Religious and philosophical influences of the tri-city area
The Colossians were evidently the target of several religious and philosophical influences that could have potentially misled them from the pure doctrine of Christ.

The wealth of the tri-city area apparently attracted various different cultures. This may explain the various philosophies the Colossians were exposed to, philosophies that contradicted the truth.

In fact, perhaps no other letter of the New Testament gives warning of a greater variety of deceptive and dangerous concepts than Paul's letter to the Colossians.

For example, in Colossians, Paul could well have been referring to such false belief systems as:
  • Greek philosophies (non-pagan related—2:8),
  • Gnosticism (2:9),
  • Judaism (2:13-19),
  • Paganism (2:23; 3:5—see related video for a glimpse of pagan temples in the tri-city area),
  • Early evolutionary thinking (1:15-17), and,
  • "Hybrid thinking" (mixtures of the above—2:18).

Serious warnings about philosophies and religious influences

While most of today's Christian world would probably not take these "various perversions of Christianity" seriously, Paul considered them extremely serious indeed, describing them as deceptive and dangerous influences. He warned them not to be seduced by the "philosophical and religious correctness" of their day, mindsets that opposed the truth of Christ:
I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
(Colossians 2:4)
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
(Colossians 2:8)
Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.
(Colossians 2:18)
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
(Colossians 2:23)
But now he has reconciled you [to God]—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.
(Colossians 1:23)
Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to walk in him, firmly rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith—just as you were taught—and overflowing with thankfulness.
(Colossians 2:6-7)
Obviously, not perverting Christian doctrine—with seemingly harmless philosophies and "interesting" albeit false religious viewpoints—is critically important to God. Here's a breakdown of those influences:

Please stay tuned as we plan to examine each of these philosophical influences shortly...

Additional recommended reading:
The book of Colossians—Introduction
Is your Bible accurate—Three common misunderstandings.

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