Day 89: Who Are The Rulers And Authorities That Have Been Stripped And Shamed??

Colossians 2:13-16
And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He nevertheless made you alive with Him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Disarming the rulers and authorities, He has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

In our final reading for the week, we continue to talk about some “big picture” ideas we will be exploring over the next weeks. Today we briefly discuss the “rulers and authorities” that have been stripped and shamed and what that means for us. (It is interesting that today is July 4th when we Americans celebrate our independence and our theme is freedom!)

Yesterday we heard about the “spiritual circumcision” that is done by or in Christ. There is some debate as to whether Paul wants us to understand that Christ performed the “stripping away” or whether Father God did it In Christ. In the final analysis, either option has strong points and does not change the basic meaning of what Paul is communicating. 

But it does raise and issue that is worth exploring as we get into the second part of this paragraph in Colossians 2. There are a lot of “Hes” and “Hims” in this passage and it gets confusing. In 2:12, we hear that it was God—Father God—who raised Jesus from the dead. Then in verse 13 Father God made us alive with Christ (Him). And so He—Father God—has destroyed what was set against us, the decrees that He nailed to the Cross. It seems best to let that continue on to the “He” in verse 15 where He—Father God—also “disarmed [or stripped] the rulers and authorities and triumphed over them by Christ or the Cross.

Again, there is some ambiguity in that last statement as the pronoun that ends the sentence could refer to Him (Christ) or The Cross (it). It you look at different translations, you will see that some have “Him” some have “the Cross.” The translation we are using here (NET) favors “the Cross.” Paul has just mentioned Father God nailing the decrees set against us to the Cross and so removing them. He goes on to say that these rulers and authorities were “publicly shamed”—a theme Paul uses in some cases when describing what Jesus accomplished on The Cross. It was not a hidden event, but one that took place in the open, in public, for those who were present to witness and for us to hear and receive their testimony. Remember our discussion of propitiation:

Romans 3:25
God publicly displayed Him [Christ] at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith…

Also, when you think about it from a worldly perspective, The Cross looked like the defeat of Jesus. But in reality, The Cross is the turning point, the literal crux of history, when Father God triumphed over sin and death in Christ! 

So here we learn that Father God has disarmed the rulers and authorities and has triumphed over them by The Cross. It could be that Paul is talking figuratively about the human rulers and authorities that have power in this World. But it is hard to see how these Worldly rulers have been disarmed or shamed. More than likely, Paul has in mind the Heavenly rulers and authorities in the spiritual realm. In our third session, we are going to talk more in depth about these “rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10). The main thing to know and understand now is these satanic spiritual powers have been disarmed, disgraced, and defeated by Father God in Christ at the Cross! 

As we said, this passage in Colossians 2 is a strange one. But, it introduces two key ideas that we are going to dig into in this unit. First, we are going to see how Father God has given us all we need in Christ to deal with our external enemies—the spiritual realm and the fallen World which is still under the power of Satan. Then we will move on to talk about how we deal with our internal enemy—the power of sin that still has a home in our fallen physical bodies. 

Much of what we are going to discuss in this unit will be new to you, more than likely. Sadly, many of the Bible passages we are going to hearing have been neglected because they are difficult. We are moving into some real meat territory here.

Key Growth Stage: Becoming FREE.

Jesus told His first disciples, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… if the Son sets you free, you will be really free” (John 8:31-32, 36). Father God desire for us to follow Jesus Christ in hope, faith and love. As we learn to follow all that He taught us, we will be truly free. But we are in the middle of a great Spiritual War and we have enemies that seek to enslave us. In order to be truly free, we need to know how to fight our daily battle with the grace and power that has been given to us In Christ. 

This week, we have given a big overview of all that we will be developing over the next several weeks of this study unit. Take a minute and review the big ideas you have learned. 

Take a few minutes to pray, giving thanks that Father God has given you all you need In Christ and through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to follow Christ as He leads you to true freedom

*You can find a complete list of all the MilktoMeat readings here.

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