Christ and the Gnostic Teaching1 I want you to know in how great a struggle I am engaged for you and for Christ’s people at Laodicea, and for all who have not yet seen me; 2 in the hope that they, being bound to one another by love, and keeping in view the full blessedness of a firm conviction, may be encouraged to strive for a perfect knowledge of God’s hidden truth, 3 even Christ himself, in whom all treasures of wisdom and knowledge lie hidden. 4 I say this to prevent anyone from deceiving you by plausible arguments. 5 It is true that I am not with you in person, but I am with you in spirit, and am glad to see the good order and the unbroken front resulting from your faith in Christ. 6 Since, therefore, you have received Jesus, the Christ, as your Lord, live your lives in union with him — 7 rooted in him, building up your characters through union with him, growing stronger through your faith, as you were taught, overflowing with faith and thanksgiving. 8 Take care there is not some one who will carry you away by his ‘philosophy’ — a hollow sham! — following, as it does, mere human traditions, and dealing with puerile questions of this world, and not with Christ. 9 For in Christ the Godhead in all its fulness dwells incarnate; 10 and, by your union with him, you also are filled with it. He is the head of all archangels and powers of heaven. 11 By your union with him you received a circumcision that was not performed by human hands, when you threw off the tyranny of the earthly body, and received the circumcision of the Christ. 12 For in baptism you were buried with Christ; and in baptism you were also raised to life with him, through your faith in the omnipotence of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And to you, who once were ‘dead,’ by reason of your sins and your uncircumcised nature — to you God gave life in giving life to Christ! He pardoned all our sins! 14 He canceled the bond which stood against us — the bond that consisted of ordinances — and which was directly hostile to us! He has taken it out of our way by nailing it to the cross! 15 He rid himself of all the powers of evil, and held them up to open contempt, when he celebrated his triumph over them on the cross! 16 Do not, then, allow anyone to take you to task on questions of eating or drinking, or in the matter of annual or monthly or weekly festivals. 17 These things are only the shadow of what is to come; the substance is in the Christ. 18 Do not let anyone defraud you of the reality by affecting delight in so-called ‘humility’ and angel-worship. Such a person busies themselves with their visions, and without reason are rendered conceited by their merely human intellect. 19 They fail to maintain union with the head, to whom it is due that the whole body, nourished and knit together by the contact and connexion of every part, grows with a divine growth.
20 Since, with Christ, you became dead to the puerile teaching of this world, why do you submit, as as if you still belonged to the world, 21 to such ordinances as ‘Do not handle, or taste, or touch’? 22 For all the things referred to in them cease to exist when used. You are following mere human directions and instructions. 23 Such prohibitions appear reasonable where there is a desire for self-imposed service, and so-called ‘humility,’ and harsh treatment of the body, but are of no real value against the indulgence of our earthly nature.
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