The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4

Colossians 2

Col 2:2

UNITED IN LOVE: "Knit together" (AV); interwoven: head and body together (v 19).

LOVE: "The article commonly talked about as 'love' is not the apostolic article. The popular article consists of an emasculated mind, and honeyed word uttered in a silly tone. The apostolic 'knitting together in love' is on the goodly foundation 'of all riches of the full assurance of understanding.' It is a love springing from identical convictions -- a common love resulting from a common enlightenment; a mutual affection spontaneously generated by unity of knowledge and judgment, and this not in the scanty form of 'opinion' or the cold uncertainty of 'views', but in the richness of a positive and pronounced 'assurance of understanding'; enthusiastic convictions if you will, without which there can be no true discipleship of Christ. This is a state of mind that stops not short at 'good words and fair speeches', but shows its faith by 'works', without which, a man, whatever his knowledge and understanding, or ability to speak with even higher than human tongues, is a 'sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.' There be many fig trees fair and promising to look upon, which, when the Master comes to inspect them and finds nothing but leaves, will wither up before his destroying curse" (SC 36).

Col 2:5

ORDERLY... FIRM: Military terms: "good order" (taxos) and "firmness" (stereoma): a company of soldiers keeping in straight ranks, and holding firm to their path, or course, even in the face of enemy fire.

Col 2:6

RECEIVED: Gr "paralambano" = to receive as a tradition laid down.

CONTINUE TO LIVE IN HIM: Lit, as AV, "so walk ye in him." "If we have received Christ himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with him by a walk of faith in him. Walking implies action. Our religion is not to be confined to our closet; we must carry out into practical effect that which we believe. If a man walks in Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in him, his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of the image of Jesus; and men say of that man, 'He is like his Master; he lives like Jesus Christ.' Walking signifies progress... proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning our Beloved. Walking implies continuance. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus, and may then give their hearts to the world all the day: but this is poor living; we should always be with him, treading in his steps and doing his will. Walking also implies habit. When we speak of a man's walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant tenour of his life. Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ, and then forget him; sometimes call him ours, and anon lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in him. We must keep to him, cling to him, never let him go, but live and have our being in him... persevere in the same way in which ye have begun, and, as at the first Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your spirit, so let him be the same till life's end; the same when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death" (CHS).

Col 2:7

ROOTED: "The believer's spiritual experience is a living organism which requires nourishment" (BCol 114).

ROOTED... BUILT UP... STRENGTHENED...: The dimensions of depth, height, and breadth.

Col 2:8

TAKES YOU CAPTIVE: Gr "sulagogeo": to lead away as booty, as by a slave-raid. "Kidnap".


PRINCIPLES: Gr "stoicheio": lit, "things set out in a row"; "the present mundane physical existence, and the rudiments attached to it" (BCol 35).

Col 2:9

ALL THE FULLNESS OF THE DEITY: "How vast his grace, how firm his faithfulness, how unswerving his immutability, how infinite his power, how limitless his knowledge! All these are by the Lord Jesus made the pillars of the temple of salvation; and all, without diminution of their infinity, are covenanted to us as our perpetual inheritance. The fathomless love of the Saviour's heart is every drop of it ours; every sinew in the arm of might, every jewel in the crown of majesty, the immensity of divine knowledge, and the sternness of divine justice, all are ours, and shall be employed for us. The whole of Christ, in his adorable character as the Son of God, is by himself made over to us most richly to enjoy. His wisdom is our direction, his knowledge our instruction, his power our protection, his justice our surety, his love our comfort, his mercy our solace, and his immutability our trust. He makes no reserve, but opens the recesses of the Mount of God and bids us dig in its mines for the hidden treasures" (CHS).

DEITY: "Godhead" (KJV) = Gr "theotetos". Trinitarians will state that it refers to the essence and nature of the Godhead, not just to divine perfections and attributes of divinity. But... according to LS, "theotes" (the nominative form, from which "theotetos" is derived) means "divinity, divine nature." Being truly "divinity," or "divine nature," does not make Jesus as the Son of God coequal and coeternal with the Father, any more than the fact that all humans share "humanity" or "human nature" makes them coequal or all the same age. Paul makes reference to the post-resurrectional state of Jesus, in which he bears a glorified body. This is entirely different to the mortal, pre-resurrectional state of the Messiah. Indeed, that same body is promised to the believers, whose "bodies shall be made like unto his own glorious body" and who "shall be like the angels, who neither marry, nor are given in marriage." (The angels, of course, are themselves, divine beings; that is to say, they are composed of divine substance. They are not individual "gods", as the Mormons would have us believe.) Paul uses the expression rather frequently, defining it as a "fulness of Godhood" (theotes, Col 2:9), ie a totality of God's attributes, something that can dwell "bodily" in Jesus, and which can also dwell in men. The author of Ephesians therefore promises: "That ye might be filled with ALL the fulness of God" (Eph 3:19.) Peter, too, promises that men can one day "participate in the Divine Nature" (2Pe 1:4), and (as John and Paul add) become "like God" (1Jo 3:2), possessing bodies "like unto his glorious body" (Phi 3:21), and transformed into the very image of the Lord (2Co 3:18.)

IN BODILY FORM: Plainly, a ref to the humanity of Jesus.

Col 2:10

YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN FULLNESS IN CHRIST: "You are complete in him" (AV): not needing any other knowledge or law!

Col 2:11

IN HIM YOU WERE ALSO CIRCUMCISED: Circumcision of the heart: Rom 2:29; cp Phi 3:3; Deu 10:16; Jer 4:4. There was such a thing as spiritual "circumcision", even in the OT: Deu 10:16; Jer 4:4.

THE PUTTING OFF OF THE SINFUL FLESH: "Put off" in baptism: Rom 6:6. Sins inseparable from the body: v 23; Eph 2:3.

Col 2:12

BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM: Baptism = a burial, hence a death. Also, a birth, as those alive from the dead (Rom 6:13; Joh 3:3-5), forgiveness (Act 2:38; 22:16). Identifies one with Jesus at the cross (our sin offering): Rom 6:3-6. In ct circumcision, baptism is a conscious, intelligent, adult choice, undertaken in faith.

RAISED WITH HIM: Gr "sunegeiro": to be raised together with. Sw Col 3:1.

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

Col 2:13

GOD MADE YOU ALIVE WITH CHRIST: Baptism sym not only a death, but also a birth: Rom 6:13; John 3:3-5.

HE FORGAVE US ALL OUR SINS: Acts 2:38; 22:16.

Col 2:14

THE WRITTEN CODE: "Cheirographon" = autograph, ie on a note of indebtedness. Cp Xt's parable of debt = sins, Mat 18:23-25. Cp also the writing of the curses of the Law, in the trial of jealousy: Num 5:17.

HE TOOK IT AWAY, NAILING IT TO THE CROSS: "The method adopted by the Father for removing the evil which ensued in consequence of Adam's transgression illustrates His righteousness and unchangeableness. Without abrogating the law of sin and death, the bestowal of the Mosaic law opened the way for the removal of its effects by causing its precepts to meet on Jesus, who fulfilled that law in its minutest details. In obedience to that law, he freely offered himself as a sacrifice, and thus came under its curse, for it is written: 'Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree' (Gal 3:13). Since the law cursed a righteous man, its abolition in Christ was a justifiable procedure...

"In this we have the most remarkable illustration of the way in which one law may be neutralised by another, after the example of the law of the Medes and Persians. Mordecai was not permitted to alter the edict given under the king's seal for the destruction of the Jews, but another edict permitting them to defend themselves brought to nought the evil designs of the enemy. Similarly, 'a law which neither we nor our fathers could bear' is neutralised, and its ultimate effects removed in the case of those who are redeemed in Jesus anointed" (HSul).

Col 2:15

// Heb 2:14.

DISARMED: Gr "apekduomai": to divest wholly oneself, or to despoil. "Spoiled" in AV. Related to word for "putting off" in v 11.

TRIUMPHING OVER THEM: Gr "thriambeu": "leading them captive" -- either (a) one's secular and/or religious enemies, beaten and enslaved; or (b) one's own sin-principle and sin-tendencies.

Col 2:17

SHADOW: A type or pattern of the Law (Heb 10:1). Paul warns against coming under bondage to the Law: Gal 4:10,11; 5:1-4.

Col 2:18

"Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind" (RSV).

ANGELS: Perhaps, especially, the angels through whom the Law was given to Moses and to Israel (cp Heb 1:4; 2:2).

Col 2:19

"The ecclesia is the body of Christ, who is its Head. All the members look to him for guidance, all actively accept his call for service to him and to all the rest of his body. Harmony between the members in their work and life in the Faith is obtained only secondarily by considering working arrangements with one another. Primarily it is secured by looking to and listening to the Head, obedience to whose counsels brings peace to all ecclesias of saints. Jesus and the spirit of Jesus were all that mattered to the first century brethren. The rest followed naturally. The apostles did not preach themselves or their arrangements; they preached Christ Jesus the Lord. Their knowledge was only of Jesus Christ and of him crucified, their glorying not in the ecclesial organization they were building up, but in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. All things but him were loss. The Truth was not primarily a set of doctrines; the Truth was Jesus. The Life was not essentially a series of injunctions and prohibitions; the Life was Jesus. They were all brethren of Jesus, believers in Jesus, called out (ecclesia) and set apart (saints) by and for Jesus" (FCE 164,165).

Col 2:22

HUMAN COMMANDS AND TEACHINGS: Man-imposed ordinances: Mat 15:8,9.

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