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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

Paul’s Desire for Them In Christ

It is possible Paul specified Colossae and Laodicea because he had been to both of those cities. Hierapolis, the third of the tri-cities, would thus be designated by the words, "as many as have not seen my face in the flesh." He labored for the salvation of all Gentiles worldwide, whether he had seen them or not. The apostle used the word "comforted," or encouraged, several times in his epistles (4:8; Eph_6:22 ; 2Th_2:17 ). After reading all of these, one can see Paul particularly had in mind the comfort that comes from a fuller knowledge of the truth. We must remember they did not have the complete revelation in written form, as yet. As broken bones are knit together in the healing process, the bonding element in the church is love ( Eph_4:16 ). Paul wanted them to have the complete confidence in their salvation that can only come through understanding the riches which come to Christians from God. To fully appreciate the mystery of God, one must realize Christ is its embodiment ( Col_2:1-2 ).

Verses 3-5

Man is searching for knowledge and wisdom through a multitude of means. He will not find them until he comes to Jesus wherein those things are revealed. Paul was especially concerned that the Colossian brethren know true wisdom is found in Christ because there were false teachers who would seduce them with false reasoning that sounded good but had no substance in truth. Though Paul was not with them bodily, he could say he was with them in spirit. Through the reports of others, like Epaphras, he could see their works and rejoice that they had kept their lines straight and presented a solid front before the enemy. Surely this suggests an active faith that is held steadfast and not mere belief ( Col_2:3-5 ).

Verses 6-7

The good news had been transmitted by God for man's benefit. Those who recognized Jesus Christ as Lord, by yielding to Him in obedience, received that transmission. Those who had so yielded to Christ's Lordship should continue by allowing His will to direct every action of their lives. When a Christian receives Jesus, it is as if he is planted in Him. To properly grow, one must take root. Those who remain in Christ will constantly be built up and strengthened, or established, in Him. The banks of their lives will also overflow with thankfulness ( Col_2:6-7 ).

Verse 8

Beware of Empty Deceit

Paul urged them to be constantly on their guard lest anyone take them captive through human reasoning. The philosophers Paul is speaking of were puffed up with their own knowledge, which led to empty reasoning that could not save. Such reasoning bred traditions which were passed from one man to another as a type of law. The "basic principles of the world" would be the basic teachings of worldly instructors, or heathens. Paul's whole point here is that teachings which do not come from Christ are teachings that will not save but will cause one to be captured by the devil ( Col_2:8 ).

Verse 9

One would not want to be taken away from Christ because in Him is to be found everything essential to being divine. He was not, as some false teachers suggested, a mere emanation from God. Turner says this essence of deity both dwelt and dwelleth in Christ, which is the force of the verb here. The word bodily may well suggest Christ's incarnation, though there certainly is a spiritual body ( 1Co_15:44 ). The word "Godhead" is only found three times in the New Testament. Paul uses theios in Act_17:29 , which the Greeks used "to denote the divine nature, power, providence," according to Thayer. In Rom_1:20 , the word is theiotas , which Thayer says means "divinity, divine nature." In Col_2:9 , the word is theotas , meaning "deity, i.e. the state of being God," according to Thayer.

Verse 10

The false teachers may have suggested the road to completeness began with Christ but had to be finished with some others. Paul says completeness comes in Christ who is the head of all (Compare Mat_28:18 ). The Greeks thought there were various emanations from God and each had a specific area of authority, but Paul says Christ has all authority ( Col_2:10 ).

Verses 11-13

The Circumcision of Christ

The Jews stressed the importance of a physical circumcision. In Christ, sinful ways, to which our fleshly desires lead, are cut off. The "circumcision of Christ" may be his death on the cross which made it possible for our sins to be put away from us. Or, it may refer to the putting away that is done when one yields to Christ. The circumcision of our body of sins, as it was described by Paul in the previous verse, is accomplished in baptism. Note, Paul says we are buried in baptism, which would eliminate sprinkling or pouring. When we are raised out of the watery grave, we are cleansed because we showed faith in God's power to take away sin. Certainly, the God who could raise Jesus from the dead can rescue us from the spiritual death.

The Gentiles were not circumcised. Paul used this outward condition to depict the inward sinful state of men separated from God. Their sins, or trespasses, were actually the problem that caused them to be spiritually dead. God quickened, or made them alive, by forgiving their trespasses. A brief comparison of Luk_24:46-53 , Act_2:38 and the preceding verse in this chapter will show that such forgiveness takes place in baptism ( Col_2:11-13 ).

Verses 14-15

Things Which Resulted from Christ’s Resurrection

"The handwriting of requirements" is an apparent reference to the ten commandments, which God wrote on tables of stone, and the rest of the law of Moses, which Moses wrote at God's direction. God erased, or canceled, that law because it was against man and could only condemn him. If a man could not live a perfect life, the law condemned him and had no provision for pardon. That law was taken out of force by Christ's death on the cross. Man's inability to find pardon, which was his problem under the law, was removed by the death of Christ ( Rom_8:1 ).

Jesus was opposed by both religious and political leaders in the hours preceding His death. They could be described as the pawns in Satan's attempt to overthrow God by the death of His Son. Thus, Satan was against Him too. He threw off their opposition when He threw off the shackles of death. His resurrection allowed Him to lead those who had opposed Him as a conquering general leads captives from the defeated forces. Jesus' public appearances made this an open display of victory ( Col_2:14-15 ).

Verses 16-17

Warnings About False Teaching

Since the law of Moses had been nailed to the cross, Colossian Christians did not have to answer to anyone as to why they did not observe various parts of the law or some group's private requirements. It is particularly interesting that Paul mentions the Sabbath, since some would still require its observance today. Those things, according to Paul, were a shadow of the things which would come in Christ. A shadow can tell us someone is approaching and give us a vague idea of the shape of that person. While the shadow is but an image, the body is reality. In this case, the shadow is the Old Testament law and the body is Christ's ( Col_2:16-17 ).

Verses 18-19

The apostle warns against those who would “defraud” the Colossian brethren of their reward. Weed says the word suggests athletic competition in which one is disqualified. If the Colossian brethren listened to the false teachers, they would be robbed of a prize rightfully theirs. "False humility" may refer to fasts men would require of other men. Perhaps this false humility was outwardly shown by worshiping angels, implying one was not worthy to worship the Father. It is thought that those wanting to be initiated into the false religion were required to tell of visions they saw. Great emphasis was placed on one's ability to reason and the more knowledgeable were puffed up. All of these false doctrines kept people from yielding to the true head of the church, Christ. That is spiritually fatal because it cuts one off from the one who supplies necessary nourishment and holds the growing body together ( Col_2:18-19 ).

Verses 20-23

Once one had died to sin and worldly pursuits in baptism (verse 12), there was no reason for him to live as if he were still controlled by worldly thinking. Worldly traditions and the law of Moses do not control the Christian's life. The Pharisees wanted to add their own requirements to God's law and force everyone to follow them. Jesus said they thereby made their worship vain ( Mat_15:9 ). We need only to follow God's will to be pleasing unto him ( Mat_7:21 ). Man's laws have to do with the temporary things of the world. Such commands come out of the minds of men and have no bearing upon one's spiritual well being.

Man's additional, external requirements appear to be based upon wisdom. However, such appearances are merely an illusion. Will worship is based upon what the worshiper wants instead of what God wants. The false teachers worshiped angels and endured depravation of their body in an effort to control fleshly lusts, but such did not achieve the desired end ( Col_2:20-23 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Colossians 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/colossians-2.html. 2014.
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