Warnings Against False Theories.
SUMMARY.--Paul's Conflict for the Churches.
Present with Them in Spirit.
Exhortation to be Rooted and Grounded in Christ.
Warning Against Vain Philosophy.
The True Circumcision.
The Baptismal Burial.
The Handwriting of Ordinances Removed.
Keeping Sabbath Days.
Angel Worship Forbidden.
1-3. What great conflict. Anxiety.
For you. The brethren at Colosse.
At Laodicea. A sister church only a few miles away. See
Laodicea was one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. See
Have not seen my face. This seems to imply that he had never
visited either of these churches in person. The reasons of his anxiety
are revealed in this chapter. They were assailed by false
2. That their hearts. He was deeply anxious that they might
be comforted, . . . knit together in love, and enjoy
full assurance of understanding, a clear insight that would lead
them to know
the mystery of God. This knowledge would make them proof against
the arts of false teachers. For "mystery," see notes on
3. In whom. In Christ all the treasures, etc., are hidden, and
mysteries until revealed. The gospel reveals them and those in Christ
4-8. Lest any man should beguile you. Had they full knowledge
this would not be possible.
5. For though absent, yet he was present in spirit. He was
either present in spirit by having them in mind, being fully informed
of their state by Epaphras, which I think is more in harmony with the
whole tenor of the New Testament, or he was enabled by divine power to
look upon them and behold them. The latter is the view of most
commentators. If this view is correct, why does he say
that he learned their state from Epaphras?
6. Walk ye in him. Continue to live in, obey and believe upon
Christ as he was first preached to you.
7. Rooted. Your life growing out of Christ as a tree out of the
As ye have been taught. The point of the exhortation is to cling
to the gospel as it
has been taught them.
8. Spoil you through philosophy. Make spoil of you and carry you
off as booty through some philosophical speculation, or empty deceit.
After the tradition of men. By appealing, not to the Scriptures,
but to human traditions. These traditions probably referred mainly to
the matters spoken of in
Rudiments of the world. Paul uses this expression elsewhere of
below shows what it refers to.
9-12. For in him dwelleth all the fulness, etc. You must not be
drawn from Christ. He is all in all. In him is the divine fullness (all
divine power). In him as revealed was God in bodily form. Compare
10. Ye are complete in him. You need nothing more. He supplies
Head of all principality and power. He is over and ruler of
those ranks of angels that some are trying to lead you to worship.
11. In whom ye are circumcised. Are there those who say that you
ought to be circumcised? In him is the true circumcision, not done by
hands, not the cutting off of a little flesh, but the putting off of
the entire body of the sins of the flesh.
12. Buried with him in baptism. See notes on
Paul teaches that we must re-enact the tragedy of the cross: The agony
of the garden, the complete submission to the divine will, confession
of Christ, crucifixion
(Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:5),
(Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12),
rising with Christ
(Rom. 6:5; Col. 2:12; 3:1);
nay, we must ascend and reign with him
Let it be noted that "the putting off of the body of the sins of the
is associated with baptism
Wherein ye were also raised with him (Revision). We are raised from
the burial as he was raised from the grave, and we rise to a new life
through faith, etc.
13-15. Being dead in your sins. He that is dead in sins is
without spiritual or eternal life. To be dead to sin is to be
delivered from its power.
The uncircumcision of your flesh. "The body of the sins of the
flesh" not having been put off. See
Hath he quickened. By the power of the gospel. We are buried
with Christ, quickened with him, rise with him.
Having forgiven. The gospel comes with the offer of forgiveness.
14. Blotting out the handwriting. The Revision says, "The bond."
That is, the written law of ordinances; the law of Jewish rites. This
was "blotted out," erased, removed.
Especially in the sense that they made Gentiles aliens and strangers to
the covenant, and without God and hope.
Nailing it to his cross. When the Jews nailed Jesus to the cross
they drove the nails into their own law. The old dispensation was
ended; the blood of the new covenant was shed from the wounds of the
15. Having put off from himself
the principalities (Revision). Christ overcame and disarmed the
spirits of darkness, the evil angels. He triumphed over Satan and all
Made a show of them. Put them to an open shame by triumphing over
them in his resurrection and ascension.
16-19. Let no man therefore judge you. As the law was nailed to
let no man compel you to keep its ordinances.
In meat, or in drink. By requiring you to eat only what the
Jewish law prescribes
1 Cor. 8:8; Heb. 9:10.
1 Tim. 4:3.
Or in respect of a holy day. Such as the Passover, Pentecost,
Or of the new moon. The monthly observances
Or of the Sabbath day. The Jewish Sabbath had passed away with
17. Which are a shadow of things to come. The body, or
substance, which casts the shadow is Christ. We are to pay no attention
to the shadows since Christ has come, but to observe what we find in
him and the gospel.
18. Let no man beguile you. Rob you of your reward by his guile.
He will do so if you become unworthy of it by
a voluntary humility. By a humility that is willed, and
therefore is affected rather than real. It is probable that the false
teachers made a great pretence of humility, and taught a
self-abasement, like that of monks clad in sackcloth, or who go
And worshiping of angels. One feature of the heresy against
which Paul warned them was angel worship. See
Angel worship, the worship of saints, dead or living, of pope, or any
created thing, is forbidden. "Worship God," said the angel before whom
John bowed. Church history states that at a later period Michael the
archangel was worshiped.
Dwelling in the things which he hath seen (Revision). Claiming
special revelations. He refers to "no man."
19. Not holding the Head. Not clinging to Christ the Head, from
whence the whole body, the church, derives its nourishment and
20-23. Wherefore. Ye died with Christ, died to the world, and to
rudiments, or fleshly ordinances. See note on
Why, then, as though belonging to the world, should you be subject to
obsolete Jewish ordinances?
21. Touch not, etc. Why are you subject to prohibitions of food
and drink which command you to "touch not?" etc.
22. Which all are to perish. The prohibition applies to "things
all of which perishing in the using;" i. e., to food and
After the commandments. These ordinances, whether Jewish
traditions, or those of ascetics, are dependent upon the
commands and teachings of men.
23. Which things. The doctrines just condemned.
Have a show of wisdom. But only a show.
In will-worship. Self-imposed, arbitrary worship.
And humility. Ostentatious humility.
And severity to the body.
By starving it and refusing proper food. This implies that these
teachers demanded mortifications of the flesh, such as have been always
commended in the Romish church.
But are not of any value.
They have no efficacy in overcoming the lusts of the flesh. In the
first verse of the next chapter
we are told the only way of overcoming the flesh. In this chapter can
be discovered traces of the ascetic spirit which a few centuries later
became so dominant in the church. It is well to note that it is placed
under the condemnation of the Holy Spirit.