Colossians 2 repeats the confidence theme — “I want them to be strengthened and joined together with love, and to have the full confidence that comes from understanding.” We can only get this confidence by sticking to the essentials that Jesus gave us.
2.4 says, “I tell you this so no one can fool you by giving you ideas that seem good, but are false.” Then 2.7-8, “You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. Never stop thanking God. Be sure you aren’t led away by the teaching of those who have nothing worth saying and are only trying to trick you. That teaching isn’t from Christ. It’s only human tradition and comes from the powers that influence this world.”
Man-made traditions are powerless and often damaging, since they come from the powers that influence this world. But that wasn’t Jesus’s purpose!
2.13-14 says, “You were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you weren’t free from the power of your sinful self. But God gave you new life with Christ. He forgave all of our sins. Because we broke God’s laws, we owed a debt — a debt that listed all the rules we failed to follow. But God forgave us of that debt. He took it away and nailed it to the cross.”
This leads to 2.16 — “So don’t let anyone make rules for you about eating or drinking or about Jewish customs. In the past, these things were like a shadow that showed what was coming. But the new things coming are found in Christ.”
The entire book of Colossians is summarized with 2.18 — “Some people enjoy acting as if they are humble. They worship angels, and they always talk about the visions they’ve seen. Don’t let them cheat you out of your reward. It’s foolish for them to feel any kind of pride because it’s all based on their human ideas.”
The keyword of 2.18 is καταβραβευετω (translated “cheat” in the verse above) — today we might say something like “umpire”. Don’t let anyone try to force you to observe a man-made tradition and then say “you’re out” if you don’t follow it. Paul lists some specific traditions in Colossians — circumcision (2.11) and prohibitions like “don’t eat that” or “don’t taste that” or “don’t touch that stuff” (2.21).
This is after he says, “You died with Christ and were made free from the powers that influence this world. So why do you act as if you still belong to the world? I mean, why do you still follow those rules? Those rules are talking about earthly things that are gone after they’re used. They are only human commands and teachings. These rules may seem to be wise as part of a made-up religion in which people pretend to be humble and punish their bodies. But they don’t help people stop doing the evil that our sinful self wants to do.”
This section reminds us that the power of our faith comes from Jesus, not man-made traditions. In fact, enforcing man-made traditions as important to our faith is sinful. If we follow those enforced traditions, we run the risk of losing our reward. If we want to see God, we need only what Jesus told us and nothing more (2.13-14).