Colossians 2:18, (DRB):

Let no man seduce you, willing in humility and religion of angels, walking in the things which he hath not seen, in vain puffed up by the sense of his flesh:

Colossians 2:18, (KJV):

  1. 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,

Colossians 2:23, (DRB):

23Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in superstition and humility, and not sparing the body; not in any honour to the filling of the flesh.

Colossians 2:23, (ESV):

  1. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Are these verses allude to Monasticism?

I mean, may Monasticism be a psychological problem due to fleshly mind?

I am not against Monasticism, but I think it is against the biblical teaching.

  • I am not against Monasticism, but I think it is against the biblical teaching. - Both the writer of those epistles (1 Corinthians 7:7-9), and the Founder of the new religion he was zealously spreading (Matthew 19:10-12), lived chaste lives. There were many ancient mystery religions (such as Gnosticism, for instance), which purported to have been (secretly) revealed by various angels and/or divinities; they also possessed very elaborate angelic and/or divine hierarchies (described in Irenaeus' Against Heresies).
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 13:32
  • @Lucian could you include your point of view in an answer?
    – salah
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 14:18
  • I like to keep my posts as objective and non-partisan as possible, and the truth is that answers to this particular question (and many others like it) will inevitably vary along denominational lines (it's basically like going on a Muslim site, and asking questions about Ali); thus Protestants will sincerely respond affirmatively to your question, while members of traditional and historic churches will undoubtedly disagree. My (previous) comment cannot constitute an answer, since it does not articulate whether, or to what extent, monasticism is related to imitating Christ, or Gnostic teachings.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


There are two matters here that are quite separate but related.


Monasticism as practiced by the Christian church started at least 100 years after Christ and comes in numerous "colours and flavours". In its extreme form it shows itself as orders like the Trappist Monks, to completely dispersed orders that have no institutions at all. There is everything in between.

Originally monasticism comes from the Greek word μοναχός (monachos) which derives from the root word μόνος (monos) meaning 'alone'. Thus, pure, original monasticism meant monks were supposed to stay separated from society and devote themselves to humility, separation, prayer and mortification of the flesh. Later, some churchs added the requirement of chastity and/or poverty. Indeed, Col 2:23 speaks AGAINST such orders as follows:

Such restrictions indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-prescribed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body; but they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

The word (correctly) translated "humility" here is ταπεινοφροσύνη (tapeinophrosune) is rendered (inexplicably) "asceticism" in the ESV for which it is alone.

The problem here is the "self-prescribed worship" and the false humility, done, presumably for show (ironically!!). Paul specifically says that such practices do not work. There is no scriptural basis for monastic orders.

Modern Monastics

Now, having said that, there are some good points about monasticism that cannot be ignored. Not all "monasteries" are intended to keep their inhabitants separate, isolated and in useless pursuits. Indeed some orders are dispersed, or, encourage the public to participate in their work. Here are some spectacular examples that no one would object to:

  • Schools - all schools before the 17th or 18th centuries were run and staffed by an order of monks who taught. Over time, the monks struggled with numbers and started hiring non-ordained teachers. In the 19th century, schools started being founded by various secular states but many "church" schools remain.
  • Universities - all universities until the 17th or 18th centuries (the transition varied a lot by country) were rub by ordained scholars. There is the famous example of Sir Isaac Newton, an Arian, who had to be ordained to take the Lucian chair of Physics at Cambridge, so an exception was made that, despite the rules of the Anglican church, an Arian was ordained to the priesthood.
  • Hospitals - there is a similar situation with hospitals as well. Even today, many hospitals are operated by various church based denominations.

I am sure others will think of more examples.


Col 2:23 is speaking AGAINST separated monasticism. It says nothing (for or against) about profitable institutions such as universities and hospitals, missionary orders, Bible societies and many other groups that in numerous ways fulfil the mission of Christ as set out in Matt 28:19,, 20 -

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.


Instead. You see, the apostle Paul clearly expresses in the text that we must not focus on "monasticism". The real meaning of the sacred text is to express the true meaning of the gospel of Christ, love and freedom.

If then you are already dead with Christ, why do you still carry new commandments as if nothing had changed in relation to the old way of life? And they continue to overwhelm you with rules like: Don't touch this, don't eat it, don't use that! [Colossians 2:20]

All of this is nothing more than mere human precepts and doctrines that lose their validity over time.

Christ called us to a life free from human precepts.

  • Welcome to BH. Please see the Tour and the Help (bottom left, below) so that you may appreciate the purpose of the site and the manner in which it operates.I have edited to remove the more personal remarks and also to demonstrate how referenced quotations can be highlighted in your text.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 2:28

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