Colossians 2:8,9,10; (DRB):

8Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit: according to the tradition of men according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ. 9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporeally. 10And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power.

It's also φιλοσοφίας "philosophias" in Greek text, and philosophiam in Latin Vulgate.

These verses seems to say that there's Philosophy according to Elements of the World, and also there's Philosophy according to the Christ.

So, beside being prophet, priest and king, was Jesus a Philosopher?

How to discern the Philosophy of Jesus via the Bible?

  • 1
    The sentence treats 'philosophy' and 'according to Christ' as opposites, not as identical things. Grammatically, the hinge of the sentence is 'not'. On one side - X. On the other - Y. Logically, the statement is 'Y not X'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 10:24
  • @NigelJ "not according to Christ" implicitly indicate that there's a Philosophy according to Jesus.
    – salah
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 10:29
  • No, sir. 'Christ' is a person. The sentence contrasts a philosophy with a Person. The knowledge of Christ is not the knowledge of a philosophy - it is the knowing a Person. If one knows the Person, one will know him who is the Truth. This is what the New Testament conveys (in the gospel).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 10:32
  • 1
    Neither Paul nor Jesus were particularly fond of employing sophistry, which is what the text is mainly about.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 11:38
  • 2
    @NigelJ: He's simply referencing (empty) philosophical rhetoric; well-crafted and well-worded intellectual speculation, devoid of any actual substance.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 14:30

3 Answers 3


I would not object to people who call Jesus a philosopher but I would object if they think he's just a philosopher. Philosopher (lover of wisdom) is an artificial thing while Jesus is the Son of God.

The question is this: What's Paul's take on philosophy?

Paul did not shy away from philosophy or philosophers. Indeed he engaged them in Athens.

Act 17:22 And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, Ye men of Athens, in all things, I perceive that ye are very religious. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you.

The climax of the debate came

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

In the end of that encounter, Paul successfully converted Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them (verse 34).

There are more important matters than human philosophies and theologies.

1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

To discern the Philosophy of Jesus via the Bible is missing the most important point of the Bible: the resurrection of Jesus. This is not you or I think but it is what Paul thinks.


The sentence contrasts a philosophy with a Person.

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. Colossians 2:8 [KJV]

The knowledge of Christ is not the knowledge of a philosophy - it is the knowing a Person. If one knows the Person, one will know him who is the Truth.

This is what the New Testament conveys (in the gospel) :

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, [Philippians 3:8 KJV]

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: [3:9]

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; [3:10]


The existence of one does not imply the existence of its opposite. This aphorism is true in Col 2:8-10 as well.

The fact that worldly philosophy that can lead people astray exists, does not at all imply that there is a Godly philosophy. No where is Biblical truth given the title of philosophy.

The truth of the Bible is contained in the truth of Jesus and His revelation of spiritual matters and truth about God.

  • 2
    the verses are clear, not according to Jesus means that there's Philosophy according to Jesus. I don't agree with you, I think there's a Godly Philosophy.
    – salah
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 9:46
  • @salah 'Don't catch the virus - take medicine' does not imply that 'medicine' is a type of virus.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 10:22
  • 1
    This answer hinges upon a limited definition of philosophy (which is not universally accepted) or upon an argument from the negative. While theology and philosophy are contrasted, it's not quite the same to say that "theology" is fundamentally not philosophy in some senses of the term.
    – eques
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 17:41

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