Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. For--He explains in what respect he "labored striving"
Translate as Greek, "I wish you to know how great a
conflict (the same Greek word as in
"agony of a conflict" of fervent, anxious prayer; not conflict
with the false teachers, which would have been impossible for him now
in prison) I have for you."
them at Laodicea--exposed to the same danger from false teachers as
the Colossians (compare
This danger was probably the cause of his writing to Laodicea, as well
as to Colosse.
not seen my face in the flesh--including those in Hierapolis
Paul considered himself a "debtor" to all the Gentiles
"His face" and presence would have been a "comfort"
Col 1:4, 7, 8,
in proof that he had not seen, but only heard of the
Colossians. Hence he strives by earnest conflict with God in
anxious prayer for them, to make up for the loss of his bodily presence
among them. Though "absent in the flesh, I am with you in the
2. Translate, "That their hearts may be comforted." The "their,"
compared with "you"
proves that in
the words, "have not seen my face in the flesh," is a general
designation of those for whom Paul declares he has "conflict,"
including the particular species, "you (Colossians) and them at
Laodicea." For it is plain, the prayer "that their hearts may be
comforted," must include in it the Colossians for whom he expressly
says, "I have conflict." Thus it is an abbreviated mode of expression
for, "That your and their hearts may be comforted." ALFORD translates, "confirmed," or allows "comforted" in
its original radical sense strengthened. But the Greek
supports English Version: the sense, too, is clear:
comforted with the consolation of those whom Paul had not seen,
and for whom, in consequence, he strove in prayerful conflict the more
fervently; inasmuch as we are more anxious in behalf of absent, than
present, friends [DAVENANT]. Their hearts would be
comforted by "knowing what conflict he had for" them, and how much he
is interested for their welfare; and also by being released from doubts
on learning from the apostle, that the doctrine which they had heard
from Epaphras was true and certain. In writing to churches which he had
instructed face to face, he enters into particular details concerning
them, as a father directing his children. But to those among whom he
had not been in person, he treats of the more general truths of
being--Translate as Greek in oldest manuscripts, "They being
in love--the bond and element of perfect knitting together; the
antidote to the dividing schismatical effect of false doctrine. Love to
God and to one another in Christ.
unto--the object and end of their being "knit together."
all riches--Greek, "all the riches of the full
Heb 6:11; 10:22)
of the (Christian) understanding." The accumulation of phrases,
not only "understanding," but "the full assurance of understanding";
not only this, but "the riches of," &c., not only this, but
"all the riches of," &c., implies how he desires to impress them
with the momentous importance of the subject in hand.
acknowledgment--The Greek implies, "full and accurate
knowledge." It is a distinct Greek word from "knowledge,"
ALFORD translates, "thorough . . .
knowledge." Acknowledgment hardly is strong enough; they did in
a measure acknowledge the truth; what they wanted was the
full and accurate knowledge of it (compare Notes, see on
Col 1:9, 10;
of God, and of the Father and of Christ--The oldest manuscripts omit
"and of the Father, and of"; then translate, "Of God (namely), Christ."
Two very old manuscripts and Vulgate read, "Of God the Father of
3. Translate in the Greek order, "In whom (not as ALFORD, 'in which') mystery; Christ is Himself the
and to Christ the relative refers) are all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge hidden." The "all" here, answers to "all" in
as "treasures" answer to the "riches"; it is from the treasures
that the riches
are derived. "Are" is the predicate of the sentence; all the treasures
ARE in Him; hidden is predicated of the
state or manner in which they are in Him. Like a mine of unknown and
inexhaustible wealth, the treasures of wisdom are all in Him
hidden, but not in order to remain so; they only need to be
explored for you to attain "unto the riches" in them
but until you, Colossians, press after attaining the full
knowledge (see on
of them, they remain "hidden." Compare the parable,
"treasure hid." This sense suits the scope of the apostle, and sets
aside ALFORD'S objection that "the treasures are
not hidden, but revealed." "Hidden" plainly answers to "mystery"
which is designed by God, if we be faithful to our privileges, not to
remain hidden, but to be revealed (compare
1Co 2:7, 8).
Still as the mine is unfathomable, there will, through eternity, be
always fresh treasures in Him to be drawn forth from their hidden
wisdom--general, and as to experimental and
practical truth; whence comes "understanding"
knowledge--special and intellectual, in regard to
doctrinal truth; whence comes "the full knowledge"
4. And--"Now." Compare with "lest any man," &c.
Col 2:8, 16, 18.
He refers to the blending of Judaism with Oriental philosophy, and the
combination of this mixture with Christianity.
enticing words--plausible as wearing the guise of wisdom and
(Col 2:18, 23).
5. For--argument against their suffering themselves to be beguiled, drawn from a regard to his personal authority as though he were present.
joying and beholding--beholding with joy.
order--your good order; answering to "knit together"
as a well-organized body; the same Greek as that for knit
together, is used of the body" of the Church compacted," in
1Co 14:33, 40.
steadfastness--Greek, "the firm (or 'solid')
foundation." As "order" expresses the outward aspect of the Church; so
"steadfastness" expresses the inner basis on which their Church rested.
The Greek literally implies not an abstract quality, but the thing in the concrete; thus their "faith" here is the solid thing which
constituted the basis of their Church.
6. "As therefore ye received (once for all; the aorist tense; from
Epaphras) Jesus the Christ as your Lord
so walk in Him." He says not merely, "Ye received" the doctrine of
Christ, but "Jesus" Himself; this is the essence of faith
(Joh 14:21, 23;
Ye have received once for all the Spirit of life in Christ;
carry into practice that life in your walk
This is the main scope of the Epistle.
built up--Greek, "being builded up." As "rooted"
implies their vitality; so "builded up," massive
solidity. As in the Song of Solomon, when one image is not
sufficient to express the varied aspects of divine truth, another is
employed to supply the idea required. Thus "walking," a third image
expresses the thought which "rooted" and "built," though each
suggesting a thought peculiar to itself, could not express, namely,
onward motion. "Rooted" is in the past tense, implying
their first conversion and vital grafting "in Him." "Built up"
is present (in the Greek), implying their progressive
increase in religion by union with Him.
refers to the Church; but the passage here to their
individual progress in edification
abounding therein with thanksgiving--advancing to fuller maturity
in the faith, "with thanksgiving" to God as the gracious Author of this
8. Translate, "Beware (literally, 'Look' well) lest there shall be (as I fear there is: the Greek indicative expresses this) any man
(pointing to some known emissary of evil,
leading you away as his spoil (not merely gaining spoil out of
you, but making yourselves his spoil) through (by means of) his
philosophy," &c. The apostle does not condemn all philosophy,
but "the philosophy" (so Greek) of the Judaic-oriental
heretics at Colosse, which afterwards was developed into Gnosticism.
You, who may have "the riches of full assurance" and "the
treasures of wisdom," should not suffer yourselves to be led
away as a spoil by empty, deceitful philosophy: "riches"
are contrasted with spoil; "full" with "vain," or empty
(Col 2:2, 3, 9).
tradition of men--opposed to, "the fulness of the Godhead."
Applied to Rabbinical traditions,
When men could not make revelation even seem to tell about deep
mysteries which they were curious to pry into, they brought in human
philosophy and pretended traditions to help it, as if one should bring
a lamp to the sundial to find the hour [Cauations for Times, p.
85]. The false teachers boasted of a higher wisdom in theory,
transmitted by tradition among the initiated; in practice they enjoined
asceticism, as though matter and the body were the sources of evil.
Phrygia (in which was Colosse) had a propensity for the mystical and
magical, which appeared in their worship of Cybele and subsequent
rudiments of the world--(See on
"The rudiments" or elementary lessons "of the (outward) world," such as
legal ordinances; our Judaic childhood's lessons
(Col 2:11, 16, 20;
But NEANDER, "the elements of the world,"
in the sense, what is earthly, carnal and outward, not "the
rudiments of religion," in Judaism and heathenism.
not after Christ--"Their" boasted higher "philosophy" is but human
tradition, and a cleaving to the carnal and worldly, and not to Christ.
Though acknowledging Christ nominally, in spirit they by their doctrine
9. For--"Because." Their "philosophy"
is not "after Christ," as all true philosophy is, everything which
comes not from, and tends not to, Him, being a delusion; "For in Him
(alone) dwelleth" as in a temple, &c.
of the Godhead--The Greek (theotes) means the
of the Godhead, not merely the divine perfections and
attributes of Divinity (Greek, "theiotes"). He, as man, was not
merely God-like, but in the fullest sense, God.
bodily--not merely as before His incarnation, but now "bodily in Him"
as the incarnate word
(Joh 1:14, 18).
Believers, by union with Him, partake of His fulness of the divine
10. And--And therefore; and so. Translate in the
Greek order, "Ye are in Him (by virtue of union with Him)
filled full" of all that you need
Believers receive of the divine unction which flows down from their
Divine Head and High Priest
He is full of the "fulness" itself; we, filled from Him.
Paul implies, Therefore ye Colossians need no supplementary sources of
grace, such as the false teachers dream of. Christ is "the Head of all
rule and authority" (so the Greek),
He, therefore, alone, not these subject "authorities" also, is to be
11. Implying that they did not need, as the Judaizers taught, the
outward rite of circumcision, since they had already the inward
spiritual reality of it.
are--rather, as the Greek, "Ye were (once for all) circumcised
(spiritually, at your conversion and baptism,
Ro 2:28, 29;
with a (so the Greek) circumcision made without hands"; opposed
to "the circumcision in the flesh made by hands"
Christ's own body, by which the believer is sanctified, is said to be
"not made with hands"
in putting off--rather as Greek, "in your putting off"; as an
alluding to the putting off the foreskin in circumcision.
the body of the sins of the flesh--The oldest manuscripts read,
"the body of the flesh," omitting "of the sins," that is, "the body,"
of which the prominent feature is fleshiness (compare
where "flesh" and "the body" mutually correspond). This fleshly body,
in its sinful aspect, is put off in baptism (where baptism answers its
ideal) as the seal of regeneration where received in repentance and
faith. In circumcision the foreskin only was put off; in
Christian regeneration "the body of the flesh" is spiritually
put off, at least it is so in its ideal conception, however imperfectly
believers realize that ideal.
by--Greek, "in." This spiritual circumcision is
realized in, or by, union with Christ, whose "circumcision," whereby He
became responsible for us to keep the whole law, is imputed to
believers for justification; and union with whom, in all His vicarious
obedience, including HIS CIRCUMCISION, is the
source of our sanctification. ALFORD makes it
explanatory of the previous, "a circumcision made without hands,"
namely, "the circumcision brought about by your union with Christ." The
former view seems to me better to accord with
Col 2:12; 3:1, 3, 4,
which similarly makes the believer, by spiritual union with Christ, to
have personal fellowship in the several states of Christ, namely, His
death, resurrection, and appearing in glory. Nothing was done or
suffered by our Mediator as such, but may be acted in our souls and
represented in our spirits.
view, however, is that of
the type (not Moses in the wilderness), circumcised the Israelites in
the second time: the people that came out of Egypt having been
circumcised, and afterwards having died in the wilderness; but those
born after the Exodus not having been so. Jesus, the Antitype, is the
author of the true circumcision, which is therefore called "the
circumcision of Christ"
As Joshua was "Moses' minister," so Jesus, "minister of the
circumcision for the truth of God" unto the Gentiles
12. Translate, "Having been buried with Him in
your baptism." The past participle is here coincident in time
with the preceding verb, "ye were (Greek) circumcised." Baptism
is regarded as the burial of the old carnal life, to which the act of
immersion symbolically corresponds; and in warm climates where
immersion is safe, it is the mode most accordant with the
significance of the ordinance; but the spirit of the ordinance is kept
by affusion, where immersion would be inconvenient or dangerous; to
insist on literal immersion in all cases would be mere legal
(Ro 6:3, 4).
are risen--rather as Greek, "were raised with Him."
through the faith, &c.--by means of your faith in the
operation of God; so "faith of," for "faith in"
Faith in God's mighty operation in raising again Jesus, is saving faith
(Ro 4:24; 10:9);
and it is wrought in the soul by His same "mighty working" whereby He
"raised Jesus from the dead"
(Eph 1:19, 20).
BENGEL seems to me
(not as ALFORD understands
him) to express the latter sense, namely, "Through the faith which is
a work of the operation of God who," &c.
Eph 1:19, 20
accords with this; the same mighty power of God is exercised in raising
one spiritually dead to the life of faith, as was "wrought in Christ
when God raised Him literally from the dead." However, "faith of"
usually is "faith in"
but there is no grammatical impropriety in understanding it "the faith
which is the effect of the operation of God"
As His literal resurrection is the ground of the power put forth in our
spiritual resurrection now, so it is a pledge of our literal
13. you, being dead--formerly
(Eph 2:1, 2);
even as Christ was among the dead, before that God raised Him "from the
sins--rather as Greek is translated at end of this verse,
"trespasses," literally, "failings aside" from God's ways; actual
transgressions, as that of Adam.
uncircumcision of your flesh--your not having put off the old fleshly
nature, the carnal foreskin, or original sin, which now by spiritual
circumcision, that is, conversion and baptism, you have put off.
he quickened--GOD "quickened together with Him
(CHRIST)." Just as
Christ's resurrection proved that He was delivered from the sin laid on
Him, so our spiritual quickening proves that we have been forgiven our
(1Pe 3:22; 4:1, 2).
forgiven you--So Vulgate and
HILARY. But the oldest manuscripts
read, "us," passing from the particular persons, the Colossians, to the
all trespasses--Greek, "all our trespasses."
14. Blotting out--Greek, "Having wiped out"; coincident in time
with "having forgiven you"
hereby having cancelled the law's indictment against you. The
law (including especially the moral law, wherein lay the chief
difficulty in obeying) is abrogated to the believer, as far as it was a
compulsory, accusing code, and as far as "righteousness"
(justification) and "life" were sought for by it. It can only produce
outward works, not inward obedience of the will, which in the believer
flows from the Holy Spirit in Him
(Ro 3:21; 7:2, 4;
the handwriting of ordinances--rather, "IN
ordinances" (see on
"the law of commandments contained in ordinances." "The handwriting"
(alluding to the Decalogue, the representative of the law, written
by the hand of God) is the whole law, the obligatory bond,
under which all lay; the Jews primarily were under the bond, but they
in this respect were the representative people of the world
and in their inability to keep the law was involved the inability of
the Gentiles also, in whose hearts "the work of the law was written"
and as they did not keep this, they were condemned by it.
that was against us . . . contrary to us--Greek
"adversary to us"; so it is translated,
"Not only was the law against us by its demands, but also an
adversary to us by its accusations" [BENGEL].
TITTMANN explains the Greek, "having a
latent contrariety to us"; not open designed hostility,
but virtual unintentional opposition through our frailty; not through
any opposition in the law itself to our good
(Ro 7:7-12, 14;
The "WRITING" is part of "that which was contrary
to us"; for "the letter killeth" (see on
and took it--Greek, and hath taken it out of the way" (so
as to be no longer a hindrance to us), by "nailing it to the
cross." Christ, by bearing the curse of the broken law, has redeemed us
from its curse
In His person nailed to the cross, the law itself was nailed to it. One
ancient mode of cancelling bonds was by striking a nail through the
writing: this seems at that time to have existed in Asia [GROTIUS]. The bond cancelled in the present case was the
obligation lying against the Jews as representatives of the world, and
attested by their amen, to keep the whole law under penalty of
ELLICOTT, and others translate the Greek to accord
with the translation of the same Greek,
"Stripping off from Himself the principalities and the powers: " GOD put off from Himself the angels, that is,
their ministry, not employing them to be promulgators of the Gospel in
the way that He had given the law by their "disposition" or ministry
Heb 2:2, 5):
God manifested Himself without a veil in Jesus.
"THE principalities and
THE powers" refers back to
Jesus, "the Head of all principality and power," and
In the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God subjected all the
principalities, &c., to Jesus, declaring them to be powerless as to His
work and His people
Thus Paul's argument against those grafting on Christianity Jewish
observances, along with angel-worship, is, whatever part angels may be
supposed to have had under the law, now at an end, God having put the
legal dispensation itself away. But the objection is, that the context
seems to refer to a triumph over bad angels: in
however, Christ's triumph over those subjected to Him, is not a
triumph for destruction, but for their salvation, so that good angels
may be referred to
But the Greek middle is susceptible of English Version,
"having spoiled," or, literally [TITTMANN],
"having completely stripped," or "despoiled" for Himself
English Version accords with
Translate as the Greek, "The rules and authorities."
made a show of them--at His ascension (see on
confirming English Version of this verse).
openly--Joh 7:4; 11:54,
support English Version against
ALFORD'S translation, "in openness of speech."
in it--namely, His cross, or crucifixion: so the Greek fathers
translate. Many of the Latins, "In Himself" or "in Him."
favors English Version, "reconcile . . . by the
cross, having slain the enmity thereby." If "in Him," that is,
Christ, be read, still the Cross will be the place and means of God's
triumph in Christ over the principalities
(Eph 1:20; 2:5).
Demons, like other angels, were in heaven up to Christ's ascension, and
influenced earth from their heavenly abodes. As heaven was not yet
opened to man before Christ
so it was not yet shut against demons
(Job 1:6; 2:1).
But at the ascension Satan and his demons were "judged" and "cast out"
by Christ's obedience unto death
(Joh 12:31; 16:11;
and the Son of man was raised to the throne of God; thus His
resurrection and ascension are a public solemn triumph over the
principalities and powers of death. It is striking that the heathen
oracles were silenced soon after Christ's ascension.
16. therefore--because ye are complete in Christ, and God in Him has
dispensed with all subordinate means as essential to acceptance with
meat . . . drink--Greek, "eating
. . . drinking"
Pay no regard to any one who sits in judgment on you as to legal
observances in respect to foods.
holyday--a feast yearly. Compare the three,
the sabbath--Omit "THE," which is not in
the Greek (compare Note, see on
"SABBATHS" (not "the sabbaths") of the day of
atonement and feast of tabernacles have come to an end with the Jewish
services to which they belonged
(Le 23:32, 37-39).
The weekly sabbath rests on a more permanent foundation, having been
instituted in Paradise to commemorate the completion of creation in six
expressly distinguished "the sabbath of the Lord" from the other
sabbaths. A positive precept is right because it is
commanded, and ceases to be obligatory when abrogated; a moral
precept is commanded eternally, because it is eternally
right. If we could keep a perpetual sabbath, as we shall
hereafter, the positive precept of the sabbath, one in each week, would
not be needed.
"rests," Greek, "keeping of sabbath"
But we cannot, since even Adam, in innocence, needed one amidst his
earthly employments; therefore the sabbath is still needed and is
therefore still linked with the other nine commandments, as obligatory
in the spirit, though the letter of the law has been superseded by that
higher spirit of love which is the essence of law and Gospel alike
17. things to come--the blessings of the Christian covenant, the
substance of which Jewish ordinances were but the type. Compare "ages to
come," that is, the Gospel dispensation
"the world to come."
the body is of Christ--The real substance
(of the blessings typified by the law) belongs to Christ
(Heb 8:5; 10:1).
18. beguile--Translate, "Defraud you of your prize," literally, "to
adjudge a prize out of hostility away from him who deserves it"
[TRENCH]. "To be umpire in a contest to the detriment of one." This
defrauding of their prize the Colossians would suffer, by letting
any self-constituted arbitrator or judge (that is, false
teacher) draw them away from Christ," the righteous Judge" and Awarder
of the prize
in a voluntary humility--So "will-worship"
Literally, "Delighting ([WAHL]) in humility";
loving (so the Greek is translated,
"love to go in long clothing") to indulge himself in a
humility of his own imposing: a volunteer in humility
[DALLÆUS]. Not as ALFORD, "Let no one of purpose defraud you," &c.
Not as GROTIUS, "If he ever so much wish" (to
defraud you). For the participle "wishing" or "delighting," is one of
the series, and stands in the same category as "intruding," "puffed
up," "not holding"; and the self-pleasing implied in it stands
in happy contrast to the (mock) humility with which it seems to
me, therefore, to be connected. His "humility," so called, is a
pleasing of self: thus it stands in parallelism to "his fleshly
mind" (its real name, though he styles it "humility"), as
"wishing" or "delighting" does to "puffed up." The Greek for
"humility" is literally, "lowliness of mind," which forms a
clearer parallel to "puffed up by his fleshly mind." Under
pretext of humility, as if they durst not come directly to God and
Christ (like the modern Church of Rome), they invoked angels: as
Judaizers, they justified this on the ground that the law was given by
angels. This error continued long in Phrygia (where Colosse and
Laodicea were), so that the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 360) expressly framed its thirty-fifth canon
against the "Angelici" (as AUGUSTINE
[Heresies, 39], calls them) or "invokers of angels." Even as
late as THEODORET'S time, there were oratories to
Michael the archangel. The modern Greeks have a legend that Michael
opened a chasm to draw off an inundation threatening the Colossian
Christians. Once men admit the inferior powers to share invocation with
the Supreme, the former gradually engrosses all our serious worship,
almost to the exclusion of the latter; thus the heathen, beginning with
adding the worship of other deities to that of the Supreme, ended with
ceasing to worship Him at all. Nor does it signify much, whether we
regard such as directly controlling us (the pagan view), or as only
influencing the Supreme in our behalf (the Church of Rome's
view); because he from whom I expect happiness or misery, becomes the
uppermost object in my mind, whether he give, or only
procure it [Cautions for Times]. Scripture opposes the
idea of "patrons" or "intercessors"
(1Ti 2:5, 6).
True Christian humility joins consciousness of utter personal demerit,
with a sense of participation in the divine life through Christ, and in
the dignity of our adoption by God. Without the latter being realized,
a false self-humiliation results, which displays itself in ceremonies
and ascetic self-abasement
which after all is but spiritual pride under the mock guise of
humility. Contrast "glorying in the Lord"
intruding into . . . things which he hath not seen--So very old
manuscripts and Vulgate and
ORIGEN read. But the oldest manuscripts
and LUCIFER omit "not"; then translate, "haughtily treading on
[ALFORD]) the things which he hath seen."
refers this to fancied visions of angels. But if Paul had meant a
fancied seeing, he would have used some qualifying word, as, "which
he seemed to see," not "which he hath seen." Plainly the things
were actually seen by him, whether of demoniacal origination
or phenomena resulting from natural causation, mistaken by him as if
supernatural. Paul, not stopping to discuss the nature of the things so
seen, fixes on the radical error, the tendency of such a one in all
this to walk by SENSE (namely, what he
haughtily prides himself on having SEEN),
rather than by FAITH in the UNSEEN "Head"
Thus is the parallelism, "vainly puffed up" answers to "haughtily
treading on," or "setting his foot on"; "his fleshly mind" answers to
the things which he hath seen," since his fleshliness betrays itself in
priding himself on what he hath seen, rather than on the
unseen objects of faith. That the things seen may have
been of demoniacal origination, appears from
"Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits and doctrines of devils" (Greek, "demons"). A warning to
puffed up--implying that the previous so called "humility" (Greek, "lowliness of mind") was really a "puffing up."
fleshly mind--Greek, "By the mind of his own flesh." The flesh,
or sensuous principle, is the fountain head whence his mind draws its
craving after religious objects of sight, instead of, in true
humility as a member, "holding fast the (unseen) Head."
19. Translate, "Not holding fast the Head." He who does not hold
Christ solely and supremely above all others, does not hold Him at all
[BENGEL]. The want of firm holding of Christ has set him loose to
(pry into, and so) "tread haughtily on (pride himself on) things which he
hath seen." Each must hold fast the Head for himself, not merely be
attached to the other members, however high in the body [ALFORD].
from which--rather, "from whom."
the body--that is, all the members of the body
joints--the points of union where the supply of nourishment passes
to the different members, furnishing the body with the materials of
bands--the sinews and nerves which bind together limb and limb. Faith,
love, and peace, are the spiritual bands. Compare "knit together in
having nourishment ministered--that is, supplied to it continually.
knit together--The Greek is translated, "compacted,"
implying firm consolidation.
with the increase of God--
that is, wrought by God, the Author and Sustainer of the
believer's spiritual life, in union with Christ, the Head
and tending to the honor of God, being worthy of Him, its Author.
20. Wherefore--The oldest manuscripts omit "Wherefore."
if ye be dead--Greek, "if ye died (so as to be freed) from," &c.
Ro 6:2; 7:2, 3;
rudiments of the world--
Carnal, outward, worldly, legal ordinances.
as though living--as though you were not dead to the world like your
crucified Lord, into whose death ye were buried
1Pe 4:1, 2).
are ye subject to ordinances--By do ye submit to be made subject to
ordinances? Referring to
you are again being made subject to "ordinances," the "handwriting" of
which had been "blotted out"
"meat . . . drink." He gives instances of the "ordinances"
in the words of their imposers. There is an ascending climax of
superstitious prohibitions. The first Greek word (hapse)
is distinguished from the third (thiges), in that the former
means close contact and retention: the latter,
momentary contact (compare
Greek, "Hold me not"; cling not to me"). Translate,
"Handle not, neither taste, nor even touch." The
three refer to meats. "Handle not" (a stronger term than "nor
even touch"), "nor taste" with the tongue, "nor even
touch," however slight the contact.
22. Which--things, namely, the three things handled, touched, and
are to perish--literally, "are constituted (by their very nature)
for perishing (or 'destruction by corruption') in (or 'with')
their using up (consumption)." Therefore they cannot really and
lastingly defile a man
after--according to. Referring to
Col 2:20, 21.
All these "ordinances" are according to human, not divine, injunction.
doctrines--Greek, teachings." ALFORD
translates, "(doctrinal) systems."
23. have--Greek, "are having"; implying the permanent characteristic which these ordinances are supposed to have.
show of wisdom--rather, "a reputation of wisdom"
will-worship--arbitrarily invented worship: would-be
worship, devised by man's own will, not God's. So jealous is
God of human will-worship, that He struck Nadab and Abihu dead for
burning strange incense
So Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for usurping the office of priest
Compare the will-worship of Saul
for which he was doomed to lose his throne. This "voluntary worship" is
the counterpart to their "voluntary humility"
both specious in appearance, the former seeming in religion to do even
more than God requires (as in the dogmas of the Roman and Greek
churches); but really setting aside God's will for man's own; the
latter seemingly self-abasing, but really proud of man's self-willed
"humility" (Greek, "lowliness of mind"), while virtually
rejecting the dignity of direct communion with Christ, the Head; by
worshipping of angels.
neglecting of the body--Greek, "not sparing of the body."
This asceticism seems to have rested on the Oriental theory that matter
is the source of evil. This also looked plausible (compare
not in any honour--of the body. As "neglecting of the body" describes
asceticism positively; so this clause, negatively. Not paying
any of that "honor" which is due to the body as redeemed by such a price
as the blood of Christ. We should not degrade, but have a just
estimation of ourselves, not in ourselves, but in Christ
1Co 3:21; 6:15; 7:23; 12:23, 24;
True self-denial regards the spirit, and not the forms of ascetical
self-mortification in "meats which profit not those occupied therein"
and is consistent with Christian self-respect, the "honor" which
belongs to the believer as dedicated to the Lord. Compare "vainly,"
to the satisfying of the flesh--This expresses the real tendency
of their human ordinances of bodily asceticism, voluntary humility, and
will-worship of angels. While seeming to deny self and the body,
they really are pampering the flesh. Thus "satisfying of the
flesh" answers to "puffed up by his fleshly mind"
so that "flesh" is used in its ethical sense, "the carnal nature" as
opposed to the "spiritual"; not in the sense, "body." The Greek
for "satisfying" implies satiating to repletion, or to
excess. "A surfeit of the carnal sense is human tradition" [HILARY THE DEACON, in BENGEL]. Tradition puffs up; it clogs the heavenly
perceptions. They put away true "honor" that they may "satiate to
the full THE FLESH." Self-imposed ordinances
gratify the flesh (namely, self-righteousness), though seeming to