished and strengthened by its points of contact and its connections, grows with a divine growth.
If you have died with Christ and have escaped from the world's rudimentary notions, why, as though your life still belonged to the world, do you submit to such precepts as
"Do not handle this;" "Do not taste that;" "Do not touch that other thing" --
referring to things which are all intended to be used up and perish--in obedience to mere human injunctions and teachings?
These rules have indeed an appearance of wisdom where self-imposed worship exists, and an affectation of humility and an ascetic severity. But not one of them is of any value in combating the indulgence of our lower natures.