|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:8-17 There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God. To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. In him, not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law. Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.
Verse 9. - Because in him dwelleth all the fulness (or, completeness) of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 1:19; Philippians 2:6-8; Romans 1:3, 4; Romans 9:5; John 1:1, 14). In Colossians 1:18-20 we viewed a series of events; here we have an abiding fact. The whole plenitude of our Lord's Divine-human person and powers, as the complete Christ, was definitively constituted when, in the exercise of his kingly prerogative, "he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." "From henceforth" that fulness evermore resides in him (comp. note, Colossians 1:19). The undivided pleroma of Colossians 1:19 now reveals its twofold nature: it is "the fulness of the Godhead," and yet "dwells corporeally in him." "Godhead" (θεότης) is the abstract of "God" (θεός), not of the adjective "Divine" (θεῖος: the Vulgate therefore, wrongly, divinitatis: comp. Romans 1:20; Acts 17:29; Wisd. 18:9), and denotes,"not Divine excellences, but the Divine nature" (Bengel); see Trench's 'Synonyms.' Schenkel and others, guided by a conjecture of Theodoret, have found here the Church, supporting their view by a very doubtful interpretation of Ephesians 1:23. Still more groundless is the identification of this pleroma with the created world. The apostle unmistakably affirms that the Divine nature, in its entirety, belongs to the Church's Christ. The literal sense of "bodily" (maintained by Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Hofmann, after Chrysostom and Athanasius) has been avoided by those who render it "wholly" (Jerome); "essentially, substantially" (Cyril, Theophylact, Calvin, Klopper), as opposed to "relatively" or "partially;" "truly" (Augustine, Erasmus, Bengel, Bleek), as opposed to "figuretively" (ver. 17). The adverb σωματικῶς (always literal in classical usage, along with its adjective) occurs only here in the New Testament; the adjective "bodily" in 1 Timothy 4:8; Luke 3:22. "The body of his flesh" in Colossians 1:22 affords a truer parallel than the language of ver. 17, where σῶμα, bears an exceptional sense (see note). Elsewhere St. Paul balances in similar fashion expressions relating to the twofold nature of Christ (see parallels). The assertion that "all the fulness of Deity" dwells in Christ negatives the Alexandrine "philosophy," with its cloud of mediating angel powers and spiritual emanations; the assertion that it dwells in him bodily equally condemns that contempt for the body and the material world which was the chief practical tenet of the same school (comp. notes on Colossians 1:22 and Colossians 2:23).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. This is to be understood, not of the doctrine, or Gospel of Christ, as being a perfect revelation of the will of God; but of Christ, and particularly of his human nature, as consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul, in which the Godhead dwells in a most eminent manner: God indeed is everywhere by his powerful presence, was in the tabernacle and temple in a very singular manner, and dwells in the saints in a way of special grace; but resides in the human nature of Christ, in the highest and most exalted manner; that is to deity what the human body is to an human soul, it is the house in which it dwells: so Philo the Jew (t) calls the "Logos" the house of God, who is the soul of the universe; and elsewhere says (u), that God himself has filled the divine Logos wholly with incorporeal powers. The Godhead dwells in Christ as in a tabernacle, in allusion to the tabernacle of Moses, which looked mean without side, but glorious within; where God granted his presence, and accepted the sacrifices of his people; the human nature of Christ is the true antitypical tabernacle, which God pitched, and not man; and sometimes is called a temple, in allusion to Solomon's; and which is filled with the train of the divine perfections, signified by fulness here: for not the fulness of grace, or a communicative fulness, is here meant; nor the relative fulness, the church; but the fulness of the divine nature, of all the perfections of deity, such as eternity, immensity, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, necessary and self existence, and every other; for if anyone perfection was wanting, the fulness, much less all the fulness of the Godhead, would not be in him. The act of inhabitation denotes the union of the two natures in Christ, and expresses the distinction of them; and is to be understood of the Godhead, as subsisting in the person of the Son of God, and not as subsisting in the person of the Father, or of the Spirit; and shows the permanency of this union, it is a perpetual abiding one; and this fulness is not dependent on the Father's pleasure; it is not said of this as of another fulness, Colossians 1:19; that it pleased the Father that it should dwell in him: the manner in which it dwells, is "bodily"; not by power, as in the universe; nor by grace, as in the saints; nor by any glorious emanations of it, as in heaven; nor by gifts, as in the prophets and eminent men of God; nor by signs symbols, and shadows, as in the tabernacle and temple; but essentially and personally, or by personal union of the divine nature, as subsisting in the Son of God to an human body, chosen and prepared for that purpose, together with a reasonable human soul; which is the great mystery of godliness, the glory of the Christian religion, and what qualified Christ for, and recommends him to us as a Saviour; and is a reason why, as these words are, that the Gospel should be abode by, continued in, and that with thankfulness: nor should any regard be had to vain and deceitful philosophy, to the traditions of men, or rudiments of the world: Christ only is to be looked to, attended, and followed, who has all fulness in him,
(t) De migr. Abraham, p. 389. (u) De Sommiis, p. 574.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. For—"Because." Their "philosophy" (Col 2:8) is not "after Christ," as all true philosophy is, everything which comes not from, and tends not to, Him, being a delusion; "For in Him (alone) dwelleth" as in a temple, &c.
the fulness—(Col 1:19; Joh 14:10).
of the Godhead—The Greek (theotes) means the ESSENCE and NATURE of the Godhead, not merely the divine perfections and attributes of Divinity (Greek, "theiotes"). He, as man, was not merely God-like, but in the fullest sense, God.
bodily—not merely as before His incarnation, but now "bodily in Him" as the incarnate word (Joh 1:14, 18). Believers, by union with Him, partake of His fulness of the divine nature (Joh 1:16; 2Pe 1:4; see on Eph 3:19).
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