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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Colossians 2:1-3 Paul testifieth his solicitude for the churches which had not seen him, that they might be united in love, and attain a perfect knowledge of the Christian revelation,

Colossians 2:4-7 not being seduced from their stedfastness in the faith,

Colossians 2:8 nor corrupted through philosophy and human traditions.

Colossians 2:9-12 He showeth that they were aleady complete in Christ, having attained the true circumcision figured in baptism,

Colossians 2:13,Colossians 2:14 that God had quickened the with Christ, and both abolished the law of ordinances, that was against them,

Colossians 2:15 and also spoiled principalities and powers.

Colossians 2:16-23 He therefore urgeth them not to submit to legal ordinances, which were but a shadow of Christ; nor to the worship of angels, and other vain practices of human devising.

Verse 1

For; this causal particle refers to what he had said just before in the former chapter.

I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you; the certainty of which truth, for the evidence of his unfeigned affection to them, he heartily wishes they might be certified what a combat he sustained for them, by reason of that opposition he met with in his ministerial labours. This filled him with inward fears and cares, and encompassed him with outward troubles, as 2 Corinthians 11:23-30; 2 Timothy 2:10, wherein he addressed himself to God for them by earnest prayers, as Colossians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11, desiring the assistance of their prayers, Romans 15:30; Hebrews 13:18; these, with his travels, writings, &c., might well be called a conflict, Philippians 1:30.

And for them at Laodicea; which he had not only for the saints at Colosse, but for their neighhours, liable also to the impression of the same or the like seducers, at Laodicea, definitely, to whom he designed this Epistle might be imparted, Colossians 4:16.

And for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; and indefinitely, for as many Christians, especially in Phrygia, as had not seen him bodily present amongst them, or heard him preach with a lively voice; whether, because it is said he twice passed through all Phrygia, where Colosse and Laodicea were situate, Acts 16:6; Acts 18:23, he had been personally at these cities, is not determinable from the copulative here, (which possibly may be used as a particle to separate these from those who had not conversed with him), neither is it of much importance. It should seem Paul was acquainted with Philemon, (a Colossian or Laodicean), his wife and family, Philemon 1:1,Philemon 1:2.

Verse 2

That their hearts might be comforted: whereas false teachers did endeavour to adulterate the Christian institution, the striving of the apostle’s holy soul here was, as in the former chapter, Colossians 1:28, to this end, that they might be complete and established Christians to the last.

Being knit together in love; and as a proper means conductible to this good purpose, he would have them be joined or compacted together, be all of a piece, in the affection and exercise of love.

And unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding; and to attain to a well-grounded, powerful, evangelical faith, which he sets forth livelily by an elegant increase of words, both in regard of the acts and the object of it, which is called a mystery to be believed, 1 Timothy 3:9, upon its being revealed. The sense of that which he heartily desires is that they might have:

1. All abundance of understanding with full satisfaction in these main principles of the gospel they are called to assent to. Signifying faith is no blind, but a certain intelligent persuasion; to distinguish it from uncertain opinion, John 6:69; Romans 4:21; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22.

To the acknowledgment:

2. An inward consent, and vital owning, a cordial embracing of the fundamental truths of the gospel, Ephesians 4:13,Ephesians 4:14; Hebrews 6:1, in opposition to those vain speculations and traditions which deluded many. He calls this the mystery of God, or a Divine mystery, (no human invention), as before, Colossians 1:26,Colossians 1:27; and so vindicates the dignity of faith and the excellency of the gospel, asserting it to be a mystery of God, not only as the object, but revealer of it; for the Father reveals Christ, Colossians 1:27; Matthew 16:17; Ephesians 3:3, as Christ doth the Father, Matthew 11:27; John 1:18.

Whereas it is said, and of the Father, and of Christ; this first and here needs not be rendered as a copulative, but as exegetical, or as expletive, and may be read, even, or to wit, or both, its (a learned man observes) the Greeks and Latins usually do when the copulative is to be repeated, the name of God referring commonly to the Father and the Son; as elsewhere, God, even the Father, Colossians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:24; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 4:20. So the former and here may be read; q.d. The mystery not of God, abstractedly considered; but, I would have you be united and all one, in the acknowledgment of the whole mystery of God, i.e. both of the Father and of Christ.

Verse 3

In whom: this may relate eitter to the Divine mystery, wherein are in abundance all necessary doctrines to consolation and salvation stored up, respecting the foregoing verse; compare 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:3,Ephesians 3:4; in opposition to the vain show of wisdom seducers did boast of; or, (as the most ancient and modern take it), to Christ, the immediate antecedent: in whom, ( as we render it), i.e. in Christ, considered either:

1. As the object, which being rightly known, we may have all wisdom and perfect knowledge to salvation: he speaks not here of all that Christ knoweth, he reveals not all that in the gospel to us, but what we must know of him that we may be saved. Or:

2. As the subject, because all the treasures of wisdom in order to salvation, are not only known and found out in Christ, but also are hid, do dwell and abide in him as the fountain, what he can give to us for our consolation and perfection.

It had been little pertinent for Paul to have said that all these deep things of God {1 Corinthians 2:10} were known to our Lord; but that they are found in him, do dwell in him, are all stored up, displayed, and set forth in him, to be seen through the veil, that is to say his flesh, Hebrews 10:20, or the infirmity of his cross. The series of the apostle’s discourse, comparing Colossians 2:8,Colossians 2:9, shows it to be thus understood of Christ as the subject and fountain of all saving wisdom, in opposition to the comments of human wisdom which the false doctors did boast of. Continuing the metaphor, he shows from what fund the treasures of saving knowledge may be drawn: by treasures intimating the excellency and abundance thereof; there was some store in the tabernacle of Moses, but very small compared to the abundance certainly to be found in Christ, all else of no worth to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ for consolation, Colossians 2:2; Philippians 3:8; things to be believed and practised are, by way of eminency, Christian wisdom and knowledge. The treasures of which, how and when hid, is to be well considered, because in our translation, and in almost all others, the Greek word we render hid is by trajection put next to the relative whom, whereas it is indeed in the original the last word in the verse, and seems to be expressive rather of what was hid before Christ than what is hid in him. For, as a learned man saith, hidden treasures, as such, seem to be like hidden music, of no regard; or like the hidden talent, Luke 19:20. It not being so easy to think that the apostle in this Epistle teaches, that the secrets which had lain hid from the wise men of the world in the ages past, now were made bare, brought into light, and made known even to babes by Christ, Colossians 1:26,Colossians 1:27, with Luke 10:21; and having just before, Colossians 2:2, spoken of the understanding and acknowledgment of the mystery of the Father and the Son, what should the riches of glory to the knowledge of the mystery be, but the treasures of wisdom now revealed, heretofore hid, of which continuedly a little after he says that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily, i.e. personally, not in a shadow, as it were hid in a cloud, but in flesh that may be really seen and touched? So that it shonld seem best to retain hid as it is placed in the Greek, to this sense; q.d. In Christ are, and dwell in the greatest fulness, all the treasures of wisdom, hid under the law, which are therefore called a mystery, secret, or hidden thing from ages and generations, Colossians 1:26,Colossians 1:27, now made manifest to his saints, they are now not hid in Christ, but made known amongst the Gentiles as God willed. Not then hidden riches, i.e. treasures of wisdom and knowledge of this mystery as of hid treasure, but out of Christ, and before Christ amongst the Jews: for Christ himself is that mystery Colossians 4:3, not hid after his appearance, but manifested, and manifesting the Father, John 1:18. However, if any will rather choose to read, as if in Christ were at present hid all treasures, it is to be understood, stored up, not exposed to the view of every eye, being as in a rich cabinet, not to keep them from being known to men, but rather to make them more precious and desirable. For Christ came when sent of his Father to spread this heavenly wealth. He is the Sun of righteousness, John 1:9; the unbelieving must thank themselves if, where he is truly preached, he be hid to them, and his arm be revealed but to a few, Isaiah 53:1; 2 Corinthians 4:3,2 Corinthians 4:4; it is their own blinding that they do not savingly discern what is displayed in Christ. Wherefore both may be true in divers respects:

1. Consider the thing in itself, objectively; so treasures of wisdom are evidently laid up in Jesus Christ, and manifested upon his appearance, 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:11. But:

2. With respect to the eyes and perceptions of men, subjectively, as naturally obscured and corrupted by sin; so natural men, or mere animal men, perceive not in Christ the riches of wisdom and knowledge which are in him as our Mediator, when they look upon him as having no beauty or comeliness for which they should desire him, Isaiah 53:2; he, as crucified, being to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Gentiles foolishness, when he is to those of them who are called, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:23,1 Corinthians 1:24. The Lutherans’ inference hence, that omnisciency agrees to Christ’s human nature, is altogether inconsequent; both (as before) because the apostle’s business here is not to acquaint us what Christ himself knoweth, but what is to be known by us, which may be found treasured up in him.

Treasures here in him not being considered absolutely, but comparatively to all the knowledge of men and angels. Yet, from a supposal of an infinite knowledge in Christ, who is God-man in one person, it followeth not that the soul of his human nature knoweth all things.

Verse 4

And this I say; here he suggests the ground of his insisting upon the excellent treasures of the saving knowledge of Christ, and the ample description of him.

Lest any man should beguile you; to this end, that he might fortify them against delusion by paralogisms, or sophistical and false reasonings, fallacious arguing, (as the word notes, James 1:22), under a colourable pretence and show of wisdom, Colossians 2:8,Colossians 2:18,Colossians 2:23. With enticing words; set off with rhetorical suasions and embellishments, intimating the prevalency of such blandishments, with fair words and good speeches to seduce the simple, if the heart were not established with grace, Romans 16:18; Ephesians 4:14; Ephesians 5:6; Hebrews 13:9; and therefore, esteeming the excellent knowledge of Christ, and being found in him, Philippians 3:8,Philippians 3:9, they should beware of whatever, under a show of religion, is introduced to seduce them from the simplicity that is in Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:3.

Verse 5

For though I be absent in in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit: to prevent any surmise that his distance at Rome might take him off from minding of them at Colosse, he shows that the great affection he bare to them did oblige him to interest himself in all their concerns, (the care of all the churches being incumbent on him, 2 Corinthians 11:28), and therefore that his bodily confinement at Rome did not hinder his presence with them in spirit. Not that we can conclude, that by some extraordinary operation of the Holy Ghost God gave him now and then a clear prospect of what they did, as he did to Elisha of Gehazi’s behavior, 2 Kings 5:26; and to Ezekiel in Babylon of the secret actions of the Jews in Jerusalem; but that he was with them as with the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 5:3, when distant in body his thoughts and affections were exercised about them.

Joying and beholding your order; as it follows there is moving of fears lest they shonld be insnared, so of joy understanding their

order, i.e. their good estate, constitution, and consent in orderly walking and discipline, 1 Corinthians 14:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

And the stedfastness of your faith in Christ; and the firmament of their faith in Christ, it being (if genuine) as firm as the firmament itself; stable as the heavens and heavenly bodies, keeping their constant stations and regular courses, and admitting nothing heterogeneous into them: all heavenly truths are as fixed stars in this orb. Seeing all grace, because Divine, hath an establishing proverty; so faith coming from the eternal mountains, all graces being connected in faith, which is a kind of firmament to them all, it comes to pass that faith, in actuating any true grace, gives a strength and further growth to every other grace.

Verse 6

Having cautioned them against sophistical seducers, and commended them for that order and sound faith he understood to be amongst them, he here infers an exhortation to continuance in both, especially in the latter, with respect to the person of Christ, according as he had before described him: for he doth not say: As ye have received the doctrine of Christ, or concerning Christ, but:

As ye have received Christ himself, as John 1:11,John 1:12; 1 John 5:11,1 John 5:12, in whom is all treasured up for salvation. He adds not only Jesus, ( who came to save his people from their sins), but the Lord, intimating they should not therefore suffer any rules of faith or life to be imposed upon them by any other whatsoever, but should be persuaded to abide

in him, whom they had embraced, and order their conversation according to his mind, 1 Thessalonians 4:1, knowing that he is the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6; being led by his Spirit, and deriving virtue to go on in this orderly walk and persevere in the faith.

Verse 7

Rooted and built up in him; showing how they should abide and persevere in the faith, by continuing in him as branches do in the root, John 15:4, and resting upon him as a building upon the foundation, Isaiah 28:16; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:22.

And stablished in the faith; and being firm and settled in the faith, as 1 Peter 5:10; he adds this, not only to clear the metaphorical expressions before, but to show that they should be growing stronger as to the internal habit, Psalms 92:13,Psalms 92:14. He repeats as it were in a parenthesis,

as ye have been taught; upon the matter, the same with as ye have received Christ in the former verse; for greater caution to them, who might be apt to have itching ears, that they should not be listening to any novel doctrines, but abide in the faith of Christ.

Abounding therein with thanksgiving; setting down with themselves, according to the superabounding grace they had, Romans 5:20, with 1 Corinthians 4:8, to abound and increase therein, 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Peter 1:8; having herein all the saving knowledge desirable, without need of the addition of aught any other way; being thankful to God that he had revealed such a Christ, his Christ, to them, for they could not have a better or another.

Verse 8

Beware: the apostle, after his exhortation, considering their danger from seducing spirits lying in wait to deceive by their sleight and craftiness, 1 Timothy 4:1,1 Timothy 4:2, doth here reinforce and enlarge his caution he had before suggested, Colossians 2:4, to engage to a heedful avoidance of all seduction from Christ.

Lest any man spoil you; lest their souls should be made a prey, and they be carried for a spoil by those worst of robbers that beset Christ’s fold, 2 Corinthians 11:20; Galatians 6:13.

Through philosophy; either through the abuse of true philosophy in bringing the mystery of Christ under the tribunal of shallow reason, or rather through erroneous, though curious, speculations of some philosophers, as Plato, Pythagoras, Hesiod, &c. then in vogue, which the Gnostics afterwards (who, thinking themselves enriched with the notions of other heretics, would be thought the only knowing persons) dressed up Christ with, not like himself. Their philosophy being a falsely so called science or knowledge, 1 Timothy 6:20, whatever show of wisdom it might seem to carry along with it, Colossians 2:23, it was not really profitable; but a

vain deceit, or seduction, as several take the next clause appositively, and the conjunction expositively; yet, if we consider what follows, we may understand another general imposture, viz. superstition, seeing vain deceit, after the tradition of men, is so like that superstition our Saviour doth rebuke in the Pharisees, Matthew 15:9, several branches of which the apostle doth afterward in this chapter dispute against, Colossians 2:16-23; superstition might well be called deceit, from the cheat it puts upon men and the notation of the Greek word, which imports a withdrawing men from the way. Christ, and from his way of worship prescribed in his word; and vain it is as well as a deceit, since it is empty and unprofitable, not accompanied with God’s blessing, nor conducing to the pleasing of him, but the provoking of him, Psalms 106:29,Psalms 106:43. Being led by no other rule than the tradition of men, which is the same with the precepts of men, Mark 7:8, which God likes not, Isaiah 8:20; Isaiah 28:13; John 20:31; Acts 26:22; 2 Timothy 3:15,2 Timothy 3:16; he would not give place to human traditions in his house, nor to

the rudiments of the world, ( in allusion to grammar, wherein the letters are the elements or rudiments of all literature), i.e. the ceremonies of the Mosaical law, containing a kind of elementary instruction, for that seems to be the apostle’s meaning, comparing this verse with Colossians 2:20 and Colossians 2:21, and other places, Galatians 3:24, these being but corporeal, carnal, and sensible ordinances, suitable to a worldly sanctuary. Hebrews 9:1,Hebrews 9:10, not to be imposed in that spiritual one which Christ hath set up, John 4:23,John 4:24; Galatians 5:2. Whatsoever philosophical colours or Pharisaical paint they might appear in, they are not after Christ: we say a false picture of a man is not after the man, being not taken from or resembling his person, but clean another; such descriptions of him, as were not taken from the life and truth that was in him. And therefore he who is Head of his church, and likes not to be misshaped or misrepresented, will not accept of homage from those of his own house, in a livery that he hath not given order for, Leviticus 10:1; Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Corinthians 5:9, how specious soever it may be in the wisdom of this world and the princes thereof, 1 Corinthians 2:6,1 Corinthians 2:7.

Verse 9

For; the causal particle induceth this as an argument to enforce the caution immediately foregoing, against those who did seek to draw from Christ by philosophy, as well as urging the ceremonial law; else the apostle’s reasoning were not cogent unless against both.

In him; it is evident that the Lord Jesus Christ himself, whom he had described and but just now named, is the subject, the person of whom he speaks, and in whom is seated, and unto whom he attributes, what followeth, Colossians 1:19; John 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:16. He doth not say, in his doctrine, whatever Socinians cavil, as if they would render the apostle absurd, and not to agree with himself in what he asserts of Christ’s person before (as hath been showed) and after in the context. It is plain this relative him, respects not only Colossians 2:8, but Colossians 2:11, &c. in whom the believing Colossians are said to be complete as their Head, both in the former chapter, and soon after in this. Would it not be absurd to say, Christ’s doctrine is the head of angels? We are crucified in the doctrine of Christ? Buried and quickened together with his doctrine? The hand-writing of ordinances was nailed to the cross of doctrine? Is a doctrine the head of principalities and powers? Can a doctrine be buried in baptism? &c. To silence all the earth, that they should not restrain it to Christ’s doctrine only, what he asserts of his person, Paul, after Christ had been several years in heaven, put it in the present tense,

dwelleth, not dwelt, {as 2 Timothy 1:5} in regard of the person eternally the same, Hebrews 13:8; for his argument had not been cogent, to contain Christians in the faith of Christ, and their duty to him, to have alleged, in the doctrine of Christ now in heaven hath dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (could propriety of speech have allowed it); but from the other respect, because in their very flesh (the body of Christ, now an inhabitant of the heavens) the very Godhead, in the whole fulness thereof, personally, from the moment of his incarnation, doth yet dwell. What will not the faithful perform and work out with their utmost faith, that they may never suffer themselves to be rent from spiritual and mystical union with him, in whom they understand that even they themselves shall be also divinely filled, Colossians 2:10, i.e. in their measure be made partakers of the Divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4.

Dwelleth imports more than a transient stay for a few minutes, or a little while, even abiding in him constantly and for ever, as dwelling most usually notes, 2 Corinthians 6:16. That which doth thus perpetually abide in his person, as denominated after the human nature, is all the fulness of the Godhead, viz. that rich and incomprehensible abundance of perfections, whereof the supreme and adorable nature is full; so that indeed there is not at all any perfection or excellency in the Divine nature but is found abiding in him. And after no common or ordinary way, but by a hypostatical or personal union of the Godhead with the manhood in Christ; which is not by way of mixture, confusion, conversion, or any other mutation; but

bodily, to exclude that inhabitation which is only by extrinsical denomination. It being an adverb, doth denote the manner as well as the subject; wherefore when he speaks of the temple of his body, John 2:21, that doth not fully reach the apostle’s meaning here: but it must be expounded personally, since in the Greek that which signifies with us a body, and so our English word body, is put for a person, Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 18:13; somebody or nobody, i.e. some person or no person. There is a presence of the Godhead general, by essence and power; particular, in the prophets and apostles working miracles: gracious, in all sanctified ones; glorious, in heaven, in light which no man can approach unto, 1 Timothy 6:16; relative, in the church visible and ordinances, typically under the law, and symbolically in the sacraments: but all these dwellings, or being present in the creature, fall short of that in the text, viz. bodily, connoting the personal habitation of the Deity in, and union of it with, the humanity of Christ, so close, and strait, and intimate, that the Godhead inhabiting and the manhood inhabited make but one and the same person, even as the reasonable soul and body in man make but one man. The way of the presence of the Deity with the humanity of Christ is above all those manners of the presence of God with angels and men. The Godhead dwells in him personally, in them in regard of assistance and energy: Godhead notes the truth of it; Christ was not only partaker of the Divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4, but the very Godhead dwells in him: it is not only the Divinity (as the Socinians, following the Vulgar Latin in this, would have it) but the Deity, the very nature and essence of God. Now it is observable, though in God himself Divinity and Deity be indeed the same, Romans 1:20, and may differ only from the manner of our conception and contemplation; yet here, when the enemies to Christ’s Deity might by their cavilling make more use of the word Divinity, (as when the soul of man is said to be a divine thing), to insinuate as if it here noted only the Divine will exclusive to the other attributes, (which exclusion the term all doth significantly prevent), the apostle puts in Deity or Godhead. Then lest Christ might (as by the Arians) be deemed a secondary God, or (as some since) a made god, inferior to the Father, he saith the fulness of the Godhead, which speaks him perfect God, coequal with the Father: further, connoting a numerical sameness of essence between the Godhead of the Father and the Son, all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in him. There is not one fulness of the Father and another of the Son, but one and the same singular Godhead in both, John 10:30. The fulness of the manhood in Adam and Eve were not numerically the same, but the Godhead of the Father and the Son is: yet is not the manhood of Christ co-extended and commensurate with the Godhead (as some Lutherans conceit); but where the manhood is, or Christ as man is, or hath his existence, there the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily: so that this fulness is extended as the manhood only in which it is, and not as far as the Deity in which this derivative fulness is not as in its seat, though it be all originally from it, but inherently or subjectively in Christ.

Verse 10

And ye; ye saints and holy brethren, Colossians 1:2, who have received Christ, Colossians 2:6,Colossians 2:7, and so are mystically united to him, in whom dwelleth all fulness (as you have heard); being in him, having one Spirit with him, as members with the head, Romans 8:1,Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:23,

are complete; are implete, or filled, and so mediately and causally complete from the all-fulness that is in your Head, yet not immediately and properly complete with it (as some have been apt to think). But

in him ye have that completeness and perfection which is reckoned and made over to you and accepted for you to justification, so that of his fulness ye receive, and grace for grace, John 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:6; Philippians 3:9; derive in and from him all spiritual blessings, Ephesians 1:3; so that every one hath grace sufficient, 2 Corinthians 12:9, to do all things incrumbent on him, through Christ strengthening him, Philippians 4:13. It is true there is here in this state no being complete or perfect actually, as to glorification, yet, virtually and seminally, that may in a sort be said of true believers not only in regard of their Head, but in regard of their certain hope of being saved in Christ, yea, and indeed as to the earnest, the seed and root of it, having already that life which shall never have an end, John 3:36; John 4:14; Romans 5:2; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:3,1 Peter 1:4; 1 John 5:12.

Which is the head of all principality and power: the apostle, for consolation of the saints, and in opposition to those who did endeavour a withdrawing from Christ to the worshipping of angels. Colossians 2:18, doth further infer, from the personal union, the dignity of the human nature of Christ, in regard of the good angels, which are here meant by

principality and power, by reason of their excellency by nature and grace, and their authority delegated to them by God over other creatures, Matthew 24:36; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 5:21. Christ having the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily, is Head unto the good angels in regard of his excellency and eminency above them, who are far below him in perfection, Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 1:4; the best of them are ministering spirits and subject to him, and so under his authority and at his command, Matthew 13:41; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:31; Ephesians 3:10; Hebrews 1:14; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:16.

Verse 11

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands: he removes what they who are addicted to superstition might suggest, as if there were somewhat defective to a completeness in Christ, by showing there was no need of any addition to what he required in the gospel; for that they might most plausibly urge of circumcision, as being the seal of the old covenant, and an obligation to the whole law, Galatians 5:3, which some pressed as necessary to salvation, Acts 15:1,Acts 15:24, he here shows was altogether needless now, that they were sanctified and had the thing signified by it, the circumcision of the heart, Romans 2:28,Romans 2:29; Philippians 3:3, and were complete in Christ without it; yea, that the urging of that and other ceremonies now, was a pernicious error, tending to annihilate the cross of Christ, and overthrow the whole mystery of his grace. It is true it was appointed to the Jews, a figure of a thing absent; they therefore who retain that figure after the coming of Christ, deny that to be complete which it doth figure, and so abolish the presence of the truth; by stickling for the shadow, they let go the substance, viz. the circumcision not made by the operation of man, but of God; not with the knife of Moses, but the word of Christ, sharper than any two-edged sword, Hebrews 4:12; and if we compare this with the verse following, and Philippians 3:3, the apostle intimates that baptism is the same to us Christians which circumcision was to the Jews; and that is often ascribed to the external administration, that is only the internal operation of the Spirit, as Romans 6:3,Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27,Galatians 3:28; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21. Now though there was during the shadow of it, Hebrews 10:1, under the Old Testament, the circumcision of the heart, as well as under the New, Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; yet under the New Testament Christ the substance (who was only before in the promise) being now exhibited, having abolished the old symbol and instituted baptism in the room of it; that with the hands in the flesh, Ephesians 2:11, which they who received not the promise, i.e. the Messiah promised, used, Hebrews 11:39, was to be no more urged, now the benefit by the merit of his obedience unto the death of the cross, whereby he circumciseth from sin, might be enjoyed, as was signified by baptism, appointed to this end, Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3,Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21.

In putting off the body of the sins of the flesh: hence he doth illustrate this spiritual circumcision by describing the parts of it, beginning with the mortification of the old man, corrupted nature, containing not only the body and senses, but the soul tainted with the defilements of sin, Colossians 3:5; Romans 6:6; Galatians 5:19-21,Galatians 5:24; Ephesians 4:22. The body of sins which do mostly exert themselves in the flesh, every member and power while unregenerate being active in the committing of sin, till the new man be put on, Ephesians 4:24, and the dominion of it be subdued; not by any natural part which a man hath of himself for that purpose, but by the circumcision of Christ, not properly that whereby he himself was circumcised in the flesh the eighth day, but that which he hath indispensably required to have admission into his kingdom, John 3:3, and which he himself is the worker of, doth procure by his merit, and effect by his Spirit, which all the suasion of the sublimest philosophers, and devotion of superstitious ones, cannot do.

Verse 12

Buried with him in baptism: he shows that in Christ they who are found have not only the thing signified, but right to the outward sign and seal, viz. baptism, in the room of circumcision abolished; the death and burial of Christ is not only the exemplar, but the cause of the death of the old man, signed and sealed in baptism: or, by baptism into death, Romans 6:3,Romans 6:4, analogically, or symbolically, or sacramentally, when the Lord, together with the external sign, conferreth his grace signified by that sign; for even then the sins of such a one are buried with Christ so as they shall appear no more, either to his eternal condemnation, or in their former dominion, Romans 6:6,Romans 6:9,Romans 6:14.

Wherein also ye are risen with him; in or by which baptism becoming effectual, having mortified the body of sin, like as Christ was raised from the dead, ye are quickened and raised to newness of life, Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27-29; Ephesians 4:23,Ephesians 4:24; Ephesians 5:14,Ephesians 5:26,Ephesians 5:27; Colossians 3:10,Colossians 3:11. By virtue of Christ’s resurrection, a spiritual and mystical one is produced in you, which hath a resemblance and analogy to his.

Through the faith of the operation of God; not of yourselves, but through faith, Ephesians 2:8, and that wrought in you by the energy or efficacy of God, John 6:29; Philippians 1:29; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2.

Who hath raised him from the dead; who did exert his power in raising up Christ from the dead: compare Romans 4:24, with Ephesians 1:19,Ephesians 1:20. This faith is not only wrought by God, as the circumcision without hands, but it doth respect that wonderful power of God put forth in the raising of Christ, as the subject, which he mentions by way of congruity, speaking of our resurrection, and of Christ’s. And he specifieth faith rather than love or other graces which are wrought also by God, because in this grace, which is the constitutive part of the new creature, God comes in with a greater irradiation upon the soul, being it hath not one fragment or point of nature to stand upon; carnal reason and mere moral righteousness being opposite to it, whereas other graces are but as the rectifying of the passions, and setting them upon right objects.

Verse 13

And you, being dead in your sins: he further shows they had no need of circumcision in the flesh, Ephesians 2:11, having all in Christ for justification as well as sanctification, though they (as well as the Ephesians, see Ephesians 2:1,Ephesians 2:5) were by nature spiritually dead in sins, deprived of the life of grace, and separated from the life of glory.

And the uncircumcision of your flesh; and having the foreskin of their flesh in paganism; which was true literally, but, considering the internal circumcision, Colossians 2:11, the apostle’s expression here is to be expounded of the internal corruption of our nature, the uncircumcised heart, original corruption derived unto all by carnal propagation, which is predominant in the unregenerate. These being dead as to the life of grace, Matthew 8:22; John 5:25; Romans 8:7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Timothy 5:6.

Hath he quickened together with him; you who were strangers from the life of God, Ephesians 4:18, hath he now quickened or revived to a spiritual life with him here, and hereafter to eternal life, 1 Corinthians 15:22.

Having forgiven you all trespasses; having freely pardoned to you (the word noting a free affection to give and forgive, 2 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 4:32) all your sins, after as well as before baptism, which is the sign and seal of it, Psalms 103:3; so that the Spirit of Christ doth not only infuse a principle of grace, and implant a living and abiding seed to work out vicious habits, but God, upon the account of Christ’s plenary satisfaction, doth freely remove all the guilt that binds over to eternal death, and doth not impute to believers any of their sins in whole or in part, but treateth them as if they had committed none at all, Matthew 26:28; Acts 10:43; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:15, and will remember them no more, so that when they are sought for they shall not be found, Jeremiah 31:34; Jeremiah 50:20; Hebrews 10:17. What the papists say of the fault being remitted, when the punishment may be exacted either in whole or in part, that they may have a pretence for human satisfactions, (the groundlessness of which was hinted, Colossians 1:24), is a mere figment of the schools, against Scripture and reason.

Verse 14

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us: having just before manifested God’s grace in the free forgiveness of all their trespasses, he doth here adjoin the foundation and means of this remission, viz. "Wiping out the bill of decrees," as one reads; or effacing and cancelling "the handwriting that was against us, which was contrary to us in traditions," as another, pointing after chirograph or handwriting: upon the matter in the explanation there will be no difference from our reading of it. Sin, in Scripture, is frequently accounted a debt, and the acquitting, the pardoning of it, Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4; Luke 13:4; as the debtor is obliged to payment, so the sinner to punishment; only it is to be remembered, that though a private creditor may forgive his debt, yet unless the conservator of public justice do exempt an offender against the law, he is not acquitted, but is still under an obligation, bond or handwriting, having, as they under the Mosaic law, professed allegiance, Exodus 24:7, which upon default was an evidence of this guilt to avenging justice. The law prescribed by the ministration of Moses was appendaged with many ceremonial ordinances, to the observation of all which circumcision did oblige: this obligation interpretatively was as a handwriting which did publicly testify a man’s native pollution, and was a public confession of his sin and misery, as washings did testify the filth of his sins, and sacrifices, capital guilt to them who lived under it, and did not perform it; that they were accursed, Galatians 3:10,Galatians 3:19, under a ministration of death, 2 Corinthians 3:7,2 Corinthians 3:9; while by laying their hands on the sacrifices, they did as it were sign a bill or bond against themselves, whereby conscience of guilt was retained, Hebrews 10:2,Hebrews 10:3, and a conscience of sin renewed, so that the heart could not be stablished in any firm peace, Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1; but they did confess sin to remain, and that they did want a removal of the curse by a better sacrifice. Upon the offering up of this, the law of commandments was blotted out, cancelled or abolished, even that contained in ordinances, saith the apostle elsewhere; see Ephesians 2:15, compared with, Colossians 2:16,Colossians 2:20,Colossians 2:21; and therefore there is no condemnation to them that are circumcised with the circumcision of Christ, being found in him, Colossians 2:11, with Romans 8:1; Romans 7:4.

Which was contrary to us; so that however the law, which was in itself holy, just, and good, through sin became in some sort contrary, or subcontrary, to us, in that it did serve to convict, and terrify with the curse for our default, Romans 7:5,Romans 7:9, aggravating all by its ceremonies, and shutting the gate of God’s house against the Gentiles, of whose number the Colossians were, strangers from the covenants of promise, Ephesians 2:12; yet this obligation was abrogated and annulled by the death of Christ, as the apostle expresseth it with great elegancy, having not only said that the debt was wiped out, defaced by the blood of Christ being drawn over it, as they used to blot out debts or draw red lines across them; but he adds,

and took it out of the way; taken out of the way, as the debtor’s bond or obligation is, being cancelled and torn to pieces, so that there is no memorial or evidence of the debt doth remain, all matter of controversy being altogether removed. Yet, if it may be, to speak more fully and satisfactorily, he annexeth,

nailing it to his cross; what could be more significant? Implying that Christ, by once offering himself a sacrifice on the cross, had disarmed the law, and taken away its condemning power, Romans 7:4; Galatians 3:13. It being customary (as learned men say) of old, especially in Asia, to pierce cancelled obligations and antiquated writings with nails; Christ by his plenary satisfaction did not only discharge from the condemnation of the law, Romans 8:1,Romans 8:34, but he did effectually, with the nails with which he himself was crucified, by interpretation, fasten the handwriting of ordinances to his cross, and abolished the ceremonial law in every regard, since the substance of it was come, and that which it tended to was accomplished, in giving himself a ransom for all, 1 Timothy 2:6, to the putting away of sin, Hebrews 9:26, and obtaining eternal redemption, Hebrews 9:12.

Verse 15

And having spoiled; some render it, seeing he hath stripped or made naked, as runners and racers used to put off their clothes.

Principalities and powers; hence some of the ancients read putting off his flesh (possibly by the carelessness of some scribes, writing that which signifies flesh instead of that which signifies principalities, in all the authentic copies); but besides that Christ hath not put off the human nature, only the infirmities of the flesh, 2 Corinthians 5:16; Hebrews 5:7, it doth not agree with what follows. One conceits that by principalities and powers are meant the ceremonies of the law, because of the Divine authority they originally had; and that Christ unclothed or unveiled them, and showed them to be misty figures that were accomplished in his own person. But I see no reason thus to allegorize, for it is easy to discern the word is borrowed from conquering warriors having put to flight and disarmed their enemies, (as the word may well signify disarming, in opposition to arming, Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6:11,Ephesians 6:14), and signifies here, that Christ disarmed and despoiled the devil and his angels, with all the powers of darkness. We have seen that by principalities and powers are meant angels, Colossians 1:16, with Romans 8:37; Ephesians 1:21; and here he means evil ones, in regard of that power they exercise in this world under its present state of subjection to sin and vanity, Luke 4:6; John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:26; whom Christ came to destroy, and effectually did on his cross defeat, Luke 11:22; John 16:11; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; delivering his subjects from the power of darkness, Colossians 1:13, according to the first promise, Genesis 3:15.

He made a show of them openly; yea, and Christ did, as an absolute conqueror, riding as it were in his triumphal chariot, publicly show that he had vanquished Satan and all the powers of darkness, in the view of heaven and earth, Luke 10:17,Luke 10:18.

Triumphing over them; even then and there where Satan thought he should alone have had the day by the death of the innocent Jesus, was he and his adherents triumphed over by the Lord of life, to their everlasting shame and torment. What the papists would gather hence, that Christ did, in this triumphant show upon the cross, carry the souls of the patriarchs out of their Limbus, i.e. their appointment to hell, is a mere unscriptural fiction; for those that he made show of in his victorious chariot are the very same that he spoiled to their eternal ignominy and confusion.

In it: some render this, (as in the margin), in himself, or by himself, i.e. by his own power and virtue and not by the help of any other; the prophet saith he trod the winepress alone, and had not any of the people with him, Isaiah 63:3; yet it seems here better to adhere to our own translation, in it, considering what went before of his cross, that he triumphed over Satan on it or by it, because the death that he there suffered was the true and only cause of his triumphs; there he trod Satan under his feet, there he set his seed at liberty, and they who go about to bereave them of it, and bring them into bondage, do no other than restore to Satan his spoils.

Verse 16

Let no man therefore judge you; he infers none should be condemned: none condemns another for exercising Christian liberty; none hath power to judge and censure herein: q.d. Suffer not any one (he excepts none) to impose upon you that, as necessary in the use and practice of it, which is not after Christ, Colossians 2:8, not warranted by his law of liberty, Romans 14:3,Romans 14:4; Galatians 5:1; James 1:25. Paul himself would not be imposed on, 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Galatians 2:5,Galatians 2:11,Galatians 2:14, &c.; he would not (as one of the words doth note) be domineered over by any, or suffer any to exercise authority over him, who held the Head, and owned Christ to be Lord of the conscience, and sole dictator of what way he will be served in.

In meat, or in drink; he therefore would not have the practice of ceremonials obtruded, instancing in some, as the difference of meats and drinks, in the use or not use of which (now after Christ had nailed those decrees to his cross) superstitious ones would, from the antiquated rites of the Jews and Pythagorean philosophers, place holiness in, and add them to the Christian institution.

Or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; or the difference of festivals and sabbaths, whether annual, or monthly, or weekly, from the Levitical institutions.

Verse 17

Which are a shadow of things to come; which, as they were but obscurer representations or shadowy resemblances of future benefits procured by Christ, Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 10:1, whatever temporary glory they had from the former institution, till the time of reformation, Hebrews 9:10, yet that was done away, and they now had none, in respect of the glory that excelleth and remaineth, 2 Corinthians 3:10,2 Corinthians 3:11. So that this doth no way gainsay the sacraments now of Christ’s own institution, which may be called figures and shadows, not of things future, of Christ not yet come, but as already exhibited, whom they manifest to the mind and faith to be present, to those who rightly partake of them: we cannot say he condemns all distinctions of meats and drinks, viz. bread and wine in the Lord’s supper; or of days; only the decrees and ordinances of Moses, or any other which the false teachers cried up, that were not after Christ.

But the body is of Christ; who is really the substance and antitype of all the Old Testament shadows, which have completion or accomplishment in him, John 1:17; Romans 10:4; Galatians 4:10-12; as all the promises were in him yea and Amen, Daniel 9:24; 2 Corinthians 1:20; all was consummated in him, John 19:30, who came in the place of all the shadows. He is Lord of the sabbath, Matthew 12:8, and therefore, having broken the devil’s head-plot by his propitiatory sacrifice, and entered into his rest, ceasing from his own works of redemption by price, as God did from his of creation, Hebrews 4:10, he did away {2 Corinthians 3:7,2 Corinthians 3:11} all that was typical and ceremonial of the old sabbath, (as other types of himself); keeping only that which was substantial, for a holy rest of one day in seven, and appointing that in commemoration of the Father’s work and his to be, from his resurrection, observed on the first day of the week, for the edification of his church; which he honoured by his appearance amongst his apostles on that day, and that day seven-night after, which proceeded originally from his instituting of that day (to prevent dissension) for public worship in Christian assemblies. Some have observed that the Jewish doctors did foresay: That the Divine Majesty would be to Israel in a jubilee, freedom, redemption, and finisher of sabbaths: and that four sabbaths did meet together and succeed each other at the death and the resurrection of Christ, viz.

1. The sabbatical year of jubilee, Luke 4:19.

2. The high sabbath, John 19:31.

3. The seventh-day sabbath, when his body rested in the grave.

4. The first day of the week, when he rose a victorious conqueror of the devil, and had all put in subjection to him, unto whom all the rest did refer, and therefore they were to disappear, upon his estating his people in a rest which the law could not; whereupon his people are obliged in public adoration and praise to commemorate him on the first day of the week, or the Lord’s day, to the end of the world, 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Kings 1:10.

Verse 18

Let no man beguile you of your reward: the original compound word, peculiar in the New Testament to Paul, and that in this Epistle only, (and not very frequent in other authors), hath occasioned interpreters here to render it variously, some joining the next following word with it, and some (as we read it) to that which follows after. The simple word is, Colossians 3:15, read rule, or judge, and it may be rendered intercede. Yet Paul doth not elsewhere use this word simply or in composition where he speaks of judging and condemning, Romans 2:1; however, it is borrowed from those who were judges or umpires in their games, the apostle most likely alluding to those, who through favour or hatred determined unjustly, to the defrauding those victors of their prize or reward to whom it was due. Hence some would have the import to be agreeable to our translation; Be careful these unjust arbiters do not defraud you of gaining Christ, and deceive you, ,{ as Matthew 24:4; Ephesians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3} by prescribing false lists and giving you wrong measures, and so judging against you. One renders it: Let no man deceive you with subtle argument, who pleaseth or delights himself in humility; another: Let no man take your prize; others: Let no man master it or bear rule over you at pleasure; let none take upon himself, or usurp to himself, the parts or office of a governor or umpire over you. The apostle labours to fortify the true followers of Christ against such superstitious subtle ones, who by their artifice did assume a magisterial authority (without any sure warrant from God) to impose their traditionary and invented services upon them, and determine of their state, accordingly as the papists do at this day. One learned man thinks the apostle had not used this word here, but for some notable advantage, viz. because the simple word may signify to intercede as well as to judge; it made wonderfully to his purpose in this composition, (as he uses concision, Philippians 3:2), to disparage those seducers who did, from some notions of the Platonists, labour to gain credit to that opinion that the angels were intercessors between God and man.

In a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels; covering their imperious spirit by being volunteers in humility, or by a pretence of voluntary, uncommanded humility, alleging it would be presumption in them to address themselves immediately to God, and therefore they would pay a religious homage to angels, as of a middle nature between God and them, presuming they would mediate for them: an instance to express all that invented worship, which, how specious soever it may seem to be, hath no warrant from Christ, who alone can procure acceptance of our persons and services. He expects that his disciples should assert his rights, and the liberty with which he hath made them free, against the traditions of self-willed men, and no more to solemnize for worship, than teach for doctrines, the traditions of men, Matthew 15:2,Matthew 15:6,Matthew 15:9. We must not, under any pretext of humility, presume to know what belongs to our duty and God’s service better than Christ doth, showing us that he alone is the true and living way, and we may come boldly by him, Matthew 11:28; John 14:1,John 14:6; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19,Hebrews 10:20. And therefore the adoring and invocating of angels as heavenly courtiers, whatever the papists out of a show of humility do argue, is not after Christ, but against him.

Intruding into those things which he hath not seen: yea, and for any one to assert it, and the like, is to be a bold intruder upon another’s possession, a thrusting a man’s self into the knowledge and determination of that which is above his reach, Psalms 131:1, and he hath no ground at all for, but doth pry or wade into a secret which a man cannot know. The apostle useth a Platonic word against those who did indulge themselves out of curiosity in the opinions of the Platonists about angels, the worshippers of which, amongst those who were professed Christians in Phrygia, were so tenacious of their error that they were not rooted out after the third century, when a canon was made against them under the name of Angelici, in the council of Laodicea near Colosse.

Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind; the first rise of such foolish presumption, was a being rashly puffed up with the sense of their flesh, a deluded mind moved by some carnal principle, setting out things with swelling words of vanity, wherewith in truth they have no acquaintance, and whereof they have no experience, 1 Timothy 1:7.

Verse 19

And not holding the Head: here the apostle suggests, that those things he had before taxed did proceed from hence, that they let go the Lord Christ himself, Colossians 2:8,Colossians 2:9, from whom all truths are to be derived, and consequently he is all truth itself, John 14:6; not to adhere to him is the spring of all apostacies, lie being the Head: see Ephesians 4:15,Ephesians 4:16.

From which all the body; whence is communicated and distributed such influence to the body, the church, as is necessary to all the sensations and motions thereof.

By joints and bands having nourishment ministered; being in all its members fitly framed together by the Spirit, Ephesians 2:21,Ephesians 2:22, and united by faith, Ephesians 3:17, hath a continual subsidy of life and vigour.

And knit together; and fastened together in a spiritual union, which joineth all believers to their Head, and each of them to the other in him, 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12,1 Corinthians 12:20,1 Corinthians 12:25,1 Corinthians 12:27.

Increaseth with the increase of God; whereupon, to mutual edification in love, it groweth with a Divine growth and spiritual increase, arising from the efficacy of God, and tending to his glory; being filled with the influences of his grace, 1 Corinthians 3:6, it is established and strengthened by little and little, in light and purity, and all graces, till it attain to the measure of its perfect stature in Christ Jesus our Lord; whereas an increase in the traditions of men, and the inventions of flesh, do only blow it up with wens and imposthumes, to the disfiguring, deforming, and destroying of it.

Verse 20

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world: here the apostle doth further argue against all impositions of superstitious observances, obtruded as parts of Divine worship, whether in reviving those abrogated, or setting up new ones, upon supposition of their union with Christ their Head, and their being dead in him as to all beggarly elements from which he had freed them by his death, Romans 6:3,Romans 6:5; Romans 7:4,Romans 7:6; Galatians 4:9,Galatians 4:10,Galatians 4:11, with Colossians 2:19; no uncommanded worship or way of worship being after Christ, Colossians 2:8, in whom they were complete, Colossians 2:10, being buried with him in baptism, Colossians 2:12, having nailed those ritual ordinances to his cross, as antiquated or out-dated, Colossians 2:14.

Why, as though living in the world, are ye are subject to ordinances? Why should they, who held the Head, Colossians 2:19, as if they lived in the old world with those children in bondage, Galatians 4:3, before Christ came, be subject to ceremonial observances? q.d. It is most injurious that they should impose this yoke upon you, {Acts 15:10} ye are most foolish if ye submit your necks; for God would not have a ceremonial worship which he himself instituted to be abrogated, that a new one should be invented by men. If the Head of the church like not the reviving that worship he hath laid aside, be sure he will not approve of any new one which he never appointed. The apostle is not here speaking of the magistrates’ ordinances about things indifferent in their use, for the real good of the civil government, but of the way of worshipping God by religious abstinences, &c.

Verse 21

Which he doth here by way of imitation, upbraiding of them, elegantly recite in the words, phrases, or sense of those imposing dogmatists, whose superstition and lust of domineering over the consciences of Christians is taxed, in the gradation which the well skilled in the Greek judge to be in the original. For though the first, and which we render

touch not, be sometimes so rendered, yet, considering here the coincidency or tautology will, so rendered, make with the last, the sense of it, as the most judicious and learned have evidenced, seems to be, eat not, as noting they did forbid the eating, i.e. using certain meats at their ordinary meals; (against the reviving of which imposition above, Colossians 2:16, as will bring in a new one of like import, the apostle elsewhere expresseth himself, Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 8:8; 1 Timothy 4:3); obtaining which, they proceeded to forbid the not tasting, and then the not handling, or touching of them with the hand, as if that would defile. It being more not to taste than not to eat, and likewise more not to touch with the finger than not to taste. Expressing the ingenuity of such superstitious imposers, that they heap up one thing upon another to the burdening of consciences, not knowing where to make an end in their new invented external devotions and observances, which, as snares, do first bind fast, and in tract of time strangle. He speaks of these as distinct from those, Colossians 2:16, they being for antiquated rites which had been of God’s appointment, these for innovations of man’s invention, as is apparent from the last verse.

Verse 22

Which all are to perish with the using: he adds his reasons why, under the Christian institution, acceptable worshipping of God doth not consist in such observances, both because meats, drinks, garments, &c. are designed unto the benefit of man, for the preserving of his temporal life, and are consumed in their use. They cannot, in or by themselves, either make a man holy or render him unclean, Matthew 15:11; Mark 7:19; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Timothy 4:3; they all come to corruption, or are consumed in doing us service, they cannot otherwise be of use; which may evince that all the benefit we receive from them doth only respect this mortal life, it not being imaginable that what perisheth in our use should be of any force to the life of our soul, which is immortal and incorruptible. And therefore to urge the reviving of antiquated ordinances, or bringing in such like new ones, is to corrupt or consume the creatures without any spiritual advantage, whereupon such impositions must needs be destructive; and because of the apostle’s stronger argument, they are not after Christ, but after the precepts and decrees of men, compare Colossians 2:8, which is our Lord aud Master’s argument against the inovations of the Pharisees, Matthew 15:9, agreeing with the prophet, Isaiah 29:13. To bring in additionals of uncommanded worship, or rites and ways of it, is forbidden of God, Deuteronomy 12:32; John 14:26; John 16:13; Revelation 22:18; who (according to the purport of the second commandment) must be worshipped in a manner peculiar to him and appointed by him; and theretbre worship not appointed, i.e. not commanded, is forbidden by, him, who will accept of no homage from Christians in the business of religion, unless it be taught by him, and not by men only.

Verse 23

Which things have indeed a show of wisdom: by way of concession the apostle here grants that the precepts and doctrines of men about religious abstinences had a

show of wisdom; and it was but a mere show, a bare pretext, a specious appearance, a fair colour of wisdom, which is of no worth, not the reality and truth of Christian wisdom, however it might beguile those that were taken more with shadows than substance, Colossians 2:3,Colossians 2:4,Colossians 2:8,Colossians 2:17.

In will-worship;

1. In arbitrary superstition, or human invention, or selfwilled religion, rather than Divine institutions; as all the ancients, and almost all the moderns, do interpret that word, it having no good, but an ill character; accounting the compound word here which we render will-worship, of no better import, as to the ordainers of worship, than the two simple words of which it is compounded, expressing human arbitrariness and worship, Colossians 2:18, (even as the apostle doth, by a compound word which signifies peace making, Colossians 1:20, understand the very same thing which he expressed by the two simple words of which it is compounded in another Epistle, Ephesians 2:15), it being rational to conceive, considering the apostle’s drift in the context, that by will-worship he doth connote the same here, that by willing in worship he doth asunder there. For though a performing those acts of worship willingly, which God himself hath commanded, be necessary, and commendable in his willing people, Psalms 110:3, and they cannot be acceptable otherwise; yet when the will of man, in contradistinction to the will of God, is considered as constitutive of that worship which is offered to God of a man’s own brain and devising, without God’s warrant, then that will-worship is hateful to God, and the more voluntary the more abominable. It being most just, that not in what way we will and choose, but only in that way which he willeth and chooseth, we should worship him with acceptance; which should be our greatest care, 2 Corinthians 5:9. We know, amongst men, those persons of honour that give liveries to their servants, would discard such of them as should come to attend them in new ones of their own devising, though those servants might be so foolish as to conceit those of their own devising were more expressive of their humble respects. Much more is worship of man’s devising distasteful to the all-wise God, who sees through all colours, and though he loves a willing worshipper, yet he hates will-worship.

And humility; however it be palliated:

2. With a pretended demission of mind, or an affectation of humility, as if more self-abasement were designed in such an arbitrary way of worship; like those hypocrites in their fasts, who put on mortified looks and a neglected garb, with disguised contenances, Matthew 6:16, showing themselves most submissive to the orders of their superiors in that way of man’s devising.

And neglecting of the body; wherein the more superstitiously devout do labour to outdo others:

3. In punishing, not sparing, neglecting, or afflicting the body; as some monks at this day in the papacy, in denying it that with which nature should be supplied.

Not in any honour, which a learned man thinks the apostle would have read as included in a parenthesis, as conceiving the series of his discourse requires these to be joined, viz. neglecting of the body as to what pertains to the satisfying of the flesh. So by not in any honour, is not here meant a sparing of the body in order to real sanctification, temperance and continence, in opposition to the dishonouring of the body by luxury, as Romans 1:26, with 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; Hebrews 13:4. That honour of the body the apostle doth elsewhere require, he doth here oppose to the seducers’ pretended mortifications. For their religious abstinence was not from that which occasioned luxury, only from some certain sorts of meat, the use of which no way defiles the body, nor violates in any manner the holiness and honour it ought to be kept in. Others read, neglecting the body, which is in no esteem.

To the satisfying of the flesh; for pampering the flesh. Not in any esteem, i.e. with God, or not in any humour to God, but in a tendency only to make provision for the flesh, as Romans 13:14. Others take honour for regard; q.d. In no regard to the supplying of nature with that which is due to it. Others take hononr for having a care of, 1 Timothy 5:3; q.d. Neglecting the body in taking no care of it, or not at all valuing the things that are requisite to the due nourishment of it: this is somewhat generally received; having no care that the body may have that which will satisfy nature. And if the last phrase, which we translate to the satisfying of the flesh, seem not so well to express moderate satiety, we should consider it is said in a good sense, God filled the hungry with good things, Luke 1:53, and Christ filled the multitude, John 6:12; yea, the use of the word in authentic Greek authors may be found to note a moderate as well as immoderate filling, i.e. in a good sense, for a satiety (or enough) that is not vicious.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Colossians 2". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/colossians-2.html. 1685.
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