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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

How greatly I strive (ηλικον αγωνα εχω). Literally, "how great a contest I am having." The old adjectival relative ηλικος (like Latin quantus) is used for age or size in N.T. only here and James 3:5 (twice, how great, how small). It is an inward contest of anxiety like the μεριμνα for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28). Αγωνα carries on the metaphor of αγωνιζομενος in Colossians 1:29.

For them at Laodicea (των εν Λαοδικια).

Supply υπερ as with υπερ υμων. Paul's concern extended beyond Colossae to Laodicea (Colossians 4:16) and to Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13), the three great cities in the Lycus Valley where Gnosticism was beginning to do harm. Laodicea is the church described as lukewarm in Revelation 3:14.

For as many as have not seen my face (οσο ουχ εορακαν το προσωπον μου). The phrase undoubtedly includes Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13), and a few late MSS. actually insert it here. Lightfoot suggests that Hierapolis had not yet been harmed by the Gnostics as much as Colossae and Laodicea. Perhaps so, but the language includes all in that whole region who have not seen Paul's face in the flesh (that is, in person, and not in picture). How precious a real picture of Paul would be to us today. The antecedent to οσο is not expressed and it would be τουτων after υπερ. The form εορακαν (perfect active indicative of οραω instead of the usual εωρακασιν has two peculiarities ο in Paul's Epistles (1 Corinthians 9:1) instead of ω (see John 1:18 for εωρακεν) and -αν by analogy in place of -ασιν, which short form is common in the papyri. See Luke 9:36 εωρακαν.

Verse 2

May be comforted (παρακληθωσιν). First aorist passive subjunctive of παρακαλεω (for which see 2 Corinthians 1:3-7) in final clause with ινα.

Being knit together (συνβιβασθεντες). First aorist passive participle of συνβιβαζω, old verb, causal of βαινω, to make go together, to coalesce in argument (Acts 16:10), in spiritual growth (Colossians 2:19), in love as here. Love is the συνδεσμος (Colossians 3:14) that binds all together.

Unto all riches (εις παν πλουτος). Probably some distinction intended between εν (in love as the sphere) and εις (unto as the goal).

Of the full assurance of understanding (της πληροφοριας της συνεσεως). On πληροφορια, see 1 Thessalonians 1:5. From πληροφορεω (see Luke 1:1) and only in N.T. (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22), Clement of Rome (Cor. 42) and one papyrus example. 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.

That they may know (εις επιγνωσιν). "Unto full knowledge." This use of επιγνωσις (full, additional knowledge) is Paul's reply to the Gnostics with the limited and perverted γνωσις (knowledge).

The mystery of God, even Christ (του μυστηριου του θεου, Χριστου). The MSS. differ widely here, but this is Westcott and Hort's reading. Genitive (objective) with επιγνωσιν and Χριστου in apposition. Christ is "the mystery of God," but no longer hidden, but manifested (Colossians 1:26) and meant for us to know to the fulness of our capacity.

Verse 3

In whom (εν ω). This locative form can refer to μυστηριου or to Χριστου. It really makes no difference in sense since Christ is the mystery of God.

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (παντες ο θησαυρο της σοφιας κα γνωσεως). See on Matthew 2:11; Matthew 6:19-21 for this old word, our thesaurus, for coffer, storehouse, treasure. Paul confronts these pretentious intellectuals (Gnostics) with the bold claim that Christ sums up all wisdom and knowledge. These treasures are hidden (αποκρυφο, old adjective from αποκρυπτω, to hide away, Mark 4:22) whether the Gnostics have discovered them or not. They are there (in Christ) as every believer knows by fresh and repeated discovery.

Verse 4

This I say (τουτο λεγω). Paul explains why he has made this great claim for Christ at this point in his discussion.

May delude (παραλογιζητα). Present middle subjunctive of παραλογιζομα, old verb, only here in N.T., from παρα and λογιζομα, to count aside and so wrong, to cheat by false reckoning, to deceive by false reasoning (Epictetus).

With persuasiveness of speech (εν πιθανολογια). Rare word (Plato) from πιθανος and λογος, speech, adapted to persuade, then speciously leading astray. Only here in N.T. One papyrus example. The art of persuasion is the height of oratory, but it easily degenerates into trickery and momentary and flashy deceit such as Paul disclaimed in 1 Corinthians 2:4 (ουκ εν πιθοις σοφιας λογοις) where he uses the very adjective πιθος (persuasive) of which πιθανος (both from πειθω) is another form. It is curious how winning champions of error, like the Gnostics and modern faddists, can be with plausibility that catches the gullible.

Verse 5

Though (ε κα). Not κα ε (even if).

Yet (αλλα). Common use of αλλα in the apodosis (conclusion) of a conditional or concessive sentence.

Your order (την ταξιν). The military line (from τασσω), unbroken, intact. A few stragglers had gone over to the Gnostics, but there had been no panic, no breach in the line.

Steadfastness (στερεωμα). From στερεοω (from στερεος) to make steady, and probably the same military metaphor as in ταξιν just before. The solid part of the line which can and does stand the attack of the Gnostics. See Acts 16:5 where the verb στερεοω is used with πιστις and 1 Peter 5:9 where the adjective στερεος is so used. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:11 Paul speaks of his own ταξις (orderly conduct).

Verse 6

As therefore ye received (ως ουν παρελαβετε). Second aorist active indicative of παραλαμβανω in same sense as in 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Philippians 4:9 (both μανθανω and παραλαμβανω) that is like μανθανω, to learn (Colossians 1:7), from Epaphras and others.

Christ Jesus the Lord (τον Χριστον Ιησουν τον Κυριον). This peculiar phrase occurs nowhere else by Paul. We have often ο Χριστος (the Christ or Messiah) as in Philippians 1:15, Ιησους Χριστος (Jesus Christ), Χριστος Ιησους (Christ Jesus), ο Κυριος Ιησους (the Lord Jesus, very often), but nowhere else ο Χριστος Ιησους and Ιησους ο Κυριος. Hence it is plain that Paul here meets the two forms of Gnostic heresy about the Person of Christ (the recognition of the historical Jesus in his actual humanity against the Docetic Gnostics, the identity of the Christ or Messiah with this historical Jesus against the Cerinthian Gnostics, and the acknowledgment of him as Lord). "As therefore ye received the Christ (the Messiah), Jesus the Lord." Ye were taught right.

Walk in him (εν αυτω περιπατειτε). "Go on walking in him" (present active indicative of περιπατεω). Stick to your first lessons in Christ.

Verse 7

Rooted (ερριζωμενο). Perfect passive participle of old verb ριζοω from ριζα, root. In N.T. only here and Ephesians 3:17. Paul changes the figure from walk to growing tree.

Builded up in him (εποικοδομουμενο εν αυτω). Present passive participle (rooted to stay so) of εποικοδομεω, old verb, to build upon as in 1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 3:12. The metaphor is changed again to a building as continually going up (present tense).

Stablished (βεβαιουμενο). Present passive participle of βεβαιοω, old verb from βεβαιος (from βαινω, βαιω), to make firm or stable.

In your faith (τη πιστε). Locative case, though the instrumental case,

by your faith , makes good sense also.

Even as ye were taught (καθως εδιδαχθητε). First aorist passive indicative of διδασκω, an allusion to παρελαβετε in verse Colossians 2:6 and to εμαθετε in Colossians 1:7.

In thanksgiving (εν ευχαριστια). Hence they had no occasion to yield to the blandishments of the Gnostic teachers.

Verse 8

Take heed (βλεπετε). Present active imperative second person plural of βλεπω, common verb for warning like our "look out," "beware," "see to it."

Lest there shall be any one (μη τις εστα). Negative purpose with the future indicative, though the aorist subjunctive also occurs as in 2 Corinthians 12:6.

That maketh spoil of you (ο συλαγωγων). Articular present active participle of συλαγωγεω, late and rare (found here first) verb (from συλη, booty, and αγω, to lead, to carry), to carry off as booty a captive, slave, maiden. Only here in N.T. Note the singular here. There was some one outstanding leader who was doing most of the damage in leading the people astray.

Through his philosophy (δια της φιλοσοφιας). The only use of the word in the N.T. and employed by Paul because the Gnostics were fond of it. Old word from φιλοσοφος (φιλοσ, σοφος, one devoted to the pursuit of wisdom) and in N.T. only in Acts 17:18. Paul does not condemn knowledge and wisdom (see verse Colossians 2:2), but only this false philosophy, "knowledge falsely named" (ψευδωνυμος γνωσις, 1 Timothy 6:20), and explained here by the next words.

And vain deceit (κα κενης απατης). Old word for trick, guile, like riches (Matthew 13:22). Descriptive of the philosophy of the Gnostics.

Tradition (παραδοσιν). Old word from παραδιδωμ, a giving over, a passing on. The word is colourless in itself. The tradition may be good (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6) or bad (Mark 7:3). Here it is worthless and harmful, merely the foolish theories of the Gnostics.

Rudiments (στοιχεια). Old word for anything in a στοιχος (row, series) like the letters of the alphabet, the materials of the universe (2 Peter 3:10; 2 Peter 3:12), elementary teaching (Hebrews 5:12), elements of Jewish ceremonial training (Acts 15:10; Galatians 4:3; Galatians 4:9), the specious arguments of the Gnostic philosophers as here with all their aeons and rules of life.

And not after Christ (κα ου κατα Χριστον). Christ is the yardstick by which to measure philosophy and all phases of human knowledge. The Gnostics were measuring Christ by their philosophy as many men are doing today. They have it backwards. Christ is the measure for all human knowledge since he is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe.

Verse 9

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (οτ εν αυτω κατοικε παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως). In this sentence, given as the reason (οτ, because) for the preceding claim for Christ as the measure of human knowledge Paul states the heart of his message about the Person of Christ. There dwells (at home) in Christ not one or more aspects of the Godhead (the very εσσενχε of God, from θεοσ, δειτας) and not to be confused with θειοτες in Romans 1:20 (from θειος, the

quality of God, divinitas), here only in N.T. as θειοτης only in Romans 1:20. The distinction is observed in Lucian and Plutarch. Θειοτης occurs in the papyri and inscriptions. Paul here asserts that "all the πληρωμα of the Godhead," not just certain aspects, dwells in Christ and in bodily form (σωματικως, late and rare adverb, in Plutarch, inscription, here only in N.T.), dwells now in Christ in his glorified humanity (Philippians 2:9-11), "the body of his glory" (τω σωματ της δοξης). The fulness of the God-head was in Christ before the Incarnation (John 1:1; John 1:18; Philippians 2:6), during the Incarnation (John 1:14; John 1:18; 1 John 1:1-3). It was the Son of God who came in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7). 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.

Verse 10

Ye are made full (εστε πεπληρωμενο). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of πληροω, but only one predicate, not two. Christ is our fulness of which we all partake (John 1:16; Ephesians 1:23) and our goal is to be made full of God in Christ (Ephesians 3:19). "In Christ they find the satisfaction of every spiritual want" (Peake).

The head (η καφαλη). There is no other place for Christ. He is first (Colossians 1:18) in time and in rank. All rule and authority comes after Christ whether angels, aeons, kings, what not.

Verse 11

Ye were also circumcised (κα περιετμηθητε). First aorist passive indicative of περιτεμνω, to circumcise. But used here as a metaphor in a spiritual sense as in Romans 2:29 "the circumcision of the heart."

Not made with hands (αχειροποιητω). This late and rare negative compound verbal occurs only in the N.T. (Mark 14:58; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Colossians 2:11) by merely adding α privative to the old verbal χειροποιητος (Acts 7:48; Ephesians 2:11), possibly first in Mark 14:58 where both words occur concerning the temple. In 2 Corinthians 5:1 the reference is to the resurrection body. The feminine form of this compound adjective is the same as the masculine.

In the putting off (εν τη απεκδυσε). As if an old garment (the fleshly body). From απεκδυομα (Colossians 2:15, possibly also coined by Paul) and occurring nowhere else so far as known. The word is made in a perfectly normal way by the perfective use of the two Greek prepositions (απο, εκ), "a resource available for and generally used by any real thinker writing Greek" (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). Paul had as much right to mint a Greek compound as any one and surely no one ever had more ideas to express and more power in doing it.

Of Christ (του Χριστου). Specifying genitive, the kind of circumcision that belongs to Christ, that of the heart.

Verse 12

Having been buried with him in baptism (συνταφεντες αυτω εν τω βαπτισματ). Second aorist passive participle of συνθαπτω, old word, in N.T. only here and Romans 6:4, followed by associative instrumental case (αυτω). Thayer's Lexicon says: "For all who in the rite of baptism are plunged under the water, thereby declare that they put faith in the expiatory death of Christ for the pardon of their past sins." Yes, and for all future sins also. This word gives Paul's vivid picture of baptism as a symbolic burial with Christ and resurrection also to newness of life in him as Paul shows by the addition "wherein ye were also raised with him" (εν ω κα συνηγερθητε). "In which baptism" (βαπτισματ, he means). First aorist passive indicative of συνεγειρω, late and rare verb (Plutarch for waking up together), in LXX, in N.T. only in Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 2:6. In the symbol of baptism the resurrection to new life in Christ is pictured with an allusion to Christ's own resurrection and to our final resurrection. Paul does not mean to say that the new life in Christ is caused or created by the act of baptism. That is grossly to misunderstand him. The Gnostics and the Judaizers were sacramentalists, but not so Paul the champion of spiritual Christianity. He has just given the spiritual interpretation to circumcision which itself followed Abraham's faith (Romans 4:10-12). Cf. Galatians 3:27. Baptism gives a picture of the change already wrought in the heart "through faith" (δια της πιστεως).

In the working of God (της ενεργειας του θεου). Objective genitive after πιστεως. See Colossians 1:29 for ενεργεια. God had power to raise Christ from the dead (του εγειραντος, first aorist active participle of εγειρω, the fact here stated) and he has power (energy) to give us new life in Christ by faith.

Verse 13

And you (κα υμας). Emphatic position, object of the verb συνεζωοποιησεν (did he quicken) and repeated (second υμας). You Gentiles as he explains.

Being dead through your trespasses (νεκρους οντας τοις παραπτωμασιν). Moral death, of course, as in Romans 6:11; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5. Correct text does not have εν, but even so παραπτωμασιν (from παραπιπτω, to fall beside or to lapse, Hebrews 6:6), a lapse or misstep as in Matthew 6:14; Romans 5:15-18; Galatians 6:1, can be still in the locative, though the instrumental makes good sense also.

And the uncircumcision of your flesh (κα τη ακροβουστια της σαρκος υμων). "Dead in your trespasses and your alienation from God, of which the uncircumcision of your flesh was a symbol" (Abbott). Clearly so, "the uncircumcision" used merely in a metaphorical sense.

Did he quicken together with him (συνεζωοποιησεν συν αυτω). First aorist active indicative of the double compound verb συνζωοποιεω, to make alive (ζωοσ, ποιεω) with (συν, repeated also with αυτω, associative instrumental), found only here and in Ephesians 2:5, apparently coined by Paul for this passage. Probably θεος (God) is the subject because expressly so stated in Ephesians 2:4 and because demanded by συν αυτω here referring to Christ. This can be true even if Christ be the subject of ηρκεν in verse Colossians 2:14.

Having forgiven us (χαρισαμενος ημιν). First aorist middle participle of χαριζομα, common verb from χαρις (favour, grace). Dative of the person common as in Colossians 3:13. The act of forgiving is simultaneous with the quickening, though logically antecedent.

Verse 14

Having blotted out (εξαλειψας). And so "cancelled." First aorist active participle of old verb εξαλειφω, to rub out, wipe off, erase. In N.T. only in Acts 3:19 (LXX); Revelation 3:5; Colossians 2:14. Here the word explains χαρισαμενος and is simultaneous with it. Plato used it of blotting out a writing. Often MSS. were rubbed or scraped and written over again (palimpsests, like Codex C).

The bond written in ordinances that was against us (το καθ' ημων χειρογραφον τοις δογμασιν). The late compound χειρογραφον (χειρ, hand, γραφω) is very common in the papyri for a certificate of debt or bond, many of the original χειρογραφα (handwriting, "chirography"). See Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 247. The signature made a legal debt or bond as Paul says in Philemon 1:18: "I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it." Many of the papyri examples have been "crossed out" thus X as we do today and so cancelled. One decree is described as "neither washed out nor written over" (Milligan, N. T. Documents, p. 16). Undoubtedly "the handwriting in decrees" (δογμασιν, the Mosaic law, Ephesians 2:15) was against the Jews (Exodus 24:3; Deuteronomy 27:14-26) for they accepted it, but the Gentiles also gave moral assent to God's law written in their hearts (Romans 2:14). So Paul says "against us" (καθ' ημων) and adds "which was contrary to us" (ο ην υπεναντιον ημιν) because we (neither Jew nor Gentile) could not keep it. Hυπεναντιος is an old double compound adjective (υπο, εν, αντιος) set over against, only here in N.T. except Hebrews 10:27 when it is used as a substantive. It is striking that Paul has connected the common word χειρογραφον for bond or debt with the Cross of Christ (Deissmann, Light, etc., p. 332).

And he hath taken it out of the way (κα ηρκεν εκ του μεσου). Perfect active indicative of αιρω, old and common verb, to lift up, to bear, to take away. The word used by the Baptist of Jesus as "the Lamb of God that bears away (αιρων) the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The perfect tense emphasizes the permanence of the removal of the bond which has been paid and cancelled and cannot be presented again. Lightfoot argues for Christ as the subject of ηρκεν, but that is not necessary, though Paul does use sudden anacolutha. God has taken the bond against us "out of the midst" (εκ του μεσου). Nailing it to the cross (προσηλωσας αυτο τω σταυρω). First aorist active participle of old and common verb προσηλοω, to fasten with nails to a thing (with dative σταυρω). Here alone in N.T., but in III Macc. 4:9 with the very word σταυρω. The victim was nailed to the cross as was Christ. "When Christ was crucified, God nailed the Law to His cross" (Peake). Hence the "bond" is cancelled for us. Business men today sometimes file cancelled accounts. No evidence exists that Paul alluded to such a custom here.

Verse 15

Having put off from himself (απεκδυσαμενος). Only here and Colossians 3:9 and one MS. of Josephus (απεκδυς). Both αποδυω and εκδυω occur in ancient writers. Paul simply combines the two for expression of complete removal. But two serious problems arise here. Is God or Christ referred to by απεκδυσαμενος? What is meant by "the principalities and the powers" (τας αρχας κα τας εξουσιας)? Modern scholars differ radically and no full discussion can be attempted here as one finds in Lightfoot, Haupt, Abbott, Peake. On the whole I am inclined to look on God as still the subject and the powers to be angels such as the Gnostics worshipped and the verb to mean "despoil" (American Standard Version) rather than "having put off from himself." In the Cross of Christ God showed his power openly without aid or help of angels.

He made a show of them (εδειγματισεν). First aorist active indicative of δειγματιζω, late and rare verb from δειγμα (Jude 1:7), an example, and so to make an example of. Frequent in the papyri though later than παραδειγματιζω and in N.T. only here and Matthew 1:19 of Joseph's conduct toward Mary. No idea of disgrace is necessarily involved in the word. The publicity is made plain by "openly" (εν παρρησια).

Triumphing over them on it (θριαμβευσας αυτους εν αυτω). On the Cross the triumph was won. This late, though common verb in Koine writers (εκθριαμβευω in the papyri) occurs only twice in the N.T., once "to lead in triumph" (2 Corinthians 2:14), here to celebrate a triumph (the usual sense). It is derived from θριαμβος, a hymn sung in festal procession and is kin to the Latin triumphus (our triumph), a triumphal procession of victorious Roman generals. God won a complete triumph over all the angelic agencies (αυτους, masculine regarded as personal agencies). Lightfoot adds, applying θριαμβευσας to Christ: "The convict's gibbet is the victor's car." It is possible, of course, to take αυτω as referring to χειρογραφον (bond) or even to Christ.

Verse 16

Let no one judge you (μη τις υμας κρινετω). Prohibition present active imperative third singular, forbidding the habit of passing judgment in such matters. For κρινω see on Matthew 7:1. Paul has here in mind the ascetic regulations and practices of one wing of the Gnostics (possibly Essenic or even Pharisaic influence). He makes a plea for freedom in such matters on a par with that in Colossians 2:1; Colossians 2:14; Colossians 2:15. The Essenes went far beyond the Mosaic regulations. For the Jewish feasts see on Galatians 4:10. Josephus (Ant. III. 10, 1) expressly explains the "seventh day" as called "sabbata" (plural form as here, an effort to transliterate the Aramaic sabbathah).

Verse 17

A shadow (σκια). Old word, opposed to substance (σωμα, body). In Hebrews 10:1 σκια is distinguished from εικων (picture), but here from σωμα (body, substance). The σωμα (body) casts the σκια (shadow) and so belongs to Christ (Χριστου, genitive case).

Verse 18

Rob you of your prize (καταβραβευετω). Late and rare compound (κατα, βραβευω, Colossians 3:15) to act as umpire against one, perhaps because of bribery in Demosthenes and Eustathius (two other examples in Preisigke's Worterbuch), here only in the N.T. So here it means to decide or give judgment against. The judge at the games is called βραβευς and the prize βραβειον (1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:14). It is thus parallel to, but stronger than, κρινετω in verse Colossians 2:16.

By a voluntary humility (θελων εν ταπεινοφροσυνη). Present active participle of θελω, to wish, to will, but a difficult idiom. Some take it as like an adverb for "wilfully" somewhat like θελοντας in 2 Peter 3:5. Others make it a Hebraism from the LXX usage, "finding pleasure in humility." The Revised Version margin has "of his own mere will, by humility." Hort suggested εν εθελοταπεινοφροσυνη (in gratuitous humility), a word that occurs in Basil and made like εθελοθρησκια in verse Colossians 2:23.

And worshipping of the angels (κα θρησκεια των αγγελων). In Colossians 3:12 humility (ταπεινοφροσυνην) is a virtue, but it is linked with worship of the angels which is idolatry and so is probably false humility as in verse Colossians 2:23. 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.

Dwelling in the things which he hath seen (α εορακεν εμβατευων). Some MSS. have "not," but not genuine. This verb εμβατευω (from εμβατης, stepping in, going in) has given much trouble. Lightfoot has actually proposed κενεμβατευων (a verb that does not exist, though κενεμβατεω does occur) with αιωρα, to tread on empty air, an ingenious suggestion, but now unnecessary. It is an old word for going in to take possession (papyri examples also). W. M. Ramsay (Teaching of Paul, pp. 287ff.) shows from inscriptions in Klaros that the word is used of an initiate in the mysteries who "set foot in" (ενεβατευσεν) and performed the rest of the rites. Paul is here quoting the very work used of these initiates who "take their stand on" these imagined revelations in the mysteries.

Vainly puffed up (εικη φυσιουμενος). Present passive participle of φυσιοω, late and vivid verb from φυσα, pair of bellows, in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 8:1. Powerful picture of the self-conceit of these bombastic Gnostics.

Verse 19

Not holding fast the Head (ου κρατων την κεφαλην). Note negative ου, not μη, actual case of deserting Christ as the Head. The Gnostics dethroned Christ from his primacy (Colossians 1:18) and placed him below a long line of aeons or angels. They did it with words of praise for Christ as those do now who teach Christ as only the noblest of men. The headship of Christ is the keynote of this Epistle to the Colossians and the heart of Paul's Christology.

From whom (εξ ου). Masculine ablative rather than εξ ης (κεφαλης) because Christ is the Head. He develops the figure of the body of which Christ is Head (Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24).

Being supplied (επιχορηγουμενον). Present passive participle (continuous action) of επιχορηγεω, for which interesting verb see already 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5 and further 2 Peter 1:5.

Knit together (συνβιβαζομενον). Present passive participle also (continuous action) of συνβιβαζω, for which see Colossians 2:2.

Through the joints (δια των αφων). Late word αφη (from απτω, to fasten together), connections (junctura and nexus in the Vulgate).

And bonds (κα συνδεσμων). Old word from συνδεω, to bind together. Aristotle and Galen use it of the human body. Both words picture well the wonderful unity in the body by cells, muscles, arteries, veins, nerves, skin, glands, etc. It is a marvellous machine working together under the direction of the head.

Increaseth with the increase of God (αυξε την αυξησιν του θεου). Cognate accusative (αυξησιν) with the old verb αυξε.

Verse 20

If ye died (ε απεθανετε). Condition of the first class, assumed as true, ε and second aorist active indicative of αποθνησκω, to die. He is alluding to the picture of burial in baptism (Colossians 2:12).

From the rudiments of the world (απο των στοιχειων του κοσμου). See Colossians 2:8.

As though living in the world (ως ζωντες εν κοσμω). Concessive use of the participle with ως. The picture is that of baptism, having come out (F. B. Meyer) on the other side of the grave, we are not to act as though we had not done so. We are in the Land of Beulah.

Why do ye subject yourselves to ordinances? (τ δογματιζεσθε?). Late and rare verb (three examples in inscriptions and often in LXX) made from δογμα, decree or ordinance. Here it makes good sense either as middle or passive. In either case they are to blame since the bond of decrees (Colossians 2:14) was removed on the Cross of Christ. Paul still has in mind the rules of the ascetic wing of the Gnostics (Colossians 2:16).

Verse 21

Handle not, nor taste, nor touch (μη αψη μηδε γευση μηδε θιγηις). Specimens of Gnostic rules. The Essenes took the Mosaic regulations and carried them much further and the Pharisees demanded ceremonially clean hands for all food. Later ascetics (the Latin commentators Ambrose, Hilary, Pelagius) regard these prohibitions as Paul's own instead of those of the Gnostics condemned by him. Even today men are finding that the noble prohibition law needs enlightened instruction to make it effective. That is true of all law. The Pharisees, Essenes, Gnostics made piety hinge on outward observances and rules instead of inward conviction and principle. These three verbs are all in the aorist subjunctive second person singular with μη, a prohibition against handling or touching these forbidden things. Two of them do not differ greatly in meaning. Hαψη is aorist middle subjunctive of απτω, to fasten to, middle, to cling to, to handle. Θιγηις is second aorist active subjunctive of θιγγανω, old verb, to touch, to handle. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 11:28; Hebrews 12:20. Γευση is second aorist middle subjunctive of γευω, to give taste of, only middle in N.T. to taste as here.

Verse 22

Are to perish with the using (εστιν εις φθοραν τη αποχρησε). Literally, "are for perishing in the using." Φθορα (from φθειρω) is old word for decay, decomposition. Αποχρησις (from αποχραομα, to use to the full, to use up), late and rare word (in Plutarch), here only in N.T. Either locative case here or instrumental. These material things all perish in the use of them.

Verse 23

Which things (ατινα). "Which very things," these ascetic regulations.

Have indeed a show of wisdom (εστιν λογον μεν εχοντα σοφιας). Periphrastic present indicative with εστιν in the singular, but present indicative εχοντα in the plural (ατινα). Λογον σοφιας is probably "the repute of wisdom" (Abbott) like Plato and Herodotus. Μεν (in deed) has no corresponding δε.

In will-worship (εν εθελοθρησκια). This word occurs nowhere else and was probably coined by Paul after the pattern of εθελοδουλεια, to describe the voluntary worship of angels (see Colossians 2:18).

And humility (κα ταπεινοφροσυνη). Clearly here the bad sense, "in mock humility."

And severity to the body (κα αφειδια σωματος). Old word (Plato) from αφειδης, unsparing (α privative, φειδομα, to spare). Here alone in N.T. Ascetics often practice flagellations and other hardnesses to the body.

Not of any value (ουκ εν τιμη τιν). Τιμη usually means honour or price.

Against the indulgence of the flesh (προς πλησμονην της σαρκος). These words are sharply debated along with τιμη just before. It is not unusual for προς to be found in the sense of "against" rather than "with" or "for." See προς in sense of

against in Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Corinthians 6:1. Πλησμονη is an old word from πιμπλημ, to fill and means satiety. It occurs here only in the N.T. Peake is inclined to agree with Hort and Haupt that there is a primitive corruption here. But the translation in the Revised Version is possible and it is true that mere rules do not carry us very far in human conduct as every father or mother knows, though we must have some regulations in family and state and church. But they are not enough of themselves.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Colossians 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/colossians-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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