Olive Tree Deceives on Colossians 3

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
(James 2:26 KJV)

Olive Tree sent me a bible study to my email and I decided to take a look. Found at this link. I don’t normally do this, as the best Bible study is to read and study the Word of God with His Spirit, and this study further solidifies this method.

As this refutation is about a twisting of Colossians 3, you might be wondering why the scripture above is from James. It is because this single verse refutes everything they have interpreted and the entire mindset behind this entire “study.” This scripture also does it well:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
(Romans 16:17-18 KJV)

The Bible study is from the NIV Halley’s Study Bible with some additional stuff from the editor. The first red flag is instead of quoting Colossians 3:1-4 as they do for 5-11, they use “[t]hese few sentences” from the NIV Halley’s Study Bible (HSB). They use man’s words to setup the chapter and not God’s word.

Gods word says:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
(Colossians 3:1-4 KJV)

Halley, a man and not God, says:

Set your minds on things above. The false teachers were instructing the Colossians to concentrate on temporal observances; in contrast, Paul instructs them to concentrate on the eternal realities of heaven. The Greek verb for set emphasizes an ongoing decision. Christians must continually discipline themselves to focus on eternal realities instead of the temporal realities of this earth.

Halley gives a history of Colossi, interesting but not significant to the understanding of the word. It is also true that our focus should be on Christ and not on this world. This is nice but incomplete, it glosses over the fact that we are dead to our old selves, we are not our own. We are Christ’s as a newborn creation. This also skips over a wonderful promise of those who surrender to Christ and His will shall appear with Jesus in glory upon His return!

Another problem is the hint of things to come in the “historical” part of the expository. “Concentrating on temporal observances.” This on its own could mean many things and could be good and could be bad. Further on, the authors meaning is clarified and can be seen as a forced framing of the study ahead.

Before continuing into the “meat” of this study, we do need proper context for this chapter. Chapter 2, sets up chapter 3 nicely.

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
(Colossians 2:1-23 KJV)

Yes, I posted the entire chapter. It is that important. As a matter of fact, go read all of Colossians and prove yourself a Berean before continuing this bringing to light of false doctrine for complete context.

Chapter 2 starts with Paul having “great conflict” over these people and he wants the to be “knit together in love” and wants them to have the “full assurance of understanding” of “the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;” Paul seems to be addressing a division within the body about doctrine at Colossi and Laodicea as well. This division is causing confusion and he wants their hearts to be comforted. Comforted and knit together in the truth of the Word, the doctrine of Christ.

Verse 4 tells of the specific reason, “lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” These beguiling words will will keep you from continuing in the one true doctrine of Christ.

Verses 6-10, Paul teaches, admonishes, and warns about only being “rooted and built up in him [Jesus]”, and to avoid “philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world”.

He also describes that in Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” and that we “are complete in him, which is the head of all pincipality and power:”, reminding us of the eternality, divinity, and power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In 11-15, Paul lays out a wonderfully succinct gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Reminding us and the church at Colossi that we are to put “off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ”. True to form we crucify our flesh daily like Paul did, to ensure we are doing the Lord’s will and not our own, satisfying the flesh instead of the Spirit.

He further reminds us that we are buried with Christ in baptism and “are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God”. This faith is in the resurrection of Christ, better said in the God who raised Christ from the dead. Now risen with Christ all trespasses have been forgiven and all ordinances against us are nailed to the cross. A beautiful image of the redemptive work of Jesus.

In the last verses of this chapter Paul now encourages the followers at Colossi to not be swayed into keeping worldly traditions like refusing to eat certain foods or drinks, or even into keeping holydays or the sabbath as these are just a “shadow of things to come”. He then warns of people coming in from the outside, not true followers of Christ, convincing others to worship angels that would “beguile you of your reward”.

Finally Paul reminds us that if we are truly dead to the world, “why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; hand not; Which all are to perish with the using;)” This is a strong rebuke of not being able to eat or even touch certain foods as we are not living in the world any more. We are members of Jesus’ heavenly Kingdom.

Then this brings us back to Colossians 3:1:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
(Colossians 3:1 KJV)

Understanding Colossians 2 helps us understand this verse with much more clarity than just reading it on its own. We now understand that Paul is continuing to admonish people to let go of worldly and physical restrictions being imposed contrary to the doctrine of Christ, by people coming in from the outside. This has nothing to do with the doctrine of obedience to Christ. (Something all followers of Christ should do, be obedient.) It is more akin to not adding to nor taking away from God’s Word or twisting the scriptures to create a new doctrine that is not the doctrine of Christ.

(Reminder: chapter and verse numbers were added to aid in finding a particular segment of scripture more quickly. They are a man-made addition to the Word of God and as such they can and do cause confusion.)

Back to the article from Olive Tree they then present Colossians 3:5-11 in the NIV translation which is a terrible translation in which the translators have specific gender neutral terms and really remove most of the meat of God’s Word. Please use the KJV or the KJVER if you want to avoid the majority of the “old english” words. Here is the excerpt from their blog.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.”

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.Colossians 3:5-11, NIV”

For this post I will not go into all the corruptions of the NIV for these verses. I will post the KJV below for comparison and will work from it to rebuke Olive Tree.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
(Colossians 3:5-11 KJV)

The post then goes into two quotes from their study bible about old self versus new self and what Paul meant by barbarian and Scythian. These are so surface level that it can hardly be called milk. Why not go into the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience, mortification of our members upon the earth, putting off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, lying, ect. No we are going to define a couple words not talk about whose image in which we are renewed.

So this is where they scripture referencing ends and their erroneous “Food for Thought” comes in. I will go through this bit by bit showing the error in their words.


Well that was quick, this is a dismissive framing that immediately guides the reader into continuing in the own false belief if they are to agree with what is being written and it minimizes all contrary doctrine, no matter how accurate that doctrine is.

“Legalists are those people who base their salvation on themselves and what they do—especially their religious behavior—rather than on Christ.”

This statement is both correct and incorrect at the same time. It is a statement of gross ignorance or pure deception. True legalists corrupt the word of God and say that you must follow the Law, as in the Old Testament law, or the ordinances of the “Church”, like the Catholics, ect. Salvation is a gift from Jesus, however a gift can be cherished “like unto treasure hid in a field” or a “pearl of great price” in Matthew 13. This gift can also just be discarded. Remember the verse this post started with:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
(James 2:26 KJV)

So it is both Christ and our works that give us life eternal.

“Of course, we want to believe all the doctrines correctly and obey all the commandments to our utmost. But if in our own thinking we put too much emphasis on what we believe or what we do, are we not perilously close to basing our salvation on ourselves?”

Of course doctrine matters and obedience matters, but…, There is always a “but” with false doctrines. This “but” completely nullifies the entire previous statement. This was a throw away statement to try to seem Biblical and then immediately change it to something else. This person does not understand that salvation has two parts: the free gift we could never earn, and the continuing, enduring, and striving that comes afterward.

“Christ—not a doctrine, not a commandment—is our Savior.”

Which Christ? The one of the Koran that never died on the cross, the one of the JW that isn’t God, the one of the Mormans that is a spirit brother of Satan and was once a man on another planet, the one of the Catholics that doesn’t have the power to save? WHICH ONE!? This statement is completely ignorant or completely deceptive, the only way you know you are worshiping and following the One True God is through doctrine. What is doctrine, teaching. Where do we find this teaching, in God’s word. This is so simple yet the author from Olive Tree does not get it. Remember how Jesus warned that others would come in His name saying he was here or there, remember Paul warns of another Jesus, another spirit, or another gospel in 2 Corinthians? How about Galations being warned about another gospel which is not another but a perversion. So simple.

He—not we ourselves—is the basis of our hope.

Of course and the only people who think otherwise are those who preach another gospel, or another Jesus, or another spirit….

“We must not minimize the necessity of believing right doctrines.”

You got that right!


Oh there it again dismissing the entire previous statement to minimize the necessity of believing right doctrines.

“But after all is said and done, being a Christian is essentially loving Christ, a person, rather than believing this or that doctrine or obeying this or that commandment or having a particular experience.”

And how does one love Christ. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John:

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
(John 14:15 KJV)

And again:

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
(John 14:21 KJV)

And again:

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
(John 14:23 KJV)

And Jesus’ example of himself:

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
(John 14:31 KJV)

So it is not about obeying commandments, it is about loving Christ. This is what Olive Tree wants you to believe. Yet they do not understand that we love Christ BY keeping His commandments.

“We believe doctrines and obey commandments because of Christ.”

This is not found anywhere in the scriptures. As seen above, Jesus tells us that we love Him by keeping His commandments.

“We must not love them [doctrine and commandments] more than we love him.”

This just does not, to turn a phrase, hold water. Doctrine and commandments cannot be separated from Christ. There is one way to love Christ, it is to keep His commandments according to His doctrine. Doctrine just means teaching. This person is disqualified from teaching, as he knows not the foundations of Christianity.

“If we love a doctrine too much, we are apt to grow irritated and hard and sour toward those who do not agree with our doctrine.”

I will repeat, how do we know Jesus? How? By His teaching! There is one way to the Father and that is through the man Christ Jesus. There is one Christ, one God, one faith, one baptism, one Spirit, one doctrine!

“If we love a person, Christ the person, we grow like him.”

This is patently incorrect. The scriptures say we are conformed into the image of Christ through our life as we choose to be like Him. How do we be like Him? How do we love Him? We keep His commandments and keeping His commandments entails following His doctrine, the doctrine of Christ. Christ is so intertwined with doctrine that in Hebrews 6:1 we are told about the “principles of the doctrine of Christ” and told to leave those principles, the milk and to move on to deeper things of the word. The blog author over at Olive Tree does not understand the milk of the doctrine of Christ.

“In this letter, Paul wants to correct the false doctrines of the Judaizers on the one hand and of the Greek philosophers on the other, and also the resultant compromise doctrines.”

Correct, we do not want to add to or take away from God’s word. We do not want to go back to the Old Testament, read Hebrews for why, or to add in extraneous man-made doctrines.


There it is again however this is now to discredit the first part of the upcoming statement about scripturally sound beliefs. This author is very duplicitous and we are warned against people like this.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
(James 1:8 KJV)

“But even if our beliefs are scripturally sound, there is such a thing as exalting some truth about Christ above Christ himself.”

What does this even mean. I am going to tear down scripturally sound doctrine and beliefs with a statement that means nothing. Jesus is called “Faithful and True” in Revelation. Jesus is the truth. The only way the above statement makes any sense is for twisted scripture, which then makes it not true.

“And when we thus tip the balance of our partnership with Christ toward our own side, we are legalists.”

What Jesus do you worship? Jesus is not my partner, He is my Master, my King, my Lord, my Savior, my Deliverer, my advocate, my friend. He is not my partner, to think you have a partnership with Jesus elevates you and pulls down Jesus. Despicable.

“It is possible to be a legalist over a doctrine of grace!”

It is also possible to use man-made doctrines to destroy the faith of many. So the exposition of Colossians 3 ends at verse 11 but there are still another 14 verses that were not included. These verses are full of doctrine, teaching, about behavior within the body, about putting on charity, about “the word of Christ” endwelling in us richly, about worship, and giving thanks. Then it continues into wives submitting to husbands and husbands loving wives. Children being obedient to parents and fathers not provoking them to wrath. Servants obeying masters and working as to the Lord. About doing what is right or receiving for the wrong committed.

The exposition of Colossians stopped at verse 11, not even half way through, because the author’s entire diatribe at the end of the article is thoroughly disproven by the rest of the chapter. (And the included verses that were skipped over in explanation.) Below is the rest of the chapter, please read and be edified.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
(Colossians 3:12-25 KJV)

Olive Tree should be ashamed. I hope this person repents and takes down this deception.

My words only matter as they conform to the Lord and His doctrine. If you have questions or can scripturally dispute what I have written, please feel free to do so. Off-topic comments will only be approved if they edify the body.

With the love of Christ,


Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
(2 Timothy 4:2-3 KJV)

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