by Peter Ditzel
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world…. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
Galatians 4:3, 9
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ…. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Colossians 2:8, 20-22
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Going to Scripture, we see that the word translated “elements” in Galatians 4, “rudiments” in Colossians 2, and “principles” in Hebrews 12 is stoicheion. The word stoicheion comes from stoicheō, which means to march in orderly ranks. Stoicheion means first, elementary things. It was used for the letters of the alphabet. Thus, translating stoicheion as “ABCs” works pretty well in the Galatians, Colossians, and Hebrews verses quoted above.aaa