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Colossians 2:15

ESV He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
NIV And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
NASB When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
CSB He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.
NLT In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
KJV And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
NKJV Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

What does Colossians 2:15 mean?

In verse 14, Paul referred to the forgiveness offered by God using two important themes. The first was the legal aspect, where the debt and punishment are cancelled. The second is the restoration of the relationship we have with God. Paul also referred to God metaphorically crucifying sin; this implies a total rejection as well as death. In other words, God not only forgives our sins and gives us a restored relationship, He completely destroys and rejects that sin.

Here, in verse 15, Paul adds that through the cross, Jesus "disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame." These authorities Paul references are likely spiritual authorities, similar to his words in Ephesians 6:12. The context of the passage is entirely spiritual, not political, so Paul's meaning has nothing to do with shame toward earthly kings or leaders. Rather, he is speaking about the power of Jesus over the forces of spiritual darkness. Rulers and authorities are terms used for spiritual entities in Ephesians 3:10 and 1 Peter 3:22.

How did Jesus disarm and openly shame spiritual authorities? According to Paul, "by triumphing over them in [Christ]." Some translators suggest that the phrase "in him" might be better translated as "in it," meaning the cross (Colossians 2:14). That's a minor point, however, since in either sense it is Christ and His power that brings victory over spiritual evil.
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