1 I want you to know that I am doing a difficult work on your behalf. I am also working to help the people at Laodicea and other people who have never met me. 2 I want all the believers to become strong in their spirits. I want them to help each other because they love one another. Then God will bless them very much, because they understand God's secret message very well. They will be completely sure of it. And they will know Christ himself, who is God's secret. 3 Christ is the one who holds everything that makes people wise. He helps people to know the true message that God had hidden.
4 I am telling you these things so that false teachers will not deceive you. They may teach ideas that seem good, but do not listen to them. 5 My body is not there with you, but I think about you a lot. I hear that you are living and working well together. I also hear that you continue to trust Christ strongly. That makes me very happy.
How Christians should live
6 You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. So remember that you belong to him as you live your lives. 7 Get your strength from Christ himself, so that you become stronger and stronger. Continue to believe the true message that we taught you. And thank God very much for everything.
2:7When Christians are united to Christ, he makes them grow stronger in their spirits.
8 Be careful that you do not believe any false teachers. The ideas that they teach may seem clever. But they really want to deceive you. They are ideas that have come from the human minds of our ancestors. Or ideas that come from spirits that belong to this world. They are not the true message about Christ. 9 The whole nature of God himself lives in Christ, in his human body. 10 And because you are united with Christ, you are now complete. He is the one who rules over everything that has power or authority.
11 Also, because you are united with Christ, you truly belong to God's people. No person has circumcised you to show this. It is like Christ himself has circumcised you, to show that you belong to God. It is like he has cut off your old nature which made you do bad things. 12 When they baptized you, it was like God buried you with Christ. And God also raised you to a new life with Christ. You believed that God has great power to do that. You believed that God raised Jesus to life after he died. Because you believed, God raised you to have a new life.
2:11Paul says that Christians have something better than a mark on their bodies. The Israelites circumcised their boys to show that they belonged to God's people. But Christians are God's people because Christ died to save them and has given them a new life. It is like he has circumcised them in their spirits, not in their bodies. He has ‘cut off’ their old nature. They are free to do things which please God.
2:12Baptism shows what God has done when we believe in Jesus. We have been united with Christ. Our old life has died and God has given us a new life. When Christ died and they buried him, it is like our old nature also died with him. When God raised Christ after death, it is like he raised us to a new life. This is all true if we are united with Christ as believers. Then, what happened to him also happened to us. Now we have a new nature and a new life, because Christ died as a sacrifice on our behalf and he rose again after death. See also Romans 6:1-4.
13 At one time, you were dead in your spirits, because of the wrong things that you did. God had not cut off your old nature. You did not belong to his people. But now God has caused you to become alive with Christ. He has forgiven us for all the wrong things that we have done. 14 We are guilty of many wrong things that are against God's laws. But Christ died on the cross on our behalf. He paid the debt of our sins. It is like he has destroyed the list of all the debts that we should pay to God. 15 On the cross, Christ took away the power of the bad spirits that have authority to rule people. He showed clearly that he himself has won against them. Now everyone can see that those bad spirits have no power.
Do not obey human ideas
16 Some people may tell you that it is wrong for you to eat or to drink certain things. Or they make rules about special festival days, about new moons, or about the Jewish days for rest. Do not agree with people like that. 17 Rules like that are only like shadows of real things that would happen later. But now we have what is real, Christ himself!
18 Some people may tell you that you must always serve other people like a slave. They may tell you that you must worship angels. Do not let those people speak bad things against you. They like to talk a lot about the special things that God has shown them. They think that they are very clever. But their ideas only come from human minds. 19 False teachers like that do not receive their message from Christ. As God's people, we are like a body and Christ is like our head. He is the one who causes the whole body to be strong. He helps us to work well together, like the different parts of a body. Then we can all grow properly, because it is God who is helping us to grow.
20 Remember that your old nature has died with Christ. So the powerful spirits that rule this world no longer have any authority over you. You do not need to serve them, because you do not belong to this world now. You do not need to obey their rules. 21 They teach, ‘Do not touch things like that!’ Or, ‘Do not eat that kind of food!’ Or, ‘Keep away from that thing!’ 22 Rules like that are only about things that spoil when you use them. They are rules that come from human ideas. 23 They teach you ideas about what you must do to worship God. They teach you to serve other people like a slave. They say that you must hurt yourself. You must show that you control your body. Rules like that may seem to be wise, but really they are not worth anything. They cannot stop our weak human nature from doing the bad things that we want to do.
2:22Many of these rules were about what kinds of food people could eat. When we have eaten food, it is no longer there. These kinds of rules do not help us with the really important things. The important things are always there and they never finish. Our new life with God will never finish.