The Pulpit Commentary

Colossians 2:13-15 (Colossians 2:13-15)

The atonement and its blessed results.

"And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he quicken together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses." These words add no new thoughts to the passage, but are a more detailed explanation of the matters involved in the work of Christ in the soul.

I. CONSIDER THE PERSONAL QUICKENING OUT OF A STATE OF DEATH AND DEFILEMENT .

1 . The condition of all men by nature—spiritual death. This death is viewed in two aspects.

2 . The quickening energy of God. "You did he quicken together with him." Spiritual death is put away by the quickening energy of God, which flowed into your hearts out of the risen life of Christ. You are brought up with him objectively in his resurrection, subjectively in his application of the power of his resurrection (see homiletical hints on Ephesians 2:1 ).

II. CONSIDER THE GROUND AND CONDITION OF THIS QUICKENING . The pardon of sin. "Having forgiven us all our trespasses." Thus spiritual life is connected with pardon, and presupposes pardon. The sins of men must be pardoned before life could properly enter. Our Lord could not have been quickened till we, for whom he died, were potentially discharged ( Romans 4:25 ). So, indeed, the quickening presupposes at once pardon, the blotting out of the handwriting, and the victory over Satan.

III. CONSIDER THE INDISPENSABLE ACCOMPANIMENT OF THIS PARDON . The removal of the condemning power of the Law. "Having blotted out the handwriting in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."

1 . The mature and effects of this handwriting in ordinances.

(a) Not that the Law was in itself offensive, for it was holy and just and good" ( Romans 7:12 ); but

(b) because our inability to fulfil it or satisfy its righteous demands exposed us to the penalty attached to an undischarged obligation. It was, in a word, a bill of indictment against us.

2 . The blotting out of the handwriting. It was blotted out, so far as it was an accusing witness against us, by Christ wiping it out, taking it "out of the way, and nailing it to his cross." It was not done by an arbitrary abolition of the Law; moral obligations cannot be removed in this manner; but by the just satisfaction which Christ rendered by his "obedience unto death." It was nailed to his cross, and thus its condemnatory power was brought to an end. Strictly speaking, there was nothing but Christ's body nailed to the cross; but, as he was made sin, taking the very place of sin, "bearing our sins in his own body on the tree," the handwriting, with the curse involved in it, was identified with him, and thus God condemned sin in Christ's flesh ( Romans 8:3 ). Christ exchanged places with us, and thus was cancelled the bill of indictment which involved us in guilt and condemnation.

IV. CONSIDER THE RELATION OF THE ATONEMENT TO THE VICTORY OVER SATAN . "Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." It was the cross that gave the victory over the principalities and powers of darkness, because sin was the ground of their dominion over man and the secret of their strength. But no sooner had Christ died and extinguished the guilt lying on us, than the ground of their successful agency was undermined, and, instead of being at liberty to ravage and destroy, their weapons of warfare perished. Christ on the cross, as the word signifies, reft from him and from his people those powers of darkness who could afflict humanity by pressing homo the consequences of their sin. He cast them off like baffled foes ( John 12:31 ), made such a show of them openly as angels, if not men, could probably apprehend. He made the cross a scene of triumph to the irretrievable ruin of Satan's kingdom.—T. C.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Colossians 2:8-15 (Colossians 2:8-15)

Christ our All.

Having laid down the truth about the Trinity as the great want of the race, Paul proceeds to warn the Colossians against the so called philosophers. "There are certain men," it has been well observed, "who, because they possess somewhat more learning than others, think, when they become converts to the gospel, that they are great acquisitions to the cause; they officiously extend the shield of their learning over their more unlearned brethren, and try to prove where others believe; but, while they think they promote the cause, they generally spoil what they touch." Against such philosophers God's people in all ages require to be warned.

I. THE PHILOSOPHY IS TO BE SUSPECTED WHICH LEADS MEN AWAY FROM CHRIST . (Verse 8.) Paul warns the Colossians against a philosophy which led men back to rudimentary forms and ceremonies instead of forward to Christ. Now, every argument which leads to a ceremony for hope instead of to Christ has some flaw in it. It may be a subtle flaw, not easily detected, but we may be quite sure it is there. There is no better rule, then, than this. Christ is the embodied truth, and we have missed the road if we are not led to him ( John 14:6 ).

II. As THE EMBODIMENT OF THE DIVINE FULNESS , HE IS THE FOUNTAIN HEAD OF ALL TRUTH AND PERFECTION . (Verse 9.) In Jesus Christ Divinity has expressed itself in human form. We can see, hear, and handle the Divine Being in the person of Christ. The Incarnation gives to men the true philosophy they long after. Christ is all and in all. Hence we are resistlessly drawn to him for the solution of our doubts and difficulties as well as for the salvation of our souls. No wonder that an acute writer entitled one of his volumes 'The Knowledge of Jesus the Most Excellent of the Sciences.'

III. CHRIST AFFORDS US ALL PROVISION FOE OUR ACCEPTANCE . (Verse 10.) The great question which man must ask is, "How can sinful man be accepted with God?" Philosophy replies, "By certain solemn ceremonies, by sacrifices, by circumcision, by baptism," etc. The gospel replies, "Acceptance is secured in Christ; we are complete in him," or, as the Revised Version has it, "In him are ye made full." Now, it has been insinuated that merit cannot in the nature of things pass from one person to another. The fact is, however, that we are constantly being kindly treated for the sake of others. Children, for example, receive consideration for the sake of respected parents: individuals receive consideration for the sake of respected friends; and the whole array' of letters of introduction, vicarious influence, and the like, is based upon the recognition of the fact that the merit of others can overshadow and benefit those in whom they are interested. The acceptance which we receive from the Father for the sake of Jesus is on the line, therefore, of natural law. It is the application of a principle upon which men are acting every day.

IV. FROM CHRIST WE RECEIVE THE TRUE CIRCUMCISION . (Verse 11.) Circumcision was among the false teachers the initial ceremony which secured a Jewish standing for the Gentile proselyte. Their insinuation was that Gentiles who remained uncircumcised could not possibly be saved. It was this which Paul combatted constantly. Hence he shows, in this eleventh verse, that the real circumcision is secured in Christ for all who trust in him. It is a circumcision not made with hands, a circumcision of the heart, a circumcision which secured "the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh." If the Gentile converts realized this, then they need not concern themselves about the outward circumcision. It surely teaches us that, not by mechanical, but by spiritual means we may vanquish the power of sin within us. It is said that circumcision circumscribes lustful tendencies and keeps them within mechanical bounds. Whatever truth may be in this, it is certain that Jesus can so restrain us by his indwelling and grace as to deliver us from the whole body of the sins of the flesh.

V. CHRIST HAS ALSO CANCELLED THE CEREMONIES UPON THE CROSS , SO THAT WHEN WE RISE WITH HIM INTO NEWNESS OF LIFE WE ARE FREED FROM THEIR OBLIGATION . (Verses 12-15.) The ritual of Judaism typified in its various aspects the atoning work of Jesus Christ. The sacrifices pointed to the one great sacrifice on Calvary. The long list of ordinances, therefore, conducted the intelligent mind to Christ's cross and received their fulfilment there. Hence it was that those who by faith passed through resurrection with Christ became as free from the obligation of these ceremonies as the risen Jesus was himself. Could any one have gone to Jesus after his resurrection and asked from him, with any show of reason, a fulfilment of the ceremonial Law? Is it not felt by every intelligent thinker that Jesus had so fulfilled the ceremonies in the actualities of atonement that more ceremony from him would be unmeaning? A similar emancipation, Paul here insists, from the obligation of ceremonies is the property of Christ's believing people. A careful study of the cross is the great protection, therefore, against improper emphasis being laid on ceremonials.—R.M.E.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Colossians 2:8-15 (Colossians 2:8-15)

Philosophy.

I. FALSE PHILOSOPHY . "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit." It was a real danger (as the expression bears) against which the apostle warns the Colossians. He refers indefinitely to the teachers (any one), but he strikingly describes what their work would be. The work of the Christian teachers on them in their heathen state, as described in Colossians 1:13 , Colossians 1:14 , had been a deliverance, a redemption; the work of those teachers on them in their Christian state would be a leading them into captivity, a making a booty of them. He does not define what this teaching was, but he characterizes the substance of it (as distinguished from the form, which is characterized in the fourth verse) as a philosophy which was a vain deceit. This is not a characterization of all philosophy, but only of the philosophy with which these teachers would have made spoil of the Colossians. A philosopher is literally a lover of wisdom, and in that sense a Christian is a philosopher. The origin of the name, as given by Cicero, is as follows: Pythagoras once upon a time, having come to Phlius, a city of Peloponnesus, displayed in a conversation which he had with Leon, who then governed that city, a range of knowledge so extensive that the prince, admiring his eloquence and ability, inquired to what art he had principally devoted himself. Pythagoras answered that he professed no art and was simply a philosopher. Leon, struck by the novelty of the name, again inquired who were the philosophers, and in what they differed from other men. Pythagoras replied that human life seemed to resemble the great fair held on occasion of those solemn games which all Greece met to celebrate. For some, exercised in athletic contests, resorted thither in quest of glory and the crown of victory; while a greater number flocked to them in order to buy and sell, attracted by the love of gain. There were a few, however—and they were those distinguished by their liberality and intelligence—who came from no motive of glory or of gain, but simply to look about them, and to take note of what was done and in what manner. "So, likewise," continued Pythagoras, "we men all make our entrance into this life on our departure from another. Some are here occupied in the pursuit of honours, others in the search of riches; a few there are who, indifferent to all else, devote themselves to an inquiry into the nature of things. These, then, are they whom I call students of wisdom, for such is meant by philosopher." The philosophy in question in Colossae was no humble endeavour to ascertain the nature of things, but a pretentious system without any basis in observed facts, or in reason applied to them (certainly without any basis in revelation), and therefore only vain. It had two marks of a false system.

1 . It was purely traditional. "After the tradition of men." Our sacred books have been handed down to us, but we do not rest their authority on mere tradition. There is evidence (to which we make our appeal) that they do not owe their origin to men, that they are a Divine revelation, that they have been first handed to men by God. Tradition has been a frequent device in connection with systems that have imposed on the human mind. The answer to questionings has been that it was so handed down from remote antiquity (occultly, for the traditional and occult generally go together). A remarkable instance was a later development named cabbala, or tradition. The mystic elements in this were not essentially different from those which were operating around the Colossian Church. The primary substance, the Cabbalists said, is an ocean of light. There was a primitive emanation, named Adam tadmon, from which proceed decreasing stages of emanations, named Sephiroth. Matter is nothing but the obscuration of the Divine rays when arrived at the last stage of emanation. This (and much besides) was to be received on the ground that it had been secretly handed down from Moses. But it is no sufficient evidence of a system being true that it has been handed down; we must submit it to farther examination, and such examination the philosophy at Colossae could not stand.

2 . It was purely mundane. "After the rudiments of the world." What was handed down had no high genesis. Very crude were the first attempts to solve the riddle of the universe. Empedocles taught that all things were formed out of the four elements, fire, air, earth, and water, by a process of mingling and of separation, set in motion by the two principles of love and hate. The postulation of intermediate agents in a descending series down to one who could create matter was very rudimentary. The apostle was sorry that such meagre and earth born philosophizings should be palmed upon men as all that was needed to make them perfect. The standard of condemnation. "And not after Christ." What is tradition when we have Christ to give form to our thoughts? What are the rudiments of the world (all that earth can produce of a philosophy) when we have the perfect revelation from heaven?

II. THE TRUE PHILOSOPHY . There are two cardinal points.

1 . It enables us to dispense with what intermediate agents may be supposed to do for us. "Who is the Head of all principality and power." Christ is not only placed over all that can be called principality and power, but he is the Source of all the vital force that belongs to them. What of the plēroma may be dispersed, fragmentary in them, is undispersed, unbroken in him. There is no need, therefore, of supplementing what he can supply.

2 . It enables us to dispense with circumcision. It would seem that in the false philosophy with which the Church at Colossae was threatened, there was a Judaistic as well as a mystic element. The combination of the two was called Essenism.

(a) A going down into the water. "Having been buried with him in baptism." There is similar language employed in Romans 6:4 . We were buried with him through baptism into death. The language is evidently taken from immersion. It is said of Jesus that he came up out of the water, so we are to understand that he went down into the water. There was, as it were, a burial under the waves. And as the coming up out of the water is connected in what follows with the resurrection of Christ, so we are to understand that the burial in baptism is connected with the burial of Christ. In baptism we are represented as burying what Christ may be said to have put away in his grave—the old state of sin. The language employed here tells in favour of immersion as a scriptural mode. There is every reason to believe that it was the mode followed in Palestine in our Lord's day. It has an advantage over sprinkling in pointing so strikingly to the burial of the old nature as in the grave of Christ. The only reason that can be urged against it is that it is not suitable in a cold climate. The use of water being all that is essential, the mode may be accommodated to altered conditions. On the other hand, there is an identification of baptism with circumcision. What is the putting off and laying aside of the body of the flesh in the one, is the burial in the other: And thus the language of the apostle seems to tell in favour of infant baptism.

(b) A coming up out of the water. "Wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." The language is taken from the coming up out of the water which is associated with our Lord's baptism, but none the less truly does it point to the fact of Christ's resurrection, which is clearly referred to. Christ went down into the grave, but came up again. So the believer disappears under the waters of baptism, but comes up to sight again. This is a side that is not presented in circumcision. In baptism there is an impressive exhibition of the fact that we are regenerated. This new life we get in union with Christ. The working of God was signally displayed in raising Christ from the dead. But that was more than a display of omnipotence. It is to be taken in connection with the removal of the cause that operated in Christ's death and burial, viz. sin. Christ rose from the dead the possessor of a new and endless life. And if we take as the object of our faith the working which raised Christ from the dead, we shall become sharers with him in the same new and endless life.

3 . Parenthetical application of the being raised with Christ to the Colossians and to the Gentiles generally. "And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he quicken together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses." There is a difficulty started here regarding the subject of the remainder of the paragraph. Meyer, Alford, and Eadie make God the subject; Eilicott makes it Christ. Lightfoot makes it a case of a sudden change of, subject. It can be said in favour of Christ being "subject," that he has been prominent in the apostle's thought in the context as in the Epistle as a whole. It can also be said that the putting off from himself the principalities and powers is language which can only be applied to Christ. On the other hand, it is unnatural, with Ellicott, to pass from the thought of Christ being raised by God to the thought of Christ quickening himself. Nor is it satisfactory simply to say that there is a sudden change of subject. The most natural solution of the difficulty seems to be to regard this verse as parenthetical. The apostle applies the thought of being raised with Christ, and, having done so, he proceeds with Christ as the subject as though the application had not been interjected, The Colossians had been in a state of deadness. Their deadness was caused by their trespasses. There is nothing of the pantheistic element here that was so prevalent in the East. They had committed personal trespass against a personal Lawgiver, and thus were thrown into a state of deadness. Their deadness through trespasses is associated with the uncircumcision of their flesh. They had not the sign of circumcision on them. And so they had that deadness which in circumcision is represented as being put away. Being dead, God quickened them together with Christ, gave them the reality of circumcision or the reality corresponding to the coming up out of the waters of baptism. This presupposed the exercise of forgiveness toward them. They (and not only they) had been forgiven their trespasses. And thus, the cause of deadness being removed, they could be quickened.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Colossians 2:8-15 (Colossians 2:8-15)

The complete man.

The one thought around which we may let the many, varied, and some of them strange ideas of this paragraph gather, is the conception of the complete man. The words teach us—

I. THAT THE COMPLETE MAN IS NOT LED AWAY BY ERROR IN THOUGHT OR BY EVIL IN LIFE . Any one who is so led is incomplete. And the apostle is here warning his readers to be on their guard, test, having once been emancipated from such captivity, they should be insidiously captured again and taken away as prey into such slavery. His words here show:

1 . How error in thought and evil in life are closely connected. ( Colossians 2:8 , Colossians 2:18 .)

2 . The two common causes of such error and evil. "Traditions of men," mere superstitions, are the "rudiments of the world "—mere beginnings of knowledge. All such are to be condemned when they are not "after Christ;" that is, when they are not

II. THE COMPLETE MAN DERIVES HIS COMPLETENESS FROM CHRIST . "Ye are complete in him," or we might paraphrase it, "Ye are filled up from him." This paragraph shows what Christ has done for such a man.

1 . By Christ he is separated from evil. ( Colossians 2:11 , Colossians 2:12 .) Circumcision was the great symbol of the separation of the Jews; baptism of the separation of the Christians. The complete man is as one "circumcised without hands" by Christ, baptized as in a burial by Christ.

2 . By Christ he is made alive to goodness and to God. ( Colossians 2:12 , Colossians 2:13 ). Such a man is "risen with Christ." He is a man marked by pre-eminent livingness.

3 . By Christ he is emancipated from guilt. ( Colossians 2:14 , Colossians 2:15 .) Most vivid and full are the metaphors describing emancipation from the guilt and from the power of sin. "Blotting out handwriting," etc. And all this work of Christ was consummated on Calvary. He like a conqueror nailed to his cross "the writings" that were against us; on his cross he openly triumphed over evil.

III. CHRIST THUS MAKES MEN COMPLETE BECAUSE OF WHAT HE IS IN HIMSELF . The life of God must be wafted in upon man; borne in upon him. Whence? From Christ, "in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." There are three thoughts here about Christ.

1 . All the fulness of God is in him; he is not a mere emanation of God; not a mere flash of the light, but its Brightness; not a mere tone of the truth, but the Word.

2 . All the fulness of God is permanent in Christ. In him "dwelleth." He is a reservoir whose waters never fail; he does not say he has bread or he has water to bestow, but he is the Bread of life, he is the Water of life; the Holy Ghost abode on him.

3 . All the fulness of God was incarnate in his humanity. It dwelt in him "bodily." The purity, righteousness, wisdom, compassion, love, of God was gathered up in that human life. He was Immanuel, and from his fulness, thus complete, lasting, human, we are fed.—U.R.T.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Colossians 2:11-15 (Colossians 2:11-15)

Purity, pardon, and victory through Christ.

Errors in religion, when taught sincerely, are intended to secure spiritual blessings ( e.g. purity by austerities; peace of conscience and assurance of pardon by confession and priestly absolution). But the truth of our completeness in Christ strikes at the root of all such errors, for it assures us that all the blessings we can need may be gained direct from him. In Colossians 2:10 we learn that the headship of Christ is our guarantee that we are not dependent upon any intermediate superhuman power. In Colossians 2:11-15 we are reminded that the personal blessings which external rites were designed to secure are ours if we are Christ's.

I. PURITY . Judaizing teachers taught the necessity of circumcision even by Gentile converts as a means of purification and salvation. St. Paul teaches the Colossians that they have no need of this, because, by union with Christ, they receive that inward purity of which circumcision was a type (verse 11; Romans 2:28 , Romans 2:29 ). Moses and the prophets had seen through the type ( Deuteronomy 10:16 ; Deuteronomy 30:6 ; Jeremiah 4:4 ). The believer's circumcision is distinguished from that which was typical of it in these particulars:

1 . In its character; spiritual, not external, wrought not by bands but by the Spirit himself.

2 . In its extent; it puts off, not a mere morsel of the flesh, but "the body of the flesh," the whole body of carnal affections.

3 . Its Author; it is the circumcision, not of Moses ( John 7:22 ) for a nation, but of Christ for all believers ( Philippians 3:3 ). And as Paul speaks here of spiritual circumcision, so does he also of spiritual baptism. His argument is not, "You need not be circumcised because you have been baptized." Here he speaks highly of some baptism "wherein ye were also raised," etc. Elsewhere he clearly denies the doctrine of regeneration by baptism (cf. I Co Colossians 1:13-17 with 1 Corinthians 4:15 ). It would be strange if here he spoke disparagingly of "hand-wrought" circumcision, and then passed on immediately to speak of the spiritual efficacy of "hand-wrought" baptism. This would be to introduce the very element of ceremonialism and ritualism which he is here denouncing. Many, never baptized with water, are now "in Christ," in glory. It is the spiritual baptism alone in which we are buried and raised with Christ ( Romans 6:3-5 ). The one great baptism of the New Testament is that of the Holy Spirit ( Mark 1:8 ; Acts 1:5 ). Of that, baptism by water is a beautiful emblem. But in Paul's Epistles he generally speaks of that "one baptism" rather than of baptism with water. Here he speaks of a spiritual circumcision, a spiritual death and burial and resurrection, and a spiritual baptism. The baptism by the Holy Spirit is that purification of the soul from the love and dominion of sin by which we are set apart, consecrated to a course like Christ's, to a spiritual history of which our Lord's earthly history was typical as well as causal. By union with him we are "crucified with Christ," "dead to the Law,"" dead with Christ," "buried with him," "risen with him," "sitting with him in the heavenly places." If the apostle here makes an allusion to water baptism, which was symbolic of the higher baptism, his argument does not rest on, but is opposed to, the supposition that" it is in that font, and when we are in it, that the first breath of [the new] life is drawn." Nor can we see that the lowering of a body into a bath and the lifting it up again is a significant and striking symbol of the burial and resurrection of Christ, especially when we remember how different the customs of burial among Jews and Romans were from our own. However, the main truth of these verses is clearly that in Christ we have purity. "He is made unto us of God sanctification." Every pure motive, every good resolution, every holy impulse is from him. Our entire renunciation of sin ("the putting off of the body of the flesh") is through the power of his purifying Spirit ( Galatians 2:19 , Galatians 2:20 ; Galatians 6:14 , Galatians 6:15 ). By faith in God, who by his Divine power raised the dead body of our Saviour from the tomb ( Ephesians 1:19 , Ephesians 1:20 ), we too are "raised with him," etc. (verse 12). Whatever he who has raised us prescribes as means of attaining greater purity, we will revere and observe; but we reject new fangled methods of holiness "after the tradition of men" ( Psalms 119:128 ).

II. " JUSTIFICATION OF LIFE ." This Pauline phrase ( Romans 5:18 ) sums up the blessings described in verses 13, 14. We regard Christ as the Subject of the whole sentence. He is one with his Father in the work of quickening ( John 5:21 ; Ephesians 2:1-5 ), and of pardoning ( Colossians 3:13 ; Ephesians 4:32 ). But in order to accomplish this Divine work of giving life, there needed the no less Divine work of providing justification. For there was what Paul describes as a document in existence, which was a barrier to our pardon. It was God's Law, not merely for the Jews ( Romans 3:19 ), but for the Gentiles ( Romans 2:14 , Romans 2:15 ), which "worketh wrath" ( Romans 4:15 ). But Jesus Christ, in whom "dwelleth," etc. (verse 9), has removed the barrier, he had power to forgive sins "on earth" ( Mark 2:10 ), and has it still ( Acts 5:31 ). The value of Christ's obedience unto death as an atonement for sin is constantly taken for granted by the apostle. He was not sent to prove it, but to "deliver" it and testify to it ( 1 Corinthians 15:3 ; 1 Timothy 2:6 ). By Christ's vicarious sacrifice the ransom is given, the bond is cancelled, the document is annulled, and our sins may be blotted out ( Isaiah 43:25 ; Matthew 18:21-35 ; Matthew 20:28 ). We are redeemed from the curse of the Law. As the instrument of our condemnation, it is taken out of the way; it is crucified with Christ, nailed to his cross. According to Paul's allegory in Romans 2:1-4 , the Law, a holy but inexorable husband, is dead, and we are joined to a no less holy but a loving Lord and Saviour. The conditions of acceptance with God and final salvation are no longer "The man that doeth these things shall live by them," but "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" ( Hebrews 3:14 ; 1 Peter 1:9 ). What need have we of other means of forgiveness? of angelic intercessors or absolving priests or eucharistic sacrifices? "In him ye are made full."

III. DELIVERANCE FROM OUR INFERNAL FOES . Christ in his fleshly nature was exposed to the assaults of sin and of the evil one throughout his life ( Matthew 4:1-11 ; Luke 4:13 ) till the last day of it ( Luke 22:53 ; John 14:30 ). But on the cross his life of humiliation and strife came to an end ( Romans 6:10 ). His cry, "It is finished!" declared that his work of conflict, as well as his work of atonement, was ended. He put off from himself once for all and forever the hostile principalities and powers (cf. John 12:31 ; Hebrews 2:14 ; 1 John 3:8 ). The entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, commonly called his triumphal entry, is nowhere called his triumph in the New Testament. His triumph was on the cross. The powers of darkness plotted his death, and by his death they received their deadly blow. The malefactor's cross became the victor's car ( Romans 14:9 ; Philippians 2:7-11 ; Revelation 1:18 ). This victory is for us who are "in Christ." Satan and all his allies ( Ephesians 6:11 , Ephesians 6:12 ) who work through the world and the flesh are conquered foes; they know it, and we do too ( Romans 6:14 ; Romans 8:37-39 ; Romans 16:20 ; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ; Galatians 6:14 ). We need no other allies in this conflict, no mystic methods of exploring the secrets or annulling the power of our spiritual foes ( Philippians 4:13 ).—E.S.P.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Colossians 2:8-15 (Colossians 2:8-15)

SECTION V. THE CHRISTIAN 'S COMPLETENESS IN CHRIST . The apostle has first defined his own doctrinal position in the theological deliverance of Colossians 1:15-20 , and has then skilfully brought himself into suitable personal relations with his readers by the statements and appeals of Col 1:23-2:7. And now, after a general indication in Colossians 2:4 of the direction in which he is about to strike, he unmasks the battery he has been all the while preparing, and delivers his attack on the Colossian error, occupying the rest of this second chapter, he denounces

reviewing the whole system in a brief characterization of its most prominent and dangerous features. It will be convenient to treat separately the first of these topics, under the heading already given, which indicates the positive truth developed by St. Paul in antagonism to the error against which he contends—a truth which is the practical application of the theological teaching of the first chapter.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Colossians 2:14 (Colossians 2:14)

Having blotted out the bond (that was) against us with (or, written in ) decrees, which was opposed to us ( Ephesians 2:14-16 ; Romans 3:9-26 ; Romans 7:7-14 ; 2 Corinthians 5:19 ; Galatians 3:10-22 ; 1 Corinthians 15:56 ; Acts 13:38 , Acts 13:39 ). The ancients commonly used wax tablets in writing, and the flat end of the pointed stylus drawn over the writing smeared it out (expunged) and so cancelled it (comp. Acts 3:19 ; Psalms 51:9 ; Isaiah 43:25 , LXX ). "God," not "Christ," is the subject of this verb, which stands in immediate sequence to those of Colossians 2:12 , Colossians 2:13 . It is the receiver rather than the offerer of satisfaction who cancels the debt: in Ephesians 2:15 (comp. Colossians 1:22 ) a different verb is used. χειρόγραφον ("handwritten;" a word of later Greek, only here in the New Testament) is used specially of an account of debt, a bond signed by the debtor's hand (see Meyer and Lightfoot). This bond can be nothing other than "the law" ( Ephesians 2:14-16 ; Acts 13:38 , Acts 13:39 ; Romans 3:20 ; Romans 7:25 ; Galatians 3:21 , Galatians 3:22 , etc.); not, however, the ritual law, nor even the Mosaic Law as such (as Meyer contends), but law as law, the Divine rule of human life impressed even on Gentile hearts ( Romans 2:14 , Romans 2:15 ), to which man's conscience gives its consent ( Romans 7:16 , Romans 7:22 ), and yet which becomes by his disobedience just a list of charges against him (so Neander and Lightfoot; see the latter on Galatians 2:19 ). Exodus 24:3 and Deuteronomy 27:14-26 , indeed, illustrate this wider relation of Divine law to the human conscience generally. τοῖς δόγμασιν is dative of reference either to καθ ἡμῶν or to the verbal idea contained in χειργόραφον . The former explanation (that of Winer and Ellicott) is preferable. The Greek Fathers made it instrumental dative to ἐξαλείψας , understanding by these δόγματα the doctrines ( dogmas ) of the gospel by which the charges of the Law against us are expunged. But this puts on δόγμα a later theological sense foreign to St. Paul, and universally rejected by modern interpreters. In the New Testament (comp. Luke 2:1 ; Acts 16:4 ; Hebrews 11:23 ), as in classical Greek, dogma is a decree, setting forth the will of some public authority (comp. note on δογματίζω , Deuteronomy 27:20 ). The added clause, "which was opposed to us," affirms the active opposition, as "against us" the essential hostility of the decrees of God's law to our sinful nature ( Romans 4:15 ; Galatians 3:10 : comp. Romans 7:13 , Romans 7:14 ). The emphasis with which St. Paul dwells on this point is characteristic of the author of Romans and Galatians. ψπενάντιος occurs besides only in Hebrews 10:27 ; the prefix ὑπὸ implies close and persistent opposition (Lightfoot). And he hath taken it out of the midst, having nailed it to the cross ( Colossians 1:20-22 ; Ephesians 2:18 ; 2 Corinthians 5:19 ; Romans 3:24-26 ; Romans 5:1 , Romans 5:2 ; Galatians 3:13 ; Hebrews 1:3 ; John 1:29 ; 1 John 4:10 ). A third time in these three verses (12-14) we note the transition from participle to coordinate finite verb; and here, in addition, the aorist tense passes into the perfect ("hath taken"), marking the finality of the removal of the Law's condemning power ( Romans 8:1 ; Acts 13:39 ): comp. the opposite transition in Colossians 1:26 , Colossians 1:27 . The moral deliverance of Colossians 1:11 is traced up to this legal release, both contained in our completeness in Christ ( Colossians 1:10 ). The subject is still "God." Cancelling the bond which he held against us in his Law, God has forver removed the barrier which stood between mankind and himself ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 ). Christ's place in this work, already shown in Colossians 1:18-23 (in its relation to himself ) , is vividly recalled by the mention of the cross. And the abolition of the Law's condemnation is finally set forth by a yet bolder metaphor— "having nailed it to the cross." The nails of the cross in piercing Christ pierced the legal instrument which held us debtors, and nullified it; see Galatians 3:13 (comp. Galatians 2:19 , Galatians 2:20 ); Romans 7:4-6 . προσηλώσας may suggest the further idea of nailing up the cancelled document, by way of publication. At the cross all may read, "There is now no condemnation" (compare the "making a show" of Romans 7:15 ; also Romans 3:25 ; Galatians 3:1 ). (For Romans 7:11-14 , compare concluding remark on Colossians 1:14 .)

- The Pulpit Commentary