Taken Captive

by Mike Ratliff

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

When we do word studies in the Greek New Testament it is vital that we pay very close attention the verb tenses. From these we learn that some statements are commands (imperatives) while others, which some Bible translations render as if they are commands, are actually statements of fact (indicatives or aorists). Confusing these has caused a very large amount of confusion and bad doctrine to pollute the church. For instance, when Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” the verb structure here is not imperative (a command to be born again), but aorist tense, subjunctive mood, passive voice. In other words, this is action that is most definitely not a command by our Lord to Nicodemus to be born again, but a statement of fact that if a person is to see the kingdom of God he or she must be born again. The action is passive so it is the result of some other action. So what? Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. This is an example of an imperative. Let us put it into context. 

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:4-8 ESV)

4τουτο λεγω ινα μηδεις υμας παραλογιζηται εν πιθανολογια  5ει γαρ και τη σαρκι απειμι αλλα τω πνευματι συν υμιν ειμι χαιρων και βλεπων υμων την ταξιν και το στερεωμα της εις χριστον πιστεως υμων  6ως ουν παρελαβετε τον χριστον ιησουν τον κυριον εν αυτω περιπατειτε  7ερριζωμενοι και εποικοδομουμενοι εν αυτω και βεβαιουμενοι τη πιστει καθως εδιδαχθητε περισσευοντες [εν αυτη] εν ευχαριστια  8βλεπετε μη τις υμας εσται ο συλαγωγων δια της φιλοσοφιας και κενης απατης κατα την παραδοσιν των ανθρωπων κατα τα στοιχεια του κοσμου και ου κατα χριστον (Colossians 2:4-8 WHNU)

This I say, that no one might delude you with persuasive words. Even though I am absent in the flesh, I am present with you in the spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and solidity of your faith in Christ. As then you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him and being confirmed in the faith just as you were taught, exceeding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one take you captive through philosophy and deception by the tradition of men, by the elements of the world and not by Christ; (a personal translation of Colossians 2:4-8 from the Greek text)

Verse 8 is in bold in each example above. “See to it” translates the Greek word βλεπετε the present tense, imperative mood, active voice form of βλέπω or blepō, which the KJV translates here as “beware.” Paul’s intent here is to give the Colossians and us a warning to “take heed” or “be careful” because of the danger of deceptive teaching pervasive in the visible church. The verb structure makes it clear that this is a command for us to “take heed” or “beware” or “see to it” as a way of life. We must check the way we live, how we walk through each day this way. Of what or whom are we to continually be wary? We are to have this guard up against anyone who would attempt to take us captive through their philosophy, empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world. The words “take you captive” translates συλαγωγων a present active participle of συλαγωγέω or sulagōgeō, which means, “to lead away as spoil” or “seduce.” This being a present active participle means that it is relative to the main verb or contemporaneous with it. If we are not careful and are continually wary we could be led astray and captured by the continual attacks by our enemy and his agents in the world.

Notice also that the solution for us to keep us from being taken captive by these deceivers is to be taken captive by Christ. If we are his captives then we will be wary and we will be living for Him and not self. We will then not be vulnerable to these attacks. If we ever allow ourselves to fall into the trap of becoming self-focused then this opens the door to these deceivers. I know that in these days that it is not popular for Christians to view themselves as slaves of our Lord Jesus, but if we are not His slaves then we are not His.

We are born again by the work of God. We are His by His grace through faith not by works or merit (Ephesians 2:8.9). However, those of us in Christ are no longer of the world and that includes the religious people in it who think they are in with God even though they are only religious, but who are not born again. How do we know they are not born again? They are of the world. They profess to be of Christ, but also profess doctrines and beliefs that are in line with the world and its ways. They profess Christ and oppose God’s Word as the Word of God. They hate the Gospel and are continually trying to eradicate or change it. They are all about Law keeping and building the Tower of Babel instead of obeying Christ and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Those who resist these things (and there is much more) and remain captives of Christ no matter the pressure are the ones who prove they are truly Christians. These obey the Great Commission serving God where He puts them doing what he has given them to do for they have been taken captive by their Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “Taken Captive

  1. Perfect Mike. This is the warning we need to read today. Take heed.. the wolves in sheep’s clothing are abundantly infiltrating churches as the days grow short!
    2 Cor. 11:13

  2. This was beautiful, Mike. I have been thinking a lot in the last couple of weeks about being separate from the world…in it but not of it. How friendship with the world is enmity with God, how we are blessed when we are hated for the sake of the Son of Man (Luke 6:22), and how we are to set our heart and mind on things above…our lives are hid with Christ. I’ve especially been looking at the above mentioned Luke passage. We can’t serve two masters.

    God bless, Mike.

  3. What better position to be in than to be a slave to Christ! If you are not a slave to Christ, you ARE a slave to the enemy. So true are the words of of L.E. Maxwell in his book Born Crucified:
    “Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free!”

  4. Mike,
    Thank you for writing on the subject of being Taken Captive. Your last paragraph caught my attention:

    “Those who resist these things (and there is much more) and remain captives of Christ no matter the pressure are the ones who prove they are truly Christians. These obey the Great Commission serving God where He puts them doing what he has given them to do for they have been taken captive by their Lord.”

    In the flesh, we are all weak. We can’t “resist” anything. Paul tells us in Romans 7:18″For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not.” It is the Holy Spirit in those of us born from above who does the resisting.
    Also, was wondering about your statement of “remain captives of Christ”. It appears that you are saying that we have a choice in the matter? In fact, the Lord Jesus keeps us in His clutches. We can’t keep ourselves in His hands.
    John 10:27,28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

    In the verse in Matthew 28:19 speaking of the “Great Commission” we must note that it is the Apostles who were told after having gone into all the nations, they were to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:”

    We, Gentile believers are to preach the Word right where He has placed us. This is not to say that He won’t send us somewhere other than where He has us. He can do what He wants, obviously, as He is God. But the context of Matthew reveals that Jesus was speaking to the Apostles, no one else. WE are to “preach” the Word. 2Timothy 4:2. This is to unbelievers. WE are to “teach” believers. This is making disciples of those who are already saved.
    Preaching is to the unsaved, teaching is to the believers. Make disciples is to those who are saved.

    sam

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