Even though Paul had never preached directly to the Colossians, he was deeply concerned about them and the church at Laodicea only a short distance away. He warned them to be alert for those who would attempt to deceive them with false doctrine.
Paul knew through the reports from Epaphras that the Colossians had received and obeyed the proper doctrine from the beginning. He urged them to continue to allow their roots to penetrate that firm foundation of faith.
Judaizing teachers were trying to persuade the Colossians to follow their traditions instead of obeying Christ. They were being pressured to submit to circumcision, to avoid certain foods and drink and to observe special days.
Paul assured the Colossians that they had indeed been circumcised, but that their circumcision was of the heart and not the ceremonial removal of a piece of skin. They had received this circumcision as God had cut off their whole body of sin at the time they were buried with Christ in baptism. Just as He was raised from the dead, they had been raised with Him in baptism. Baptism means nothing however, unless it is accompanied by a genuine faith in a risen Christ. Christians are complete in Christ.
The old law was contrary to man in that it condemned, but could not save. It was necessary for the blood of Christ to wash away all sins. These handwritten ordinances had been nailed to the cross with Christ at His death.
There are those today who still contend that we must keep the Ten Commandments. They were superseded when the old law was nailed to the cross. Some of the old laws were re-enacted in the New Testament and are to be observed—not because of the old law, but because they are now a part of the new law.
Paul warned the Colossians about those who would take upon themselves a false humility of practicing things that were not authorized by Christ, even starvation and self-mutilation. There were those who advocated the worship of angels or going through angels to reach God—totally unauthorized.
The apostle Paul had previously explained the superiority of Christ and the importance of worshipping Him only. He is the Head of the body, the church. As the members of the physical body are dependent upon the head for physical life, the spiritual body is dependent upon Christ for spiritual life.
If the Colossians had died with Christ to the ordinances of the Law of Moses and the traditions of men, Paul asked them why they would still subject themselves to regulations prohibiting touching, tasting and handling certain foods, drinks or even people. These were manmade requirements and not authorized by God.