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The Colossian Heresy Revisited: Has the Prophetic Stream Lost Its Focus?

From Pneuma Review Fall 2005

In this guest editorial, Eddie Hyatt points us to Jesus as antidote to wayward spirituality.

While driving to class a few days ago I asked God for a theme for that day. I was teaching from the book of Colossians and had a vague idea where I was going, but desired more clarity about a theme for that lesson. As I prayed and worshipped, the phrase “Don’t Lose Your Focus” was strongly impressed upon my heart and mind. This phrase remained so pronounced in my heart that, at the beginning of the class, I wrote across the board in large letters “Don’t Lose Your Focus” and announced it as the theme for that lesson. I was then astounded at the sequence of events that unfolded.

As I taught that morning, the Holy Spirit seemed to direct our attention to what some New Testament scholars call “The Colossian Heresy.” Although I had taught on the subject before, on this particular day I seemed to receive new and fresh insight into the nature of this 1st century heresy. In essence, they had lost their focus on Christ. After the class was over, I went to the main auditorium where a guest speaker was addressing the student body. As I listened to this individual, well known in the prophetic/apostolic movement, I was astounded to hear “The Colossian Heresy” that I had just delineated being propagated to the student body.

The Nature of the Colossian Heresy

The problem in Colosse was that the believers had lost their focus on Christ and were being distracted by other, even legitimate, things. Paul’s answer was to keep directing their attention back to Christ as the source and fullness of everything they needed. They did not need to look to some other source for knowledge of God, For in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (2:9). There was no need to look elsewhere for some plan or process for achieving spiritual maturity for, You are complete in Him who is the Head of all principality and power (2:10). They did not need to turn to other avenues for obtaining special wisdom and knowledge, for in Christ, Are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (2:3). What was it that was distracting the Colossians and causing them to lose their focus? It was a preoccupation with their own spirituality. They were obsessed with how to be “spiritual” and had become preoccupied with supernatural phenomena such as visions and angelic visitations (2:18). In Col. 2:18 Paul refers to the worship of angels and what he [the heretical teacher] has seen, i.e., visions (NIV). The word “worship” in this passage is a translation of the Greek word threskia and is not the normal word for “worship” in the New Testament. Besides Col. 2:18 it is found in only three other places in the New Testament, Acts 26:3 and James 1:26, 27, where it is translated as “religion.” The point seems to be that the Colossians had developed a “religious” fascination with angels and visions. Why is this a problem? Their fascination with such sensational phenomena has distracted them from their one and only true Source, Jesus Christ. Because of their fascination with esoteric, sensational phenomena, they are no longer, Holding fast to the Head from whom all the body, nourished and knit together … grows with an increase that is from God (2:19). This is serious, for only by abiding in Christ and holding fast to Him can the Colossians experience the fullness of salvation and arrive at spiritual maturity. To complicate matters, the spiritual experiences, with which they are so enamored, have become a basis for pride. They consider themselves a notch above other Christians because of these supernatural encounters. They are an elite group. Although they purport to be humble, it is a false humility that is betrayed by their attitudes and actions (2:18). Perhaps referring to their most prominent teacher, Paul says that he, like his followers, is vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (2:18).

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Category: Fall 2005, Pneuma Review, Spirit

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century.

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