Paul had already told the Colossian believers that they were participators in the death of Christ (see verse 11). He is saying that since they had died (Greek apothnesko) with Christ their former bondage to the elemental forces of the earth had been severed. The elementary principles (Greek stoicheion) are the rudiments of any intellectual or religious system. Paul wanted them to see that to die with Christ meant that they died to sin, law, self, flesh, the world, and to all who would instruct in these areas. Death means separation, and as such, the Colossian believers were separated from these principles.
Paul asks them why they have sought to put themselves back under these things. They had died to these things in Christ, yet now they were seeking to return to their pre-cross lives. The word used here for world (kosmos), from which we get the English words “cosmic” and “cosmology,” originally described anything that was constructed or built, then its order, or by extension its ordered beauty. The world was a perfect unity, beautiful in its order. From the time of the use of kosmos to describe the world, therefore, the order of the world was primary. It is not speaking of the people, but the world order. The decrees (Greek dogmatizo) were those that had been outworn, annulled, and superseded by the cross of Christ. All these rules and regulations belonged to the pre-Christian life, the sphere of the flesh. As Paul said in Rom. 8:4, that those “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” are bound by these decrees, but when we walk in the Spirit we are under no further obligation to them.
Prayer: May I truly understand the wonder of my relationship with You, my Savior. Jesus, You have released me from the bondage of sin, laws, self,the flesh and the world. May I use this freedom in line with what You have established for me. I praise You. Amen.
 Also, consider and study Rom. 6:2 – 4, 6, 11, 7:4; 2 Cor. 5:15; Gal. 6:14.
 W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 167.
 Perschbacher, W. J. (Ed.). (1990). The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody, Massachusetts, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Pages 63 and 379.
 Allen, C. J. (Ed.). (1971). The Broadman Bible Commentary (Vol. 11). Nashville, TN, USA: Broadman Press. Page 240.
 Butler, T. c. (Ed.). (1991). Holman Bible Dictionary. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from StudyLIght,org: http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd