On Sunday evenings I am preaching through Colossians. Following a section thick with metaphor (2:6-7) Paul issues this warning in verse 8:
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ".
So the metaphors continue. The Colossians must be wary of false teaching since the alternative teaching, which is a deceptive and empty Christ-less philosophy, will enslave and imprison them. It will take them captive.
Peter O'Brien in his commentary writes that:
"...the word is used figuratively of carrying someone away from the truth into the slavery of error. The term is a vivid one and shows how seriously Paul regarded the evil designs of those trying to influence the congregation."
O' Brien, Word Biblical Commentary: Colossians, Philemon, p. 109
But whilst Paul considers this philosophy to be hollow and deceptive that is certainly not how it is going to be presented to the church. From the standpoint of the apostolic gospel concerning the person and work of Christ it is empty deceit and human tradition. But from the perspective of how it will seek to gain entry and acceptance among the Colossians it will appear as "plausible arguments" that have the capacity to delude believers (2:4).
This is worth reflecting on. Dick Lucas makes a helpful observation on the plausibility of error in his Bible Speaks Today commentary on Colossians:
"We do not learn from error if we are content merely to expose its follies. The new teaching had an immediate appeal just because it spoke to a real need."
R. C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon, p. 86
This is the reason why error gains entry. Part of the process is the appeal that it makes. It is plausible and attractive, not necessarily obviously wrong and harmful. With a spoon full of sugar the heresy goes down.