1 For I desire to have you know how greatly I struggle for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and gaining all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. 4 Now this I say that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, rejoicing and seeing your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving. 8 Be careful that you don't let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, 10 and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power; 11 in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; 15 having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no one therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, 17 which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's. 18 Let no one rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding firmly to the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with God's growth. 20 If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, 21 "Don't handle, nor taste, nor touch" 22 (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men? 23 Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but aren't of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.
This entire chapter may be regarded as designed to guard the Colossians against the seductive influence of the false philosophy which tended to draw them away from the gospel. It is evident from the chapter that there were at Colossae, or in the vicinity, professed instructors in religion, who taught an artful and plausible philosophy, adapting themselves to the prejudices of the people, and inculcating opinions that tended to lead them away from the truths which they had embraced. These teachers were probably of Jewish origin, and had adopted many of the arts of a plausible rhetoric, from the prevailing philosophy in that region. See the Introduction, Section 4. Against the seductive influences of this philosophy, it is the design of this chapter to guard them, and though the apostle does not seem to have intended to pursue an exact logical order; yet the argument in the chapter can be conveniently regarded as consisting of two parts: A statement of the reasons why they should be on their guard against the arts of that philosophy; and a specification of the particular errors to which they were exposed:
I. A statement of the reasons why they should not allow themselves to be drawn away by the influence of the prevalent philosophy; Colossians 2:1-15. This also consists of two parts.
A. The importance of the subject; Colossians 2:1-7.
(1) the apostle felt great solicitude for them, and for all whom he had not seen, that they might hold the truth in reference to the divine existence and perfections; Colossians 2:1-2.
(2) all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were in Christ, and it was, therefore, of the greatest importance to hold to the truth respecting him; Colossians 2:3.
(3) they were in danger of being led astray by enticing words; Colossians 2:4.
(4) Paul says that he was with them in spirit, and he exhorted them, therefore, to remain rooted and grounded in the doctrines which they had received respecting the Saviour; Colossians 2:5-7.
B. Reasons why they should be steadfast and not drawn away by the influence of false philosophy; Colossians 2:8-15.
(1) the danger of depending on traditions and worldly principles in religion; of being "spoiled" or robbed by philosophy; Colossians 2:8.
(2) all that we need to desire is to be found in Christ; Colossians 2:9-10.
(3) we have received through him the true circumcision - the putting away our sins; Colossians 2:11.
(4) we have been buried with him in baptism, and have solemnly devoted ourselves to him, Colossians 2:12.
(5) we have been quickened by him; our sins have been forgiven; and everything that hindered our salvation has been taken out of the way by him, and he has triumphed over our foes; Colossians 2:13-15.
II. Specification of particular errors to which they were exposed, or of particular things to be avoided; Colossians 2:16-23.
The chapter closes Colossians 2:20-23 with an earnest exhortation wholly to avoid these things; not to touch or taste or handle them. However plausible the pretences might be on which they were urged; whatever appearance of wisdom or humility there might be, the apostle assures them that there was no real honor in them, and that they were wholly to be avoided.
The apostle shows his great concern for the Church at Colosse and at Laodicea; and exhorts them to steadfastness in the faith, and to beware of being seduced by specious and enticing words, Colossians 2:1-5. And to walk in Christ, as they had been taught, and to abound in faith and holiness, Colossians 2:6, Colossians 2:7. To beware of false teachers, who strove to pervert the Gospel, and to lead their minds from him in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells; with whom they were filled; by whom they had received spiritual circumcision; and into whom they were baptized and were quickened, and raised from a death of sin to a life of righteousness, Colossians 2:8-12. He points out their former state, and the great things which Christ had done for them, Colossians 2:13-15. Warns them against particular tenets of the Judaizing teachers relative to meats, drinks, holydays, festivals, and the specious pretences of deceivers, Colossians 2:16-19. And shows that all the things taught by these, though they had a show of wisdom, yet perished in the using, and were the commandments and doctrines of men, Colossians 2:20-23.
INTRODUCTION TO COLOSSIANS 2
In this chapter the apostle expresses his great concern for the Colossians, and others he had never seen; exhorts them to constancy in the faith of Christ; warns them of false teachers, and their tenets; takes notice of various blessings and privileges they had by Christ, and cautions against several superstitions and corruptions, which were obtaining among the churches of Christ: in Colossians 2:1 the apostle declares the conflict he had for the persons he writes to, and for others, though they had never seen him, which he was desirous they might be acquainted with; partly for the comfort of their hearts, their cement in love, and the improvement of their knowledge of divine things, the treasures of which are in Christ, Colossians 2:2, and partly that they might not be deceived by the enticing words of the false teachers, Colossians 2:4, and should his absence and distance from them be objected to his professed concern and affection for them, he answers, that notwithstanding that, he was present with them in spirit, and had a discerning of their faith and order, and the steadfastness thereof, with pleasure, Colossians 2:5, wherefore he exhorts them to perseverance in the faith of Christ, and to an abounding: in it, Colossians 2:6, and to take heed of being hurt by the vain philosophy and traditions of the Jews, but to keep close to Christ, and the truths of his Gospel, seeing all fulness is in him, and they were full in him, who is over all, and superior to all, and therefore had no need to have recourse unto, and hearken to any other, Colossians 2:9, nor did they need any Jewish ordinances, particularly circumcision, since they were partakers of another and better circumcision in Christ; and besides, were buried in baptism with him; and even though they had been dead in sin, and in their fleshly uncircumcision, yet they were alive, quickened with Christ, and had the forgiveness of all their sins for his sake; who had freed them from the ceremonial law, and had rid them of all their former lords and masters, and had brought them into the liberty of the Gospel, Colossians 2:11, wherefore he concludes, by way of exhortation and advice, first with respect to Jewish ceremonies, not to suffer them to be imposed upon them, or to regard the censures of men for the non-observance of them, since these were but shadows, of which Christ is the substance, Colossians 2:16, and next with respect to the worship of angels, under a notion of humility, some were for introducing; who are described as bold intruders, vain, proud, and conceited persons, and as not holding the head Christ, to whom the body the church is joined, and by whom it is nourished and increased, Colossians 2:18, and seeing now they that are Christ's are dead with him to the ceremonial law, and that dead to them, the apostle argues that they should not be subject to the ordinances, commands, and doctrines of men; some of which he instances in, as if they were still under the rudiments of the world; and the rather, since these things had no true wisdom in them, only a show of it, and were no other than will worship and superstition, and lay in a negligence of the body, and were dishonourable and unsatisfying, Colossians 2:20.
(Colossians 2:1-7) The apostle expresses his love to, and joy in believers.
(Colossians 2:8-17) He cautions against the errors of heathen philosophy; also against Jewish traditions, and rites which had been fulfilled in Christ.
(Colossians 2:18-23) Against worshipping angels; and against legal ordinances.
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.
*More commentary available by clicking individual verses.