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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Colossians: Chapter 2)



2:1 {How greatly I strive} (hēlikon agōna echō). Literally, "how great a contest I am having." The old adjectival relative hēlikos (like Latin "quantus") is used for age or size in N.T. only here and Jas 3:5 (twice, how great, how small). It is an inward contest of anxiety like the merimna for all the churches (2Co 11:28). Agōna carries on the metaphor of agōnizomenos in 1:29.
{For them at Laodicea} (tōn en Laodikiāi).
{Supply} huper as with huper humōn. Paul's concern extended beyond Colossae to Laodicea (4:16) and to Hierapolis (4:13), the three great cities in the Lycus Valley where Gnosticism was beginning to do harm. Laodicea is the church described as lukewarm in Re 3:14.
{For as many as have not seen my face} (hosoi ouch heorakan to prosōpon mou). The phrase undoubtedly includes Hierapolis (4:13), and a few late MSS. actually insert it here. Lightfoot suggests that Hierapolis had not yet been harmed by the Gnostics as much as Colossae and Laodicea. Perhaps so, but the language includes all in that whole region who have not seen Paul's face in the flesh (that is, in person, and not in picture). How precious a real picture of Paul would be to us today. The antecedent to hosoi is not expressed and it would be toutōn after huper. The form heorakan (perfect active indicative of horaō instead of the usual heōrakasin has two peculiarities o in Paul's Epistles (1Co 9:1) instead of ō (see Joh 1:18 for heōraken) and -an by analogy in place of -asin, which short form is common in the papyri. See Lu 9:36 heōrakan).

2:2 {May be comforted} (paraklēthōsin). First aorist passive subjunctive of parakaleō (for which see 2Co 1:3-7) in final clause with hina.
{Being knit together} (sunbibasthentes). First aorist passive participle of sunbibazō, old verb, causal of bainō, to make go together, to coalesce in argument (Ac 16:10), in spiritual growth (Col 2:19), in love as here. Love is the sundesmos (3:14) that binds all together.
{Unto all riches} (eis pan ploutos). Probably some distinction intended between en (in love as the sphere) and eis (unto as the goal).
{Of the full assurance of understanding} (tēs plērophorias tēs suneseōs). On plērophoria, see 1Th 1:5. From plērophoreō (see Lu 1:1) and only in N.T. (1Th 1:5; Col 2:2; Heb 6:11; 10:22), Clement of Rome ("Cor". 42) and one papyrus example. Paul desires the full use of the intellect in grasping the great mystery of Christ and it calls for the full and balanced exercise of all one's mental powers.
{That they may know} (eis epignōsin). "Unto full knowledge." This use of epignōsis (full, additional knowledge) is Paul's reply to the Gnostics with the limited and perverted gnōsis (knowledge). {The mystery of God, even Christ} (tou mustēriou tou theou, Christou). The MSS. differ widely here, but this is Westcott and Hort's reading. Genitive (objective) with epignōsin and Christou in apposition. Christ is "the mystery of God," but no longer hidden, but manifested (1:26) and meant for us to know to the fulness of our capacity.

2:3 {In whom} (en hōi). This locative form can refer to mustēriou or to Christou. It really makes no difference in sense since Christ is the mystery of God.
{All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge} (pantes hoi thēsauroi tēs sophias kai gnōseōs). See on »Mt 2:11; 6:19-21 for this old word, our thesaurus, for coffer, storehouse, treasure. Paul confronts these pretentious intellectuals (Gnostics) with the bold claim that Christ sums up all wisdom and knowledge. These treasures are hidden (apokruphoi, old adjective from apokruptō, to hide away, Mr 4:22) whether the Gnostics have discovered them or not. They are there (in Christ) as every believer knows by fresh and repeated discovery.

2:4 {This I say} (touto legō). Paul explains why he has made this great claim for Christ at this point in his discussion.
{May delude} (paralogizētai). Present middle subjunctive of paralogizomai, old verb, only here in N.T., from para and logizomai, to count aside and so wrong, to cheat by false reckoning, to deceive by false reasoning (Epictetus).
{With persuasiveness of speech} (en pithanologiāi). Rare word (Plato) from pithanos and logos, speech, adapted to persuade, then speciously leading astray. Only here in N.T. One papyrus example. The art of persuasion is the height of oratory, but it easily degenerates into trickery and momentary and flashy deceit such as Paul disclaimed in 1Co 2:4 (ouk en pithois sophias logois) where he uses the very adjective pithos (persuasive) of which pithanos (both from peithō) is another form. It is curious how winning champions of error, like the Gnostics and modern faddists, can be with plausibility that catches the gullible.

2:5 {Though} (ei kai). Not kai ei (even if).
{Yet} (alla). Common use of alla in the apodosis (conclusion) of a conditional or concessive sentence.
{Your order} (tēn taxin). The military line (from tassō), unbroken, intact. A few stragglers had gone over to the Gnostics, but there had been no panic, no breach in the line.
{Steadfastness} (stereōma). From stereoō (from stereos) to make steady, and probably the same military metaphor as in taxin just before. The solid part of the line which can and does stand the attack of the Gnostics. See Ac 16:5 where the verb stereoō is used with pistis and 1Pe 5:9 where the adjective stereos is so used. In 2Th 3:6,8,11 Paul speaks of his own taxis (orderly conduct).

2:6 {As therefore ye received} (hōs oun parelabete). Second aorist active indicative of paralambanō in same sense as in 1Th 4:1; Php 4:9 (both manthanō and paralambanō) that is like manthanō, to learn (1:7), from Epaphras and others. {Christ Jesus the Lord} (ton Christon Iēsoun ton Kurion). This peculiar phrase occurs nowhere else by Paul. We have often ho Christos (the Christ or Messiah) as in Php 1:15, Iēsous Christos (Jesus Christ), Christos Iēsous (Christ Jesus), ho Kurios Iēsous (the Lord Jesus, very often), but nowhere else ho Christos Iēsous and Iēsous ho Kurios. Hence it is plain that Paul here meets the two forms of Gnostic heresy about the Person of Christ (the recognition of the historical Jesus in his actual humanity against the Docetic Gnostics, the identity of the Christ or Messiah with this historical Jesus against the Cerinthian Gnostics, and the acknowledgment of him as Lord). "As therefore ye received the Christ (the Messiah), Jesus the Lord." Ye were taught right.
{Walk in him} (en autōi peripateite). "Go on walking in him" (present active indicative of peripateō). Stick to your first lessons in Christ.

2:7 {Rooted} (errizōmenoi). Perfect passive participle of old verb rizoō from riza, root. In N.T. only here and Eph 3:17. Paul changes the figure from walk to growing tree.
{Builded up in him} (epoikodomoumenoi en autōi). Present passive participle (rooted to stay so) of epoikodomeō, old verb, to build upon as in 1Co 3:10,12. The metaphor is changed again to a building as continually going up (present tense).
{Stablished} (bebaioumenoi). Present passive participle of bebaioō, old verb from bebaios (from bainō, baiō), to make firm or stable. {In your faith} (tēi pistei). Locative case, though the instrumental case, {by your faith}, makes good sense also.
{Even as ye were taught} (kathōs edidachthēte). First aorist passive indicative of didaskō, an allusion to parelabete in verse 6 and to emathete in 1:7.
{In thanksgiving} (en eucharistiāi). Hence they had no occasion to yield to the blandishments of the Gnostic teachers.

2:8 {Take heed} (blepete). Present active imperative second person plural of blepō, common verb for warning like our "look out," "beware," "see to it."
{Lest there shall be any one} (mē tis estai). Negative purpose with the future indicative, though the aorist subjunctive also occurs as in 2Co 12:6.
{That maketh spoil of you} (ho sulagōgōn). Articular present active participle of sulagōgeō, late and rare (found here first) verb (from sulē, booty, and agō, to lead, to carry), to carry off as booty a captive, slave, maiden. Only here in N.T. Note the singular here. There was some one outstanding leader who was doing most of the damage in leading the people astray.
{Through his philosophy} (dia tēs philosophias). The only use of the word in the N.T. and employed by Paul because the Gnostics were fond of it. Old word from philosophos (philos, sophos, one devoted to the pursuit of wisdom) and in N.T. only in Ac 17:18. Paul does not condemn knowledge and wisdom (see verse 2), but only this false philosophy, "knowledge falsely named" (pseudōnumos gnōsis, 1Ti 6:20), and explained here by the next words.
{And vain deceit} (kai kenēs apatēs). Old word for trick, guile, like riches (Mt 13:22). Descriptive of the philosophy of the Gnostics.
{Tradition} (paradosin). Old word from paradidōmi, a giving over, a passing on. The word is colourless in itself. The tradition may be good (2Th 2:15; 3:6) or bad (Mr 7:3). Here it is worthless and harmful, merely the foolish theories of the Gnostics.
{Rudiments} (stoicheia). Old word for anything in a stoichos (row, series) like the letters of the alphabet, the materials of the universe (2Pe 3:10,12), elementary teaching (Heb 5:12), elements of Jewish ceremonial training (Ac 15:10; Gal 4:3,9), the specious arguments of the Gnostic philosophers as here with all their aeons and rules of life.
{And not after Christ} (kai ou kata Christon). Christ is the yardstick by which to measure philosophy and all phases of human knowledge. The Gnostics were measuring Christ by their philosophy as many men are doing today. They have it backwards. Christ is the measure for all human knowledge since he is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe.

2:9 {For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily} (hoti en autōi katoikei pān to plērōma tēs theotētos sōmatikōs). In this sentence, given as the reason (hoti, because) for the preceding claim for Christ as the measure of human knowledge Paul states the heart of his message about the Person of Christ. There dwells (at home) in Christ not one or more aspects of the Godhead (the very essence of God, from theos, deitas) and not to be confused with theiotes in Ro 1:20 (from theios, the {quality} of God, "divinitas"), here only in N.T. as theiotēs only in Ro 1:20. The distinction is observed in Lucian and Plutarch. Theiotēs occurs in the papyri and inscriptions. Paul here asserts that "all the plērōma of the Godhead," not just certain aspects, dwells in Christ and in bodily form (sōmatikōs, late and rare adverb, in Plutarch, inscription, here only in N.T.), dwells now in Christ in his glorified humanity (Php 2:9-11), "the body of his glory" (tōi sōmati tēs doxēs). The fulness of the God-head was in Christ before the Incarnation (Joh 1:1,18; Php 2:6), during the Incarnation (Joh 1:14,18; 1Jo 1:1-3). It was the Son of God who came in the likeness of men (Php 2:7). Paul here disposes of the Docetic theory that Jesus had no human body as well as the Cerinthian separation between the man Jesus and the aeon Christ. He asserts plainly the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ in corporeal form.

2:10 {Ye are made full} (este peplērōmenoi). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of plēroō, but only one predicate, not two. Christ is our fulness of which we all partake (Joh 1:16; Eph 1:23) and our goal is to be made full of God in Christ (Eph 3:19). "In Christ they find the satisfaction of every spiritual want" (Peake).
{The head} (hē kaphalē). There is no other place for Christ. He is first (1:18) in time and in rank. All rule and authority comes after Christ whether angels, aeons, kings, what not.

2:11 {Ye were also circumcised} (kai perietmēthēte). First aorist passive indicative of peritemnō, to circumcise. But used here as a metaphor in a spiritual sense as in Ro 2:29 "the circumcision of the heart."
{Not made with hands} (acheiropoiētōi). This late and rare negative compound verbal occurs only in the N.T. (Mr 14:58; 2Co 5:1; Col 2:11) by merely adding a privative to the old verbal cheiropoiētos (Ac 7:48; Eph 2:11), possibly first in Mr 14:58 where both words occur concerning the temple. In 2Co 5:1 the reference is to the resurrection body. The feminine form of this compound adjective is the same as the masculine.
{In the putting off} (en tēi apekdusei). As if an old garment (the fleshly body). From apekduomai (Col 2:15, possibly also coined by Paul) and occurring nowhere else so far as known. The word is made in a perfectly normal way by the perfective use of the two Greek prepositions (apo, ek), "a resource available for and generally used by any real thinker writing Greek" (Moulton and Milligan, "Vocabulary"). Paul had as much right to mint a Greek compound as any one and surely no one ever had more ideas to express and more power in doing it.
{Of Christ} (tou Christou). Specifying genitive, the kind of circumcision that belongs to Christ, that of the heart.

2:12 {Having been buried with him in baptism} (suntaphentes autōi en tōi baptismati). Second aorist passive participle of sunthaptō, old word, in N.T. only here and Ro 6:4, followed by associative instrumental case (autōi). Thayer's Lexicon says: "For all who in the rite of baptism are plunged under the water, thereby declare that they put faith in the expiatory death of Christ for the pardon of their past sins." Yes, and for all future sins also. This word gives Paul's vivid picture of baptism as a symbolic burial with Christ and resurrection also to newness of life in him as Paul shows by the addition "wherein ye were also raised with him" (en hōi kai sunēgerthēte). "In which baptism" (baptismati, he means). First aorist passive indicative of sunegeirō, late and rare verb (Plutarch for waking up together), in LXX, in N.T. only in Col 2:12; 3:1; Eph 2:6. In the symbol of baptism the resurrection to new life in Christ is pictured with an allusion to Christ's own resurrection and to our final resurrection. Paul does not mean to say that the new life in Christ is caused or created by the act of baptism. That is grossly to misunderstand him. The Gnostics and the Judaizers were sacramentalists, but not so Paul the champion of spiritual Christianity. He has just given the spiritual interpretation to circumcision which itself followed Abraham's faith (Ro 4:10-12). Cf. Ga 3:27. Baptism gives a picture of the change already wrought in the heart "through faith" (dia tēs pisteōs).
{In the working of God} (tēs energeias tou theou). Objective genitive after pisteōs. See 1:29 for energeia. God had power to raise Christ from the dead (tou egeirantos, first aorist active participle of egeirō, the fact here stated) and he has power (energy) to give us new life in Christ by faith.

2:13 {And you} (kai humas). Emphatic position, object of the verb sunezōopoiēsen (did he quicken) and repeated (second humās). You Gentiles as he explains.
{Being dead through your trespasses} (nekrous ontas tois paraptōmasin). Moral death, of course, as in Ro 6:11; Eph 2:1,5. Correct text does not have en, but even so paraptōmasin (from parapiptō, to fall beside or to lapse, Heb 6:6), a lapse or misstep as in Mt 6:14; Ro 5:15-18; Ga 6:1, can be still in the locative, though the instrumental makes good sense also.
{And the uncircumcision of your flesh} (kai tēi akroboustiāi tēs sarkos humōn). "Dead in your trespasses and your alienation from God, of which the uncircumcision of your flesh was a symbol" (Abbott). Clearly so, "the uncircumcision" used merely in a metaphorical sense.
{Did he quicken together with him} (sunezōopoiēsen sun autōi). First aorist active indicative of the double compound verb sunzōopoieō, to make alive (zōos, poieō) with (sun, repeated also with autōi, associative instrumental)
, found only here and in Eph 2:5, apparently coined by Paul for this passage. Probably theos (God) is the subject because expressly so stated in Eph 2:4f. and because demanded by sun autōi here referring to Christ. This can be true even if Christ be the subject of ērken in verse 14.
{Having forgiven us} (charisamenos hēmin). First aorist middle participle of charizomai, common verb from charis (favour, grace). Dative of the person common as in 3:13. The act of forgiving is simultaneous with the quickening, though logically antecedent.

2:14 {Having blotted out} (exaleipsas). And so "cancelled." First aorist active participle of old verb exaleiphō, to rub out, wipe off, erase. In N.T. only in Ac 3:19 (LXX); Re 3:5; Col 2:14. Here the word explains charisamenos and is simultaneous with it. Plato used it of blotting out a writing. Often MSS. were rubbed or scraped and written over again (palimpsests, like Codex C).
{The bond written in ordinances that was against us} (to kath' hēmōn cheirographon tois dogmasin). The late compound cheirographon (cheir, hand, graphō) is very common in the papyri for a certificate of debt or bond, many of the original cheirographa (handwriting, "chirography"). See Deissmann, "Bible Studies", p. 247. The signature made a legal debt or bond as Paul says in Phm 1:18f.: "I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it." Many of the papyri examples have been "crossed out" thus X as we do today and so cancelled. One decree is described as "neither washed out nor written over" (Milligan, N. T. "Documents", p. 16). Undoubtedly "the handwriting in decrees" (dogmasin, the Mosaic law, Eph 2:15) was against the Jews (Ex 24:3; De 27:14-26) for they accepted it, but the Gentiles also gave moral assent to God's law written in their hearts (Ro 2:14f.). So Paul says "against us" (kath' hēmōn) and adds "which was contrary to us" (ho ēn hupenantion hēmin) because we (neither Jew nor Gentile) could not keep it. Hupenantios is an old double compound adjective (hupo, en, antios) set over against, only here in N.T. except Heb 10:27 when it is used as a substantive. It is striking that Paul has connected the common word cheirographon for bond or debt with the Cross of Christ (Deissmann, "Light, etc.", p. 332). {And he hath taken it out of the way} (kai ērken ek tou mesou). Perfect active indicative of airō, old and common verb, to lift up, to bear, to take away. The word used by the Baptist of Jesus as "the Lamb of God that bears away (airōn) the sin of the world" (Joh 1:29). The perfect tense emphasizes the permanence of the removal of the bond which has been paid and cancelled and cannot be presented again. Lightfoot argues for Christ as the subject of ērken, but that is not necessary, though Paul does use sudden anacolutha. God has taken the bond against us "out of the midst" (ek tou mesou). Nailing it to the cross (prosēlōsas auto tōi staurōi). First aorist active participle of old and common verb prosēloō, to fasten with nails to a thing (with dative staurōi). Here alone in N.T., but in III Macc. 4:9 with the very word staurōi. The victim was nailed to the cross as was Christ. "When Christ was crucified, God nailed the Law to His cross" (Peake). Hence the "bond" is cancelled for us. Business men today sometimes file cancelled accounts. No evidence exists that Paul alluded to such a custom here.

2:15 {Having put off from himself} (apekdusamenos). Only here and 3:9 and one MS. of Josephus (apekdus). Both apoduō and ekduō occur in ancient writers. Paul simply combines the two for expression of complete removal. But two serious problems arise here. Is God or Christ referred to by apekdusamenos? What is meant by "the principalities and the powers" (tas archas kai tas exousias)? Modern scholars differ radically and no full discussion can be attempted here as one finds in Lightfoot, Haupt, Abbott, Peake. On the whole I am inclined to look on God as still the subject and the powers to be angels such as the Gnostics worshipped and the verb to mean "despoil" (American Standard Version) rather than "having put off from himself." In the Cross of Christ God showed his power openly without aid or help of angels.
{He made a show of them} (edeigmatisen). First aorist active indicative of deigmatizō, late and rare verb from deigma (Jude 1:7), an example, and so to make an example of. Frequent in the papyri though later than paradeigmatizō and in N.T. only here and Mt 1:19 of Joseph's conduct toward Mary. No idea of disgrace is necessarily involved in the word. The publicity is made plain by "openly" (en parrēsiāi).
{Triumphing over them on it} (thriambeusas autous en autōi). On the Cross the triumph was won. This late, though common verb in "Koinē" writers (ekthriambeuō in the papyri) occurs only twice in the N.T., once "to lead in triumph" (2Co 2:14), here to celebrate a triumph (the usual sense). It is derived from thriambos, a hymn sung in festal procession and is kin to the Latin "triumphus" (our triumph), a triumphal procession of victorious Roman generals. God won a complete triumph over all the angelic agencies (autous, masculine regarded as personal agencies). Lightfoot adds, applying thriambeusas to Christ: "The convict's gibbet is the victor's car." It is possible, of course, to take autōi as referring to cheirographon (bond) or even to Christ.

2:16 {Let no one judge you} (mē tis humas krinetō). Prohibition present active imperative third singular, forbidding the habit of passing judgment in such matters. For krinō see on »Mt 7:1. Paul has here in mind the ascetic regulations and practices of one wing of the Gnostics (possibly Essenic or even Pharisaic influence). He makes a plea for freedom in such matters on a par with that in 1Co 8-9; Ro 14; 15. The Essenes went far beyond the Mosaic regulations. For the Jewish feasts see on »Ga 4:10. Josephus ("Ant". III. 10, 1) expressly explains the "seventh day" as called ""sabbata"" (plural form as here, an effort to transliterate the Aramaic "sabbathah").

2:17 {A shadow} (skia). Old word, opposed to substance (sōma, body). In Heb 10:1 skia is distinguished from eikōn (picture), but here from sōma (body, substance). The sōma (body) casts the skia (shadow) and so belongs to Christ (Christou, genitive case).

2:18 {Rob you of your prize} (katabrabeuetō). Late and rare compound (kata, brabeuō, Col 3:15) to act as umpire against one, perhaps because of bribery in Demosthenes and Eustathius (two other examples in Preisigke's "Worterbuch"), here only in the N.T. So here it means to decide or give judgment against. The judge at the games is called brabeus and the prize brabeion (1Co 9:24; Php 3:14). It is thus parallel to, but stronger than, krinetō in verse 16.
{By a voluntary humility} (thelōn en tapeinophrosunēi). Present active participle of thelō, to wish, to will, but a difficult idiom. Some take it as like an adverb for "wilfully" somewhat like thelontas in 2Pe 3:5. Others make it a Hebraism from the LXX usage, "finding pleasure in humility." The Revised Version margin has "of his own mere will, by humility." Hort suggested en ethelotapeinophrosunēi (in gratuitous humility), a word that occurs in Basil and made like ethelothrēskia in verse 23.
{And worshipping of the angels} (kai thrēskeiāi tōn aggelōn). In 3:12 humility (tapeinophrosunēn) is a virtue, but it is linked with worship of the angels which is idolatry and so is probably false humility as in verse 23. They may have argued for angel worship on the plea that God is high and far removed and so took angels as mediators as some men do today with angels and saints in place of Christ.
{Dwelling in the things which he hath seen} (ha heoraken embateuōn). Some MSS. have "not," but not genuine. This verb embateuō (from embatēs, stepping in, going in) has given much trouble. Lightfoot has actually proposed kenembateuōn (a verb that does not exist, though kenembateō does occur) with aiōra, to tread on empty air, an ingenious suggestion, but now unnecessary. It is an old word for going in to take possession (papyri examples also). W. M. Ramsay ("Teaching of Paul", pp. 287ff.) shows from inscriptions in Klaros that the word is used of an initiate in the mysteries who "set foot in" (enebateusen) and performed the rest of the rites. Paul is here quoting the very work used of these initiates who "take their stand on" these imagined revelations in the mysteries.
{Vainly puffed up} (eikēi phusioumenos). Present passive participle of phusioō, late and vivid verb from phusa, pair of bellows, in N.T. only here and 1Co 4:6,18f.; 8:1. Powerful picture of the self-conceit of these bombastic Gnostics.

2:19 {Not holding fast the Head} (ou kratōn tēn kephalēn). Note negative ou, not , actual case of deserting Christ as the Head. The Gnostics dethroned Christ from his primacy (1:18) and placed him below a long line of aeons or angels. They did it with words of praise for Christ as those do now who teach Christ as only the noblest of men. The headship of Christ is the keynote of this Epistle to the Colossians and the heart of Paul's Christology.
{From whom} (ex hou). Masculine ablative rather than ex hēs (kephalēs) because Christ is the Head. He develops the figure of the body of which Christ is Head (1:18,24).
{Being supplied} (epichorēgoumenon). Present passive participle (continuous action) of epichorēgeō, for which interesting verb see already 2Co 9:10; Ga 3:5 and further 2Pe 1:5.
{Knit together} (sunbibazomenon). Present passive participle also (continuous action) of sunbibazō, for which see Col 2:2.
{Through the joints} (dia tōn haphōn). Late word haphē (from haptō, to fasten together), connections ("junctura" and "nexus" in the Vulgate).
{And bonds} (kai sundesmōn). Old word from sundeō, to bind together. Aristotle and Galen use it of the human body. Both words picture well the wonderful unity in the body by cells, muscles, arteries, veins, nerves, skin, glands, etc. It is a marvellous machine working together under the direction of the head.
{Increaseth with the increase of God} (auxei tēn auxēsin tou theou). Cognate accusative (auxēsin) with the old verb auxei.

2:20 {If ye died} (ei apethanete). Condition of the first class, assumed as true, ei and second aorist active indicative of apothnēskō, to die. He is alluding to the picture of burial in baptism (2:12).
{From the rudiments of the world} (apo tōn stoicheiōn tou kosmou). See 2:8.
{As though living in the world} (hōs zōntes en kosmōi). Concessive use of the participle with hōs. The picture is that of baptism, having come out (F. B. Meyer) on the other side of the grave, we are not to act as though we had not done so. We are in the Land of Beulah.
{Why do ye subject yourselves to ordinances?} (ti dogmatizesthe?). Late and rare verb (three examples in inscriptions and often in LXX) made from dogma, decree or ordinance. Here it makes good sense either as middle or passive. In either case they are to blame since the bond of decrees (2:14) was removed on the Cross of Christ. Paul still has in mind the rules of the ascetic wing of the Gnostics (2:16ff.).

2:21 {Handle not, nor taste, nor touch} (mē hapsēi mēde geusēi mēde thigēis). Specimens of Gnostic rules. The Essenes took the Mosaic regulations and carried them much further and the Pharisees demanded ceremonially clean hands for all food. Later ascetics (the Latin commentators Ambrose, Hilary, Pelagius) regard these prohibitions as Paul's own instead of those of the Gnostics condemned by him. Even today men are finding that the noble prohibition law needs enlightened instruction to make it effective. That is true of all law. The Pharisees, Essenes, Gnostics made piety hinge on outward observances and rules instead of inward conviction and principle. These three verbs are all in the aorist subjunctive second person singular with , a prohibition against handling or touching these forbidden things. Two of them do not differ greatly in meaning. Hapsēi is aorist middle subjunctive of haptō, to fasten to, middle, to cling to, to handle. Thigēis is second aorist active subjunctive of thigganō, old verb, to touch, to handle. In N.T. only here and Heb 11:28; 12:20. Geusēi is second aorist middle subjunctive of geuō, to give taste of, only middle in N.T. to taste as here.

2:22 {Are to perish with the using} (estin eis phthoran tēi apochrēsei). Literally, "are for perishing in the using." Phthora (from phtheirō) is old word for decay, decomposition. Apochrēsis (from apochraomai, to use to the full, to use up), late and rare word (in Plutarch), here only in N.T. Either locative case here or instrumental. These material things all perish in the use of them.

2:23 {Which things} (hatina). "Which very things," these ascetic regulations.
{Have indeed a show of wisdom} (estin logon men echonta sophias). Periphrastic present indicative with estin in the singular, but present indicative echonta in the plural (hatina). Logon sophias is probably "the repute of wisdom" (Abbott) like Plato and Herodotus. Men (in deed) has no corresponding de.
{In will-worship} (en ethelothrēskiāi). This word occurs nowhere else and was probably coined by Paul after the pattern of ethelodouleia, to describe the voluntary worship of angels (see 2:18).
{And humility} (kai tapeinophrosunēi). Clearly here the bad sense, "in mock humility."
{And severity to the body} (kai apheidiāi sōmatos). Old word (Plato) from apheidēs, unsparing (a privative, pheidomai, to spare). Here alone in N.T. Ascetics often practice flagellations and other hardnesses to the body.
{Not of any value} (ouk en timēi tini). Timē usually means honour or price.
{Against the indulgence of the flesh} (pros plēsmonēn tēs sarkos). These words are sharply debated along with timē just before. It is not unusual for pros to be found in the sense of "against" rather than "with" or "for." See pros in sense of {against} in 3:13; Eph 6:11f.; 2Co 5:12; 1Co 6:1. Plēsmonē is an old word from pimplēmi, to fill and means satiety. It occurs here only in the N.T. Peake is inclined to agree with Hort and Haupt that there is a primitive corruption here. But the translation in the Revised Version is possible and it is true that mere rules do not carry us very far in human conduct as every father or mother knows, though we must have some regulations in family and state and church. But they are not enough of themselves.


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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Colossians: Chapter 2)



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