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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Colossians 2

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 2

Colossians 2:1. περί] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 read ὑπέρ, following A B C D* P א min. But how easily may ὑπέρ have been suggested to the copyists by Colossians 1:24 and Colossians 4:12!

The form ἑώρακαν (Lachm. and Tisch. 7) or ἑόρακαν (Tisch. 8) is more than sufficiently attested by A B C D* א*, etc., to induce its reception in opposition to the usage elsewhere. Respecting this Alexandrian form see Winer, p. 73 [E. T. 90]; and on ἑόρ., Fritzsche, ad Aristoph. Th. 32.

Colossians 2:2. Instead of συμβιβασθέντες, Elzevir has συμβιβασθέντων, in opposition to decisive testimony; an emendation.

πάντα πλοῦτον] A C min. have πᾶν τὸ πλοῦτος (so Lachm. Tisch. 7), and are also joined by B א* Clem. with πᾶν πλοῦτος (so Tisch. 8). Here also (comp. Colossians 1:27) the neuter is the original; in thinking of the more common πλοῦτος the παντο became παντα, in accordance with which πλοῦτον also came to be written. The reading of Tisch. 8 is a restoration of the neuter form after the article had been lost.

Instead of the simple τοῦ θεοῦ (so Griesb. Scholz, Tisch. 7, Rinck; among modern expositors, Bähr, Olshausen, de Wette, Ewald), Elzevir has τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ, while Lachm. reads τοῦ θεοῦ χριστοῦ, and Tisch. 8 τοῦ θεοῦ, χριστοῦ. Among the numerous various readings, τοῦ θεοῦ χριστοῦ (also adopted by Steiger, Huther, Bleek, Hofmann) is certainly strongly enough attested by B. Hilar, (but without vss.), while the simple τοῦ θεοῦ has only 37, 67**, 71, 80*, 116, Arm. ed. Venet. in its favour. A C * א, 4, Sahid. Vulg. ms. have τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς ( τοῦ) χ., which Böhmer and Reiche prefer, whilst א** Syr. p. have τ. θεοῦ καὶ πατρ. τοῦ χ., and others still, such as Syr. Copt. Chrys. read τ. θ. πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ, and consequently come nearest to the Recepta; but a few authorities, after the mention of God, insert ἐν χριστῷ, as Clem. Ambrosiaster: τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν χ. Regarding these variations we must judge thus: (1) the far too weak attestation of the bare τοῦ θεοῦ is decisive against it; (2) the reading of Lachm.: τοῦ θεοῦ χριστοῦ, is to be regarded as the original, from which have arisen as glosses the amplifications τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ χ.,(77) and τοῦ θεοῦ πατρ. καὶ τοῦ χ., as well as the Recepta; (3) the reading τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν χριστῷ arose out of a gloss ( ἐν χριστῷ) written on the margin at ἐν , in accordance with Colossians 1:27, which supplanted the original χριστοῦ; (4) the ἐν χριστῷ thus introduced was again subsequently eliminated, without, however, the original χριστοῦ being reinserted, and thus arose the reading of Griesb. τοῦ θεοῦ, which therefore—and with this accords its late and weak attestation—appears to be merely a half completed critical restoration.

Colossians 2:4. δέ] is wanting in B א*, Tisch. 8; but it was readily omitted by the copyists before the syllable λε.

μή τις] Lachm. and Tisch. read μηδείς, which, following preponderant codd. (A B C D E P א), is to be preferred.

Colossians 2:7. ἐν τῇ πίστ.] Lachm. and Tisch. have only τῇ πίστει, following B D* min. Vulg. It. Archel. Ambrosiast. Theophyl. Properly; the ἐν was mechanically introduced from the adjoining text.

ἐν αὐτῇ] though suspected by Griesb., and rejected by Tisch. 8 (it is wanting in A C א*, min. Copt. Tol. Archel.), is to be defended. Its omission was easily occasioned by the fact that περισσ. was found to be already accompanied by a more precise definition expressed by ἐν. The ἐν αὐτῷ read by D* א**, 1, Pel. VSS., though only a mechanical repetition of the preceding ἐν αὐτῷ, testifies indirectly to the fact that originally ἐν αὐτῇ was in the text.

Colossians 2:10. ὅζ ἐστιν] Lachm. reads ἐστιν, following B D E F G Germ. Hilar. A mistaken correction, occasioned by the reference of the preceding ἐν αὐτῷ to τὸ πλήρωμα.

Colossians 2:11. After σώματος Elz. has τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν; an exegetical addition, in opposition to decisive testimony. Comp. Romans 6:6.

Colossians 2:13. The second ὑμᾶς is indeed wanting in Elz., but receives so sufficient attestation through A C K L א*, min. VSS. and Fathers, that its omission must be explained on the ground of its seeming superfluous. B min. Ambr. have ἡμᾶς, which is conformed to the following ἡμῖν. Instead of this ἡμῖν, Elz. has ὑμῖν, in opposition to decisive testimony.

Colossians 2:17. ] Lachm. reads , following B F G It. Goth. Epiph. Ambrosiast. Aug. To be preferred, inasmuch as the plural was naturally suggested to the copyists by the plurality of the things previously mentioned.

Colossians 2:18. μὴ ἐώρακεν] μή is wanting in A B D* א*, 17, 28, 67**, Copt. Clar. Germ. codd. in Aug., Or. ed. Tert. ? Lucif. Ambrosiast., while F G have οὐκ. The negation is with justice condemned by Griesb., Steiger, Olshausen, Huther, Ewald; deleted by Tisch. 8 (bracketed by Lachm.), although defended specially by Reiche, whom Hofmann also follows. An addition owing to misapprehension. See the exegetical remarks.

Colossians 2:20. εἰ] Elz. reads εἰ οὖν, in opposition to decisive testimony. An addition for the sake of connecting, after the analogy of Colossians 2:16; Colossians 3:1.

Expressing in a heart-winning way his earnest concern for the salvation of the souls of his readers, Paul introduces (Colossians 2:1-3) what he has to urge upon them in the way of warning against the seduction of false teachers (Colossians 2:4-5), of exhortation to faithfulness (Colossians 2:6-7), and then, again, of warning (Colossians 2:8). He then supports what he has urged by subjoining the relative soteriological instructions and remindings (Colossians 2:9-15), from which he finally draws further special warnings as respects the dangers threatening them on the part of the false teachers (Colossians 2:16-23).


Verse 1

Colossians 2:1. γάρ] The apostle now confirms in concreto the εἰς κ. κοπ. ἀγωνιζόμενος κ. τ. λ., which has just been affirmed of himself in general: in proof of that assertion I would have you to know, etc. Hofmann holds erroneously, in consequence of his mistaken explanation of κοπιῶ in Colossians 1:29, that Paul desires to explain why he has said that he is becoming weary over the exertion, etc.

Instead of the more frequent οὐ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν (see on Romans 11:25; Romans 1:13), Paul uses the θέλω ὑμ. εἰδέναι, also in 1 Corinthians 11:3; comp. Philippians 1:12.

ἡλίκον] what a great, vehement conflict. Paul nowhere else uses this word, which is classical, but does not occur either in the LXX. or in the Apocrypha; in the N. T. it is only found again at James 3:5. That by the conflict is meant the internal pressure of solicitude and apprehension, etc. (comp. Colossians 1:29, also Romans 15:30), is plain—when we remember the imprisoned condition of the apostle, who now could not contend outwardly with the false teachers themselves—from Colossians 2:2. It is at the same time self-evident that the wrestling of prayer was an eminent way of conducting this spiritual conflict, without its being necessary to regard Colossians 4:12 as a criterion for determining the sense in our passage.

καὶ τῶν ἐν λαοδικ.] The neighbouring Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14 ff.) were without doubt exposed to like heretical dangers; hence also the injunction as to the mutual communication of the Epistles, Colossians 4:16.

καὶ ὅσοι κ. τ. λ.] The sense is: and, generally ( καί, see Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 786. 870) for all to whom I am personally unknown. It adds the entire category, to which the ὑμεῖς and those ἐν λαοδικείᾳ, both regarded as churches, were reckoned to belong. Comp. Acts 4:6. It is plain from our passage that Paul had not been in Colossae and Laodicea. It is true that Wiggers, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 176, would have ὅσοι κ. τ. λ. understood as referring to a portion of the Colossians and Laodiceans, in which case καί would mean even; but the text itself is decisively opposed to this view by the following αὐτῶν, Colossians 2:2, which, if the ὃσοι κ. τ. λ. to which it refers be not the class in which the readers and Laodiceans were included, would be altogether unsuitable; as, indeed, the bare even does not suffice to give special prominence to a particular portion (we should expect μάλιστα δέ or the like), and the comprehensive ὅσοι withal does not seem accounted for. Erroneous also is the view (held already by Theodoret in the Hypothes. and in the Commentary, though Credner, Einl. § 154, erroneously denies this) of Baronius, Lardner, and David Schultz (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1829, p. 535 ff.), that the ὅσοι κ. τ. λ. were other than the ὑμεῖς and οἱ ἐν λαοδικ.; Paul having been personally known to both the latter. The subsequent αὐτῶν is fatal to this theory likewise; and how singularly without reason would it have been, if Paul had designated as the objects of his anxiety, along with two churches of the district which are supposed to have known him personally, all not knowing him personally, without distinction of locality! With how many of the latter were there no such dangers at all existing, as the Colossians and Laodiceans were exposed to! To this falls to be added the fact, that in the entire Epistle there is not a single hint of the apostle having been present in Colossae. See, on the contrary, on Colossians 1:8 and on Colossians 1:23. Comp. Wieseler, Chronol. des apost. Zeitalt. p. 440. According to Hilgenfeld, in his Zeitschr. 1870, p. 245 f., the intimation that Paul was personally unknown to the Colossians betrays the composition of the Epistle at a later, time, when the recollection of his labours there had been already superseded and had vanished from the memory of the churches. As if such a forgetfulness were even conceivable, in presence of the high esteem in which the apostle was held!

That Paul should have been so concerned about the Colossians and Laodiceans, as those who did not know him personally, is natural enough, seeing that they were not in a position to oppose the living impression of the apostle’s personal ministry, and his direct authority, to the heretical seductions. Comp. Colossians 2:5.

ἐν σαρκί] not belonging to ἑωράκασι—in which case it would be a contrast to seeing ἐν πνεύματι (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Baumgarten-Crusius)—joins itself, so as to form one idea, with τὸ πρόσωπον μον (Winer, p. 128 [E. T. 169]). See Colossians 2:5. The addition, which might in itself be dispensed with (comp. Galatians 1:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:17), serves the purpose of concrete representation, without its being necessary to import into it a contrast to the “spiritual physiognomy” (Olshausen), or to the having made acquaintance in a spiritual fashion (Hofmann), in connection with which Estius even discovers a certain ταπείνωσις through a higher estimation of the latter; although generally the idea of a spiritual mode of intercourse, independent of bodily absence, very naturally occasioned the concrete description: my bodily face. There is all the less ground for assigning ἐν σαρκί, as an anticipation of Colossians 2:5, to the hand of the manipulator, and that in such a way as to betray an author who knows the apostle to be already snatched away from the flesh and present in heaven (Holtzmann).


Verse 2

Colossians 2:2. The end aimed at ( ἵνα) in this conflict: in order that their hearts may be comforted, viz. practically by the fact, that they are united in love, etc. Accordingly, συμβιβασθ. κ. τ. λ. contains the mode of that comforting, which ensues, when through loving union the evil of heretical division, whether threatening or already rampant, is removed. Most thoughtfully and lovingly Paul designates the concern of his solicitude as παράκλησις τῶν καρδιῶν αὐτῶν, not impeaching them on account of the heretical seductions, but making those temptations to be felt as a misfortune, in the presence of which one requires comfort (Vulgate: “ut consolentur”). Chrysostom remarks aptly (comp. Theophylact): ἤδη λοιπὸν σπεύδει καὶ ὠδίνει ἐμβαλεῖν εἰς τὸ δόγμα, οὔτε κατηγορῶν οὔτε ἀπαλλάττων αὐτοὺς κατηγορίας. The explanation which makes παρακαλ. mean, like אמץ (LXX. Deuteronomy 3:28; Job 4:3), to strengthen, confirm (so Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius), is quite opposed to the Pauline usage, according to which it means to exhort (so Luther here), to give consolation (so Hofmann; comp. Bleek), to entreat, to encourage, to comfort; the latter in particular when, as here, it is joined with καρδία. Comp. Colossians 4:8; Ephesians 6:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:17 (also Sirach 30:23).

συμβιβασθέντες] referred to the logical subject of the foregoing, i. e. to the persons, of whom αἱ καρδίαι αὐτῶν was said. See on Ephesians 4:2. It means here not instructi (Vulgate; comp. 1 Corinthians 2:16, and the LXX.), nor yet introduced,(78) which linguistic usage does not permit, but brought together, united, compacti (Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 4:16; Thuc. ii. 29. 5; Herod. i. 74; and see Wetstein and Valckenaer, Schol. I. p. 453 f.). In connection therewith, ἐν ἀγάπῃ, which denotes Christian brotherly love, is the moral element, in which the union is to subsist; to which is then added the telic reference of συμβιβασθ. by καὶ εἰς κ. τ. λ.: united in love and for behoof of the full richness, etc., i.e. in order, by that union, to attain the possession of this full richness, which could not be attained, but only hindered, by division and variance, καὶ εἰς is not to be joined with παρακλ. (Storr, Flatt), since the καί rather adds to the ἐν-relation of the συμβιβ. its εἰς-relation, and is therefore merely the simple and, not etiam (Bengel, Hofmann); but not to be explained either as et quidem (Bähr, Böhmer), or by an ἔλθωσι to be supplied (Olshausen permits a choice between the two).

τῆς πληροφ. τῆς συνέσ.] The full certainty of Christian insight is the lofty blessing, the whole riches of which, i.e. its blissful possession as a whole, they are to attain, so that in no element of the σύνεσις and in no mode thereof does there remain any lack of completely undoubting conviction;(79) comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:5; Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22; Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5. On the conception of πληροφορεῖν, see Bleek on Hebr. II. 2, p. 233 f. As to σύνεσις, intelligence, both theoretical and practical, comp. on Colossians 1:9; that here also what is specifically Christian is meant κατʼ ἐξοχήν, is plain from the context. See the sequel. The cumulative fulness of the description πᾶν τὸ πλ. τ. πληρ. τ. συνέσ. is naturally and earnestly called forth by the consideration of the dangers which threatened the πληροφ. τ. συνέσ. through the attempts of false teachers (Colossians 2:4). οἶδα, ὃτι πιστεύετε, ἀλλὰ πληροφορηθῆναι ὑμᾶς βούλομαι· οὐκ εἰς τὸν πλοῦτον μόνον, ἀλλʼ εἰς πάντα τὸν πλοῦτον, ἵνα καὶ ἐν πᾶσι καὶ ἐπιτεταμένως πεπληροφορημένοι ἦτε, Chrysostom.

εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κ. τ. λ.] parallel to the preceding εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλοῦτος κ. τ. λ., and destined to bring in with emphasis the great object of the σύνεσις (the divine counsel of redemption, τὸ μυστήριον, see on Colossians 1:26); so that what was previously set forth at length by εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλοῦτος τ. πληροφ. τ. συνέσ. is now succinctly summed up for the sake of annexing the object by εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν. Thus the distinction between ἐπίγνωσις and γνῶσις (Colossians 2:3) is brought out clearly.(80) Comp. on Colossians 1:9. But τοῦ μυστ. τ. θ. is not to be attached also to τῆς συνέσεως (Hofmann), so that the τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν would occupy an interrupting position.

τοῦ θεοῦ] Genitive of the subject; it is God, whose decree the μυστ. is. The reading to be approved, τοῦ θεοῦ χριστοῦ (see the critical remarks), means: of the God of Christ, i.e. to whom Christ belongs in a special way, as to His Father, Sender, Head, etc.; see on Ephesians 1:17; comp. John 20:17; Matthew 27:46. The separation of χριστοῦ, however, from τ. θεοῦ, and the taking it as apposition to τοῦ μυστηρ. τοῦ θεοῦ, so that Christ Himself appears as the personal secret of God, “because He is personally the truth contained in God and revealed from God” (Hofmann, comp. Holtzmann, p. 215), must be rejected, because Paul would thus have expressed himself in a way as much exposed to misapprehension as possible. He would either have inserted an ἐστι after τοῦ θεοῦ (Colossians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 3:11), or have omitted τοῦ θεοῦ, which would have made τὸ μυστήριον χριστοῦ, as in Ephesians 3:4, the mystery contained personally in Christ. But as the apostle has actually written, the reader could only understand the mystery of the God of Christ. If Christ is God’s (see on 1 Corinthians 3:23; comp. Luke 2:26; Luke 9:20; Acts 4:26), then God is also the God of Christ. After θεοῦ, therefore, no comma is to be inserted. Finally, the view of Hilary (“Deus Christus sacramentum est”), that θεός is Christ Himself (so Steiger and Bisping, also Philippi, Glaubensl. IV. 1, p. 460, ed. 2), is wholly without Pauline analogy, and is not to be supported by such passages as Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Ephesians 5:5; in fact, even the lofty predicates employed in Colossians 1:15 ff., Colossians 2:9, draw the line of distinction between God and Christ. Moreover, the expression itself is not harsher (de Wette), or even more inconceivable (Olshausen), more unsuitable and obscure (Reiche), than the phrase θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμ. ἰησοῦ χ. in Ephesians 1:17; since in connection with the notion “the God of Christ,” the designation of the latter as our Lord is unessential. The addition χριστοῦ finds its motive in the connection, because it was just in Christ that God formed the decree of redemption (the μυστήριον), and has carried it out (Ephesians 3:10 f., et al.). Whosoever has known God as the God of Christ, has the divine μυστήριον therewith unveiled to him.


Verse 3

Colossians 2:3. ἐν ] is to be referred to τοῦ μυστηρίου—a remark which applies also in the case of every other reading of the foregoing words—not to Christ,(81) as is commonly done with the Recepta, and by Böhmer, Dalmer, and Hofmann even with our reading. The correct reference is given, in connection with the Recepta, by Grotius (against whom Calovius contends), Hammond, Bengel, and Michaelis; and in connection with our reading, by Huther, Schenkel, and Bleek; its correctness appears from the correlation in which ἀπόκρυφοι stands to τοῦ μυστηρ. The destination of this relative clause is to bring out the high value of the ἐπίγνωσις τοῦ μυστηρίου (since in Him, etc.), and that in contrast to the pretended wisdom and knowledge of the false teachers; hence also the emphatic πάντες οἱ θησ. κ. τ. λ.

The σοφία and γνῶσις are here conceived objectively, and the genitives indicate wherein the treasures consist. The distinction between the two words is not, indeed, to be abandoned (Calvin: “duplicatio ad augendum valet;” comp. Huther and others), but yet is not to be defined more precisely than that γνῶσις is more special, knowledge, and σοφία more general, the whole Christian wisdom, by which we with the collective activity of the mind grasp divine relations and those of human morality, and apply them to right practice. Comp. on Colossians 1:9.

On θησαυροί, comp. Plato, Phil. p. 15 E: ὥς τινα σοφίας εὑρηκὼς θησαυρόν, Xen. Mem. iv. 2. 9, i. 6. 14; Wisdom of Solomon 7:14; Sirach 1:22; Baruch 3:15.

ἀπόκρυφοι] is not the predicate to εἰσί (so most writers, with Chrysostom and Luther), as if it were ἀποκεκρυμμένοι εἰσιν instead of εἰσὶν ἀπόκρυφοι; for, as it stands, the unsuitable sense would be conveyed: “in whom all treasures … are hidden treasures.” But neither is it a description of the qualitative how of their being in Him,(82) in so far, namely, as they do not lie open for ordinary perception (Hofmann); for this adverbial use of the adjective (see Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 4. 12, 2:2. 17; Krüger, § 57. 5) would be without due motive here, seeing that the apostle is concerned, not about the mode of the ἐν εἰσι, but about the characterizing of the treasures themselves, whereupon the how in question was obvious of itself. We must therefore take ἀπόκρυφοι simply as an attributive adjective to θησαυροί, placed at the end with emphasis: in whom the collective hidden treasures … are contained. Comp. LXX. Isaiah 45:3; 1 Maccabees 1:23; Matthew 13:44. The treasures, which are to be found in the mystery, are not such as lie open to the light, but, in harmony with the conception of the secret, hidden (comp. Matt. l.c.), because unattainable by the power of natural discernment in itself, but coming to be found by those who attain εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου, whereby they penetrate into the domain of these secret riches and discover and appropriate them. The objection to this view of ἀποκρ. as the adjective to θησ., viz. that there must then have been written οἱ ἀποκρ. (Bähr, Bleek, Hofmann), is erroneous; the article might have been (1 Maccabees 1:23), but did not need to be, inserted. With the article it would mean: quippe qui absconditi sunt; without the article it is simply: “thesauri absconditi” (Vulgate), i.e. ἀπόκρυφοι ὄντες, not οἱ ὄντες ἀπόκρυφοι.


Verse 4

Colossians 2:4. After this affecting introduction, testifying to his zealous striving for the Christian development of his readers, and thereby claiming their faithful adherence to his gospel, the warning now follows, for the sake of which Paul has prefixed Colossians 2:1-3 ( τοῦτο). That τοῦτο does not refer merely to Colossians 2:3 (so Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, Zanchius, Estius, and others, including Bähr and Böhmer; Huther is undecided) is in itself probable, since Colossians 2:1-3 form a connected sentence admirably preparatory in its entire purport for what follows, and is confirmed by Colossians 2:5, which glances back to Colossians 2:1. Hence: This contained in Colossians 2:1-3, which ye ought to know, I say with the design that, etc.

ἵνα μηδείς (see the critical remarks); comp. Mark 5:43; Titus 3:12; Revelation 3:11, et al.

παραλογίζ.] In N. T., only found elsewhere in James 1:22 (see Theile in loc.); frequent in the later Greek writers since Demosthenes (822. 25, 1037. 15). It indicates, by a term borrowed from false reckoning, the deception and overreaching that take place through false reasoning. What particular sophistries the false teachers, whose agitations at all events tended (see Colossians 2:8 f.) to the disadvantage of the Pauline gospel, were guilty of, does not appear. It is certain, however, that they were not those suggested by Böhmer (nothing good can come out of Nazareth; one who was crucified cannot have possessed divine wisdom), since the false teachers were not non-Christians. Hardly did these beguiling sophistries affect the person of the apostle, as if he were not concerning himself about the confirming and training of churches not planted by himself, as Hofmann thinks. In that case we should have in Colossians 2:1-3 only a self-testimony to the contrary, which, as assertion against assertion, would neither have been skilful nor delicate; nor do we in what follows find any defence in opposition to personal calumniation. This applies also in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 177. The γάρ in Colossians 2:5 by no means requires this interpretation.

ἐν πιθανολογίᾳ] by means of persuading speech; Luther’s “with rational discourses” misapprehends the meaning. It occurs in this place only in the N. T.; but see Plato, Theaet. p. 162 E comp. Dem. 928. 14: λόγους θαυμασίως πιθανούς, also πιθανολογεῖν, Diog. L. x. 87; Diod. Sic. i. 39; and πιθανῶς λέγειν, Lucian, Amor. 7. Hence the art of persuasion: πιθανολογική, Arr. Epict. i. 8. 7.


Verse 5

Colossians 2:5. A special reason, having reference to his bodily absence, by which his readers are encouraged not to allow themselves to be deceived.

τῇ σαρκί] with respect to the flesh, i.e. bodily. Comp. 1 Corinthians 5:3.

ἁλλά] at, yet am I on the other hand, beginning the apodosis; see on Romans 6:5 and 1 Corinthians 4:15.

τῷ πνεύματι] with respect to the spirit, i.e. mentally; my spirit, translating itself in thought into your midst, is along with you. Erroneously Grotius: “Deus Paulo revelat, quae Colossis fierent,” so that πνεῦμα would be meant of the Holy Spirit. According to Wiggers, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 181, and Vaihinger, in Herzog’s Encyklop. IV. p. 79, ἄπειμι takes for granted the apostle’s having been there previously. A quite groundless assumption; the verb expresses ( ἀπό) the being away from, but does not indicate whether a person had been previously present or not, which can only be gathered from the connection or other circumstances of the case. In this case the context directly indicates, by Colossians 2:1, that a bodily παρεῖναι had not occurred. It is otherwise in 1 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 10:11; 2 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Philippians 1:27. Prom the similar expression in 1 Corinthians 5:3. Theodoret nevertheless infers that Paul ὡς θεασάμενος αὐτοὺς ἔγραψεν τὴν ἐπιστολήν.

σύν ὑμὶν] in your society, among you. Comp. Luke 8:38; Luke 22:56; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Peter 1:18, et al.

χαίρων κ. βλέπων] There is here no illogical prefixing of the χαίρων in the lively feeling of joy (Huther, comp. de Wette); χαίρων rather expresses joy at the fact that he is with them spiritually, and καὶ βλέπων ὑμ. τὴν τάξιν κ. τ. λ. then adds what at this joyful being with the Colossians he sees in them, so that the description thus advances with κ. βλέπ.: in spirit I am along with you, rejoicing in this mental presence, and therewith seeing, etc. Comp. also Hofmann, who, however, imports into βλέπων the pregnant meaning not conveyed by the simple verb; it is as plainly present to my soul, as if I saw it with my eyes. This would be κ. ὡς βλέπων, or κ. ὡς ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς βλ. Renderings blending the ideas, such as gaudeo videns (Grotius, Wolf, Bähr, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek, and others), or beholding with joy (Bengel, Heinrichs, Flatt), are at variance with the words as they stand. Some erroneously cite Josephus, Bell. iii. 10. 2, where χαίρω καὶ βλέπων (not βλέπω) means: I rejoice, when I even see it. Winer, p. 438 [E. T. 589], and Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 425, supply with χαίρων the words: concerning you. But the supplying of ἐφʼ ὑμῖν is not justified by the context, which naturally suggests joy at the being together with the readers, for χαίρ. stands alongside of this as an accompanying relation without any other definition of object. And according to this view there is no ground at all for an explicative rendering of καί, which Winer still admits (so also Böhmer and Olshausen).

The testimony, moreover, which is given to the readers by βλέπων κ. τ. λ. is not inconsistent with the anxious conflict in Colossians 2:1; but, on the contrary, makes the latter, in a psychological point of view, all the more conceivable, when the dangers which threatened a state of things still even now so good are considered.

ὑμῶν τ. τάξιν] The prefixed pronoun owes this position to the favourable expectation which the Colossians, more than many others, have awakened in the apostle. The τάξις is order, orderly condition. Its antithesis is ἀταξία, Plato, Tim. p. 30 A. For the idea see Plato, Gorg. p. 504 A: τάξεωςκαὶ κόσμου τυχοῦσα οἰκία, Polyb. i. 4. 6: σύμπασα σχέσις κ. τάξις τῆς οἰκουμένης, iii. 36. 6: διαίρεσις κ. τάξις. It is often used of the organized condition of the state, Dem. 200. 4, Plat. Crit. p. 109 D elsewhere also (see Sturz, Lex. Xen. IV. p. 245) of the army, sometimes to designate a section of it (a company of two λόχοι), and sometimes to express its regular arrangement in rank and file (Thuc. iii. 87. 2, iv. 72. 2, 126. 4, viii. 69. 1). Hofmann(83) takes both τάξ. and στερέω΄α in a military sense. But the two words have not in and of themselves the military sense; they would receive it from the context, which is not the case here. Moreover, the meaning fortress, military bulwark, is expressed not by στερέωμα generally, but by ἔρυ΄α or ὀχύρωνα, 2 Corinthians 10:4. Hence, if we would avoid arbitrariness, we can only abide by the view that here τάξις means the orderly state of the Christian church, which has hitherto not been disturbed by sectarian divisions or forsaken by the readers. Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:40. To this outward condition Paul then subjoins the inner one, by which the former is conditioned: and the solid hold of your faith in Christ. στερέωμα, firmamentum, that which has been made firm (Arist. partt. an. ii. 9; Theophr. H. pl. v. 7. 3), a late word, often found in LXX., Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus, and Apocrypha (see Schleusner, Thes. V. p. 102 f.), represents the stedfastness and immoveableness of faith in such a way, that the latter appears as protected by a strong work (with solid foundation, masonry, etc.) from injury (Ezekiel 13:5; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 3 Esdr. 8:81). On the subject-matter, comp. Acts 16:5 : ἐστερεοῦντο τῇ πίστει, 1 Peter 5:9 : ἀντίστητε στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει. The abstract firmness, however (Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek, and older expositors), which would be στερεότης, is never designated by the word. Chrysostom explains rightly: ὅτε πολλὰ συναγαγὼν συγκολλήσεις πυκνῶς καὶ ἀδιασπαστῶς, τότε στερέω΄α γίνεται. The genitive τῆς πίστεως, finally, is not to be taken in such a way as to make faith the στερέωμα (Hofmann), which protects the readers, as if it were τὸ ὑ΄ῶν στερέω΄α; but as the genitive of the subject, in such a way that their faith has the στερέωμα securing it, which Paul spiritually sees.

To call in question the unseducedness here attested (Baumgarten-Crusius, who leaves it a question whether the sense is not merely: “if it is so”), or to refer it to only a part of the church (Flatt), is a quite arbitrary result of unduly pressing the general utterance of commendation.


Verse 6

Colossians 2:6 f. From the warning given in Colossians 2:4 and having its ground assigned in Colossians 2:5, follows ( οὖν) the positive obligation to make Christ, as He had been communicated to them through the instruction which they had received, the element in which ( ἐν αὐτῷ) their conduct of the inner and outer life moves ( περιπατεῖτε), whereupon the more precise modal definitions are subjoined by ἐῤῥιζωμένοι κ. τ. λ.

ὡς] according as. Observe that in the protasis παρελάβετε and in the apodosis περιπατεῖτε (not ἐν αὐτῷ, as Hofmann thinks) have the emphasis, in which case the addition of an οὕτως was not necessary. Their walk in Christ is to be in harmony with the instruction, by means of which they have through Epaphras received Christ.

παρελάβετε] have received (Colossians 1:7; Ephesians 4:20), comp. Galatians 1:9; Galatians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 11:23. Christ was communicated to them as the element of life.(84) The rendering: have accepted (Luther, Bähr, Böhmer, Huther, Hofmann), is not contrary to Pauline usage (de Wette; but see on Philippians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 15:1); but it is opposed to the context, in which after Colossians 2:4 (see especially Colossians 2:7 : καθὼς ἐδιδάχθητε, and Colossians 2:8 : κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρ.) the contrast between true and false Christian instruction as regulative of the walk, and not the contrast between entrance into the fellowship of Christ and the walk therewith given (Hofmann), predominates.(85)

τὸν χ. . τὸν κύριον] A solemnly complete designation, a summary of the whole confession (1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:11), in which τὸν κύριον, conformably with its position and the entire connection, is to be taken in the sense: as the Lord, consequently attributively, not as a mere apposition (de Wette, Bleek, Ellicott, and others), in which Hofmann includes also ἰησοῦν, a view which is not warranted by Ephesians 3:1.

Colossians 2:7. ἐῤῥιζω΄. κ. ἐποικοδ. ἐν αὐτῷ] introduces the ethical habitus in the case of the required περιπατεῖν ἐν χ. But the vivid conception, in the urgency of properly exhausting the important point, combines very dissimilar elements; for the two figures, of a plant and of a building, are inconsistent as such both with περιπατεῖτε and with one another. Comp. Ephesians 3:17 f. By beginning a new sentence with ἐῤῥιζω΄ένοι κ. τ. λ., and thus construing it in connection with Colossians 2:8 (Schenkel, Hofmann), we should gain nothing in symmetry, and should only lose without sufficient reason in simplicity of construction; while we should leave the ἐν αὐτῷ περιπατεῖτε in Colossians 2:6 in a disproportionately bald and isolated position. This conjunction, moreover, of heterogeneous figures might quite as legitimately have been made by the apostle himself as by an interpolator, whose hand Holtzmann thinks that he here discovers.

Observe further the difference in time of the two participles, whereby the stedfastness of the ἐν χριστῷ εἶναι (figuratively represented by ἐῤῥιζω΄.) is denoted as a subsistent state, which must be present in the case of the περιπατεῖν ἐν αὐτῷ, while the further development of the Christian condition (figuratively represented by ἐποικοδ.) is set forth as a continuing process of training; comp. Acts 20:32.

ἐποικοδ.] becoming built up, in which ἐπί exhibits the building rising on the foundation. Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 3:12; Ephesians 2:20; Xen. Anab. iii. 4. 11; Plat. Legg. v. p. 736 E. The building up may in itself be also regarded as an act accomplished (through conversion), as in Ephesians 2:20 : ἐποικοδομηθέντες, which, however, as modal definition of περιπατ., would not have suited here. The progress and finishing of the building (de Wette, following Acts 20:32, where, however, the simple form οἰκοδ. should be read) are conveyed by the present, not by ἐποικοδ. in itself (comp. Ephesians 2:22). Nor does the latter represent the readers as stones, which are built up on the top of those already laid (Hofmann); on the contrary, they are in their aggregate as a church (comp. on Eph. l.c.) represented as an οἰκοδομή in the course of being built (i.e. of a more and more full development of their Christian common life), in regard to which the ἐπί in ἐποικοδ. presupposes the foundation laid by Epaphras, namely, Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11); and the building materials, including the stones, are not the persons, but the doctrines, by means of which the builders accomplish their work (see on 1 Corinthians 3:12).

ἐν αὐτῷ] belongs to both participles, so that Christ is to be conceived doubtless as the soil for the roots striking downwards (Ephesians 3:17), and as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) for the building extending upwards; but the expression is determined by the conception of the thing signified, namely, the ἐν χριστῷ εἶναι, as in ἐν αὐτῷ περιπατ., and not by the figures; hence Paul has not written ἐπʼ αὐτόν (1 Corinthians 3:12), or ἐπʼ αὐτῷ (Ephesians 2:20), which would have been in harmony with the latter participle, but he exhibits Christ as the Person, in whom that which is meant by the being rooted and becoming built up has its specific being and nature, and consequently the condition of endurance and growth.(86) Comp. on Ephesians 2:21.

καὶ βεβαιούμ. τῇ πίστ.] And to this being rooted and becoming built up there is to be added the being stablished by the faith, as the development of quality in the case, in order that no loose rooting may take place, nor any slack building be formed. The dative τῇ πίστει (see the critical remarks) is to be taken as instrumental, not: with respect to (in opposition to de Wette), since the following modal definition περισσ. ἐν αὐτῇ specifies, not how they are to be stablished in respect of the faith, but how they are to be stablished by it, by the fact, namely, that they are rich in faith; poverty in faith would not be sufficient to bring about that establishment. In like manner we should have to take the reading ἐν τ. πίστει, which Hofmann defends. He, however, joins this ἐν τ. πίστει not with βεβαιού΄., but with the following περισσεύοντες,—a connection which is excluded by the genuineness of ἐν αὐτῇ, but which is, even apart from this, to be rejected, because Paul would, in order to be fairly intelligible, have inserted the ἐν αὐτῷ only after βεβαιού΄ενοι, to which it would also refer.

καθὼς ἐδιδάχθ.] namely, to become stablished by the faith. For this they have received (from Epaphras, Colossians 1:7) the instructions which are to guide them.

περισσεύοντες κ. τ. λ.] is subordinate to the βεβαιού΄., and that as specifying the measure of the faith, which must be found in them in order that they may be stablished through faith; while at the same time the requisite vital expression, consecrated to God, of the piety of the believing heart is brought out by ἐν εὐχαρ.: while ye are abounding in the same amidst thanksgiving, i.e. while ye are truly rich in faith, and at the same time giving thanks to God for this blessing of fulness of faith. The emphasis is upon περισσ., in which lies the more precisely defining element; περισσεύειν ἐν is nothing else than the usual abundare aliqua re, to have abundance of something (Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 8:7; Philippians 1:9, et al.), and ἐν εὐχαρ. indicates an accompanying circumstance in the case, the ethical consecration of grateful piety, with which the richness in faith must be combined; comp. Colossians 3:17, Colossians 1:12. It is well explained, in substance, by Theophylact: περισσόν τι ἐνδείκνυσθαι ἐν τῇ πίστει, εὐχαριστοῦντες τῷ θεῷ, ὅτι ἠξίωσεν ἡμᾶς τοιαύτης χάριτος, καὶ μὴ ἑαυτοῖς τὴν προκοπὴν ἐπιγράφοντας. Rightly also by Oecumenius, who takes ἐν εὐχαρ. as equivalent to σὺν εὐχαρ. Comp. Castalio, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Bähr, Steiger, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Dalmer, Hofmann, and others. Others, however, regard ἐν εὐχαρ. as belonging to περισσ. Such is the view not only of the majority who reject ἐν αὐτῇ on critical grounds (as Ewald), but also of Luther, Michaelis, Storr, Flatt, Huther (that the Colossians in their faith towards God … are to show themselves abundantly grateful). De Wette favours this rendering on the ground that the clause is not attached by καί, which, however, is quite in keeping with the circumstance that περισσ κ. τ. λ. is subordinate to the βεβαιού΄. κ. τ. λ. In opposition to the combination περισσ. ἐν εὐχαρ. there may be urged, first, the arrangement of the words in itself; secondly, the fact that ἐν αὐτῇ would be superfluous; and thirdly, that all the other elements of the verse refer to the nature of faith, and hence the latter, in harmony with the context, is to be regarded also in the last participial clause as the object of the discourse, whereas ἐν εὐχαρ. is to be treated as a relation associated with the faith.


Verse 8

Colossians 2:8. Be upon your guard, lest there shall be some one carrying you, away as a prey. In that case, how grievously would what I have just been impressing upon your hearts, in Colossians 2:6-7, be rendered fruitless!

The future ἔσται after μή (comp. Hebrews 3:12) has arisen from the apprehension that the case may yet actually occur. See Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 451 A Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 139 f.; Ellendt·, Lex. Soph. II. p. 104. Comp. also on Galatians 4:11.

As to the participle with the article, comp. on Galatians 1:7 : τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες.

Respecting συλαγωγεῖν, belonging to the later Greek, see Eustath. ad Il. v. p. 393, 52. Very inaccurately rendered by the Vulgate: decipiat. In Aristaen. ii. 22, joined with οἶκον, it means to rob; and is so taken here by Hilary, Chrysostom, Theodoret ( ἀποσυλᾶν τὴν πίστιν), Theophylact ( τὸν νοῦν), Luther, Wolf, and many others, including Baumgarten-Crusius. But the stronger sense of the word praedam abigere (Heliod. x. 35; Nicet. Ann. 5, p. 96 D) is in keeping with the verb of the previous exhortation, περιπατεῖτε, as well as with the purposely chosen peculiar expression in itself, which is more significant than the classical συλᾶν or συλεύειν, and serves vividly to illustrate the idea of the seduction, through which one falls under extraneous power, as respects its disgracefulness.

διὰ τῆς φιλοσοφίας κ. κενῆς ἀπάτης] through philosophy and empty deceit. It is to be observed that neither the preposition nor the article is repeated before κενῆς (see Kühner, II. 1, pp. 476, 528; Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 86 [E. T. 100]), because with καὶ κεν. ἀπατ. there is added no further element different from τῆς φιλοσοφ. (in opposition to Hofmann), but only that which the philosophy in its essence is; it is empty deception, that is, having no real contents; the πιθανολογία (Colossians 2:4), with which it is presented, is a κενεαγορία (Plat. Rep. p. 607 B), and κενολογία (Plut. Mor. p. 1069 C). On the idea of κενός (1 Corinthians 15:14; Ephesians 5:6), comp. Dem. 821. 11.: κενώτατον πάντων λόγων λέγουσι, and on ἀπάτη, Plat. Soph. p. 260 C: ὄντος δέ γε ψεύδους ἔστιν ἀπάτη …, καὶ μὴν ἀπάτης οὔσης εἰδώλων τε καὶ εἰκόνων ἤδη καὶ φαντασίας πάντα ἀνάγκη μεστὰ εἶναι. The φιλοσοφία, however, against which Paul utters his warning, is not philosophy generally and in itself,—a view at variance with the addition κ. κενῆς ἀπατ. closely pertaining to it, however much the wisdom of the world in its degeneracy (comp. Herm. gottesd. Alterth. § 12; and Culturgesch. d. Griech. u. Röm. I. p. 236 ff., II. p. 132), as experience was conversant with its phenomena in that age,(87) may have manifested itself to the apostle as foolishness when compared with the wisdom of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18 ff; 1 Corinthians 2:6). Rather, he has in view (comp. Colossians 2:18) the characteristic speculation, well known to his readers, which engaged attention in Colossae and the surrounding district,(88) and consisted of a Gnostic theosophy mixed up with Judaism (Essenism). This is, on account of its nature directed to the supersensuous and its ontological character, correctly designated by the term philosophy in general, apart from its relation to the truth, which is signalized by the κ. κενῆς ἀπάτης appended.(89) (Plat. Def. p. 414 C: τῆς τῶν ὄντεν ἀεὶ ἐπιστή΄ης ὄρεξις· ἕξις θεωρητικὴ τοῦ ἀληθοῦς, πῶς ἀληθές). Possibly it was also put forward by the false teachers themselves expressly under this designation (comp. the Sophists as the φάσκοντες φιλοσοφεῖν, Xen. Mem. i. 2. 19; and οἰόμενοι πάντʼ εἰδέναι, in i. 4. 1). The latter is the more probable, since Paul uses the word only in this passage. Comp. Bengel: “quod adversarii jactabant esse philosophiam et sapientiam (Colossians 2:23), id Paulus inanem fraudem esse dicit.” The nature of this philosophy is consequently to be regarded as Judaistic-Oriental;(90) we are under no necessity to infer from the word φιλοσοφία a reference to Greek wisdom, as Grotius did, suggesting the Pythagorean (Clemens Alexandrinus thought of the Epicureans, and Tertullian of such philosophers as Paul had to do with at Athens). The idea that the “sacrarum literarum earumque recte interpretandarum scientia” (Tittmann, de vestigiis Gnosticor. in N. T. frustra quaesitis, p. 86 ff.) is meant, is opposed, not to the word in itself, but to the marks of heretical doctrine in our Epistle, and to the usage of the apostle, who never so designates the O. T. teaching and exposition, however frequently he speaks of it; although Philo gives it this name (see Loesner, Obss. p. 364), and Josephus (see Krebs, p. 236) applies it to the systems of Jewish sects, and indeed the Fathers themselves apply it to the Christian doctrine (Suicer, Thes. s.v.); see Grimm on 2 Maccabees 1:1, p. 298 f.

κατὰ τ. παράδ. τ. ἀνθρ.] might be—and this is the common view—closely joined with ἀπάτης (Winer, p. 128 f. [E. T. 169]). But the οὐ κατὰ χριστόν would not suit this connection, since ἀπάτη is already in itself a definite and proper idea, in association with which a κατὰ χριστόν would be inconceivable; whereas the figurative συλαγωγεῖν still admits also the negative modal statement ( οὐ κατὰ χ.) for greater definiteness. Accordingly κατὰ τ. παράδ. κ. τ. λ. (comp. Steiger, Ellicott) is to be taken as definition of mode to συλαγωγῶν. Paul, namely, having previously announced whereby the συλαγωγεῖν takes place, now adds for the still more precise description of that procedure, in order the more effectively to warn his readers against it, that in accordance with which it takes place, i.e. what is the objective regulative standard by which they permit themselves to be guided. He does this positively ( κατὰ τὴνκόσμου) and negatively ( κ. οὐ κατὰ χριστόν). The genitive τῶν ἀνθρ. is to be explained: ἣν παρέλαβε παρὰ τῶν ἀνθρ. (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:6), and τῶν denotes the category, the traditio humana as such, opposed to the divine revelation. Comp. Mark 7:8. What is meant, doubtless, is the ritual Jewish tradition outside of the Mosaic law (comp. on Matthew 15:2), the latter being excluded by τῶν ἀνθρ.; but Paul designates the thing quite generally, according to the genus to which it belongs, as human.

κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου] Parallel of the foregoing: according to the elements of the world, i.e. according to the religious rudiments, with which non-Christian humanity occupies itself. The expression in itself embraces the ritual observances(91) both of Judaism and heathenism, which, in comparison with the perfect religion of Christianity, are only “puerilia rudimenta” (Calvin), as it were the A B C of religion, so that Paul therefore in this case also, where he warns his readers against Judaistic enticing, characterizes the matter according to its category. As to the designation itself and its various interpretations, see on Galatians 4:3. Among the latest expositors, Bleek agrees with our view, while Hofmann explains: “because it (the philosophy which is described as deceit) permits the material things, of which the created world consists, to form its standard.” See in opposition to this on Gal. l.c. Both expressions, τὴν παράδ. τ. ἀνθρ. and τὰ στοιχ. τ. κόσ΄ου, have it as their aim to render apparent the worthlessness and unsuitableness for the Christian standpoint (comp. Galatians 4:9). Hence, also, the contrast which, though obvious of itself, is nevertheless emphatic: καὶ οὐ κατὰ χριστόν. The activity of that συλαγωγεῖν has not Christ for its objective standard; He, in accordance with His divine dignity exalted above everything (see Colossians 2:9), was to be the sole regulative for all activity in Christian teaching, so that the standard guiding their work should be found in the relation of dependence upon Him; but instead of this the procedure of the συλαγωγῶν allows human tradition, and those non-Christian rudiments which the Christian is supposed to have long since left behind, to serve as his rule of conduct! How unworthy it is, therefore, to follow such seduction!


Verse 9

Colossians 2:9. Since indeed in Him dwells, etc. This is not “a peg upon which the interpolator hangs his own thoughts” (Holtzmann). On the contrary, Paul assigns a reason for the οὐ κατὰ χριστόν just said, with a view more effectually to deter them from the false teachers. The force of the reason assigned lies in the fact that, if the case stand so with Christ, as is stated in Colossians 2:9 ff., by every other regulative principle of doctrine that which is indicated in the words κατὰ χριστόν is excluded and negatived. Others make the reason assigned refer to the warning: βλέπετε κ. τ. λ., so that ὅτι adduces the reason why they ought to permit this warning to be addressed to them (Hofmann, comp. Huther and Bleek); but, in opposition to this view, it may be urged that the ἐν αὐτῷ placed emphatically first (in Him and in no other) points back to the immediately preceding οὐ κατὰ χριστόν (comp. Chrysostom and Calvin); there is therefore nothing to show that the reference of ὅτι ought to be carried further back (to βλέπετε). In Christ the whole fulness of Godhead—what a contrast to the human παράδοσις and the στοιχεῖα of the world!

κατοικεῖ] The present, for it is the exalted Christ, in the state of His heavenly δόξα, that is in view. Comp. Colossians 1:15. In Him the entire πλήρωμα has its κατοικητήριον (Ephesians 2:22), so that He is the personal bearer of it, the personal seat of its essential presence.

πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα (comp. on Colossians 1:19) is here more precisely defined by the “vocabulum abstractum significantissimum” (Bengel) τῆς θεότητος, which specifies what dwells in Christ in its entire fulness, i.e. not, it may be, partially, but in its complete entirety. On the genitive, comp. Romans 11:25; Romans 15:29. It is not the genitive auctoris (Nösselt: “universa comprehensio eorum, quae Deus per Christum vellet in homines transferre”); the very abstract θεότητ. should have been a sufficient warning against this view, as well as against the interpretation: “id quod inest θεότητι” (Bähr). θεότης, the Godhead (Lucian, Icarom. 9; Plut. Mor. p. 415 C), the abstract from θεός, is to be distinguished from θειότης, the abstract from θεῖος (Romans 1:20; Wisdom of Solomon 18:19; Lucian, de calumn. 17). The former is Deitas, the being God, i.e. the divine essence, Godhead; the latter is divinitas, i.e. the divine quality, godlikeness. See on Romans 1:20. Accordingly, the essence of God, undivided and in its whole fulness, dwells in Christ in His exalted state, so that He is the essential and adequate image of God (Colossians 1:15), which He could not be if He were not possessor of the divine essence. The distinction between what is here said about Christ and what is said about Him in Colossians 1:19 is, that the πλήρωμα is here meant metaphysically, of the divina essentia, but in the former passage charismatically, of the divina gratia, and that κατοικεῖν is conceived here as in present permanence, but in the former passage historically (namely, of Christ’s historical, earthly appearance). See on Colossians 1:19. The erroneous attempts that have been made to explain away the literal meaning thus definitely and deliberately expressed by Paul, are similar to those in Colossians 1:19. One of these, in particular, is the mis-explanation referring it to the church as the God-filled organ of divine self-revelation (Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, Schenkel) which has its dwelling-place in Christ.(92) Already Theodoret (comp. τινές in Chrysostom), indeed, quotes the explanation that Christ signifies the church in which the πλήρωμα dwells, but on account of σωματικῶς hesitates to agree to it, and rather accedes to the common view, thereby deviating from his interpretation of Colossians 1:19. Theophylact is substantially right (comp. Chrysostom and Oecumenius): εἰ τί ἐστιν θεὸς λόγος, ἐν αὐτῷ οἰκεῖ, so that the fulness of the Godhead in the ontological, and not in the simply mystical or morally religious sense (de Wette) is meant.

But how does it dwell in Christ? σωματικῶς, in bodily fashion, i.e. in such a way that through this indwelling in Christ it is in a bodily form of appearance, clothed with a body. Comp. also Hofmann in loc., and Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 29; Weiss, Bibl. Theol. p. 428, ed. 2. It is not in Christ ( ἀσωμάτως), as before the Incarnation it was in the λόγος ( θεὸς ἦν λόγος, John 1:1), but (comp. also Gess, Pers. Chr. p. 260 ff.) it is in His glorified body (Philippians 3:21), so that the ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ and ἰσα θεῷ εἶναι, which already existed in the λόγος ἄσαρκος (Philippians 2:6), now in Christ’s estate of exaltation—which succeeded the state of humiliation, whereby the μορφὴ θεοῦ was affected—have a bodily frame, are in bodily personality.(93) Of course the θεότης does not thereby itself come into the ranks of the σωματικαὶ οὐσίαι (Plat. Locr. p. 96 A), but is in the exalted Christ after a real fashion σωματικῷ εἴδει (Luke 3:22), and therefore Christ Himself is the visible divine-human image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). In this glory, as Possessor of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily, He will also appear at the Parousia—an appearance, therefore, which will manifest itself visibly (1 John 3:2) as the actual ἐπιφάνεια τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ (Titus 2:13). The reference of the whole statement, however, to the exalted Christ is placed beyond question by the use of the present κατοικεῖ, which asserts the presently existing relation, without requiring a νῦν along with it (in opposition to Huther). The renderings: essentialiter, οὐσιωδῶς (Cyril, Theophylact, Calvin, Beza, and others, including Usteri, Steiger, Olshausen, Huther, Bisping), in which case some thought of a contrast to the divine ἐνέργεια in the prophets (see Theophylact), and: realiter (Augustine, Erasmus, Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Schoettgen, Wolf, Nösselt, Bleek, and others), in which was found the opposite of τυπικῶς (Colossians 2:17), are linguistically inappropriate; for σωματικός never means anything else than corporeus. Comp. on the adverb, Plut. Mor. p. 424 D. The less justifiable is the hypothesis of Rich. Schmidt (Paul. Christol. p. 191), that in the term σωματικῶς the contrast of Colossians 2:17 was already present to the apostle’s mind. Those who adopt the erroneous explanation of πλήρωμα as referring to the church, assign to σωματικῶς the meaning: “so that the church stands related to Him as His body” (Baumgarten-Crusius and Schenkel), which issues in the absurdity that the body of Christ is held to dwell in Christ, whereas conversely Christ could not but dwell in His body. It is true that the church is related to Christ as His body, not, however, in so far as it dwells in Him (and, according to the context, this must have been the case here, if the explanation in question be adopted), but either in so far as He dwells in it, or in so far as He is its Head, which latter thought is quite foreign to the connection of the passage; for even in Colossians 2:10 Christ is not called the Head of the church. It is, morever, to be observed, that the adverb is placed emphatically at the end. The special reason, however, on account of which the κατοικεῖν κ. τ. λ. is thus prominently set forth as bodily, cannot, indeed, be directly shown to have been supplied by the circumstances of the Colossians, but is nevertheless to be recognised in an apologetic interest of opposition to the false teachers, who by their doctrines concerning the angels (comp. Colossians 2:10 : ἀρχῆς κ. ἐξουσ.) must have broken up, in a spiritualistic sense, the πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος.


Verse 10

Colossians 2:10. καί ἐστε ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρ.] still depending on ὅτι: and (since) ye are filled in Him, i.e. and since the πληρότης which ye possess rests on Him, the bodily Bearer of the divine πλήρωμα. The two are correlative: from the πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος, which dwells in the exalted Christ, flows the πεπληρωμένον εἶναι of the Christian, which has its basis, therefore, in no other than in Christ, and in nothing else than just in fellowship with Him. Filled with what? was self-evident to the consciousness of the reader. It is the dynamic, charismatic πλήρωσις, which Christians, in virtue of their union of life with the Lord, whose Spirit and ζωή are in them, have received, and continuously possess, out of the metaphysical πλήρωμα dwelling in Christ, out of the πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος.

The emphasis is not upon ἐστέ, but, as shown by the subsequent relative definitions, upon ἐν αὐτῷ. If the πεπληρωμένον εἶναι depends on Him, on nothing and on no one but on Him, then everything else which men may teach you, and with which they may wish to seize you and conduct you in leading strings, is οὐ κατὰ χριστόν. With due attention to this emphasis of ἐν αὐτῷ, we should neither have expected ὑμεῖς (in opposition to de Wette; comp. Estius and others: “et vos”) nor have explained ἐστέ in an imperative sense (in opposition to Grotius, Bos, Heumann); which latter view is to be rejected, because the entire connection is not paraenetic, and generally because, whilst a πληροῦσθε (Ephesians 5:18) or γίνεσθε πεπληρ. may, ἐστε πεπληρ. cannot, logically be enjoined.(94) There is, moreover (comp. also Hofmann), nothing to be supplied with πεπληρ. (usually: τῆς θεότητος, see Theophylact and Huther; de Wette, Bleek: τοῦ πληρώμ. τ. θεότ.), since the specifically ontological sense of the purposely-chosen θεότητος would not even be consistent with the supposed equalization of the Christians with Christ ( οὐδὲν ἔλαττον ἔχετε αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ πεπληρωμένοι καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐστε τῆς θεότητος, Theophylact), and this equalization does not exist at all, because Paul has not written καὶ ὑμεῖς. In what their being filled consisted, was known to the readers from their own experience, without further explanation; their thoughts, however, were to dwell upon the fact that, since their being full depended on Christ, those labours of the false teachers were of quite another character than κατὰ χριστόν.

ὅς ἐστιν κεφαλὴ κ. τ. λ.] This, as also Colossians 2:11, now supplies confirmatory information regarding the fact that they have their being filled not otherwise than just in Christ; namely, neither through ἀρχαὶ κ. ἐξουσίαι, since Christ is the head of every ἀρχή and ἐξουσία; nor yet through circumcision, since they have received in Christ the real ethical circumcision.

πάσης ἀρχ. κ. ἐξουσ.] is not more precisely defined as in Ephesians 3:10; hence, in virtue of the munus regium of the Lord quite generally: every principality and power, but with the tacit apologetic reference: consequently also of the angelic powers (Colossians 1:16) belonging to these categories and bearing these names, to whose mediation, to be attained through θρησκεία, the false teachers direct you,—a reference which Hofmann, understanding the expressions in the sense of spiritual beings ruling arbitrarily and in opposition to God especially over the Gentile world (notwithstanding the fact that Christ is their Head!), groundlessly denies; see Colossians 2:18. If Christ be the Head of every ἀρχή and ἐξουσία, i.e. their governing sovereign, the Christian cannot have anything to expect from any angelic powers subordinate to Christ,—a result involved in the union in which He stands to the Higher, to Christ Himself.

With the reading ἐστιν (see the critical remarks), which is also preferred by Ewald,(95) Lachmann has placed καί ἐστε ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρ. in a parenthesis. But, while this important thought would neither have motive nor be appropriate as a mere parenthesis, it would also be improper that the neuter subject τὸ πλήρω΄α τ. θεότ. should be designated as κεφαλὴ κ. τ. λ., which applies rather to the personal possessor of the πλήρω΄α, to Christ.


Verse 11

Colossians 2:11. Respecting the connection and its reference to the false teachers, so far as they “Iegem evangelio miscebant” (Calvin), see on Colossians 2:10.

ἐν ] like ἐν αὐτῷ in Colossians 2:10 : on whom it also causally depends that ye, etc. This applies to the point of time of their entrance into the union with Christ, as is clear from the historical περιετμ., which took place on them through their conversion (comp. Colossians 2:12).

καί] also circumcised were ye. The καί is the simple also, which, however, does not introduce an element included under πεπληρωμ. ἐστε (Hofmann), but to the previous relative statement ( ὅς ἐστιν κ. τ. λ.) appends another; comp. Colossians 2:12. Hofmann’s objection, that the foregoing relative statement has indeed reference to the readers, but is made without reference to them, is an empty subtlety, which is connected with the erroneous rendering of πάσης ἀρχῆς κ. ἐξουσ.

περιτομῇ ἀχειροπ.] is not supplementary and parenthetical (Hofmann), as if Paul had written περιτομῇ δὲ ἀχειροπ., but appends immediately to περιετμηθ. its characteristic, whereby it is distinguished from what is elsewhere meant by circumcision; hence the thought is: “in your union with Christ there has also taken place a circumcision upon you (Gentiles), which is not (like the Jewish circumcision) the work of hands;” comp. Ephesians 2:11. On the word ἀχειροπ. itself (which is similar to ἀχειρούργητος, Poll. ii. 154), in analogous antithetical reference, comp. Mark 14:58; 2 Corinthians 5:1; and on the idea of the inner ethical circumcision, of which the bodily is the type, comp. Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 44:7; Acts 7:51. See Michaelis in loc., and the expositors on Romans 2:29; Schoettgen, Hor. I. p. 815.

ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει κ. τ. λ.] This characteristic περειτμήθητε περιτ. ἀχειρ. took place by means of the putting off of the body of the flesh, which was accomplished in your case (observe the passive connection), i.e. in that the body, whose essence and nature are flesh, was taken off and put away from you by God.(96) With reference to ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει κ. τ. λ., which is to be coupled not merely with περιετ΄ήθητε (Hofmann), but with the entire specifically defined conception of circumcision περιετ΄. περιτ. ἀχειροπ., it is to be noticed: (1) that the genitive τῆς σάρκος is the genitivus materiae, as in Colossians 1:22; (2) that the σάρξ here is not indifferent, but means the flesh as the seat of sin, and of its lusts and strivings (Romans 7:23; Romans 7:25; Romans 8:3; Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:3; Colossians 3:5, et al.); so that Paul (3) might have conveyed the idea of τὸ σῶμα τῆς σαρκ. also by τὸ σῶ΄α τῆς ἁ΄αρτίας (Romans 6:6), but the description by τῆς σαρκός was suggested to him by the thought of the circumcision (Romans 2:28; Ephesians 2:11). (4) The significant and weighty expression ἀπεκδύσει (the substantive used only here, the verb also in Colossians 2:15; Colossians 3:9; Josephus, Antt. vi. 14. 2) is selected in contrast to the operation of the legal circumcision, which only wounded the σῶμα τ. σαρκός and removed a portion of one member of it; whereas the spiritual circumcision, divinely performed, consisted in a complete parting and doing away with this body, in so far as God, by means of this ethical circumcision, has taken off and removed the sinful body from man (the two acts are expressed by the double compound), like a garment which is drawn off and laid aside. Ethically circumcised, i.e. translated by conversion from the estate of sin into that of the Christian life of faith and righteousness (see Colossians 2:12), consequently born again as καινὴ κτίσις,(97) as a καινὸς ἄνθρωπος created after God (Ephesians 4:24), man has no longer any σῶμα τῆς σαρκός at all, because the body which he has is rid of the sinful σάρξ as such, as regards its sinful quality; he is no longer ἐν τῇ σαρκί as previously, when lust ἐνηργεῖτο ἐν τοῖς ΄έλεσιν (Romans 7:5; comp. Colossians 2:23); he is no longer σάρκινος, πεπρα΄ένος ὑπὸ τὴν ἁ΄αρτίαν (Romans 7:14), but is dead for sin (Romans 6:11); he has crucified the σάρξ (Galatians 5:24), and no longer walks κατὰ σάρκα, but ἐν καινότητι πνεύ΄ατος (Romans 7:6); by the law of the Holy Spirit he is freed from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), ἐν πνεύ΄ατι (Romans 8:9), dead with Christ (Galatians 2:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Colossians 3:3), and risen, so that his members are ὅπλα δικαιοσύνης τῷ θεῷ (Romans 6:13). This Christian transformation is represented in its ideal aspect, which disregards the empirical imperfection, according to which the σάρξ is still doubtless even in the regenerate at variance with the πνεῦ΄α (Galatians 5:17). Our dogmatists well describe regeneration as perfecta a parte Dei, but as imperfecta a parte hominum recipientium. To take σῶμα in the sense of massa or aggregate (Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, and others, including Steiger and Bähr(98)), is opposed as well to the context, in which the discourse turns upon circumcision and (Colossians 2:12) upon burial and resurrection, as also to the linguistic usage of the N. T. In classic authors it expresses the notion in question in the physical sense, e.g. Plat. Tim. p. 32 C: τὸ τοῦ κόσμου σῶμα (comp. p. 31 B, Hipp. maj. p. 301 B), and in later writers may also denote generally a whole consisting of parts (comp. Cicero, ad Att. 2:1. 4). In opposition to the erroneous assumption that σῶμα must have a figurative meaning here, as Julius Müller, v. d. Sünde, I. p. 459 f., still in the 5th ed., thinks,(99) see on Romans 6:6; comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 560 f.

ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ χ.] by means of the circumcision of Christ, parallel to the previous ἐν τῇ ἀπεκσύσει κ. τ. λ., naming specifically (as different from that of the Old Testament) the circumcision described previously according to its nature. The genitive τοῦ χριστοῦ is to be rendered: the circumcision, which is produced through Christ. The context requires this by the further explanation of the thing itself in Colossians 2:12. Comp. above, ἐν . But Christ is not conceived of as Himself the circumciser, in so far, namely, as by baptism (Theophylact, Beza, and others), or by His Spirit (Bleek), He accomplishes the cleansing and sanctification of man (see on Colossians 2:12); but as the One through whom, in virtue of the effective living union that takes place in conversion between man and Himself, this divine περιτομή, in its character specifically different from the Israelite circumcision, is practically brought about and rendered a reality, and in so far it is based on Christ as its αἴτιος (Theodoret). It is not, however, baptism itself (Hofmann, following older expositors) that is meant by the circumcision of Christ, although the predicate ἀχειροπ. would not be in opposition to this view, but the spiritual transformation, that consecration of a holy state of life, which takes place in baptism; see Colossians 2:12 : ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι. According to Schneckenburger, in the Theol. Jahrb. 1848, p. 286 ff., the ἀπέκδυσις τ. σώμ. τ. σαρκ. is meant of the death of Christ, and also the περιτομὴ τοῦ χ. is meant to denote this death, so that the latter is an explanation by way of application of the former, in opposition to the heretical recommendation of a bodily or mystical περιτομή. It may be decisively urged against this view, that after τῆς σαρκός there is no αὐτοῦ, (comp. Colossians 1:22), which was absolutely necessary, if the reader was to think of another subject than that of περιετμήθητε; further, that τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν, in Colossians 2:13, stands in significant retrospective reference to the ἀπέκδυσις τ. σώμ. τῆς σαρκός; and that συνταφέντες κ. τ. λ. in Colossians 2:12 is synchronous with περιετμήθητε κ. τ. λ., and represents substantially the same thing. Moreover, the description of the death of Christ as His circumcision would be all the more inappropriate, since, in the case of Christ, the actual circumcision was not absent. According to Holtzmann, the entire clause: ἐν τ. ἀπεκδ. τοῦ σώμ. τ. σαρκ., ἐν τ. περιτ. τ. χ., should be deleted as an addition of the interpolator, because the expression σῶμα τῆς σαρκός has occurred at Colossians 1:22 in quite another—namely, an indifferent, genuinely Pauline—reference. This reason is incorrect, because in Colossians 1:22 it is not τῆς σαρκός, but τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, and this αὐτοῦ makes the great essential difference between the expression in that passage and that employed in our present one.


Verse 12

Colossians 2:12 supplies further information as to how the περιετμήθητε, so far as it has taken place by means of the circumcision of Christ, has been accomplished.

συνταφέντες κ. τ. λ.] synchronous with περιετμ. (comp. on Colossians 1:20, εἰρηνοποιήσας): in that ye became buried with Him in baptism. The immersion in baptism, in accordance with its similarity to burial, is—seeing that baptism translates into the fellowship of the death of Christ (see on Romans 6:3)—a burial along with Christ, Romans 6:4. Through that fellowship of death man dies as to his sinful nature, so that the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός (Colossians 2:11) ceases to live, and by means of the fellowship of burial is put off (Colossians 2:11). The subject who effects the joint burial is God, as in the whole context. In the burial of Christ this joint burial of all that confess Him as respects their sinful body was objectively completed; but it takes place, as respects each individually and in subjective appropriation, by their baptism, prior to which the realization of that fellowship of burial was, on the part of individuals, still wanting.

ἐν καὶ συνηγέρθητε] A new benefit, which has accrued to the readers ἐν χριστῷ, and which in their case must bring still more clearly to living consciousness their ἐν χριστῷ πεπληρωμένον εἶναι; so that ἐν here is parallel to the ἐν in Colossians 2:11, and refers to Christ, as does also αὐτόν subsequently. It is rightly taken thus, following Chrysostom and his successors, by Luther and most others, including Flatt, Bähr, Huther, Ewald. Others have referred it to ἐν τῷ βαπτ. (Beza, Calixtus, Estius, Michaelis, Heinrichs, and others, including Steiger, Böhmer, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Hofmann, Dalmer, Bleek); but, in opposition to this may be urged, first, the very symmetry of the discourse ( ὅςἐν καίἐν καί); secondly, and specially, the fact that, if ἐν refers to baptism, ἐν could not be the proper preposition, since ἐν βαπτ., in accordance with the meaning of the word and the figure of burial, refers to the dipping into (not overflowing, as Hofmann thinks), whilst the spiritual awakening to new life, in which sense these expositors take συνηγέρθ., would have taken place through the emerging again, so that we should expect ἐξ οὗ, or, at all events, the non-local διʼ οὗ; and, thirdly, the fact that just as συνταφέντες has its own more precise definition by ἐν τῷ βαπτ., so also has συνηγέρθ. through διὰ τῆς πίστεως κ. τ. λ., and therefore the text affords no occasion for taking up again for συνηγέρθ. the more precise definition of the previous point, viz. ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι. No, the first benefit received in Christ which Paul specifies, viz. the moral circumcision, accomplished by God through the joint burial in baptismal immersion, has been fully handled in Colossians 2:11 down to βαπτίσματι in Colossians 2:12, and there now follows a second blessing received by the readers in Christ ( ἐν καί): they have been raised up also with Christ, which has taken place through faith, etc. The previous joint burial was the necessary moral preliminary condition of this joint awakening, since through it the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός was put off. This συνηγέρθ. is to be understood in the sense of the fellowship of the bodily resurrection of Christ, into which fellowship man enters by faith in such a way that, in virtue of his union of life and destiny with Christ brought about by means of faith, he knows his own resurrection as having taken place in that of Christ—a benefit of joint resurrection, which is, indeed, prior to the Parousia, an ideal possession, but through the Parousia becomes real (whether its realization be attained by resurrection proper in the case of the dead, or by the change that shall take place in those who are still alive). Usually συνηγέρθ. is taken in the ethical sense, as referring to the spiritual awakening, viz. from moral death, so that Paul, after the negative aspect of the regeneration (Colossians 2:11; βαπτίσματι, Colossians 2:12), now describes its positive character; comp. also Huther, Ewald, Bleek, Hofmann. But in opposition to this view is the fact that the fresh commencement ἐν καί, corresponding with the similar commencement of Colossians 2:11, and referring to Christ, makes us expect the mention of a new benefit, and not merely that of another aspect of the previous one, otherwise there would have been no necessity for repeating the ἐν καί; as also, that the inference of participation in the proper resurrection of Christ from death lies at the basis of the following τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν. Comp. on Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5-6. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Oecumenius have already correctly explained it of the proper resurrection ( καὶ γὰρ ἐγηγέρμεθα τῇ δυνάμει, εἰ καὶ μὴ τῇ ἐνεργείᾳ), but Theophylact makes it include the ethical awakening also: holding that it is to be explained κατὰ δύο τρόπους, of the actual resurrection in spe, and at the same time ὅτι πνευματικῶς τὴν νέκρωσιν τῶν ἔργων τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἀπεῤῥίψαμεν.

διὰ τῆς πίστεως κ. τ. λ.] The τῆς πίστεως is described by Holtzmann, p. 70, as syntactically clumsy and offensive; he regards it as an interpolation borrowed from Ephesians 1:19 f. Groundlessly; Paul is describing the subjective medium, without which the joint awakening, though objectively and historically accomplished in the resurrection of Christ, would not be appropriated individually, the ληπτικόν for this appropriation being wanting. The unbeliever has not the blessing of having risen with Christ, because he stands apart from the fellowship of life with Christ, just as also he has not the reconciliation, although the reconciliation of all has been accomplished objectively through Christ’s death. The genitive τῆς ἐνεργείας τ. θ. is the object of faith; so Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Zeger, Grotius, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, and others, including Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Bleek, and Hofmann, in the 2d ed. of the Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 174 f. But others, such as Luther (“through the faith which God works”), Bengel, Flatt, Bähr, Steiger, de Wette, Böhmer, Huther, et al., take τῆς ἐνεργ. τ. θ. as genitivus causae, for which, however, Ephesians 1:19 is not to be adduced (see in loc.), and in opposition to which it is decisive that in all passages, where the genitive with πίστις is not the believing subject, it denotes the object (Mark 11:22; Acts 3:16; Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 2:1; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 14:12), and that the description of God as the Being who has raised up Christ from the dead stands most naturally and directly in significant reference to the divine activity which procures, not the faith, but the συνεγείρεσθαι, and which is therefore set forth in a very appropriate manner as the special object(100) of faith (comp. 4:17, 24, 6:8, 10:9; 2 Corinthians 4:13-14; Ephesians 1:19 f.; 1 Peter 1:21). At the basis, namely, of the τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτ. ἐκ νεκρ. lies the certainty in the believer’s consciousness: since God has raised up Christ, His activity, which has produced this principale and majus, will have included therein the consequens and minus, my resurrection with Him. To the believer the two stand in such essential connection, that in the operation of God which raised up Christ he beholds, by virtue of his fellowship of life with Christ, the assurance of his own resurrection having taken place along with that act; in the former he has the pledge, the ἐνέχυρον (Theodoret) of the latter. Hofmann now again (as in the first ed. of the Schriftbeweis) explains τῆς ἐνεργ. τ. θ. as in apposition to τῆς πίστεως, in such a way that Paul, “as if correcting himself,” makes the former take the place of the latter, in order to guard against the danger of his readers conceiving to themselves faith as a conduct on man’s part making possible the participation in the resurrection of Christ by God, while in reality it is nothing else than the product of the ἐνέργεια of God. A quite gratuitously invented self-correction, without precedent, and undiscoverable by the reader; although the thought, if it had entered the mind of Paul, might have been indicated with the utmost simplicity and ease (possibly by διὰ τῆς πίστεως, μᾶλλον δὲ διὰ τῆς ἐνεργ. τ. θ.).


Verse 13

Colossians 2:13. Since that συνηγέρθητε was the awaking to eternal life, Paul now goes on to give special prominence to this great blessing, the making alive, and that in reference to the Gentile-Christian position of the readers; and to this he annexes, in Colossians 2:14 f., an anti-Judaistic triumphant statement reminding them of the cancelling of their debt-bond with the law.

To attach καὶ ὑμᾶςσαρκὸς ὑμῶν still to Colossians 2:12, and to make it depend on ἐγείραντος (Steiger), is rendered impossible by the right explanation of τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τ. θ. in Colossians 2:12,(101) to say nothing of the abrupt position in which συνεζωοπ. would thus appear. καὶ ὑμᾶς goes along with συνεζωοπ., so that ὑμᾶς is then repeated (see Fritzsche, Quaest. Luc. p. 14; Bornemann in the Sächs. Stud. 1846, p. 66; Kühner, II. 1, p. 568; Winer, p. 139 [E. T. 184]), the repetition being here occasioned by the emphasis of the συνεζωοπ.: “You also, when ye were dead … He made you alive together with Him.” The καί therefore is not the copula and, but, in harmony with the ὑμᾶς placed in the front emphatically: also, as in Ephesians 2:1. It has its reference in this, that the readers had been Gentiles liable to eternal death, but the συνεζωοπ. had been extended, as to all believers, so also to them. The correctness of this reference is shown by the context as well through τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκ. ὑμ., as through the pronoun of the first person which is introduced after χαρισάμ. Extremely arbitrary is the view of Olshausen, who thinks that in Colossians 2:11 f. the readers are addressed as representatives of the collective community, but by καὶ ὑμᾶς in Colossians 2:13 personally; while Baumgarten-Crusius, in complete antagonism to the position of the words, joins καί, not to ὑμᾶς, but to the verb: “also He has called you to the new life that abideth.”

To arrive at a proper understanding of what follows we must observe: (1) That συνεζωοποίησεν is not to be taken, any more than συνηγέρθητε previously, in an ethical sense, as referring to regeneration (so usually since Oecumenius, as e.g. Grotius: “sicut Christo novam contulit vitam ex morte corporis, ita et nobis novam ex morte animorum;” comp. also Bleek and Hofmann), but in its proper sense, and that (comp. Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων. not. p. 94 f.) as referring to the everlasting life to which God(102) raised up Christ, and which He has thereby also provided for believers in virtue of their fellowship with Christ (as an ideal possession now, but to be realized at the Parousia). See also Ephesians 2:5. The reconciliation (which de Wette understands) is not the ζωοποίησις itself, as is plain from the compound συνεζωοπ., but its precursor and medium. The συζωοποιεῖν stands in the same relation to the συνεγείρειν as the nature of the act to its process; but the reason why συνηγέρθ. here stands before the συζωοποιεῖν (it is different in Ephesians 2:5) is, that the συνηγέρθητε was correlative with the συνταφέντες in Colossians 2:12, hence that word is used first, while in Eph. l.c. the being dead preceded, with which the συζωοποιεῖν primarily corresponds. (2) Like συνεζωοπ., so also νεκρούς is not to be taken in an ethical sense (so usually both here and in Ephesians 2:1, as e.g. Calvin, who thinks that the alienatio a Deo is meant), but, with Chrysostom and Theodoret, in its proper sense; the readers have been—this is the conception—prior to their conversion to Christ a prey of death. This is by no means to be understood, however, in the sense of physical death (for that comes from Adam’s sin, see on Romans 5:12), but in that of eternal death, to which they were liable through their sins, so that they could not have become partakers of the eternal ζωή (comp. on Romans 7:9 f.). See also on Ephesians 2:1. What is meant, therefore, is not a death which would have only become their eternal death in the absence of the quickening (Hofmann), but the eternal death itself, in which they already lay, and out of which they would not have come without that deliverance, nay, which on the contrary—and here we have a prolepsis of the thought—would only have completed itself in the future αἰών.(103) (3) This being dead occurred in the state ( ἐν) of their sins ( τοῖς indicates the sins which they had committed) and of the uncircumcision of their flesh, i.e. when as respects their sinful materially-psychical nature they were still uncircumcised, and had not yet put off by conversion their Gentile fleshly constitution.(104) The ἀκροβυστία in itself they even now had as Gentile Christians, but according to Colossians 2:11 it was no longer ἀκρόβ. τῆς σαρκός in their case, but was now indifferent (Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15), since they had been provided with the ethical circumcision of Christ and emptied of the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός. The ethical reference of the expression does not lie, therefore, in ἀκροβυστία itself, but in the characteristic τῆς σαρκὸς ὑ΄ῶν (genitive of the subject); in this uncircumcision they were as Gentiles prior to their conversion, but were so no longer as Christians. Consequently ἀκροβ. is not to be taken figuratively (Deuteronomy 10:16; Ezekiel 44:7; Jeremiah 4:4) as a designation of vitiositas (so Theodoret, Beza, Grotius, Bähr, Bleek, and most expositors), but in its proper sense, in which the readers as ἀκρόβυστοι could not but have understood it, and therein withal not as a symbol of uncleanness (Huther), or of the alienatio a Deo (Calvin, comp. Hofmann), or the like; on the contrary, the entire ethical stress lies on τῆς σαρκ. ὑμ. The idea of original sin (Flacius and other dogmatic expositors, comp. Bengel: “exquisita appellatio peccati origin.”) is likewise involved, and that according to its N. T. meaning (Romans 7:14 ff.), not in ἀκροβυστ., but doubtless in τῆς σαρκ. ὑ΄ῶν. Nevertheless this τῆς σαρκ. ὑ΄ῶν belongs only to τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ, and not to τοῖς παραπτώ΄ασι as well (Hofmann); comp. Ephesians 2:11. Otherwise we should have, quite unnecessarily, two references heterogeneous in sense for the genitive; besides, the notion of παράπτω΄α presupposes not the σάρξ, but the Ego in its relation to the divine law as the subject; hence also the expression παράπτ. τῆς σαρκ. (or ἁ΄αρτία τ. σ.) does not occur, while we find ἔργα τῆς σαρκός in Galatians 5:19. Holtzmann, p. 71, ascribes the words καὶ τῇ ἀκροβ. τ. σαρκὸς ὑ΄. to the interpolator’s love for synonyms and tautological expressions, and wishes to condemn them also in consequence of what in Colossians 2:11 belongs to the latter (p. 155). But they are not at all tautological; and see on Colossians 2:11.

χαρισά΄ενος κ. τ. λ.] after having granted to us, i.e. forgiven, etc. This blotting out of our whole debt of sin was necessarily prior to the συνεζωοπ. ὑμᾶς σὺν αὐτῷ. By the fact, namely, that He remitted to us all the sins which we had committed ( πάντα τὰ παραπτ.), the causa efficiens of the being (eternally) dead was done away. Comp. Chrysostom: τὰ παραπτώματα, τὴν νεκρότητα ἐτοίει. This χαρισά΄ενος κ. τ. λ. is the appropriation of the reconciliation on the part of God, which believers experienced when they believed and were baptized; the objective expiatory act through the death of Christ had preceded, and is described in Colossians 2:14.

ἡμῖν] applies to believers generally.(105) This extension, embracing himself in common with others, is prepared for by καὶ ὑμᾶς, but could not have been introduced, if χαρισάμ. κ. τ. λ. had been conceived as synchronous with συνεζωοπ., in which case Paul must logically have used ὑμῖν (not ἡμῖν), as the reading is in B א** Vulg. Hilary. On χαρίζεσθαι, comp. 2 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:32. On the subject-matter: 2 Corinthians 5:19 ff.


Verse 14

Colossians 2:14. The participle, which is by no means parallel and synchronous with χαρισάμενος in Colossians 2:13, or one and the same with it (Hofmann), is to be resolved as: after that He had blotted out, etc. For it is the historical divine reconciling act of the death of Christ that is meant, with which χαρισάμενος κ. τ. λ. cannot coincide, since that work of reconciliation had first to be accomplished before the χαρίζεσθαι κ. τ. λ. could take place through its appropriation to believers.

ἐξαλείφειν] is to be left quite in its proper signification, as in Acts 3:19, Revelation 3:5; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4, and frequently in LXX. and Apocrypha, since the discourse has reference to something written, the invalidating of which is represented in the sensuous form of blotting out, even more forcibly than by διαγράφειν (to score out; see Ruhnken, ad Tim. p. 81). Comp. Plat. Rep. p. 386 C, p. 501 B: ἐξαλείφοιενπάλιν ἐγγράφοιεν, Ep. 7, p. 342 C: τὸ ζωγραφούμενόν τε καὶ ἐξαλειφόμενον, Dem. 468. 1 in reference to a law: εἰ χρὴ τοῦτον ἐξαλεῖψαι, Xen. Hell. ii. 3. 51; Lucian, Imag. 26; Eur. Iph. A. 1486. Comp. Valckenaer, ad Act. iii. 19.

τὸ καθʼ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον] the handwriting existing against us. What is thus characterized is not the burden of debt lying upon man, which is, as it were, his debt-schedule (Bleek), but the Mosaic law. A χειρόγραφον, namely, is an obligatory document of debt (Tobit 5:3; Tobit 9:5; Polyb. 30:8. 4; Dion. Hal. v. 8; and the passages in Wetstein; also the passages quoted from the Rabbins in Schoettgen), for which the older Greek writers use συγγραφή or γραμματεῖον, Dem. 882. 7, 956. 2; see also Hermann, Privatalterth. § 49, 12. And the law is the χειρόγραφον confronting us, in so far as men are bound to fulfil it perfectly, in order to avoid the threatened penal curse; and consequently because no one renders this fulfilment, it, like a bill of debt, proves them debtors (the creditor is God). We are not to carry the figure further, in which case we should come to the halting point in the comparison, that the man who is bound has not himself written the χειρόγραφον.(106) Hofmann maintains that this element also, namely, man’s having written it with his own hand, is retained in the conception of the figurative χειρόγραφον. But the apostle himself precludes this view by his having written, not: τὸ ἡ΄ῶν χειρόγρ. (which would mean: the document of debt drawn by us), but: τὸ καθʼ ἡμῶν χειρόγρ.; which purposely chosen expression does not affirm that we have ourselves written the document, but it does affirm that it authenticates us as arrested for debt, and is consequently against us. The words τοῖς δόγμασιν appended (see below) also preclude the conception of the debt-record being written by man’s own hand. Moreover, the law is to be understood as an integral whole, and the various limitations of it, either to the ceremonial law (Calvin, Beza, Schoettgen, and others), or to the moral law (Calovius), are altogether in opposition to the connection (see above, πάντα τὰ παραπτ.), and un-Pauline. The explanation referring it to the conscience (Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, and others) is also at variance both with the word and with the context.(107) The conscience is the medium for the knowledge of the law as the handwriting which testifies against us; without the activity of the conscience, this relation, in which the law stands to us, would remain unknown. Exception has been taken to its being explained of the Mosaic law on account of the use of ἡμῶν, seeing that this law existed only for the Jews. But without due ground; for it is in fact also the schedule of debt against the Gentiles, in so far, namely, as the latter have the knowledge of the δικαίωμα τοῦ θεοῦ (Romans 1:32), have in fact τὸ ἒργον τοῦ νό΄ου γραπτὸν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν (Romans 2:15), and, consequently, fall likewise under the condemning sentence of the law, though not directly (Romans 3:19; Romans 2:12), but indirectly, because they, having incurred through their own fault a darkening of their minds (Romans 1:20-23), transgress the “ κοινὸν ἁπάντων ἀνθρώπων νό΄ον” (Dem. 639. 22). The earnest and graphic description of the abrogation of the condemning law in Colossians 2:14 is dictated by an apologetic motive, in opposition to the Judaism of the false teachers; hence it is the more inappropriate to understand with Cornelius a Lapide and others the covenant of God with Adam in Genesis 2:16, as was already proposed by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact (comp. Iren. Haer. v. 17. 3, and Tertullian).

τοῖς δόγμασιν] Respecting δόγ΄α, command, especially of legal decrees, see on Ephesians 2:15; Wetstein on Luke 2:1; the dative is closely connected with χειρόγραφον, and is instrumental: what is written with the commands (therein given), so that the δόγματα, which form the constituent elements of the law, are regarded as that wherewith it is written. Thus the tenor of the contents of what is written is indicated by the dative of the instrument (ablativus modi), just as the external constituent elements of writing, e.g. γράμμασι in Galatians 6:11, and τύποις in Plat. Ep. 7, p. 343 A, are expressed by the same dative. Observe the verbal nature of χειρόγραφον, and that the dative is joined to it, as to τὸ γεγρα΄΄ένον (comp. Plat. l.c.: τὰ γεγραμμένα τύποις). This direct combination of a verbal substantive with a dative of the instrument is such an unquestionable and current phenomenon in classical Greek (see Matthiae, II. p. 890; Heindorf, ad Plat. Cratyl. p. 131; and especially Kühner, II. 1, p. 374), that the connection in question cannot in the least degree appear as harsh (Winer, Buttmann), or even as unnatural (Hofmann); nor should it have been regarded as something “welded on” by the interpolator (Holtzmann, p. 74), who had desired thereby to give to χειρόγρ. its reference to the law. The explanation given by many writers (Calvin, Beza, Vitringa, Wolf, Michaelis, Heinrichs, and others, comp. Luther), which hits nearly the true sense: the χειρόγραφον, consisting in the δόγ΄ασι, is to be corrected grammatically in accordance with what we have said above. It is in complete variance with the arrangement of the words to join τοῖς δόγ΄. to τὸ καθʼ ἡ΄ῶν by supplying an ὄν (Calovius).(108) Bähr, Huther, and Dalmer (comp. de Wette) regard it as a more precise definition of the entire τὸ καθʼ ἡμ. χειρόγρ., so that Paul explains what he means by the χειρόγρ., and, at the same time, how it comes to be a debt-document testifying against us. So also Winer, p. 206 [E. T. 275]. This, however, would have been expressed by τὸ τοῖς δόγμασι καθʼ ἡμῶν χειρόγρ., or in some other way corresponding grammatically with the sense assumed. Ewald joins τοῖς δόγμ. as appropriating dative (see Bernhardy, p. 88 f.) to χειρόγρ.: our bond of obligation to the statutes.(109) But if χειρόγρ. were our bond of obligation (subjectively), the expression τὸ καθʼ ἡμῶν χειρ. would be inappropriate, and Paul would have said merely τὸ ἡμῶν χειρ. τ. δόγμ. It is incorrect as to sense, though not linguistically erroneous, to connect τοῖς δόγμ. with ἐξαλείψας, in which case it is explained to mean (as by Harless on Ephesians 2:15) that the abrogation of the law had taken place either as regards its statutes (Steiger); or by the evangelical doctrines of faith (the Greek expositors, Estius, Grotius, Hammond, Bengel, and others); or nova praecepta stabiliendo (Fritzsche, Diss. in 2 Cor. II. p. 168 f.). In opposition to these views, see Ephesians 2:15. Erasmus, Storr, Flatt, Olshausen, Schenkel, Bleek, and Hofmann have attached it to the following relative clause,(110) in opposition to the simple order of the words, without any certain precedent in the N. T. (with regard to Acts 1:2, Romans 16:27, see on those passages), and thereby giving an emphasis to the τοῖς δόγμ. which is not warranted (for the law as such contains, in fact, nothing else than δόγματα).

ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡ΄ῖν] an emphatic repetition—bringing into more marked prominence the hostile relation—of the thought already expressed by καθʼ ἡ΄ῶν, with the view of counteracting the legalistic efforts of the false teachers. Bengel’s distinction, that there is here expressed ipsa pugna, and by καθʼ ἡμῶν, status belli, is arbitrary and artificial. It means simply: which was against us, not: secretly against us, as Beza and others, including Böhmer, interpret the word, which Paul uses only in this place, but which is generally employed in Greek writers, in the Apocrypha and LXX., and in the N. T. again in Hebrews 10:27. The relative attaches itself to the entire τὸ καθʼ ἡμ. χειρόγρ. τοῖς δόγμ.

καὶ αὐτο ἦρκεν κ. τ. λ.] Observe not only the emphatic change of structure (see on Colossians 1:6) which passes from the participle, not from the relative (Hofmann), over to the further act connected with the former in the finite tense, but also (comp. on Colossians 1:16) the perfect (Thuc. viii. 100; Dem. 786. 4): and itself (the bill of debt) he has taken out of the way, whereby the abrogation now stands completed. A graphically illustrative representation: the bill of debt was blotted out, and it has itself been carried away and is no longer in its place; ἦρκεν αὐτὸ ἐκ τοῦ μέσου μὴ ἀφεὶς ἐπὶ χώρας, Oecumenius. αὐτό denotes the handwriting itself, materialiter, in contrast to the just mentioned blotting out of its contents. For He has nailed it, etc.; see the sequel. Hofmann imports the idea: it in this (hostile) quality; as if, namely, it ran καὶ τοιοῦτο ὄν (Xen. Anab. vi. 5.13; Philemon 1:9).

The ἐκ τοῦ μέσου is our: “out of the way,” said of obstructions which are removed. Comp. Plat. Eryx. p. 401 E Xen. Anab. i. 5. 14; de praefect. 3. 10, and the passages in Kypke, II. p. 323. The opposite: ἐν μέσῳ εἶναι, to be in the way, Dem. 682. 1; Aesch. Suppl. 735; Dorv. ad Charit. vii.3, p. 601. Thus the law stood in the way of reconciliation to God, of the χαρίζεσθαι κ. τ. λ. in Colossians 2:13.

προσηλώσας κ. τ. λ.] προσηλοῦν only found here in the N. T.; see, however, Plat. Phaed. p. 83 D (with πρός); Lucian, Prom. 2, Dial. D. I. ( τῷ καυκάσῳ προσηλωμένος); Galen. IV. p. 45, 9: τῷ σταυρῷ, 3 Maccabees 4:9. Since the law which condemned man lost its punitive force through the death of Christ on the cross, inasmuch as Christ through this death suffered the curse of the law for men (Galatians 3:13), and became the end of the law (Romans 10:4), at the same time that Christ was nailed as ἱλαστήριον to the cross, the law was nailed to it also, and thus it ceased to be ἐν ΄έσῳ. Observe, moreover, the logical relation of the aorist participle to the perfect ἦρκεν. The latter is the state of the matter, which has emerged and exists after God has nailed, etc. The κ. αὐτὸ ἦρκεν ἐκ μέσου takes place since that nailing. In the strong expression προσηλώσας, purposely chosen and placed foremost, there is involved an antinomistic triumph, which makes the disarming of the law very palpably apparent. Chrysostom has aptly observed on the whole passage: οὐδαμοῦ οὕτως μεγαλοφώνως ἐφθέγξατο. ὁρᾷς σπουδὴν τοῦ ἀφανισθῆναι τὸ χειρόγραφον ὅσην ἐποιήσατο; οἷον πάντες ἦμεν ὑφʼ ἁμαρτίαν κ. κόλασιν· αὐτὸς κολασθεὶς ἔλυσε καὶ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ τὴν κόλασιν. Nevertheless, προσηλώσας neither figuratively depicts the tearing in pieces of the χειρόγρ. (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact), nor is there any allusion to an alleged custom of publicly placarding antiquated laws (Grotius). According to Hofmann (comp. also his Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 370 f.), a public placarding with a view to observance is meant; the requirement of Israelitish legal obligation has become changed into the requirement of faith in the Crucified One which may be read on the cross, and this transformation is also the pardon of transgressions of the law. This is a fanciful pushing further of the apostolic figure, the point of which is merely the blotting out and taking away of the law, as the debt-document hostile to us, by the death of the cross. The entire representation which is presented in this sensuous concrete form, and which is not to be expanded into the fanciful figure of transformation which we have just referred to, is intended, in fact, to illustrate merely the forgiveness of sins introduced by χαρισάμενος κ. τ. λ. in Colossians 2:13, and nothing more. Comp. 1 Peter 2:24. It is to be observed, at the same time, that the ἐξαλείφειν and the αἴρειν ἐκ τ. ΄έσου do not represent two acts substantially different, but the same thing, the perfect accomplishment of which is explained by way of climax with particularising vividness.


Verse 15

Colossians 2:15.(111) In this doing away of the law was involved the victory and triumph of God over the devilish powers, since the strength of the latter, antagonistic to God, is in sin, and the strength of sin is in the law (1 Corinthians 15:56); with the law, therefore, the power of the devil stands or falls.

If ἀπεκδυσ. ran parallel, as the majority suppose, with προσηλώσας, there must have been a καί inserted before ἐδειγ΄άτ., as in Colossians 2:14 before the finite verb, because otherwise no connection would be established. Hence a full stop (Beza) must be placed before ἀπεκδυσ., or at least a colon (Elzevir, Bleek); and without any connecting particle the significant verb heads all the more forcibly the description of this final result expressed with triumphant fulness: Having stripped the lordships and powers, he has made a show of them boldly, holding triumph over them in the same. Observe the symmetrical emphatic prefixing of ἀπεκδυσ., ἐδειγμάτ.,., and θρια΄β. The subject is still always God, not Christ,(112) as Baur and Ewald hold, following Augustine, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Erasmus, Grotius, Calovius, and many others; hence the reading ἀπεκδ. τὴν σάρκα in F G (which omit τ. ἀρχ. κ. τ. ἐξουσ.) Syr. Goth. Hil. Aug. was an erroneous gloss; and at the close, not αὑτῷ (Syr. Vulg. It. Theodoret, Luther, Melanchthon, Elzevir, Griesbach, and Scholz), instead of which G has ἑαυτῷ, but αὐτῷ should be written; see Wolf in loc. The figurative ἀπεκδυσ., which illustrates the deprivation of power that has taken place through the divine work of reconciliation, represents the ἀρχὰς καὶ ἐξουσ. as having been clothed in armour (comp. Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:8), which God as their conqueror stripped off and took from them; Vulg.: exspolians. Comp. on ἐκδύειν and ἀποδύειν, used from Homer’s time in the sense of spoliare, Dem. 763. 28, 1259. 11; Hesiod, Scut. 447; Xen. Anab. v. 8. 23; 2 Maccabees 8:27; and on the subject-matter, Matthew 12:19; Luke 11:22. Moreover, we might expect, in accordance with the common usage of the middle, instead of ἀπεκδυσάμενος, which is elsewhere used intransitively (comp. Colossians 3:9), the active ἀπεκδύσας (comp. Matthew 27:28; Matthew 27:31; Luke 10:30); yet even in Plat. Rep. p. 612 A, the (right) reading ἀπεδυσάμεθα is to taken in the sense of nudavimus; and Xenophon uses the perfect ἀποδέδυκεν, which is likewise intransitive elsewhere (see Kühner, I. p. 803), actively, see Anab. l.c.: πολλοὺς ἤδη ἀποδέδυκεν, multos veste spoliavit; comp. Dio Cass. xlv. 47. Further, the middle, as indicating the victorious self-interest of the action (sibi exspoliavit), is here selected even with nicety, and by no means conveys (as Hofmann, in order to refute this explanation, erroneously lays to its charge) the idea: in order to appropriate to Himself this armour; see on the contrary generally, Krüger, § 52. 10. 1; Kühner, II. 1, p. 93 f. The disarming in itself, and not the possession of the enemy’s weapons, is the interest of the victor. Lastly, the whole connection does not admit of any intransitive interpretation, such as Hofmann, in his Schriftbew. I. p. 350 f. (and substantially also in his Heil. Schr. in loc.), has attempted, making the sense: God has laid aside from Himself the powers ruling in the Gentile world—which were round about Him like a veil concealing Him from the Gentiles—by manifesting Himself in unveiled clearness. Something such as this, which is held to amount to the meaning that God has put an end to the ignorance of the Gentile world and revealed Himself to it, Paul must necessarily have said; no reader could unravel it from so strange a mode of veiling the conception, the more especially seeing that there is no mention at all of the victorious word of Christ(113) converting the Gentiles, as Hofmann thinks, but on the contrary of what God has effected in reference to the ἀρχαὶ and ἐξουσίαι by the fact of reconciliation accomplished on the cross; He has by it rendered powerless the powers which previously held sway among mankind; comp. John 12:30 f., John 16:11.

That these ἀρχαί and ἐξουσίαι are two categories of evil angels (comp. Ephesians 6:12), corresponding to two classes of good angels similarly named (comp. Colossians 2:10), is taught by the context, which has nothing to do with mediating beings intervening between God and the world (Sabatier), or even with human rulers. Ritschl, in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1863, p. 522, understands the angels of the law-giving (comp. on Colossians 1:20), of whom God has divested Himself (middle), i.e. from whose environment He has withdrawn Himself. Even apart from the singular expression ἀπεκδυσάμ. in this sense, this explanation is inappropriate, because the ἀρχαί and ἐξουσίαι appear here as hostile to God, as beings over whom He has triumphed; secondly, because the angels who ministered at the law-giving (see on Galatians 3:19) have no share in the contents of the law, which, as the νόμος θεοῦ, is holy, righteous, good, and spiritual (Romans 7), and hence no deviation from God’s plan of salvation can be attributed to the angels of the law; and, finally, because the expression τὰς ἀρχὰς κ. τὰς ἐξουσίας is so comprehensive that, in the absence of any more precise indication in the text, it cannot be specially limited to the powers that were active in the law-giving, but must denote the collective angelic powers—hostile, however, and therefore devilish. Them God has disarmed, put to shame, and triumphed over, through the abrogation of men’s legal debt-bond that took place by means of the atoning death. The emphatic and triumphant prominence given to this statement was, doubtless, specially occasioned by those speculations regarding the power of demons, with which the false teachers were encroaching on the work of Christ.

δειγματίζειν, preserved only here and in Matthew 1:19 (comp. however, παραδειγματίζειν, especially frequent in Polybius; see Schweighäuser, Lex. p. 429), denotes, in virtue of its connection with the conception of triumph, the making a show (Augustine, ep. 59: “exemplavit;” Hilary, de trin. 9: “ostentui esse fecit”) for the purpose of humiliation and disgrace (comp. Chrysostom), not in order to exhibit the weakness of the conquered (Theodoret, Böhmer), but simply their accomplished subjugation; comp. Nahum 3:6 : θήσομαί σε εἰς παράδειγμα.

ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ] is usually rendered publicly, before the eyes of all, consequently as equivalent to φανερῶς in John 7:10 (the opposite: ἐν κρυπτῷ, John 7:4; Matthew 6:4; Romans 2:28); but this the word does not mean (see on John 7:4); moreover, the verb already implies this idea;(114) and the usage of Paul elsewhere warrants only the rendering: boldly, freely and frankly. Comp. Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20. Hilary: “cum fiducia;” Vulgate: “confidenter palam.” The objection that this sense is not appropriate to the action of God (Hofmann), overlooks the fact that God is here represented just as a human triumpher, who freely and boldly, with remorseless disposal of the spoils acquired by victory, subjects the conquered to ignominious exhibition.(115)

θριαμβεύσας αὐτ. ἐν αὐτῷ] synchronous with ἐδειγμ.: while He triumphed over them. Respecting θριαμβεύειν τινα, to triumph over some one, see on 2 Corinthians 2:14. Comp. the passive θριαμβεύεσθαι, to be led in triumph, Plut. Coriol. 35. αὐτούς refers κατὰ σύνεσιν to the devils individually, who are conceived as masculine (as δαίμονες, κοσμοκράτορες, Ephesians 6:12), see generally Winer, p. 138 [E. T. 183]; and ἐν αὐτῷ is referred either to the cross (hence, also, the readings ἐν τῷ ξύλῳ or σταυρῷ) or to Christ. The former reference is maintained by the majority of the Fathers (Theophylact: ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ τοὺς δαίμονας ἡττημένους δείξας), Beza, Calvin, Grotius, and many others, including Böhmer, Steiger, Olshausen, Ewald, Weiss, Bibl. Theol. p. 432, ed. 2; and the latter, by Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon, Wolf, Estius, Bengel, and many others, including Flatt, Bähr, Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bisping, Bleek, Hofmann, Rich. Schmidt. The reference to Christ is erroneous, because Christ is not mentioned at all in Colossians 2:14, and God pervades as subject the entire discourse from Colossians 2:11 onwards. We must hold, therefore, by the reference to τῷ σταυρῷ, so that ἐν αὐτῷ once more places the cross significantly before our eyes, just as it stood emphatically at the close of the previous sentence. At the cross God celebrated His triumph, inasmuch as through the death of Christ on the cross obliterating and removing out of the way the debt-bill of the law He completed the work of redemption, by which the devil and his powers were deprived of their strength, which rested on the law and its debt-bond. The ascension is not to be here included.


Verse 16

Colossians 2:16. οὖν] since ye, according to Colossians 2:11-15, are raised to a far higher platform than that of such a legal system.

κρινέτω ἐν βρώσει] No one is to form a judgment (whether ye are acting allowably or unallowably, rightly or wrongly) concerning you in the point of eating ( ἐν, comp. Romans 2:1; Romans 14:22; 1 Peter 2:12). There is hereby asserted at the same time their independence of such judgments, to which they have not to yield (comp. Ephesians 5:6). With Paul, βρῶσις is always actio edendi, and is thus distinct from βρῶμα, cibus (Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:10; also Hebrews 12:16), although it is also current in the sense of βρῶμα with John (John 4:32, John 6:27; John 6:55), and with profane authors (Hom. Il. xix. 210, Od. i. 191, x. 176, et al.; Plat. Legg. vi. p. 783 C Hesiod, Scut. 396). This we remark in opposition to Fritzsche, ad Rom. III. p. 200. The case is the same with πόσις (Romans 14:17) and πόμα (1 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 9:10).

ἐν πόσει] Since the Mosaic law contained prohibitions of meats (Leviticus 7:10 ff.), but not also general prohibitions of drinks, it is to be assumed that the false teachers in their ascetic strictness (Colossians 2:23) had extended the prohibition of the use of wine as given for the Nazarites (Numbers 6:3), and for the period of priestly service (Leviticus 10:9), to the Christians as such (as ἁγίους). Comp. also Romans 14:17; Romans 14:21. De Wette arbitrarily asserts that it was added doubtless in consideration of this, as well as of the Pharisaic rules as to drinks, Matthew 23:24, and of the prohibition of wine offered to idols ( οὖν does not point to such things), but still mainly on account of the similarity of sound (Romans 14:17; Hebrews 9:10, and Bleek in loc.).

ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς κ. τ. λ.] ἐν μέρει, with the genitive, designates the category, as very frequently also in classical authors (Plat. Theaet. p. 155 E, Rep. p. 424 D Dem. 638. 5, 668. 24); comp. on 2 Corinthians 3:10, and see Wyttenbach, ad Plut. I. p. 65. The three elements: festival, new moon, and Sabbath, are placed side by side as a further classis rerum; in the point ( ἐν) of this category also no judgment is to be passed upon the readers (if, namely, they do not join in observing such days). The elements are arranged, according as the days occur, either at longer unequal intervals in the year ( ἑορτῆς), or monthly ( νουμην.), or weekly ( σαββάτ.). But they are three, co-ordinated; there would be only one thing with three connected elements, if καί were used instead of in the two latter places where it occurs. The three are given in inverted order in 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 31:3. On the subject-matter, comp. Galatians 4:10. Respecting the Jewish celebration of the new moon, see Keil, Archäol. I, § 78; Ewald, Alterth. p. 470 f.; and on σάββατα as equivalent to σάββατον, comp. Matthew 12:1; Matthew 28:1; Luke 4:16, et al. ἐν μέρει has been erroneously understood by others in the sense of a partial celebration (Chrysostom: ἐξευτελίζει λέγεν· ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς· οὐ γὰρ δὴ πάντα κατεῖχον τὰ πρότερα, Theodoret: they could not have kept all the feasts, on account of the long journey to Jerusalem; comp. Dalmer), or: vicibus festorum (Melanchthon, Zanchius), or, that the participation in the festival, the taking part in it is expressed (Otto, dekalog. Unters. p. 9 ff.), or that it denotes the segregatio, “nam qui dierum faciunt discrimen, quasi unum ab alio dividunt” (Calvin). Many, moreover inaccurately, hold that ἐν μέρει means merely: in respect to (Beza, Wolf, and most expositors, including Bähr, Huther, and de Wette); in 2 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 9:3, it also denotes the category. Comp. Aelian. V. H. viii. Colossians 3 : κρίνοντες ἕκαστον ἐν τῷ μέρει φόνου.


Verse 17

Colossians 2:17.(116) An epexegetical relative sentence, assigning the ground for what has just been said.

, which (see the critical remarks), is not to be arbitrarily referred merely to the observance of feasts and days (Flatt and Hofmann), but to the things of the law mentioned in Colossians 2:16 generally, all of which it embraces.

σκιά] not an outline ( σκιαγραφία, σκιαγράφημα), as in the case of painters, who “non exprimunt primo ductu imaginem vivis coloribus et εἰκονικῶς, sed rudes et obscuras lineas primum ex carbone ducunt,” Calvin (so also Clericus, Huther, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others), which σκιά does not mean even in Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 10:1, and which is forbidden by the contrast of τὸ σῶμα, since it would rather be the perfect picture that would be put in opposition to the outline. It means nothing else than shadow. Paul is illustrating, namely, the relation of the legal ordinances, such as are adduced in Colossians 2:16, to that which is future, i.e. to those relations of the Messianic kingdom, which are to be manifested in the αἰὼν μέλλων (neither ἀγαθῶν from Hebrews 10:1, nor anything else, is to be supplied with τῶν μελλόντων), and in doing so he follows the figurative conception, that the μέλλοντα, which therefore, locally considered, are in front, have cast their shadow behind, which shadow is the Mosaic ritual constitution,—a conception which admirably accords with the typical character of the latter (Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 10:1), of which the constitution of the Messianic kingdom is the antitype. It is to be noted further: (1) The emphasis of confirmation lies not on τῶν μελλόντων (Beza), but on σκιά, in contrast to τὸ σῶμα. If, namely, the things in question are only the shadow of the Messianic, and do not belong to the reality thereof, they are—in accordance with this relatively non-essential, because merely typical nature of theirs—not of such a kind that salvation may be made dependent on their observance or non-observance, and adjudged or withheld accordingly. (2) The passage is not to be explained as if ἦν stood in the place of ἐστί, so that τὰ μέλλοντα would denote the Christian relations already then existing, the καινὴ διαθήκη, the Christian plan of salvation, the Christian life, etc. (so usually since Chrysostom); but, on the contrary, that which is spoken of is shadow, not, indeed, as divinely appointed in the law (Hofmann)—for of this aspect of the elements in question the text contains nothing—but in so far as Paul sees it in its actual condition still at that time present. The μέλλοντα have not yet been manifested at all, and belong altogether (not merely as regards their completion, as de Wette thinks, comp. also Hofmann) to the αἰὼν μέλλων, which will begin with the coming again of Christ to set up His kingdom—a coming, however, which was expected as very near at hand. The μέλλοντα could only be viewed as having already set in either in whole or in part, if ἦν and not ἐστί were used previously, and thereby the notion of futurity were to be taken relatively, in reference to a state of things then already past (comp. Galatians 3:23; 1 Timothy 1:16), or if ἐστί were meant to be said from the standpoint of the divine arrangement of those things (Hofmann), or if this present tense expressed the logical present merely by way of enabling the mind to picture them (Romans 5:14), which, however, is inadmissible here, since the elements indicated by σκιά still continued at this time, long after Christ’s earthly appearance, and were present really, and not merely in legal precepts or in theory. (3) The characteristic quality, in which the things concerned are meant to be presented by the figurative σκιά, is determined solely by the contrast of τὸ σῶμα, namely, as unsubstantiality in a Messianic aspect: shadow of the future, standing in relation to it, therefore doubtless as typically presignificant, but destitute and void of its reality. The reference to transitoriness (Spencer, de legit, rit. p. 214 f., Baumgarten-Crusius, and others) is purely imported.

τὸ δὲ σῶμα] scil. τῶν μελλόντων, but the body of the future.(117) Inasmuch as the legal state of things in Colossians 2:16 stands to the future Messianic state in no other relation than that of the shadow to the living body itself, which casts the shadow, Paul thus, remaining faithful to his figure, designates as the body of the future that which is real and essential in it, which, according to the context, can be nothing else than just the μέλλοντα themselves, their concrete reality as contrasted with the shadowy form which preceded them. Accordingly, he might have conveyed the idea of the verse, but without its figurative garb, in this way: ἐστι τύπος τῶν μελλόντων, αὐτὰ δὲ τὰ μέλλοντα χριστοῦ.

χριστοῦ] scil. ἐστί, belongs to Christ. The μέλλοντα, namely, viewed under the figurative aspect of the σῶμα which casts the shadow referred to, must stand in the same relation to Christ, as the body stands in to the Head (Colossians 2:19); as the body now adumbrating itself, they must belong to Christ the Head of the body, in so far, namely, as He is Lord and ruler of all the relations of the future Messianic constitution, i.e. of the Messianic kingdom, of the βασιλεία τοῦ χριστοῦ (Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 5:5). Whosoever, therefore, holds to the shadow of the future, to the things of the law (as the false teachers do and require), and does not strive after the μέλλοντα themselves, after the body which has cast that shadow, does not hold to Christ, to whom as Head the σῶμα ( τῆς σκιᾶς) belongs as His own. This view, which is far removed from “distorting” the thought (as Hofmann objects), is required by the natural and obvious correlation of the conception of the body and its head, as also by Colossians 2:19. There is much inaccuracy and irrelevancy in the views of expositors, because they have not taken τὰ μέλλοντα in the sense, or not purely in the sense, of the relations of the αἰὼν μέλλων, but in that of the then existing Christian relations, which in fact still belonged to the αἰὼν οὗτος, and because, in connection therewith, they do not take up with clearness and precision the contextually necessary relation of the genitive χριστοῦ as denoting Him, whose the σῶμα is, but resolve it into what they please, as e.g. Grotius (so also Bleek): “ad Christum pertinet, ab eo solo petenda est;” Huther: “the substance itself, to which those shadowy figures point, has appeared in Christ;” Ewald: “so far as there is anything really solid, essential, and eternal in the O. T., it belongs to Christ and to His Spirit;” Hofmann: “the body of the future is there, where Christ is, present and given with Him” (consequently as if ἐν χριστῷ were used).

On τὸ σῶμα in contrast to σκιά, comp. Josephus, Bell. ii. 2. 5: σκιὰν αἰτησόμενος βασιλείας, ἧς ἥρπασεν ἑαυτῷ τὸ σῶμα. Philo, de conf. ling. p. 434: τὰ μὲν ῥητὰ τῶν χρησμῶν σκιάς τινας ὡσανεὶ σωμάτων εἶναι· τὰς δʼ ἐμφαινομένας δυνάμεις τὰ ὑφεστῶτα ἀληθείᾳ πράγματα. Lucian, Hermot. 29. Observe, however, that σῶμα invariably retains its strict literal sense of body, as a sensuous expression for the substantially real, in contrast to the unsubstantial shadow of it.


Verse 18

Colossians 2:18.(118) Warning against a further danger, with which they were threatened on the part of these false teachers.

μηδείς] not different from μήτις in Colossians 2:16, as if the latter emphasized the verb and the former the subject (Hofmann). This would be correct, if in Colossians 2:16 it were μὴ οὖν κρινέτω τις ὑμᾶς. Comp. on μήτις, Colossians 2:8, and on μηδείς, Colossians 2:4. Moreover, the words cannot be regarded (with Holtzmann) as a duplicate proceeding from the interpolator, especially as they contain a new warning, and in such a peculiar form ( καταβραβ.).

καταβραβευέτω] Let no one deprive you of the prize. καταβραβεύειν, which is not a Cilician word (Jerome; see, on the contrary, Eustath. ad Il. i. 93. 33: καταβραβεύει αὐτὸν, ὥς φασιν οἱ παλαιοί), is only now preserved among ancient Greek authors in Dem. c. Mid. 544, ult.: ἐπιστάμεθα στράτωνα ὑπὸ ΄ειδίου καταβραβευθέντα καὶ πὰντα πὰντα τὰ δίκαια ἀτιμωθέντα, where it expresses the taking away of victory in a judicial suit, and the procuring of a sentence of condemnation, and that in the form of the conception: to bring it about to the injury of some one, that not he, but another, shall receive the prize from the βραβεύς. Midias had bribed the judges. The κατά intimates that the prize was due to the person concerned, although it has been in a hostile spirit (not merely unrighteously, which would be παραβραβεύειν,(119) Plut. Mor. p. 535 C Polyb. xxiv. 1. 12) withdrawn from him and adjudged to another. The right view substantially, though not recognising the distinction from παραβραβ., is taken by Chrysostom ( παραβραβευθῆναι γάρ ἐστιν, ὅταν παρʼ ἑτέρων μὲν νίκη, παρʼ ἐτέρων δὲ τὸ βραβεῖον) and Theophylact, also Suidas: τὸ ἄλλου ἀγωνιζομένου ἄλλον στεφανοῦσθαι λέγει ἀπόστολος καταβραβεύεσθαι. Comp. also Zonaras, ad Concil. Laod. can. 35, p. 351: τὸ μὴ τὸν νικήσαντα ἀξιοῦν τοῦ βραβείου, ἀλλʼ ἑτέρῳ διδόναι αὐτὸ ἀδικουμένου τοῦ νικήσαντος. The conception is: (1) To the readers as true believers belongs the Messianic prize of victory,—this is the assumption upon which the expression is based; (2) The false teachers desire to deprive them of the prize of victory and to give it to others, namely, to themselves and their adherents, and that through their service of angels, etc.; (3) Just as little, however, as in the case of the κρίνειν in Colossians 2:16, ought the readers to give heed to, or let themselves be led astray by, this hostile proceeding of the καταβραβεύειν, which is based upon subjective vanity and is (Colossians 2:19) separation from Christ and His body,—this is implied in the imperatives. Consequently, the view of Jerome, ad Aglas. p. 10, is not in substance erroneous, although only approximately corresponding to the expression: “Nemo adversus vos praemium accipiat;” Erasmus is substantially correct: “praemium, quod sectari coepistis, vobis intervertat;” comp. Calvin, Estius, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, and others; while the Vulgate (seducat), Luther (“to displace the goal”), and others content themselves with a much less accurate statement of the sense, and Bengel imports into the passage the sense of usurped false leading and instruction, as Beza similarly took it.(120) The βραβεῖον, to which καταβρ. refers, is not Christian liberty (Grotius, who explains it praemium exigere), nor yet: “the honour and prize of the true worship of God” (de Wette), but, in accordance with the standing apostolic conception (comp. Philippians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:24): the bliss of the Messianic kingdom, the incorruptible στέφανος (1 Corinthians 9:25), the στεφ. τῆς δικαιοσύνης (2 Timothy 4:8), τῆς δόξης (1 Peter 5:4), τῆς ζωῆς (James 1:12); comp. 2 Timothy 2:5. With reference to the βραβεῖον, Elsner, Michaelis, Storr, Flatt, Steiger, and others, including Bähr, Böhmer, Reiche, Huther, and Bleek, following Photius in Oecumenius ( ΄ηδεὶς ὑ΄ᾶς κατακρινέτω), have taken καταβραβ. in the sense of to condemn, parallel to the κρινέτω in Colossians 2:16, or to refuse salvation to (Hofmann). This rendering is not, indeed, to be rejected on linguistic grounds, since Hesychius and Suidas both quote the signification κατακρίνειν in the case of καταβραβεύειν; but it cannot be justified by proofs adduced, and it is decidedly in opposition to the context through the following θέλων κ. τ. λ., which presupposes not a judgment of the opponents, but an action, something practical, which, through their perverse religious attitude, they would fain accomplish.

θέλων] sc. καταβραβεύειν ὑμᾶς: while he desires to do this, would willingly accomplish it (comp. Dissen, ad Pind. Ol. ii. 97) by humility, etc. So rightly Theodoret ( τοῦτο τοίνυν συνεβούλευον ἐκεῖνοι γίνεσθαι ταπεινοφροσύνῃ δῆθεν κεχρημένοι), Theophylact ( θέλουσιν ὑ΄ᾶς καταβραβεύειν διὰ ταπεινοφρ.), Photius in Oecumenius, Calvin, Casaubon, and others, including Huther and Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 322 [E. T. 376]. The “languidum et frigidum,” which Reiche urges against this view, applies at the most only in the event of καταβραβ. being explained as to condemn; and the accusation of incorrectness of sense (Hofmann) is only based upon an erroneous explanation of the subsequent ἐν ταπεινοφρ. κ. τ. λ. The interpretation adopted by others: taking delight in humility, etc. (Augustine, Castalio, Vatablus, Estius, Michaelis, Loesner, and others, including Storr, Flatt, Bähr, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek, Hofmann, and Hilgenfeld), is based upon the extremely unnecessary assumption of an un-Greek imitation of חמץ ב, such as occurs, indeed, in the LXX. (1 Samuel 18:22; 2 Samuel 15:26; 1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Psalms 146:10), but not in the N. T.; for in Matthew 27:43, θέλειν is used with the accusative, comp. on Romans 7:21. Moreover, in the O. T. passages the object of the delight is almost invariably (the only exception being Psalms 147:10) a person. Even in the Apocrypha that abnormal mode of expression does not occur. Others, again, hold that it is to be joined in an adverbial sense to καταβρ. It would then (see Erasmus, Annot.) have to be rendered cupide or studiose (Plat. Theaet. p. 143 D and see Reisig, Conject. p. 143 f.), or unconstrained, voluntarily, equivalent to ἐθελοντί, ἐθελοντήν, ἐθελοντής (Plat. Symp. p. 183 A, very frequent in Homer, Soph. Phil. 1327, Aesch. Choeph. 19. 790, and the passages from Xenophon quoted by Sturz, Lex. II. p. 21), which sense, here certainly quite unsuitable, has been transformed at variance with linguistic usage into the idea: “hoc munus sibi a nullo tributum exercens” (Beza), or: unwarrantably (Böhmer, comp. Steiger), or of his own choice (Luther, who, like Ewald, couples it with ἐ΄βατεύων), or: arbitrarily (Ewald), or: capriciously (Reiche), etc.; consequently giving it the sense of ἑκών, αὐτοθελής, αὐτοκέλευστος, or αὐτογνώ΄ων. Even Tittmann, Synon. p. 131, comes at length to such an ultro, erroneously quoting Herod, 9:14, where θέλων must be taken as in Plat. Theaet. l.c.

ἐν ταπεινοφρ. κ. θρησκ. τῶν ἀγγέλ.] ἐν is not propter, which is supposed to have the meaning: because ταπεινοφρ. κ. τ. λ. is necessary to salvation (Reiche); nor does it denote the condition in which the καταβραβεύειν takes place (Steiger, Huther); but, in keeping with the θέλων, it is the means by which the purpose is to be attained: by virtue of humility and worshipping of angels. Thereby he wishes to effect that the βραβεῖον shall be withdrawn from you (and given to himself and his followers). τ. ἀλλέλων is the genitive of the object (comp. Wisdom of Solomon 14:27; Herodian, iv. 8. 17; Clem. Cor. I. 45; see also Grimm on 4 Maccabees 5:6, and the passages from Josephus in Krebs, p. 339), and belongs only to θρησκ., not to ταπεινοφρ. That the latter, however, is not humility in the proper sense, but is, viewed from the perverse personal standpoint of the false teachers, a humility in their sense only, is plain from the context (see below, εἰκῆ φυσιούμ. κ. τ. λ.), although irony (Steiger, Huther) is not to be found in the word. Paul, namely, designates the thing as that, for which the false teachers held it themselves and desired it to be held by others, and this, indeed, as respects the disposition lying at the root of it, which they sought to exhibit ( ἐν ταπεινοφρ.), and as respects the abnormal religious phenomenon manifested among them ( κ. θρησκ. τ. ἀγγέλων); and then proceeds to give a deterrent exposure of both of these together according to their true character in a theoretical ( ἐ΄βατ.) and in a moral ( εἰκῆ φυσ τὴν κεφαλὴν) respect. How far the false teachers bore themselves as ταπεινόφρονες, is correctly defined by Theodoret: λέγοντες, ὡς ἀόρατος τῶν ὅλων θεὸς, ἀνέφικτος τε καὶ ἀκατάληπτος, καὶ προσήκει διὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων τὴν θείαν εὐμένειαν πραγματεύεσθαι, so that they thus regarded man as too insignificant in the presence of the divine majesty to be able to do without(121) the mediation of angels, which they sought to secure through θρησκεία (comp. 4 Maccabees 4:11), thereby placing the merit of Christ (Romans 5:2) in the background. It is differently explained by Chrysostom and Theophylact (comp. also Photius in Oecumenius): the false teachers had declared the majesty of the Only-Begotten to be too exalted for lowly humanity to have access through Him to the Father, and hence the need of the mediation of angels for that purpose. In opposition to this view it may be urged, that the very prominence so frequently and intentionally given to the majesty of Christ in our Epistle, and especially as above the angels, rather goes to show that they had depreciated the dignity of Christ. Reiche and Ewald (comp. Hofmann’s interpretation below) find the ταπεινοφροσύνη in the ἀφειδία σώματος of Colossians 2:23, where, however, the two aberrations are adduced separately from one another, see on Colossians 2:23. Proofs of the existence of the worship of angels in the post-apostolic church are found in Justin, Ap. I. 6, p. 56,(122) Athenagoras, and others; among the Gnostic heretics (Simonians, Cainites): Epiph. Haer. xx. 2; Tertullian, praescr. 33; Iren. Haer. i. 31. 2; and with respect to the worshipping of angels in the Colossian region Theodoret testifies: ἔμεινε δὲ τοῦτο τὸ πάθος ἐν τῇ φρυγίᾳ καὶ πισιδίᾳ μέχρι πολλοῦ· οὗ δὴ χάριν καὶ συνελθοῦσα σύνοδος ἐν λαοδικείᾳ τῆς φρυγίας (A.D. 364, can. 35) νόμῳ κεκώλυκε τὸ τοῖς ἀγγέλοις προσεύχεσθαι, καὶ μέχρι δὲ τοῦ νῦν εὐκτήρια τοῦ ἁγίου ΄ιχαὴλ παρʼ ἐκείνοις καὶ τοῖς ὁμόροις ἐκείνων ἐστὶν ἰδεῖν. The Catholic expedients for evading the prohibition of angel-worship in our passage (as also in the Concil. Laod., Mansi, II. p. 568) may be seen especially in Cornelius a Lapide, who understands not all angel-worship, but only that which places the angels above Christ (comp. also Bisping), and who refers the Laodicean prohibition pointing to a “ κεκρυμμένη εἰδδωλολαατρεία (“ ὃτι οὐ δεῖ χριστιανοὺς ἐγκαταλείπειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἀπιέναι καὶ ἁγγέλους ὀνομάζεινκ. τ. λ.), in accordance with the second Nicene Council, only to the cultus latriae, not duliae, consequently to actual adoration, not τιμητικὴν προσκύνησιν. In opposition to the words as they stand (for θρησκεία with the genitive of the subject would necessarily be the cultus, which the angels present to God, 4 Maccabees 5:6; 4 Maccabees 5:12; Joseph. Antt. xii. 5. 4; comp. Acts 26:5), and also in opposition to the context (see Colossians 2:19), several have taken τῶν ἀγγέλων as the genitive of the subject, and have explained it of a religious condition, which desired to be like that of the angels, e.g. Luther: “spirituality of the angels,” comp. Melanchthon, Schoettgen (“habitus aliquis angelicus”), Wolf, Dalmer. Nevertheless, Hofmann, attempting a more subtle definition of the sense, has again taken τῶν ἀγγέλων as genitive of the subject, and joined with it not only θρησκείᾳ, but also ταπεινοφροσύνῃ. The ταπεινοφροσύνη of the angels, namely, consists in their willingly keeping within the bounds assigned to them as spirits, and not coveting that which man in this respect has beyond them, namely, what belongs to the corporeal world. And the θρησκεία of the angels is a self-devotion to God, in which, between them and Him, no other barrier exists than that between the Creator and His creatures. That ταπεινοφροσύνη and this θρησκεία man makes into virtue on his part, when he, although but partially, renounces that which belongs to Him in distinction from the angels ( ταπεινοφρ.), and, as one who has divested himself as much as possible of his corporeality, presents himself adoringly to God in such measure as he refrains from what was conferred upon him for bodily enjoyment. I do not comprehend how, on the one hand, the apostle could wrap up the combinations of ideas imputed to him in words so enigmatical, nor, on the other, how the readers could, without the guidance of Hofmann, extract them out of these words. The entire exposition is a labyrinth of imported subjective fancies. Paul might at least have written ἐν ἐγκρατείᾳ ἐπὶ τῷ ὁμοιώματι (or καθʼ ὁμοίωσιν, or καθʼ ὁμοιότητα) τῆς ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ θρησκείας τῶν ἀγγέλων! Even this would still have been far enough from clear, but it would at least have contained the point and a hint as to its interpretation. See, besides, in opposition to Hofmann, Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol. p. 193 f.

ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύων] Subordinate to the θέλων κ. τ. λ. as a warning modal definition to it: entering upon what he has beheld, i.e. instead of concerning himself with what has been objectively given (Colossians 2:19), entering the subjective domain of visions with his mental activity,—by which is indicated the mystico-theosophic occupation of the mind with God and the angels,(123) so that ἑώρακεν (comp. Tert. c. Marc. v. 19) denotes not a seeing with the eyes, but a mental beholding,(124) which belonged to the domain of the φαντάζεσθαι, in part, doubtless, also to that of visionary ecstasy (comp. Acts 2:17; Revelation 9:17; ὅρα΄α in Acts 9:10; Acts 9:12; Acts 10:3; 2 Chronicles 9:29, et al.; Luke 1:22). This reference must have been intelligible to the readers from the assertions put forth by the false teachers,(125) but the failure to observe it induced copyists, at a very early date, to add a negative (sometimes μή and sometimes οὐ) before ἑώρακεν. ἐμβατεύειν (only used here in the N. T.; but see Wetstein, also Reisig, ad Oed. Col. praef. p. xxxix.), with accusative of the place conceived as object (Kühner, II. 1, p. 257), also with the genitive, with the dative, and with εἰς, means to step upon, as e.g. νῆσον, Aesch. Pers. 441; πόλιν, Eur. El. 595; γῆν, Joshua 19:49; also with reference to a mental domain, which is trodden by investigation and other mental activity, as Philo, de plant. Noë, p. 225 C, et al.; see Loesner, p. 369 f.; 2 Maccabees 2:30; comp. also Nemes. de nat. hom. p. 64, ed. Matth.: οὐρανὸν ἐμβατεύει τῇ θεωρίᾳ, but not Xen. Conv. iv. 27, where, with Zeunius, ἐμαστεύετε ought to be read. Phavorinus: ἐμβατεῦσαι· τὸ ἔνδον ἐξερευνῆσαι σκοπῆσαι. It is frequently used in the sense of seizing possession (Dem. 894. 7; Eur. Heracl. 876; Schleusner, Thes. II. 332; Bloomfield, Gloss. in Aesch. Pers. p. 146 f.). So Budaeus and Calvin (se ingerens), both with the reading μή, also Huther (establishing himself firmly in the creations of fancy); still the context does not suggest this, and, when used in this sense, ἐμβατ. is usually coupled with εἰς (Dem. 894. 7, 1085. 24, 1086. 19; Isaiah 9:3, et al.; 1 Maccabees 12:25). In the reading of the Recepta, μὴ ἑώρ., the sense amounts either to: entering into the unseen transcendental sphere,(126) wherein the assumption would be implied that the domain of sense was the only field legitimately open, which would be unsuitable (2 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Corinthians 13:12); or to: entering into things, which (although he dreams that he has seen them, yet) he has not seen—a concealed antithetical reference, which Paul, in order to be intelligible, must have indicated. The thought, in the absence of the negative, is not weak (de Wette), but true, in characteristic keeping with the perverseness of theosophic fancies (in opposition to Hofmann’s objection), and representing the actual state of the case, which Paul could not but know. According to Hofmann, the μὴ ἑώρακεν which he reads is to be taken, not with ἐμβατεύων, but with what goes before: of which, nevertheless, he has seen nothing (and, consequently, cannot imitate it). This is disposed of, apart even from the incorrect inference involved in it,(127) by the preposterousness of Hofmann’s exposition of the ταπεινοφροσύνη κ. θρησκεία τῶν ἀγγ., which the connection, hit upon by him, of εἰκῆ with ἐμβατεύων (“an investigation, which results in nothing”), also falls to the ground.

εἰκῆ φυσιούμ. κ. τ. λ., and then καὶ οὐ κρατῶν κ. τ. λ., are both subordinate to the ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύων, and contain two modal definitions of it fraught with the utmost danger.

εἰκῆ φυσιούμ.] for the entering upon what was seen did not rest upon a real divine revelation, but upon a conceited, fanciful self-exaggeration. τὸ δέ γε φυσιούμενος τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ ἐναντίον οὐκ ἔστι· τὴν μὲν γὰρ ἐσκήπτοντο, τοῦ δὲ τύφου τὸ πάθος ἀκριβῶς περιέκειντο, Theodoret. On εἰκῆ, temere, i.e. without ground, comp. Matthew 5:22; Romans 13:4; Plat. Menex. p. 234 C Xen. Cyrop. ii. 2. 22. It places the vanity, that is, the objective groundlessness of the pride, in contradistinction to their presumptuous fancies, emphatically in the foreground. Even if ἐμβατ. is not taken absolutely with Hofmann, we may not join it with εἰκῆ (in opposition to Steiger, de Wette, Reiche; Böhmer is doubtful), since it is not the uselessness (in this sense εἰκῆ would require to be taken, 1 Corinthians 15:2; Galatians 3:4; Galatians 4:11) of the ἐμβατεύειν ἑώρ. (or μὴ ἑώρ.), but this ἐμβατεύειν in and of itself, that forms the characteristic perversity in the conduct of those people—a perversity which is set forth by εἰκῆ φυσιούμ. κ. τ. λ., and in Colossians 2:19 as immoral and antichristian.

ὑπὸ τοῦ νοὸς τῆς σαρκ. αὐτοῦ] becoming puffed up by (as operative principle) the reason of his flesh. This is the morally determined intellectual faculty in its character and activity as not divinely regulated, in which unennobled condition (see on Ephesians 4:23) it is the servant, not of the divine πνεῦμα, whose organ it is designed to be, but of the materio-physical human nature, of the σάρξ as the seat of the sin-power, and is governed by its lusts instead of the divine truth. Comp. Romans 1:21; Romans 1:28; Romans 4:1; Romans 6:19; Romans 7:14; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:17 f.; see also Kluge in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1871, p. 329 ff. The νοῦς does not belong to the essence of the σάρξ (in opposition to Holsten); but, be it observed, the matter is so represented that the σάρξ of the false teacher, in accordance with its dominant superiority, appears personified (comp. Romans 8:6), as if the νοῦς, influenced by it, and therewith serviceable to it, were its own. In virtue of this non-free and, in its activity, sinfully-directed reason, the man, who is guided by it, is ἀνόητος (Galatians 3:1; Galatians 3:3; Titus 3:3), loses his moral judgment (Romans 12:2), falls into ἐπιθυμίας ἀνοήτους (1 Timothy 6:9), and withstands Christian truth and purity as κατεφθαρμένος τὸν νοῦν (2 Timothy 3:8; 2 Corinthians 11:3), and ἐσκοτισμένος τῇ διανοίᾳ (Ephesians 4:18).

The puffing up of the persons in question consisted in this, that with all their professed and apparent humility they, as is commonly the case with mystic tendencies, fancied that they could not be content with the simple knowledge and obedience of the gospel, but were capable of attaining a special higher wisdom and sanctity. It is well said by Theophylact: πῶς γὰρ οὐ σαρκικοῦ νοὸς κ. παχέος τὸ ἀθετῆσαι τὰ ὑπὸ χριστοῦ λεχθέντα, John 3:16-17; John 3:19; John 10:26 f., καὶ μυρία ὅσα!


Verse 19

Colossians 2:19. καί] annexing to εἰκῆ φυσιούμενος κ. τ. λ. a further, and that a negative, modal form of the ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύων. This ἐμβατεύειν into what is seen takes place, namely, in such a way, that one is puffed up by fleshly reason, and does not hold the Head, etc. So much is it at variance with the nature and success, as respects unity, of the church!(128)

οὐ κρατῶν κ. τ. λ.] not holding fast (but letting it go, comp. Song of Solomon 3:4 : ἐκράτησα αὐτὸν καὶ οὐκ ἀφῆκα αὐτόν) the Head, inasmuch, namely, as they seek angelic mediation. Bengel aptly observes: “Qui non unice Christum tenet, plane non tenet.”

ἐξ οὗ κ. τ. λ.] represents the whole objectionableness of this οὐ κρατῶν τ. κεφ., and the absolute necessity of the opposite. This οὗ is not to be referred to the verbal idea (Bengel’s suggestion: “ex quo sc. tenendo caput”), but applies objectively (comp. Ephesians 4:15 f.) to that which was designated by τὴν κεφαλ. In this view it may be masculine, according to the construction κατὰ σύνεσιν (Kühner, II. 1, p. 49), as it is usually taken, but it may also—and this is preferable, because here the personality is not, as in Ephesians 4:15 f., specially marked—be neuter, so that it takes up the Head, not personally (though, it is Christ), but in accordance with the neuter idea: from which. See Matthiae, p. 988; Kühner, II. 1, p. 55. Comp. Maetzner, ad Antiph. p. 201. The τ. κεφαλ. might also be taken attributively: not holding fast as the Head Him, from whom, etc. (Ewald), which would be, however, less simple and less forcibly descriptive. ἐξ denotes the causal issuing forth of the subsequently expressed relation, comp. Ephesians 4:16.

τᾶν τὸ σῶμα] consequently no member is excepted, so that no member can expect from any other quarter what is destined for, and conveyed to, the whole body from the head. The conception of the church as the body of Christ, the Head, is not in our Epistle and the Ephesian letter different from that of the other Epistles (in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 239 ff.). Comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:12 f., 1 Corinthians 6:15; Romans 12:4 f.; also Romans 11:3. Any pressing contrary to the author’s design of the thought of a σῶμα, which strictly taken is a trunk, is in this particular case excluded by the graphic delineation of the constantly living and active connection of the members with the Head. Every comparison, indeed, when pressed, becomes halting.

διὰ τῶν ἁφῶν κ. συνδεσμῶν ἐπιχορ. κ. συμβιβ.] The participial relation to the following verb is this: from the Head the whole body is furnished and bound together and grows in this way, so that ἐξ οὗ therefore is to be referred neither to the participles only, nor to the verb only, but to both; and διὰ τ. ἁφ. κ. συνδεσμ. specifies by what means the ἐπιχορ. κ. συμβιβ., proceeding from the Head, is brought about, viz. through the (bodily) nerve-impulses (not joints, as it is usually explained; see on Ephesians 4:16), which are conveyed from the Head to the body, and through the bands, which, proceeding from the Head, place the whole in organic connection. Observe that ἐπιχορ. refers to διὰ τ. ἁφῶν, and συμβιβ. to κ. συνδεσμ. Theophylact (comp. Theodoret) has aptly illustrated the former by the action of the nerves which is diffused from the head through the entire body, so that ἀπὸ τῆς κεφαλῆς ἐστι πᾶσα αἴσθησις κ. πᾶσα κίνησις. As, therefore, the body receives its efficiency from the head through the contact of impulses effected by means of the network of nerves, so would the church, separated from Christ—from whom the feelings and impulses in a spiritual sense, the motions and activities of the higher ζωή, are conveyed to it—be without the supply in question. Comp. the idea of the figure of the vine. Further: as, starting from the head, the whole body, by means of the bands which bind member to member, is bound together into one organic whole; so also is the entire church, starting from Christ, by means of the bands of Christian communion ( κοινωνία), which give to the union of individuals the coherence of articulate unity. Faith is the inner ground of the ἁφαί, not the latter themselves (in opposition to Bengel); so also is love the inner ground of the συνδεσμοί of the mystical body, not these latter themselves (in opposition to Tertullian, Zanchius, Estius, Bengel, and others); and the operative principle on the part of Christ the Head is the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12:3 f., 7, et al.). Theodoret erroneously (comp. Ewald) explains the συνδεσμοί as the ἀπόστολοι κ. προφῆται κ. διδάσκαλοι, and Böhmer takes the ἁφαί and συνδεσμ. as the believers. The latter, as also the teachers, are in fact the members, and share in experiencing what is here asserted of the entire body.

ἐπιχορηγούμ.] receiving supply, being furnished. Comp. on the passive expression, which is not un-Pauline (Holtzmann), but in harmony with the general passive usage (Kühner, II. 1, p. 109), Polyb. iv. 77. Colossians 2 : πολλαῖς ἀφορμαῖς ἐκ φύσεως κεχορηγημένος, iii. 75. 3, et al.; Diod. Sic. i. 73; Sirach 44:6; 3 Maccabees 6:40. The compound, not expressing “in addition besides” (Bleek), denotes that the χορηγία is coming to, is being conveyed towards. Comp. 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5; Dion. Hal. x. 54. But it is not said with what the body is provided, as χορηγεῖν (comp. also ἐπιχορ., Sirach 25:22) is often used absolutely (see e.g. the passages from Polybius in Schweighäuser, Lex. p. 663), and admits of its more precise definition being supplied from the context, which, however, here points not to nourishment (Grotius, de Wette), but to that which is accomplished through the feelings ( ἁφῶν), namely, the vital activity, of which the body would be destitute in the absence of the different impulses. Comp. Chrysostom: τὸ εἶναι καὶ το καλῶς εἶναι, Theophylact: πᾶσα αἴσθησις κ. πᾶσα κίνησις, and in the application: λαμβάνει τὸ ζῇν κ. αὔξειν πνευματικῶς.

τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ θεοῦ] denoted by the article as the divine growth absolutely; τοῦ θεοῦ is the genitive auctoris: which God confers (1 Corinthians 3:6-7), with which ἐξ οὗ is not at variance (as Bähr thinks), since God is ranked above Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3), and is the supreme operating principle in the church (1 Corinthians 12:6; Ephesians 4:6). At once weak, and suggested by nothing in the text, is the view: “incrementum, quod Deus probat” (Calvin, Bähr(129)). What is meant is the gradual growth of Christians collectively toward Christian perfection. The circumstance that αὔξει as an intransitive only occurs again in Ephesians 2:21, comp. Colossians 4:15, and αὔξησις only in Ephesians 4:16, cannot prove it to be an un-Pauline mode of expression (Holtzmann). Respecting the connection of the verb with the more precisely defined cognate noun, see Winer, p. 210 [E. T. 281]; Lobeck, Paralip. p. 507 f.; Kühner, II. 2, p. 262 f.


Verse 20

Colossians 2:20 f. After these warnings, Colossians 2:16-19, which were intended to secure his readers against the seduction threatening them, the apostle now returns for the same purpose once more to the two main foundations of the Christian life, to the fellowship with Christ in death (Colossians 2:20), and fellowship with Him also in resurrection (Colossians 3:1). His aim is to show, in connection with the former, the groundlessness and perversity of the heretical prohibitions of meats (Colossians 2:20-23), and to attach to the latter—to the fellowship of resurrection—the essence of Christian morality in whole and in detail, and there with the paraenetic portion of the Epistle (Colossians 3:1 to Colossians 4:6), the tenor of which thereby receives the character of the holiest moral necessity.

εἰ ἀπεθάνετε κ. τ. λ.] the legal abstinence required by the false teachers (see below) stands in contradiction with the fact, that the readers at their conversion had entered into the fellowship of the death of Christ, and thereby had become loosed from the στοιχεία τοῦ κόσμου (see on Colossians 2:8), i.e. from the ritual religious elements of non-Christian humanity, among which the legal prohibition of meats and the traditional regulations founded thereon are included. How far the man who has died with Christ has passed out of connection with these elementary things, is taught by Colossians 2:14, according to which, through the death of Christ, the law as to its debt-obligation has been abolished. Consequently, in the case of those who have died with Christ, the law, and everything belonging to the same category with it, have no further claim to urge, since Christ has allowed the curse of the law to be accomplished on Himself, and this has also taken place in believers in virtue of their fellowship of death with Him, whereby the binding relation of debt which had hitherto subsisted for them has ceased. Comp. Galatians 2:19; Galatians 4:3; Galatians 4:9; Romans 7:4, et al.

ἀποθνήσκειν, with ἀπό, meaning to die away from something, moriendo liberari a (Porphyr. de abstin. ab esu anim. i. 41), is only met with here in the N. T.; elsewhere it is used with the dative, as in Galatians 2:19, Romans 6:2, whereby the same thing is otherwise conceived in point of form. It is, moreover, to be observed, that Christ Himself also is by death released from the στοιχεία, since He was made under the law, and, although sinless, was destined to take upon Himself the curse of it; hence it was only by His death in obedience to the Father (Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19), that He became released from this relation. Comp. on Galatians 4:4. Huther erroneously denies that such an ἀποθανεῖν can be predicated of Christ, and therefore assumes (comp. Schenkel and Dalmer) the brachylogy: “if, by your dying with Christ, ye are dead from the στοιχεία τοῦ κοσμοῦ.”

τί ὡς ζῶντες κ. τ. λ.] why are ye, as though ye were still alive in the world, commanded: Touch not, etc. Such commands are adapted to those who are not, like you, dead, etc. As ἀποθανόντες σὺν χ. ἀπὸ τ. στοιχ. τ. κόσμ., ye are no longer alive in the domain of the non-Christian κόσμος, but are removed from that sphere of life (belonging to the heavenly πολίτευμα, Philippians 3:20). The word δογματίζειν, only found here in the N. T., but frequently in the LXX. and Apocrypha, and in the Fathers and decrees of Councils (see Suicer, Thes. I. p. 935), means nothing more than to decree (Diod. Sic. iv. 83; Diog. L. iii. 51; Anth. Pal. ix. 576. 4; Arrian. Epict, iii. 7; Esther 3:9; Esther 3 Esdr. 6:34; 2 Maccabees 10:8; 2 Maccabees 15:36; 3 Maccabees 4:11), and δογματίζεσθε is passive: why are ye prescribed to, why do men make decrees for you (vobis)? so that it is not a reproach (the censure conveyed by the expression affects rather the false teachers), but a warning to those readers (comp. Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:18) who were not yet led away (Colossians 1:4, Colossians 2:5), and who ought not to yield any compliance to so absurd a demand. That the readers are the passive subject, is quite according to rule, since the active has the dative along with it, δογματίζειν τινι (2 Maccabees 10:8); comp. also Hofmann and Beza. The usual rendering takes δογματ. as middle, and that either as: why do ye allow commands to be laid down for you (Huther), rules to be imposed upon you, (de Wette), yourselves to be entangled with rules (Luther)? and such like;(130) or even: why do ye make rules for yourselves (Ewald)? comp. Vulgate: decernitis. This, however, would involve a censure of the readers, and ὡς ζῶντες ἐν κόσμῳ would express the unsuitableness of their conduct with their Christian standing—a reproach, which would be altogether out of harmony with the other contents of the Epistle. On the contrary, ὡς ζῶντες ἐν κ. indicates the erroneous aspect in which the Christian standing of the readers was regarded by the false teachers, who took up such an attitude towards them, as if they were not yet dead from the world, which nevertheless (comp. Colossians 2:11 f.) they are through their fellowship with Christ (Colossians 3:3; Galatians 2:19 f.; 2 Corinthians 5:14 f.). The ὡς ζῶντες ἐν κόσμῳ, moreover, is entirely misunderstood by Bähr: “as if one could at all attain to life and salvation through externals.” Comp., on the contrary, the thought of the εἶναι ἐν τῇ σαρκί in Romans 7:5 and Galatians 6:14. Observe, further, that this ζῆν ἐν κόσ΄ῳ is not one and the same thing with εἷναι ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (Hofmann, by way of establishing his explanation of στοιχεῖα in the sense of the material things of the world); but the ζῆν ἐν κ. is the more general, to which the special εἶναι ὑπὸ τ. στοιχεῖα τ. κ. is subordinate. If the former is the case, the latter also takes place by way of consequence.

μὴ ἅψῃ κ. τ. λ.] a vivid concrete representation of the δόγ΄ατα concerned, in a “compendiaria mimesis” (Flacius). The triple description brings out the urgency of the eager demand for abstinence, and the relation of the three prohibitions is such, that μηδέ both times means nor even; in the second instance, however, in the sense of ne quidem, so that the last point stands to the two former together in the relation of a climax: thou shalt not lay hold of, nor even taste, nor once touch! What was meant as object of this enjoined ἀπέχεσθαι (1 Timothy 4:3) the reader was aware, and its omission only renders the description more vivid and terse. Steiger’s view, that the object was suppressed by the false teachers themselves from fear and hypocrisy, is quite groundless. From the words themselves, however ( γεύσῃ), and from the subsequent context (see Colossians 2:23), it is plain that the prohibitions concerned certain meats and drinks (comp. Colossians 2:16); and it is entirely arbitrary to mix up other things, as even de Wette does, making them refer also to sexual intercourse ( θιγγάνειν γυναικός, Eur. Hipp. 1044, et al.; see Monck, ad Eur. Hipp. 14; Valckenaer, ad Phoen. 903), while others distinguish between ἅψῃ and θίγῃς in respect of their objects, e.g. Estius: the former refers to unclean objects, such as the garments of a menstruous woman, the latter to the buying and selling of unclean meats; Erasmus, Zanchius: the former concerns dead bodies, the latter sacred vessels and the like; Grotius: the former refers to meats, the latter to the “vitandas feminas,” to which Flatt and Dalmer, following older writers, make ἅψῃ refer (1 Corinthians 7:1). Others give other expositions still; Böhmer arbitrarily makes θίγῃς refer to the oil, which the Essenes and other theosophists regarded as a labes. That Paul in ἅψῃ and θίγ. had no definite object at all in view, is not even probable (in opposition to Huther), because γεύσῃ stands between them, and Colossians 2:23 points to abstinence from meats, and not at the same time to anything else.

Following the more forcible ἅψῃ, lay hold of, the more subtle θίγῃς, touch, is in admirable keeping with the climax: the object was to be even ἄθικτον (Soph. O. C. 39). Comp. on the difference between the two words, Xen. Cyrop. i. 3. 5: ὅταν μὲν τοῦ ἄρτου ἅψῃ, εἰς οὐδὲν τὴν χεῖρα ἀποψώμενον ( σὲ ὁρῶ), ὅταν δὲ τούτων (these dainty dishes) τινὸς θίγῃς, εὐθὺς ἀποκαθαίρῃ τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὰ χειρό΄ακτρα, also v. 1. 16. In an inverted climax, Eur. Bacch. 617: οὔτʼ ἔθιγεν οὔθʼ ἥψαθʼ ἡμῶν. See also Exodus 19:12, where the LXX. delicately and aptly render נְגֹעַ בְּקָעֵהוּ, to touch the outer border of the mountain, by the free translation θίγειν τι αὐτοῦ, but then express the general הַנֹגֵעַ בָּהָר by the stronger ἁψάμενος τοῦ ὄρους. Hofmann erroneously holds that ἅπτομαι expresses rather the motion of the subject grasping at something, θιγγάνω rather his arriving at the object. In opposition to this fiction stands the testimony of all the passages in the Gospels (Matthew 8:3; Matthew 9:20; John 20:17, and many others), in which ἅπτεσθαι signifies the actual laying hold of, and, in Paul’s writings, of 1 Corinthians 7:1, 2 Corinthians 6:17, as also the quite common Grecian usage in the sense of contrectare (attingere et inhaerere), and similarly the signification of the active to fasten to, to make to stick (Lobeck, ad Soph. Aj. 698; Duncan, Lex. Hom. ed. Rost, p. 150). The mere stretching out the hand towards something, in order to seize it, is never ἅπτεσθαι. Hofmann, moreover, in order to establish a climax of the three points, arbitrarily makes the subtle gloss upon γεύσῃ, that this might even happen more unintentionally, and upon θίγῃς, that this might happen involuntarily.

Respecting the aorist θιγεῖν (a present θίγειν instead of θιγγάνειν can nowhere be accepted as certain), see Schaefer, ad Greg. Cor. p. 990, Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 804; Kühner, I. p. 833.


Verse 22

Colossians 2:22. We are not to put in a parenthesis μὴ ἅψῃἀποχρήσει (Erasmus Schmid, Heinrichs, and others), but merely ἐστινἀποχρ. (Griesbach, Lachmann, Scholz, Ewald); for the construction proceeds uninterruptedly to θίγῃς, is then only broken by the judgment ἐστι π. εἰς φθ. τ. ἀποχρ., and thereafter runs on with κατὰ τὰ ἐντάλμ. κ. τ. λ.

ἐστιἀποχρ. is an inserted(131) judgment of the apostle anent that which the false teachers interdicted by μὴ ἅψῃ κ. τ. λ.: which all are destined to destruction(132) through the using,—from which it is to be rendered palpably apparent, how preposterous it is to make such things a condition of eternal bliss by urging abstinence from them. We have here a similar line of argument to that in Matthew 15:17. Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:13. Hence φθορά is meant to denote the perishing which takes place through the natural dissolution (digestion) of the meats and drinks; and with this conception quite accords the purposely-chosen compound τῇ ἀποχρήσει, which, like abusus, indicates the using up, the consuming (Plut. Mor. p. 267 E Davis, ad Cic. N. D. iv. 60). So it is unanimously explained by Chrysostom, Theodoret ( εἰς κόπρον γὰρ ἅπαντα μεταβάλλεται), Oecumenius ( φθορᾷ γὰρ, φησιν, ὑπόκειται ἐν τῷ ἀφεδρῶνι), Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Wolf, Grotius, Michaelis, and many others, including Bähr, Steiger, Olshausen, Ewald, Bleek, Hofmann. But, according to others, who likewise regard ἀποχρ. as a parenthetical judgment, the is to be referred to the prohibitions, ἀποχρ. to the use, i.e. the following of them, and φθορά (comp. Galatians 6:8) to the destruction of the persons who follow them: all which δόγματα by their use tend to (eternal) destruction. So Ambrosiaster, Augustine, Cornelius a Lapide, Calixtus, Heumann, Junker. Erroneously; because ἀπόχρησις never means merely use, and even the simple χρῆσις, in the sense of τήρησις, would be an unsuitable designation; in fact, the entire addition, “by the use,” would be utterly superfluous. On account of ἀποχρ., the expedient must also be rejected, on linguistic grounds, that ἀποχρ. are still words of the false teachers, which Paul repeats with irony: “omnia haec (vetita) usu suo perniciem afferunt,” Heinrichs, comp. Schenkel. By others, who, like Tischendorf, have deleted the marks of parenthesis, the whole down to ἀνθρώπων is taken together: all this, which the false teachers forbid, tends through the using to (“moral,” de Wette) destruction, “si sc. ex doctorum Judaicorum praeceptis et doctrinis hac de re judicium feratur,”(133) Kypke; so also Vatablus, Storr, Flatt, Böhmer, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius (Huther is undecided between this explanation and ours). But in opposition to this it may be urged, that the compound ἀποχρήσει would be entirely without a motive, since not the consumption, but the use at all would be soul-destroying according to the maxims of those people. Our view alone supplies a motive for the use of ἀποχρήσει, and that through the point of its connection with εἰς φθοράν, in which case, however, the object affected by ἀποχρ. and εἰς φθορ. must be the same (the things forbidden). De Wette’s objections are irrelevant, since the thought of the parenthesis ἀποχρ. is expressed not strangely, but with Pauline ingenuity, the words κατὰ τὰ ἐντάλ΄. κ. τ. λ. annexed to δογ΄ατίζεσθε are by no means superfluous (see below), nor does this annexation require us to begin the parenthesis with ΄ὴ ἅψῃ and thereby to include heterogeneous elements together; for ΄ὴ ἅψῃ κ. τ. λ. still belongs closely to δογ΄ατ., of which it is the contents, and κατὰ τὰ ἐντάλ΄. κ. τ. λ. is then annexed, after the brief incidentally inserted remark, to δογ΄ατ. and its contents ( μὴ ἅψῃ κ. τ. λ.).

κατὰ τὰ ἐντάλ΄ατα κ. τ. λ.] The article before ἐντάλ΄., and extending also to διδασκαλ., is generic. The μὴ ἅψῃ κ. τ. λ. was decreed by the false teachers conformably to the commandments and doctrines of men, not in consequence of what God had commanded and taught. This element, annexed to δογματίζ., is by no means superfluous (in opposition to de Wette), since, in fact, δόγ΄α in itself is a command generally, and may be one based upon divine authority; it rather serves to bring out with perfect clearness the conflicting relation, in which that δογματίζεσθαι stands to the ἀπεθάνετε σὺν χριστῷ κ. τ. λ. For what the false teachers decreed was not the prohibitions of meats contained in the law of Moses as such, and these alone (although they too would have been incompatible with the ἀπεθάνετε σὺν χ. κ. τ. λ.), but such as consisted in the human (Essene) definitions, expansions, and amplifications of the former ( κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, Colossians 2:8). It was in this, and not in the mere setting up again of the Mosaic law abolished through Christ (Chrysostom and many others), that the δογ΄ατίζεσθαι was regulated by human standard, without the divine authority and warrant. Moreover, διδασκ. is not synonymous with ἐντάλμ., but has a wider sense (in Matthew 15:9 and Mark 6:7, the narrower idea comes after as a more precise definition), so that the two together specify the preceptive and generally ( καί) the doctrinal standard. Comp. Isaiah 29:13.


Verse 23

Colossians 2:23. And of what nature and quality is that, which I have just termed τὰ ἐντάλματα κ. διδασκαλ. τῶν ἀνθρ.?

ἅτινα] quippe quae, i.e. ita comparata, ut (Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1, 30). The conception was different in of Colossians 2:22, where the thing in question was regarded purely objectively, as mere object.

ἐστί] belongs to ἔχοντα, without, however, being with this equivalent to ἔχει; it introduces what the ἅτινα are as regards their quality. If it belonged to οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινι (Bähr), or to πρὸς πλησμ. τ. σ. (Bengel), or to ἐν ἐθελοθρησκείᾳ κ. τ. λ. (that which moves and has its being in ἐθελορ. κ. τ. λ.), as Hofmann thinks, taking λόγον μ. ἔχοντα σοφ. parenthetically—why should it not have been actually placed beside that to which it would belong? Apart from this, Hofmann’s connection of it with ἐν ἐθελοθρ. could alone deserve consideration, since from ἐν ἐθελοθρ. onwards all that follows is consecutive. But even this connection must be abandoned, because the sphere of subsistence indicated by ἐν ἐθελοθρ. κ. τ. λ. would be too wide for such special prohibitions, Colossians 2:21, as are conveyed by ἅτινα, and because we have no right to put aside from the connection, as a mere incisum, the important thought (comp. Colossians 2:8) expressed by λόγ. τ. ἔχ. σοφίας, which comes in with ἐστί so emphatically at the very head of the judgment, and appropriately, as regards meaning, attaches to itself all that follows.

λόγον ἔχειν, explained by many since Jerome approximately in the sense of speciem or praetextum habere (see Kypke, de Wette, Dalmer, and others; also Köster in the Stud. u. Krit. 1854, p. 318), may, according as we adopt for λόγος the signification ratio or sermo, mean either: to have ground (so in the passages from Demosth., Dionys. Hal., and Lesbonax in Kypke; from Plat, in Ast, Lex. II. p. 257; from Polyb. in Schweighäuser, Lex. p. 370(134)), in which case the ground may certainly be only an apparent one, a pretext (comp. Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 36); further, to have an insight into something (often thus in Plato, e.g. Rep. p. 475 C), to have regard to (Herod. i. 62; Plat. Tim. p. 87 C); or: to have a reputation, so that one is in any relation the subject of discourse, of legend, of mention, of rumour, etc.; see e.g. Plat. Epin. p. 987 B: ἑωσφόροςἀφροδίτης εἶναι σχεδὸν ἔχει λόγον (dicitur), Herod. v. 56: λόγον ἔχει τὴν πυθίην ἀναπεῖσαι, comp. 9:78; Xen. Oec. 11. 4 (the same thing conceived under another form: λόγος ἔχει τινα, Herod. vii. 5, and frequently). The latter signification is here to be adhered to, because the subsequent οὐκ ἐν τι΄ῇ τινι, when correctly rendered, accords with it as bearing on the matter in hand, and is in sense appropriately correlative. Hence: that which has a repute of wisdom, popularly passes for wisdom. Comp. ὄνομα ἔχειν (Revelation 3:1) and ὀνο΄άζεσθαι (1 Corinthians 5:11).

΄έν] without a subsequent δέ; there was before the apostle’s mind the contrast: repute, truly, but not the reality, οὐ δύναμιν, οὐκ ἀλήθειαν, Chrysostom. He omitted to express this, however, led aside by the progress of his discourse, so that instead of bringing in the antithesis of λόγον by δέ, he makes οὐκ ἐν τι΄ῇ τινι follow without δέ, and in contrast not to the λόγον, but to the ἐν ἐθελοθρ. κ. τ. λ.,—from which we are to gather in substance, what in starting with λόγον ΄έν it was intended to express. See Erasmus, Annot., and generally Winer, p. 534 f. [E. T. 719]; Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 313 [E. T. 365]; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 656; Maetzner, ad Antiph. p. 153; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 163 f. The linguistic phenomenon of this μέν without an adversative word following is so common, that there is no ground for requiring before οὐκ ἐν τι΄ῇ τ. an ἀλλά (Hofmann), which might have been used (Baeumlein, p. 170), but not necessarily. Holtzmann also takes too much offence at the absence of a formal contrast, and finds in πρὸς πλησμ. τ. σαρκός an ill-inserted remnant of the original.

ἐν ἐθελοθρησκείᾳ] instrumental, specifying by what means it is brought about, on the part of those who lay down the commandments and doctrines referred to, that the latter have a repute of wisdom: through self-chosen worship, i.e. through a cultus, which is not divinely commanded, but is the work of their own self-determination. What was meant by this, the reader was aware; and Colossians 2:18 places it beyond doubt that the worship of angels formed an essential and chief part of it, though it need not, from the general character of the expression in our passage, have been meant exclusively; other forms of capricious cultus may have been included with it. The substantive ἐθελοθρ. does not occur elsewhere except in ecclesiastical writers; but the verb ἐθελοθρησκεῖν is explained by Suidas: ἰδίῳ θελή΄ατι σέβειν τὸ δοκοῦν, and Epiph. Haer. i. 16 explains the name Pharisees: διὰ τὸ ἀφωρισμένους εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων διὰ τὴν ἐθελοπερισσοθρησκείαν παρʼ αὐτοῖς νενομισμένην. Comp. ἐθελοδουλεία (Plat. Symp. p. 184 C, Rep. p. 562 D), ἐθελοκάκησις, ἐθελοκίνδυνος, ἐθελόπορος, ἐθελοπρόξενος (Thuc. iii. 70. 2, where the scholiast explains: ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ γενό΄ενος καὶ ΄ὴ κελευσθεὶς κ. τ. λ.), and various others. Hofmann erroneously takes away from the word in itself the bad sense, and explains (after the analogy of ἐθελοπονία and ἐθελουργία): worship, which one interests himself in. This view is prohibited by the evident retrospective reference of this word and the following one to Colossians 2:18, where, according to the right interpretation, the θρησκεία was certainly something bad. The unfavourable meaning, according to Hofmann’s present explanation (he gave a different but also erroneous view in his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 72; see, in opposition to it, my third edition), is only got by the addition of σώματος, which belongs to all the three points, so that ἐθελοθρησκεία σώματος must be understood as a worship gladly and earnestly rendered, but which is rendered only with bodily demeanour. But σώματος does not suit either with ἐθελοθρ. or ταπεινοφρ.,(135) but only with ἀφειδίᾳ. For it is plain from ἀφειδίᾳ σώ΄ατος that σώ΄ατος is the genitive of the object, from which it follows that θρησκεία σώματος would yield the opposite sense: a θρησκεία rendered to the body (comp. θρησκ. τῶν ἀγγέλων in Colossians 2:18), which would come ultimately to the idea of the λατρεύειν τῇ ἡδονῇ (Lucian, Nigr. 15), comp. Plut. Mor. p. 107 C: λατρεία τοῦ σώματος, and on the matter conceived as θρησκεία, Philippians 3:19.

ταπεινοφροσ.] from the point of view of the false teachers (comp. Colossians 2:18), what they thus designated; although in fact it consisted in this, that, as in all false humility, they with spiritual conceit (comp. Colossians 2:18, and subsequently πρὸς πλησμον. τ. σαρκός) took pleasure in unduly undervaluing themselves—an ethical self-contempt, which involved in relation to God the ἐθελοθρησκεία, and towards the body an unsparingness through mistaken abstinence and mortifying asceticism, inconsistent with Christian liberty. On ἀφειδίᾳ, comp. Plat. Defin. p. 412 D Plut. Mor. p. 762 D further, ἀφειδεῖν βίου, Thuc. ii. 43. 3; ψυχῆς, Soph. El. 968; σωμάτων, Lys. ii. 25, Diod. Sic. xiii. 60.

οὐκ ἐν τι΄ῇ τινι] not through anything whatever that is an honour, not through anything honourable, by which that repute would appear founded in truth and just. The expression is purposely chosen, in order to make the λόγος σοφίας appear as repute without honour, i.e. without any morally estimable substratum on the part of the persons concerned. The following πρὸς πλησμονὴν τῆς σαρκός is also purposely chosen; in it πλησ΄ον. significantly glances back to ἀφειδίᾳ, and τῆς σαρκός to σώ΄ατος, and there is produced a thoughtful contrast, a striking ethical oxymoron: for the sake of fully satisfying the flesh. Those commandments and doctrines have a repute of wisdom, etc., in order to afford thereby full satisfaction to the material-psychical human nature. Thus, while the repute of wisdom is procured among other things by mortifying the body, the flesh is satisfied; the fleshly sinful lust of these men gets fully satisfying nourishment conveyed to it, when they see that their doctrines and commandments pass for wise. What lust of the flesh it is which Paul has in view, is placed beyond doubt by the case itself and also by Colossians 2:18, namely, that of religious conceit and pride, which through the λόγον σοφίας ἔχειν feels itself flattered and gratified in the fancy of peculiar perfection. This interpretation, which we have given of οὐκ ἐν τι΄ῇ τινι, πρὸς πλησ΄ονὴν τῆς σαρκός, is held in substance, following Hilary (“sagina carnalis sensus traditio humana est”), by Bengel, Storr, Flatt, Böhmer, Steiger, Bähr, Huther, Dalmer, Bleek, and others. Most, however, refer ἐν τι΄ῇ τινι to the honour to be shown to the body (or the σάρξ, see Luther), and πρὸς πλησ΄. τ. σαρκ. to bodily satisfaction, so that the sense results: not in some esteeming of the body to the satisfying of bodily wants;(136) “sentit apost., sapientiam illam aut praecepta talia esse, per quae corpori debitus honor, pertinens ad expletionem, i.e. justam refectionem carnis, subtrahatur,” Estius. So, in substance, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, Oceumenius, Theophylact, Pelagius, Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Musculus, Clarius, Zeger, Erasmus Schmid, Zanchius, Vatablus, Calovius, Cornelius a Lapide, Wolf, Michaelis, Nösselt, Rosenmüller, and others, including de Wette and Baumgarten-Crusius. It is fatal to this view:—(1) that ἐν τιμῇ τινι, as is shown by the repetition of ἐν, is the contrast not merely to ἐν ἀφειδίᾳ σώ΄ατος, but to the entire connected ἐν ἐθελοθρησκείᾳ σώ΄ατος, and hence the reference to the honour to be shown to the body does not seem justified by the context;(137) (2) further, that for the designation of the mere satisfaction at this particular place, where Paul could only have had a πρόνοιαν τῆς σαρκός in view, as in Romans 13:14, the term πλησ΄ονήν would be very inappropriate, especially in contradistinction to the mortifications of the false teachers, since it denotes filling up, satisfying fully, even in Exodus 16:3 (see generally the passages from the LXX. and Apocrypha quoted by Schleusner, Thes. IV. p. 375 f.); comp. Plat. Legg. viii. p. 837: Xen. Mem. iii. 11. 14, rep. Lac. 2. 5, Cyrop. iv. 2. 40, Ages. 5. 1; Lucian. Nigr. 33, Ep. Saturn. 28; Polyb. ii. 19. 4; (3) finally, that the interchange of σώματος and σαρκός, in the event of the latter not being meant in an ethical character, would seem to be without a motive, while, according to our view, σαρκός stands in as ingenious correlation with σώ΄ατος, as πλησ΄ονήν with ἀφειδίᾳ. These arguments apply also in opposition to Ewald’s view; “what seems very wise, but is in no value whatever, is rather quite useless for the satisfaction of the flesh, which yet also demands its rights, if man would not wantonly disorganize his earthly life or even destroy it” (2 Corinthians 10:3). Hofmann finally takes πλησμονὴ τ. σαρκός rightly, but explains οὐκ ἐν τι΄ῇ τινι in such a way as to make τινι masculine, and to attach it as appropriating dative to τιμῇ: “not so that honour accrues to any one.” This is to be rejected, because Paul, instead of simply and clearly writing τιμῇ τινος, would only have expressed himself in a way singularly liable to be misunderstood by τινί, which every reader was led to join as a feminine with τι΄ῇ (“in honore aliquo,” Vulgate). Nor is it to be easily seen what subjects, beyond the teacher of the false wisdom himself, we should have to conceive to ourselves under τινί taken as masculine.

 


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Colossians 2:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/colossians-2.html. 1832.

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