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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Colossians 2

 

 

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Introduction

CHAP. II.

He still exhorteth them to be constant in Christ, to beware of philosophy, and vain traditions, worshipping of angels, and legal ceremonies, which are ended in Christ.

Anno Domini 62.

IN the preceding chapter, by displaying the power and dignity of Christ, who died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and by teaching that God hath appointed and accepted that sacrifice, the Apostle established the doctrine of the atonement on a sure foundation; and by setting forth the efficacy and extent of the atonement, that, through it, even the Gentiles hope for a glorious resurrection, he greatly recommended the gospel to the Colossians. Farther, by declaring Christ's commission to the apostles to preach salvation to the Gentiles through his death, and by describing his own labours as an apostle in preaching that great blessing, he had vindicated the commission which he had received from God for the communicating and perpetuating of such interesting discoveries. Deeply impressed, therefore, with the importance of these matters, he begins this second chapter with wishing that the Colossians knew what a combat of affliction he was sustaining, for preaching that Jesus Christ is the hope of glory to the Gentiles, Colossians 2:1.—His sufferingsfor that doctrine he wished them to know, that the hearts of the Gentiles might be comforted by the full assurance of its truth, which the grace of God, and his sufferings also, as a means of grace, would give them, so as to lead them openly to profess that doctrine. And, because the HeathenGentilesentertainedthehighestveneration for the mysteries of their gods, the Apostle, to lead the Colossians to put a just value on the doctrine of the gospel, calls the atonement for the sin of the world made by the death of Christ, and the hope of pardon, and of a glorious resurrection to eternal life, which the Gentiles were allowed to entertain by virtue of that atonement, The mystery of God and of Christ: a mystery infinitely more grand, more interesting, and more certain, than any of the mysteries of the heathen deities, of which the Phrygians were so fond, Colossians 2:2.

Farther, to shew the Colossians that the things written in the preceding chapter concerning Christ's being the image of the invisible God, and the Maker and Governor of all things, constitute a principal part of the mystery of God and of Christ, the Apostle introduced the subject anew in this place, by observing that in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge laid up, Colossians 2:3.—This second display of Christ's dignity was the more necessary, because the false teachers at Colosse, with a view to discredit his mediation and gospel, affirmed that he was nothing but a man: and talked in the most pompous manner of the dignity and office of the angels, by whom the law was given. This we learn from Colossians 2:4.—where the Apostle told the Colossians that he said these things concerning the dignity, the knowledge, and the power of Christ, that no false teacher might deceive them with enticing speeches, for the purpose of discrediting Christ, or of magnifying angels.—Next he assured them that his anxiety for the purity of their faith proceeded from the interest which he took in their affairs, Colossians 2:5.—and therefore he commanded them, agreeably to the account given them of Christ, that he is the image of the invisible God, the Maker and Governor of the world, the Saviour of mankind, and the only Mediator between God and man, to walk in him: they were constantly to hold that belief concerning Christ, and to yield him the honour and obedience due to his greatness, Colossians 2:6.—and to continue closely united to him, and built upon him, and made firm in the faith of the true doctrine ofthe gospel concerning his person and offices, as they had been taught: and to give thanks to God for the discoveries made to them concerning Christ's dignity and office, Colossians 2:7.—He exhorted them therefore to take care that no false teacher made a prey of them, through the empty and deceitful philosophy of the Platonists, which was calculated to support the heathen idolatry, and was obtruded on them to establish the worship of angels, as greater in knowledge and power than Christ; and was contrary to the duty which they owed to Christ, Colossians 2:8.—in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9.; so that to be made complete, whether in respect of knowledge, or pardon and favour with God, or sanctification, Christ's disciples need not have recourse either to angels or to the law of Moses, or to the Greek philosophy. In every respect they must be made complete by him who is the head of all government and power; the head and ruler of all the angelicalhosts, ver.10.—Inparticular,Christ'sdisciplesbythecircumcisionnotmade with hands, the Christian circumcision, consisting in putting off the whole mass of the sins of the flesh, are more effectually purified than the Jews were by the circumcision which wasmade with hands upon their body, or than the heathens by the Pythagorean abstinences and mortifications. So that they had no occasion to have recourse to the bodily circumcision, nor to the mortifications prescribed by the Pythagoreans, to render them complete in respect of purity, Colossians 2:11.—This Christian circumcision, he told them, was represented by their baptism, which typified the death of their old man, or nature through the death of Christ. Moreover, he adds that baptism is a pledge of the resurrection of the faithful with Christ; so that in every respect they might be complete in him through the grace of God, and had no need of the Levitical expiations, Colossians 2:12.—For you, Gentiles, although dead through the sins and circumcision of your flesh, God has made alive together with Christ, having forgiven you all trespasses, Colossians 2:13.—And to shew that by his own death Christ hath placed both Jews and Gentiles on the same level, in respect to pardon, the Apostle observed, that he hath blotted out the hand-writing of ordinances, because the chief of them were written by God himself; and declared that they were contrary to those who were under them, because they subjected them to death for every offence; but that Christ had blotted out the hand-writing, and in its blotted-out state had nailed it to the cross, to make all men sensible that the law of Moses, on account of its weakness, was abolished, together with the curse, Colossians 2:14.—Farther, Christ's disciples are made strong in him, in respect of government. For such of the angels as are inimical to mankind he hath stripped of their power by his cross, and hath triumphed over them by means of it. So that no true believer need be terrified when he recollects the malice and power of evil spirits, nor be tempted to worship them, either from hope or from fear, Colossians 2:15.

In what follows, the Apostle gave the Colossians two exhortations, founded on the doctrine that he had laid down in Colossians 2:10. The first was, that since they could be made complete in the knowledge of their duty by the precepts of Christ, they were not to allow any Judaizing teacher to rule them in meats, or in drinks, or a festival, or a new moon, or sabbaths, Colossians 2:16.—These, even under the Mosaic dispensation, were of no value, but as shadows of gospel blessings. And therefore, as the body, of which these services were the shadows, was Christ's body, the church; and as all the blessings represented by these shadows were now bestowed by Christ on his church; there was no more need of the Mosaic shadows to prefigure them, Colossians 2:17.—The second exhortation was, That since Christ was thehead of all government and power, the Colossians were not to allow any teacher tinctured with the Platonic philosophy, to make them lose their reward; namely, the benefit of Christ's mediation, by persuading them from humility to worship angels. These false teachers, by boldly describing the nature and office of the different orders of angels, intruded into things of which they had no knowledge, and were actuated by a foolish vanity, Colossians 2:18.—Besides, they renounced Christ, the head of all government and power, and by whose influence alone the whole body or church groweth. And by renouncing him, they deprived themselves of the benefit of his intercession, and of all the other blessings which he hath purchased for believers, Colossians 2:19.—Having thus taught the Colossians their duty, he said to them, Since by your death with Christ in baptism, and by yourprofessing the Christian faith, you have renounced your former philosophical and religious opinions, in as far as they are contrary to the doctrines of the gospel, why, as if ye still retained these false opinions, have ye subjected yourselves to the ordinances which are built upon them? Colossians 2:20.—namely, the Pythagorean precepts, neither eat, nor taste, nor handle, Colossians 2:21.—such meats as occasion the destruction of the life of animals, in order to their being used; that is, eat, &c. no animal food, Colossians 2:22.—which precepts, as well as the precepts of the Platonists formerly mentioned, concerning the worship of angels, have indeed an appearance of wisdom, as they recommend a worship voluntarily offered, together with humility and the mortification of the body: but in reality they are mere foolishness; especially the precepts which enjoin perfect and constant abstinence from all animal food; because they make no provision for the satisfaction of the body, which is as real a part of our nature as our soul, and needs to be strengthened with such food as is fit for it; otherwise it cannot serve the soul in the functions and duties of life, Colossians 2:23.


Verse 1

Colossians 2:1. What a great conflict The words and metaphors in this and the preceding verse are taken from the athletic exercises in the Grecian games,and express the great solicitude, the kind of agony which St. Paul had upon his mind for them. See 2 Corinthians 11:2. The pains that he took to preach the gospel, and to assert their liberty against such as opposed; the troubles and difficulties which he now underwent upon this account, being actually in bonds for that cause; (ch. Colossians 1:24, Colossians 4:3.) and the earnestness with which he prayed for them, are all comprehended in this expression. Have not seen my face, might be rendered have not seen me in person.


Verse 2

Colossians 2:2. Might be comforted, The original word παρακληθωσις signifies not only "to have consolation administered under affliction," but "to be exhorted and quickened, excited and animated; and so recovered from indolence and irresolution as well as dejection:" the expression rendered all riches of the full assurance of understanding, or the richest and most assured understanding, is extremely emphatical; more agreeable to the Hebrew than the Greek idiom; and it is one of the many instances of that strong manner of speaking with which the writings of our apostle abound. "The mystery here spoken of," says Dr. Heylin, "is the same as before at Colossians 1:27 of the last chapter. I conceive that it relates to the divine paternity and filiation in us [the in-dwelling of the Father and the Son in the hearts of the faithful]. But as it appears from this verse, that the comprehension of that mystery depends upon a certain disposition of heart and enlargement of the understanding, no expression can convey the knowledge of it, until the requisite dispositions are produced." See the preceding analysis.


Verse 3

Colossians 2:3. Are hid The original signifies any thing that is deposited or treasured up for future service; and is usually applied to money. See Ephesians 3:9. Proverbs 2:4.


Verse 4

Colossians 2:4. And this I say, Namely, "That all the treasures of wisdom are in Christ,—that you may not be imposed upon by the plausible argumentations of human philosophy." See Colossians 2:8. St. Paul comes here directly to treat of that matter which he chieflydesigned in writing this epistle. Thoughhe was well pleased with the Colossians continuing hitherto so steadfast in the doctrine that he had taught, and in maintaining the liberty which they had by Christ, and had therefore bestowed great commendations upon them; yet he was apprehensive of their being in danger from some of the Jewish and Gentile converts, who were endeavouring to seduce and corrupt them. The points in which he judged them most liable to be deceived, were the pretended obligation of the Gentiles to submit to the Mosaic law and the Jewish traditions, and to yield a worship to angels; against which he cautions them with much earnestness, shewing them that they had in Christ all that they could pretend to seek for elsewhere; and that by having recourse to the law, they forsook the substance, and embraced shadows only.—That Christ had abolished the obligation to observe the law; that they were obliged by their baptism to refuse the submission urged upon them; and that by paying the respect to angels, which was recommended to them, they in effect renounced Christ as their head, upon whom alone their hopes ought to depend, as all their supplies were derived only from him. His discourse, though short, is admirably adapted to his subject, and sets forth, with much magnificence, the glorious advantages which they had by Christ, above what could be expected from the law, or from the doctrines of the philosophers.


Verse 5

Colossians 2:5. Yet am I with you in the spirit, As this stands opposed to in the flesh, it seems most reasonable to understand it of St. Paul's own spirit, and not, as some have thought, of the Holy Ghost. See 1 Corinthians 5:3. 2 Kings 5:26. The word ταξιν, rendered order, is a military term, and signifies that beautiful order and disposition, in which an army appears when arrayed for battle.


Verse 8

Colossians 2:8. Beware lest any man spoil you, &c.— Make a spoil of you. The Apostle here refers to the vain deceit of Gentile, as well as Jewish philosophy. The word rendered rudiments, στοιχεια, may undoubtedly signify shadows, as opposed to substance; such as the Jewish ceremonies were. But there is a peculiar spirit in speaking of the boasted dictates of Pagan philosophy but as elements, or lessons for children, when compared with the sublime instruction to be received in the school of Christ.


Verse 9

Colossians 2:9. For in him dwelleth all the fulness, &c.— For in him all the plenitude of the Godhead substantially resides. These words contain an evident allusion to the Shechinah in which God dwelt; and so ultimately refer to the adorable mystery of the union of the divine and human natures, in the person of the glorious Emmanuel; which makes him such an object of our hope and confidence, as the most exalted creature, with the most glorious endowments, could never be of himself.


Verse 11

Colossians 2:11. In whom also ye are circumcised St. Paul uses this argument in opposition to those who pleaded for the necessity of external circumcision. He assures the Colossians, that they had no need of this circumcision, as they were circumcised with that kind of circumcision which the external rite was intended to express; namely, the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, and initiated by that means into his church, as the members of it formerly were by external circumcision. See the next verse, and Romans 2:28-29.


Verse 12

Colossians 2:12. Buried with him in baptism, This verse is in pursuance of what is said in the former; namely, to shew that their baptism was an emblem of the true circumcision, inasmuch as thereby they made a profession of being dead with Christ, and of being raised together with him to a new life. Compare Romans 6:4. As this church at Colosse was planted earlier than that at Rome, and this epistle was written later than that to the Romans, it more abundantly confirms the perpetuity of baptism; as it supposes all to whom it was addressed to have been partakers of that ordinance, whether they were or were not descended from Christian parents. The reader will observe, that the agent spoken of in this and the three next verses, is God the Father.


Verse 14

Colossians 2:14. Blotting out the hand-writing, &c.— Having blotted out with respect to us, the hand-writing of Jewish ordinances and institutions, which was contrary to us, (Acts 15:10.) and had an evident efficacy either to load us with a heavy burden, or to alienate the hearts of our Jewish brethren from us; and therefore he hath taken it away from between us, as I may express it, nailing it to the cross; and thereby has cancelled it, as bonds are usually cancelled amongst us, by being struck through with a nail; while he has accomplished the purposes of the ceremonial law, by that sacrifice of himself; and thereby caused the obligation of it to cease. The word χειρογραφον, rendered hand-writing, signifies a note of hand, which acknowledges a debt of duty, and obliges a man to pay it; the Jews bound themselves to God, by their profession of Judaism, not to neglect any divine institution; in consequence of which, they rejected all communication with the Gentiles; and thus it was against them; it was a bill or obligation, which always was to be discharged, and which subjected them to penalties in case of non-payment. Among the Jews there were two ways of cancelling a bond, or writing; one by blotting, or crossing it out with a pen; another by striking it through with a nail, as above-mentioned. The first is done by Christ's doctrine, the latter by his crucifixion; expressed here by nailing it to his cross.


Verse 15

Colossians 2:15. And having spoiled, &c.— By principalities and powers are generally understood the fallen angels; our spiritual enemies. The Apostle alludes to the custom of conquerors, who in their triumphs made a shew of their captives. See 2 Colossians 2:14. Ephesians 4:8. Instead of in or by it, i.e. the cross, whereby these spiritual enemies hoped to have triumphed over Christ, some would read in or by him; i.e. Christ. Dr. Whitby observes, that Cerinthus and Simon Magus, whose doctrines he imagines the Apostle is here opposing, pretended to deliver men from the power of evil spirits, by whom they said the world was made and governed.


Verse 16

Colossians 2:16. Let no man therefore judge you, &c.— "Since therefore the ceremonial law is thus abolished, and since God without it has quickened you Gentiles, who were dead in sins, and uncircumcised; let no man take upon him to pass sentence upon you, that you belong not to the church of God, because you do not observe the same ordinances with themselves about meats," &c. See Romans 14:3 and the analy


Verse 17

Colossians 2:17. Which are a shadow, &c.— "Which things were only a shadow or type of things that were to come, and which are now actually come; Christ being the real and substantial blessing obscurely shadowed forth by them; and while you retain the substance, you will have no need of the shadow."


Verse 18

Colossians 2:18. Let no man beguile you This verse is differently understood. Dr. Doddridge translates and paraphrases it as follows: "Let no one, therefore, who may ever so eagerly desire it, or ever so artfully attempt it, deprive you of your great prize, for which, as Christians, you contend, by an [affected] humility, and the worship of angels, which some Jewish zealots, as well as heathen philosophers, so eagerly inculcate; intruding officiously and presumptuously into that which he hath not seen, while pretending to tell us wonderful secrets relating to the various ranks, subordinations, and offices of these angels. This may render a man the admiration of the ignorant and inconsiderate; but it is indeed the result of his being vainly puffed up by his corrupt and fleshly mind, with the conceit of things which it is impossible he should understand, and a desire of introducing novelties into religion." Mr. Peirce's paraphrase is this: "And since Christ has thus divested principalities and powers, let no man take upon him to condemn you, while he pleases himself with an humility and worshipping of angels of his own devising; boldly prying into and dictating about matters whereof he knows nothing: and this he is led to by his Jewish temper, which puffs him up with a vain conceit that he knows and is fit to judge of every thing." It seems much more probable that the Apostle refers to this opinion, than to that of Tertullian, who explains it of "worship taught by angels," or persons pretending to receive revelations from them. It is uncertain whether the heathens began so early as this to call those celestial spirits angels whom they before had called good demons; but it is evident that very soon after the Apostle's days, they speak of angels, and archangels, and recommend the worship of them, under those names. Bishop Burnet justly observes, "That if it had been the Apostle's intention to give the least encouragement to any religious addresses to saints and angels, this would have been a very natural occasion of introducing the subject, and adjusting its proper boundaries."


Verse 20

Colossians 2:20. Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ Mr. Peirce and some others have considered this as the beginning of a new paragraph, addressed particularly to the Jewish zealots at Colosse; and they plead in support of this opinion, that the subjection to ordinances, which the Apostle here reproves, is inconsistent with the applauses that he had before bestowed on the Colossians. But it seems most natural to suppose that he addresses the society in general, and leaves it to their own consciences to determine which of them deserved the censure. Instead of, Why are ye subject to ordinances, Peirce reads, Why do ye still dogmatize? Τι δογματιζεθε ; that is, "require such a compliance as you do, with the injunctions and ritual precepts of the law?"


Verse 21

Colossians 2:21. (Touch not, &c.— "Touch not any thing ceremonially unclean: taste not any food which the law prohibits:handle not any thing by which legal pollutions may be contracted." The quick succession of these precepts, without any copulative between them, happily expresses the eagerness with which the seducing teachers inculcated these things. But I believe that the Pythagorean philosophy is here also alluded to. See the analysis.


Verse 22

Colossians 2:22. Which all are to perish with the using; Dr. Doddridge renders and paraphrases this passage thus: "All which things tend to the corruption of that excellent religion, into which you have the honour to be initiated, by the abuse of them." Mr. Peirce, understanding the three precepts foregoing as referring entirely to meats and drinks, explains this clause, "Which yet were all made by God to be consumed by our use of them."


Verse 23

Colossians 2:23. A shew of wisdom, in will-worship, "In performing some acts of voluntary and uncommanded zeal under the guise and affectation of uncommon devotion, in the worshipping of angels, and in austerities and extreme abstinences." The two last clauses may be transposed, as if it had been said, "It is to such a satisfying of the flesh, as does it no real honour;" a meiosis, to express what is dishonourable; whereas the highest honour of our bodies is to be the instruments of our souls in the service of God. It has been observed, that the word τιμη signifies provision, as well as honour; and then the sense will be, that, though there was no appearance of providing for the flesh, yet there was a carnal kind of satisfaction in these affected severities, when proceeding from the principles of vain-glory and ill-nature; which were as contrary to the genius of true religion, as any the grossest sensualities that could be imagined. Mr. Peirce gives the verse a different turn. According to him, the Apostle's meaning is, "Which things having indeed a shew of wisdom, in will-worship, (Colossians 2:18) and humility, and neglecting of the body, serve to the dishonourably gratifying persons of a fleshly or Jewish disposition."

Inferences.—Let us contemplate, with daily pleasure, the glorious effects of the death of our blessed Redeemer, by which the Mosaic law was abolished, the hand-writing of ordinances blotted out—that death, by which so glorious a victory over our spiritual enemies was obtained, by which the infernal principalities and powers were stripped of their trophies, and themselves exposed as an open spectacle. Let us improve this victory to all the glorious purposes for which it was intended. Let us, above all, consider it as an engagement to a life of exemplary holiness, especially as we ourselves circumcised with the circumcision of Christ; as by baptism we are solemnly engaged to mortify all irregular affections, and, being buried with Christ, to rise to all newness of life, having received the forgiveness of our sins, and being raised with Christ to the hope of eternal glory.

Let us then be solicitous ever to maintain the strictest union with Christ, as our Head, remembering how great an honour it is to be thus related to him, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Let us be careful, in virtue of this union, to live in the fellowship of Christian love with all the members of the body, and ourselves to grow with all the increase of God.

And let us guard against all those human traditions, and all those refinements of philosophical speculation, which are contrary or disagreeable to these elements of Christ into which we have been initiated; and against every thing which could be an infringement of that liberty which Christ has granted to his church, and which it is our duty to endeavour to maintain against all encroachments; even though they should be made by any in his name, and under the pretence of authority from him. It may be urged upon us as humility, to submit to such impositions; but it is the truest humility to maintain an exact obedience to the authority of our Divine Master, and to limit our submission even to those of our brethren whom we may most honour and love, by a regard to his command and institution. And if a due care is not taken in this respect, we may be deprived, at least in some degree, of our prize, by the methods whereby some may endeavour to persuade us that we shall most effectually secure it. May Divine Wisdom preserve us from all those vain deceits; whereby our faith might be corrupted, or our conformity to the plan of Christian institutions be rendered, in any respect, less pure, beautiful, and complete.

REFLECTIONS.—1st. Though the Apostle had no personal knowledge of the Colossians, the report that he had heard engaged his warmest affections towards them. For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, how solicitous I am for your welfare, and wrestle earnestly with God in prayer on your behalf, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh: and this especially I ask of the Lord, that their hearts might be comforted under every trial, with those consolations which he bestows on his faithful people, being knit together in love to Christ and one another, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, seeking to attain the most distinct and comprehensive knowledge of the gospel, with all its invaluable privileges, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; testifying the fullest approbation of that glorious scheme of salvation, which, though unknown before, is now revealed to the Gentiles, wherein God appears as their reconciled God and Father in Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, for the use of his believing people, that he might so order all the dispensations of his Providence and grace, as most effectually to conduct those who cleave to him perseveringly till death, safe, amidst all their difficulties, to his eternal kingdom. Note; (1.) It is God's will that his believing people should be comforted; and for this his ministers should labour. (2.) Nothing tends more to cause our consolations to abound than the union of our hearts to Jesus, and to our brethren in love unfeigned. (3.) Whatever remaining ignorance be in us, or darkness surround our steps, he who hath all the treasures of wisdom, is the guide of the faithful; and he will lead them by the right way.

2nd, The Apostle felt the tenderest concern for them; and he testifies it by his jealousy over them.

1. He warns them against the seducing Judaizing teachers. And this I say, concerning my affection for you, and the all-sufficient wisdom of Jesus to direct you, lest, as Satan beguiled Eve through his subtilty, any man should beguile you with enticing words, perverting you from the simplicity of the gospel, under pretence of leading you to higher attainments. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit; not only united to them in affection, but probably having some extraordinary discernment of their state from the Lord; joying and beholding your order and strict discipline, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ, notwithstanding all the shocks of persecution, or the wiles of deceivers. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, and made profession of your entire dependance upon him as your Prophet, Priest, and King; so walk ye in him, depending on the teachings of his word and Spirit, trusting on his atonement and infinite merit, and desirous to obey his holy will in all things; rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, fixed on the rock of ages, and by faith growing up into him in all things, who is the head, even Christ, as ye have been taught in the gospel preached to you; abounding therein with thanksgiving, enriched with all the fulness of divine grace, and ceaseless in praise to the great Author of all your hopes and happiness. Beware, therefore, since ye have received the truth as it is in Jesus, lest any man spoil you of the inestimable treasure through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the corrupt systems of heathenism, misleading you from the purity of the gospel, after the tradition of men, whether of Judaizing teachers, or Gentile sages, after the rudiments of the world, those first elements, ( στοιχεια ) contained in the Mosaical oeconomy, or in the imaginary writings of the philosophers, and which are not after Christ, but tend to seduce the heart from him, to direct the soul to rest on something else for salvation, besides the great Atonement made by him, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; all the divine perfections being, in their utmost fulness, perpetually resident in the person of the incarnate Jesus. Note; (1.) The discourse set off, with the most enticing words, must be brought to the test of God's revealed will; and if it correspond not therewith, whatever appearances of wisdom there may be, it is to be rejected with abhorrence. (2.) They who cleave to Christ shall be preserved from all dangerous delusion. (3.) He who is God as well as man in one Christ, must needs be able to save to the uttermost, and be the worthy object of our entire faith and dependance.

2. He mentions the salvation, of which, in Christ, they had been made partakers. And ye are complete in him, in virtue of your union with him, who is, in his mediatorial character, the head of all principality and power; all in heaven, earth, and hell, from the highest creature to the lowest, being made subject unto him. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision, not that which is outward in the flesh, and now of no avail, but that made without hands, even the circumcision of the heart, evident in the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, and mortifying the old man which is corrupt, with the affections and lusts, by the circumcision of Christ, which he is the author of, and by his Spirit effects in the hearts of his believing people: being buried with him in baptism, the ordinance which he has instituted superseding circumcision, and signifying to us our death unto sin, and new birth unto righteousness; wherein also ye are risen with him, quickened to newness of life, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead; and will raise you, if faithful, to the enjoyment of the highest degrees of grace, and the full enjoyment of himself in glory. And you being dead in your sins, under the sentence of God's wrath, and separated from his favour, which is the true life of the soul, and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, serving divers lusts and pleasures, under the dominion of a corrupted nature, hath he quickened together with him, to a life of grace here, having forgiven you all trespasses, in virtue of the redemption of Jesus; blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, by his blood cancelling the debt, and abolishing the ceremonial law which separated Jews and Gentiles, and was the cause of enmity between them, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross, and rending it in pieces: and having spoiled principalities and powers, the apostate spirits of darkness, he made a shew of them openly, as their conqueror, triumphing over them in it, and redeeming all his faithful people thereby from their hateful dominion. How invaluable are the Christian privileges! how precious should he be to us who is the blessed author of them! (1.) Believers have the free and full remission of all their iniquities. (2.) The curse of the law is satisfied, and there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

3rdly, The Apostle, from the foregoing considerations, of the complete atonement which Christ had made for them, and the inestimable privileges and blessings awaiting them in consequence thereof, warns them against the Judaizing zealots.

Let no man therefore judge or condemn you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, inculcating the necessity of observing these Jewish ceremonies, in order to salvation; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ; since he who is the substance of them hath appeared, they are now abolished, and no longer obligatory. Let no man beguile you of your reward, or cheat you of the prize of your high calling in Christ Jesus, in a voluntary humility, leading you to a kind of abasement which the gospel never prescribed, and worshipping of angels, to the great dishonour of the one Mediator between God and man; intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, falsely pretending to what he is ignorant of, and following the delusions of a heart eaten up with pride; and not holding the head, Christ Jesus, from which alone all the body of his church, by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together spiritually, as the members of the natural body are united to their common head, increaseth with the increase of God, in light, and love, and comfort, and holiness. Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ, as your baptism intimated, from the rudiments of the world, and discharged from all obligation to the Mosaic oeconomy, why, as though living in the world, and still under the legal dispensation, are ye subject to ordinances, and obey the dogmatical decisions of Judaizing teachers, or heathen philosophers, who cry, Touch not, taste not, handle not, as if the Levitical law was still in force, and the distinction of meats and drinks to be scrupulously observed by Christians, or you should embrace the visionary ideas of pagan sages; which meats all are to perish with the using, passing through the body, and cannot defile the soul; and are now no longer enjoined of divine authority, but merely after the commandments and doctrines of men, by these Jewish zealots? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom, and pass under the specious pretence of paying to God service, even of supererogation, in will-worship, and voluntary humility, which his word has never enjoined; and neglecting of the body, by affected austerities, not in any honour; these things are not of any value in the sight of God; but are to the satisfying of the flesh, serving only to foster man's pride, and to flatter him in a vain conceit of his own superior goodness. Note; They who affect to be wise above what is written, will only, in the issue, expose their own absurd pride and egregious folly.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Colossians 2:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/colossians-2.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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