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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Edwards' Family Bible New TestamentFamily Bible NT

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Verse 1

Conflict or struggle, in allusion to what he has just said of his striving, chap Colossians 1:29 . In the original Greek the two words agree, like "struggling" and "struggle." It is an inward conflict, the object of which he explains in the following verse.

As many as have not seen my face in the flesh ; the obvious meaning of these words is, that the Colossians were among those who had never enjoyed Paul’s personal ministry.

Verse 2

Be comforted , being knit together in love ; that is, comforted in the way of being knit together in love.

Unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding ; these words give the end to which such a union of love tends. The apostle means that understanding of spiritual things which carries with it the full assurance of their reality and excellence, and which is, moreover, possessed in rich measure.

To the acknowledgment ; or, unto the knowledge. This is added, as a parallel clause, to explain the object to which the understanding just spoken of has reference. It is, the mystery of God-of Christ ; in other words, the mystery of the plan of redemption in God and Christ, with special reference to that feature of it which unites Jews and Gentiles in one body under Christ as their head.

Verse 3

Hid ; treasured up, to be communicated according to the wants of those who believe. The religion of Christ makes all who possess it truly benevolent, and leads them earnestly to desire the holiness and happiness of others.

Verse 4

With enticing words ; false persuasion; words of mere human wisdom, such as are more fully explained afterwards in verses Colossians 2:16-23 .

Verse 6

Christ Jesus the Lord ; emphatically, Christ Jesus as your supreme Lord and Saviour, and no yoke of carnal ordinances.

Walk ye in him ; continue in the belief and practice of those truths which you received when you gave your hearts to Christ.

Verse 7

Rooted and built ; firmly established, like a tree deep rooted, or a house on a rock. A heart abounding in thanksgiving to God for his mercies, especially for Jesus Christ and life through him, is a great safeguard against error, a source of the purest enjoyment, and a means of the greatest good.

Verse 8

Lest any man spoil you ; literally, make booty of you; rob you of spiritual blessings by leading you to depend on something besides Christ for salvation.

Rudiments of the world ; the Mosaic ceremonies, so called as containing, in comparison with the gospel of Christ, only the first elements of religion, even when rightly used; while they were so perverted by the false teachers, that they fed the spirit of worldly confidence, and made those who trusted in them carnal, instead of spiritual.

Verse 9

Godhead bodily ; God incarnate, or dwelling in human nature. John 1:14 ; Romans 9:5 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; Hebrews 1:6-8 .

Verse 11

Ye are circumcised ; have experienced that spiritual renovation, that cutting off or renouncing of sin, the necessity of which circumcision taught.

Without hands ; literal circumcision was made with hands, but the spiritual circumcision which they had experienced was wrought by the Holy Spirit, through the atonement, righteousness, and intercession of Christ. The true circumcision, that which God requires and which is essential to salvation, is not any thing which is outward merely, or wrought by men. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of faith in Christ.

Verse 12

Buried with him in baptism ; by openly renouncing sin, and publicly professing to hate and forsake it; thus showing their deadness to its reigning power.

Risen with him ; from their death in sin, by believing on him, and thus experiencing in their own persons the same divine power which raised Christ from the dead.

Verse 13

Dead in your sins ; while in their unconverted state.

The uncircumcision of your flesh ; that inward uncleanness of soul which their outward state of uncircumcision well represented.

Quickened ; made spiritually alive.

Verse 14

The handwriting of ordinances ; the Jewish ceremonial law, which lay in the letter, and not in the spirit.

Contrary to us ; burdensome, opposed to our liberty and peace as Christians, and constituting a "middle wall of partition" between Jews and Gentiles.

Nailing it to his cross ; as a sign of its abrogation; in other words, annulling it by his expiatory death on the cross.

Verse 15

Principalities and powers ; the powers of darkness, of which Satan is the leader. Compare Ephesians 6:12 . These our Lord overcame by his death and resurrection. John 12:31 ; John 14:30 ; John 16:11 .

Made a show of them openly ; let them in triumph, as a conqueror his captives. Compare Ephesians 4:8 .

In it ; in his cross, as the means of his victory over them.

Verse 16

Judge you ; pronounce you good or bad, according to your treatment of the ceremonial law.

A holy - day-sabbath - days ; in the original, a festival-sabbaths. The days referred to are those required to be observed in the ceremonial law-days associated by God with meats, drinks, and new moons. The passage does not refer to the Sabbath of the moral law, associated with the commands forbidding theft, murder, and adultery. This weekly Sabbath was never against men or contrary to them, but was always for them, and promotive of their highest good. The observance of it caused them to ride upon the high places of the earth, and to possess the heritage of God’s people. Isaiah 58:13-14 ; Jeremiah 17:21-27 .

Verse 17

A shadow ; of the Redeemer who was to come; pointing to him as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.

The body is of Christ ; he is the substance to which, as shadows, all the Jewish rites referred. Circumcision and all the Mosaic rites and ceremonies were designed to show men their need of inward purification, and the necessity of believing on Christ in order to obtain it. In him we have all that we need. There is no occasion, then, that we look for salvation to Jewish, or other kindred ceremonies, to saints, to the Virgin Mary, or to any one except Christ.

Verse 18

Of your reward ; that which Christ bestows on those who cleave to him, and seek salvation through him.

In a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels ; the apostle apparently speaks of that false humility which they had who pretended that God was too great to be approached except through created beings, such as angels. Thus their false teachers sought to draw them away from Christ, as if they needed ceremonies and mediators not prescribed in the gospel; whereas neither saints nor angels nor the Virgin Mary can help us as mediators; and Christ, if we trust in him, will do for us all that we need.

Vainly puffed up ; whatever appearances of humility or piety any may have who teach that you need other mediators besides Christ, or other observances besides those which he has appointed, they are ignorant or selfish, worldly and wicked, deceivers or deceived. If honest in what they say, they are blind leaders of the blind. Matthew 15:14 . Persons who occupy themselves in matters beyond the limits of the human mind, are wanting in humility as well as in wisdom and goodness. They are generally vain and light-minded, superficial and proud.

Verse 19

Head ; Christ.

The body ; the church, which is composed of all who truly believe in him.

The increase of God ; the increase which God bestows, consisting in faith, love, joy, peace, and other graces of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 .

Verse 20

If ye be dead with Christ ; compare, for this idea of dying with Christ, Romans 6:3-11 , and the notes on that passage. By dying with Christ, the Colossians had renounced sin and worldly confidence in the rudiments of the world ; that is, the Mosaic ceremonies; see note to verse Colossians 2:8 .

Why then, as though living in the world , and not dead to it with Christ, would they be subject to ordinances ; have the vain worldly ordinances which they professed to have renounced imposed upon them? Why seek justification by Jewish ordinances, which forbid certain meats or drinks, and make vain distinctions of days. Verse Colossians 2:16 .

Verse 21

Touch not-handle not ; samples of these worldly ordinances pertaining to the Jewish distinction of meats.

Verse 22

Which all are to perish with the using ; a parenthetical remark thrown in by the apostle to show that these meats can bring no real defilement to the soul; for they all perish with the using, and pass away without touching the true inner man. Compare the exactly similar argument of our Saviour, Mark 7:14-23 ; which is the best commentary on the present passage.

After the commandments-of men ; to be connected immediately with the words, "why-are ye subject to ordinances?" verse Colossians 2:20 .

Verse 23

A show of wisdom ; an empty show without the reality. He then names three things in which this vain show is made.

Will - worship ; of man’s invention, not required of God.

Humility ; a vain show of it. See note to verse Colossians 2:18 .

Neglecting of the body ; unsparing treatment of it by austerities of man’s invention.

Not in any honor ; meaning, according to some, while they refuse to bestow any honor on the body, but vilify it by their false severity towards it. But we may better understand the words as referring to all the preceding part of the verse, and describing the things named which have a show of wisdom as having in them no true honor towards God, but being, on the contrary, utterly worthless.

To the satisfying of the flesh ; referring to all the preceding things, as having for their end not true holiness, but only the satisfying of the fleshly mind. Every thing which draws men away from Christ as the only foundation of human hope, or leads them to seek salvation in any way except through faith in him, tends to rob them of blessings which, by continued active faith and obedience, they would obtain.

Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Colossians 2". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fam/colossians-2.html. American Tract Society. 1851.
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