Stoikheiʹon occurs seven times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The apostle Peter uses it twice in the sense of an element of the natural universe, saying: “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved.” (2 Pet. 3:10, 12) A footnote in the New World Translation on the word “elements” says, “the celestial bodies.” In the literal heavens the elements or constituent parts are the individual celestial bodies. However, since we know that the literal heavens and earth will remain forever, and in view of what the context shows, it is apparent that the apostle Peter was here referring to a wicked symbolic heavens, consisting of Satan and all his wicked demons. These will melt away in the day of Jehovah in that they will be put out of action at Armageddon, thrown into the abyss for a thousand years.—Rev. 20:1-3.
In his letter to the Hebrew Christians the apostle Paul uses this same term stoikheiʹon to refer to the basic elements of true Christianity. Because of their indolence these again needed someone to teach them from the beginning “the first principles [stoikheiʹon; elements] of the sacred pronouncements of God,” such as “repentance from dead works, and faith toward God, . . . the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.” Such teachings, elements or “principles” are both basic and primary, for which reason Paul designated them as the “first” elements of the teachings of Christianity.—Heb. 5:12; 6:1, 2.
Coming now to the “elementary things” mentioned at Colossians 2:8, these are the basic or elementary things or principles that comprise, guide and motivate Satan’s world or system of things. The term would therefore include the philosophy or futile wisdom of this world; the empty deception of its materialism, which the Congregator in the book of Ecclesiastes repeatedly shows to be such a calamitous occupation; the traditions of false religion, and so forth. Included, therefore, are the things mentioned by the apostle John: “Because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.”—1 John 2:16.
If the Christian is not at all times awake and alert, men of this world will carry him off as their prey according to its elementary things by bringing him again into bondage for their own selfish purposes. Thus certain Judaizers, who were a part of the world and who were trying to bring Christians back into the bondage of the Mosaic law, caused Paul to write: “If you died together with Christ toward the elementary things of the world, why do you, as if living in the world, further subject yourselves to the decrees, ‘Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch,’ respecting things that are all destined to destruction by being used up.” (Col. 2:20-22) Two similar references to these particular “elementary things” are found at Galatians 4:3 and 9.
Since today comparatively few Christians have come out of Judaism, the danger of being taken a prey by Judaizers is not so great as it was with the Galatian Christians in Paul’s day. But there are other dangers, such as those already noted, and not overlooking higher criticism, against which Christians must be on guard, for “bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33.
Christians are instructed to be ‘assembling still more as the day nears.’ (Heb. 10:25) Not only will we continue to do so, but we will encourage others to see the importance of assembling with Jehovah’s people. To that end, we will offer to the people during July the fine book “Your Will Be Done on Earth” and another helpful Bible-study book, with two booklets, on a contribution of $1.
SECURITY DURING WAR
For your safety and the eternal welfare of your family you will want to hear the timely and vitally important subject SECURITY DURING “WAR of the Great Day of God the Almighty.” It will be the featured Bible talk at all the Peace-pursuing District Assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses this summer. Write the branch office nearest you for details.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
August 7: Dwelling Together in Honor, ¶1-21. Page 401.
August 14: Dwelling Together in Honor, ¶22-32, and Anger and Indignation. Page 407.