Elemental Spirits

Elemental Spirits
Written by: Samantha Wichman

In Colossians 2:8, Paul charges believers to not be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit, “according to human tradition, according to elemental spirits of the world, and not to Christ.”

How exactly are we to understand the term “elemental spirits?” The Greek word “stoicheia” (used here in Colossians 2:8 as well as in Colossians 2:20, Galatians 4:3, and Galatians 4:9) is translated both as “elemental spirits” and “elemental principles.”

According to Oxford Biblical Studies Online, the most common way to understand these elemental spirits is as angels.

But why would angels want to take us captive? Aren’t they the good guys?

Look at what Galatians 3:19 says about the relationship between angels and the Law: “Why then the Law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.”

According to Scripture, the Law was put in place by angels. Um, what? This is a new thought for me, and my guess is it probably is for you too. 

The main point that Paul is getting at, however, is that believers are ALIVE in Christ! Our standing in Christ is completely different from our standing under the Law.

Under the Law, humans are dead, condemned, and enslaved. Under the Law, we are far from God. Jesus (by His life, death, and resurrection) not only paid our debt and gave us eternal life in Himself, but also “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:13-15), and gives us access to God (Eph. 2:18).

In Colossians 2:8, Paul is telling believers that when they adhere to the Law (to any degree), they are CHOOSING to become enslaved once more, when Christ has indeed SET THEM FREE. The Law required people to do certain things in order to approach God, but Christ removed any need for an intermediary. 

Paul is asking believers WHY (now that they have indeed been reconciled to God through Christ), they want to adhere once again to the tenants of the Law and act as if Christ never came.

“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:23-29.

In what ways do your actions try to nullify the work of Christ?
What would it look like to let your belief in Christ’s finished work change these actions?

Posted in


Meg Morrow-Rainwater - November 16th, 2021 at 9:18am

The elemental spirits are water, earth, fire, air, and ether. These some are the demons that witches and occultist use in their Magick practices.

J - July 29th, 2022 at 1:10am

You do realize those elements are what we live, thrive and survive upon..why wouldnt we honor and invoke them...Christianity is so fucking backwards. Keep using fear to gain control lol

L - September 10th, 2022 at 9:38am

Quite the opposite. When you are under the Lordship, and not the law, there is God’s Peace. He is going to burn up all those elements of the world. Can you not understand all He did was to speak the universe, the sun that provides fuel and warmth for each of us, AND the earth into existence!!! His plan is for ALL. It’s up to each one to get a accept and not.

Ramona Dare-Wetzel - October 12th, 2022 at 7:06am

Because as a dumb Christian I choose to glorify the Creator and not the created. Kinda like you settling for a blow up doll instead of a living breathing thinking human being. Just saying.

Robbin Williams - May 9th, 2022 at 12:59pm

Wow, I mean WOW,, this is mind blowing, but yet I understand!!!! this a level of teaching, I have never had, why don't the churches teach on this level of understanding for the people, to know what to do in spiritual warfare, n just having knowledge of the real reason Jesus Christ came to earth, I am just breathing now no wonder the church as a whole is so silent, the teaching level is very low

RaYz Of LiGhT - August 11th, 2023 at 12:21am

Email me please. You're comment is the only one that's made any sense to me. Well sorta. But I have some questions.

Nick - December 27th, 2022 at 6:11am

Hi and thank you for your article here. I'd just like to say that there is a slight contradiction in it.

You tried to make out the law oppressed us, held us down, your words were.

"Under the Law, humans are dead, condemned, and enslaved. Under the Law, we are far from God".

No in sin we are all those things because we break God's laws. Before I go any further, I'll just ask the reader, "What is sin"?

Before you read on, think about some preprogrammed answers you've been given and never really thought about. Some say sin is missing the mark which is very ambiguous when we don't know what the mark is. Is the mark something from the bible, something your church makes up, is it the life Jesus lived?

Well if your trying to copy the life Jesus lived in your efforts you've already lost the day before you get out of bed, because climbing Mt Everest would be a far easier task each day.

We are told in the bible what sin is and its lines up with the old testament on this. In 1John 3:4 it tells us that sin is the transgression of the law.

That's it. Plain and simple. God has told us what's right and wrong and if you do what's wrong (opposite to what's right) you are in sin.

However, from church to church and person to person, they throw out God's laws like its a buffet, "I don't like that God, you can keep that, oh I love this, I'll take that" etc.

Then the church will add its own laws for that particular church. Guess who in the bible did this? Who did Jesus have the most debates and arguments with for adding to and taking from God's laws, making up thousands of their own in place of what God had given?

Who was it that Jesus performed most of His miricles to prove God's laws were right and God was with Him and not them with their made up laws?

Well it was the Pharasees. And the modern Christian Church and right down to the individual, are doing just as they, the pharasees did.

Firstly, Paul has never said any thing about the law God gave being bad for us otherwise, he would also be contradicting himself when he says the "law is good". In Romans 7.

Then in Romans 8, he goes on to say that the measure of a saved person is their ability to follow God's laws if they have the Spirit of God in them otherwise, that person has great hostility towards God's laws without the Holy Spirit which only comes through repentance and baptism into Jesus. Then we are able to follow God's laws which is another way of saying that we will not sin.

Not sinning is a ridiculous concept to the modern pharasaic type Christian. They have this concept that sin is something more than what we are told it is......IN THE BIBLE.. and with all the extra laws they've made up, sinning is just something they accept they will do each day.

This is not true. The bible tells us that he who sins is of the devil. Now my brothers and sisters in Jesus, you are not of the devil, you are of Jesus

There are 612 laws that God gave however, some are for men and some for women. So if you are a man you can't practise following the laws for a woman or you'll be in sin. You don't follow the entire 612 laws.

Then there are laws for farmers and cattle owners but if that's not you, you don't follow those laws either.

Then there are laws for eating which you will follow and then laws for everyday interactions which you will follow. The laws for the priest and sacrificing still stand but are fulfilled in the work Jesus has done on the cross.

It's good to know though what sin was required for what sacrifice. If gives you an idea of the greatness of the work of Jesus on the cross covering all this. But as Paul says, does that mean we can go on sinning (breaking God's laws)?

No he says, God forbid he says. He tells us that with the Holy Spirit, you stop trying and He takes over your reactions and thoughts and therfore your body. That's the mark of a person that has truly repented and been saved. Otherwise, anyone who sins (breaks God's laws 1John 3:4) is of the devil.

Paul told us that the curse of the law (punishment for breaking it) has been nailed to the cross not the law itself. But many Christians still think its the law nailed to the cross which is not what it says.

Even Jesus said He'd not come to do away with the law but fulfill it. He went on to say that heaven and earth would roll up like a scroll before the law is abolished and anyone who teachers another to break even the least of God's commands will be called least in heaven.

Paul talks about these elemental spirits we were under before being saved. These are not real elements or spirits he is talking about doctrines and ways of this world like your cultures.

You were under them (if you are saved) but now you are not.

The law was given to the Hebrews and the world was not to take the Hebrews out of an Egyptian culture and into a Jewish culture. Jewish culture is wrapped mostly around the Talmud. A book written over hundreds of years by Jewish men throwing out God's laws and inventing their own in place.

In many places it goes against the Torah (The books of the old testament and filled with the laws God gave for a kingdom life on Earth).

The law was given to bring them and us out of a worldly culture and into God's kingdom culture. Not for us to chop and change.

Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot have that character in our nature to live that life, but with the Holy Spirit, we can live the life God created us for and not in sin anymore

RaYz Of LiGhT - August 11th, 2023 at 12:27am

Please email me I have some questions. and you explain things well.

Crystal - August 11th, 2023 at 10:23am

I would be happy to answer any questions if you can't get a hold of the person who left the comment above.

Crystal - August 11th, 2023 at 10:21am

Amen! Thank you! We are Torah observant or Messianic whatever the label is, lol. We just follow Yeshua and His Word.

Susie - January 18th, 2023 at 1:30pm

This sounds to me, when we are talking about "elemental spirits," that we are talking about pagan religions like anamism, worship of Mother Earth (popular today), or the gods that represent those elements. Especially so, since Paul was mostly speaking to Gentiles in Collosi. Open to correction on this.

amarya - March 2nd, 2023 at 1:01pm

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I sincerely believe thats what Paul was talking about because technically that’s the “human tradition” tradition as well. These scriptures can be used in order to explain why things like astrology is wrong to depend on.