Colossians 2:10 ESV

"and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority."

A. "Authority" here relates to Christians who "have been filled in him". "Him" being "the head of all rule and authority" of those having been filled. Authority refers to "authority" only over those who are "in him".

B. Colossians 2:8

"See that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ."

Here some are able to take captive...not according to Christ. These elemental spirits cause submission to their "authority" as they demand "Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch." [Elemental spirits in Col 2:8 and 2:20].

Does "authority" in Colossians 2:10 refer to:

A. Only the church.

B. Things inside and outside the church.

C. Another possibility.

  • 2
    "Authority" describes "him" - from "you have been filled in him" not "and you" (Christians). "All rule and authority" describes. The previous verse says "9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" referring to Christ. So, Christians are filled with Christ and Christ has all rule and authority. Bottom line - Christ is sovereign king. This contrasts the lack of authority or "empty deceit" of other beliefs. Christ has all rule and authority even though there are those who do not acknowledge that authority.
    – David D
    Nov 29, 2023 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


Pardon this back-to-front approach, but with regard to the question of what "authority" in Colossians 2:10 refers to, I am going to start with C - Another possibility (that is, other than the Church, or things outside of the Church).

There is authority, and there is Supreme Authority.

So, yes, there is another possibility to be considered, for without question, there is authority in the Church, and authority outside of the Church. My point is that the text in question is dealing with Supreme Authority, not authority with a lower case 'a' that can be seen all over the place, both inside the Church and outside of the Church.

If that can be established from the text, then no more needs to be said.

The text is set within the context of how Christians are protected from being beguiled, that is, deceived. They who have received Christ by faith are to walk in him, rooted and built up in him. The risen Christ has been portrayed to them as having "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". Indeed, "all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Him". The two Greek words chosen by Paul for 'dwelling' and 'Godhead' are not the lesser words meaning 'divine' and 'temporary abode' but the strongest ones possible to convey that Christ is God. Now, what kind of authority does God have and - therefore - what kind of authority does Christ have? Is it authority, or Supreme Authority? This should be self-evident.

So far, there is not even a hint of any kind of authority Christians have. When we read the verse in question, has the matter of the authority of Christians been introduced? Consider two other translations of the whole sentence, which agree with the one preferred in the question:

"For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority." N.A.S.B.

"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 [the Greek word rendered 'power' being 'authority'.] The Englishman's Greek New Testament, Robert Estienne, originally published 1624

When the text speaks of 'him' and 'he', that means the risen Christ. When the text speaks of 'ye' and 'you', those are the Christians. In the text the Christians are stated to have been made complete in Christ, because of his Supreme Authority.

To complete dealing with the 'A' part of the question, it only remains to be pointed out that the risen Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords, with even demons subject to his authoritative commands (e.g. needing his permission to go into a herd of pigs). Satan is also subject to his authority as shown in how he is cast out of heaven, confined to Earth, then cast into the abysss before, finally, the eternally burning lake of sulphuric fire.) If that isn't Supreme Authority, I don't know what is.

Regarding 'B' - Colossians 2:8 - speaks of Christians not becoming captivated by lying powers pretending to have Supreme Authority, when they do not. They are would-be-usurpers. Christians who are firmly rooted and built up in Christ are protected from such deceptive claims as they remain faithful to the Supreme Authority of Christ.

Therefore 'C' has been shown to be the answer: that 'authority' in Colossians 2:10 means the Supreme Authority of the risen Christ.

  • *ek*/out-*ousia*/being. Christ has being derived/out from the Father. Supreme Authority from the Father. [?]
    – C. Stroud
    Nov 30, 2023 at 17:25

The operative word in Col 2:10 is ἐξουσία (exousia) which means (BDAG)

  1. a state of control over something, freedom of choice, right (eg, the 'right' to act, decide, dispose of one's property as one wishes ...), eg, 2 Thess 3:9, John 10:18, 1 Cor 4, Heb 13:10, Rev 13:5, 1 Cor 9:12, etc
  2. potential or resource to command control or govern, might power, eg, Rev 9:10, 19, Mark 3:15, Luke 12:5, John 1:12, 7:1, etc.
  3. the right to control or command, authority, absolute power, warrant, eg, Acts 26:2, Matt 21:23, 24, 27, Mark 11:28, 29, 33, Luke 20:2, 8, 2 Cor 10:8, 13:10, Matt 28:18, etc.
  4. pwer exercised by rulers or others in high positions by virtue of their office, ruling power, official power, eg, Rev 12:12, Luke 20:20, John 19:10, Matt 8:9, etc.
  5. bearer of ruling authority
  • (a) human authorities, officials, government, eg, Luke 12:11, Rom 13:1, 2, 3, etc
  • (b) of transcendent rulers and functionaries, powers of the spirit world, eg, 1 Cor 15:24, Eph 1:21, Col 2:10, Eph 3:10, 6:12, Col 1:16, 2:15.
  1. the sphere in which power is exercised, domain, eg, Luke 4:6, 23:7, 22:53, Col 1:13.

Thus, the "authority" in Col 2:10 is actually of Christ (5b above). That is, the authority is NOT that of Christians, but that of the unlimited authority of Christ over everything.

Col 2:10 - And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Thus, this text is NOT saying that Christians have authority, it is saying that Christians need to submit to Christ's authority and be filled with Christ (see John 15:1-10). Barnes says this succinctly when he writes:

And ye are complete in him - Having no need, for the purposes of salvation, of any aid to be derived from the philosophy of the Greeks, or the traditions of the Jews. All that is necessary to secure your salvation is to be found in the Lord Jesus. There is a completion, or a filling up, in him, so as to leave nothing wanting. This is true in respect:

  1. to the wisdom which is needful to guide us;
  2. the atonement to be made for sin;
  3. the merit by which a sinner can be justified; and,
  4. the grace which is needful to sustain us in the trials, and to aid us in the duties, of life; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Jesus is all we need! This also answers the OP's second question.


We know that Christ is the head over all authorities, principalities, etc .

"In this age, that we are living in, all begin under the authority of the spirit of the air and authorities that are ruling over the governments and people of the earth today.

Those who are in Christ now are no longer under the authority of the spirit of the air and principalities. The reason being is that we have a circumcision of the flesh that has been buried. We are raised together with Christ through the operation of God. Satan is operating in those who are still walking in the flesh.

Those who are in Christ now are no longer under the authority of Satan and the other rebellious entities. They only have authority over those who are in the flesh at this point in time. Of course if we don't know who our new head, is, (no longer the old Adam of death and sin) then a believer can be easily deceived and walk accordingly to lies and not enjoy their true freedom in Christ, their true Head. Ephesians 2:19

  • What I mean is that all the prodigy of Adam are born into this world under sin, death and the authority of the air. The spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. "And such were some of you" We are under the new authority of Christ once we are placed in His death, burial and resurrection. The old life is gone because the flesh has been done away with and buried through Christ's death. Believers are learning their new identity, new life, under their new Head or authority which is the risen Christ. Previously the authority over their lives was the spirit of the air.
    – Sherrie
    Nov 30, 2023 at 0:46
  • Does that help answer your question?
    – Sherrie
    Nov 30, 2023 at 0:46
  • @C.Stroud. I appreciate you suggesting the edits and have implemented them. Thanks
    – Sherrie
    Dec 1, 2023 at 1:00

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