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Volume 24 - Page 82 of 211 Index | Zoom | |
A prominent opponent of Paul, though not mentioned by name in the N.T., was
Cerinthus, who incited the believers against Peter for baptizing Cornelius, and against
Paul for not circumcising Titus. The Cerinthian heresy was an attempt to blend Judaism
with Gnosticism, and the student of Galatians and Colossians will realize that in these
two epistles the two parts of this deadly error are exposed and attacked.
The Cerinthians affirmed that the world was made by angels, which gives point to the
place to which angels are assigned in Heb. 1: & 2:, and Cerinthus himself professed to
have received revelation from angels. Closely allied with the Cerinthian heresy was the
teaching of Simon Magus and his school, which taught the necessity of learning the
names of invisible principalities and powers, and to offer sacrifices to the Father by their
mediation. Tertullian says that "the magic of the Simonian doctrine was angelis
servieus". The worship of angels was prevalent in Asia in early times. At the Council of
Laodicea (A.D.320) it was decreed, that believers may not:--
"Leave the church of God, and go away and invoke the names of angels."
"Christians may not receive presents from Jews on Feast-days, or feast with them."
"Christians may not Judaize, and rest of the Sabbath" (Canons 36, 38 and 29).
Such were the snares that were set for the unwary at Colosse; no wonder, as a
corrective and glorious contrast, Paul preached "Christ", warning every man and teaching
every man in all wisdom, for there is no alternative. The apostle charges the false teacher
at Colosse with:--
"Intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly
mind."--Although the R.V. omits the word "not" here, the margin reads, "Many
authorities, some ancient, insert not". The traditional text is widespread, being supported
by the "Fathers", and many ancient versions.
The word "intruding" is from embateuon, which means, "putting our foot into another
man's land as if it were our own" (see Josh. 19: 49-51), stepping into the unseen world
with all the assurance of possession, prying into those things that have been veiled from
human sight. Josephus uses the word in Ant. 2: 12, 1, where he says of Mt. Sinai: "The
shepherd durst not intrude upon it." Anyone with effrontery enough will find some
credulous listeners, and such was unhappily the case at Colosse. They were like the
Gnostic teachers spoken of in I Timothy, who gave heed to "fables and endless
genealogies . . . . . desiring to be teachers of the law" yet "understanding neither what
they say, nor whereof they affirm" (I Tim. 1: 4-7).
The corrective to this terrible error is found in verses 19 and 20, which we must
consider in a separate article, the subject being too important to introduce here. It will,
however, be for our good if that blessed corrective be here stated, even though the
examination of its teaching be deferred:--
"And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having
nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
Wherefore if ye dead with Christ . . . . ." (Col. 2: 19, 20).