These small group studies of Colossians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Colossians 2:18-20 Inductive Bible Study

Title: Don’t be Defrauded of the Prize

Summary– Don’t let false teachers cheat you of earthly blessings or eternal rewards by deceiving you with mystical, fleshly beliefs. Rather, hold fast to Christ, in whom we are empowered, held together and grown. If we’ve died with Christ, don’t be alive to the world.

Central Teaching– Don’t be deceived by false teachers. Hold fast to Christ.

Key Words– defrauding, prize, inflated without cause, fleshly, holding fast, head, grows, died, Christ, world

Key Verse– 2:19

Ten Things this Passage Says-

1. I should let no one defraud me of the prize.

2. The prize is already mine.

3. I should not delight in self-abasement or the worship of angels.

4. I should not take my stand on visions that I have seen.

5. I should not be inflated without cause by my fleshly mind.

6. I should hold fast to the head.

7. The head supplies and holds together the entire body by the joints and ligaments.

8. If and when I grow, it is a growth from God.

9. I have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world.

10. Only if I’m living in the world would I submit myself to its decrees.

Ten Things this Passage does NOT Say-

1. The prize is not already mine.

2. Self-abasement can somehow earn me greater rewards.

3. Angels are higher than I am, and I should worship them.

4. I can put trust in visions I have, and let them guide my path and shape my beliefs.

5. There is a good reason for us to be inflated by our good works and great understanding.

6. We have nothing to hold fast to.

7. I can do all things on my own strength.

8. I can hold things together on my own.

9. The principles of the world are wise.

10. I need to submit myself to the world’s decrees.

What does this passage teach me about God?

He is the one who grants me the prize.

He’s generous.

He’s the head.

He holds the entire body together.

He supplies the entire body so that it grows.

All growth is from God.

His principles are so far above the world’s as to make them seem elementary.

He is our ruler.

He is the one we should worship.

He directs primarily through His Word, not visions.

How does this passage apply to my life?

Just to apply one aspect of this (though there are many ways to apply it), don’t pay too much attention to dreams. They have no basis in reality, and are neither prophetic nor real. Remember Phil. 4:8, and focus on whatever is true (real). So, whether I have a good dream that I want to put some kind of prophetic weight on, or a bad dream that robs me of my peace or joy, quickly put it into its right perspective and focus on the truth of God’s word, instead. (V18)

Realize that all growth comes from Christ, through abiding in Him as the head. Perhaps I have some forms of self discipline that seem beneficial (such as daily QT, exercise, self-discipline in food, free time, or other areas), but realize that any growth I have is going to come from Christ, and do not start to make an idol of the areas of self discipline or routines. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it (Ps. 127:1) (V19)

Evaluate if there are any “elementary principles” that I submit myself to. What is my reason for that? Is there pride behind it? Confess and seek to have a biblical view on it. (V20)

Discussion Questions-

What does it mean “let no one keep defrauding you of your prize?” If we can be defrauded of a prize, what is true of that prize to begin with? (V18) Paul warns the Colossians not to allow the false teachers to cheat or defraud them of their earthly blessings or eternal reward, by deceiving them into believing mystical, illogical things. In order to be defrauded of a prize, it has to have been ours to start with. One cannot be cheated out of something that is not theirs, or that should rightly be given to another. Also, by its very nature, to be defrauded of something means that you’re getting nothing, or at least something of vastly lesser value in return.

What is self-abasement? (V18) This is a kind of false humility. However, if we are delighting in humility, then it is actually pride, and has no merit before God. In fact, He hates it. James 4:6 says, “…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Such self-abasement brings God’s opposition.

Why would one worship angels, and why should they not? (V18) Angels apparently had a very scary or awe-inspiring appearance, as many people fell down in fear or worship when they came (i.e. Rev 22:8-9 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”). Satan is satisfied if we worship anyone or anything, other than the one true God.

Why can we not trust in our visions? (V18) Virtually all cults and false religions (like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses), including the false teachers at that time in Colossae, base their teachings on visions and revelations they had supposedly received. Their claims are false, since Jesus Christ is God’s final and complete revelation to mankind. Just as we cannot trust in other’s dreams, we also cannot trust in our own. We cannot trust anything that originated in our minds to be accurate and true, much less of divine origin. (Give the example of my recent dream.)

What is a “fleshly mind”? Why does it “inflate without cause? (V18) The fleshly mind is the unregenerate (e.g. unsaved) one. We inflate, or puff up, when we are proud and full of our own importance. However, like a balloon, that inflation is all just useless air, and when it’s let out, there’s nothing but an empty shell. There is no substance there, because the substance is Christ (Colossians 2:17).

Who is the head? (V19)

What are we supposed to do to the head? How can we do that? (V19) We are supposed to hold fast to Him (Christ). That means we should know the truth about Him by reading and abiding in His word, hold up new teachings against it, reject deceptions, and consciously affirming Christ with our words and actions.

What is the function of the Head, according to this verse? What does that mean? (V19) It supplies the entire body, holds it together and grows it.

From where does all growth come? (V19)

How does God bring about growth? (V19)

What does it mean that we have died with Christ? (V20) This refers to the believer’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection by which he has been transformed to new life from all worldly folly.

Why do they call them “elementary principles of the world”? (V20)

Indeed, if we have died with Christ, why as if we are living to the world do we submit ourselves to various decrees? (V20)

What are the dangers of submitting ourselves to “rules” that aren’t in the Bible? (V20)

Study Colossians 2:21-23