20. Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
20. Si igitur mortui estis cum Christo ab elementis huius mundi, quid tanquam viventibus in mundo decreta vobis perscribuntur?
21. (Touch not, taste not, handle not;
21. Ne esitaveris, ne gustaveris, ne attigeris:
22. Which all are to perish with the using,) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
22. Quae sunt omnia in corrup-tionem ipso abusu, secundum praecepta et doctrines hominum,
23. Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
23. Quae speciem 1 quidem habent sapientiae in superstitione, 2 et humilitate animi, et neglectu corporis: 3 non in honore aliquo ad expletionem carnis. 4
20. If ye are dead. He had previously said, that the ordinances were fastened to the cross of Christ. (Colossians 2:14.) He now employs another figure of speech -- that we are dead to them, as he teaches us elsewhere, that we are dead to the law, and the law, on the other hand, to us. (Galatians 2:19.) The term death means abrogation, 5 but it is more expressive and more emphatic, (
The kingdom of God is not in meat and drink;
likewise in 1 Corinthians. 6 13,
Meat for the belly, and the belly for meats: God will destroy both.
Christ also himself says,
Whatever entereth into the mouth defileth not the man, because it goes down into the belly, and is cast forth.
The sum is this -- that the worship of God, true piety, and the holiness of Christians, do not consist in drink, and food, and clothing, which are things that are transient and liable to corruption, and perish by abuse. For abuse is properly applicable to those things which are corrupted by the use of them. Hence enactments are of no value in reference to those things which tend to excite scruples of conscience. But in Popery you would scarcely find any other holiness, than what consists in little observances of corruptible things.
A second refutation is added 8 -- that they originated with men, and have not God as their Author; and by this thunderbolt he prostrates and swallows up all traditions of men. For why? This is Paul's reasoning: "Those who bring consciences into bondage do injury to Christ, and make void his death. For whatever is of human invention does not bind conscience."
23. Which have indeed a show. Here we have the anticipation of an objection, in which, while he concedes to his adversaries what they allege, he at the same time reckons it wholly worthless. For it is as though he had said, that he does not regard their having a show of wisdom. But show is placed in contrast with reality, for it is an appearance, as they commonly speak, which deceives by resemblance. 9
Observe, however, of what colors this
The second is humility, inasmuch as obedience both to God and men is pretended, so that men do not refuse even unreasonable burdens. 11 And for the most part traditions of this kind are of such a nature as to appear to be admirable exercises of humility.
They allure, also, by means of a third pretext, inasmuch as they seem to be of the greatest avail for the mortification of the flesh, while there is no sparing of the body. Paul, however, bids farewell to those disguises, for
what is in high esteem among men is often an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16 15.)
Farther, that is a treacherous obedience, and a perverse and sacrilegious humility, which transfers to men the authority of God; and neglect of the body is not of so great importance, as to be worthy to be set forth to admiration as the service of God.
Some one, however, will feel astonished, that Paul does not take more pains in pulling off those masks. I answer, that he on good grounds rests contented with the simple term show. For the principles which he had taken as opposed to this are incontrovertible -- that the body is in Christ, and that, consequently, those do nothing but impose upon miserable men, who set before them shadows. Secondly, the spiritual kingdom of Christ is by no means taken up with frail and corruptible elements. Thirdly, by the death of Christ such observances were put an end to, that we might have no connection with them; and, fourthly, God is our only Lawgiver. (Isaiah 33:22.) Whatever may be brought forward on the other side, let it have ever so much splendor, is fleeting show.
Secondly, he reckoned it enough to admonish the Colossians, not to be deceived by the putting forth of empty things. There was no necessity for dwelling at greater length in reproving them. For it should be a settled point among all the pious, that the worship of God ought not to be measured according to our views; and that, consequently, any kind of service is not lawful, simply on the ground that it is agreeable to us. This, also, ought to be a commonly received point -- that we owe to God such humility as to yield obedience simply to his commands, so as not to lean to our own understanding, etc., (Proverbs 3:5,) -- and that the limit of humility towards men is this -- that each one submit himself to others in love. Now, when they contend that the wantonness of the flesh is repressed by abstinence from meats, the answer is easy -- that we must not therefore abstain from any particular food as being unclean, but must eat sparingly of what we do eat of, both in order that we may soberly and temperately make use of the gifts of God, and that we may not, impeded by too much food and drink, forget those things that are God's. Hence it was enough to say that these 12 were masks, that the Colossians, being warned, might be on their guard against false pretexts.
Thus, at the present day, Papists are not in want of specious pretexts, by which to set forth their own laws, however they may be -- some of them impious and tyrannical, and others of them silly and trifling. When, however, we have granted them everything, there remains, nevertheless, this refutation by Paul, which is of itself more than sufficient for dispelling all their smoky vapours; 13 not to say how far removed they 14 are from so honorable an appearance as that which Paul describes. The principal holiness of the Papacy, 15 at the present day, consists in monkhood, and of what nature that is, I am ashamed and grieved to make mention, lest I should stir up so abominable an odour. Farther, it is of importance to consider here, how prone, nay, how forward the mind of man is to artificial modes of worship. For the Apostle here graphically describes 16 the state of the old system of monkhood, which came into use a hundred years after his death, as though he had never spoken a word. The zeal of men, therefore, for superstition is surpassingly mad, which could not be restrained by so plain a declaration of God from breaking forth, as historical records testify.
Not in any honor. Honour means care, according to the usage of the Hebrew tongue. Honour widows, (1 Timothy 5:3,) that is, take care of them. Now Paul finds fault with this, that they 17 teach to leave off care for the body. For as God forbids us to indulge the body unduly, so he commands that these be given it as much as is necessary for it. Hence Paul, in Romans 13:14, does not expressly condemn care for the flesh, but such as indulges lusts.
1 "Espece, ou, forme;" -- "Appearance, or form."
2 "Superstition, or will-worship."
3 "En mespris du corps, ou, en ce qu'elles n'espargnent le corps;" -- "In contempt of the body, or, inasmuch as they do not spare the body."
4 "Sans aucun honneur a rassasier la chair, ou, et ne ont aucun esgard au rassasiement d'iceluy: ou, mais ne font d'aucune estime, n'appartenans qu'a ce qui remplit le corps;" -- "Without any honour to the satisfying of the flesh, or, and they have no regard to the satisfying of it, or, but they hold it in no esteem, not caring as to what fills the body."
5 "Et abolissement;" -- "And abolishment."
6 An example occurs in Homer's Odyssey, (6: 60,)
7 "The passage referred to is as follows: -- "
8 "Le second argument par lequel il refute telles ordonnances, est;" -- "The second argument by which he sets aside such enactments, is."
9 "Par similitude qu'elle ha auec la verite;" -- "By the resemblance which it bears to the reality."
10 "Le seruice forgé a plaisir, c'est a dire inuenté par les hommes;" -- "Worship contrived at pleasure, that is to say, invented by men."
11 "Iniques et dures a porter;" -- "Unreasonable and hard to be borne."
12 "Ces traditions;" -- "These traditions."
13 "Tous les brouillars desquels ils taschent d'esblouir les yeux au poure monde;" -- "All the mists by which they endeavor to blind the eyes of the poor world."
14 "Leurs traditions;" -- "Their traditions."
15 "La premiere et la principale honnestete et sainctete de la Papaute;" -- "The first and principal decency and sanctity of the Papacy."
16 "Peind yci au vif;" -- "Paints here to the life."
17 "Les traditions;" -- "The traditions."