8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
We have to be on guard, so we are not taken captive. The word captive can be translated kidnapped. This warning implies that there is a real possibility of being captured by someone, or in this case, by something that comes through someone. It is concerning that people believe things so easily. Propaganda campaigns have been happening for a long time. Whether it is governments, businesses, or products, clever people have conspired together to create a narrative that moves people to belief and action. Here, 2000 years ago, Paul is most likely talking about a philosophy of a syncretistic religious group the claims special insight into God, Christ, astral powers and spiritual things, that have imposed a set of rules on its members. I could go on with a set of societal and religious insights, but I think you could come up with a few too. Mention some things that come to mind in the comments below as it relates to propaganda or religious authoritarianism.
The kidnapping not only comes through philosophy, but it comes through “hollow” empty deception. These things have no merit whatsoever. Yet, it still takes people captive. Can you think of some things that deceive people that have no merit? How about that distract us? These things are man’s traditions. Not only religious traditions but societal traditions? “This is the way we do things around here.”
“The basic principles of this world,” in this context refers to “transcendent powers that are in control over events in this world, elemental spirits.” There are spiritual powers, dark unseen forces that use mankind to control events and manipulate minds. So if we work this backward, we may be able to understand what the Spirit is saying to us.
The demonic powers give us human traditions that are empty deceptions, as well and philosophies, that kidnap us from the truth of the gospel of Christ. It is essential to include the end of the verse. The gospel of Christ, which Paul has been writing about, is juxtaposted with what the demonic forces have tried and sometimes successfully implemented. To be sure they are no match for Christ and His gospel. Why?
Colossians 2:9 (NIV84)
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
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