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9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.


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The Glory of the Christian Economy. (a. d. 62.)

4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.   5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.   6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:   7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.   8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.   9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.   10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:   11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:   12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

The apostle cautions the Colossians against deceivers (v. 4): And this I say lest any man beguile you with enticing words; and v. 8, Lest any man spoil you. He insists so much upon the perfection of Christ and the gospel revelation, to preserve them from the ensnaring insinuations of those who would corrupt their principles. Note, 1. The way in which Satan spoils souls is by beguiling them. He deceives them, and by this means slays them. He is the old serpent who beguiled Eve through his subtlety, 2 Cor. xi. 3. He could not ruin us if he did not cheat us; and he could not cheat us but by our own fault and folly. 2. Satan's agents, who aim to spoil them, beguile them with enticing words. See the danger of enticing words; how many are ruined by the flattery of those who lie in wait to deceive, and by the false disguises and fair appearances of evil principles and wicked practices. By good words, and fair speeches, they deceive the hearts of the simple, Rom. xvi. 18. "You ought to stand upon your guard against enticing words, and be aware and afraid of those who would entice you to any evil; for that which they aim at is to spoil you." If sinners entice thee, consent thou not, Prov. i. 10. Observe,

I. A sovereign antidote against seducers (v. 6, 7): As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him, rooted and built up, &c. Here note, 1. All Christians have, in profession at least, received Jesus Christ the Lord, received him as Christ, the great prophet of the church, anointed by God to reveal his will; as Jesus the great high priest, and Saviour from sin and wrath, by the expiatory sacrifice of himself; and as Lord, or sovereign and king, whom we are to obey and be subject to.—Received him, consented to him, taken him for ours in every relation and every capacity, and for all the purposes and uses of them. 2. The great concern of those who have received Christ is to walk in him—to make their practices conformable to their principles and their conversation agreeable to their engagements. As we have received Christ, or consented to be his, so we must walk with him in our daily course and keep up our communion with him. 3. The more closely we walk with Christ the more we are rooted and established in the faith. A good conversation is the best establishment of a good faith. If we walk in him, we shall be rooted in him; and the more firmly we are rooted in him the more closely we shall walk in him: Rooted and built up. Observe, We cannot be built up in Christ, unless we be first rooted in him. We must be united to him by a lively faith, and heartily consent to his covenant, and then we shall grow up in him in all things.As you have been taught—"according to the rule of the Christian doctrine, in which you have been instructed." Observe, A good education has a good influence upon our establishment. We must be established in the faith, as we have been taught, abounding therein. Observe, Being established in the faith, we must abound therein, and improve in it more and more; and this with thanksgiving. The way to have the benefit and comfort of God's grace is to be much in giving thanks for it. We must join thanksgiving to all our improvements, and be sensible of the mercy of all our privileges and attainments. Observe,

II. The fair warning given us of our danger: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, v. 8. There is a philosophy which is a noble exercise of our reasonable faculties, and highly serviceable to religion, such a study of the works of God as leads us to the knowledge of God and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful, which is prejudicial to religion, and sets up the wisdom of man in competition with the wisdom of God, and while it pleases men's fancies ruins their faith; as nice and curious speculations about things above us, or of no use and concern to us; or a care of words and terms of art, which have only an empty and often a cheating appearance of knowledge. After the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world: this plainly reflects upon the Jewish pedagogy or economy, as well as the Pagan learning. The Jews governed themselves by the traditions of their elders and the rudiments or elements of the world, the rites and observances which were only preparatory and introductory to the gospel state; the Gentiles mixed their maxims of philosophy with their Christian principles; and both alienated their minds from Christ. Those who pin their faith on other men's sleeves, and walk in the way of the world, have turned away from following after Christ. The deceivers were especially the Jewish teachers, who endeavoured to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ, but really in competition with it and contradiction to it. Now here the apostle shows,

1. That we have in Christ the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law; for example, (1.) Had they then the Shechinah, or special presence of God, called the glory, from the visible token of it? So have we now in Jesus Christ (v. 9): For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Under the law, the presence of God dwelt between the cherubim, in a cloud which covered the mercy-seat; but now it dwells in the person of our Redeemer, who partakes of our nature, and is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and has more clearly declared the Father to us. It dwells in him bodily; not as the body is opposed to the spirit, but as the body is opposed to the shadow. The fulness of the Godhead dwells in the Christ really, and not figuratively; for he is both God and man. (2.) Had they circumcision, which was the seal of the covenant? In Christ we are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (v. 11), by the work of regeneration in us, which is the spiritual or Christian circumcision. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, Rom. ii. 29. This is owing to Christ, and belongs to the Christian dispensation. It is made without hands; not by the power of any creature, but by the power of the blessed Spirit of God. We are born of the Spirit, John iii. 5. And it is the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Tit. iii. 5. It consists in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, in renouncing sin and reforming our lives, not in mere external rites. It is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God, 1 Pet. iii. 21. And it is not enough to put away some one particular sin, but we must put off the whole body of sin. The old man must be crucified, and the body of sin destroyed, Rom. vi. 6. Christ was circumcised, and, by virtue of our union to him, we partake of that effectual grace which puts off the body of the sins of the flesh. Again, The Jews thought themselves complete in the ceremonial law; but we are complete in Christ, v. 10. That was imperfect and defective; if the first covenant had been faultless, there would no place have been sought for the second (Heb. viii. 7), and the law was but a shadow of good things, and could never, by those sacrifices, make the comers thereunto perfect, Heb. x. 1. But all the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by the complete sacrifice for sin and revelation of the will of God. Which is the head of all principality and power. As the Old-Testament priesthood had its perfection in Christ, so likewise had the kingdom of David, which was the eminent principality and power under the Old Testament, and which the Jews valued themselves so much upon. And he is the Lord and head of all the powers in heaven and earth, of angels and men. Angels, and authorities, and powers are subject to him, 1 Pet. iii. 22.

2. We have communion with Christ in his whole undertaking (v. 12): Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you have risen with him. We are both buried and rise with him, and both are signified by our baptism; not that there is anything in the sign or ceremony of baptism which represents this burying and rising, any more than the crucifixion of Christ is represented by any visible resemblance in the Lord's supper: and he is speaking of the circumcision made without hands; and says it is through the faith of the operation of God. But the thing signified by our baptism is that we are buried with Christ, as baptism is the seal of the covenant and an obligation to our dying to sin; and that we are raised with Christ, as it is a seal and obligation to our living to righteousness, or newness of life. God in baptism engages to be to us a God, and we become engaged to be his people, and by his grace to die to sin and to live to righteousness, or put off the old man and put on the new.

The Glory of the Christian Economy. (a. d. 62.)

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;   14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;   15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

The apostle here represents the privileges we Christians have above the Jews, which are very great.

I. Christ's death is our life: And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, v. 13. A state of sin is a state of spiritual death. Those who are in sin are dead in sin. As the death of the body consists in its separation from the soul, so the death of the soul consists in its separation from God and the divine favour. As the death of the body is the corruption and putrefaction of it, so sin is the corruption or depravation of the soul. As a man who is dead is unable to help himself by any power of his own, so an habitual sinner is morally impotent: though he has a natural power, or the power of a reasonable creature, he has not a spiritual power, till he has the divine life or a renewed nature. It is principally to be understood of the Gentile world, who lay in wickedness. They were dead in the uncircumcision of their flesh, being aliens to the covenant of promise, and without God in the world, Eph. ii. 11, 12. By reason of their uncircumcision they were dead in their sins. It may be understood of the spiritual uncircumcision or corruption of nature; and so it shows that we are dead in law, and dead in state. Dead in law, as a condemned malefactor is called a dead man because he is under a sentence of death; so sinners by the guilt of sin are under the sentence of the law and condemned already, John iii. 18. And dead in state, by reason of the uncircumcision of our flesh. An unsanctified heart is called an uncircumcised heart: this is our state. Now through Christ we, who were dead in sins, are quickened; that is, effectual provision is made for taking away the guilt of sin, and breaking the power and dominion of it. Quickened together with him—by virtue of our union to him, and in conformity to him. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls.

II. Through him we have the remission of sin: Having forgiven you all trespasses. This is our quickening. The pardon of the crime is the life of the criminal: and this is owing to the resurrection of Christ, as well as his death; for, as he died for our sins, so he rose again for our justification, Rom. iv. 25.

III. Whatever was in force against us is taken out of the way. He has obtained for us a legal discharge from the hand-writing of ordinances, which was against us (v. 14), which may be understood, 1. Of that obligation to punishment in which consists the guilt of sin. The curse of the law is the hand-writing against us, like the hand-writing on Belshazzar's wall. Cursed is every one who continues not in every thing. This was a hand-writing which was against us, and contrary to us; for it threatened our eternal ruin. This was removed when he redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal. iii. 13. He cancelled the obligation for all who repent and believe. "Upon me be the curse, my father." He vacated and disannulled the judgment which was against us. When he was nailed to the cross, the curse was as it were nailed to the cross. And our indwelling corruption is crucified with Christ, and by virtue of his cross. When we remember the dying of the Lord Jesus, and see him nailed to the cross, we should see the hand-writing against us taken out of the way. Or rather, 2. It must be understood of the ceremonial law, the hand-writing of ordinances, the ceremonial institutions or the law of commandments contained in ordinances (Eph. ii. 15), which was a yoke to the Jews and a partition-wall to the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus took it out of the way, nailed it to his cross; that is, disannulled the obligation of it, that all might see and be satisfied that it was no more binding. When the substance came, the shadows fled away. It is abolished (2 Cor. iii. 13), and that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away, Heb. viii. 13. The expressions are in allusion to the ancient methods of cancelling a bond, either by crossing the writing or striking it through with a nail.

IV. He has obtained a glorious victory for us over the powers of darkness: And, having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it, v. 15. As the curse of the law was against us, so the power of Satan was against us. He treated with God as the Judge, and redeemed us out of the hands of his justice by a price; but out of the hands of Satan the executioner he redeemed us by power and with a high hand. He led captivity captive. The devil and all the powers of hell were conquered and disarmed by the dying Redeemer. The first promise pointed at this; the bruising of the heel of Christ in his sufferings was the breaking of the serpent's head, Gen. iii. 15. The expressions are lofty and magnificent: let us turn aside and see this great sight. The Redeemer conquered by dying. See his crown of thorns turned into a crown of laurels. He spoiled them, broke the devil's power, and conquered and disabled him, and made a show of them openly—exposed them to public shame, and made a show of them to angels and men. Never had the devil's kingdom such a mortal blow given to it as was given by the Lord Jesus. He tied them to his chariot-wheels, and rode forth conquering and to conquer—alluding to the custom of a general's triumph, who returned victorious.—Triumphing over them in it; that is, either in his cross and by his death; or, as some read it, in himself, by his own power; for he trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him.




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