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Sunday, December 10th, 2023
the Second Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

For - in that respect he 'laboured, striving' (Colossians 1:29). Greek, 'I wish you to know how great a striving (the same Greek [ agoona (G73)] as Colossians 1:29; fervent, anxious prayer, along with outward trial, Colossians 1:24; not "striving" with the false teachers, which would have been impossible for him now in prison) I have for you.'

Them at Laodicea - exposed to the same danger from false teachers as the Colossians (cf. Colossians 4:16). This was the cause of his writing to Laodicea as well as to Colosse. Formerly called Diospolis, then Rhoas, finally Laodicea, from Laodice, wife of Antiochus II: on the river Lycus, 18 miles west of Colosse, 6 miles south of Hierapolis. It suffered an earthquake (62 AD) about the date of this letter; but was restored, so 'rich' was it (Revelation 3:17), without aid from Rome.

Not seen my face in the flesh - including those in Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13). Paul considered himself a "debtor" to all the Gentiles (Romans 1:14). His presence ("face") would have been a 'comfort' (Colossians 2:2; Acts 20:38): Colossians 1:4; Colossians 1:7-8 shows he had not seen, but only heard of the Colossians. Hence, he 'strives' with God in prayer for them, to make up for his bodily absence (cf. Colossians 2:5).

Verse 2

That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

'That their hearts may be comforted.' The "their," compared with "you" (Colossians 2:4), proves that in Colossians 2:1 the words "have not seen my face in the flesh" is a general designation of those for whom Paul declares he has "striving" including the species, 'you (Colossians) and them at Laodicea.' For the prayer 'that their hearts may be comforted,' must include the Colossians, for whom he says, 'I have striving.' Thus it is abbreviated for, 'That your and their hearts may be comforted' (Colossians 4:8). Not as Alford, 'strengthened.' Comforted under the trial of false teachings, by knowing that Paul strove in prayer the more fervently, as not present with them; inasmuch as we are more anxious in behalf of absent than present friends; also by being released from doubts, on learning from the apostle that the doctrine which they had heard from Epaphras was true. In writing to churches which he instructed face to face, he enters into details, as a father directing his children. But to those among whom he had not been in person he treats of the general truths of salvation.

Being, [ sumbibasthentes (G4822): 'Aleph (') A B C Delta, for sumbibasthenton (G4822)] - 'they being knit together.' The same Greek, Ephesians 4:16, "compacted." In love - the element of perfect knitting together; the antidote to the schismatical effect of false doctrine; love to God and to one another in Christ.

Unto - the end of their being "knit together."

All (the) riches of the full assurance (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22) - of the (Christian) understanding [ tees (G3588) pleeroforias (G4136) tees (G3588) suneseoos (G4907)]. The accumulation of phrases, not only "understanding," but "the full assurance of understanding;" not only this, but "the riches of," etc.: not only this, but 'all the riches of,' etc., is to impress them with the momentous importance of the assurance which rests on the Spirit's testimony, not merely the intellect.

To - translate 'unto.'

Acknowledgment, [ epignoosin (G1922)] - 'the full experimental knowledge: distinct from [ gnoosis (G1108)] "knowledge," (Colossians 2:3). They did acknowledge the truth: what they wanted was the full experimental knowledge of it (notes, Colossians 1:9-10; Philippians 1:9).

Of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. B omits "and of the Father, and of:" 'of God (namely) Christ.' "Christ" is in apposition, not to "God," but to "mystery" (Colossians 1:27). 'Aleph (') A C, Vulgate, read 'of God the Father of Christ.' Delta f, 'of the mystery of God, which (mystery) is Christ.'

Verse 3

In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Greek order, 'In whom (not as Alford, "in which" mystery: Christ is Himself the "mystery," Colossians 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:16) are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.' The "all" answers to "all" in Colossians 2:2; as "treasures" answers to "riches:" it is from the treasures that the riches are derived. "Are" is the predicate: all the treasures ARE in Him; hidden is predicated of the manner in which they are in Him. Like a mine of unknown wealth, the treasures of wisdom are all in Him, in a hidden manner (to which answers "mystery"): not in order to remain so: they only need to be explored to attain 'unto the riches' in them (Colossians 2:2): until you press after the full knowledge (note, Colossians 2:2) of them, they remain 'hidden.' They do not immediately thrust themselves before carnal men's eyes, but so lie hidden as to be seen by those alone to whom God gives spiritual eyes. Compare Matthew 13:44, "treasure hid." This sense sets aside Alford's objection, that 'the treasures are not hidden, but revealed.' The emphatic reserving of [ apokrufoi (G614)] "hidden" to the end of the sentence, shows it is a second predicate; not an epithet, 'the secret treasures of knowledge.' 'Hidden' answers to "mystery" (Colossians 2:2), designed by God, if we use our privileges, not to remain hidden, but to be revealed (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8). Still, as the mine is unfathomable, there will, through eternity, be always fresh treasures in Him to be drawn forth inexhaustibly from their hidden state.

Wisdom - general; concerning experimental and practical truth: whence comes "understanding" (Colossians 2:2).

Knowledge - theoretical and intellectual, in regard to doctrinal truth: whence comes 'the full knowledge' (Col Knowledge - theoretical and intellectual, in regard to doctrinal truth: whence comes 'the full knowledge' (Colossians 2:2).

Verse 4

And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

And, [ de (G1161)] - 'Now.' Compare with "lest any man," etc., Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:18. Some blended Judaism with Oriental philosophy, and combined this mixture with Christianity.

Enticing words - plausible, as wearing the guise of wisdom and humility (Colossians 2:18; Colossians 2:23).

Verse 5

For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

For - motive for their not being beguiled; i:e., regard to his personal authority as though he were present.

Joying and (joying with you, inasmuch as) beholding your order - your good order (cf. "knit together," Colossians 2:2).

As a well organized body. 'Good order gives stedfastness to a military phalanx: so in the Church, love establishes all things, and there being no schisms' (Theophilus) (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Corinthians 14:40).

Stedfastness, [ to (G3588) stereooma (G4733)] - 'the solid foundation.' As "order" expresses the outward aspect, so "stedfastness" the inner basis; not an abstract quality, but the thing in the concrete; their "faith" is the solid basis on which rests their firm attitude.

Verse 6

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

'As therefore ye received (once for all: Colossians 1:7: aorist, from Epaphras) Jesus the Christ as your Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 3:8), so walk in Him: as the element of your walk' (Galatians 2:20). Not merely, "ye received" the doctrine, but "Jesus" Himself (Ephesians 4:20), the essence of faith (John 14:21; John 14:23; Galatians 1:16). Ye received once for all the Spirit of life in Christ: carry that life into your walk (Galatians 5:25): the main scope of the letter.

Verse 7

Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

(Having been) rooted (Ephesians 3:17).

Built up, [ epoikodomoumenoi (G2026)] - 'being builded up.' "Rooted" implies their vitality; 'builded up,' massive solidity. As in the Song of Solomon, image is added to image, to express varied aspects of divine truth. Thus 'walking,' a third image (Colossians 2:6), expresses the thought which "rooted" and "built," though each suggesting a thought special to itself, could not express-namely, onward motion. "Rooted" is past [errizomenoi], implying their first vital grafting "in Him." Builded up is present, implying their progressive increase in union with Him. Ephesians 2:20 refers to the Church; the passage here to their individual edification (Acts 20:32).

Stablished ... as - `even as.' (Being) "stablished ... as"

Therein - in the faith.

With thanksgiving - to God as the Author of this whole blessing.

Verse 8

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.

'Beware ("Look" well) lest there shall be [as I fear there is: the indicative, estai (G2071)] any man (pointing to some known seducer, Galatians 1:7) leading you (like others) away as his spoil [ humas (G5209) estai (G2071) ho (G3588) sulagoogoon (G4812)] through his philosophy,' etc. The apostle does not condemn all philosophy, but 'the [current: tees (G3588)] philosophy' (associated inseparably with 'empty deceit,' by one preposition and one article to both) of the Judaic-oriental heretics at Colosse, afterward developed into Gnosticism. You who may have "the riches of the full assurance" and "the treasures of wisdom" (Colossians 2:2-3; Colossians 2:9) should not suffer yourselves to be led away as a spoil by empty philosophy (in body, by ritualistic impositions, Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:21; Colossians 2:23; in mind, by heresies, Colossians 2:18). "Riches" are contrasted with spoil; "full" With "vain," or empty.

After `according to ' After - `according to.'

Tradition of men - opposed to "the fullness of the Godhead." Rabinical traditions. (Mark 7:8). When men could not make revelation even seem to tell about deep mysteries which they were curious to pry into, they brought in human philosophy and pretended traditions to help it, as if one should bring a lamp to the sun-dial to find the hour ('Cautions for Times,' p. 85). The false teachers boasted of a higher wisdom, transmitted by tradition among the initiated; in practice they enjoined asceticism, as though matter and the body were the sources of evil. Phrygia (in which was Colosse) had a propensity for the mystical and magical, which appeared in their worship of Cybele and subsequent Montanism.

Rudiments of the world (note, Galatians 4:3) - the elementary lessons "of the (outward) world," such as legal ordinances: our Judaic childhood's lessons (Colossians 2:11; Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:20; Galatians 4:1-3). 'The elements of the world,' in the sense, what is earthly, carnal, and outward, are close akin to non-Christian 'rudiments of religion,' Judaical and paganish. Any return to sensuous services now is essentially "worldly" (Hebrews 9:1).

Not after Christ. Their boasted higher "philosophy" is but human tradition-a cleaving to the worldly, not to Christ. Acknowledging Christ nominally, in spirit they deny him.

Verse 9

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

For - `Because' all "philosophy" (Colossians 2:8) not "after Christ" is a delusion; "for in Him (alone) dwelleth" permanently [ katoikei (G2730), not merely paroikei, sojourneth, as in a temple, etc.]

The fullness (Colossians 1:19 ; John 14:10 ) of the Godhead. [ Theoteetos (G2320) means the ESSENCE of the Godhead; not merely the divine perfections, 'theiotes.'] He, as man, was not merely God-like, but GOD. We have but an earnest of God's Spirit.

Bodily - not as before His incarnation, but "bodily" in Him as the incarnate Word (John 1:14; John 1:18), now glorified (Philippians 3:21). The Godhead not confined as in a body, but in bodily fashion. Believers, by union with Him, partake of His fullness of the divine nature (note, Ephesians 3:19; 2 Peter 1:4).

Verse 10

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

And - And therefore; And so. Greek order, 'Ye are in Him (in union with Him) filled full' of all you need (John 1:16). Believers receive of the divine unction flowing down from their Divine Head and High Priest (Psalms 133:2). He is full of the "fulness" itself; we, filled from Him. Therefore ye Colossians need no supplementary sources of grace, such as the false teachers dream of. Christ is 'the Head of all rule and authority' [ archees (G746) kai (G2532) exousias (G1849)] (Ephesians 1:21): He, therefore, alone, not these subject 'authorities' also, is to be adored (Colossians 2:18).

Verse 11

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Implying that they did not need, as the Judaizers taught, outward circumcision, since they had already the inward spiritual reality.

Are, [ perietmeetheete (G4059)] - 'ye were (once for all) circumcised (spiritually, at your conversion and baptism, Romans 2:28-29; Philippians 3:3) with a (so the Greek) circumcision made without hands:' opposed to "the circumcision in the flesh made by hands" (Ephesians 2:11; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6). So Christ's own body, by which the believer is sanctified, is "not made with hands" (Mark 14:58; Hebrews 9:11: cf. Daniel 2:45).

In (the, your) putting off - as an old garment (Ephesians 4:22): alluding to putting off the foreskin in circumcision.

The body of the sins of the flesh. So C. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'the body of the flesh,' omitting "of the sins;" i:e., "the body" of which the prominent feature is fleshliness (cf. Romans 6:6, "the body of sin;" Romans 8:13, where "flesh" and "the body" correspond). This fleshly body, in its sensuousness, is put off in baptism, the seal of regeneration, when received in repentance and faith. In circumcision the foreskin only was put off; in Christian regeneration 'the (whole) body of the flesh' is spiritually put off in its ideal, however imperfectly believers reach that ideal. Compare Colossians 1:22, "The body of His flesh," which is holy, necessitates those incorporated with Him to put off 'the body of their flesh,' which is corrupt.

By - Greek, 'in.'

The circumcision of (undergone by) Christ. Spiritual circumcision is realized in union with Christ, whose "circumcision" implies His having undertaken for us to keep the whole law (Luke 2:21): identification with Him in all His obedience is the source of our justification and sanctification. Ellicott, 'The circumcision originating from (imparted in union with) Christ.' The former view better accords with Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1; Colossians 3:3-4, similarly, makes the believer to have personal fellowship in the several states of Christ-namely, His death, resurrection, and appearing in glory. Nothing was done or suffered by our Mediator but has its counterpart in believers. The first shedding of His blood in circumcision, in fulfillment of the whole law, and the last shedding of it on the cross, vicariously justify, and, by union with Him, sanctify us. But Pearson, 'Joshua, the type (not Moses in the wilderness), circumcised the Israelites in Canaan (Joshua 5:2-9), born in the wilderness; the people that came out of Egypt, who were circumcised, having afterward died in the wilderness. Jesus, the antitype, is the author of the true circumcision; therefore called "the circumcision of Christ." As Joshua was "Moses' minister," so Jesus, "minister of the circumcision for the truth of God" unto the Gentiles (Romans 15:8).

Verse 12

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

'Having been buried with Him in your [to] baptism:' coincident in time with the preceding 'ye were circumcised.' Baptism is the burial of the old carnal life, to which immersion symbolically corresponds: in warm climates, where immersion is safe, it is the mode most accordant with the significance of the ordinance; but the Spirit of the ordinance is kept by affusion, where immersion would be inconvenient: to insist on literal immersion in all cases would be legal ceremonialism (Romans 6:3-4).

Are risen, [ suneegertheete (G4891)] - 'were raised with Him;' answering to emerging from the baptism-water.

Through the faith of ... - through your faith in the operation [ energeias (G1753): the effectual working] of God (so "faith of," faith in, Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9); namely, in raising again Jesus (Romans 4:24; Romans 10:9). 'Faith is not the mean by which the grace is worked, but the mean by which it is accepted' (Waterland, in Ellicott). Ephesians 1:19-20 accords. The same mighty power of God is exercised in raising one spiritually dead to the life of faith as was 'done in Christ when God raised Him literally from the dead.' As His resurrection is the ground of the power put forth in our spiritual resurrection now, so it is a pledge of our literal resurrection hereafter (Romans 8:11).

Verse 13

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

And you (like others), being dead - formerly (Ephesians 2:1-2); even as Christ was dead, before that God raised Him "from the dead" (Colossians 2:12).

Sins - rather, as at end of this verse, "trespasses," transgressions [ paraptoomata (G3900)], actual fallings aside, as that of Adam.

Uncircumcision of your flesh - your not having put off the old fleshly nature (of which the foreskin was the visible badge), the foreskin of original sin, which now by spiritual circumcision you have put off (Jeremiah 4:4).

He (God) quickened together with Him - Christ (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 2:5). But Ellicott, because of Colossians 2:14-15, 'Christ-together with Himself.' What is done in Christ, is by the very fact done in all one with Him. As Christ's resurrection proved He was delivered from the sin laid on Him, so our spiritual quickening proves we have been forgiven our sins (1 Peter 3:22; 1 Peter 4:1-2).

Forgiven you. So B (Lachmann: Tischendorff denies) C, Vulgate. 'Aleph (') A Delta G f g read 'us,' passing from the Colossians to the general church (Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 1:7). All trespasses - Greek, 'all our [ ta (G3588)] trespasses:' the cause of 'deadness.'

Verse 14

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Blotting out, [ exaleipsas (G1813)] - 'having wiped out:' synchronous with "having forgiven you," (Colossians 2:13): hereby having cancelled the law's indictment. The law (especially the moral law, wherein lay the chief difficulty in obeying) is abrogated to the believer, as far as it was a compulsory, accusing code, and as far as "righteousness" and "life" were sought for by it. It can only produce outward works; not inward obedience of the will, which flows from the Holy Spirit in the believer (Galatians 2:19).

The handwriting of ordinances. Alford [ dogmasin (G1378): dative after the verb contained in cheirografon (G5498): written] 'IN ordinances' (note, Ephesians 2:15; Ephesians 2:15). Ellicott, 'the hand-writing (in force) against us BY its positive decrees' (Romans 7:7-8): its hostility to us was evinced in these. "The hand-writing" (the Decalogue, written by the hand of God) represents the whole law, the obligatory bond, under which all lay: the Jews primarily; secondarily, the world, of which the Jews were the representative people; in their inability to keep the law was involved the inability of the Gentiles also, in whose hearts "the work of the law was written" (Romans 2:15; Romans 3:19); as they did not keep this, they were condemned by it.

That was against us, which was contrary to us, [ hupenantion (G5227)] - 'adversary to us:' so in Hebrews 10:27. 'Not only was the law against us by its demands, but also an adversary to us by its accusations' (Bengel). Tittmann explains, 'having a latent contrariety to us:' not open, designed hostility, but virtual unintentional opposition through our frailty; not through opposition in the law itself to our good (Romans 7:7-12; Romans 7:14; 1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:21; Hebrews 10:3). The "WRITING" "contrary to us" answers to "the better killeth" (note, 2 Corinthians 3:6).

And took it, [ eerken (G142)] - 'hath taken it out of the way' (to be no longer a hindrance to us). Christ, by bearing the curse of the broken law, redeemed us from its curse (Galatians 3:13). Having been punished Himself, He did away with both the sin and the punishment (Chrysostom). He included all the law in Himself, so that we being united to Him are united to the law as the law of love written in our hearts. In His person 'nailed to the cross,' the law itself (also the old serpent; John 3:14; John 12:31-32) was nailed to it (Romans 3:21; Romans 7:2; Romans 7:4; Romans 7:6). One mode of cancelling bonds was by striking a nail through the writing: this existed in Asia (Grotius). The bond cancelled was the obligation lying against the Jews as representatives of the world, attested by their Amen, to keep the whole law under penalty of the curse (Deuteronomy 27:26; Nehemiah 10:29).

Verse 15

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. [Alford takes apekdusamenos (G554) as in Colossians 3:9.] Stripping off from Himself the rules and the authorities: GOD put off from Himself the angels - i:e., not employing them to promulgate the Gospel, as He had given the law by their "disposition" (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 2:5): God (stripping off the mediation of angels, as a kind of veil) manifested Himself without a veil in Jesus. 'THE principalities and THE powers' refer to Colossians 2:10, Jesus, "the Head of all principality and power," and Colossians 1:16. In His sacrifice on the cross, God subjected all the principalities, etc., to Jesus, declaring them powerless as to His work and His people (Ephesians 1:21). Paul's argument against those engrafting on Christianity Jewish observances, along with angel-worship, is, whatever part angels had under the law, is now at an end, God having put the legal dispensation itself away. But the context refers to a triumph over bad angels. Ellicott, 'Having stripped away from Himself the (hostile) principalities and powers' that sought, in His human nature, to win for themselves a victory. A strained sense. The Greek middle favours 'Having spoiled;' 'having completely stripped (of their power) for Himself' (cf. Romans 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 6:12: especially Matthew 12:29; Luke 11:22; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8). [So Vulgate, expolians; and Wahl, clavis.]

Made a show of them openly - at His ascension (notes, Ephesians 4:8: confirming 'Having spoiled.')

Openly, [ en (G1722) parreesia (G3954)]. John 7:4; John 11:54, supports the English version against Alford's, 'in openness of speech;' and Ellicott's, 'with boldness.'

In it - namely, His cross: so the Greek fathers. Many Latins, 'In Himself,' Christ. Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:16 favour the English version. Demons, like other angels, were in heaven up to Christ's ascension, and influenced earth from thence. As heaven was not yet opened to man before Christ (John 3:13), so it was not yet shut against demons (Job 1:6; Job 2:1). But at the ascension Satan and his demons were "judged" and "cast out" by Christ's obedience unto death (John 12:31; John 16:11; Revelation 12:5-10), and the Son of man was raised to the throne of God; thus His resurrection and ascension are an 'open' solemn triumph over the principalities and powers of death. The pagan oracles were silenced soon after Christ's ascension.

Verse 16

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Therefore - because, ye being complete in Christ, God has dispensed with all subordinate means as essential to acceptance with Him.

Meat, or in drink, [ broosei (G1035), posei (G4213)] - 'eating, drinking' (Romans 14:1-17; 1 Timothy 4:3). Pay no regard to any who judge you as to legal observances and foods. The Essenes drank water only.

Holyday, [ heortees (G1859)] - the greater feasts, yearly. Compare the three, 1 Chronicles 23:31,

New moon - monthly.

The sabbath. Omit "THE:" not in the Greek (cf. note, Galatians 4:10). 'SABBATHS' (not 'the Sabbaths') of the day of the atonement and feast of tabernacles end with the Jewish services to which they belonged (Leviticus 23:32; Leviticus 23:37-39). The weekly Sabbath is permanent, having been instituted in Paradise long before the Mosaic law, to commemorate the completion of creation in six days. The typical Sabbaths (Hebrews 4:9) must remain until the antitypical sabbatism appears. Leviticus 23:38 expressly distinguishes "the Sabbaths of the Lord" from the other Sabbaths. In Romans 14:5-6 the oldest manuscript omit "He that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it." Some supposed a mystic virtue in the seventh-day Sabbath. Others esteemed it indifferent whether it was kept on the seventh or the first day. As the month of Israel's redemption from Egypt became the beginning of months, so the day of Christ's resurrection, which seals our redemption, is made the first-day Sabbath.

The reputed letter of Barnabas, which certainly existed in the second century; Dionysius of Corinth, writing to Rome 170 AD; Clement of Alexandria, 194 AD, speak of the Lord's day Sabbath. The judgment on the Jews for violating the Sabbath was remarkably retributive (2 Chronicles 36:21). The Babylonians carried them captive, 'to fulfill the word of the Lord by Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate, she kept Sabbath to fulfill three score and ten years' (cf. Leviticus 26:34-36). There are exactly 70 years of Sabbaths in the 490 from Saul's ascension, 1095 BC, to 606 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar carried away Jehoiakim. A positive precept is right because it is commanded, and ceases to be obligatory when abrogated; a moral precept is commanded eternally, because it is eternally right. If we could keep a perpetual Sabbath, as we shall hereafter, the positive precept, one in each week, would not be needed (Hebrews 4:9, margin; Isaiah 66:23). But we cannot, since even Adam, in innocence, needed one amidst earthly employments; therefore the Sabbath is still needed, and is linked with the other nine commandments, as obligatory in the Spirit, though the letter has been modified (Romans 13:8-10). The permanent principle is the consecration of one day in seven. The fixing on the first day is due to Christ's appearings on that day, and apostolical usage.

Verse 17

Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Things to come - blessings of the Christian covenant. Compare "ages to come" - i:e., the Gospel dispensation (Ephesians 2:7; Hebrews 2:5, "the world to come").

The body is of Christ. The real substance (of the blessings 'shadowed' beforehand by the law) belongs to Christ (Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 10:1).

Verse 18

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Beguile you of your reward, [ katabrabeuetoo (G2603 ] - literally, 'to adjudge a prize out of hostility away from him who deserves it' (Trench). This defrauding of their prize the Colossians would suffer, by letting any self-constituted judge (i:e., false teacher) draw them away from Christ, "the righteous Judge" and Awarder of the prize (Philippians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4), to angel-worship.

In a voluntary humility, [ theloon (G2309) en (G1722) tapeinofrosunee (G5012)]. So [ ethelothreeskia (G1479)] 'will-worship and humility' [ tapeinofrosunee (G5012)] (Colossians 2:23). Literally, 'delighting in humility' [Hebraism, chapeets bÂȘ-]; loving (so the Greek, Mark 12:38, "love to go in long clothing") to indulge in a humility of his own imposing: 'a volunteer in humility' (Dalloeus). Not as Alford, 'Let no one of purpose defraud you,' etc. Nor as Grotius, 'If he ever so much wish' (to defraud you). For 'wishing' or 'delighting' is one of the series of participles in the same category as 'intruding,' 'puffed up,' 'not holding:' the self-pleasing implied stands in happy contrast to the (mock) humility with which it is connected. His "humility" (Greek, 'lowliness of mind'), so-called, is a pleasing of self; in parallelism to "his fleshly mind" (its real name, though he styles it "humility") as, 'wishing' or 'delighting' is parallel to 'puffed up.' Under pretext of humility, as if they durst not come directly to God and Christ (like modern Rome), they invoked angels, and gave themselves secret names of angels (Irenaeus, 'Adv. Haer.' 1: 31, 32); as Judaizers, they justified this on the ground that the law was given by angels.

So Josephus (Jewish Wars 2: 8, 7) as to the Essenes. This error continued long in Phrygia (where Colosse and Laodicea were), so that the council of Laodicea (360 AD) framed 1 Thessalonians 3:0 5th canon against the 'Angelici' (as Augustine, 'Haereses,' 39, calls them), or 'invokers of angels.' As late as Theodoret there were oratories to Michael the archangel. The modern Greeks have a legend that Michael opened a chasm to draw off an inundation threatening the Colossian Christians. Once men admit the inferior powers to share invocation with the Supreme, the former gradually engross all serious worship, almost to the exclusion of the latter: thus the pagan, beginning with adding the worship of other deities to the Supreme, ended with ceasing to worship Him at all. Nor does it signify much whether we regard such as directly controlling us (the Pagan view), or as only influencing the Supreme in our behalf (Rome's view); because he from whom I expect happiness or misery, becomes the uppermost object in my mind, whether he give, or only procure it ('Cautions for Times.') Scripture opposes the idea of 'patrons' or 'intercessors' (1 Timothy 2:5-6). True humility joins consciousness of personal demerit with a sense of participation in the divine life through Christ, and in the dignity of our adoption by God. Without this being realized, false self-humiliation results, displaying itself in ceremonies and asceticism (Colossians 2:23), which after all is but spiritual pride under the guise of humility. Contrast "glorying in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31).

Intruding into those things which he hath not seen. So C G g, Vulgate, and Origen. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta f and Lucifer omit "not." [Embateuon] 'haughtily treading on [Erasmus; g, extollens se] the things which he hath seen:' whether fancied visions of angels, or things actually seen by him, either of demoniacal origination (1 Samuel 28:11-20) or resulting from natural causation, mistaken as supernatural. Paul, not stopping to discuss the nature of the things so seen, fixes on the radical error, the tendency of such a one to walk by SENSE (namely, what he haughtily prides himself on having SEEN), rather than by FAITH in the UNSEEN "Head" (Colossians 2:19: cf. John 20:29; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:1). Thus, the parallel, "vainly puffed up," explains 'haughtily treading on;' "his fleshly mind" answers to 'the things which he hath seen,' his fleshliness betraying itself in glorying in what he hath seen, rather than in the unseen objects of faith. Compare 1 Timothy 4:1, "Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons:" a warning to spiritualists.

Puffed up - implying that the previous so-called "humility" ('lowliness of mind') was really a 'puffing up.'

Fleshly mind - Greek, 'by the mind of his own flesh.' How anomalous, that mind which ought to govern flesh, is itself sunk under flesh. The flesh, or sensuous principle, is the fountain whence his mind draws its craving after objects of sight, instead of, in true humility as a member, 'holding fast the (unseen) Head.' Fleshliness can assume the spiritual form, prude of asceticism, when its grosser form is suppressed.

Verse 19

And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

'Not holding fast [ kratoon (G2902)] the Head.' He who does not hold Christ solely and supremely does not hold Him at all. Want of firm holding to Christ sets him loose to (pry into, and so) 'tread haughtily (pride himself) on things which he hath seen.' Each must hold fast the Head for himself; not merely be attached to the other members, however high in the body (Alford).

All the body - i:e., all the members (Ephesians 4:16).

Joints, [ hafoon (G860)] - the points of union where the supply passes to the different members, furnishing the body with materials of growth.

Bands - the sinews and nerves binding together limb and limb. Faith, love, and peace are the spiritual bands. Compare Colossians 2:2; Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 4:3.

Having nourishment ministered, [ epichoreegoumenon (G2023)] - 'receiving free and ample ministration' continually: Greek, 2 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 1:8.

Knit together - compacted (Ephesians 4:16); firm consolidation.

With the increase of God - i:e., worked by God, the Author and Sustainer of spiritual life, in union with Christ (1 Corinthians 3:6); tending to the honour of God; worthy of its Author.

Verse 20

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,

Wherefore. So 'Aleph (') C. But A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit "Wherefore."

If ye be dead, [ apethanete (G599)] - 'if ye died (so as to be freed) from,' etc. (cf. Romans 6:2; Romans 7:2-3; Galatians 2:19). Christ died to the law when He bore its penalty, fulfilling all its claims. Argument from their sharing in Christ's death; in Colossians 3:1, from their sharing in His resurrection.

Rudiments of the world (Colossians 2:8) - outward, worldly, legal ordinances. As though living - as though not dead to the world ('in its non-Christian character), like your crucified Lord, into whose death ye were buried (Galatians 6:14; 1 Peter 4:1-2), but living in it.

Are ye subject to ordinances? - why do ye submit to ordinances? You are again being made subject to "ordinances," the "hand writing" of which had been 'blotted out' (Colossians 2:14).

Verse 21

(Touch not; taste not; handle not;

Compare Colossians 2:16. Instances of the "ordinances" (Colossians 2:20) in the words of their imposers. There is an ascending climax of superstitious prohibitions. The first [ hapsee (G680)] is distinguished from the third [ thigees (G2345)]: the former means close contact and retention, the latter momentary contact (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1; John 20:17). [ Mee (G3361) mou (G3450) haptou (G680)] 'Hold me not,' 'Handle not, neither taste, nor even touch:' referring to eating and drinking.' 'Handle (hold) not' nor 'taste' with the tongue, 'nor even touch,' however slight the contact.

Verse 22

Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Which - things, namely, the things handled, touched, and tasted.

Are to perish - `are (constituted by their very nature) for perishing [ fthoran (G5356), destruction by corruption] in their using up' [consumption: apochreesei (G671)]. Therefore, they cannot really and lastingly defile (Matthew 15:17-18; 1 Corinthians 6:13).

After - according to Colossians 2:20-21. All these 'ordinances' are according to human, not divine, injunction.

Doctrines [ didaskalias (G1319)] - 'teachings.'

Verse 23

Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

(All) which things, [ hatina (G3748 )] have (Greek, 'are having:' commonly) show of wisdom - `the reputation [ logon (G3056)] of wisdom.'

Will-worship - arbitrarily-invented: would-be-worship, devised by self-will, not God. So jealous is God of this, that He struck Nadab and Abihu dead for burning strange incense (Leviticus 10:1-3). So Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for usurping the priest's office (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). Compare the will-worship of Saul (1 Samuel 13:8-14), for which he lost his throne. This 'voluntary worship' is the counterpart to "voluntary humility" (Colossians 2:18): both specious: the former seeming to do even more than God requires (as in Rome's dogmas), but really setting aside God's will for man's own: the latter seemingly self-abasing, really proud of man's self-willed "humility;" while foregoing the dignity of direct communion with Christ, the Head, worshipping angels.

Neglecting of the body, [ afeidia (G857) soomatos (G4983)] - 'not sparing of the body.' This rested on the Oriental theory that matter is the source of evil. This looked plausible (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Timothy 4:8).

Not in any honour - of the body. As "neglecting of the body" describes asceticism positively, so this clause negatively: not paying any of the "honour" due to the body as redeemed by the blood of Christ. We should have a just estimation of ourselves, not in ourselves, but in Christ (Acts 13:46; 1 Corinthians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 1 Corinthians 12:23-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:4). True self-denial regards the spirit, not the forms of self-mortification in meats, which profit not those occupied therein' (Hebrews 13:9), and is consistent with Christian self-respect, the "honour" which belongs to us as dedicated to the Lord. Compare "vainly," Colossians 2:18. But Ellicott, 'not in any real value' [time].

To the satisfying of the flesh - the real tendency of human ordinances of bodily asceticism, voluntary humility, and will-worship of angels. While seeming to deny self and the body, they really are pampering the flesh. Thus "satisfying of the flesh" answers to "puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Colossians 2:18); so that "flesh" is used for 'the carnal nature,' opposed to the spiritual: not in the sense, "body." [ Pleesmoneen (G4140)] "Satisfying" implies satiating to repletion, or excess. "A surfeit to carnal sense in human tradition." (Hilary the Deacon, in Bengel). Tradition clogs heavenly perceptions. They put away true "honour," to 'satiate to the full THE FLESH.' Self-imposed ordinances gratify the flesh (namely, self), even when seeming to mortify it.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Colossians 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/colossians-2.html. 1871-8.
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