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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 2

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Col/ 2:1. Much of the thought in the last verse of the preceding chapter is continued in this verse. The Greek word for conflict means virtually the same as "striving" in the close of the preceding chapter. It refers to the great care and anxiety Paul felt for the Colossians, and he wishes that they knew about it; this feeling was extended to the brethren at Laodicea (a city near Colosse). As many as have not seen my face in the flesh. This clause indicates that Paul had not been personally in the presence of the Colossian brethren, hence he could not have been the one who started the church there nor at Laodicea. (See the comments under "general remarks.")

Verse 2

Col 2:2. Paul connects the comfort of the brethren with their being knit together in love. Such a state is a great source of satisfaction, for if the disciples of Christ are thus bound together, they will be of mutual help and can meet the trials of life as a unit. David expressed this thought in Psa 133:1. This condition will result in the riches of full assurance that comes from understanding. Of course all of this blessed state will come only after their acknowledge- meat of the mystery. The last word refers to the mystery that is explained in chapter 1:26. God the Father and Christ are named together because they are both concerned in the subject. The relation between the names God and Father is explained at Ephe-sians 4:6.

Verse 3

Col 2:3. In whom is supposed to refer to Christ, who is last named in the preceding verse. However, some confusion might come from the marginal rendering which gives "wherein," making it apply to the mystery mentioned in the preceding verse. But the following verses all show that Christ is especially meant and hence the text as we have it is correct. That does not do any injustice to God, for everything He does for mankind is done through the Son. This verse is a direct denial of the theories of philosophy that were mentioned in "general remarks." Whatever wisdom and knowledge there is in the world that is worthy of the attention of man, all is found in Christ.

Verse 4

Col 2:4. Paul is saying the present things as a warning against false teachers. To beguile means to deceive, and enticing words are those that sound well and are of a persuasive nature. These false teachers used a mixture of philosophy and Judaism in such a way as to mislead unsuspecting disciples away from the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ. Most of this chapter is written to expose both philosophy (so called) and Judaism, especially the latter.

Verse 5

Col 2:5. The Colossian church had not yet departed from the faith, but it was in danger and the apostle is warning them. For the present, he is pleased with their excellent devotion to Christ, and wishes to have them continue in the same status. He was not in their midst bodily but was there in spirit or mind, and took joy from what he could behold through the things he had "heard" (chapter 1:4). Order is from TAXIS, which Thayer defines at this place, "orderly condition." It does not mean any set routine to be followed in a mechanical order, but denotes that the church at Colosse had some system in its procedure. It is the same thought expressed in 1Co 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order."

Verse 6

Col 2:6. As is used in the sense of "since" since ye have received, etc. Having received or accepted Christ as the Lord (which means Ruler), to be consistent, they should also walk or conduct their life in Him. That can be done only by doing His will.

Verse 7

Col 2:7. Rooted and stablished have vritually the same meaning, namely, to be firmly fixed in something. In this passage it means to be established in the faith or in the Gospel. Of course if something has taken firm root in a fertile spot, it will be able to produce a stalk or body above the ground. Likewise, Paul says the brethren will be able to grow or be built up as a stalk of righteousness in the world. And as a plant thus rooted and developed will be able to produce fruit, so the brethren would be able to abound (grow and produce), being thankful for the opportunity of being of service to Christ.

Verse 8

Col 2:8. The apostle again comes to the subject of the Judaistic philosophers, who claim to have something to offer the brethren that is better• than their simple belief of the Gospel. They would make them think that something of value was being lost if they did not accept the ideas of philosophy as a part of their religious life. Paul is warning them to beware of these false teachers. To .spoil means to take from a man that which is his valuable possession. The simple faith of the Gospel is the most valuable thing one can possess, and if he permits the false teacher to cause him to give up that faith, he will be robbed of a costly treasure. A thief accomplishes his work with instruments adapted to his evil work, and likewise this false teacher• has his instruments which are named in this verse. Vain deceit. The ideas offered by these philosophers were not only deceitful, but they were empty (vain). They were traditions or things handed down from man and not from Christ. Rudiments denotes elements and world means the people of the earth. These deceitful philosophies were elements produced in the minds of men and not by Jesus Christ.

Verse 9

Col 2:9. Godhead is from THEOTES, which Thayer defines, "deity; Godhead," then explains it to mean, "the state of being God." Bodily refers to the form in which Jesus appeared while on earth, so that the entire fulness or virtue of the Deity was represented in Him. That is why Jesus said to Philip, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (Joh 14:9). Not that Jesus was the Father personally, but he was a full representation of God in human form.

Verse 10

Col 2:10. Since the entire Godhead is represented by Christ, nothing of value will be lacking to those who are in Him. Principality is the same as seniority or priority, and power means authority. He is senior because he is the "firstborn of every creature" (chapter 1:15), and He is head of all power or authority because it was all given to Him after his resurrection (Mat 28:18). If we believe the teaching of Paul in this verse, we will not clamor for things in our religious life that Christ has not authorized.

Verse 11

Col 2:11. I have consulted several translations, and they put the word are in the past tense, showing it refers to a specific event of the past. The occasion when it was accomplished will be noted in the following verse. Circumcision means a cutting round or off, and when used figuratively it refers to the separation of a man's sins from his life by his obedience to the Gospel. It was without hands because while its outward form was done by a human act (see next verse), the real performance was spiritual or inward. (See Rom 6:17.) Circumcision of Christ denotes that the whole transaction was accomplished by His authority.

Verse 12

Col 2:12. The final act of the spiritual circumcision is by baptism, and men are said to be buried with Mm, that is with Christ. This phrase is used because in baptism the person is placed under the water and then raised again, thus going down and up in the form of a burial and resurrection. It is said to be with Him because he commands it, and also because he died and was buried in the tomb, from which he rose again. Such a like burial and resurrection is recognized as an act of faith in Christ .and God. Operation means the energy or divine activity by which God raised Christ from the dead. Much has been said as to what constitutes "valid baptism," and we have some direct information in this passage. If a man believes that God raised Christ from the dead, and he is baptized in view of his faith in that act, then Paul declares that such a man has been risen with him, which certainly would prove that his baptism was valid. This thought is given also in Rom 10:9.

Verse 13

Col 2:13. All statements in this verse except the last one are figurative. Death means a separation, and as long as these people were living in their sins they were separated from God and hence were dead to Him. They likewise were uncircumcised during that time since their sins had not been cut off. To be quickened means to be made alive, or have the condition of death just described, reversed by obedience to the Gospel. With him means with Christ, which was done when they were "buried with Him" in baptism. When all this was done, God forgave them all trespasses.

Verse 14

Col 2:14. Blotting out is from a word that denotes something has been erased or canceled. However, since this refers to the Old Testament, we know it means that the enforcement of it as a religious law only was canceled, for the document is still in print and its national customs were still permitted to the Jewish Christians in Paul's day (Act 21:21-24). It is called handwriting from the fact that God wrote it with his own fingers on the stone, then authorized Moses to write it all in a book with his hand. Against and contrary literally means to be an enemy, but it is not used in that sense here, for the law of Moses should not be thought of in that light. The idea is that no one could form his religious life by that law and be under the law of Christ at the same time. (See Gal 5:1-4.) Nailing it to his cross. As long as a note or bond is in force or unsatisfied, it stands as an obligation "against" those who are under it. But when its demands have been met, it is canceled and its debtors are no longer held. Then such a document is rendered void by having a punch make a perforation through it, as a ticket is punched. This was done to the law when Jesus suffered himself to be punctured or nailed to the cross.

Verse 15

Col 2:15. To spoil anything means to take away its valuables. The most valuable possession of a power or government is its authority. Jesus took that away from the law, as far as religious obligations were concerned, when He died on the cross and gave to the world another law and government. Make a show of them openly by being crucified in the view of the world. In this great event, though Jesus died and apparently was overcome, yet he came forth again from the dead to die no more. In so doing, Jesus triumphed over them (all other powers) in it. The last two words are rendered "in himself," which is correct since He was the one who triumphed.

Verse 16

Col 2:16. The law of Moses had certain regulations concerning what they might eat and drink, and how (Lev 7:10-27). It had various days that had to be observed as holy days. Among these were the new moons (2Ch 31:3; Num 28:11), and all the sabbath days (Exo 31:13). Since that law has been replaced by the Gospel, no man should be a/llowed to judge the Christians concerning these regulations, by trying to force their observance on them.

Verse 17

Col 2:17. The lexicon explains the original for shadow to mean, "an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object," and body is from SOMA, which the same lexicon of Thayer defines as, "the thing itself which casts the shadow." The ordinances of the Mosaic law were types or shadows of those to be given through Christ, and that is the reason He is said to be the body that casts the shadow. By insisting on the ordinances of the old law, the Ju-daizers were preferring the shadow of something to the thing itself.

Verse 18

Col 2:18. Beguile you of your reward is from a Greek word that is used literally in reference to the athletic contests, where a judge or umpire would decide who is the winner. Thayer defines the word, "To decide as umpire against one, to declare him unworthy of the prize; to defraud of the prize of victory." As Paul uses it the meaning is, not to let the Judaizers cheat the disciples out of their reward from Christ by means of the evil things mentioned in the rest of this verse and the next. Voluntary humility means a pretended or self-imposed show of humility that is outward only. Worshiping is from THRESKEIA, which Thayer defines, "Primarily fear of the gods; religious worship, especially external, that which consists in ceremonies." It is used here in reference to some formalities that were claimed to be pleasing to the angelic hosts or beings in the unseen world, which Paul describes as an intruding into those things which he hath not seen. These Judaistic philosophers did all this because their fleshly or carnal mind had puffed them up over their imaginary importance.

Verse 19

Col 2:19. The head of a body is that which directs its movements, hence if the body should become disconnected from the head, its performances would become disorderly (such as a fowl when its head has been severed by an ax). These deceptive teachers are likened to a body thus disconnected from its head, because they have rejected Christ who is "the head of the body." Joints and bands refers to the parts of the body, which must depend upon the head for proper control. When that is done, it will result in having nourishment ministered, and hence will be knit together into a well ordered body. The grand result will be a proper development and increase (growth), because it will be the increase of God. (See Eph 4:16.)

Verse 20

Col 2:20. In his deunciation of false teachers, the apostle has reference to both Judaism and so-called philosophy in the rest of the chapter, but chiefly the former. Rudiments of the world means the elements or ordinances of the law that were types of the Gospel. Since Christ has released them from their obligation to the former rudiments, by (Paul asks) are they still subjecting themselves to them as if they were still under them.

Verse 21

Col 2:21. Paul did not give this verse as his command, but quotes it as one of the human ordinances from which Christ has made men free. The restrictions of the law, such as touch not, taste not, handle not, referred to the eating and drinking of certain things. Those rer.ulations had been lifted by the Gospel, so that trying still to fasten them upon Christians was considered as forcing upon them a human regulation.

Verse 22

Col 2:22. Perish with the using. The things the Judaizers insisted that Christians should "touch not; taste not; handle not," were the articles of food and drink that were restricted by the law. Paul is reasoning that the restrictions were not made because of any bad effect such things would have on the body, for they perished with the using. That is, as articles of food, they were soon cast out of the body, leaving it unharmed. (See Mar 7:15-19) The ordinances against them, therefore, were purely ceremonial, and when the law was canceled, the said restrictions were canceled also. After that was done, any c-ntinuance of them would be regarded as being after the commandments and doctrines of men. Paul taught the some idea in Php 3:9, where he designates the righteousness of the law "mine own righteousness," after the law had been replaced by that of Christ.

Verse 23

Col 2:23. Show of wisdom denotes that these unauthorized theories and practices have an appearance of wisdom only. This verse has special reference to the items of so-called philosophers, and the practices of people called ascetics. Such extremists believed it was a virtue to torture the body in the name of religious philosophy. Will worship means that which is suggested by the human will instead of by the will of God. Humility is the same as "voluntary humility," and it is explained at verse 18. Neglecting of the body is defined by Robinson as "harsh bodily discipline." Not in any honor denotes that these things are of no real value, and to the satisfying of the flesh means they are prompted by the fleshly or human notions. /
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Colossians 2". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/colossians-2.html. 1952.
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