Christ should be the center of everything we do. To make Christ the center, we have to understand His role in the physical and spiritual realm. According to Paul, powers we don’t perceive are working to take our minds captive. By actively seeking Christ, they can be conquered. In the next eight studies of Colossians, we will open up the gospel and learn to let Christ reign in our lives.
The phrase “elemental spirits” (στοιχεῖα, stoicheia) could refer to spiritual beings, but it could also refer to a set of philosophical principles. Paul certainly was arguing against “human tradition” as a way to worship Jesus, but he could have also been saying that human tradition is used by spiritual beings to lead people astray. (The philosophy Paul had in mind was likely stoicism, which proposed that following a set of principles was the way to be enlightened by the gods.)