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1For I want you to know what a fight I am putting up for you and for our brothers in Laodicea, and for all who do not know me personally, 2that your hearts may be cheered. I want you to be united by love, and to have all the benefit of assured knowledge in coming to know Christ— 3that divine mystery in which all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are to be found. 4What I mean is, let nobody mislead you by specious arguments. 5For though I am absent from you in person I am with you in spirit, and I am glad to observe your harmony and the solidity of your faith in Christ.
6So just as you once accepted the Christ, Jesus, as your Lord, you must live in vital union with him. 7You must be rooted and built up in him and made strong in faith, just as you were taught to be, overflowing with it in your gratitude.
8Take care that nobody exploits you through the pretensions of philosophy, guided by human tradition, following material ways of looking at things, instead of following Christ. 9For it is in him that all the fulness of God’s nature lives embodied, 10and in union with him you too are filled with it. He is the head of all your principalities and dominions. 11Through your relation to him you have received not a physical circumcision, but a circumcision effected by Christ, in stripping you of your material nature, 12when in your baptism you were buried with him, and raised to life with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. 13Yes, you who were dead through your misdeeds and physically uncircumcised, God raised to life with Christ. He forgave us all our misdeeds, 14canceled the bond which stood against us, with its requirements, and put it out of our way when he nailed it to the cross. 15He disarmed the principalities and dominions and displayed them openly, triumphing over them through him.
16So no one can call you to account for what you eat or drink, or do about annual or monthly feasts or Sabbaths. 17That was all only the shadow of something that was to follow; the reality is found in Christ. 18No one can put you in the wrong by persisting in studied humility and the worship of angels, being absorbed in the visions he has seen, and groundlessly conceited over his mere human mind. 19Such people lose their connection with the head, from which the whole body through its ligaments and sinews must be governed and united if it is to grow in the divine way.
20If you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things, why do you act as though you still belonged to the world, and submit to rules like 21“You must not handle,” “You must not taste,” “You must not touch”— 22referring to things that are all meant to be used up and destroyed? This is to follow mere human rules and regulations. 23Such practices pass for wisdom, with their self-imposed devotions, their self-humiliation, and their ascetic discipline, but they carry with them no real distinction, they are really only a catering to the flesh.
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