“Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words” (Colossians 2:4).
Its often been said that salesmanship is much like the age-old practice of fishing. The difference is that one type of fishing involves an aquatic creature while the other involves a potential customer.
For instance, the fisherman and the salesperson must each begin with an idea of what they want to catch. Each must then find the right kind of lure and finish by reeling in what they have caught. For the fisherman, this means separating the catch from its watery environment. For the salesperson, this means separating the catch from his or her money.
This analogy also holds true spiritually as well- and much like the illustration given above, we can look at this comparison in a positive or negative way. Consider one of Jesus’ first recorded interactions with His disciples…
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:16-18 NIV).
The ultimate intent behind Jesus’ invitation involved separating human beings from death and giving them eternal life. On the other hand, the false teachers of first-century Colossae sought to lure the members of the church “back into the water” with some persuasive bait: “…ideas that seem good, but are false” (ERV).
This helps explain why Paul the Apostle has devoted much of this letter to the subject of Jesus’ deity. Paul sought to protect the Colossians from the “…persuasive [but thoroughly deceptive] arguments” (AMP) offered by the false teachers of his day. Much like the shiny lure on the end of a fisherman’s hook, these arguments seemed to offer something good but were harmful and destructive in reality.
One source takes the opportunity of this passage to issue an important warning to modern-day readers…
“Because all wisdom and knowledge are in Christ, Christians should not be deluded with the persuasive words of false cultists. If a man does not have the truth, then he must seek to attract a following through the clever presentation of his message. That is exactly what heretics always do. They argue from probabilities and build a system of teaching on deductions. On the other hand, if a man is preaching the truth of God, then he does not need to depend on such things as eloquence or clever arguments. The truth is its own best argument and, like a lion, will defend itself” (1)
(1) William Macdonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (p.2001) Edited by Arthur Farstad Thomas Nelson Publishers