In its primary sense, as denoting the first principles or
constituents of things, it is used in 2 Pet. 3:10: "The elements
shall be dissolved." In a secondary sense it denotes the first
principles of any art or science. In this sense it is used in
Gal. 4:3, 9; Col. 2:8, 20, where the expressions, "elements of
the world," "week and beggarly elements," denote that state of
religious knowledge existing among the Jews before the coming of
Christ, the rudiments of religious teaching. They are "of the
world," because they are made up of types which appeal to the
senses. They are "weak," because insufficient; and "beggarly,"
or "poor," because they are dry and barren, not being
accompanied by an outpouring of spiritual gifts and graces, as
the gospel is.