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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

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I. Paul's Concern For Christians Of The Lycus Valley: 2:1

A. His Desire For Their Encouragement: 2:2

B. His Desire That They Realize That All True Knowledge and Wisdom are Found in Christ: 2:2-3

C. His Desire That They Resist False But Persuasive Arguments: 2:4

II. Antidotes To Error: 2:5-8

A. Firmness In The Faith: 2:5

B. Holding On To the Same Jesus Preached To Them: 2:6

C. Gratitude: 2:7

D. The True Nature Of False Doctrine-Empty Arguments/Mere Human Tradition/Anything But Wise: 2:8


'In the previous paragraph (1:24-29) Paul spoke in general terms of his apostolic service. His ministry to the Gentile congregations included the Colossians (vv 24-25). Now he turns to them in direct personal address...with the aim of strengthening the bond between the Colossian believers, whom he had not met previously, and himself. By means of a form used in the letter-writing convention of his day he wishes to instruct them in an important matter.' (O'Brien p. 91)

'Here is a brief lifting of the curtain and a poignant glimpse into Paul's heart. He is going through a struggle for these Christians whom he had never seen but whom he loved. He associates the Laodicaeans with the Colossians, and speaks of all those who had never seen his face. He is thinking of the Christians in that group of three towns in the Lycus valley, Laodicaea, Hierapolis and Colosse..and picturing them in his mind's eye.' (Barclay pp. 127-128)


I. Complete In Christ: 2:9-15

A. He Is The Fullness of God: 2:9

B. He Is The Final Authority: 2:10

C. In Him Is Found The True Circumcision: 2:11-13

D. In Him Is Found Release From The Law Of Moses: 2:14

E. In Him Is Found Victory Over Hostile Spiritual Forces: 2:15


'One thing clear is that the false teachers wished the Colossians to accept what can only be called "additions to Christ"...They wished to teach men an additional philosophy (verse 8). As they saw it, the simple truth preached by Jesus and preserved in the gospel was not enough. It had to be filled out by an elaborate system of pseudo-philosophical thought...They wished to impose circumcision on Christians (verse 11)...They wished to lay down ascetic rules and regulations (verses 16, 20-23)...They wished to introduce the worship of angels (verse 18)...The one thing certain is that the false teachers taught that Jesus Christ and his teaching and work were not in themselves sufficient for salvation.' (Barclay pp. 134-135)


I. Warning Against Regressing: 2:16-23

A. Regressing Back To The Law of Moses: 2:16-17

B. Regressing Back To Angelic Worship/Being Influenced By the Arrogant Claims of False Teachers: 2:18-19

C. Regressing Back To Asceticism: 2:20-23


Great spiritual truths always have very practical benefits and applications ( Rom_12:1 ff). Paul has already stated that Christ released us from the demands of the Law of Moses (2:14). Now he gives some practical applications. Carefully note, God doesn't always leave the reader to simply draw his own conclusions. Just in case these Christians (and us) fail to draw the right conclusions and logical ramifications from 2:14, God draws the proper applications for us.

Here we also learn that 'Bad theology leads to bad practice.' The false notions about the person and work of Christ, which are corrected in the positive affirmations of chapter 2:8-15, gave their inevitable corollary in these unusual aberrations on the practical side..' (O'Brien p. 137)

Verse 1

Col_2:1 For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

'FOR I WOULD HAVE YOU KNOW' -Paul always wanted his brethren to be informed ( Rom_1:13 ; Rom_11:25 ; 1Co_10:1 ; 1Co_11:3 ; 1Co_12:1 ; 2Co_1:8 ; 1Th_4:3 ). Paul likes everything in the open, upfront and fully known.

'HOW GREATLY I STRIVE FOR YOU' -'what a battle I am fighting for you' (Wms); 'what anxiety I feel over you' (Knox). Notice Paul's honesty and transparency.

'STRIVE' -73. agon ag-one'; from 71; properly, a place of assembly (as if led), i.e. (by implication) a contest (held there); figuratively, an effort or anxiety: -conflict, contention, fight, race.

-'Here of inward conflict, anxiety, prayer, as in 4:12.' (Vincent p. 482)

Points to Note:

1. 'the energy and abruptness of language characterizing this second chapter bear witness to the inward wrestling which the Colossian difficulty occasioned in the apostle's mind.' (P.P. Comm. p. 82)

2. 'In the previous paragraph he has stated the strenuous character of his ministry (1:29); here he gives a specific instance . There he referred to his outward activities; here he reveals the anxieties and struggles of his sould...There later he would not conceal. He wishes his readers to "know" and appreciate them. It may lead them to realize the seriousness of their situation and the peril in which they stand.' (Erdman p. 67)

3. Paul was even concerned about the spiritual state of churches he hadn't personally founded ( 2Co_11:28 'concern for all the churches.'). 'He had no little jealousies and no favourtism, but all the believing communities, whatever their age, place, or origin, found in him immediate sympathy and co-operation.' (Eadie p. 104)

4. 'means deep and earnest solicitude, accompanied with toil and peril. Php_1:30 ; 1Th_2:2 ; 1Ti_6:12 .' (Eadie p. 105)

5. 'He must have longed to go to Colosse himself. He must have longed to face the false teachers and deal with their arguments and recall those who were straying from the truth. But he was in prison. There had come a time when there was nothing left to do but to prayer..' (Barclay p. 128)

6. There is no such thing as an "easy" Christianity. Too many are looking for a membership in the body of Christ with no emotional strings attached. N.T. Christianity involves being emotionally involved in the ups and downs of God's people ( Rom_12:15 ).

7. Paul's example leaves us without any excuse. We aren't in prison, we are free. So what is our excuse for not sharing the gospel with the lost and for not trying to bring the wayward back? ( Gal_6:1 ; Mat_18:15 ; Jam_5:19-20 )

'AND FOR THEM AT LAODICEA, AND FOR AS MANY AS HAVE NOT SEEN MY FACE IN THE FLESH' -'for all who do not know me personally' (Gspd); 'haven't seen me face to face' (Beck).

'THEM AT LAODICEA' -'is also mentioned, from its proximity to Colosse, and perhaps because it was exposed to similar seductions.' (Eadie p. 106) 'The danger which had come to a head in Colossae was doubtless threatening its neighbors.' (P.P. Comm. p. 82)

'AND FOR AS MANY' -Including the members at Hierapolis (4:13), the other congregation located in the Lycus valley. 'Including all who come under the same category as the Colossians and Laodicaeans. Hence equivalent to "all who, like yourselves, have not seen..' (Vincent p. 482)


Points to Note:

1. Paul knew some of the members here, (i.e. Philemon). But the vast majority he had never met.

2. It appears that Paul may have passed through the city of Colossae in past years ( Act_18:23 /19:1), but this appears to have occurred prior to any congregation being established in Colossae ( Act_19:10 ).


Verse 2

Col_2:2 that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ,

'THAT' -'I want them to' (NEB) 'The purpose of Paul's striving' (Hendriksen p. 103)

'THEIR HEARTS' -'Their minds and wills as well as their emotions were included in the term "hearts".' (Erdman p. 68) 'Embraces also the intellect and the will .' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 518)

'MAY BE' -Even the apostle Paul couldn't force spiritual maturity of any Christian. Human freewill must always be factored in.

'COMFORTED' -3870. parakaleo par-ak-al-eh'-o; from 3844 and 2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): -beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort(-ation), intreat, pray.

-'Not so much tranquillized as braced.' (Vincent p. 482) 'The word here denotes "not relief but reinforcement."' (Erdman pp. 67-68) ( Col_4:8 ; Eph_6:22 ; 2Th_2:17 )

Points to Note:

1. In the fact of opposition and false teaching, Paul prays that these Christians are unmoved and unnerved. 'the idea of enabling a person to meet some difficult situation with confidence and gallantry...fill with that courage which can cope with any situation.' (Barclay p. 129)

2. False doctrine, confrontation and controversy can be distracting and unsettling. Paul prays that in the midst of turmoil, these Christians would remain confident and unmoved in their hearts. In addition, error in the church can be discouraging.

3. False teachers also tend to play "mind-games" with those they are trying to deceive. Paul prays that the Colossians would remain mentally sound in the faith, quick to discern truth from error ( Heb_5:12-14 ); and that they would carefully examine any claims ( Act_17:11 ; 1Th_5:21-22 ; 1Jn_4:1 ). We might say, 'In the midst of confusion, that you would keep your head on straight,' ( Eph_4:14 )

'THEY BEING KNIT TOGETHER IN LOVE' -'bound to one another by love' (TCNT); 'welded together in love' (Wey).

'KNIT TOGETHER' -4822. sumbibazo soom-bib-ad'-zo; from 4862 and bibazo (to force; causative [by reduplication] of the base of 939); to drive together, i.e. unite (in association or affection), (mentally) to infer, show, teach: -compact, assuredly gather, intrust, knit together, prove.

-(2:19 'held together'; Eph_4:16 ).

'IN LOVE' -( Col_3:14 'the perfect bond of unity').

Points to Note:

1. False teachers often try to play one member against another. 'There may be a reference to the divisive tendencies of the false teaching.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 518)

2. Eadie remarks, 'The entrance of error naturally begets suspicion and alienation. One wonders if his neighor is infected, and how far ...Expressions are too carefully weighed...A sinister construction is apt to be put upon the slightest actions..' (p. 107) This is an excellent observation. When a certain error hits the church, at times members are too quick to jump to conclusions, too quick to divide, too quick to write other members and whole congregations off, too quick to assume that someone accepts the error, without really talking to them about what they really believe. And the ever famous, too quick to swallow gossip about another congregation or another Christian.

3. Rather, Paul prays that love between Christians will be strong in Colossae. In the midst of error, members will remember to practice 1Co_13:4-8 .

4. We need to apply these things among ourselves: (a) Let's not gossip or secretly rejoice when a brother or sister goes into error, let's be resolved to give the devil a real fight when he tries to snatch a member from the flock. Which means that every effort is made to bring that valuable soul back to the truth ( Jam_5:19-20 ). (b) Let us also be resolved to make every effort to bring back erring congregations, i.e. try to get our foot in the door to give them some good teaching, before we write them off as people not interested in the truth.

'AND UNTO ALL RICHES OF THE FULL ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING' -'and keeping in view the full blessedness of a firm conviction' (TCNT); 'I long for you to grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp' (Phi); 'and to come to the full wealth of conviction which understanding brings' (NEB); 'May they have all the wealth of conviction that comes from insight!' (Mof)

'ALL RICHES' -'and attaining to all the wealth' (NASV). The Bible often talks about the "riches", "blessings" or "wealth" available to those in Christ ( Eph_1:3 ). Contrary to the claims of the world, being a Christian isn't the deprived life.

'FULL ASSURANCE' -( Heb_6:11 ; Heb_10:22 ).

'UNDERSTANDING' -4907. sunesis soon'-es-is; from 4920; a mental putting together, i.e. intelligence or (concretely) the intellect: -knowledge, understanding.

Points to Note:

1. You can't put a price tag on a full and settled conviction in the truth. Real faith is the most valuable asset that one can possess ( Heb_11:1 ff).

2. 'If a man possesses not this conviction--what he holds today be modified or explained away to-morrow....And as the mental energy is frittered away by such indecision, the mind becomes specially susceptible of foreign influence and impression...It was the apostle's earnest desire that the Colossian church...should assuredly understand (Christianity)...its facts their evidence--its doctrines and their connections--its promises and their basis...The fixed knowledge of those things would fortify their minds against the seductive insinuations of false teachers..' (Eadie p. 108) ( 2Ti_3:7 'always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.')

3. In contrast to what Paul desired, we hear many religious people claiming that true "spirituality" is when you give up the concept of absolute truth. Carefully note that Paul desired that Christians would have settled, black and white convictions. God expects the Christian to come to a full and definite knowledge of the truth ( 1Ti_2:4 ). God believes that the Bible is so clear that the Christian can settle "doctrine" once and for all.

'THAT THEY MAY' -'Paul desires the full use of the intellect in grasping the great mystery of Christ and it calls for the full and balanced exercise of all one's mental powers.' (Robertson p. 488)

'KNOW' -1922. epignosis ep-ig'-no-sis; from 1921; recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: -(ac-)knowledge(-ing, -ment).

'THE MYSTERY OF GOD' -Yes, God does have a mystery. But not a mystery that is only for the elite. And neither is it a mystery that is designed to remain a mystery. 'The word "mystery" has its usual New Testament meaning. It describes something once hidden but now disclosed--something, too, which is not to be kept secret but which is to be made known.' (Erdman p. 68)


Points to Note:

1. '"Unto full knowledge". This use of 'epignosis' (full, additional knowledge) is Paul's reply to the Gnostics with the limited and perverted 'gnosis' (knowledge).' (Robertson p. 488)

2. Christ is the focal point of God's once hidden mystery. Without Jesus Christ, you can't fully understand the purpose of God. For in Jesus Christ, God is perfectly manifested ( Joh_1:18 ; Joh_14:6 ) 'He is the supreme and essential revelation.' (Erdman p. 68)

Verse 3

Col_2:3 in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.

'IN WHOM' -i.e. in Christ.


'WISDOM' -4678. sophia sof-ee'-ah; from 4680; wisdom (higher or lower, worldly or spiritual): -wisdom.

'KNOWLEDGE' -1108. gnosis gno'-sis; from 1097; knowing (the act), i.e. (by implication) knowledge: -knowledge, science.

Points to Note:

1. '"knowledge" refers to the apprehending of truths; "wisdom" to the power of reasoning about thme and applying them to life...Paul is insisting that the whole wealth of spiritual insight which men need, the beliefs concerning God which they should hold, and the laws of conduct by which they are to be guided are all stored up for them in Christ.' (Erdman p. 68)

2. 'Now wisdom is the ability, in concrete situations, to apply knowledge to the best advantage.' (Hendriksen p. 105)

3. 'Knowledge is the study, wisdom its fruit.' (Eadie p. 111)

4. This verse definitely shuts the door on many of the false teachers claims: (a) "all" wisdom and knowledge, all that is essential for pleasing God, is found in Christ ( 2Pe_1:3 ; Joh_16:13 ). Hence whatever "knowledge and wisdom" the false teachers were selling was useless. (b) The search for wisdom and knowledge, apart from Jesus Christ, is a task doomed to failure. (c) The wisdom the false teachers claimed was found in their secret books. But true wisdom is found in Jesus Christ.

5. '"In him" the apostle finds what false teachers sought elsewhere, a satisfaction for the intellect as well as for the heart.' (P.P. Comm. p. 83)

6. When someone claims that the Bible isn't intellectually stimulating enough. We automatically know that the person making the claim isn't as smart as they claim to be. We know that something is seriously wrong with their study methods. We also know that their desire for truth isn't as strong as it should be.

'HIDDEN' -614. apokruphos ap-ok'-roo-fos; from 613; secret; by implication, treasured: -hid, kept secret.

Points to Note:

1. If such wealth is found in Christ, then it is available for anyone who wants it.

2. But the word "hidden" infers: (a) That while such truth is available for anyone. It isn't inherently within us or easily discovered by intuition ( 1Co_2:6-9 ; Jer_10:23 ). We must come to Christ for it. (b) It isn't available for lazy people or people who don't have a love for truth ( 2Ti_2:15 ; 2Th_2:10-12 ). (c) Anyone can gain this treasure, that is, anyone willing to dig for it ( Heb_5:12-14 ).

3. Bible study shouldn't be a chore or simply something to be done, a mere duty to be performed. Within Christ's revelation are found abundant treasures, all spiritual truth that is worth knowing. The most important concepts and realities of life. And it's not mere information, it is the truth that can liberate you from sin ( Joh_8:32 ), the message that can save your soul ( Jam_1:21 ).

4. This verse also infers: (a) The human mind can comprehend and correctly interpret God's revelation-i.e. the revelation that God gave is perfectly fitted for the man that God created. (b) No other revelation from God is needed. Which places all latter-day revelations (The Book of Mormon, etc...) out in the cold.

Verse 4

Col_2:4 This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech.

'THIS I SAY' -'What I mean is this' (Bruce p. 92). The reason that Paul has emphasized that all spiritual truth is found in Jesus Christ.

'DELUDE YOU' -3884. paralogizomai par-al-og-id'-zom-ahee; from 3844 and 3049; to misreckon, i.e. delude: -beguile, deceive.

-God often has the apostles warn Christians against the danger of being deceived ( 1Co_6:9 ; Eph_5:6 ). We can't be naive and think that everyone in the religious world is telling the truth. We must learn to check all the various claims that we encounter ( Act_17:11 ; 1Th_5:21-22 ). And carefully note that nowhere has God ever required us to believe and accept everything that is claimed by religious people ( 1Jn_4:1 ; Rev_2:2 ).

'PERSUASIVENESS OF SPEECH' -4086. pithanologia pith-an-ol-og-ee'-ah; from a compound of a derivative of 3982 and 3056; persuasive language: -enticing words.

-'this was a word of the law-courts; it was the word used for the persuasive power of a lawyer's arguments, which could enable the criminal to escape his just punishment.' (Barclay p. 131)

-'their danger, then, was that of being deceived...by the plausible arguments..and also by their suave language. They were in peril of accepting doctrines as true without understanding their real nature and consequences .' (Erdman p. 69)

-'don't let anyone talk you round with plausible arguments.' (Hendriksen p. 92)

-'The new teachers were fluent, specious reasoners, and had a store of sophistical arguments at command. The tense of the verb indicates an apprehension as to what may be now going on.' (P.P. Comm. pp. 83-84)

Points to Note:

1. Christians need the same warning today. Paul is admonishing the Colossians, ' You have the truth, all of it--they don't!' And boy do we need to hear the same admonition: 'Christian, the world is backward-you're not, the world is in the dark ages, not you, the world is behind the times, the message the world has is irrelevant, but not the truth, the truth you possess is always exactly what the time and culture you happen to live in--needs to hear!'

2. And oh do we need to know what the Bible actually teaches. This verse infers: (a) False teachers are sharp! (b) Many of their arguments sound really good. Many of their arguments even sound logical and very intellectual. (c) You need to have a firm grasp of the truth found in Jesus Christ, because, with your own wisdom--you will be at a huge disadvantage ( 2Pe_2:1-3 ; Rom_16:18 ; 2Ti_4:3-4 ).

3. Mere intellect, unaided human intelligence can't save you from error. Just look at the "smart and successful" people entrapped in Mormonism, the Jehovah Witnesses, The New Age, Catholicism, real liberal mainline denominations, i.e. the United Church of Christ, etc...

Verse 5

Col_2:5 For though I am 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.

'THOUGH I AM ABSENT IN THE FLESH' -'absent in body' (NASV); 'far away in person' (Wms); 'physically absent' (Ber).

'If he were present at Colossae he would deal with this menacing situation in person; but his imprisonment prevents him from being with them "in the flesh".' (O'Brien pp. 97-98)

But, such an absence won't stop him from doing everything he can to warn and encourage them.

'YET AM I WITH YOU IN THE SPIRIT' -'in spirit' (NASV) ( 1Co_5:3-5 ; 1Th_2:17 ). They may be out of sight, but not out of mind.

'The report which Epaphras had presented to Paul was, on the whole, favorable. Though he had not in any way minimized the dangers that were threatening the church, yet he had been careful to point out that on the whole the Colossians had not been moved from their foundation.' (Hendriksen p. 107)

'JOYING AND BEHOLDING YOUR ORDER' -'delighted to witness' (Wey). Through the eyes of Epaphras (1:7), Paul rejoices as he sees the faithfulness of this congregation. ( 2Jn_1:4 ; 3Jn_1:4 )

'ORDER' -5010. taxis tax'-is; from 5021; regular arrangement, i.e. (in time) fixed succession (of rank or character), official dignity: -order.

-'The military line..unbroken, intact. A few stragglers had gone over to the Gnostics, but there had been no panic, no breach in the line.' (Robertson p. 489)

-'The church should be like an ordered army, with every man in his appointed place, ready and willing to obey the word of command.' (Barclay p. 131)

'STEDFASTNESS' -4733. stereoma ster-eh'-o-mah; from 4732; something established, i.e. (abstractly) confirmation (stability): -stedfastness.

-'Solid front' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 520). 'are miltary terms, denoting the "ordered array" and "solid front" of an army prepared for battle.' (P.P. Comm. p. 84)

-'The word translated "firmness" (steadfastness) is stereoma, which means a sold bulwark, an immovable phalanx. It describes an army set out in an unbreakable square, solidly immovable against the shock of the enemy's charge. Within the church there should be disciplined order and strong steadiness, like the order and steadiness of a trained and disciplined body of troops.' (Barclay p. 131)

Points to Note:

1. I like the idea of a "solid front" presented by the church. This verse infers: (a) All Christians can stand for the same thing, i.e. doctrine isn't that complicated ( 1Co_1:10 ).

2. God doesn't believe in, 'Unity-in-doctrinal-confusion'. ( 2Jn_1:9-11 ; Gal_1:6-9 ).

3. Bible classes, sermons and any instuction for members is a good use of your time and resources. An untaught membership is only courting disaster ( Rom_16:18 ).


Points to Note:

1. Observe that "faith in Christ" involves holding to the truth (2:4) . You cannot divorce "a personal relationship with Christ", from doctrinal soundness ( 1Ti_6:3 ; 2Jn_1:9 ).

2. Christians are to be unyielding and close-minded towards error. Faith in Christ means, on the practical level, trusting that Jesus is telling you the truth, in spite of all claims to the contrary.

Verse 6

Col_2:6 As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,

'AS' -'live in accordance with what you received' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 521). 'So just as' (Gspd)

'RECEIVED' -3880. paralambano par-al-am-ban'-o; from 3844 and 2983; to receive near, i.e. associate with oneself (in any familiar or intimate act or relation); by analogy, to assume an office; figuratively, to learn: -receive, take (unto, with).

-'received as transmitted' (Hendriksen p. 107). 'Received by instruction' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 521) 'By tranmission from..your teachers' (Vincent p. 484) ( 1Co_11:23 ; 1Co_15:1 ; 1Co_15:3 ; Gal_1:9 ; Gal_1:12 ; Php_4:9 ; 1Th_2:13 ).

'CHRIST JESUS THE LORD' -They Jesus they had been taught about, was the right Jesus. They were to hold on to exactly the very truth that Epaphras had instructed them in. There was no need to change or alter this teaching.

'SO WALK IN HIM' -i.e. live your life ordering to this truth

Point to Note:

False doctrine almost always changes conduct. The false doctrines which the Colossians faced could move them toward: (a) Asceticism (2:20-23). (b) Immorality (3:5ff). (c) Superstition (2:18). (c) Jewish rituals (2:16). Paul is telling these Christians to live like Christ is God. Living like Christ is God means that you reject any assumed "improvements" to the gospel, you reject any human improvements to God's plan of salvation in Christ and that you live like Jesus is in charge of this universe, i.e. reject supersitition and the occult.


Verse 7

Col_2:7 rooted and builded up in him, and established in your faith, even as ye were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.


Verse 9

Col_2:9 for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,

'FOR' -'This is the reason why the Colossians were to be on their guard against any vain philosophy that might turn them away from Christ.' (Erdman pp. 75-76) This is the real reason why all the 'treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ.' Carefully note that loyalty to Christ is much more than just a human kind of loyalty, i.e. you gave your word, so support this man or program. It is a loyalty rooted in "who" Christ is. Human philosophy is to be rejected, simply because it can't even come close to what Christ offers the Christian. For Jesus is God!

'This is an irresistible argument. Any system not after Christ must be human and wrong--"for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"..' (Eadie p. 137)

'IN HIM' -i.e. in Christ (2:8).

'DWELLETH' -2730. katoikeo kat-oy-keh'-o; from 2596 and 3611; to house permanently, i.e. reside (literally or figuratively): -dwell(-er), inhabitant(-ter).

-The word "dwelleth" is in the present tense. 'The indwelling of the divine fullness in Him is characteristic of Him...from all ages and to all ages. Hence the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him before His incarnation..( Php_2:6 )..( Joh_1:1 ).' (Vincent p. 487)

-It dwelled in Him during His incarnation ( Joh_14:6 ), and after His incarnation.

-'Permanently dwells' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 523)

'ALL THE FULNESS' -'The teachers of error may have talked of the fullness of divine being distributed among a hierarchy of spirit-powers, through which it was filtered down to this world. Christians had something better. They had Christ, the personal revelation of the Father, the one mediator between God and human beings, in whom..the plentitude of deity was embodied.' (Bruce pp. 100-101)

'The false teachers represented the fulness of the Godhead has distributed among the angels' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 523)

'FULNESS' -4138. pleroma play'-ro-mah; from 4137; repletion or completion, i.e. (subjectively) what fills (as contents, supplement, copiousness, multitude), or (objectively) what is filled (as container, performance, period): -which is put in to fill up, piece that filled up, fulfilling, full, fulness.

-'it is the whole fulness--not one cycle of Divine perfections--a single cluster of Divine properties--not a partial possession of isolated glories--nor a handful of meted and fractional resources.' (Eadie p. 137)

-Same as 1:19. 'is emphatic, the whole fulness dwells in Christ, therefore it is vain to seek it wholly or partially outside of Him' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 523)

'OF THE GODHEAD' -2320. theotes theh-ot'-ace; from 2316; divinity (abstractly): -godhead.

-'the very essence of God' (Robertson p. 491). 'the divine nature' (Vincent p. 486)

-'denotes the essence or content of divine being, that indeed which constitutes God...The word "deity", and its corresponding word in the Greek, denotes the "being God". Christ is not only Godlike; he is God.' (Erdman p. 76)

Vine points out the difference between 'Godhead' of Rom_1:20 which is seen in creation, and the 'Godhead' of Col_2:9 that is seen in Christ. The attributes (i.e. power, etc..) of God are demonstrated in creation ( Rom_1:20 ). But along with the attributes of God, the Divine essence of Godhood, the Personality of God , is seen in Jesus Christ. 'They were no mere rays of Divine glory which gilded Him, lighting up His Person for a season and with a splendor not His own; but He was, and is, absolute and perfect God.' (Vine 'Divinity'. pp. 328-329)

Point to Note:

The word "Godhead" or "Godhood" often confuses people. Until they remember such words as "manhood", "womanhood" and "childhood". Manhood is to possess the qualities of being a man, likewise womanhood is to possess the qualities of being a woman, and childhood is to possess the qualities of being a child. In like manner, Godhood is the state of possessing all the qualities which make God, God. And only three persons possess 'Godhood', i.e. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

'BODILY' -4985. somatikos so-mat-ee-koce'; adverb from 4984; corporeally or physically: -bodily.

Points to Note:

1. Quite a bit of discussion exists on what the word "bodily" means. The best way to unravel any difficultly is to state what we already know from other passages: (a) Jesus didn't have a physical body before He came to this earth ( Heb_10:5 ). (b) The fulness of the Godhead dwelled in Jesus before the incarnation ( Joh_1:1 ; Isa_9:6 ). (c) The fullness of the Godhead dwelled in Jesus, and was found dwelling in a physical body during the incarnation ( Joh_1:1 ; Joh_1:14 ; Joh_5:18-23 ; Joh_14:9 ; Php_2:6 ). (d) The fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus after the incarnation, i.e. Jesus is fully God now in heaven ( Hebrews 1:8; 1:15-17 ).

2. The real question is: Since the word "dwelleth" is in the present tense , is this passage teaching that Jesus presently dwells in the body (albeit-glorified and resurrected) that He possessed while upon this earth? Erdman notes, 'In the glorified bodily form of Christ all the plentitude of deity permanently dwells.' (p. 76)

Passages such as Act_1:11 ; Php_3:21 'the body of His glory'; 1Jn_3:2 ; and Rev_1:12-18 , seem to endorse the same idea, i.e. Jesus currently dwells in His glorified resurrected body. The same type of bodily condition that all Christians will dwell in ( 1Co_15:1-58 ).

3. This passage provides the Christian with a wealth of information and contradicts a number of modern religious misconceptions:

a. The Jehovah Witnesses are wrong, Jesus isn't a little 'g', god. In him ALL THE FULNESS OF WHAT MAKES GOD, GOD, DWELLS. In fact, the Jehovah Witnesses are found having more in common with the Gnostics than Paul. For the Witnesses have a gradual progression up to God the Father, i.e. an impersonal Holy Spirit, a personal, "created-god" (Jesus), and then the eternal God-the Father. The Gnostics taught much the same thing, they just added more "beings" on the ladder.

b. Those who claim that Jesus wasn't fully God while He was upon the earth are also found in error. 'ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD DWELLED IN JESUS, IN A BODILY FORM'. The incarnation wasn't about Jesus becoming "less" than God. The incarnation was a Being who possesses the fullness of Godhood dwelling in a fully human body ( Joh_1:1 ; Joh_1:14 ).

c. The word "bodily". Contradicts the claim that the physical body of Jesus was simply an illusion. It condemns those who had a contempt for the body and the material world. God not only created the material world (1:16), He (Himself, everything that makes Him-God) actually dwelled in part of it. 'Paul here disposes of the Docetic theory that Jesus had no human body as well as the Cerinthian separation between the man Jesus and the aeon Christ. He asserts plainly the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ in corporeal form.' (Robertson p. 491)

While Jesus was upon this earth, we find Deity and Humanity perfectly merged: (a) He was called both the Son of Man and the Son of God. (b) He had all the natural appetites of man (hunger- Mat_4:2 ; thirst- Joh_19:28 ; the need for rest ( Joh_4:6 ). (c) At the same time we find all the powers of God The power over nature- Mat_8:26-27 ; over disease- Mar_2:1-12 ; over spiritual beings- Mar_1:34 ; over the material creation- Mat_14:15-21 ; over the realm of death- Joh_11:1-57 ; the power to forgive sins- Mat_9:6 ; the power of omniscience- Joh_2:24-25 ; omnipresence- Luk_4:30 / Joh_3:13 (?); an eternal nature- Joh_8:58 .

Verse 10

Col_2:10 and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power:

'IN HIM' -i.e. through faith and baptism ( Gal_3:26-27 ).

'YE' -Christians

'ARE MADE FULL' -'and in Him you have your Fulness' (Con)

Points to Note:

1. Col_2:9 isn't a statement of some theoretical truth that is detached from real life. 'It is a practical truth, for Paul adds, "And in him ye are made full". Just because the fullness of deity dwells in Christ, therefore believer, by abiding in him, receive the fullness of their spiritual life. In him every (spiritual) want is supplied.' (Erdman p. 76)

2. It is precisely because Christ is God , that Christ can give us everything we need to serve God acceptably. The fullness of forgiveness, grace, truth, strength, etc...is all found in a relationship with Jesus Christ ( Joh_1:16 ; Col_2:3 ).

3. 'Without him..... people must remain forever..incomplete; unable to attain the true end of their existence.' (Bruce p. 101) 'What Paul means is that in Christ they find the satisfaction of every spiritual want. It therefore follows of itself that they do not need the angelic powers..' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 524)

4. Carefully note: Christians don't partake of Christ's Deity, i.e. Christians are not on the way to becoming God's of their own universe. Even Christians still sin ( 1Jn_1:8-10 ), and in heaven, we will still serve God ( Rev_22:3 )

5. Since all our spiritual needs will be met in Christ, this infers that we will remain in spiritual want, as along as we remain outside of Christ. In Christ you find real nourishment ( Joh_15:4 ; Joh_15:7 ; Joh_15:9 ). In Christ you can reach your potential for spiritual growth ( Gal_5:22-23 ).

6. I like what Cogdill said concerning the word "fulness":

'In the letter to the Colossian church, Paul emphasizes the fundamental truth that "Christ is the fulness of God". In the Ephesian letter, he defines "the church as the fulness of Christ" (1:22-23). These two expressions are comparable. Christ, as the "fulness of God", means that in Christ all that God means to a human soul and all that His grace has provided for our redemption can be found and only in Christ ( Eph_1:3 ). The church, as the "fulness of Christ", means that all which Christ can mean to a human soul can be enjoyed in His body which is the church, and in it only. It further means that all of the provisions of God's grace through Jesus Christ can be enjoyed only in the church.' [Note: _ The New Testament: Book By Book. Roy E. Cogdill p. 75.]

'WHO IS THE HEAD OF ALL PRINCIPALITY AND POWER' -'who is the authority over all authorities, and the supreme power over all powers' (Phi). ( Col_1:16 ; Eph_1:20-23 ; Mat_28:18 )

Points to Note:

1. Thus we see the folly in looking at angels as guardians and saviours...'Why rely upon the courtiers, when access may be had at once to the King?' (Eadie p. 145) ( Heb_1:14 )

2. This also reveals the folly of courting or seeking to worship such powers in the spiritual realm. Worship Christ! Serve Jesus! For He is the 'Head' of 'all' such powers.

3. Again note that Jesus is presently the Head . True Christianity teaches a Jesus ruling as the supreme Head following His resurrection ( Act_2:30-31 ).


'If they were complete in Christ, they had no need to go beyond Christ, and to resort to any ceremonies imposed upon them by the Judaizers...' (Eadie p. 145)

From 2:11-13 it appears that the Colossians faced pressure from teachers who argued that Gentile Christians needed to be circumcised to be "real" Christians ( Act_15:1 ; Act_15:5 ). Paul argues, that anyone "in Christ", has already undergone a superior type of circumcision, in contrast to the one the false teachers were advocating.

Verse 11

Col_2:11 in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ;

'IN WHOM' -in Christ.


Points to Note:

1. The phrase "not made with hands", infers that physical circumcision has ceased to be a requirement of God in the New Covenant ( Gal_2:1-4 ).

2. This also infers that the chosen status of the nation of Israel has ceased. ( Gen_17:10 )

3. Even the O.T. had taught a circumcision of the heart ( Lev_26:41 ; Eze_44:7 ; Eze_44:9 ; Deu_30:6 ).

4. So Paul is telling these Christians from a Gentile background, 'Don't let anyone intimidate you into thinking that you're not "real" Christians. You have undergone a greater circumcision than any of these false teachers, who are merely physically circumcised.' 'They have undergone a minor operation, you have a changed life!'

'IN THE PUTTING OFF OF THE BODY OF THE FLESH' -Note the contrast: The circumcision advocated and practiced by the false teachers was a minor operation. The circumcision experienced by these Christians was the removal and cutting away of their former evil habits and attitudes, i.e. getting rid of the old man ( Rom_6:6 ; Gal_5:24 ).

'THE BODY OF THE FLESH' -( Rom_6:6 ). This doesn't refer merely to our physical bodies, for we remain in the body even after we become Christians. But repentance and baptism liberates the Christian from a mind set on physical things ( Rom_8:5-8 ) It liberates the Christian from a body controlled by physical desires and the old way of looking at things ( Rom_6:12-13 ; Rom_6:16 ).

'IN THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST' -'Specifying genitive, the kind of circumcision that belongs to Christ, that of the heart.' (Robertson p. 492)

Points to Note:

1. Eadie makes a good point when he says, 'The mark in the foreskin was the token of being a Jew, but the off-thrown body of the flesh (i.e. the old life) was the index of one's being a Christian.' (p. 147)

2. Christ demands real change of those who claim to be His people ( Rom_2:28-29 ). The circumcision taught by Christ is an inward, real and complete removal of the old life.

Verse 12

Col_2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

'HAVING BEEN' -In the previous verse (2:11), he said ' you were '. He now reminds them when this circumcision took place.

'BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM' - Rom_6:3-5 . This also reveals something about who I can baptize. I can't baptize someone who refuses to die to sin. A burial infers a dead body.

'BAPTISM' -908. baptisma bap'-tis-mah; from 907; immersion, baptism (technically or figuratively): -baptism.

Points to Note:

1. Even if one doesn't know Greek and the definition of the Greek word rendered "baptism". The phrase "buried with" would help the reader understand that baptism is an immersion. The Bible wasn't written to confuse us, rather to enlighten us ( Psa_119:97-104 ).

2. The inference is that it is in baptism that this true circumcision takes place. The link between repentance and baptism is established elsewhere in the Scriptures ( Act_2:38 ). The old man dies in baptism: (a) Repentance is prior to baptism, and repentance is the determination to die to the life of sin ( Rom_6:2 ). Repentance is the determination to put the "flesh" to death ( Gal_5:24 ). (b) Baptism enables the repentant sinner to be forgiven-i.e. it being the last condition which God has placed prior to salvation- Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:38 ; Act_22:16 , and hence a new life can begin ( Rom_6:4 ).

'WHEREIN' -i.e. in baptism. The person being immersed isn't kept underneath the water.

'YE' -All the members at Colossae had been baptized. As one writer pointed out, the phrase 'un-baptized Christian' was unknown to Jesus and the apostles ( 1Co_12:13 ). Rejecting baptism was a sign that one had rejected the gospel message ( Act_2:41 ).


Points to Note:

1. Becoming a Christian is much more than just a resolve to quit the old life. It is also a resolve to live a new life in harmony with the will of God. It is the determination to use all our resources (once used in sin), to further God's cause ( Rom_6:16 ).

2. I don't understand those who claim that baptism is unnecessary or that one is saved prior to being baptized. These passages and others ( Rom_6:1-5 ), reveal that being baptized is to totally identify yourself with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. Why wouldn't someone who professes to love Jesus, want to be "with Him"? To share in His death and resurrection?

4. If you are "raised with Him", then it is inferred that you have "new life", i.e. you are forgiven. Therefore baptism is essential to salvation, for baptism stands between the repentant sinner and new life ( Rom_6:4-5 ).

5. Barclay almost gets it right when he says, 'Baptism in the time of Paul was three things. It was adult baptism; it was instructed baptism; and, wherever possible (wrong-and every time it was practiced), it was baptism by total immersion ..' (p. 140) See, the truth isn't that hard to understand.


Points to Note:

1. Baptism isn't something contrary to "faith". Faith comes by hearing the word of God ( Rom_10:17 ), and the Word of God commands us to be baptized ( Mar_16:16 ). Hence all religious groups which try to argue that baptism isn't part of "faith", are misinformed.

2. Baptism isn't effective, unless the person being baptized is convicted that Jesus is the Son of God ( Rom_10:9-10 ), and that Jesus commands him or her to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins ( Act_2:38 ).

3. Therefore: (a) You can't be baptized for someone other than yourself. The Mormon practice of being baptized for a dead relative is not only vain, it is a mockery of God's plan of salvation. (b) Infant baptism is also invalid. For a baby can't believe. In addition, a baby has no sins to be forgiven of.

4. The refusal to be baptized, is an act of unbelief. Those who claim that baptism isn't essential to salvation are not merely guilty of misinterpretation, they are guilty of being unbelievers.


'IN THE WORKING' -'your faith in God's working' (Vincent p. 489)

Points to Note:

1. The resurrection of Jesus Christ convinces me that God can indeed forgive my sins. For if the power of God could liberate Jesus from the power of death, then certainly the same power can raise me from a condition of being dead in sin ( Eph_2:1-8 ). And taking the final step of being baptized is the proof that I really believe that God can forgive me of all my transgressions.

2. Baptism isn't a "work" of human merit, for man didn't invent it. Neither is baptism an attempt to earn salvation. Baptism is an act of faith that demonstrates one believes that God does all the work in baptism.

3. Faith and baptism are inherently linked together in Scripture ( Mar_16:16 ; Luk_7:29-30 ).

4. I get very frustrated when religious people claim that baptism is a "work of human merit, an attempt to earn salvation". And then I look at what the denominational world has put in the place of baptism: (a) Mere mental assent-which never saved anyone ( Joh_12:42-43 ; Jam_2:24 ). (b) The mourners bench-praying through. Praying didn't save Paul or Cornelius. And praying through is a whole lot more "work" than simply allowing oneself to be baptized. (c) Praying for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, even when actually possessed, didn't save the household of Cornelius ( Act_10:47 ). And if you want to talk about "work", just watch the "work" that people put into praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 13

Col_2:13 And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses;

'BEING DEAD THROUGH YOUR TRESPASSES' -Their former condition before they were baptized ( Act_22:16 ). ( Eph_2:1-3 )

'YOUR TRESPASSES' -Carefully note that only your own sins separate you from God ( Isa_59:1-2 ). One isn't born in sin, sin isn't something that is inherited ( Eze_18:20 ). God forbid such a terrible doctrine. I was just thinking, if children are born in sin, lost and hell bound, then the choice to have such children would have to be a sin also. The choice to bring another soul into the world, the chances being that it is predestined for hell (and hence deprived from any hope of salvation), would be the most unloving action that one could perform.

Point to Note:

In passing we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that among the terms that God uses for sin, He calls "sin" a trespass. This infers that "sin" is something that human beings do not have a right to engage in. Something that the Bible calls a "sin" can never be labeled as "a right".

'AND THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH' -( Eph_2:11 ). The phrase here probably means physically uncircumcised, i.e. 'Yes, the apostle insists, this is what has happened to you. You were spiritually and morally dead in your earlier pagan days.' (Bruce p. 108) 'The apostle adopts the expression, but refers it to the pre-Christian life of his readers..when their Gentile uncircumcision was a true type of their moral condition ( Eph_2:1-3 ; Eph_2:11 )

Carefully note that being uncircumcised didn't mean that a person was dead in sin ( Romans 2:13-15; 24-27 ). But the Colossians had lived like your typical uncircumcised man, i.e. your typical pagan. 'they were both heathen and godless' (O'Brien p. 123)

'YOU' -Even you godless heathens!

Point to Note:

In this section of Scripture we must remember that the main thrust is that Christ is all one needs for salvation. If Christ can take godless uncircumcised men, and cause them to be forgiven -apart from any need to be physically circumcised, then surely, Christ is all we need!


Paul is reminding these Christians of their past and their conversion. They had become Christians without any need of circumcision, without the Law of Moses, without worshipping or appeasing angels and without any ascetic requirements! So why turn to such things now? He is telling them, 'Remember what really saved you in the first place. None of these other things had anything to do with your salvation.'

But again note. None of the Colossians had become Christians without being baptized! Paul never argues that 'Christ is all you need, therefore, you don't have to be baptized.'

'DID HE' -God the Father (2:12).

'MAKE ALIVE' -In the context this "make alive" demands a release from all their former trespasses, i.e. "making alive" equals the forgiveness of sins. For their own trespasses had resulted in their own spiritual death.

'TOGETHER WITH HIM' -In the context this expression is linked with baptism (2:12 'buried with him...ye were also raised with him..')


Points to Note:

1. The forgiveness offered by Christ, the forgiveness available when we are united with Him in baptism, is a total forgiveness "all our trespasses". A total and complete removal of sin, without any need for physical circumcision.

2. In the text, forgiveness of sin doesn't happen unless one is first "make alive together with Him" , i.e baptism stands between one and the forgiveness of their sins ( Act_2:38 ; Act_22:16 ). Therefore, baptism is the line between being lost or saved ( Mar_16:16 ).

3. The apostles didn't place "new life" prior to baptism ( Rom_6:1-5 ).

4. Since the blood of Christ and the grace of God is actually what makes forgiveness a reality, faith and baptism must put one into contact with the grace of God ( Eph_2:5-8 ).

'US' -In saying "us" instead of "you", Paul includes all believers of Jewish ancestry. Jews needed this salvation just as much as Gentiles.

'Partially parallel to Eph_2:15 . Apparently Paul now passes to the historic fact which supplied the ground for the forgiveness.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 527)

Verse 14

Col_2:14 having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross;

'HAVING' -The same type of past-tense language is used in 2:12 and 2:13.

'BLOTTED OUT' -1813. exaleipho ex-al-i'-fo; from 1537 and 218; to smear out, i.e. obliterate (erase tears, figuratively, pardon sin): -blot out, wipe away.

-'the preposition also carries the sense of removal; hence to smear out; to wipe away...to besmear..completely.' (Vincent p. 490) 'To rub out, wipe off, erase...Often manuscripts were rubbed or scrapped and written over again..' (Robertson p. 494)

'This verb signifies to smear, or plaster over, and then it is used to denote the act by which a law or deed of obligation is cancelled.' (Eadie p. 158)

'THE BOND' -5498. cheirographon khi-rog'-raf-on; neuter of a compound of 5495 and 1125; something hand-written ("chirograph"), i.e. a manuscript (specifically, a legal document or bond [figuratively]): -handwriting.

'WRITTEN IN ORDINANCES' -'the bond that consisted of ordinances' (TCNT); 'canceled the note that stood against us, with its requirements.' (Wms) 'binding statues or legal demands' (O'Brien p. 125)

'WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US' -5227. hupenantios hoop-en-an-tee'-os; from 5259 and 1727; under (covertly) contrary to, i.e. opposed or (as noun) an opponent: -adversary, against.

Points to Note:

1. It seems clear that the "bond written in ordinances" is a reference to the Law of Moses. Compare the wording of Col_2:14 with Eph_2:15 .

2. Many writers point out that the would "bond" , 'denotes a "document", especially a "note of indebtedness" written in one's own hand as a proof of obligation' (O'Brien p. 124) And the same writer notes, 'Like an IOU it (the Law of Moses) contained penalty clauses...The Jews had contracted to obey the law, and in their case the penalty for breach of this contract meant death ( Deu_27:14-26 ; Deu_30:15-20 ). Paul assumes that the Gentiles were committed, through their consciences, to a similar obligation..(cf. Rom_2:14-15 )... Since the obligation had not been discharged by either group the "bond" remained against us.' (p. 125)

3. The Law of Moses was hostile to us in the sense: (a) It demanded flawless law-keeping ( Gal_3:10-13 ). (b) But man can't deliver perfect law-keeping ( Rom_7:1-25 ; Act_15:10 ) (c) It provided the promise of a Saviour, but not the Saviour Himself ( Gal_3:19-24 ). (d) The atonement system found in the Law couldn't forgive sin ( Heb_10:1-4 ; Act_13:38-39 )

4. And carefully note, what made the Law of Moses contrary to men and women, was their failures to obey it. Paul makes it perfectly clear that the Law itself was 'holy..righteous, and good' ( Rom_7:12 ).

5. Why then would anyone want to be under the Law of Moses? When denominations try to pick something out the Law of Moses (i.e. the Sabbath Day, tithing, an official priesthood, food laws, etc..) to find acceptance with God today, they are automatically placing themselves under a Law that demands flawlessness, i.e. they have excluded themselves from grace ( Gal_5:1-4 ), and have placed themselves under a curse (3:10-13).

'AND HE HATH TAKEN IT OUT OF THE WAY' -Which means the same thing as "having blotted out" (2:14). 'The perfect tense emphasizes the permanence of the removal of the bond which has been paid and cancelled and cannot be presented again.' (Robertson p. 494)


Points to Note:

1. This defines "when" the Law of Moses was removed as a binding law upon mankind. Other verses teach the same truth ( Eph_2:14-15 ; Heb_9:14-17 ; Gal_3:24 ). Thus the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ signaled the end of the First Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant ( Jer_31:31-34 = Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:38 ).

2. Contrary to the claims of some. Jesus didn't merely remove "part" of the Law of Moses or merely the ceremonial aspects of the Law. But the whole law, including the Ten Commandments ( Heb_8:6-13 ; Heb_9:1-4 ).

3. The death of Jesus not only made forgiveness possible, it liberated us from a law that couldn't deliver forgiveness. It enabled to live under a Covenant in which less than perfect people can be saved ( 1Jn_1:8-10 ).

4. 'God annulled the law when his Son satisfied its demand of perfect obedience, bore its curse ( Gal_3:10-13 ), and fulfilled its shadows, its types and ceremonies. It was nailed to the cross with Jesus. It died when he died.' (Hendriksen p. 121)

5. Thus we have two thoughts presented in the above verses: (a) The removal of our own sins. (b) And the removal of a Law system that demanded flawlessness.

6. And let us always remember, that "law" still exists for the Christian, i.e. the law of Christ ( Jam_1:25 ). Sin still exists and things are still wrong ( 1Co_6:9 ; Gal_5:21 ff). But for the Christian, true forgiveness is available upon sincere repentance ( 1Jn_1:8-10 ; Mat_18:15 ; Luk_17:3-4 )

7. Let us remember that all this information is being given to make the point that Jesus Christ provides everything the Christian needs for salvation. I don't need Jesus and the Law of Moses, in fact, I needed Jesus to release me from the Law, for the Law was contrary to me!

Verse 15

Col_2:15 having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

'HAVING' -Here we are given another angle on the ramifications of the death of Christ.

'DESPOILED' -554. apekduomai ap-ek-doo'-om-ahee; middle voice from 575 and 1562; to divest wholly oneself, or (for oneself) despoil: -put off, spoil.

-'which means literally to cast off anything, such as clothing..the diction of the verse is that of avowed and open warfare, and the participle..must have the sense of spoiling' conquering, and then making the vanquished a spoil, as is done when a fallen foe is strip of his armour.' (Eadie p. 167)


Points to Note:

1. Various views exist on the above expression: Some say that when Jesus rose from the dead, it was seen how vain were the efforts of the Jewish magistrates against Him. Thus, this view says that the principalities and powers are human authorities.

2. Rather I think Paul is referring to hostile evil forces in the spiritual realm ( Eph_6:12 ).

'HE MADE A SHOW OF THEM OPENLY' -'He made of them an open example. Celebrating a triumph over them thereby' (Rhm); 'and held them up to open contempt, when he celebrated his triumph over them on the cross!' (TCNT); 'he exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act!' (Phi)

-'The allusion is plainly to the triumph which is celebrated after a battle.' (Eadie p. 168)

'TRIUMPHING OVER THEM IN IT' -i.e. in His death upon the cross.

Points to Note:

1. Thus in this section of Scripture we find three ramifications of the death of Christ: (a) The forgiveness of sins, new life. (b) Removal of the Law of Moses. (c) Crushing defeat to all the evil forces in the spiritual realm, from which they will never recover ( Rev_20:10 ; Mat_25:41 ; Gen_3:15 ).

2. 'The death of Christ was not only a pardon; it also manifested triumph. It not only canceled a debt; it was a glorious triumph...Why, then, fear the spiritual powers or the angelic beings before whom the false teachers bowed in worship? Why submit to Jewish rites and ceremonies? Christ alone is the Savior...He meets our every need.' (Erdman p. 78)

3. Here we see the supreme power of Jesus Christ. He is more powerful than sin, greater than the Law of Moses and stronger than all the spiritual hosts!

4. Since the Law of Moses was mediated through angels ( Heb_2:2 ); and Jesus removed that Law, it could be that Paul is also saying that Jesus is greater than all the angels. Thus angels are not be worshipped or superstitiously regarded (2:18).

5. Some suggest that the false teachers were trying to intimidate the Colossians by arguing that the angels would visit them in vengeance, if the Colossians didn't observe the Law which was delivered through them.

6. Hendriksen makes a good point when he says, 'You need not be afraid of these hosts of evil, for in principle the battle has already been won...Did he not rescue us out of the domain of darkness? (1:13). Is not his Son the head of every principality and authority? (2:10)...Remember, therefore, that, by means of that same Son, God stripped these principalities and authorities of their power. He utterly disarmed them. Did not Christ triumph over them in the desert of temptation? ( Mat_4:1-11 ). Did he not bind the strong man? ( Mat_12:29 ), casting out demons again and again to prove it? Did he not see Satan fallen as lightening from heaven? ( Luk_10:18 ) When the devil and his hosts asserted themselves from Gethsemane to Golgotha ( Luk_22:3 ; Luk_22:53 ; Psa_22:12 ; Psa_22:16 ), did not Christ by his vicarious death deprive Satan of even a semblance of legal ground on which to base his accusations?' (pp. 122-123)

Verse 16

Col_2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day:

'LET NO MAN' -Christians are to guard the liberty and freedom which Christ has given them ( Gal_5:1 ). The phrase 'no man', infers that false teaching is to be rejected, no matter "who" is advocating it ( Gal_1:6-9 ).

'THEREFORE' -Connecting this verse back to the previous verses. Based on the truth laid down in 2:8-15, these are the logical, immediate and pressing applications.

'JUDGE' -2919. krino kree'-no; properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish: -avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

-'Prohibition present active imperative...forbidding the habit of passing judgement in such matters.' (Robertson p. 496)

-Obviously, 'judge' in a negative sense, i.e. to condemn, take one to task, sit in judgement upon one.

Points to Note:

1. The verse infers that the false teachers were or would be very vocal and intimidating in Colossae. 'the present imperative...probably implies that this sitting in judgement was already being done by some.' (O'Brien p. 138)

2. I am impressed that God wants Christians to enjoy their faith. God admonishes these Christians to refuse to let the false teachers intimidate them into thinking that they are "less of a Christian", because they don't observe certain aspects of the Law of Moses.

3. Clearly, we are to reject all teachings which don't harmonize with the Scriptures, including doctrines which demand more than what the Bible teaches ( Rev_22:18-19 ). God wants His people to be confident and settled in their convictions ( Eph_4:14 ; Col_1:23 ). And not always questioning whether they are saved or not. This infers that the truth is sufficiently clear is let us know if we are on the right track or otherwise. For if we are always questioning whether we have believed the truth or not, we won't have any time to convert others!

'IN...IN RESPECT OF' -'in the matter of' (TCNT). Carefully observe: God isn't telling these Christians, 'Don't let anyone criticize you', or, 'never admit that you may be wrong'. Rather, the area of condemnation is specific, i.e. don't let anyone condemn you for neglecting things which God doesn't require of you. The wise man does listen to constructive criticism ( Pro_9:8-9 ).

'IN MEAT' -'for what you eat' (Con). Referring to the various food laws which were found in the Law of Moses (cf. Lev_11:1-47 ). ( 1Ti_4:1-4 ).

'OR IN DRINK' -The O.T. did contain some laws in reference to "drink". 'Though the Mosaic law did not dwell so much on drinks as meats, yet...it included some statutes about drinks and drinking vessels' (Eadie p. 171). See ( Lev_10:9 ; Num_6:3 ).

Point to Note:

We must not infer from this statement that Paul is saying that the Christian can drink all the intoxicating beverages they desire. For the N.T. condemns drunkenness as well as the O.T. ( Gal_5:21 ).

'OF A FEAST DAY' -i.e. like Passover, Pentecost, etc...

'OR A NEW MOON' -'The yearly feast, the monthly new moon, and the weekly sabbath' (P.P. Comm. p. 92). (Note the same type of language in 1Ch_23:31 ; Isa_1:13-14 ; 2Ch_2:4 ; 2Ch_31:3 ; Eze_45:17 ; Hos_2:11 . For the feast of the new moon, see Num_10:10 ; Num_28:11-15 .

Points to Note:

1. In this verse Paul hits basically everything in the Jewish calender, i.e. yearly, monthly and weekly celebrations.

2. If one argues that the Sabbath Day is still binding upon Christians, then one must concede that all the other Jewish festivals are also still binding, for Paul lumps them all together, they either stand or fall together. The Gr. Ex. N.T. correctly notes, ' The Sabbath is placed on the same footing as the others .' (p. 531)


Points to Note:

1. The expression is plural in the original Greek, but the plural is often used for the singular ( Luk_4:31 ; Act_20:7 ). In fact Vincent notes, 'The plural is only once used in the New Testament of more than a single day ( Act_17:2 ).' (p. 494)

2. The Seventh Day Adventists argue that Paul doesn't mean the 'weekly' Sabbath day, but other 'special Sabbaths'. In this verse they argue that the word Sabbath refers to yearly or monthly Sabbaths: (a) The term "sabbath" appears 60 times in the New Testament, and even modern Seventh-Day worshippers admit that the other 59 refer to the weekly Sabbath Day. (b) The term "sabbath" in this passage is in the genitive plural, which is identically the same form in which it is found in Exo_20:8 in the Septuagint. (c) God also may have used to plural to include and cover every Sabbath, i.e. yearly, monthly and weekly . (d) Nothing in the context or the passage would allow us to limit the word "sabbath" to merely monthly or yearly sabbaths. (e) The translators, experts in the original Greek language, obviously saw nothing in the language which would lead them to believe that the weekly Sabbath wasn't included, notice the language ' or a sabbath day ', i.e. any Sabbath day.

3. In practice the Seventh Day Adventists and other groups which adhere to the Sabbath Day are found guilty of teaching that the Sabbath Day was more important to God than the Passover celebration, Pentecost, Tabernacles or the Year of Jubilee. Did God see it that way?

Verse 17

Col_2:17 which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's.

'WHICH' -i.e. the things mentioned in 2:16, including 'a sabbath day'.

'ARE' -Especially now, but they always did have a "shadow role". Such things, even when required, were never the final reality, they always foreshadowed something greater. 'Seeing they are' (Vincent p. 494)

'SHADOW' -4639. skia skee'-ah; apparently a primary word; "shade" or a shadow (literally or figuratively [darkness of error or an adumbration]): -shadow.

-'It is cast by the body, and therefore implies that there is a body, and while it resembles the body it is itself insubstantial.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 531)

-'Why must they refuse to be dictated to in these matters? Because all such matters belonged to a transitory order.' (Bruce pp. 115-116)

Points to Note:

1. The book of Hebrews expands upon this expression ( Heb_9:9-24 ; Heb_10:1 ff). How the 'sabbath day' was a shadow is demonstrated in Heb_4:1-11 .

2. Since the Sabbath Day is called a "shadow", it is clear that it isn't an eternal law or eternal reality, a decree that never changes. Rather, it represented a reality more important that a single physical day of rest.

'OF THE THINGS TO COME' -While the Law of Moses shadowed some heavenly things, i.e., The Mercy Seat=God's Throne, The Sabbath Day=Our Heavenly Rest ( Heb_4:11 ). It also foreshadowed many things found in the New Covenant ( Heb_10:1-22 ). Hence when we study the O.T. and especially those things associated with the worship and sacrificial system contained therein, we need to realize that many of those things were foreshadowing our relationship with Christ and His body, the Church. For example, read Heb_8:1-6 ; Heb_9:13-23 ; Heb_10:19-22 ; Heb_13:10-13 ; Tit_3:5 .

'BUT THE BODY' -4983. soma so'-mah; from 4982; the body (as a sound whole), used in a very wide application, literally or figuratively: -bodily, body, slave.

-'but the substance belongs to Christ' (NASV). 'true reality as distinct from mere appearance' (O'Brien p. 139) 'the substance is in the Christ' (TCNT).


Points to Note:

1. The "body" in the above passage doesn't refer to the "body of Christ". Rather it appears that Paul is saying that the forms and ceremonies of the O.T., were like a shadow, but what cast the shadow, the real body or substance, would be found in Christ and the New Covenant. Of course, those in the body of Christ immediately share in those things typified in the O.T.

2. And since Christians are people who now possess the substance ( Eph_1:3 ; Col_2:3 ), we can cheerfully let the shadow go.

3. The person who possesses Christ, immediately possesses the spiritual reality that God was aiming for and foreshadowing in the O.T.. 'All that the most sanguine hoped to attain by asceticism and ceremonialism was possessed immediately in the possession of Christ.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 531)

The practical application is that the new convert, the babe in Christ, immediately possesses a closer relationship with God, a greater amount of spiritual truth and insight, than the most experienced and enlightened Hindu, Buddhist or Moslem.

4. These verses remind us: (a) Christianity didn't copy Judaism. Rather, Judaism was a faint copy of Christianity. Before the Law of Moses was given, God had the religion of Jesus Christ already in mind ( Eph_3:10-11 ). (b) Without Christ, the O.T. would have no meaning, no aim and ultimately, no deliverance for any who lived under it. For it took the blood of Christ to cleanse even the faithful who lived in times past ( Heb_9:15 ). (c) That is why people who cling to the Law of Moses can't be saved ( Gal_5:1-4 ). The Law was to bring to Jewish person to Christ ( Gal_3:24 ). Clinging to the Law, after Christ has come, is a perversion of the Law. It is like divorcing the shadow from the body that cast it. The O.T. only has meaning and ultimate relevance when connected with and interpreted by the New Testament of Jesus Christ.


Verse 18

Col_2:18 Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he hath seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

'LET NO MAN' -'the present tense, as in vers. 4,8,16,20, implies a continued attempt.' (P.P. Comm. p. 92)

'ROB YOU OF YOUR PRIZE' -'beguile you' (KJV); 'to cheat you' (Knox). 2603. katabrabeuo kat-ab-rab-yoo'-o; from 2596 and 1018 (in its original sense); to award the price against, i.e. (figuratively) to defraud (of salvation): -beguile of reward.

-'from..against..to act as a judge or umpire. Hence to decide against one, or to declare him unworthy of the prize..The attitude of the false teachers would involve their sitting in judgement as to the future reward of those who refused their doctrine of angelic mediation.' (Vincent p. 495)

-'Let no ritualist tell you, "Since you, Colossians, are not following my rules and regulations, you are not in the race or contest at all. You are unfit, unworthy.' (Hendriksen p. 125)

-In addition, the Colossians would be robbed of their prize if they allowed themselves to be convinced that they needed to go back to the Law of Moses ( Gal_5:1-4 ). To give up the real for the ritual, and to abandon true spiritual freedom for an religion of obsolete externals ( Heb_8:13 ); would be a major rip off.


'BY A VOLUNTARY HUMILITY' -'false humility' (Knox).

Points to Note:

1. The humility under consideration is a false or fake humility. It is when men and women begin to take pride in their humility. As Eadie says, 'as when, for show , the beggar's feet are washed; and the friar in his coarse rags walks barefooted and begs.' (p. 179) When people begin to glory in their self-sacrifices ( Luk_18:9-14 ); and make sure others know how much they are giving up for God ( Mat_6:1-18 ).

2. 'Some people love to make a parade of exceptional piety.' (Bruce p. 117)

3. Christians need to take special note of this expression. Often false teachers and false doctrine comes clothed in extreme self-sacrifice. People try to intimidate us into thinking that we aren't right with God, because, we aren't making the sacrifices that they are. The Jehovah Witnesses are famous for trying to make people feel small, because other groups don't go door to door. Question: Where do the Scriptures teach that knocking on doors is the only or most effective form of Evangelism? Beware when someone approaches you with the attitude, 'We must be right, because we are making more sacrifices for God than any other group.' Always stand back and ask the question, 'Are they making the sacrifices, which God demands, or are they making the sacrifices which they have invented?' ( 1Sa_15:22-23 )

4. False humility is still a problem among God's people. Unfortunately often people will say, 'I know that so and so is in sin or teaching error, but I can't condemn them, because I have my own faults.' Brethren, that is a false humility. God expects Christians, even imperfect Christians, to rebuke those in sin ( Mat_18:15-17 ). There is nothing humble, pious or spiritual about allowing your brother to walk straight into the jaws of hell, without warning him.


Points to Note:

1. I think writers are on the right track when they suggest that the previously mentioned false humility is connected with and is a motivating factor behind the angel worship mentioned in this passage.

2. Barclay writes, 'the Gnostics and Jews would have justified it (angel worship) by saying that God is so great and high and holy that we can never have direct access to him and must be content to pray to the angels.' (p. 146)

3. 'It was expressed in "worshipping..angels" as the representatives of God, and was thus alleged to be less presumptuous than the direct worship of God, as though he were too high to be worshipped by men. Yet to refuse God's appointed way of approach through Christ was really presumptuous pride.' (Erdman p. 81)

4. The False Teachers may have said something like, 'We are too humble to dare presume that lowly men like ourselves could ever worship God. Rather, we acknowledge our weaknesses, our short-comings, and are content to merely worship God's representatives instead.'

5. Again, the same false humility exists today. People say they are too "humble" to teach the concept of the true church, or that baptism is the line between lost and saved, or that essential biblical doctrines can be settled. All of us need to watch out for this, especially in our own lives, because spiritual cowardice can often hide behind an air of humility. We need to ask ourselves, 'Am I really being humble or am I just afraid to stand up for the truth?'

6. Some writers suggest that the expression "worshipping of the angels", may also have reference to the false claim that some supposed spiritual "high" or worship experience found among angelic beings can be gained by Christians.

7. The Jehovah Witnesses who regard Jesus as an angel, are thus forced to conclude that the apostles contradicted themselves. For the apostles condemned the worship of angels ( Rev_22:8-9 ). And yet they called upon Christians to worship Jesus ( Eph_5:19 ; Col_3:17 ).

8. Robertson notes, 'They may have argued for angel worship on the plea that God is high and far removed and so took angels as mediators as some men do today with angels and saints in place of Christ.' (p. 497)

'DWELLING IN THE THINGS WHICH HE HATH SEEN' -'taking his stand on visions he has seen' (NASV)

'DWELLING' -1687. embateuo em-bat-yoo'-o; from 1722 and a presumed derivative of the base of 939; equivalent to 1684; to intrude on (figuratively): -intrude into.

-'They pretend to have found the way to a higher plane of spiritual experience.' (Bruce p. 117) 'In this last sense the word is probably used (to seek, to track out, to consider)...of the false teachers who professed to see heavenly truth in visions, and to investigate and discuss philosophically the revelation (supposedly) they had received.' (Vincent p. 496)

'VAINLY PUFFED UP' -1500. eike i-kay'; probably from 1502 (through the idea of failure); idly, i.e. without reason (or effect): -without a cause, (in) vain(-ly).

Points to Note:

1. The word "vainly" (without reason or cause), immediately informs us that these "visions" never really happened. These false teachers had actually seen nothing.

2. Which contains a number of tremendous insights for our own times: (a) People do lie about seeing visions, encounters with God, being contacted by UFO's, being miraculously healed, etc...(b) People can convince themselves that they have really seen something, when they didn't see anything ( Jer_23:16-22 ). (c) God doesn't expect Christians to immediately believe any claim. He commands us to examine everything by the Scriptures ( Act_17:11 ; 1Th_5:21-22 ; 1Jn_4:1 ). (d) It isn't spiritual or wise to immediately believe even the most sincerely sounding stories of encounters with God or what have you. (e) God doesn't speak to everyone directly. (f) God doesn't reveal different truth to different people. And God doesn't miraculously guide each individual into their own distinct understanding of His truth.

3. The word "puffed up" reveals that such claims of supposed visions were not the product of divine inspiration, but of human arrogance and pride. 'The Gnostic prided himself upon special visions of secret things which were not open to the eyes of ordinary men and women...there is always danger when a man begins to think that he has attained a height of holiness which enables him to see what common men--as he calls them--cannot see.' (Erdman p. 145)

4. Carefully note: Claiming to have seen a vision or the claim to some supposed encounter with God, is often a subtle form of arrogance. It is often the wedge that people use to liberate themselves from the Word of God and to cover their own unbelief. Many people that I have met, who claim that God has said something to them or reassured them in some mysterious way (i.e. I felt the hand of God on my shoulder, I felt as if God was saying to me, Mark I am with you, etc..), are the very same people who aren't very impressed with what a verse in the Bible actually says. You see, many people have convinced themselves, that their supposed experience proves that they are somehow "above" the Bible, somehow on a different level, somehow in a closer relationship with God, than any Bible passage, or church could possibly bring them. They almost seem to have the attitude, 'Preacher, don't talk to me about God, I already know Him better than you do.'

'BY HIS FLESHLY MIND' -'inflated without cause by his fleshly mind' (NASV); 'The teachers boasted that they were guided by the higher reason. Paul describes their higher reason as carnal.' (Vincent p. 496) ' by an unspiritual imagination ' (Phi).

Points to Note:

1. God doesn't stop. Not only are these false teachers liars and arrogant. But far from being spiritually minded, they are immature, carnal, worldly and unspiritual in their thinking ( 1Co_3:1-3 ).

2. 'Hence the apostle's sarcasm, "Exalted are they? say rather, inflated: lifted high by Divine reason? nay, but swollen high by the reason of their flesh.' (P.P. Comm. p. 93)

3. And Hendriksen gives an observation, that should be included in the observation hall of fame: 'It is important in this connection to observe that for the mind to be "fleshly" or "of the flesh" it is not necessary that it be "fixed on purely physical things" . On the contrary, it is "of the flesh" if it bases its hope for salvation on anything apart from Christ..It is "the mind of the flesh" all the same.' (p. 128) What an insight!

Brethren, listen up. The above false teachers claimed to be Christians, they claimed to be "spiritual", they claimed to serve God, and serve Him better and more faithfully than most, and Paul says, that they are "fleshly minded"!!!! Their whole day was spent in the pursuit of "heavenly things" and they were carnal! Applications must be made: (a) People who claim direct revelation from God, even though the Bible teaches us that the Bible is complete ( Jud_1:3 ), are carnally minded people. (b) Religious people who want some "spiritual" experience other than what the Bible promises, are earthly minded people. (c) You can roll on the floor, shout Praise God to the ends of the earth, cry and weep at some rally, etc...and still be carnal in your thinking. (d) In addition, we cannot say that everyone involved in false religion is a liar and deceiver, and yet brethren, neither can we say that everyone in the denominational world is sincere either! (e) Many people who want visions, miraculous healings, or some experience, have little desire to do God's will. Their motivation is selfish and their aim is self-glorification (i.e. see how great and humble I am--God did this for me).

Verse 19

Col_2:19 and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increasing with the increase of God.

'AND' -The description of these false teachers continues.

'NOT HOLDING FAST' -'fails to maintain union with' (TCNT); 'He doesn't cling to the Head'.

'THE HEAD' -i.e. Jesus Christ (1:18)

Point to Note:

Carefully consider the explosive ramifications of this statement. The verse is connected ('and') with the previous verses: (a) Claiming visions, etc...when God hasn't really spoken to you, is to abandon Christ. Putting words into the mouth of God isn't an innocent or dumb but well-intentioned exercise. It is to forsake Christ! (b) Going back to the Law of Moses, is to forsake Jesus Christ. Jesus has been abandoned by those groups who insist on following parts of the Law of Moses. Christ isn't their Savior, they have abandoned Him for the Law. (c) When you stop listening to Christ, you make yourself a prime target for believing something that is false ( 2Th_2:10-12 ).

'FROM WHOM' -'Fixing the personal reference to the head to Christ.' (Vincent p. 497)

'ALL THE BODY' -Paul doesn't conceive of a "Christianity" or a relationship with God which can exist apart from being in the body of Christ, i.e. the Church ( Eph_1:22-23 ). 'Lone-wolf' or an 'all-on-my-own' spirituality, isn't spiritual after all.


Points to Note:

1. This passage is much like Jesus' teaching about the vine and the branches ( Joh_15:1-8 ). The inference is that spiritual growth and maturity are impossible if you lose your grip on Jesus and His teachings. The inference also is, that growth is only possible, spiritual blessings are only available to those in "the body" ( Eph_1:3 ). Compare with Eph_4:15-16 .

2. Notice the expression "THE ENTIRE BODY" (NASV). 'Paul condemns the tendencies to intellectual or spiritual exclusiveness, which cripple alike the body and the members who exhibit such tendencies.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 533)

3. False teaching severs you from Christ and the body ( 2Jn_1:9 ). Spiritual growth, maturity and enlightenment happen either in God's prescribed way or they don't happen at all.

4. Disloyalty to the Head works destruction in the body. 'Gnosticism from the beginning tended to disintegrate the Church, by the caste-feeling.' (P.P. Comm. p. 94)


Verse 20

Col_2:20 If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances,

'IF YE DIED WITH CHRIST' -i.e. in baptism (2:13-14). Again, Paul doesn't even contemplate a class of people known as 'un-baptized' Christians.

'FROM THE RUDIMENTS' -4747. stoicheion stoy-khi'-on; neuter of a presumed derivative of the base of 4748; something orderly in arrangement, i.e. (by implication) a serial (basal, fundamental, initial) constituent (literally), proposition (figuratively): -element, principle, rudiment.

-same as Col_2:8 .

'OF THE WORLD' -'Elementary teachings and practices the peculiar sphere of which is the world' (Vincent p. 498). 'the world's rudimentary notions' (Wey)

Points to Note:

1. Some say that this expression refers to the Law of Moses, 'These believers had then been separated from those elementary forms of religious instruction, those Jewish rites and ceremonies, which had been fulfilled in Christ and thus been superseded by Christ.' (Erdman p. 84)

2. The phrase 'of the world', may also have a moral connotation ( 1Jn_2:15 ). For paganism, the background of many of these Christians (1:21), contained strong rules and regulations relating to material things also ( Act_17:18 'Stoic philosophers').

3. Note: In dying with Christ, in becoming a Christian, we really don't lose anything of value. What did these Christians die to? Valuable things, priceless things? No. Very common, very elementary, and opinions which just aren't worth much ( Rom_6:21 ).

'WHY, AS THOUGH LIVING IN THE WORLD' -'as if you were living in the world' (NASV); 'Then why behave as though you were still living the life of the world?' (NEB). Since these Christians were still living in the physical world, in this phrase the word "world" must have an ethical sense, i.e. the old life, the old way of living. These Christians had been delivered out of the domain of the darkness (the world) (1:12-14). Paul complains that at least some of them are acting like they are still living in the world. And if some member were to say, 'Prove it', Paul quickly responds in the next phrase:

'DO YE SUBJECT YOURSELVES TO ORDINANCES' -i.e. of the Law of Moses, or man-made human traditions and rules. 'Why let people dictate to you' (NEB); 'why do you submit, as though your life were still that of the world, to such ordinances as' (TCNT).

Points to Note:

1. Carefully note that God expects us to obey a number of human ordinances, i.e. the laws of the land ( Rom_13:1 ff).

2. The ordinances in this verse refer to either those contained in the Law of Moses and or human traditions and rules that people are trying to combine with Christianity. Traditions and rules that people think are vital for salvation or gaining the favor of God.

3. Adding to the Bible, adding our own rules to the religion of Jesus Christ, doesn't mean that we are spiritually minded. Rather, it is a proof that we are still acting and thinking such like people of the world act and think.

4. This verse seems to suggest that some already had caved into this false teaching or where being intimidated by it. The ordinances under consideration are now defined.

Verse 21

Col_2:21 Handle not, nor taste, nor touch

'HANDLE NOT' -'Do not handle this; Do not taste that; Do not touch that other thing' (Wey) 'The precepts here quoted are those of the false teachers..' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 534)

'NOR TOUCH' -May have reference to the false doctrine that marriage is actually a necessary evil or at least less spiritual than the unmarried state ( 1Ti_4:3-4 ). But verse 22 seems to infer that these forbidden things were more along the lines of food. The word "touch" here probably refers to the slightest contact . Thus the false teachers were saying, 'you are not to take certain meats into your hand, nor are you to taste them; nay, you are not even to touch them, though in the slightest degree--you are to keep from them hand, tongue, and even finger-tip.' (Eadie p. 194)

Verse 22

Col_2:22 (all which things are to perish with the using), after the precepts and doctrines of men?

'ALL' -Note that the phrase "all which things are to perish with the using", is a statement being made on the side. All these regulations are simply the doctrines of men, not God, and by the way--they deal with very unimportant matters.

'ALL WHICH THINGS' -i.e. all the things forbidden by the false teachers.

'ARE TO PERISH WITH THE USING' -'cease to exist when used' (TCNT). That is, food ceases to be food, the moment it is consumed. That is just how temporary it is.

Points to Note:

1. Paul is saying that if such things are so transient and temporary, then the false teachers are making a big mistake of having such "perishable" things as the litmus test of spirituality.

2. Jesus taught the same thing ( Mat_15:17 ; Mar_7:19 ), i.e. you're missing the point entirely if you think that eating the right foods will keep you from being defiled.

3. The Gnostics, like some people today, were basing their whole religion and confidence on sheer avoidance. Much more is needed to be right with God than merely "not doing something". Too many people think they are right with God, because of what they haven't done.


Points to Note:

1. Notice the question mark. This verse is connected with 2:20. If you are following human rules and traditions in religion, then you are living in the world. And you aren't living with Christ.

2. The precepts under consideration in 2:21 were human rules, man-made regulations. Paul is probably dealing specifically with rules imposed by Paganism and the Human philosophies which surrounded this region (2:8).

3. Jesus and Paul agree, human regulations in religion make our worship vain ( Mat_15:8-9 ).

4. Right here, every Christian derives the right to examine any religious belief or practice to seek if it is of Divine or human origin.

Verse 23

Col_2:23 Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

'WHICH THINGS' -'Regulations of this kind' (Hendriksen p. 132)

'HAVE INDEED A SHOW OF WISDOM' -'indeed have the appearance of wisdom' (Wey); 'I know that these regulations look wise' (Phi); 'Such prohibitions appear reasonable where there is a desire for self-imposed service .' (TCNT)

'IN WILL-WORSHIP' -'self-imposed worship' (Wey); 'self-inspired efforts' (Phi)

'AND HUMILITY' -i.e. such things can really "look" humble and pious and that one is submitting to God.

Points to Note:

1. Note God's honesty. He says, 'I know such things "look" spiritual and wise'. I know that a life of depriving oneself from legitimate things, in the name of God, "looks" extremely humble. But it isn't, it is neither truly wise, spiritual or humble.

2. We must learn to look behind "appearances" ( Joh_7:24 ).

3. Notice that God calls such worship "will-worship", i.e. it is the type of worship people offer when they place their own wills ahead of God's will.

'SEVERITY TO THE BODY' -i.e. such as severe restrictions concerning what one can eat (2:21).

'BUT ARE NOT OF ANY VALUE AGAINST THE INDULGENCE OF THE FLESH' -'are of no value to check the indulgence of fleshly passions' (Con).

Points to Note:

1. Notice that God said, 'not of ANY value'. They don't help at all, in fact, they aren't even neutral, they actually hinder spiritual growth.

2. From a human point of view, severe treatment of the body would seem to be the path to self-control. But it isn't. Why not? (a) The real problem isn't to be found in the human body. Sin happens when something goes wrong in the mind ( Col_1:21 ; Jam_1:13-15 ; Mar_7:20-23 ). (b) Human desires are not inherently sinful. Human desires only become sinful, when they are elevated above God's law or the various restrictions or limitations that He has placed upon various desires, i.e. sex is reserved for the married, personal comfort must never be placed before serving God ( Mat_6:33 ); and the love for family cannot be allowed to supersede our love for God ( Mat_10:37 ), etc..

3. Hendriksen makes the observation, 'Such self-imposed ritual serves ONLY TO INDULGE THE FLESH. IT FEEDS MAN'S PRIDE.' (p. 135)

And what Hendriksen notes is right on the money. When human rules are added to Christianity: (a) We look down upon all those who don't follow them. (b) They become a false source of spiritual confidence-i.e. we are keeping the rule, but we forget, are we keeping the commands of God??? (c) They are an easy and cheap way to "supposed faithfulness". You see, most human regulations are invented by people who already are keeping that regulation. That is, we tend to add the rules that are easiest for us to keep. For example, not marrying is no problem for the person who has no desire to marry. Not eating meat is easy for the person who doesn't really care for meat in the first place . (d) How easily we forget, that "pride" is a WORK OF THE FLESH ALSO. Most man-made rules tend to do the following, 'I am keeping the rule, you are not, therefore I am better than you'. Now, has that rule helped to restrain the flesh??? (See Mat_15:1 ff; Luk_18:9 ff) (e) Man-made rules also tend to override some command of God ( Mar_7:9 ).


And brethren, we can make up our own rules just as easy as the Gnostic false teachers. And let us be warned, most of us, from time to time rely on our own "rules". We tend to focus on the those things which we are doing already, i.e. being early to services, being nicely dressed, clean-shaved, conservative hair-cut, etc...It is easy to think, 'Boy, I am really doing good.' It is easy to think that such things, though they may be practical or beneficial, are not the final measurement of a faithful Christian. We don't like to think about the meat and potatoes of Christianity, i.e. am I denying myself? Do I place others before me? Do I treat people in the way I would want to be treated? Do I make every effort to clear up misunderstandings with my brethren? Do I pursue the Christian in sin? I am teaching the lost? Is my mind pure? I am serving God because I love Him with my whole self? Am I refusing to accept any idea that I can't find in the Word? Is my mouth under control? Am I willing to sacrifice myself, my time, my pride, etc...for the sole purpose of furthering His cause?

Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Colossians 2". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/colossians-2.html. 1999-2014.
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