His Strivings in Prayer for Their Steadfastness
in Christ; from Whom He Warns Them Not to Be Led Away by False
1. For—He explains in what respect he
"labored striving" (Col 1:29).
Translate as Greek, "I wish you to know how great a
conflict (the same Greek word as in Col 1:29, "agony of a conflict" of
fervent, anxious prayer; not conflict with the false teachers, which
would have been impossible for him now in prison) I have for you."
them at Laodicea—exposed to the same
danger from false teachers as the Colossians (compare Col 4:16). This danger was probably the cause of
his writing to Laodicea, as well as to Colosse.
not seen my face in the
flesh—including those in Hierapolis (Col 4:13). Paul considered himself a "debtor" to
all the Gentiles (Ro 1:14).
"His face" and presence would have been a "comfort" (Col 2:2; Ac
20:38). Compare Col 1:4, 7, 8, in proof that he had not
seen, but only heard of the Colossians. Hence he strives
by earnest conflict with God in anxious prayer for them, to make
up for the loss of his bodily presence among them. Though "absent in
the flesh, I am with you in the Spirit" (Col 2:5).
2. Translate, "That their hearts may be
comforted." The "their," compared with "you" (Col 2:4), proves that in Col 2:1 the words, "have not seen my face in the
flesh," is a general designation of those for whom Paul declares
he has "conflict," including the particular species, "you (Colossians)
and them at Laodicea." For it is plain, the prayer "that their
hearts may be comforted," must include in it the Colossians for whom he
expressly says, "I have conflict." Thus it is an abbreviated mode of
expression for, "That your and their hearts may be comforted."
Alford translates, "confirmed," or
allows "comforted" in its original radical sense strengthened.
But the Greek supports English Version: the sense, too,
is clear: comforted with the consolation of those whom Paul had
not seen, and for whom, in consequence, he strove in prayerful conflict
the more fervently; inasmuch as we are more anxious in behalf of
absent, than present, friends [Davenant]. Their hearts would be comforted by
"knowing what conflict he had for" them, and how much he is interested
for their welfare; and also by being released from doubts on learning
from the apostle, that the doctrine which they had heard from Epaphras
was true and certain. In writing to churches which he had instructed
face to face, he enters into particular details concerning them, as a
father directing his children. But to those among whom he had not been
in person, he treats of the more general truths of salvation.
being—Translate as Greek in
oldest manuscripts, "They being knit together."
in love—the bond and element of
perfect knitting together; the antidote to the dividing
schismatical effect of false doctrine. Love to God and to one another
unto—the object and end of their being
all riches—Greek, "all
the riches of the full assurance (1Th 1:5; Heb 6:11;
10:22) of the
(Christian) understanding." The accumulation of phrases, not only
"understanding," but "the full assurance of understanding"; not only
this, but "the riches of," &c., not only this, but
"all the riches of," &c., implies how he desires to impress
them with the momentous importance of the subject in hand.
implies, "full and accurate knowledge." It is a distinct Greek
word from "knowledge," Col 2:3. Alford translates, "thorough …
knowledge." Acknowledgment hardly is strong enough; they did in
a measure acknowledge the truth; what they wanted was the
full and accurate knowledge of it (compare Notes, see on
Col 1:9, 10; Php 1:9).
of God, and of the Father and of
Christ—The oldest manuscripts omit "and of the Father, and
of"; then translate, "Of God (namely), Christ." Two very old
manuscripts and Vulgate read, "Of God the Father of Christ."
3. Translate in the Greek order, "In
whom (not as Alford, 'in which')
mystery; Christ is Himself the 'mystery' (Col 2:2; 1Ti
3:16), and to Christ the
relative refers) are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden."
The "all" here, answers to "all" in Col 2:2; as "treasures" answer to the "riches";
it is from the treasures that the riches (Col 2:2) are derived. "Are" is the predicate of
the sentence; all the treasures ARE in
Him; hidden is predicated of the state or manner in which they
are in Him. Like a mine of unknown and inexhaustible wealth, the
treasures of wisdom are all in Him hidden, but not in
order to remain so; they only need to be explored for you to attain
"unto the riches" in them (Col 2:2); but
until you, Colossians, press after attaining the full knowledge
(see on Col 2:2) of them, they remain "hidden."
Compare the parable, Mt 13:44,
"treasure hid." This sense suits the scope of the apostle, and sets
aside Alford's objection that "the
treasures are not hidden, but revealed." "Hidden" plainly answers to
"mystery" (Col 2:2),
which is designed by God, if we be faithful to our privileges, not to
remain hidden, but to be revealed (compare 1Co 2:7, 8). Still as the mine is unfathomable,
there will, through eternity, be always fresh treasures in Him to be
drawn forth from their hidden state.
wisdom—general, and as to
experimental and practical truth; whence comes
"understanding" (Col 2:2).
intellectual, in regard to doctrinal truth; whence comes
"the full knowledge" (Col 2:2).
4. And—"Now." Compare with "lest any
man," &c. Col 2:8, 16, 18. He refers to the blending of Judaism
with Oriental philosophy, and the combination of this mixture with
enticing words—plausible as wearing
the guise of wisdom and humility (Col 2:18, 23).
5. For—argument against their suffering
themselves to be beguiled, drawn from a regard to his personal
authority as though he were present.
joying and beholding—beholding with
order—your good order;
answering to "knit together" (Col 2:2) as a well-organized body; the same
Greek as that for knit together, is used of the body" of
the Church compacted," in Eph 4:16. Compare 1Co 14:33, 40.
firm (or 'solid') foundation." As "order" expresses
the outward aspect of the Church; so "steadfastness" expresses the
inner basis on which their Church rested. The Greek literally
implies not an abstract quality, but the thing in the concrete;
thus their "faith" here is the solid thing which constituted the
basis of their Church.
6. "As therefore ye received (once for all;
the aorist tense; from Epaphras) Jesus the Christ as your
Lord (compare 1Co 12:3; 2Co 4:5; Php 3:8), so walk in Him." He says not merely,
"Ye received" the doctrine of Christ, but "Jesus" Himself; this is the
essence of faith (Joh 14:21, 23; Ga 1:16). Ye have received once for all the
Spirit of life in Christ; carry into practice that life in your
walk (Ga 5:25).
This is the main scope of the Epistle.
7. Rooted—(Eph 3:17).
built up—Greek, "being
builded up." As "rooted" implies their vitality; so "builded
up," massive solidity. As in the Song of Solomon, when one image
is not sufficient to express the varied aspects of divine truth,
another is employed to supply the idea required. Thus "walking," a
third image (Col 2:6),
expresses the thought which "rooted" and "built," though each
suggesting a thought peculiar to itself, could not express, namely,
onward motion. "Rooted" is in the past tense, implying
their first conversion and vital grafting "in Him." "Built up"
is present (in the Greek), implying their progressive
increase in religion by union with Him. Eph 2:20 refers to the Church; but the
passage here to their individual progress in edification (Ac 20:32).
abounding therein with
thanksgiving—advancing to fuller maturity (compare Col 2:2) in the faith, "with thanksgiving"
to God as the gracious Author of this whole blessing.
8. Translate, "Beware (literally, 'Look' well)
lest there shall be (as I fear there is: the Greek
indicative expresses this) any man (pointing to some known emissary of
1:7) leading you away as
his spoil (not merely gaining spoil out of you, but making
yourselves his spoil) through (by means of) his philosophy,"
&c. The apostle does not condemn all philosophy, but
"the philosophy" (so Greek) of the Judaic-oriental
heretics at Colosse, which afterwards was developed into Gnosticism.
You, who may have "the riches of full assurance" and "the
treasures of wisdom," should not suffer yourselves to be led
away as a spoil by empty, deceitful philosophy: "riches"
are contrasted with spoil; "full" with "vain," or empty (Col 2:2, 3,
tradition of men—opposed to, "the
fulness of the Godhead." Applied to Rabbinical
traditions, Mr 7:8. When
men could not make revelation even seem to tell about deep
mysteries which they were curious to pry into, they brought in human
philosophy and pretended traditions to help it, as if one should bring
a lamp to the sundial to find the hour [Cauations for Times, p.
85]. The false teachers boasted of a higher wisdom in theory,
transmitted by tradition among the initiated; in practice they enjoined
asceticism, as though matter and the body were the sources of evil.
Phrygia (in which was Colosse) had a propensity for the mystical and
magical, which appeared in their worship of Cybele and subsequent
rudiments of the world—(See on Ga 4:3). "The rudiments" or elementary lessons "of
the (outward) world," such as legal ordinances; our Judaic childhood's
lessons (Col 2:11, 16, 20; Ga 4:1-3). But Neander, "the elements of the world," in the
sense, what is earthly, carnal and outward, not "the rudiments
of religion," in Judaism and heathenism.
not after Christ—"Their" boasted
higher "philosophy" is but human tradition, and a cleaving to the
carnal and worldly, and not to Christ. Though acknowledging Christ
nominally, in spirit they by their doctrine deny Him.
9. For—"Because." Their
"philosophy" (Col 2:8) is
not "after Christ," as all true philosophy is, everything which comes
not from, and tends not to, Him, being a delusion; "For in Him (alone)
dwelleth" as in a temple, &c.
the fulness—(Col 1:19; Joh
of the Godhead—The Greek
(theotes) means the ESSENCE and
NATURE of the Godhead, not merely
the divine perfections and attributes of Divinity (Greek,
"theiotes"). He, as man, was not merely God-like, but in the
fullest sense, God.
bodily—not merely as before His
incarnation, but now "bodily in Him" as the incarnate word (Joh 1:14,
18). Believers, by union with
Him, partake of His fulness of the divine nature (Joh 1:16; 2Pe
1:4; see on Eph 3:19).
10. And—And therefore; and so.
Translate in the Greek order, "Ye are in Him (by virtue of union
with Him) filled full" of all that you need (Joh 1:16). Believers receive of the divine
unction which flows down from their Divine Head and High Priest (Ps 133:2). He is full of the
"fulness" itself; we, filled from Him. Paul implies, Therefore
ye Colossians need no supplementary sources of grace, such as the false
teachers dream of. Christ is "the Head of all rule and
authority" (so the Greek), Eph 1:10; He, therefore, alone, not these subject
"authorities" also, is to be adored (Col 2:18).
11. Implying that they did not need, as the
Judaizers taught, the outward rite of circumcision, since they had
already the inward spiritual reality of it.
are—rather, as the Greek, "Ye
were (once for all) circumcised (spiritually, at your conversion
and baptism, Ro 2:28, 29; Php 3:3) with a (so the Greek)
circumcision made without hands"; opposed to "the circumcision in the
flesh made by hands" (Eph 2:11). Christ's own body, by which the
believer is sanctified, is said to be "not made with hands" (Mr
14:58; Heb 9:11; compare
in putting off—rather as Greek,
"in your putting off"; as an old garment (Eph 4:22); alluding to the putting off the
foreskin in circumcision.
the body of the sins of the flesh—The
oldest manuscripts read, "the body of the flesh," omitting "of the
sins," that is, "the body," of which the prominent feature is
fleshiness (compare Ro 8:13,
where "flesh" and "the body" mutually correspond). This fleshly body,
in its sinful aspect, is put off in baptism (where baptism answers its
ideal) as the seal of regeneration where received in repentance and
faith. In circumcision the foreskin only was put off; in
Christian regeneration "the body of the flesh" is spiritually
put off, at least it is so in its ideal conception, however imperfectly
believers realize that ideal.
by—Greek, "in." This
spiritual circumcision is realized in, or by, union with Christ, whose
"circumcision," whereby He became responsible for us to keep the whole
law, is imputed to believers for justification; and union with whom, in
all His vicarious obedience, including His
circumcision, is the source of our sanctification. Alford makes it explanatory of the previous, "a
circumcision made without hands," namely, "the circumcision brought
about by your union with Christ." The former view seems to me better to
accord with Col 2:12; 3:1, 3, 4, which similarly makes the believer, by
spiritual union with Christ, to have personal fellowship in the several
states of Christ, namely, His death, resurrection, and appearing in
glory. Nothing was done or suffered by our Mediator as such, but may be
acted in our souls and represented in our spirits. Pearson's view, however, is that of Alford. Joshua, the
type (not Moses in the wilderness), circumcised the Israelites in
Canaan (Jos 5:2-9)
the second time: the people that came out of Egypt having been
circumcised, and afterwards having died in the wilderness; but those
born after the Exodus not having been so. Jesus, the Antitype, is the
author of the true circumcision, which is therefore called "the
circumcision of Christ" (Ro 2:29). As
Joshua was "Moses' minister," so Jesus, "minister of the circumcision
for the truth of God" unto the Gentiles (Ro 15:8).
12. Translate, "Having been buried with
Him in your baptism." The past participle is here coincident in
time with the preceding verb, "ye were (Greek) circumcised."
Baptism is regarded as the burial of the old carnal life, to which the
act of immersion symbolically corresponds; and in warm climates where
immersion is safe, it is the mode most accordant with the
significance of the ordinance; but the spirit of the ordinance is kept
by affusion, where immersion would be inconvenient or dangerous; to
insist on literal immersion in all cases would be mere legal
ceremonialism (Ro 6:3, 4).
are risen—rather as Greek,
"were raised with Him."
through the faith, &c.—by means
of your faith in the operation of God; so "faith of," for
"faith in" (Eph 3:12; Php 3:9). Faith in God's mighty operation in
raising again Jesus, is saving faith (Ro 4:24; 10:9); and it is wrought in the soul by His
same "mighty working" whereby He "raised Jesus from the dead" (Eph 1:19,
20). Bengel seems to me (not as Alford understands him) to express the latter sense,
namely, "Through the faith which is a work of the operation of
God who," &c. Eph 1:19, 20 accords with this; the same mighty power
of God is exercised in raising one spiritually dead to the life of
faith, as was "wrought in Christ when God raised Him literally from the
dead." However, "faith of" usually is "faith in" (Ro 3:22); but there is no grammatical
impropriety in understanding it "the faith which is the effect of the
operation of God" (Eph 2:8; 1Th 2:13). As His literal resurrection is the
ground of the power put forth in our spiritual resurrection now, so it
is a pledge of our literal resurrection hereafter (Ro 8:11).
13. you, being dead—formerly (Eph 2:1, 2); even as Christ was among the
dead, before that God raised Him "from the dead" (Col 2:12).
sins—rather as Greek is
translated at end of this verse, "trespasses," literally, "failings
aside" from God's ways; actual transgressions, as that of Adam.
uncircumcision of your flesh—your not
having put off the old fleshly nature, the carnal foreskin, or
original sin, which now by spiritual circumcision, that is,
conversion and baptism, you have put off.
he quickened—God "quickened together with Him (Christ)." Just as Christ's resurrection proved that
He was delivered from the sin laid on Him, so our spiritual quickening
proves that we have been forgiven our sins (1Pe 3:22; 4:1,
forgiven you—So Vulgate and
Hilary. But the oldest manuscripts read,
"us," passing from the particular persons, the Colossians, to the
general Church (Col 1:14; Eph 1:7).
all trespasses—Greek, "all
14. Blotting out—Greek, "Having
wiped out"; coincident in time with "having forgiven you" (Col 2:13); hereby having cancelled the
law's indictment against you. The law (including especially the
moral law, wherein lay the chief difficulty in obeying) is
abrogated to the believer, as far as it was a compulsory, accusing
code, and as far as "righteousness" (justification) and "life" were
sought for by it. It can only produce outward works, not inward
obedience of the will, which in the believer flows from the Holy Spirit
in Him (Ro 3:21; 7:2, 4; Ga 2:19).
the handwriting of ordinances—rather,
"IN ordinances" (see on Eph 2:15); "the law of commandments contained in
ordinances." "The handwriting" (alluding to the Decalogue, the
representative of the law, written by the hand of God) is the
whole law, the obligatory bond, under which all lay; the Jews
primarily were under the bond, but they in this respect were the
representative people of the world (Ro 3:19); and in their inability to keep the law
was involved the inability of the Gentiles also, in whose hearts "the
work of the law was written" (Ro 2:15); and as they did not keep this, they
were condemned by it.
that was against us … contrary to
us—Greek "adversary to us"; so it is
translated, Heb 10:27.
"Not only was the law against us by its demands, but also an
adversary to us by its accusations" [Bengel]. Tittmann
explains the Greek, "having a latent contrariety to us";
not open designed hostility, but virtual unintentional
opposition through our frailty; not through any opposition in the
law itself to our good (Ro 7:7-12, 14; 1Co
15:56; Ga 3:21; Heb 10:3).
The "WRITING" is part of "that which was
contrary to us"; for "the letter killeth" (see on 2Co 3:6).
and took it—Greek, and hath
taken it out of the way" (so as to be no longer a hindrance to us), by
"nailing it to the cross." Christ, by bearing the curse of the
broken law, has redeemed us from its curse (Ga 3:13). In His person nailed to the cross, the
law itself was nailed to it. One ancient mode of cancelling bonds was
by striking a nail through the writing: this seems at that time to have
existed in Asia [Grotius]. The bond
cancelled in the present case was the obligation lying against the Jews
as representatives of the world, and attested by their amen, to
keep the whole law under penalty of the curse (De 27:26; Ne
Ellicott, and others translate the
Greek to accord with the translation of the same Greek,
Col 3:9, "Stripping off from Himself the
principalities and the powers: " God put
off from Himself the angels, that is, their ministry, not
employing them to be promulgators of the Gospel in the way that He had
given the law by their "disposition" or ministry (Ac
7:53; Ga 3:19; Heb 2:2, 5):
God manifested Himself without a veil in Jesus. "The principalities and THE powers" refers back to Col 2:10, Jesus, "the Head of all principality
and power," and Col 1:16. In
the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God subjected all the
principalities, &c., to Jesus, declaring them to be powerless as to
His work and His people (Eph 1:21).
Thus Paul's argument against those grafting on Christianity Jewish
observances, along with angel-worship, is, whatever part angels may be
supposed to have had under the law, now at an end, God having put the
legal dispensation itself away. But the objection is, that the context
seems to refer to a triumph over bad angels: in 2Co 2:14, however, Christ's triumph
over those subjected to Him, is not a triumph for destruction, but for
their salvation, so that good angels may be referred to (Col 1:20). But the Greek middle is
susceptible of English Version, "having spoiled," or, literally
[Tittmann], "having completely
stripped," or "despoiled" for Himself (compare Ro
8:38; 1Co 15:24; Eph 6:2).
English Version accords with Mt 12:29; Lu 11:22; Heb
2:14. Translate as the
Greek, "The rules and authorities."
made a show of them—at His ascension
(see on Eph 4:8; confirming English
Version of this verse).
openly—Joh 7:4; 11:54, support English Version against
Alford's translation, "in openness of
in it—namely, His cross, or
crucifixion: so the Greek fathers translate. Many of the Latins, "In
Himself" or "in Him." Eph 2:16 favors English Version,
"reconcile … by the cross, having slain the enmity
thereby." If "in Him," that is, Christ, be read, still the Cross will
be the place and means of God's triumph in Christ over the
principalities (Eph 1:20; 2:5). Demons, like other angels, were in
heaven up to Christ's ascension, and influenced earth from their
heavenly abodes. As heaven was not yet opened to man before Christ
3:13), so it was not yet shut
against demons (Job 1:6; 2:1). But at the ascension Satan and his
demons were "judged" and "cast out" by Christ's obedience unto death
(Joh 12:31; 16:11; Heb 2:14; Re 12:5-10), and the Son of man was raised to the
throne of God; thus His resurrection and ascension are a public solemn
triumph over the principalities and powers of death. It is striking
that the heathen oracles were silenced soon after Christ's
16. therefore—because ye are complete in
Christ, and God in Him has dispensed with all subordinate means as
essential to acceptance with Him.
meat … drink—Greek,
"eating … drinking" (Ro 14:1-17). Pay no regard to any one who sits in
judgment on you as to legal observances in respect to foods.
holyday—a feast yearly. Compare
the three, 1Ch 23:31.
the sabbath—Omit "THE," which is not in the Greek (compare
Note, see on Ga 4:10). "Sabbaths" (not "the sabbaths") of the day of
atonement and feast of tabernacles have come to an end with the Jewish
services to which they belonged (Le 23:32, 37-39). The weekly sabbath rests on a more
permanent foundation, having been instituted in Paradise to commemorate
the completion of creation in six days. Le 23:38 expressly distinguished "the sabbath of
the Lord" from the other sabbaths. A positive precept is
right because it is commanded, and ceases to be obligatory when
abrogated; a moral precept is commanded eternally, because it
is eternally right. If we could keep a perpetual sabbath, as
we shall hereafter, the positive precept of the sabbath, one in each
week, would not be needed. Heb 4:9,
"rests," Greek, "keeping of sabbath" (Isa 66:23). But we cannot, since even Adam, in
innocence, needed one amidst his earthly employments; therefore the
sabbath is still needed and is therefore still linked with the other
nine commandments, as obligatory in the spirit, though the letter of
the law has been superseded by that higher spirit of love which is the
essence of law and Gospel alike (Ro 13:8-10).
17. things to come—the blessings of the
Christian covenant, the substance of which Jewish ordinances were but
the type. Compare "ages to come," that is, the Gospel dispensation
2:7). Heb 2:5, "the world to come."
the body is of Christ—The real
substance (of the blessings typified by the law) belongs to Christ
18. beguile—Translate, "Defraud you of
your prize," literally, "to adjudge a prize out of hostility away from
him who deserves it" [Trench]. "To be
umpire in a contest to the detriment of one." This defrauding of
their prize the Colossians would suffer, by letting any
self-constituted arbitrator or judge (that is, false
teacher) draw them away from Christ," the righteous Judge" and Awarder
of the prize (2Ti 4:8; Jas 1:12; 1Pe 5:4), to angel-worship.
in a voluntary humility—So
"will-worship" (Col 2:23).
Literally, "Delighting ([Wahl]) in
humility"; loving (so the Greek is translated, Mr 12:38, "love to go in long
clothing") to indulge himself in a humility of his own imposing:
a volunteer in humility [Dallæus]. Not as Alford, "Let no one of purpose defraud you,"
&c. Not as Grotius, "If he ever so
much wish" (to defraud you). For the participle "wishing" or
"delighting," is one of the series, and stands in the same category as
"intruding," "puffed up," "not holding"; and the self-pleasing
implied in it stands in happy contrast to the (mock) humility
with which it seems to me, therefore, to be connected. His "humility,"
so called, is a pleasing of self: thus it stands in parallelism
to "his fleshly mind" (its real name, though he styles it
"humility"), as "wishing" or "delighting" does to "puffed up." The
Greek for "humility" is literally, "lowliness of mind,"
which forms a clearer parallel to "puffed up by his fleshly
mind." Under pretext of humility, as if they durst not come
directly to God and Christ (like the modern Church of Rome), they
invoked angels: as Judaizers, they justified this on the ground that
the law was given by angels. This error continued long in Phrygia
(where Colosse and Laodicea were), so that the Council of Laodicea
(A.D. 360) expressly framed its
thirty-fifth canon against the "Angelici" (as Augustine [Heresies, 39], calls them) or
"invokers of angels." Even as late as Theodoret's time, there were oratories to Michael
the archangel. The modern Greeks have a legend that Michael opened a
chasm to draw off an inundation threatening the Colossian Christians.
Once men admit the inferior powers to share invocation with the
Supreme, the former gradually engrosses all our serious worship, almost
to the exclusion of the latter; thus the heathen, beginning with adding
the worship of other deities to that of the Supreme, ended with ceasing
to worship Him at all. Nor does it signify much, whether we regard such
as directly controlling us (the pagan view), or as only
influencing the Supreme in our behalf (the Church of Rome's
view); because he from whom I expect happiness or misery, becomes the
uppermost object in my mind, whether he give, or only
procure it [Cautions for Times]. Scripture opposes the
idea of "patrons" or "intercessors" (1Ti 2:5, 6). True Christian humility joins
consciousness of utter personal demerit, with a sense of participation
in the divine life through Christ, and in the dignity of our adoption
by God. Without the latter being realized, a false self-humiliation
results, which displays itself in ceremonies and ascetic self-abasement
2:23), which after all is but
spiritual pride under the mock guise of humility. Contrast "glorying in
the Lord" (1Co 1:31).
intruding into … things which he hath not
seen—So very old manuscripts and Vulgate and Origen read. But the oldest manuscripts and
Lucifer omit "not"; then translate,
"haughtily treading on ('Standing on' [Alford]) the things which he hath seen." Tregelles refers this to fancied
visions of angels. But if Paul had meant a fancied seeing, he
would have used some qualifying word, as, "which he seemed to
see," not "which he hath seen." Plainly the things were
actually seen by him, whether of demoniacal origination (1Sa
28:11-20), or phenomena
resulting from natural causation, mistaken by him as if supernatural.
Paul, not stopping to discuss the nature of the things so seen, fixes
on the radical error, the tendency of such a one in all this to walk by
SENSE (namely, what he haughtily
prides himself on having SEEN),
rather than by FAITH in the UNSEEN "Head" (Col 2:19; compare Joh 20:29; 2Co 5:7; Heb
11:1). Thus is the
parallelism, "vainly puffed up" answers to "haughtily treading on," or
"setting his foot on"; "his fleshly mind" answers to the things which
he hath seen," since his fleshliness betrays itself in priding himself
on what he hath seen, rather than on the unseen objects
of faith. That the things seen may have been of demoniacal
origination, appears from 1Ti 4:1, "Some
shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and
doctrines of devils" (Greek, "demons"). A warning to modern
puffed up—implying that the previous
so called "humility" (Greek, "lowliness of mind") was really a
fleshly mind—Greek, "By the
mind of his own flesh." The flesh, or sensuous principle, is the
fountain head whence his mind draws its craving after religious objects
of sight, instead of, in true humility as a member,
"holding fast the (unseen) Head."
19. Translate, "Not holding fast the
Head." He who does not hold Christ solely and supremely above all
others, does not hold Him at all [Bengel]. The want of firm holding of Christ has set
him loose to (pry into, and so) "tread haughtily on (pride himself on)
things which he hath seen." Each must hold fast the Head for himself,
not merely be attached to the other members, however high in the body
from which—rather, "from whom."
the body—that is, all the members of
the body (Eph 4:16).
joints—the points of union where the
supply of nourishment passes to the different members, furnishing the
body with the materials of growth.
bands—the sinews and nerves which bind
together limb and limb. Faith, love, and peace, are the spiritual
bands. Compare "knit together in love" (Col 2:2; Col 3:14; Eph
having nourishment ministered—that is,
supplied to it continually. "Receiving ministration."
knit together—The Greek is
translated, "compacted," Eph 4:16:
implying firm consolidation.
with the increase of God—(Eph 4:16); that is, wrought by God, the
Author and Sustainer of the believer's spiritual life, in union with
Christ, the Head (1Co 3:6); and
tending to the honor of God, being worthy of Him, its Author.
20. Wherefore—The oldest manuscripts
if ye be dead—Greek, "if ye
died (so as to be freed) from," &c. (compare Ro 6:2;
7:2, 3; Ga 2:19).
rudiments of the world—(Col 2:8). Carnal, outward, worldly, legal
as though living—as though you were
not dead to the world like your crucified Lord, into whose death ye
were buried (Ga 6:14; 1Pe 4:1, 2).
are ye subject to ordinances—By do ye
submit to be made subject to ordinances? Referring to Col 2:14: you are again being made subject to
"ordinances," the "handwriting" of which had been "blotted out" (Col 2:14).
21. Compare Col 2:16, "meat … drink." He gives
instances of the "ordinances" (Col 2:20) in the words of their imposers. There
is an ascending climax of superstitious prohibitions. The first
Greek word (hapse) is distinguished from the third
(thiges), in that the former means close contact and
retention: the latter, momentary contact (compare 1Co 7:1;
Joh 20:17, Greek,
"Hold me not"; cling not to me"). Translate, "Handle not,
neither taste, nor even touch." The three refer to meats.
"Handle not" (a stronger term than "nor even touch"),
"nor taste" with the tongue, "nor even touch," however slight
22. Which—things, namely, the three
things handled, touched, and tasted.
are to perish—literally, "are
constituted (by their very nature) for perishing (or 'destruction by
corruption') in (or 'with') their using up (consumption)."
Therefore they cannot really and lastingly defile a man (Mt 15:17; 1Co
after—according to. Referring to Col 2:20,
21. All these "ordinances"
are according to human, not divine, injunction.
Alford translates, "(doctrinal)
23. have—Greek, "are having";
implying the permanent characteristic which these ordinances are
supposed to have.
show of wisdom—rather, "a
reputation of wisdom" [Alford].
worship: would-be worship, devised by man's own will, not
God's. So jealous is God of human will-worship, that He struck Nadab
and Abihu dead for burning strange incense (Le 10:1-3). So Uzziah was stricken with leprosy
for usurping the office of priest (2Ch 26:16-21). Compare the will-worship of Saul
13:8-14) for which he was
doomed to lose his throne. This "voluntary worship" is the counterpart
to their "voluntary humility" (Col 2:18): both specious in appearance, the
former seeming in religion to do even more than God requires (as
in the dogmas of the Roman and Greek churches); but really setting
aside God's will for man's own; the latter seemingly self-abasing, but
really proud of man's self-willed "humility" (Greek, "lowliness
of mind"), while virtually rejecting the dignity of direct communion
with Christ, the Head; by worshipping of angels.
neglecting of the body—Greek,
"not sparing of the body." This asceticism seems to have rested on the
Oriental theory that matter is the source of evil. This also looked
plausible (compare 1Co 9:27).
not in any honour—of the body. As
"neglecting of the body" describes asceticism positively; so
this clause, negatively. Not paying any of that "honor" which is
due to the body as redeemed by such a price as the blood of Christ. We
should not degrade, but have a just estimation of ourselves, not in
ourselves, but in Christ (Ac 13:46; 1Co
3:21; 6:15; 7:23; 12:23, 24; 1Th 4:4). True self-denial regards the spirit,
and not the forms of ascetical self-mortification in "meats which
profit not those occupied therein" (Heb 13:9), and is consistent with Christian
self-respect, the "honor" which belongs to the believer as dedicated to
the Lord. Compare "vainly," Col 2:18.
to the satisfying of the flesh—This
expresses the real tendency of their human ordinances of bodily
asceticism, voluntary humility, and will-worship of angels. While
seeming to deny self and the body, they really are
pampering the flesh. Thus "satisfying of the flesh"
answers to "puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Col 2:18), so that "flesh" is used in its ethical
sense, "the carnal nature" as opposed to the "spiritual"; not in the
sense, "body." The Greek for "satisfying" implies satiating
to repletion, or to excess. "A surfeit of the carnal sense
is human tradition" [Hilary the Deacon,
in Bengel]. Tradition puffs up; it clogs
the heavenly perceptions. They put away true "honor" that they may
"satiate to the full THE FLESH."
Self-imposed ordinances gratify the flesh (namely, self-righteousness),
though seeming to mortify it.