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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-23

II 1-7 St Paul’s care for all, especially for the Colosslans— 3. It is in Christ, then, and not in some coterie of false teachers, that all the ’treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ are hidden. 5b. ’Beholding your order’— a metaphor based on the ranks (t????) and strong united force of soldiers (ste???µa). He is not dismayed. He has the report from Ephaphras, and he sees them as a disciplined body presenting a bold front to adversaries.

6-7. He ends the doctrinal part with an appeal for loyalty to Christ: the root of their religious life, the principle of their cohesion and progress in Christ.

8-III 4 Polemical. False Wisdom and the True—8. Erroneous Teaching. The time has come to confront the false teaching. Though it goes by the name of philosophy (the only mention of the word in the Bible), it is really a kind of bait for error—’an empty deceit —based on ’the traditions of men’ (contrast 6a), closely allied to the ’elements of the world’. This last expression seems to denote observance of days, months and years (16b). In other words, the clements are connected with the sun and moon, or with cosmic forces generally. Chrysostom, ’By elements of the world he means the sun and moon’. The Greek word st???e???? meant the first step in anything; hence the cosmic forces of nature, or the A B C of knowledge (cf. KNT Gal 4:3: ’the schoolroom tasks’).

9-10 True Wisdom Life in Christ— 9. ’For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporeally.’ On ’fulness’, see on 1:19. ’Godhead’ translates a Greek word (Te?t??) which is a hapax legomenon in the Bible. It denotes the Divine Nature itself (cf. Prat II, 152). And the significance of’ all ’before’ the fulness is to denote each and all of the divine perfections in their highest degree (infinity). The complete Divine Nature, then, abides permanently (?at???e?) in Christ; it also abides ’corporeally’. This last expression means ’in a body, in the form of a body’. The text teaches that the Divinity and Humanity are united in the one person of Christ—as the soul by dwelling in the body constitutes with it one single principle. Prat: ’Your pretended philosophy, said St Paul, is only a vain deceit; you will linger in elementary, childish doctrines; you ask for the protectors and mediators of a chimerical world of the imagination, and you neglect him in whom, in a visible and tangible form, free from error and illusion, dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. As he possesses this absolute plenitude permanently, he will cause it to flow out upon you in spiritual graces, and you can therefore dispense with all other intercessors.’ 10a. ’And you are filled in him’; by reason of their incorporation in Christ they are filled with all his fulness (cf.Eph 1:23). Cf. §

11-15 Baptism and Its Effects— 11. With Circumcision he constrasts the spiritual circumcision instituted by Christ—Baptism.

12. In describing the effects of Baptism the Apostle uses again the symbolism of Rom 6:3 ff.

13. He dwells on the note of forgiveness.

14. He uses a metaphor drawn from ’the handwriting with its decree that was against us’. The ’handwriting’, lit. something written out by hand; hence usually an indenture of debt. See 1:20. On the Cross God swept away the Mosaic Law and all its demands.

15. It follows that God despoiled the ’principalities and powers’. At this point the Apostle uses a metaphor taken from a Roman triumph. Having stripped the angels God exposes them ’in public’ (DV ’confidently’) in the triumphal procession.

16-23 Erroneous Practices— 16. Between the bodily asceticism (concerning meat and drink) and the observance of Jewish festival days the bond of connexion seems to have been observance of the Jewish Law.

17. But all this was useful and good only in so far as it was a ’shadow’ of the future salvation; salvation through Christ is ’the reality’ (DV ’body’), cf.Heb. 10:1.

18. ’Let no one cheat you of your prize, delighting in self-abasement and worship of angels and "taking his stand" on what he hath seen, foolishly swollen with his fleshy conceit’ (WV). This reading omits with the most important Greek MSS the negative before ’seen’. 19. No need for an external Jewish practice, or even for an angel to come between a Christian and Christ. From the Head the whole Body receives its life, cohesion and growth. The description is almost the same as Eph 4:16, with the difference that there the Apostle emphasizes the union of the members between themselves, while here his thought is of their dependence on the Head.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Colossians 2". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/colossians-2.html. 1951.
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