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Bible verses about Philosophy
(From Forerunner Commentary)

One thing stands out in studying the history of philosophy: Each new generation brought new schools of thought. No truth was fixed or permanent; the only constant was change. Thus, there are dozens of contradictory branches of philosophy: existentialism, gnosticism, metaphysics, Platonism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, pantheism, pragmatism, sophistry, stoicism, theosophy, and many more.

This in no way implies that thinking is bad. Meditation, for instance, is a necessary part of a Christian's life (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Malachi 3:16; Philippians 4:8). But our thoughts have to start from the right place. If we begin with the foundation of God's truth and continually check the Bible to verify that our thoughts and ideas are still grounded, it is difficult to get into trouble.

But extrapolating truth from the Bible is not philosophy. In fact, "Christian philosophy" may be a contradiction in terms. Solomon's wisdom excelled that of all people (I Kings 4:30), and he was famous in all the surrounding nations for his wisdom (verses 31-34). But was he a philosopher? Did he pursue wisdom by intellectual means, inquiring into the nature of things based on man's "logical" reasoning rather than on observing or experimenting? Look again at verse 33: "He spoke of trees, . . . of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish." Solomon observed, experimented, and learned from the creation, and God gave him understanding (I Kings 3:9, 12), making him wise. Solomon says his words were spoken in righteousness and are plain to those that understand (Proverbs 8:8-9). "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10). He started from the proper foundation.

Mike Ford
Beware of Philosophy


 

Colossians 2:5

The Colossians were following Christ, but the pressure was on, as Paul had heard from someone else. It may have been Epaphras or Tychicus—or even someone not even mentioned in the book. The word had come to Paul that the Christians in Colosse were undergoing a great deal of pressure, and the pressure was so great that he was afraid they would crack under it—that their faith would give away under the onslaught of the attack. He feared that they would weaken in the faith.

The problem was a deceptive and persuasive philosophy that appeared to have many things in agreement with Christianity. The pressure was not necessarily coming from their pagan neighbors, urging them to stop keeping the Sabbath or the holy days. There may have been some of that happening, but the main problem was a philosophy that had been brought into the church by members from the outside, which they held to be valuable in making Christianity better than what they had received from the evangelists.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 20)


 

Colossians 2:8

James Moffatt renders this verse as, "Beware of anyone getting hold of you by means of a theosophy [a branch of philosophy] which is specious make believe, on the lines of human tradition."

This verse is the only place where the biblical writers use the word "philosophy." The word has survived the years with its meaning unchanged: the love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means. It is translated from the Greek philosophia, which can be broken into its individual parts: philos (fond or friendly) and sophos (clever or wise).

Strong's Concordance writes that Paul was speaking of sophistry, that is, plausible but misleading argumentation or fallacious reasoning. Our word "sophisticate" derives from sophos. To sophisticate someone causes him to become less natural or simple; he becomes corrupted or perverted. A sophisticated person has acquired worldly knowledge and lacks natural simplicity.

Philosophy, the love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means, is not wisdom from God but wisdom as defined by man. It is man's attempt to be wise. God says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). Since man cannot see God, he concludes, "There is no God." Because man's philosophy does not consider God, its very foundation is faulty.

Mike Ford
Beware of Philosophy


 

Colossians 2:8

The problem in Colosse was a philosophy. It is essential to remember this because Judaism, which is the most commonly accused culprit, was and is to this day not a philosophy but a religion. Paul lays the foundation in chapter 1 by admonishing the Colossians to remember what they heard in the beginning of their conversion.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 21)


 

Colossians 2:8

Colossians 2:8-10 gives another general definition of Gnosticism, as well as how to combat it. Paul is writing about a philosophy like Stoicism, not a specific religion, such as Judaism. This is important to recognize, since in verse 16, Paul mentions the Sabbath and holy days, and it is commonly assumed that Paul condemns their observance. Yet, he does not - he warns against a philosophy that disparaged the feasting and joyous observance of the Sabbath and holy days. This is why Paul tells the Colossians to "let no one judge you" with regard to eating, drinking, or observing the weekly and annual Sabbaths - rather than what is commonly read into Colossians 2:16: "There is no reason to keep the Sabbath or holy days." Christians in Colossae were being pressured by the ascetic society around them, which would have looked down on their feasting.

This is confirmed in the rest of Colossians 2, which deals primarily with asceticism (see especially Colossians 2:21-23). Some branches of Gnosticism adhered to asceticism as a way to free the eternal spirit by living regimented, plain, and insular lives. (Conversely, some Gnostics went to the other extreme - practicing hedonism - believing that what they did with their bodies did not make any difference since only spirit mattered.)

Paul says that this philosophy and its associated doctrines were plausible, but they were not based on solid arguments. He calls them "vain deceit" (KJV) or "empty deceit" (NKJV). They may sound good, depending upon one's inclination, but they endanger church members. The apostle writes that they would be "spoiled" (KJV), which does not necessarily mean being "corrupted," but rather of being "plundered," hence the NKJV's use of "cheated." This empty philosophy would rob or cheat them of their faith, their hope, their understanding of God, their relationship with God, their vision, and the purpose that God is working out. Once introduced, it would begin to steal away all of their true, spiritual riches.

Paul also provides two possible sources of this unsteady philosophy: "the traditions of men" and the "rudiments of the world." Examining the "rudiments of the world" first will help to explain the traditions of men. Other translations call them the "elements of the world," the "basic principles of the world," or "the powers of the world." In using this term, Paul is referring to the demonic powers that make this world, this cosmos, what it is. The source of this philosophy of salvation through special knowledge is Satan and the demons.

This explains why, when we read the histories of various religions and their branches, the same patterns arise time and again. Man does not have it within himself to pass along accurately and dependably ideas that go back to the very beginning. With an incessant drumming, the powers of the world keep prompting men and women in the same vain deceits that directly contradict the truth about God and His purpose for mankind.

Humans certainly play a role in handing down these traditions. Sunday school teachers and theologians perpetuate the Gnostic myths of the immortality of the soul, of eternal consciousness, of progressive revelation, of each person having a spark of goodness within that just needs to be fanned into a flame, and of each soul or spirit existing before in heaven and returning there upon death. Men pass these traditions on to other men, but the powers of the spirit world keep these messengers on their track and blinded to the truth.

The last phrase in Colossians 2:8 - "not according to Christ" - is a simple one, but it encapsulates what this is all about. Not a single branch of Gnosticism had the truth about Jesus Christ. That knowledge can be found only in God's Word.

David C. Grabbe
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part Two: Defining Gnosticism


 

Colossians 2:20-23

Many of the people who had come into the Colossian church had brought their pagan philosophies with them, and they soon began to have an adverse influence on the entire congregation at Colossae. Paul corrects the people in the church who were doing this in Colossians 2:20-23.

Apparently, some of the people had begun thinking that self-imposed asceticism could somehow contribute to their salvation, and had begun turning away from trusting in Christ. They had more faith in their unchristian works. Paul warned them about this in Colossians 2:8: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Are the Sabbath and Holy Days Done Away?


 

Find more Bible verses about Philosophy:
Philosophy {Nave's}
 




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