1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you [Note: This probably refers to the great effort Paul was exerting in prayer, preaching, etc.], and for those at Laodicia [Note: This was a town ten miles west of Colosse], and for all those who have never met me in person. 2 [I do this] so that their hearts will be encouraged [while] being united in [mutual] love, [and] so that they will have the wealth of a fully assured understanding, in order to fully know about God's hidden secret, [which is] Christ. 3 In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
4 I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 For even though I am absent [from you] in body, still I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing and observing [i.e., with my mind's eye] your orderly behavior and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
6 So, since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in [fellowship with] Him, 7 rooted and built up in [your relationship to] Him, established by your faith [or, "in the faith"], just as you were taught, overflowing with thanksgiving.
8 Pay attention so that no one takes you [spiritually] captive through his philosophy and empty deception based on human tradition, according to the principles of the world and not according to Christ. 9 For all of the fullness of Deity lives in His body, 10 and you people have been made full [i.e., spiritually complete] in [fellowship with] Him, who is the [spiritual] head over all who rule and have authority. 11 In [fellowship with] Him you people were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human beings, but performed by Christ, consisting of the removal of the body of [sinful] flesh. 12 [This happened when you were] buried with Christ in [the act of] immersion, from which you were also raised up with Him through [your] faith in the accomplishment of God, who raised Him up from the dead. 13 And when you were [spiritually] dead because of your sins and your lack of being physically circumcised [Note: This refers to their having been unconverted Gentiles and therefore outside of a relationship with God], God made you alive [again] together with Christ, having forgiven us for all of our sins. 14 He canceled the document written in ordinances [Note: This obviously refers to the Mosaic law] that was against us and was opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. 15 [In doing this] Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities [i.e., evil forces] and made a public display of them, triumphing over them through the cross. [Note: This could possibly be rendered "God triumphed over them through Christ"].
16 So, do not allow anyone to judge [i.e., condemn] you for what you eat, or what you drink, or regarding [your non-observance of] a [yearly] festival, or a [monthly] "new moon" observance, or a [weekly] Sabbath day. 17 These things are [only] a shadow of future things, but the body [i.e., the real substance of things] belongs to Christ. [Note: The idea here is that the ritual observances of the Mosaic law were like shadows pointing to the reality of life in Christ]. 18 Do not allow anyone, who delights in acting humble [i.e., living an ascetic life] and who worships angels, to rob you of your reward [in heaven]. [Note: This "angel worship" could mean holding angels in high regard because of their role as God's messengers, or the claim that God can be approached only through angelic intermediaries]. He places great importance on what he [claims to] see [i.e., visions], being inflated with pride by his fleshly mind for no [good] reason. 19 He is not holding on [firmly] to the head [i.e., Christ, the head of the church], from whom the entire body, being nourished and supported by its ligaments and joints, is caused to grow in size by God.
20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world, [then] why, as though you [still] lived in [harmony with] the world, do you submit yourselves to [its] rules, [such as]: 21 "Do not handle [this]; do not taste [that]; do not touch [those things]?" 22 (All these things [i.e., the things handled, tasted or touched] are destined to perish with [constant] use). [These rules are] based on the commands and teachings of men. 23 They certainly have an appearance of wisdom, [displaying] self-prescribed worship and [false] humility and asceticism, but they lack any value in curbing the desires of the physical passions.