This chapter[ 1 ] warns against human philosophies, liberalism and Jewish legalism. Christ is exalted above them all.
WARNING ABOUT HERESIES
2:1-3 For I would have you know how great a concern I have for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be comforted, being united in love and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto full knowledge of the mystery of God, of Christ, 3 in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
For I would have you know [that ye knew, I want you to know].[ 2 ] Paul wanted his readers to know firsthand his concern for them. The Colossian letter would help in that. This assurance by letter was reinforced by personal communication. Tychicus had told Paul about the love of the Colossians (1:4) and he expected him to tell the Colossians personally about his own affairs (4:7).
How great a concern I have for you [what great conflict I have for you, how greatly I strive for you].[ 3 ] In Colossians, Paul spoke of his labor. God continued to supply strength to him (Php 4:13). Even so, he was striving and even fighting! In Colossians 1:29, he used the term AGOONTZONIENOS striving, struggling to describe his strenuous, agonizing labors. He uses the same word in Colossians 4:12 to describe Epaphras earnestly striving in prayer. In the present verse, AGOONA concern is a strong term meaning strife, struggle or conflict. The adjective "great" tells us the conflict is intense. Paul did nothing half-heartedly. His concern extended to those who had never met him. He agonized in prayer for them. He strove earnestly when instructing Tychicus (Col 4:7). The inspired letter to the Colossians and the one "from Laodicea" were results of his striving (see note on Col 4:16). He was apprehensive that heresies already present at Colossae might lead his readers away from Christ.[ 4 ] He also felt anxiety[ 5 ] for "all the churches" (2Co 11:28).
PURPOSE OF PAUL'S STRIVING
(Col 2:1, 2)
- That hearts would be comforted and encouraged.
- That both Jew and Gentile would be united in love.
- That all would truly understand the riches of Christ.
And for those at Laodicea [and for them at Laodicea]. The church at Laodicea, about twelve miles up the Lycus river from Colossae was, or soon became, lukewarm (see Re 3:14-22). Nevertheless, Paul's care for them was sincere and earnest.
And for all who have not seen my face in the flesh [and for all who have not seen my face].[ 6 ] Many of the Colossians, the Laodiceans and possibly others in the area never had an opportunity to see Paul or to hear him preach in person.
That their hearts may be comforted [might be comforted].[ 7 ] It was Paul's desire that his readers be reassured in the faith, encouraged to live right and be braced against error.
Being united in love [they being, as they are, knit together, in love].[ 8 ] Perhaps the greatest challenge Paul met was the welding of Jew and Gentile together into the one great body of Christ. An outward union was not enough.[ 9 ] The unity had to involve a genuine love by all Christians for all Christians. This existed at Colossae but not everywhere. Paul encouraged it by teaching.
And unto all riches [to have all the riches].[ 10 ] All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. As He is preached, that treasure store is opened and shared. False teachers professed their "mysteries" and "hidden knowledge." By contrast, Paul openly manifested the mystery through gospel preaching (Col 1:26). It was made known (Col 1:27), proclaimed and taught (Col 1:28).
Of the full assurance of understanding [of assured understanding].[ 11 ] Christians are made richer as their understanding of the treasures in Christ becomes fuller.
Unto full knowledge [that they may know, to the acknowledgement, and the knowledge].[ 12 ] Paul uses a word meaning "full knowledge." By studying the Scriptures, marvelous information is available to every Christian. Paul whets the appetite of his readers to take advantage of that.
Of the mystery of God, of Christ [of God's mystery, the mystery of God, and of the Father, of Christ, and of Christ, even Christ].[ 13 ] Some texts omit "of Christ" but evidence supports it as belonging in the verse and most standard translations include it (see chart RICHES OF CHRIST JESUS).
RICHES OF CHRIST JESUS
- In Christ all the Fullness was pleased to dwell (Col 1:19).
- All the riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto full knowledge of the mystery of God, of Christ (Col 2:2).
- In Him are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden" (Col 3:3).
In whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden [are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge].[ 14 ] Consider that God's thoughts are higher than man's (Isa 55:9). "His ways are past tracing out" (Ro 14:33). The "spirit of wisdom and understanding" rested on Christ (Isa 11:2). The whole NT scheme of redemption, together with its OT background, was hidden in Him. Human beings are only beginning to comprehend the greatness of it all.
Oh the depth and the riches of God's saving grace
Flowing down from the cross for me!
There the debt for my sins by the Savior was paid
In His suff'ring on Calvary![ 15 ]
THAT NO ONE DELUDE YOU
2:4 I say this so no one may deceive you with sophisms.
I say this so no one may deceive you [and this I say, lest any man should beguile you, in order that no one may delude you].[ 16 ] Paul counters the false teachers at Colossae (see also Col 1:23). The Holy Spirit was actually using philosophical catch words such as "wisdom" (Col 2:2), "mystery," "knowledge" and "philosophy" (Col 2:8), words the false teachers had only begun to employ, but would later use frequently to promote their false views. Paul's warning would still be appropriate in the second century and beyond.
With sophisms [persuasiveness of speech, beguiling speech, enticing words].[ 17 ] The false teachers with whom Paul was acquainted had an alluring style. In other places, he said they used "smooth and fair speech" to beguile innocent hearts (Ro 16:17-18). To seduce followers, they employed "feigned words" (2Pe 2:3). We know of five classifications of false teachings that plagued the early churches. The two that bothered Colossae the most were Gnosticism and Judaism (see chart EARLY HERETICS).
- Antichrists opposed Christ or pretended to be Christ.
- Ebionites taught that Christ was a mere man and that Joseph was His father.
- Gnostics claimed special knowledge; denied Jesus was the Christ.
- Judaizers taught circumcision was essential to salvation.
- Nicolaitans exalted knowledge, degraded all law, practiced sinful things with supposed impunity.
HERETICS DISTURBING EARLY CHURCHES
Antichrists. The word means those who oppose Christ. There were two types of Antichrists. Some opposed Christ (see Mt 24:11). Many actually denied that Jesus was the Christ (1Jo 2:22). Others claimed to be Christ Himself or that they had come in His place (Mt 24:5). They were all false teachers. Some of them were working in the latter part of the first century (see 1Jo 2:18; 4:3; 2Jo 7).
Ebionites. The Hebrew word for "poor" is EBYON. I suppose that anyone who had a poor opinion of Christ could loosely be called an "Ebionite." However, there was an actual man named "Ebion" who had a poor opinion of the Savior. He taught that Christ was a mere man[ 18 ] with Joseph as His real father. Ebion's followers were the Ebionites under consideration here.[ 19 ]
Gnostics. These philosophers took their name from the Greek GNOOSIS knowledge. They mixed Greek philosophy with gospel truth. Some of their main themes were the origin of evil and the nature of "the Principle" underlying the world. They called this principle "the Absolute." They claimed that the God of the OT was not the true God. Evil, they said, resulted from the process of creation. They correctly claimed the true God was good but they reasoned that a good God could not have been directly involved in creation.[ 20 ] They showed contempt for, or rejected entirely, the OT Scriptures. They asserted that Jesus did not actually come in the flesh (see 1Jo 4:2, 3; 5:1). They theorized that He only pretended to do most of the things recorded in the gospels. They denied that He actually suffered and died. They supposed His death was an appearance and not real. They denied a bodily resurrection. Their most brazen error was their claim that Jesus did not atone for sins (see 1Jo 2:2).
The obnoxious seeds of Gnosticism were sprouting in first century churches. The doctrine became full-blown in the second century. Like the New Age movement, this ideology took different forms in various localities. It was complex and eclectic.[ 21 ] In Corinth (1Co 6:18, 19; 10:8) and Thyatira (Re 2:20) this false teaching condoned fornication (1Pe 2:16). In Colossae, their "fleshly mind" seemed to have led them into the ascetic self-denial (Col 2:8, 18, 20-22). Gnostics also held to a hierarchy of angels, a supposition possibly borrowed from the Jewish Cabala.[ 22 ]
In certain Scriptures, Paul denounces special philosophic knowledge or GNOOSIS. For example, he said, "Knowledge puffs up" (1Co 8:1). "Through your knowledge the weak brother perishes" (1Co 8:11). He praised the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Eph 3:19).
Judaizers. Judaizing teachers mixed traditions and certain parts of the OT with the gospel. For example, they perverted the gospel by the addition of the requirement of circumcision (Ac 15:1; Ga 1:7). They went about troubling the early Christians (Ga 1:7; 5:10; 6:17). They claimed to be converts to Christ but were really "false brethren" (Ga 2:4). In addition to their insistence on literal circumcision, they pronounced judgments about food and drink. They also stressed weekly, monthly and yearly Jewish observances (Col 2:16, 17). They were severely condemned by the apostle Paul (Ga 1:8, 9; 5:12; 6:12, 13). He exhorted Titus not to give "heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth" (Tit 1:14; see chart at Php 3:2, TEN REASONS TO BEWARE OF DOGS!).
Nicolaitans. Nicolaitan heresy is mentioned in Jesus' letters to the churches at Ephesus and Pergamum (see Re 2:6, 15). Like Gnostics, the Nicolaitans exalted knowledge. They held an erroneous, literal and exclusive view of John 17:3. "And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God and Him whom Thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." Their emphasis upon knowledge is, in some respects, similar to the "faith only" teaching of certain modern denominations. They exalted knowledge of the True God to the extent that they degraded all law. This fatal error led to justifying sinful practices. They were lawless and sinned with supposed impunity.[ 23 ]
ORDERLINESS AND STEADFASTNESS
2:5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing and observing your orderliness, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
For though I am absent in the flesh [for though I be absent in the flesh]. For the most part, Paul had not personally met his readers. Since he was in prison when he wrote, he could not easily visit them. Nevertheless, he cared deeply for all the Christians to whom he wrote.
Yet I am with you in spirit [yet am I with you in the spirit].[ 24 ] Although miles away, Paul "sees" the Colossians with his mind's eye.[ 25 ] "Spirit" does not necessarily mean the Holy Spirit. Most likely, Epaphras gave Paul the information he needed to "observe" them mentally (compare Col 1:7). Similarly, he had heard of the state of the Philippians (Php 1:27).
Rejoicing and observing your orderliness [joying and beholding your order, to see your good order].[ 26 ] In spite of being troubled by false teachers, the Colossian church was pretty sound in doctrine and rather strict in discipline. Paul spoke with military language as if he were inspecting the ranks of an army. He was happy to observe that the Christian battle lines were in orderly array. The army of Christ presented a close phalanx, a solid front.[ 27 ]
And the steadfastness of your faith in Christ [and the firmness of your faith in Christ].[ 28 ] The Greek for "steadfastness" is a different word than used anywhere else in the NT. It is a military term describing a solid front of an army. Sure, the Colossians had troubles but their faith was firm and strong. Paul observed their faith in the sense that he heard good reports about the works their faith produced (see Col 1:4).
AS YOU RECEIVED CHRIST, WALK IN HIM
2:6, 7 Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, 7 having been rooted, and then being built up in Him, and being established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord [as therefore ye, as ye have therefore, as therefore you, received Christ Jesus the Lord].[ 29 ] The Colossians had "received Christ Jesus" as they "were taught." This is not the same as the denominational substitute for obedience that they call "receiving Christ as one's personal Savior." Instead, it has to do with the acceptance of, belief in, and obedience to authentic, inspired teaching. The truth thus received is contrasted with erroneous reasonings, delusions and enticing words of the false teachers.
GOSPEL RECEIVED BY APOSTLES
(Col 2:6, 7)
- Received from the Lord (1Co 11:23).
- Which I also received (1Co 15:3).
- As earthen vessels, apostles received gospel treasure (2Co 5:7).
- Through revelation (Ga 1:12).
The apostles did not receive the gospel by tricky arguments or sophistry. They received it "through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Ga 1:12; see chart GOSPEL RECEIVED BY APOSTLES). It was preached by inspired men to people who believed and obeyed it (Ro 10:16; see chart APOSTLES DELIVERED THE GOSPEL). Of course, some did not (see 2Th 1:8). Those who believed and obeyed the truth "received Christ Jesus the Lord." Receiving Him, however, was not enough. Christians were instructed to "Stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours" (2Th 2:15). Traditions, in the Thessalonian passage, were inspired instructions delivered and attested by "signs, wonders, manifold powers, and gifts of the Holy Spirit (compare Heb 2:4).
APOSTLES DELIVERED THE GOSPEL
- Delivered to hearers (1Co 15:3).
- Hold fast the traditions as delivered (1Co 11:2).
- Stand fast and hold the traditions ... whether by word or by epistle (2Th 2:15).
- People responded by believing, confessing faith and obeying the gospel (compare Ro 10:9, 10; 16, 17; 2Th 1:8).
- Those who did so received Christ (Col 2:6).
The false teachers spoke about Christ but, since they added their own ideas to the gospel, they did not really accept Him as "Christ Jesus the Lord."
CONTINUAL WALKING IN CHRIST
- Having been rooted.
- Continually being built up in Him.
- Continuing to be established regarding the faith.
- Even as taught.
- Abounding in thanksgiving.
Walk in Him [so walk, so walk ye, so live, in him].[ 30 ] "Walk in him" means to live each day in Christ according to the teaching of the NT (see chart CONTINUAL WALKING IN CHRIST).
Having been rooted, and then being built up in Him [rooted, and built up, and builded up, in him].[ 31 ] Note the successive metaphors, "walking," "rooted" and "built up." The Colossians had been located, planted and rooted in Christ.[ 32 ] The good seed of the kingdom had been sown on the "good ground" of their honest hearts (see Mt 13:19; Mk 4:14; Lu 8:11). Their roots were deep and strong. They had been rooted (perfect passive participle). The Lord did the rooting when they were saved ("planted together in the likeness of His death," Ro 6:5). The process of being made firm and stable went on and on. They were being continually established and built up in Him (present participle). This was done by teaching ("as you were taught") and this, "in thanksgiving."
And being established in the faith [stablished in the faith].[ 33 ] Here is another present participle indicating the establishment was continually going on.
Even as you were taught [as ye have been, just as you were, taught]. May I say a word to the leadership of the churches? Take heed to your teaching (1Ti 4:16). The word of God is inspired. It has been confirmed. Spend time and effort to understand it and then teach it accurately and effectively. Churches are planted by teaching first principles. Churches continue to need milk but meat is also essential for mature growth. Forget the "change agents" and teach the word!
THANKSGIVING STRESSED BY PAUL
- Eats to the Lord, gives God thanks (Ro 14:6; compare 1Ti 4:4, 5).
- That the grace being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God (2Co 4:15).
- Enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God (2Co 9:11, 12).
- Giving thanks always for all things (Eph 5:20).
- Supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men (1Ti 2:1).
Abounding in thanksgiving [abounding therein with thanksgiving].[ 34 ] The people whom God gave up "glorified Him not as God, neither gave thanks" (Ro 1:21). On the other hand, NT Christians gave thanks even for "the gift" [contribution] (2Co 1:11). Prayers ought to abound in thanksgiving. Too often they consist of abundant begging and too little thanks (see chart THANKSGIVING STRESSED BY PAUL).
SEE THAT NO ONE CARRIES YOU AWAY
2:8 See to it that no one carries you away as his prey through philosophy and vain deceit, in agreement with the tradition of men, in agreement with the principles of the world, and not in agreement with Christ.
See to it that no one carries you away as his prey [take heed, beware, lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you, lest any man spoil you, makes a prey of you].[ 35 ] When a false teacher carries off Christians, he gloatingly considers his conquests as captives taken in battle or as so much booty or prey. Various cults and some Pentecostals are especially adept at "love bombing" their prospects until they are captured, brought under mind control and/or brainwashed. Christians need to be on guard lest their young people be captured by false religions.
Through philosophy [by, through his, philosophy].[ 36 ] Philosophy is simply the pursuit of wisdom. There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking wisdom. The difference between the inspired, miracle-confirmed word and the uninspired philosophy of men is clear. The inspired word makes believers and points them toward heaven. False teachers drag men and women away as a spoil. They do this in order to feed their pride and to line their own pockets. The final end is destruction in hell.
And vain deceit [and empty deceit].[ 37 ] Thinking per se is commendable but the "philosophy" Paul wrote about was associated with "vain deceit." It was a speculative scheme with a little truth mixed in. It was a blend of human traditions, certain Jewish ideas and human wisdom. It ignored the basic truth that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. As to salvation, it was a total failure.
In agreement with the tradition of men [after the tradition of men, according to human tradition].[ 38 ] Gnostic teachings were wisdom of men, incorporating various human traditions. Tradition was also a major part of Jewish rabbinical teaching. For this reason, their teachings were sometimes called "traditions of men" (Mk 7:8; Ga 1:14).
Most denominational error can be traced to human thinking (philosophy or traditions of men).[ 39 ] Instead of taking the Scriptures at face value, proponents of "philosophies" and "isms" chisel away at the truth in order to make every verse fit their own preconceived doctrines.[ 40 ]
In agreement with the principles of the world [after the rudiments of the world, according to the elemental spirits of the universe].[ 41 ] The most that can be said for Jewish "principles" or "rudiments" of the world is that they were a "shadow of the things to come" (Col 2:17; compare Ga 4:3, 9). Included in their "principles" were the Jewish observances mentioned in Colossians 2:16. "Principles of the world" was a term also applied to the ABC's of pagan philosophy.
And not in agreement with Christ [and not after Christ, and not according to Christ]. The bothersome Gnostic and Jewish teachings at Colossae were not in agreement with Christ.
IN CHRIST DWELLS ALL THE FULLNESS OF THE GODHEAD
2:9-12 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, 10 and you have been made complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, in putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
For in Him dwells [for in him dwelleth].[ 42 ] The eternal Godhead dwells in Christ (Greek present tense). Before the incarnation, He was in "the form of God" (see Joh 1:1; Php 2:6). The fullness of the Godhead was in Him on earth (see Joh 1:14; 1Jo 1:1-3). Prior to His exaltation in heaven, the Fullness of the Godhead indwelt Him. Subsequent to His ascension, the Fullness continues to indwell His glorified body.[ 43 ] I long to fully understand this.
All the fullness of the Godhead bodily [the whole fullness of deity bodily].[ 44 ] Not just some of the characteristics of deity such as love, knowledge or power dwell in Christ but, totally beyond comprehension, all of the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him. All this dwells in Him bodily. Apparently, the Fullness of the Godhead was (and is) "clothed with a body."
[2:10] And you have been made complete in Him [and in him ye are made full, and ye are complete, and you have come to fullness of life, in him].[ 45 ] At conversion, including spiritual circumcision and baptism (see verses 11, 12), the Colossian Christians were made complete. Not only were they made complete in Christ but they remained so (Greek perfect tense). They were continuing to grow into His likeness.
There was nothing to be gained by turning away from Christ to embrace pagan philosophy. Jewish theories about principalities and hierarchies of angels contributed nothing toward salvation. In Him alone is the absolute fullness of the Godhead (see verse 9, 10). In Him, all are spiritually blessed (Eph 1:3). Human philosophies, Eastern religions and New Age speculations add absolutely nothing of value to the faith of Christians because their faith is based on the knowledge of the revealed word of Christ (see 2Pe 1:3). Esoteric[ 46 ] speculations, like manacles, are useless appendages to one who is complete in Christ.
Who is the head of all principality and power [which is the head of all rule and authority].[ 47 ] The false teachers rated Jesus as an angel, ranking Him somewhere lower than God. The truth is that, as God the Son, He is higher than all created beings. In Him, Christians are made full and complete. They do not need lesser sub-gods or spirit-guides as taught in esoteric philosophy. Neither do they need the mediation of angels, dead "saints" or the virgin.
CIRCUMCISION AND BAPTISM
- Circumcision was a sign of covenant with Abraham [baptism is not] (Ge 17:10; Ro 4:11).
- Circumcision did not require faith [baptism does] (Mk 16:16).
- Circumcision did not require repentance [baptism does] (Ac 2:38).
- Only males circumcised [both men and women are baptized] (Ac 8:12).
- Circumcision did not wash away sins [baptism does] (Ac 22:16).
- Infants were circumcised [infants not baptized].
[2:11] In Him you were also circumcised [in whom, in whom also, ye are, you were, ye were also, circumcised].[ 48 ] There are dissimilarities between OT circumcision and NT circumcision. The most obvious difference is that only Jewish males received the former. They generally underwent the minor surgery at the age of eight days (Le 11:2). When older, they were taught to "Know the Lord" (see Jer 31:34; compare Isa 54:13). The spiritual circumcision Paul speaks of was for adults, not babies. All converts at Colossae (those spiritually circumcised) were accountable enough to have become dead in their own sins. They were old enough to have already been "taught of God" (Joh 8:45; Col 2:7). These considerations imply that the baptism of babies is unscriptural. NT baptism was for both men and women but not for infants (see Ac 8:12; see charts CIRCUMCISION AND BAPTISM [SOME DIFFERENCES]; RELEVANCE OF OT CIRCUMCISION).
RELEVANCE OF OT CIRCUMCISION
- Lips (Ex 6:12, 30).
- Your heart . . . to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (De 30:6).
- Take away the foreskins of your heart (Jer 4:4).
- Their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken (Jer 6:10).
- All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart (Jer 9:26).
With a circumcision not done with hands [with the circumcision, not made with hands, made without hands].[ 49 ] Judaizing teachers insisted on the literal slicing off some penal skin as a condition of salvation (see Ac 15:1, 2). The spiritual circumcision of believers has nothing to do with literal surgery. Rather, it is the removal of a body of sin in connection with repentance and baptism (see Ac 2:38). "Not done with hands" indicates that the operation called circumcision (forgiveness) is accomplished in the mind of God at the moment of Scriptural baptism (see chart SPIRITUAL CIRCUMCISION NT).
SPIRITUAL CIRCUMCISION NT
- That the body of sin might be done away (Ro 6:6).
- Should no longer be in bondage to sin (Ro 6:6).
- Reckon you also yourselves to be dead to sin (Ro 6:11).
- Crucified with Christ (Ga 2:20).
- Crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts (Ga 5:24).
- A circumcision not done with hands (Col 2:11).
- Putting off the body of the flesh (Col 2:11).
In putting off [in, by, putting off].[ 50 ] Sins are "put off" at baptism. They are forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west (Ps 107:3). Not only does the Lord remove sins but the new Christian is to "get away" from them (see footnote).
The body of the flesh [the body of flesh, the sins of the flesh].[ 51 ] What is meant by "the body of the flesh"?[ 52 ] It is something that is put off when one becomes a Christian. It is not the physical body because the Christian still has that. It is more than a small lobe of skin. It is the "body of the flesh." Paul said, "Our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away" (Ro 6:6). In conversion, it is the "old man," the "body of sin" that is put off by divine forgiveness.
By the circumcision of Christ [in the circumcision of Christ].[ 53 ] Some scholars suggest that the circumcision of Christ was His crucifixion when He "put off" His fleshly body.[ 54 ] Although, Paul does not use the word "death" in the present context, he does follow "the circumcision of Christ" with a burial and resurrection. It is through the merits of Christ's death that sins are forgiven. This parallels Paul's earlier statement, "He has now reconciled in His body of flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and irreproachable before Him" (Col 1:22).[ 55 ] Paul clearly brought the crucifixion of Christ into the process of conversion, when he wrote, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me" (Ga 2:20).
The circumcision of Christ makes one a Jew inwardly (Ro 2:29; Php 3:3). It is synonymous with the removal of the body of the flesh. Remission (letting go) of sins takes place in the mind of Christ. Although spiritual circumcision is of Christ and not of human accomplishment, it occurs in connection with baptism (verse 12).
[2:12] Having been buried with him in baptism [buried, and you were buried, with him in baptism].[ 56 ] Adam Clarke, a Methodist, commented on this verse as follows:
"Alluding to the immersions practiced in the case of adults, wherein the person appeared to be buried under the water, as Christ was buried in the heart of the earth."[ 57 ]
William Barclay[ 58 ] showed unusual candor when he wrote:
"Baptism in the time of Paul was three things. It was adult baptism; it was instructed baptism; and, wherever possible,[ 59 ] it was baptism by total immersion."
Thayer and Vine [ 60 ] define baptism as "immersion, submersion" or "immersion, submersion and emergence." It is impossible to baptize someone without total immersion. Albert Barnes,[ 61 ] a Presbyterian, in his comment on Romans 6:4, wrote, "It is altogether probable that the apostle in this place had allusion to the custom of baptizing by immersion."
Buried with Christ, my blessed Redeemer,
Dead to the old life of folly and sin;
Satan may call, the world may entreat me,
There is no voice that answers within.
From A New Creature by L.O.Sanderson
Copyright 1963, Used by permission.[ 62 ]
In which you were also raised with Him [wherein, ye were also raised, also ye are risen, with him].[ 63 ] The basis of the resurrected life is the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ (see note on Col 3:1). This great fact sustains the truth that the exalted Savior is both Lord and Christ (Ac 2:32, 36). Before anyone is scripturally baptized he must have faith in the resurrection of Jesus (Ro 10:9). Candidates for baptism must confess Christ as Lord (Ro 10:9, 10). Since babies cannot do this, they are not to be baptized. There is no need to baptize them anyway because they are not sinners.
NEW LIFE BASED ON
- Like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life (Ro 6:4).
- Raised us up with Him (Eph 2:6).
- Raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead (Col 2:12).
- If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above (Col 3:1).
- The interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1Pe 3:21).
Through faith in the working of God [through the faith of the operation of God].[ 64 ] After a person has been baptized, he must maintain a living, active and obedient faith (Mk 16:16; Jas 2:17, 24). Remission of sins given at baptism is not the result of any power in the water but is due to the forgiveness of God through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ. Infant baptism is ruled out because babies are too young to have faith in "the working of God." At baptism, one dies to sin, something a baby cannot do (see Ga 2:20; 2Co 4:10-12; 2Ti 2:11).
Who raised Him from the dead [who hath raised him from the dead]. Baptism is not valid if one does not believe in the working of God who raised Jesus bodily from the grave. The same powerful God who raised Him makes sinners spiritually alive when they are forgiven (see verse 12).
MADE ALIVE AND FORGIVEN
2:13, 14 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven all our trespasses, 14 having blotted out the document against us in ordinances, which was contrary to us, and He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses [being dead, who were dead, through your trespasses, in trespasses, in your sins].[ 65 ] Paul says the Colossians were dead "in your trespasses." At their literal, fleshly birth, they were spiritually alive. Subsequently, they died because of sins they themselves committed. Some time before baptism, they had become spiritually dead through their trespasses. The Ephesians, before conversion, were in the same tragic condition. They were dead in sins. "And you did He make alive, when you were dead through your trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1). They were "separate from Christ" and "afar off." They had "no hope" and were "without God in the world" (Eph 2:12, 13).
- Babies do not die to sin nor do they put off the body of the flesh (Ro 6:11; Col 2:11).
- Babies do not have faith in the working of God (Col 2:12).
- Babies do not have believe in God "who raised Him from the dead" (Col 2:12; Ro 10:9).
- Babies are not raised with Christ to walk in newness of life (Ro 6:4; Col 2:12).
- Since babies are not lost, they are not baptized for remission of sins (Mt 19:14; Ac 2:38).
And the uncircumcision of your flesh.[ 66 ] This prefaces the blessing given to physically uncircumcised Gentiles when they obey the gospel. The OT command to be circumcised is no longer binding (see 1Co 7:18, 19; Ga 5:2-6; 6:15). There is no gospel requirement for anyone to obey that command or to keep any other OT ordinance (see Ga 5:3, 16; 6:15).
He made alive together with Him [you, I say, did he make alive, God made alive, hath he quickened, together with him].[ 67 ] Spiritually dead sinners are made alive when they are raised from the waters of baptism "to walk in newness of life" (Ro 6:4).
- Having been buried with Him in baptism (Col 2:12).
- Raised with Him through faith in the working of God (Col 2:12).
- Made alive together with Him (Col 2:13).
- Died with Christ (Col 2:20).
- Raised together with Christ (Col 3:1).
- Your life is hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3).
- You will also appear with Him in glory (Col 3:4).
Having forgiven all our trespasses [having forgiven, us all our trespasses, you all trespasses].[ 68 ] Being made alive spiritually is coincidental with being forgiven all trespasses. That occurs at the point of scriptural baptism (Ac 2:38; 22:16). The pronoun change from "you" to "our" suggests that God's forgiveness is for both Jew and Gentile.[ 69 ] "He frankly forgave them both" (compare Lu 7:42).
THE DOCUMENT BLOTTED OUT
- A document was blotted out (Col 2:14).
- Taken out of the way (Col 2:14).
- Nailed to the cross [it died] (Col 2:14).
- What document was blotted out?
- The one written in ordinances [sins were not written in ordinances] (Col 2:14).
- The one with ordinances about eating and drinking (Col 2:16).
- The one with ordinances about yearly, monthly and weekly days (Col 2:16).
- Conclusion: the OT Law was blotted out.
[2:14] Having blotted out the document against us in ordinances [blotting out, having canceled, the handwriting of ordinances, the bond written in ordinances, with its legal demands].[ 70 ] The "document against us" was canceled, erased or wiped out. Lest someone think this was just sins that were blotted out, please notice that what was taken away was written in ordinances. That was the Law itself. It was the OT Law that was "blotted out." The parallel passage in Ephesians is explicit: "The law of commandments contained in ordinances" or "The law of enacted ordinances" (Eph 2:15; see chart THE DOCUMENT BLOTTED OUT).
That was against us [which stood against us].[ 71 ] The Law of Moses was "against us." It was against the Jews in that it always reminded them of their sin. It made sin become "exceeding sinful" (Ro 7:13). It was against Gentiles as well because they too were sinners (Ga 2:15).[ 72 ] As a matter of fact, sin was universal (see charts UNIVERSALITY OF SIN A and B at Eph 2:4).
Which was contrary to us.[ 73 ] Through the OT Law, no one merited fellowship with God. It was "contrary to us" in that down through the ages it continued to condemn. Apart from the blood of Christ, it made no one righteous in God's sight (but see Heb 9:15; 11:40).
And He has taken it away [and took it, and he hath taken it, out of the way, this he set aside].[ 74 ] Jesus took away the Law of Moses at the cross. He set it aside to the extent that, in the church age, it is no longer to be obeyed.[ 75 ] He took it out of the way by removing its authority over man. He also canceled its condemning power.
Nailing it to the cross.[ 76 ] When a note or bond is in force, it establishes an obligation. When canceled, the debt it represents is no longer due. Make no mistake about it. The Law of Moses has been canceled! Its demands no longer need to be met. After a ticket is punched, it may no longer be used. When the Law was nailed to the cross, it was invalidated. "Not only the writing was stricken out, the very document itself perished on the cross."[ 77 ]
DISARMED THE PRINCIPALITIES
2:15 Having disarmed the principalities and the powers, He exposed them openly, thus triumphing over them.
Having disarmed [he disarmed, having despoiled, and having spoiled].[ 78 ] The same word occurs in 3:9 with the meaning: "put off" or "take off." Some commentators have tried to retain that meaning here, which has led to much disagreement and confusion. Lightfoot copies an explanation from Vine in which that idea is entertained but then explained away in the direction of "completely overthrow."[ 79 ]
The principalities and the powers [principalities and powers].[ 80 ] In His death and resurrection, Christ disarmed or dispoiled "principalities and powers." This can also be translated "rulers and authorities." They are obviously enemies of Christ, since He disarms and exposes them.
These two words are used together with various meanings in the New Testament. They can refer to civil rulers and authorities (Lu 20:20; Tit 3:1). Christ will turn the kingdom over to God when He abolishes all rule and all authority because He must reign until He vanquishes all His foes (1 Co 15:24,25). After His resurrection, Christ was placed far above all rule and authority (Eph 1:21). The wisdom of God is made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10). The rulers and authorities were created in Christ (Col 1:16). And Christ is the Head of all rule and authority (Col 2:10).
In connection with this verse, three main explanations are given by various scholars.
First, the principalities and powers are those mentioned by Paul in Ephesians as the enemies of God: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]" (Eph 6:12 ASV). Through His sacrifice on the cross, Christ is able to deliver us from the power of darkness (1:13). In connection with His death, Christ said the ruler of this world would be cast out (Jo 12:31). Through death He disabled "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2:14 ASV). Jesus disarmed and exposed the forces of satan.
A second view reminds us that the Law was given through the ministry of angels (see De 33:2; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19; Heb 2:2). When Jesus died, He took the Law of which they ministered out of the way. He thus disarmed the principalities and powers (the angels).
Still another explanation equates earthly rulers with "principalities and powers" (see Tit 3:1). The Jewish "rulers and authorities" were "principalities and powers" (Lu 12:11). Jesus disarmed them when He took the Law out of the way at the cross. The Law that the Jewish rulers once held over the people is no longer in force. All authority has been given to Christ (Mt 28:18). Jewish rulers have none. Neither do human philosophers, popes or councils.
THE WORK OF CHRIST
- Makes alive when spiritually dead (Col 2:13).
- Forgives all our trespasses (Col 2:13).
- Blotted out the document against us (Col 2:14).
- Disarmed principalities and powers (Col 2:15).
- Rewards the faithful (Col 2:16, 18).
He exposed them openly [he made a shew, a show, of them openly, and made a public example of them].[ 81 ] Jesus was crucified before all. By His resurrection He removed all doubt that He was the Son of God (Ro 1:4). The leading Jews had no answer for that demonstration of power except to bribe the soldiers who guarded His tomb! (see Mt 28:12-15).
Thus triumphing over them [in it, in him].[ 82 ] By His death, Jesus made salvation possible, something none of the mystics, philosophers or Jewish rulers could do. By His resurrection, He was not only triumphant over death but over the very ones who put Him to death. His triumph becomes the victory of the apostles and, then, of every faithful Christian. "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and makes manifest through us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place" (2Co 2:14; compare 1Jo 5:4).
LET NO ONE JUDGE YOU IN EATING AND DRINKING
2:16, 17 Therefore, let no one judge you in eating and drinking, or concerning a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day, 17 things which were a shadow of something coming, but the actual body belongs to Christ.
Therefore, let no one judge you in eating [let no man therefore judge you in meat, therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food].[ 83 ] "Therefore" points back to verses 8-15, especially, "that no one carries you away as his prey through philosophy and vain deceit" (verse 8). Without any authority whatsoever, the false teachers were approving and disapproving the activities of the Colossian Christians (Greek present tense). No self-appointed critic is authorized to pass judgment upon God's people. In fact, limitations are placed upon judgment by fellow-Christians. "Who are you who judges the servant of another?" (Ro 14:4).
Under the OT, unclean animals such as hogs were not to be eaten by Jews (see Le 11:7; Isa 65:4). Fat had to be trimmed away (Le 3:16, 17).[ 84 ] "Eating" of blood was forbidden (Le 17:11). Not only were some things forbidden, but other things were required to be eaten. For example, Jewish priests were to eat the shewbread (Ex 24:9). Under the Law, eating of the sacrifices was also important (see Le 10:14; De 12:6, 11). None of the rules about eating were carried over into the NT except the prohibition of eating things sacrificed to idols, things strangled and blood (Ac 15:29).
And drinking [or in drink, and drink].[ 85 ] The Jewish sect known as the "Essenes" refused both flesh and wine.[ 86 ] Under the Mosaic Law, priests on duty were forbidden to drink wine (Le 10:9) but drink was poured on some of the sacrifices (Ex 29:40; compare 30:9; see also Le 11:34, 36; Nu 15:5; Nu 28:7-9, 14-31; 29:6-39). By contrast, heathen idol worship sometimes involved drinking wine (De 32:38).
Or concerning a feast day [or in respect of, or with regard to, an holyday, a festival].[ 87 ] A "feast day" or a "festival" refers to any of the yearly festivals such as the Passover, Pentecost or Tabernacles (see Le 23). These "set feasts" occurred three times per year (2Ch 8:13). A "feast day" may also include all sabbaths other than the weekly Sabbath.
Or a new moon [or of the new moon].[ 88 ] A "new moon" was one of several monthly observances of the Jews (see Ex 31:13; Nu 10:10; 28:11-14; 2Ch 31:3). One particular new moon started the Jewish new year in our October.[ 89 ] A joyous festival was always held in honor of that (see Le 23:24, 25).
YEARLY, MONTHLY AND WEEKLY DAYS
- Burnt offerings to the Lord, on the sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts (1Ch 23:31).
- Burnt-offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts of the Lord our God (2Ch 2:4).
- Offering . . . on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts, three times in the year (2Ch 8:13).
- Burnt-offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts (2Ch 31:3).
- Continual burnt-offering, for the sabbaths, for the new moons, for the set feasts (Ne 10:33).
- In the feasts, and on the new moons, and on the sabbaths (Eze 45:17).
- I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feasts, her new moons, and her sabbaths (Ho 2:11).
Or a sabbath day [or of the sabbath days, or a sabbath].[ 90 ] It was not just the "ceremonial law" that was taken out of the way. We know this because Paul mentions the Sabbath day as part of it (verse 16).[ 91 ] Sabbitarians sometimes introduce a dodge to confuse the issue by suggesting "a sabbath day"[ 92 ] alludes to yearly sabbaths.[ 93 ] "A sabbath day" definitely includes the weekly Sabbath. The reference is to three types of days: yearly (feast day), monthly (new moon) and weekly (Sabbath). The same order is seen in 1 Chronicles 23:31, "And to offer all burnt offerings to the Lord on the Sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts, in number according to the ordinance concerning them, continually before the Lord." The identical sequence is found in other OT passages (see chart YEARLY, MONTHLY AND WEEKLY DAYS). A similar classification, but in reverse order, is alluded to in the Galatian letter, "You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years (Ga 4:10).
The weekly Sabbath was always the seventh day of the week. The first day of the week should not be called the Christian Sabbath. It is the Lord's Day but it is not, and never has been, the Sabbath.
[2:17] Things which were a shadow of something coming [which are a shadow, these are only a shadow, of the things to come, of what is to come].[ 94 ] These verses clearly imply that the OT Law, including the Ten Commandments, has come to an end (see notes on 2Co 3:7-11). When Paul wrote, it had already been blotted out and taken out of the way. It had been nailed to the cross. R. C. H. Lenski was right on target when he wrote, "Christ was so nailed to the cross, and in Him the law was nailed to it; Christ, when He was nailed up, died; so did the law. Christ rose again, but not the law."[ 95 ]
But the actual body belongs to Christ [but the body, but the substance, is Christ's, is of Christ]. All of the OT feast days looked forward to Christ. They were pictures, outlines or shadows of things pertaining to salvation in Him. The literal shadows are not binding on Christians. They are all fulfilled and clarified by meaningful NT events and instructions.
LET NO ONE DEPRIVE YOU OF YOUR REWARD
2:18, 19 Let no one deprive you of your reward through contrived humility and the worship of angels, dwelling continually on things which he has seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not adhering to the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and joined together through the joints and ligaments, grows with the growth of God.
Let no one deprive you of your reward [let no man rob you of your prize, disqualify you, beguile you of your reward].[ 96 ] The ASV has four footnotes on verse 18, suggesting that the translators had difficulty with it. Lenski admits he had a problem with the verse. He said, "Save for the clause about being puffed up, verse 18 is much debated."[ 97 ] It would be presumptive for the writer to be dogmatic about it.
Through contrived humility [by a voluntary humility, in a voluntary humility, insisting on self-abasement].[ 98 ] Humility before God and others is commendable (Col 3:12; Eph 3:14) but not to the point of "severity to the body" (Col 2:23). When people "humble" themselves so much that they think some angel mediator or some dead saint can better approach the throne of God for them than Jesus Christ, they involve themselves in a dangerous error.[ 99 ] Remember, "There is one mediator also between God and man, Himself man, Christ Jesus" (1Ti 2:5). "Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need" (Heb 4:16).
And the worship of angels [and worshipping of the angels, and worship of angels].[ 100 ] Christians are not to worship angels (Re 19:10; 22:8,9).
Dwelling continually on things which he has seen [dwelling in the things which he hath seen, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, taking his stand on visions].[ 101 ] These verses were intended to knock the props from under the false teachers at Colossae. The OT law was taken from them in verses 14-16. Since the body (the church) is Christ's (verse 17) it is to be governed only by Him as its head (verse 19) and not by what the false teachers claimed to have "seen" (ASV, NASB) or "not seen" (KJV, NKJ).
Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind [puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind].[ 102 ] A "fleshly mind" is the opposite of a spiritual mind. It is not governed by Christ but by works of the flesh (Ga 5:19-21). Spirituality is not conceited but gentle and humble. Pride and conceit are never pleasing to God (Pr 3:7; 26:5; 26:12; Isa 5:21; Ro 12:16; 1Co 8:2; Ga 6:3). Religious "authorities" who exude exceptional piety have been taken in by that which they seem to oppose. If they are proud of their humility, they have given way to carnality (see Ro 8:7).
CHRIST THE HEAD
- Head over all things to the church (Eph 2:22).
- The head of the church, Himself the savior of the body (Eph 5:23).
- The head of the body, the church (Col 1:18)
- Complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power (Col 2:10).
- The Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and joined together (Col 2:19).
[2:19] And not adhering to the Head [and not holding, and not holding fast, the Head].[ 103 ] In human anatomy, messages from the brain govern every part of the body.[ 104 ] Nerves send to the brain messages of electrical shock, temperature and pressure. The brain interprets the messages as texture, pain, stress, excitement or enjoyment. The head directs the bodily responses. Messages going to the head (Christ) are the prayers of the saints. Messages come to the church via the revealed word of Christ. The strength of Christ holds the church together. He is its supreme authority. He is also the source of supply of grace, blessings and forgiveness. When church councils or any officer of it rules in matters of doctrine, they are not adhering to the head (see chart CHRIST THE HEAD).
From whom all the body, being supplied and joined together [from which the whole body, knit together, having nourishment ministered, nourished and knit together]. Every member of the church (all the body) is supplied with that which makes for unity (see Eph 4:1-13). Holy Scripture furnishes every member with all things necessary "to every good work" (2Ti 3:16).
Through the joints and ligaments [by joints and bands, through its joints and ligaments].[ 105 ] The word "ligaments" or "bands" may be thought of as "bonds." In the church there is the bond of peace (Eph 4:3) and the bond of perfectness [love] (Col 3:14). The body grows by what Christ supplies, provided there is peace, unity, love and truth.
Grows with the growth of God [increasing, increaseth, grows, with a growth that is from God, with the increase of God].[ 106 ] It is by the growth of God that the members grow together in unity (are joined or knit together) through the joints that tie and with the "bands" of love (Col 3:14; compare Eph 4:16).
WHY SUBJECT YOURSELVES TO ORDINANCES?
2:20-22 If you died with Christ to get away from the principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances: 21 do not touch, do not taste, do not handle 22 (things that will all perish with using), according to the precepts and doctrines of men?
If you died with Christ to get away from the principles of the world [if ye died with Christ, wherefore if ye be dead with Christ, if with Christ you died, from the rudiments of the world, to the elemental spirits of the universe]. When one obeys the gospel, he dies with Christ. The implication is that he gets away from, or puts away, worldly principles and actions (see notes on Ro 6:3, 5).
Why, as though living in the world [why do you live as if you still belonged to the world].[ 107 ] So long as a Jewish person was not a Christian, he might think he should be subject to the OT Law plus traditions. After becoming a Christian, that should all have changed. There is no reason at all to go back to living under the OT Law. Neither does it make sense for a Christian to go back into the world or to live as in the world (see Ro 6:1-14).
Do you subject yourselves to ordinances [do ye subject yourselves, are ye subject, why do you submit, to regulations]. During His personal ministry, Christ made it abundantly clear that His people were not bound by human traditions. At His death, He freed them from OT ordinances. However, tradition died hard in the minds of the Judaizing teachers. Change also came slow for Gentile converts who tended to hold on to certain Greek and Roman philosophies and myths.
RESULTS OF DEATH
- Begins a new life (Ro 6:4).
- Ends the bond of a slave to master (Ro 6:16-23).
- Ends the bond of husband and wife (Ro 7:1-6).
- Ends the obligation to obey rulers [principalities and powers] (Col 2:15).
- Death of Christ ends obligation to obey ordinances (Col 2:20).
[2:21] Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle [handle not, nor taste, nor touch, Touch not, taste not, handle not].[ 108 ] The canceled ordinances, as well as human traditions, had commands such as, "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle." These are not binding on Christians. It is a misapplication of Scripture to use this verse to forbid smoking, drinking, dancing or immoral sex. Other principles apply to these activities.
[2:22] Things that will all perish with using [all which things, which all, are to perish with the using, referring to things which all perish as they are used].[ 109 ] In verse 8, Jewish traditions were called the rudiments of the world. The Colossians had been baptized (verse 12) and had died with Christ. In Him, they were no longer "of the world" (Joh 15:19), and should not be governed by men in the world who would judge them in meat and drink (Col 2:16). They were free from teachers who would command them to "Do not touch,[ 110 ] do not taste, do not handle!" Certain things perish with using. For example, what is left of beautiful and good-tasting food eventually decays. After good food is eaten, the part not assimilated by the body becomes repulsive. The particular commands that emphasize external activities were no more lasting than the things they forbade. By contrast, the word of Christ stands forever.
According to the precepts and doctrines of men [after the commandments and doctrines of men, according to human precepts and doctrines].[ 111 ] The NIV changes the meaning completely when it says, "These things are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings." These things do not perish because they are based on human teaching. The clause refers back to the commands not to touch, taste or handle (verse 21). These commands were according to the precepts and doctrines of men.
ANTI-ISM AND LIBERALISM
Christians must be careful not to make religious laws where God has made none. It is a sin to start or perpetuate an "anti" movement that forbids what God has not forbidden. The anti precepts Paul refers to were doctrines of men. In another reference, he calls them "doctrines of demons" and "lies" (1Ti 4:1-3). It is also sinful to weaken or liberalize the commands God has given. Christians must beware of both extremes.
AN APPEARANCE OF WISDOM
2:23 Such things, having indeed an appearance of wisdom in professed religion and humility and severity to the body, are of no value whatever but are for the gratification of the flesh.
Such things, having indeed an appearance of wisdom [these, which things, have indeed a show, shew, an appearance, of wisdom].[ 112 ] True wisdom obeys the truth of Christ as the head of the church (Col 1:18; compare Jas 4:13-18). The foolish, fraudulent philosophies of men were varnished with a thin layer of wisdom. They put on a show of observing parts of the Law of Moses along with some of the Law of Christ. The coat of wisdom was so thin that it barely concealed that which was reprehensible and foolish. Following human religious laws, no matter how wise they appear, only leads to eternal ruin.
Some of the false teachers at Colossae neglected the body by abstaining from certain foods. Some subjugated other bodily desires. The demand for people to conform to their views showed contempt for God's creation (the human body). Such practices had a show of wisdom but were, in actuality, foolishness.
In professed religion [in will-worship, in promoting rigor of devotion].[ 113 ] "Professed religion" or "pretended worship" is not true religion at all. Advocating humanly-designed devotion is contrary to the gospel. "Will-worship" is "self-made religion." Those who do penance, adore images, pray to saints, burn incense, crawl on bloody knees toward a shrine or insist on having instrumental music in worship, please take note.
And humility [and self-abasement].[ 114 ] The "humility" of self-abasement practiced by the heretics at Colossae was related to humanly-originated ordinances (see note on verse 18). One must be careful in such humility lest the "flip side" [pride] become the dominant motive.
And severity to the body [and neglecting of the body].[ 115 ] Ascetics at Colossae must have taught that the body was evil. They demanded obedience to ordinances. Lenski, with a full understanding of their problem, introduced irony here: "Rules--rules--rules, severe as possible for the body but all to buy food for their pride of monkery.[ 116 ] They are the paragons in all Christendom, they alone!" Read again Lenski's comment and perceive his allusion to the pride of the rule-makers.
But are for the gratification of the flesh [to the satisfying of the flesh, in checking the indulgence of the flesh].[ 117 ] The Greek pronoun PROS should be translated "for" unless the context demands otherwise. In the present verse, the word should not be rendered "against" or "in checking." Works of the flesh are sinful. They are forbidden in Galatians 5:19-21. However, in the present context, Paul speaks of additional trumped-up negative commands put forward with an appearance of wisdom. They are of no value whatever except for the gratification of the flesh of which pride is the chief element. Churches with lots of non-biblical rules and regulations need to consider their motivation for such. Whether or not they realize it, their teachings cater to the flesh. Religion that places undue emphasis upon emotion and belittles the truth of the gospel is little better because it too appeals to the flesh.
Are of no value whatever [not in any honor, but they are of no value].[ 118 ] William Beck rendered the clause, "But it lacks honor--it serves the full enjoyment of the flesh." J. B. Phillips has this, "But in actual practice they do honor, not to God, but to man's own pride." Charles Williams: "But they are of no value; they really satisfy the lower nature."
In verses 20-22, a warning is given not to make laws where God made none. In modern times, some refer to this as "anti-ism." In verse 23, the teaching is that men must not introduce into the worship what God has not commanded. Playing fast and loose with what God has authorized is liberalism. Some call it "progressive" which means "to go onward" (condemned in 2Jo 9). Christians should gratefully follow the head (Christ) and His holy word and not be led astray by pride or human doctrines.
[ 1 ] The basic text used here is the OPV, the Old Paths Version. Quotations from Colossians are from the OPV unless otherwise noted. Alternate phrases are from the ASV, KJ and RSV. Transliteration of the Greek follows the BibleSoft method.
[ 2 ] THELOO GAR HUMAS EIDENAI, for I wish you to know (Marshall 793); for I want you to know (Lenski 83); to know from observation (Vine 628).
[ 3 ] HEELIKON AGOONA ECHOO HUPER HUMOON, how great a struggle I have on behalf of you (Marshall 793); how greatly I strive . . . of inward conflict, anxiety, prayer (Vincent 3.482); what a battle I am fighting for you (Williams).
[ 4 ] Some early false teachers included Judaizers, Antichrists, Ebionites, Gnostics and Nicolaitans (see note on verse 4; chart EARLY HERETICS). Already the Judaizers and pre-gnostics were at work in the Colossian church.
[ 5 ] The word for "anxiety" is MERIMNA a care, an anxious care.
[ 6 ] The NIV becomes a commentary here instead of a translation with "who have not met me personally" but the interpretation is the same.
[ 7 ] HINA PARAKLEETHOOSIN HAI KARDIAI AUTOON, in order that may be comforted the hearts of them (Marshall 793); [PARA beside, KALEOO to call], exhort, console, comfort (Vine 199, 200); not so much tranquillized as braced (Vincent 3.482); instead of "that" the NIV adds "my purpose is that," adding three words not in the Greek text.
[ 8 ] SUMBIBASTHENTES EN AGAPEE, being joined together in love (Marshall 793); SUMBIBASTHENTES is the first aorist active participle, nominative plural masculine of SUMBIBAZOO (Han 370); coalesced, joined or knit together . . . some would assign the alternative meaning, to instruct as, for example, in 1 Corinthians 2:16 (Vine 627); in the Septuagint it means to instruct, as Exodus 18:16; Deuteronomy 4:9; Isaiah 40:13 (compare 1Co 2:16); Psalm 31:8. Used of putting together in one's mind, and so to conclude by comparison (Vincent 3.482); [SUN together, BIBAZOO to uplift, exalt], to join or knit together, unite, figuratively of Christians as parts of Christ's spiritual body, the Church; AGAPEE love, affectionate regard, goodwill, benevolence (Zodhiates 66, 1326).
[ 9 ] The unity effected by Paul's work was based upon truth. Unlike modern ecumenical efforts, it did not downplay doctrinal differences.
[ 10 ] KAI EIS PAN PLOUTOS, and for all riches (Marshall 793).
[ 11 ] TEES PLEEROPHORIAS TEES SUNESEOOS, of the full assurance of understanding (Marshall 793); [akin to SUNIEEMI to set together, to understand], understanding, reflective thought (Vine 1181); full assurance, most certain confidence (Thayer 517).
[ 12 ] EIS EPIGNOOSIN, for full knowledge (Marshall 793); full knowledge (Vincent 4.483); so that they may finally might reach the fullest knowledge (Williams); to full knowledge (Lenski 84).
[ 13 ] TOU MUSTEERIOU TOU THEOU, CHRISTOU, of the mystery of God, of Christ (Marshall 793).
[ 14 ] EN HO EISIN PANTES HOI THEESAUROI TEES SOPHIUAS KAI GNOOSEOOS APOKRUPHOI, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge hidden (Marshall 793); "hidden" in its position at the end of the sentence, and so far from are, shows that it is added as an emphatic secondary predicate (Vincent 3.483).
[ 15 ] Tillit S. Teddlie 175.
[ 16 ] TOUTO LEGOO HINA MEEDEIS HUMAS PARALOGIZEETAI, this I say in order that no one you may beguile (Marshall 793); to deceive by false reasoning (Vine 114); delude (Vincent 3.483).
[ 17 ] EN PITHANOLOGIA, with persuasive speech (Marshall 793); [from PITHANOS persuasive, plausible and LOGOS speech], signifies the employment of plausible arguments, in contrast to demonstration (Vine 366); in classical Greek, a probable argument as opposed to demonstration (Vincent 3.484).
[ 18 ] Macknight 648.
[ 19 ] The poor saints in Jerusalem may have been called "ebionites" because of their poverty but that has nothing to do with their being false teachers (compare Irenaeus, Book 1 [AD 166, 167]).
[ 20 ] Webster's United Dictionary, page1792.
[ 21 ] "Eclectic" describes the pulling together of different doctrines from various sources.
[ 22 ] Cabala [sometimes spelled Cabbala or Cabbalah or Kabala] is traditional Jewish lore. It includes both medieval and modern theosophy, mysticism and thaumaturgy [performance of miracles]. The Cabala used a cipher method of interpreting Scripture. It taught that creation came about through emanation. That is, a series of hierarchically descending radiations from the Godhead operating through intermediate stages to become matter (see Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary).
[ 23 ] Macknight 648. Impunity means without punishment.
[ 24 ] ALLA TOO PNEUMATI SUN HUMIN EIMI, yet in the spirit with you I am (Marshall 793).
[ 25 ] It is possible that the Holy Spirit's power enabled Paul to see the Colossians as Hagar saw a well of water (Ge 21:19), as Balaam saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way (Nu 22:31), as Elisha saw Gehazi (2Ki 5:26) or as the young man saw the mountain full of horses and chariots (2Ki 6:17).
[ 26 ] CHAIROON KAI BLEPOON HUMOON TEEN TAXIN, rejoicing and seeing of you the order (Marshall 793, 794); or orderly array, a military metaphor (Vincent 3.484).
[ 27 ] Vincent 3.484.
[ 28 ] KAI TO STEREOOMA TEES EIS CHRISTON PISTEOOS HUMOON, and the firmness of the in Christ faith of you (Marshall 794); STEREOOMA is used only here in the NT. The military metaphor is continued. Faith is represented as a host solidly drawn up: your solid front, close phalanx (Vincent 3.484).
[ 29 ] HOOS OUN PARELABETE TON CHRISTON 'IEESOUN TON KURION, as therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord (Marshall 794); PARELABETE is second person plural, second aorist active indicative of PARALAMBANOO (Han 370).
[ 30 ] EN AUTOO PERIPATEITE, in him walk ye (Marshall 794); rather than upon Him, as might have been expected. In this and in the Ephesian epistle, Christ is represented as the sphere within which the building goes on (Vincent 3.485); here the NIV becomes a commentary instead of a translation with "continue to live in him."
[ 31 ] ERRIZOOMENOI KAI EPOIKODOMOUMENOI EN AUTOO, having been rooted and being built up in him (Marshall 794).
[ 32 ] Weed 67.
[ 33 ] KAI BEBAIOUMENOI TEE PISTEI, and being confirmed in the faith (Marshall 794); BEBAIOUMENOI is the present passive participle, nominative plural masculine of BEBAIOOO (Han 370); and growing stronger in faith (Williams); and continuing to be confirmed regarding the faith (Lenski 92).
[ 34 ] PERISSEUONTES EN EUCHARISTIA, abounding in thanksgiving (Marshall 794); EUCHARISTOS thankful, DUCHARISTEIN to give thanks, EUCHARISTIA thanksgiving, are found only in Paul's writings (Vincent 3.485).
[ 35 ] BLEPETE MEE TIS HUMAS ESTAI HO SULAGOOGOON, look ye lest anyone you there shall be robbing (Marshall 794); SULAGOOGOON is the present active participle, nominative singular masculine of SULAGOOGEOO (Han 370); to carry off booty . . . a very strong expression for the work of the false teachers; make yourselves a booty (Vincent 3.485); carry off as spoil, lead captive [SULEE spoil, AGO to lead] . . . "carry you off as spoil" (Vine 1079); the thought that some single notable leader headed the Judaizing movement in Colossae has been found in Paul's use of the singular, especially in HO SULAGOOGOON HUMAS . . . but Paul says TIS, "anyone," and thereby generalizes his whole statement (Lenski 96); literally, who drags you away as his spoil (Howson 756).
[ 36 ] DIA TEES PHILOSOPHIAS, through philosophy (Marshall 794); the force of the article [is] his philosophy. [Philosophy] had originally a good meaning, the love of wisdom, but is used by Paul in the sense of vain speculation (Vincent 3.485); in Colossians 2:8, the so-called philosophy of false teachers (Vine 853).
[ 37 ] KAI KENEES APATEES, and empty deceit (Marshall 794); KAI and is explanatory, philosophy which is also vain deceit (Vincent 3.485).
[ 38 ] KATA TEEN PARADOSIN TOON ANTHROOPOON, according to the tradition of men (Marshall 794); the teachings of the Rabbis, interpretations of the Law, which was thereby made void in practice (Vine 1159); the term is especially appropriate to the Judeo-Gnostic teachings in Colossae, which depended for their authority, not on ancient writings, but on tradition. The later mystical theology or metaphysic of the Jews was called KABBALA, literally meaning reception or received doctrines, tradition (Vincent 3.486).
[ 39 ] Most religious errors are based upon what the Bible does not say. The writer rejects Calvinism, Catholicism, premillennialism, pentecostalism, deconstructionism, modernism and post-modernism. Sometimes more than one of these errors is combined in a single movement such as the Vineyard Movement, the Kansas City Prophets and others. Without study and dedication, the Lord's people are not immune from following religious errors such as these.
[ 40 ] Not all denominational scholars are to be pigeon-holed by denominational prejudices. Among those who do not fit this mold are G. R. Beasley-Murray, F. F. Bruce and others.
[ 41 ] KATA TA STOICHEIA TOU KOSMOU, according to the elements of the world (Marshall 794); one of a row or series [from STOICHOS a row, rank, series] . . . the delusive speculations of Gentile cults and of Jewish theories, treated as elementary principles, "the rudiments of the world" . . . presented as superior to faith in Christ . . . constellations were either themselves animated heavenly beings, or were governed by them (Vine 352, 353, 978); ceremonialism--meats, drinks, washings, Essenic asceticism, pagan symbolic mysteries and initiatory rites (Vincent 3.486). Paul calls the ceremonial ordinances of the Mosaic Law worldly elements (Ga 4:3; Col 2:8, 20) (Zodhiates 1314).
[ 42 ] HOTI EN AUTOO KATOIKEI, because in him dwells (Marshall 794); KATOIKEI is third person singular, present active indicative of KATOIKEOO (Han 370); the NIV has "for in Christ" which does not change the meaning but the Greek says, "for in Him."
[ 43 ] Note that the "man Christ Jesus" is the Christian's mediator (1Ti 2:5; compare Vincent 3.487).
[ 44 ] PAN TO PLEEROOMA TEES THEOTEETOS SOOMATIKOOS, all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Marshall 794); the completeness of His Being (Vine 467); the essential nature and personal deity as belonging to Christ . . . He carried his human body with him into heaven [where] his glorified body now and ever dwells the fullness of the Godhead" (Vincent 3.486, 487).
[ 45 ] KAI ESTE EN AUTOO PEPLEEROOMENOI, and ye are in him having been filled (Marshall 794); PEPLEEROOMENOI is the perfect passive participle, nominative plural masculine of PLEEROOO (Han 370); the perfect tense denotes the present state resultant upon a past action (Machen 452); to fulfill, complete (Vine 465); "complete in Him," that is, in Christ, in His work (Zodhiates 1177); that is, by union with Him alone, you can partake of the Pleroma [Fullness] of the Godhead, and not (as the Gnostics taught) by initiation into an esoteric system of theosophy, whereby men might attain to closer connection with some of the "Principalities and Powers" of the angelic hierarchy (Howson 757); the NIV departs from the Greek with, "and you have this fullness in Christ."
[ 46 ] Esoteric knowledge is that which is limited to the "initiated" or to a small circle or group.
[ 47 ] HOS ESTIN HEE KEPHALEE PASEES ARCHEES KAI EXOUSIAS, who is the head of all rule and authority (Marshall 794); ARCHEES, of the princes or chiefs among angels; EXOUSIAS, the celestial and infernal powers, princes, potentates, for example, angels, archangels (Zodhiates 262).
[ 48 ] EN HOO KAI PERIETMEETHEETE, in whom also ye were circumcised (Marshall 794); PERIETMEETHEETE is second person plural, first aorist passive indicative of PERITEMNOO (Han 370); metaphorically, in a spiritual sense, meaning to put away impurity (Zodhiates 1152); used metaphorically and spiritually of believers with reference to the act (Vine 184).
[ 49 ] PERITOMEE ACHEIROPOIEETOO, with a circumcision not hand-wrought (Marshall 794); ACHEIROPOIEETOO, not made by hands [A negative, CHEIROPOIEETOS made by hand], metaphorically, of spiritual circumcision (Vine 522); not made with hands, made or performed without hands (Zodhiates 305).
[ 50 ] EN TEE APEKDUSEI TOU SOOMATOS TEES SARKOS, by the putting off of the body of the flesh (Marshall 794); by the addition to the verb of APO from, there is added to the idea of getting out of one's clothes that of getting away from them (Vincent 3.488); the double prefix gives special emphasis: "stripping right off" (Bruce 104); He stripped off (EK) and away (APO) this body (Lenski 104).
[ 51 ] TOU SOOMATOS TEES SARKOS, of the body of the flesh (Marshall 794); the NIV is totally unjustified in changing this to read "of your sinful nature" but in Colossians 1:21 they translated the same Greek as Christ's "physical body."
[ 52 ] It means the body which consists of flesh, and of flesh as the seat of sin. By the removal of the home in which sin dwelt sin itself was removed. . . . The body of flesh is removed from the Christian at his conversion (A. S. Peake in The Expositor's Greek New Testament 525).
[ 53 ] EN TEE PERITOMEE TOU CHRISTOU, by the circumcision of Christ (Marshall 794); the circumcision of Christ is then the circumcision which belongs to Christ, which is given by him, which brings forgiveness of sins and thus makes it possible for people to live ethically in a new way" (E. Schweizer, Colossians, ad loc., page 143. For the view that "it is better to regard the statement as denoting the circumcision that Christ underwent, that is, his crucifixion," see P. T. O'Brien, ad loc., page 117. This phrase may mean either the circumcision undergone by Christ or (preferably) the circumcision effected by Christ (Bruce 104); the NIV loosely renders this, "but with the circumcision done by Christ."
[ 54 ] A. S. Peake in Expositors Greek Testament, 524.
[ 55 ] Justin Martyr allegorizes the narrative of the Israelites' circumcision at Joshua's hands with knives of flint (Jos 5:2, 3) as denoting the spiritual circumcision which Christians receive at the hands of the true Joshua (Jesus), "from idolatry and all manner of wickedness, by sharp stones, that is, by the words of the apostles of him who is the corner-stone cut without hands" (Dialogue with Trypho 114 via Bruce 103).
[ 56 ] SUNTAPHENTES AUTOO EN TOO BAPTISMATI, co-buried with him in the baptism (Marshall 794); SUNTAPHENTES is the second aorist passive participle, nominative plural masculine of SUNTHAPTOO (Han 370); to bury with someone. Burial with Christ refers to participating in His death by virtue of union with Him, with the dative and passive [Ro 6:4; Col 2:12] (Zodhiates 1343); to bury with, or together [SUN], is used in the metaphorical sense only, of the believer's identification with Christ in His burial, as set forth in baptism, Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12 (Vine 150); of the believer's being buried together with his Lord in baptism (Thayer 798); the aorist tense [of buried] puts the burial as contemporaneous with the circumcision. Ye were circumcised when ye were buried (Vincent 3.489); jointly entombed--jointly raised up (Lenski 106); the NIV makes a new sentence here that removes the connection between circumcision and baptism with, "In baptism you were buried with him."
[ 57 ] Clarke 4.523.
[ 58 ] Barclay 167, 168.
[ 59 ] Before about 281 AD when Novatian had water poured on him, baptism was always total immersion. "About AD 281, the Novatians arose . . . he [Novatian] was supposed to lie at the point of death, and asked baptism in order to save his soul . . . it was poured all over him till he was drenched, making perfusion as near an immersion as possible. If he died, this was to stand for baptism, saving him by a narrow escape; but if he lived, his baptism was to be considered defective. . . . They reckoned that no man could be saved without being baptized" (Thomas Armitage, History of the Baptists 177, 178; via Wilhite 13).
[ 60 ] Thayer 94; Vine 98.
[ 61 ] Barnes 4.142.
[ 62 ] A New Creature by L.O.Sanderson. Copyright 1963, Renewal. Leon B. Sanderson, Owner. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
[ 63 ] EN HOO KAI SUNEEGERTHEETE, in whom also ye were co-raised (Marshall 794); SUNEEGERTHEETE is second person plural, first aorist passive indicative of SUNEGEIROO (Han 370); to raise together [SUN with, EGEIROO to raise], passive voice in Colossians 2:12, "ye were . . . raised [with Him]" (Vine 918, 919); the moral resurrection to a new life (Vincent 4.489); in the NT . . . to raise up together from moral death . . . to a new and blessed life devoted to God (Thayer 602).
[ 64 ] DIA TEES PISTEOOS TEES ENERGIAS TOU THEOU, through the faith of (in) the operation of God (Marshall 794); the NIV slightly changes the meaning of the Greek by "through your faith in the power of God."
[ 65 ] KAI HUMAS NEKROUS ONTAS TOIS PARAPTOOMASIN, and you dead being in the trespasses (Marshall 795); ONTAS is the present active participle, accusative plural masculine of EIMI (Han 370); dead through your shortcomings (Williams); due to the trespasses (Lenski 110); dead in your trespasses (Bruce 106).
[ 66 ] KAI TEE AKROBUSTIA TEES SARKOS HUMOON, and in the uncircumcision of the flesh of you (Marshall 795); and the foreskin of your flesh (Lenski 110); and were physically uncircumcised (Williams); in a metaphorical or transferred sense, of the moral condition in which the corrupt desires of the flesh still operate (Vine 184); dead through your uncircumcised [that is, full of vice, in the pagan manner] flesh (Arndt 33); Colossians 2:13; 3:11 only seem to hint at such a figurative application. To label someone as uncircumcised seems to designate somebody as not being a Jew and, therefore, outside of the promises (Zodhiates 116); the NIV slips in "sinful nature" again instead of "your flesh" by rendering this "in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature."
[ 67 ] SUNEZOOOPOIEESEN HUMAS SUN AUTOO, he co-quickened you with him (Marshall 795); the NIV adds the word "God" and totally ignores "SUN- with, together with" with the rendering, "God made you alive with Christ."
[ 68 ] CHARISAMENOS HEMIN PANTA TA PARAPTOOMATA, forgiving you all the trespasses (Marshall 795); CHARISAMENOS is first aorist middle participle, nominative singular masculine of CHARIZOMAI (Han 370); to bestow a favor unconditionally, is used of the act of forgiveness (Vine 453); the NIV translators ignore the participle and fail to recognize that there is another Greek word for sin when they render this phrase, "He forgave us all our sins" instead of "all the trespasses."
[ 69 ] This may not be conclusive because some manuscripts have HEEMIN to or for us; others HUMIN to or for you (Machen 94, 95).
[ 70 ] EXALEIPSAS TO CHEIROGRAPHON TOIS DOGMASIN, wiping out the handwriting in ordinances (Marshall 795); EXALEIPSAS is the first aorist active participle, nominative singular masculine of EXALEIPHOO (Han 370); [from EK out, used intensively, and ALEIPHOO to wipe], signifies to wash, or to smear completely. Hence, metaphorically, in the sense of removal, to wipe away, wipe off, obliterate . . . Colossians 2:14, of writing (Vine 127); used to mean abrogating a law (Zodhiates 599); canceled the note (Williams); having blotted out the handwriting in decrees (Lenski 110).
[ 71 ] KATH' HEEMOON, against us (Marshall 795); to us hostile (Lenski 110).
[ 72 ] Gentiles with the law in their hearts did not obey it sufficiently to merit salvation (see Ro 1:26, 27; 3:23).
[ 73 ] HO EEN HUPENANTION HEEMIN, which was contrary to us (Marshall 795); EEN is third person singular, imperfect active indicative of EIMI (Han 370); imperfect tense denotes continued action in past time (Machen 122); HUPENANTION, [HUPO under, ENANTIOS, over against], opposite to, used of that which is contrary to persons (Vine 229); opposed, contrary, adverse, with the idea of stealth, covertness, secretiveness. Used with the dative [Col 2:14 meaning contrary, adverse] (Zodhiates 1411); against somebody (Arndt 838); that stood against us (Williams).
[ 74 ] KAI AUTO HEERKEN EK TOU MESOU, and it has taken out of the midst [way] (Marshall 795); HEERKEN is third person singular, perfect active indicative of AIROO (Han 370); perfect tense denotes the present state resultant upon a past action (Machen 452).
[ 75 ] Apparently, for a time, some Jewish Christians followed various national customs mentioned in the Law (see Ac 21:21-24).
[ 76 ] PROSEELOOSAS AUTO TOO STAUROO, nailing it to the cross (Marshall 795); PROSEELOOSAS is the first aorist active participle, nominative singular masculine of PROSEELOOO (Han 370).
[ 77 ] Lenski 116.
[ 78 ] APEKDUSAMENOS, putting off (Marshall 795); the first aorist middle participle, nominative singular masculine of APEKDUOMAI (Han 370); "having put off from Himself [the principalities and the powers]." They are regarded by some as unsinning angels, because they are mentioned twice before in the Epistle (Col 1:16; 2:10). It is also argued that the verb APEKDUOO, rendered "having put off from Himself," in 2:15, is used in a somewhat different sense in 3:9 (Vine 1080); to strip, divest of power or authority (Col 2:15), to deprive of power (Zodhiates 210).
[ 79 ] Here is Lightfoot's explanation which was copied from Vine, page 1080.
There is no doubt that Satan and his hosts gathered together to attack the soul of Christ, while He was enduring, in propitiatory sacrifice, the judgment due to our sins, and fulfilling the great work of redemption. There is an intimation of this in Psalm 22:21, "Save Me from the lion's mouth; yea, from the horns of the wild-oxen" (compare verses 12, 13). Doubtless the powers of darkness gathered against the Lord at that time, fiercely assaulting Him to the utmost of their power. He Himself had said, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Lu 22:53). The metaphor of putting off from Himself these powers need not be pressed to the extent of regarding them as a garment clinging about Him. It seems to stand simply as a vivid description of His repulsion of their attack and of the power by which He completely overthrew them.
[ 80 ] TAS ARCHAS KAI TAS EXOUSIAS, the rulers and the authorities (Marshall 795); princes or chiefs among demons; authorities (Zodhiates 262, 550).
[ 81 ] EDEIGMATISEN EN PARREESIA, he exposed [them] with openness (Marshall 795); EDEIGMATISEN is third person singular, first aorist active indicative of DEIGMATIZOO (Han 370); to make a public show or spectacle as the Romans did when they exposed their captives and the spoils of the conquered enemies to public view in their triumphal processions. Occurs only in Colossians 2:14; putting into open and painful shame the principalities and powers which previously held Christians captive (Zodhiates 401).
[ 82 ] THRIAMBEUSAS AUTOUS EN AUTOO, triumphing [over] them in it (Marshall 795); THRIAMBEUSAS is the first aorist active participle, nominative singular masculine of THRIAMBEUOO (Han 370); to lead in triumph . . . in Colossians 2:15 the circumstances and subjects . . . relate to Christ's victory over spiritual foes at the time of His Death; accordingly the reference may be to the triumphant display of the defeated (Vine 1168); signifies the victory won by God over the demoniacal powers through Christ's death (Thayer 292).
[ 83 ] MEE OUN TIS HUMAS KRINETOO EN BROOSEI, not therefore anyone you let judge in eating (Marshall 795); KRINETOO is third person singular, present active imperative of KRINOO (Han 371); let no one therefore sit in judgment on you in the matter of food (Bruce 113); accordingly, let nobody whatever judge you in eating . . . BROOSIS is "eating," not BROOMA, "food" (Lenski 122, 123); stop letting anyone pass judgment on you in matters of eating (Williams).
[ 84 ] In Nehemiah 8:10, people were told to "eat the fat" but the word is different from the one in Leviticus 3:16, 17. In Nehemiah, it may be rendered "dainties" or "choice food."
[ 85 ] KAI EN POSEI, and in drinking (Marshall 795); or in drinking (Lenski 122); and [in matters of] drinking (Williams).
[ 86 ] Vincent 3.483.
[ 87 ] EE EN MEREI HEORTEES, or in respect of a feast (Marshall 795); or in the matter of festival (Lenski 122).
[ 88 ] EE NEOMENIAS, or of a new moon (Marshall 795); or new moon (Lenski 122); or monthly feasts (Williams)
[ 89 ] As I correct these notes the first weekend in October in Lancaster, PA, it has been with difficulty that we found a vacancy in a motel. New York schools were closed for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Another Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, occurred the next weekend (Saturday, October 11, 1997).
[ 90 ] EE SABBATOON, or of sabbaths (Marshall 795); plural, meaning more than one Sabbath (Zodhiates 1270); in the epistles the only direct mentions are in Colossians 2:16, "a sabbath day," RV (which rightly has the singular . . . where it is listed among things that were "a shadow of the things to come" (that is, of the age introduced at Pentecost), and in Hebrews 4:4-11, where the perpetual SABBATISMOS is appointed for believers (Vine 984); for a single sabbath day . . . probably Colossians 2:16 (Arndt 739); plural [for the singular] of a single sabbath, sabbath-day [the use of the plural being occasioned either by the plural names of festivals . . . Colossians 2:16] (Thayer 565); or sabbath (Lenski 122); the weekly festivals. . . . correctly, day, the plural being used for the singular (Vincent 3.494).
[ 91 ] This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that "We are discharged from the Law," the law that contained the command, "You shall not covet" (Ro 7:6, 7). The same Ten Commandment Law that also said, "Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy" (Ex 20:8; De 5:12).
[ 92 ] The confusion over whether or not the verse should read "Sabbath day" or "Sabbath days" is prompted by a misunderstanding of the usage of the Greek SABBATOON. Some apparently do not realize that the plural is put for the singular as in Acts 20:7. In fact, the plural is used only once in the NT for more than a single day (Ac 17:2; Vincent 3.494).
[ 93 ] Dugger 33. "When the sabbath is mentioned in the OT or the NT with no contextual qualification, the weekly sabbath is intended" (Bruce 115). There were also sabbaths of the seventh year (Ex 23:11; 25:4; Le 25:4; De 15:1; 31:10; Jer 34:14).
[ 94 ] HA ESTIN SKIA TOON MELLONTOON, which things is (are) a shadow of things coming (Marshall 795); these were but a shadow of what was coming (Williams); of the image or outline cast by an object, Colossians 2:7, of ceremonies under the Law (Vine 1027); metaphorically, a foreshadowing, in distinction from TO SOOMA, the body [or reality], and HEE EIKOON, the full and perfect image; so also of the Jewish rites and dispensation as prefiguring things future and more perfect (Zodhiates 1295).
[ 95 ] Lenski 117.
[ 96 ] MEEDEIS HUMAS KATABRABEUETOO, no one you let give judgment against (Marshall 795); let no one deny you of the prize by his mere will in connection with (any) lowliness and worship practiced by the angels, (such a person) going in for (only) the things he has seen, vainly puffed up by the mind of his flesh and not holding fast the head, from whom all the body, by means of the joints and bands receiving supply and being knit together, grows with the growth of God (Lenski 128).
[ 97 ] Lenski 128.
[ 98 ] THELOON EN TAPEINOPHROSUNEE, wishing [to do so] in humility (Marshall 795); in gratuitous humility (Williams);
[ 99 ] To be fair, it should be mentioned that the Catholics claim they do not pray to Mary but rather ask her to join them in prayer to God (Noll 83).
[ 100 ] THREESKEIA TOON ANGELOON, and worship of the angels (Marshall 795); of the "worshipping" of angels, Colossians 2:18, which they themselves repudiate (Re 22:8, 9); "there was an officious parade of humility in selecting these lower beings as intercessors rather than appealing directly to the Throne of Grace" (Lightfoot via Vine 944).
[ 101 ] HA HEORAKEN EMBATEUOON, things which he has seen intruding into (Marshall 795); [probably used in the sense] to seek, to track out, to consider . . . of false teachers who professed to see heavenly truth in visions and to investigate and discuss philosophically the revelation they had received (compare Vincent 3.496); for such a one is taking his stand on the mere visions he has seen (Williams); [such a person] going in for [only] the things he has seen (Lenski 128).
[ 102 ] EIKEE PHURIOUMENOS HUPO TOU NOOS TEES SARKOS AUTOU, in vain being puffed up by the mind of the flesh of him (Marshall 795); and is groundlessly conceited over his sensuous mind (Williams); vainly puffed up by the mind of the flesh (Lenski 128); inflated to no purpose by his carnal mind (Bruce 117).
[ 103 ] KAI OU KRATOON TEEN KEPHALEEN, and not holding the head (Marshall 795); metaphorically, of the authority or direction of God in relation to Christ, of Christ in relation to believing men, of the husband in relation to the wife, 1 Corinthians 11:3; of Christ in relation to the Church, Ephesians 1:22; 415; 523; Col 1:18; 2:19; of Christ in relation to principalities and powers, Colossians 2:10 (Vine 532); such a person is not continuing in connection with the Head (Williams).
[ 104 ] See note on Matthew 28:18.
[ 105 ] DIA TOON HAPHOON KAI SUNDESMOON, by means of the [its] joints and bands (Marshall 795); SUNDESMOON [is] an intensive form of DESMOS a band, fetter, anything for tying, denoting that which binds firmly together, used metaphorically of the joints and bands of the mystic Body of Christ, Colossians 2:19 (Vine 88).
[ 106 ] AUXEI TEEN AUXEESIN TOU THEOU, will grow [with] the growth of God (Marshall 795); the NIV tries to explain rather than translate with "grows as God causes it to grow."
[ 107 ] TI HOS ZOONTES EN KOSMOO, why as living in [the] world (Marshall 796); the NIV neglects some of the Greek with "why, as though you still belonged to it."
[ 108 ] MEE HAPSE MEEDE GEUSEE MEEDE THIGEES, do not touch nor taste nor handle (Marshall 796).
[ 109 ] HA ESTIN PANTA EIS PHTHORAN TEE APOCHREESEI, which things is (are) all for corruption in the using (Marshall 796); EIS PHTHORAN, literally, "unto corruption" (Vine 849); may be rendered "by their using up." The unusual word was chosen for its expressiveness; the CHREESIS here was an APOCHREESIS; the things could not be used without rendering them unfit for further use" [Lightfoot] (Vine 1191); the NIV breaks the thought with a new sentence that is not a good translation, rendering the phrase "These are all destined to perish with use."
[ 110 ] Compare ME MOU HAPTOU touch me not or cling not to me (Joh 20:17).
[ 111 ] KATA TA ENTALMATA KAI DIDASKALIAS TOON ANTHROOPOON, according to the injunctions and teachings of men (Marshall 796).
[ 112 ] HATINA ESTIN LOGON MEN ECHONTA SOPHIAS, which things is (are) a repute indeed having of wisdom (Marshall 796); instead of "such things" or "which things" as indicated by the Greek, the NIV becomes a commentary with "such regulations."
[ 113 ] EN ETHELOTHREESKIA, in self-imposed worship (Marshall 796); worship of human invention (Macknight 390); will-worship [ETHELOO to will, THREESKEIA worship] . . . voluntarily adopted worship, whether unbidden or forbidden, not that which is imposed by others, but which one affects (Vine 1248); voluntary worship, worship in which one goes beyond what God requires without any particular command (Col 2:23); to be interpreted in an evil sense such as the worship of angels in Colossians 2:18. It is the religion of self-will or legalism. Man is forbidden to establish his own ceremonial rites and to call it the true worship of God (Zodhiates 502); by his own volition he worships what seems best . . . self-made religion, perhaps would-be religion (Arndt 218); voluntary, arbitrary worship . . . that is, worship which one devises and prescribes for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of the faith which ought to be directed to Christ; said of the misdirected zeal and practices of ascetics (Thayer 168); "voluntary worship", that is, worship that one devises and prescribes for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of the faith that ought to be directed to Christ; used for the misdirected zeal and practices of ascetics (New Unger's Bible Dictionary); in self-devised religious observance (Rotherham).
[ 114 ] KAI TAPEINOPHROSUNEE, and humility (Marshall 796);lowliness of mind [TAPEINOS low lying, low degree, PHREEN the mind], a false humility (Vine 569); humility, lowliness of mind, the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so, the correct estimate of ourselves (Zodhiates 1366); an affected and ostentatious humility (Thayer 614); humility can also be wrongly directed [Col 2:18, 23] (Arndt 804).
[ 115 ] KAI APHEIDIA SOOMATOS, and severity of [the] body (Marshall 796); [A negative, PHEIDOMAI to spare], refers to ascetic discipline; it was used among the Greeks of courageous exposure to hardship and danger (Vine 1027); not sparing, severity, austerity [Col 2:23 refers to ascetic discipline, courageous exposure to hardship] (Zodhiates 295).
[ 116 ] "Monkery" has to do with religious monks, or monasticism.
[ 117 ] PROS PLEESMONEEN TEES SARKOS, for satisfaction of the flesh (Marshall 796); PLEESMONEEN, a filling or satisfying as with food; also fullness, satiety, indulgence (Zodhiates 1178); unto a satisfying of the flesh (Rotherham); PLEESMONEEN [akin to PIMPLEEMI, to fill]. Lightfoot translates the passage "yet not really of any value to remedy indulgence of the flesh." A possible meaning is, "of no value in attempts at asceticism." Some regard it as indicating that the ascetic treatment of the body is not of any honor to the satisfaction of the flesh [the reasonable demands of the body]; this interpretation is unlikely. The following paraphrase well presents the contrast between the asceticism which "practically treats the body as an enemy," and the Pauline view which treats it as a potential instrument of a righteous life: "ordinances, 'which in fact have a specious look of wisdom [where there is no true wisdom], by the employment of self-chosen acts of religion and humility [and] by treating the body with brutality instead of treating it with due respect, with a view to meeting and providing against over-indulgence of the flesh" [Parry, in the Cambridge Greek Testament] (Vine 586, 587); for the satisfying of the flesh, to satiate the desires of the flesh (Thayer 519); for these precepts, though they have a show of wisdom, in a self-chosen worship, and in humiliation, and chastening of the body, are of no value to check the indulgence of fleshly passions (Conybeare 758); literally, this is, in reference to the indulgence of the flesh. The difficulty of this verse is well known. The interpretation, which leaves the verse a mere statement of the favorable side of this Colossian asceticism, unbalanced by any contrary conclusion, and with nothing to answer to "having a show," etc., appears very untenable. Since the first edition of this work was published, we have ascertained that the view above taken of this verse was proposed by Archbishop Sumner (Practical Expositions in loco), "the motions of sin in the members;" and quotes the Septuagint in illustration (Howson 758); Lightfoot quotes numerous examples to prove that PROS after words denoting value, utility, sufficiency, etc., is used in the sense "to check" or "to prevent". But in these cases the meaning does not lie in PROS, but in PROS after some word which imposes this sense upon it (for example PHARMAKON), and there is nothing of the kind here. Abbott, in his valuable criticism of this interpretation, points out that PROS means "with a view to," and if the object is a word signifying action or the production of an effect it will mean with a view to (producing). "Hence it seems to follow that unless PLEESMONEE be taken in the sense of 'a state of repletion,' which would be unsuitable, PROS PLEESMONEEN could only mean to produce PLEESMONEEN." It seems necessary to reject this explanation on linguistic grounds (Peake via Nicoll 3.535, 536).
[ 118 ] OUK EN TIMEE TINI, not in honor any (Marshall 796); are in no honorable way (Rotherham); honor, respect, reverence, esteem. Generally as rendered or exhibited towards a person or thing . . . Col 2:23 (Zodhiates 1383); primarily a valuing, hence, objectively, (a) a price paid or received . . . in the sense of value, of human ordinances, valueless against the indulgence of the flesh, or, perhaps of no value in attempts at asceticism (Vine 560); TIMEE does not mean "honor" nor "value" but "price," and PROS is construed with it in a natural way: we pay a price toward a thing, meaning that more will still have to be paid (Lenski 144); are of no value to check the indulgence of fleshly passions (Conybeare 758); We consider "in no honor" here to be used as "of no value" (see Ac 20:24; Re 27:4) (Howson 758); a further question relates to the use of TIMEE. Our word "value" is ambiguous, and TIMEE may mean "value" in the sense of "price". But in this interpretation it is used in the sense of "efficacy," and this sense needs to be established (Peake via Nicoll 3.535, 536).
Copyright ©1998, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington, U.S.A.
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