Colossians 2:18
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.

New Living Translation
Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,

English Standard Version
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

Berean Study Bible
Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you with speculation about what he has seen. Such a man is puffed up without basis by his unspiritual mind,

Berean Literal Bible
Let no one disqualify you, delighting in humility and the worship of the angels, detailing what he has seen, being puffed up vainly by his mind of the flesh,

New American Standard Bible
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

King James Bible
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Christian Standard Bible
Let no one condemn you by delighting in ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm. Such people are inflated by empty notions of their unspiritual mind.

Contemporary English Version
Don't be cheated by people who make a show of acting humble and who worship angels. They brag about seeing visions. But it is all nonsense, because their minds are filled with selfish desires.

Good News Translation
Do not allow yourselves to be condemned by anyone who claims to be superior because of special visions and who insists on false humility and the worship of angels. For no reason at all, such people are all puffed up by their human way of thinking

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind.

International Standard Version
Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels cheat you out of the prize by rejoicing about what he has seen. Such a person is puffed up for no reason by his carnal mind.

NET Bible
Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind.

New Heart English Bible
Let no one rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he has seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Let not a man wish by humility of mind to subjugate you to the worship of Angels to your condemnation, by which he presumes upon something that he does not see, and is emptily puffed up in his carnal mind,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Let no one who delights in [false] humility and the worship of angels tell you that you don't deserve a prize. Such a person, whose sinful mind fills him with arrogance, gives endless details of the visions he has seen.

New American Standard 1977
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

Jubilee Bible 2000
Let no one govern you according to their own will under pretext of humility and religion of angels, intruding into those things which they have not seen, vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind,

King James 2000 Bible
Let no man deceive you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

American King James Version
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

American Standard Version
Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he hath seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Douay-Rheims Bible
Let no man seduce you, willing in humility, and religion of angels, walking in the things which he hath not seen, in vain puffed up by the sense of his flesh,

Darby Bible Translation
Let no one fraudulently deprive you of your prize, doing his own will in humility and worship of angels, entering into things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by the mind of his flesh,

English Revised Version
Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he hath seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Webster's Bible Translation
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Weymouth New Testament
Let no one defraud you of your prize, priding himself on his humility and on his worship of the angels, and taking his stand on the visions he has seen, and idly puffed up with his unspiritual thoughts.

World English Bible
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,

Young's Literal Translation
let no one beguile you of your prize, delighting in humble-mindedness and in worship of the messengers, intruding into the things he hath not seen, being vainly puffed up by the mind of his flesh,
Study Bible
Alive in Christ
17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body that casts it belongs to Christ. 18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you with speculation about what he has seen. Such a man is puffed up without basis by his unspiritual mind, 19and he loses connection to the head, from whom the whole body, supported and knit together by its joints and ligaments, grows as God causes it to grow.…
Cross References
Romans 8:7
because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God's Law, nor can it do so.

1 Corinthians 4:6
Brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written. Then you will not take pride in one man over another.

1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize.

Ephesians 4:17
So I tell you this, and testify to it in the Lord: You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

Philippians 3:14
I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God's heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2:23
Such restrictions indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-prescribed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body; but they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Treasury of Scripture

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,


Colossians 2:4,8 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words…

Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? …

Numbers 25:18 For they vex you with their wiles, with which they have beguiled …

Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall …

Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly…

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through …

Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things …

2 Peter 2:14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling …

1 John 2:26 These things have I written to you concerning them that seduce you.

1 John 4:1,2 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they …

2 John 1:7-11 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that …

Revelation 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man …

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, …

Revelation 13:8,14 And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him…

beguile you. or, judge against you.

Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect …

in a voluntary humility. Gr. being a voluntary in humility. ver.

Colossians 2:23 Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, …

Isaiah 57:9 And you went to the king with ointment, and did increase your perfumes, …


Daniel 11:38 But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces: and a god whom …

Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served …

1 Corinthians 8:5,6 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in …

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall …

Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See you …

Revelation 22:8,9 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen…


Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God: but those things which …

Job 38:2 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Psalm 138:1,2 I will praise you with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing …

Ezekiel 13:3 Thus said the Lord GOD; Woe to the foolish prophets, that follow …

1 Timothy 1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they …


Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, …

1 Corinthians 4:18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered to idols, we know that we all have …

1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs …


Romans 8:6-8 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded …

1 Corinthians 3:3 For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and …

2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, …

Galatians 5:19,20 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, …

James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, …

James 4:1-6 From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even …

(18) Beguile you of your reward.--The original is a word used, almost technically, for an unfair judgment in the stadium, robbing the victor of his prize. The prize here (as in 1Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:14) is the heavenly reward of the Christian course. In St. Paul's exhortation there seems to be a reference back to Colossians 2:16. There he says, "Let no man arrogate judgment over you;" here, "Let no man use that arrogated judgment so as to cheat you of your prize. There is one Judge, who has right and who is righteous; look to Him alone."

In a voluntary humility and worship.--This rendering seems virtually correct, though other renderings are proposed. The original is, willing in humility and worship, and the phrase "willing in" is often used in the LXX. for "delighting in." Other translations are here possible, though not without some harshness. But the true sense is shown beyond all doubt to be that given in our version, by the words used below to describe the same process, "will-worship and humility."

In this passage alone in the New Testament "humility "is spoken of with something of the condemnation accorded to it in heathen morality. The reason of this is obvious and instructive. Humility is a grace, of which the very essence is unconsciousness, and which, being itself negative, cannot live, except by resting on some more positive quality, such as faith or love. Whenever it is consciously cultivated and "delighted in, "it loses all its grace; it becomes either unreal, "the pride that apes humility," or it turns to abject slavishness and meanness. Of such depravations Church history is unhappily full.

Worshipping of angels.--This is closely connected with the "voluntary humility" above. The link of connection is supplied by the notice in the ancient interpreters, of the early growth of that unhappy idea, which has always lain at the root of saint-worship and angel-worship in the Church--"that we must be brought near by angels and not by Christ, for that were too high a thing for us" (Chrysostom). With this passage it is obvious to connect the emphasis laid (in Hebrews 1, 2) on the absolute superiority of our Lord to all angels, who are but "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who are heirs of salvation;" and the prohibition of angel-worship in Revelation 22:9, "See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant . . . worship God."

It might seem strange that on the rigid monotheism of Judaism this incongruous creature-worship should have been engrafted. But here also the link is easily supplied. The worship of the angels of which the Essenic system bore traces, was excused on the ground that the Law had been given through the "ministration of angels" (see Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19), and that the tutelary guardianship of angels had been revealed in the later prophecy. (See Daniel 10:10-21.) For this reason it was held that angels might be worshipped, probably with the same subtle distinctions between this and that kind of worship with which we are familiar in the ordinary pleas for the veneration of saints. It has been noticed that in the Council of Laodicea, held in the fourth century, several canons were passed against Judaising, and that in close connection with these it was forbidden "to leave the Church of God and go away to invoke angels"; and we are told by Theodoret (in the next century) that "oratories to St. Michael (the 'prince' of the Jewish people) were still to be seen." The "angels" in this half-Jewish system held the same intermediate position between the Divine and the human which in the ordinary Gnostic theories was held by the less personal 'ons, or supposed emanations from the Godhead.

Intruding into those things which he hath not seen.--(1) There is a remarkable division here, both of MSS. and ancient versions and commentators, as to the insertion or omission of the negative. But the balance of MS. authority is against the negative, and certainly it is easier to suppose it to have been inserted with a view to make an easier sense, than to have been omitted if it had been originally there. (2) The general meaning, however, of the passage is tolerably clear, and, curiously enough, little affected by either alternative. It certainly refers to pretensions to supernatural knowledge by which (just as in 1Corinthians 8:1) the mind is said to be "puffed up." We note that, even in true visions of heavenly things, there was danger lest the mind "should be exalted above measure" (2Corinthians 12:7). Now the knowledge here pretended to is that favourite knowledge, claimed by Jewish and Christian mystics, of the secrets of the heavenly places and especially of the grades and functions of the hierarchy of heaven. St. Paul brands it as belonging to the mind, not of the spirit, but "of the flesh;" for indeed it was really superstitions, resting not on faith, but on supposed visions and supernatural manifestations. It "intruded" (or, according to another rendering, it "took its stand") upon the secrets of a region which it said that it "had seen," but which, in truth, it "had not seen." If we omit the negative, the Apostle is quoting its claims; if we insert it, he is denying their justice.

Verse 18. - Let no one defraud you of your prize (Colossians 1:5, 23; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 3:14; Galatians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:11). These eight words represent but three in the Greek. (On καταβραβεύω, see Meyer's elaborate note.) Βραβούω is used again in Colossians 3:15 (see note), meaning primarily" to act as βραβεύς," arbiter of the prize in the public games; βραβεῖον, the prize, is also figuratively used in Philippians 3:14, and literally in 1 Corinthians 9:24, and is synonymous with the "crown" of other passages. Κατὰ gives the verb a hostile sense; and the present tense, as in vers. 4, 8, 16, 20, implies a continued attempt. Let no one be acting the umpire against you, is the literal sense. The errorist condemns the Colossian Christian for his neglect of Jewish observances (ver. 16), and warns him that in his present state he will miss the heavenly prize, "the hope" he had supposed to be "in store for him in heaven" (ver. 5: comp. notes on Colossians 1:5 and Colossians 3:15; also Ephesians 1:13, 14). Delighting in lowliness of mind and worship of the angels (ver. 23; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8, 9; Judges 13:17, 18). By these means the false teacher impressed his disciples. His angel worship commended itself as the mark of a devout and humble mind, reverent towards the unseen powers above us, and made purely Christian worship seem insufficient. "Delighting in" is the rendering of θέλων ἐν given by Bengel, Hofmann, Lightfoot, Klopper, and is preferable to that of Meyer and Ellicott, who, with several Greek interpreters, supply the sense of the previous verb "desiring (to do so) in lowliness etc.; and to that followed in the Revisers' margin,which puts a sort of adverbial sense on θέλων - "of his mere will, by humility," etc. This latter rendering underlies the paraphrastic" voluntary humility" of the A.V., and agrees with the common interpretation of ἐθελοθρησκεία in ver. 23 (see note). Θέλων ἐν is, no doubt, a marked Hebraism, and St. Paul's language is "singularly free from Hebraisms" (compare, however, the use of εἰδέναι to know, in 1 Thessalonians 5:12; the similar εὐδοκέω ἐν is well established, 1 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:12). This very idiom is frequently used in the LXX, and occurs in the 'Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs,' a Christian writing, of the second century. The apostle may surely be allowed occasionally to have used a Hebraistic phrase, especially when so convenient and expressive as this. Westcott and Hort, with scrupulous purism, mark the reading on this account as doubtful. Ταπεινοφροσύνη ("lowliness of mind"), a word, perhaps, compounded by St. Paul himself (see Trench's 'Synonyms'), is almost confined to the Epistles of this group (comp. ver. 23; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; also Acts 20:19; 1 Peter 5:5). This quality is ascribed ironically to the false teacher (compare the "puffed up" of the next clause, and for similar irony see 1 Corinthians 8:1, 2; Galatians 4:17). Θρησκεία is "outward worship" or "devotion:" comp. note on ver. 23; elsewhere in New Testament only in Acts 26:5 and James 1:26, 27 (see Trench's 'Synonyms'). "Worship of the angels" is that paid to the angels; not "offered by them," as Luther and Hofmann interpret, supposing that the errorists pretended to imitate the worship of heaven. Investigating (or, dwelling on) the things which he hath seen'! vainly - being puffed up by 'the reason' of his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:l, 7; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Peter 2:18; Jude 1:16). For ἐμβατεύων, we adopt the sense which it bears in 2 Macc. 2:30; in Philo, 'On the Planting of Noah,' § 19. and in patristic and later Greek generally, viz. "to search into," "examine," "discuss" (see Suicer's 'Thesaurus'). The rendering "proceeding" or "dwelling on," though near the radical sense of the word ("to step on" or "in"), wants lexical support. The same may be said of the rendering "intruding into," which suits the Received reading, "which he hath not seen." The "not" of the relative clause is wanting in nearly all our eldest and best witnesses, and is cancelled by the Revisers, with Tregelles, Tischendorf, Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, etc. Its appearance in two different forms (οὐχ and μὴ) in the documents that present it, makes it still more certain that it is a copyist's insertion. The common reading gives, after all, an unsatisfactory sense; it is not likely the apostle would blame the errorist simply for entering into things beyond his sight (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 5:7). Meyer, after Steiger and Huther, gives the best explanation of "which he hath seen," supposing the writer to allude ironically to pretended visions of angels or of the spiritual world, by which the false teacher sought to impose on the Colossians. This view is suggested by Tertullian in the passage cited under ver. 16. Such visions would be suitable for the purpose of the errorist, and congenial to the Phrygian temperament, with its tendency to mysticism and ecstasy (see Theodoret, quoted under ver. 15, who also says that angel worship was specially forbidden by the Council of Laodicea, A.n. 364). If the false teacher were accustomed to say with an imposing air, "I have seen, ah! I have seen!" in referring to his revelations, the apostle's allusion would be obvious and telling. The language of 2 Corinthians 12:1 (R.V.) suggests a similar reliance on supernatural visions on the part of the apostle's earlier opponents. This pretentious visionary is, however, a "philosopher" and a "reasoner" first of all (vers. 4, 8). Accordingly he investigates what he has seen; inquires into the import of his visions, rationally develops their principles, and deduces their consequences. So far, the apostle continues in the ironical vein in which the first words of the verse are written, setting forth the pretensions of his opponent in his own terms, his irony "restraining itself till, after the word ἐμβατεύων, the indignation of truth breaks forth from it" (Steiger) in the caustic and decisive "vainly." Αἰκῆ qualifies the foregoing participle (so Origen, apparently, in Cramer's 'Catena,' vol. 4. p. 69; Steiger, De Wette, Hofmann, Conybeare) more suitably than the following. Thus it signifies "idly," "to no purpose," as everywhere else in St. Paul (Romans 13:4; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Galatians 3:4; Galatians 4:11); not "without cause," as joined to φυσιούμενος ("puffed up"), whose 'force it could only weaken. "Vainly" stigmatizes the futility, "puffed up" the conceit, and "by the reason of his flesh" the low and sensuous origin of these vaunted revelations and of the high-flown theosophy which they were used to support. (For the sarcastic force of "puffed up," comp. 1 Corinthians 4:6, 19; 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 13:4). The "reason" (νοῦς) is, in Greek philosophy, the philosophical faculty, the power of supersensible intuition; and in Plato and Philo, the organ of the higher, mystical knowledge of Divine things (see Philo, 'Who is Heir of Divine Things?' §§ 13, 20, and passim). The Colossian "philosopher" (ver. 8) would, we may imagine, speak of himself as "borne aloft" in his visions "by heavenly reason," "lifted high in angelical communion," or the like. Hence the apostle's sarcasm, "Exalted are they? say rather, inflated: lifted high by Divine reason? nay, but swollen high by the reason of their flesh." Some such allusion to the language of the errorists best accounts for the paradoxical νοῦς τῆς σαρκός (see Lightfoot); contrast with Romans 7:25, and compare the disparaging reference to διανοία, Colossians 1:21 (note). Difficult as this passage is, we hesitate to follow Lightfoot, and Westcott and Herr, who have given their weighty sanction to the perilous remedy of conjectural emendations; the latter editors for the second Line in this verse, and again in ver. 23. The line of interpretation here adopted is advocated in the Expositor, first series, vol. 11. pp. 385-398. Let no man beguile you of your reward,.... Or prize; the allusion is to the Olympic games, one of which was running races; in which the stadium, or race plot was fixed, a mark set up to look and run unto, a corruptible crown proposed to be run for, and which was held by one who sat as judge, and determined who got the victory, and to whom the crown belonged; these judges sometimes acted the unfair part, and defrauded the victors of their proper right, and to such the apostle compares the false teachers: the Christian's reward, or prize he is running for, is the incorruptible and never fading crown of glory, life, and righteousness; the race plot is the Christian life, spent in the exercise of grace, and discharge of duty, and in holding fast, and holding out in a profession of faith unto the end; the mark he looks at, and presses towards, is Jesus Christ; and his great concern, the apostle by this metaphor suggests should be, lest by false teachers he should be defrauded of the prize of the high calling of God, through their removing the mark Christ from him, by denying his person and Godhead; or by intercepting his sight of him, placing other objects before him, such as angels, to be worshipped and adored; or by darkening of it, joining Moses and Christ, law and Gospel, works and grace together, in the business of salvation; whereby he might seem to come short, or be in danger of coming short of the heavenly glory:

in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels; these things the apostle instances in, as in what lay their danger of being beguiled of their reward, or prize. True humility is an excellent grace; it is the clothing and ornament of a Christian; nor is there anything that makes a man more like Christ, than this grace; but in these men here respected, it was only the appearance of humility, it was not real; it was in things they devised and willed, not in things which God commanded, Christ required, or the Scriptures pointed at; they would have been thought to have been very lowly and humble, and to have a great consciousness of their own vileness and unworthiness to draw nigh to Christ the Mediator immediately, and by him to God; wherefore in pretence of great humility, they proposed to make use of angels as mediators with Christ; whereby Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, would be removed out of sight and use; and that humble boldness and holy confidence with God at the throne of grace, through Christ, which believers are allowed to use, would be discouraged and destroyed, and the saints be in danger as to the outward view of things, and in all human appearance of losing their reward: "worshipping of angels" was a practice which very early prevailed among some that were called Christians, and for a long time continued in Phrygia and Pisidia; some make Simon Magus, and others Cerinthus, the author of this idolatry; but was not only a branch of the Platonic philosophy, and so a part of that philosophy and vain deceit before mentioned, Colossians 2:8, which these men might have borrowed from the Gentiles, but was a notion and practice of the Jews: before the Babylonish captivity, the names of angels were not known, nor are they ever mentioned by name in Scripture; hence they say (s), that "the names of angels came up with them, or by their means from Babylon:

after this they began to talk much of them, and to have too high a veneration for them, and ascribe too much to them; and observing that the law was ordained, spoken, and given by them, and that the administration of things under the former dispensation was greatly by their means, they fell to worshipping of them (t); and the believing Jews were hereby in great danger of falling into the same practice: hence the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, writing to the Jewish church, largely insists on the proof of Christ being superior to angels; showing that he has a more excellent name than they had; that he was the Son of God in such sense as they were not the sons of God; that they were worshippers of him, yea, that they were creatures made by him, and even ministering spirits to his saints, the heirs of salvation: and very rightly, is worshipping of angels condemned here by the apostle, since God only is the object of worship; since these are creatures, and so not to be adored; are worshippers of God and Christ themselves, and have refused adoration when it has been offered to them: that the Jews did, and do worship angels, and make use of them as mediators and intercessors, is clear from their liturgy, or prayer books, where they say (u).

", "O ye angels of mercies", or ye merciful angels, ministers of the most High, entreat now the face of God for good:

and elsewhere (w),

"they say three times, let Juhach keep us, let Juhach deliver us, and let Juhach help us:

now Juhach was the name of an angel, who they supposed had the care of men, and is taken from the final letters of those words in Psalm 91:11, "for he shall give his angels charge over thee": so they speak of an angel whom they call Sandalphon, who they say is appointed over the prayers of the righteous (x): with this notion the judaizing and false teachers seem to have been tinctured, and against which the apostle here cautions the saints, lest, under a show of humility, they should be drawn into it: and to preserve them from it, he observes, that such an one who should spread and propagate such a notion, was one that was

intruding into those things which he hath not seen; thrusting himself in a bold and daring manner into an inquiry and search after, debate upon, and affirmation of things he could have no certain knowledge of; as of angels, whose nature, qualities, works, and ministrations, he had never seen with his bodily eyes; nor could ever discern with the eyes of his understanding any such things in the Scriptures, which he ascribed to them; but they were the birth of his own mind, the fruits of his own fancy and imagination, things devised in his own brain: being

vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind; judging of things not according to the word of God, and with a spiritual judgment, and according to a spiritual sense and experience, but according to his own carnal reason, and the vanity of his mind; being puffed and swelled with an high opinion of himself, of his great parts and abilities, of his knowledge of things above others, and of his capacity to penetrate into, and find out things which were not seen and known by others: this shows that his humility was forced, and only in outward appearance, and was not true and genuine,

(s) T. Hieros. Roshhashanah, fol. 56. 4. (t) Vid. Clement. Alex Stromat. l. 6. p. 635. (u) Seder Tephillot, Ed. Basil fol. 222. 2.((w) Ib. fol. 335. 1.((x) Zohar in Gen. fol. 97. 2. & in Exod. fol. 24. 3.18. beguile—Translate, "Defraud you of your prize," literally, "to adjudge a prize out of hostility away from him who deserves it" [Trench]. "To be umpire in a contest to the detriment of one." This defrauding of their prize the Colossians would suffer, by letting any self-constituted arbitrator or judge (that is, false teacher) draw them away from Christ," the righteous Judge" and Awarder of the prize (2Ti 4:8; Jas 1:12; 1Pe 5:4), to angel-worship.

in a voluntary humility—So "will-worship" (Col 2:23). Literally, "Delighting ([Wahl]) in humility"; loving (so the Greek is translated, Mr 12:38, "love to go in long clothing") to indulge himself in a humility of his own imposing: a volunteer in humility [Dallæus]. Not as Alford, "Let no one of purpose defraud you," etc. Not as Grotius, "If he ever so much wish" (to defraud you). For the participle "wishing" or "delighting," is one of the series, and stands in the same category as "intruding," "puffed up," "not holding"; and the self-pleasing implied in it stands in happy contrast to the (mock) humility with which it seems to me, therefore, to be connected. His "humility," so called, is a pleasing of self: thus it stands in parallelism to "his fleshly mind" (its real name, though he styles it "humility"), as "wishing" or "delighting" does to "puffed up." The Greek for "humility" is literally, "lowliness of mind," which forms a clearer parallel to "puffed up by his fleshly mind." Under pretext of humility, as if they durst not come directly to God and Christ (like the modern Church of Rome), they invoked angels: as Judaizers, they justified this on the ground that the law was given by angels. This error continued long in Phrygia (where Colosse and Laodicea were), so that the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 360) expressly framed its thirty-fifth canon against the "Angelici" (as Augustine [Heresies, 39], calls them) or "invokers of angels." Even as late as Theodoret's time, there were oratories to Michael the archangel. The modern Greeks have a legend that Michael opened a chasm to draw off an inundation threatening the Colossian Christians. Once men admit the inferior powers to share invocation with the Supreme, the former gradually engrosses all our serious worship, almost to the exclusion of the latter; thus the heathen, beginning with adding the worship of other deities to that of the Supreme, ended with ceasing to worship Him at all. Nor does it signify much, whether we regard such as directly controlling us (the pagan view), or as only influencing the Supreme in our behalf (the Church of Rome's view); because he from whom I expect happiness or misery, becomes the uppermost object in my mind, whether he give, or only procure it [Cautions for Times]. Scripture opposes the idea of "patrons" or "intercessors" (1Ti 2:5, 6). True Christian humility joins consciousness of utter personal demerit, with a sense of participation in the divine life through Christ, and in the dignity of our adoption by God. Without the latter being realized, a false self-humiliation results, which displays itself in ceremonies and ascetic self-abasement (Col 2:23), which after all is but spiritual pride under the mock guise of humility. Contrast "glorying in the Lord" (1Co 1:31).

intruding into … things which he hath not seen—So very old manuscripts and Vulgate and Origen read. But the oldest manuscripts and Lucifer omit "not"; then translate, "haughtily treading on ('Standing on' [Alford]) the things which he hath seen." Tregelles refers this to fancied visions of angels. But if Paul had meant a fancied seeing, he would have used some qualifying word, as, "which he seemed to see," not "which he hath seen." Plainly the things were actually seen by him, whether of demoniacal origination (1Sa 28:11-20), or phenomena resulting from natural causation, mistaken by him as if supernatural. Paul, not stopping to discuss the nature of the things so seen, fixes on the radical error, the tendency of such a one in all this to walk by SENSE (namely, what he haughtily prides himself on having SEEN), rather than by FAITH in the UNSEEN "Head" (Col 2:19; compare Joh 20:29; 2Co 5:7; Heb 11:1). Thus is the parallelism, "vainly puffed up" answers to "haughtily treading on," or "setting his foot on"; "his fleshly mind" answers to the things which he hath seen," since his fleshliness betrays itself in priding himself on what he hath seen, rather than on the unseen objects of faith. That the things seen may have been of demoniacal origination, appears from 1Ti 4:1, "Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" (Greek, "demons"). A warning to modern spiritualists.

puffed up—implying that the previous so called "humility" (Greek, "lowliness of mind") was really a "puffing up."

fleshly mind—Greek, "By the mind of his own flesh." The flesh, or sensuous principle, is the fountain head whence his mind draws its craving after religious objects of sight, instead of, in true humility as a member, "holding fast the (unseen) Head."2:18-23 It looked like humility to apply to angels, as if men were conscious of their unworthiness to speak directly to God. But it is not warrantable; it is taking that honour which is due to Christ only, and giving it to a creature. There really was pride in this seeming humility. Those who worship angels, disclaim Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man. It is an insult to Christ, who is the Head of the church, to use any intercessors but him. When men let go their hold of Christ, they catch at what will stand them in no stead. The body of Christ is a growing body. And true believers cannot live in the fashions of the world. True wisdom is, to keep close to the appointments of the gospel; in entire subjection to Christ, who is the only Head of his church. Self-imposed sufferings and fastings, might have a show of uncommon spirituality and willingness for suffering, but this was not in any honour to God. The whole tended, in a wrong manner, to satisfy the carnal mind, by gratifying self-will, self-wisdom, self-righteousness, and contempt of others. The things being such as carry not with them so much as the show of wisdom; or so faint a show that they do the soul no good, and provide not for the satisfying of the flesh. What the Lord has left indifferent, let us regard as such, and leave others to the like freedom; and remembering the passing nature of earthly things, let us seek to glorify God in the use of them.
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