Colossians 2:18
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,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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 Æons, 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.

Colossians 2:18-19. Let no man beguile you of your reward — Of future glory, however eagerly or artfully he may attempt it. According to Pierce, who pleads the authority of Demosthenes, the word καταβραβευετω, here rendered beguile you of your reward, should be translated condemn you: others, because the verb βραβευω, without the preposition, is translated to rule, (Colossians 3:15,) are of opinion that the expression may be translated enslave you. But as the original word comes from βραβειον, a reward, the compounded verb certainly more properly signifies to hinder a reward from being bestowed, an evil which the worshipping of angels, here guarded against, as more powerful mediators than Christ, would have occasioned. For if on any pretence these Colossian believers had forsaken Christ, and attached themselves to angels, they must have lost the whole benefit of Christ’s mediation. In a voluntary humility Θελων εν ταπεινοφροσυνη, an expression which Whitby renders, pleasing himself in his humility; or affecting humility, and so not addressing God immediately, but only by the mediation of angels. In proof of which interpretation, the same author refers to several passages of the LXX., in which the word θελω means to be pleased with, or to delight in, a person or thing: there are also passages in the New Testament in which the word seems to bear the same meaning. See Matthew 20:26-27; Mark 12:38. And worshipping of angels — It evidently appears, from several passages in Philo, to have been the opinion of that learned Jew, that angels were messengers who presented our prayers to God, as well as brought down his favours to us. He represents this view of the matter as most humble and reverential, and there is no doubt but it prevailed among other Jews. See Tob 11:14; Tob 12:12; Tob 12:15. It was undoubtedly because the Jews entertained so great a respect for angels, on account of their supposed agency in human affairs, that the apostle, in this epistle, and in that to the Hebrews, took so much pains to show that the Son of God is greater than all angels. It is justly remarked by Bishop Burnet, that had it been the apostle’s intention to give the least encouragement to any religious addresses to saints and angels, this would have been a very natural occasion of introducing the subject, and adjusting its proper boundaries. Intruding into things which he hath not seen — With great presumption, and pretending to discover wonderful secrets, relating to their various ranks, subordinations, and offices. “The apostle’s meaning,” says Macknight, “is, that the false teachers, of whom he speaks, presumptuously penetrated into the secrets of the invisible world, and talked of them with an air of certainty, without having any knowledge of the things which they affirmed; particularly that the angels intercede with God for men, and that to worship them is acceptable to God.” Vainly puffed up by his fleshly — His corrupt and carnal; mind — With the conceit of things which it is impossible he should understand, and a desire of introducing novelties into religion. And not holding the Head — Not adhering to, and relying on Christ, the Head of his church, by whom all the true members of it are not only guided and governed, but from whom, having spiritual nourishment ministered by joints and bands — By various means of instruction and grace, or by the several talents and gifts of its members, employed for the good of the whole; and knit together — By love and mutual sympathy; increaseth — In knowledge, holiness, strength, stability, and usefulness; with the increase of God — That increase which comes from him, is approved by him, and tends to his glory. What the apostle here says against the worshipping of angels, concludes equally against the worshipping of saints. Indeed, it is absurd to suppose that any being can be a proper object of worship, which is not both omniscient and omnipresent, which certainly neither angels nor saints are. It is a just remark of a judicious divine, that the apostle’s exhortation in this verse is a good caution to us to beware of all refinements in Christianity, which have any tendency to derogate from the authority, office, and honour of Christ, as Head of the church.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.Let no man beguile you of your reward - Margin, judge against you. The word used here - καταβραβεύω katabrabeuō - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is a word which was employed with reference to the distribution of prizes at the Grecian games, and means, to give the prize against anyone, to deprive of the palm. Hence, it means to deprive of a due reward: and the sense here is, that they were to be on their guard lest the "reward" - the crown of victory to which they looked forward - should be wrested from them by the arts of others. That would be done if they should be persuaded to turn back, or to falter in the race. The only way to secure the prize was to hold on in the race which they then were running; but if they yielded to the philosophy of the Greeks, and the teachings of the Jews, they would be defrauded of this reward as certainly as a racer at the games would if the crown of victory should be unjustly awarded to another. In this case, too, as real injustice would be done, though the apostle does not say it would be in the same manner. Here it would be by art; in the case of the racer it would be by a wrong decision - but in either case the crown was lost. This exhortation has the more force from this consideration. Against an unjust judge we could have no power; but we may take care that the reward be not wrested from us by fraud.

In a voluntary humility - Margin," being a voluntary in humility." Tyndale renders this," Let no man make you shoot at a wrong mark, which, after his own imagination, walketh in the humbleness of angels." The word used here (ταπεινοφροσύνη tapeinophrosunē) means "lowliness of mind, modesty, humbleness of deportment;" and the apostle refers, doubtless, to the spirit assumed by those against whom he would guard the Colossians - the spirit of modesty or of humble inquirers. The meaning is, that they would not announce their opinions with dogmatic certainty, but they would put on the appearance of great modesty. In this way, they would become really more dangerous - for no false teachers are so dangerous as those who assume the aspect of great humility, and who manifest great reverence for divine things. The word rendered "voluntary" here - θέλων thelōn - does not, properly, belong to the word rendered "humility." It rather appertains to the subsequent part of the sentence, and means that the persons referred to were willing, or had pleasure in attempting, to search into the hidden and abstruse things of religion. They were desirous of appearing to do this with an humble spirit - even with the modesty of an angel - but still they had pleasure in that profound and dangerous kind of inquiry.

And worshipping of angels - θρησκείᾳ τῶν ἀγγέλων thrēskeia tōn angelōn. This does not mean, as it seems to me, that they would themselves worship angels or that they would teach others to do it for there is no reason to believe this. Certainly the Jewish teachers, whom the apostle seems to have had particularly in his eye, would not do it; nor is there any evidence that any class of false teachers would deliberately teach that angels were to be worshipped The reference is rather to the profound reverence; the spirit of lowly piety which the angels evinced, and to the fact that the teachers referred to would assume the same spirit, and were, therefore, the more dangerous. They would come professing profound regard for the great mysteries of religion, and for the incomprehensible perfections of the divinity, and would approach the subject professedly with the awful veneration which the angels have when they "look into these things;" 1 Peter 1:12. There was no bold, irreverent, or confident declamation, but the danger in the case arose from the fact that they assumed so much the aspect of modest piety; so much the appearance of the lowly devotion of angelic beings. The word rendered here "worship" - θρησκεία thrēskeia - occurs in the New Testament only here, in Acts 26:5; and James 1:26-27, in each of which places it is rendered "religion." It means here the religion, or the spirit of humble reverence and devotion which is evinced by the angels; and this accords well with the meaning in James 1:26-27.

Intruding into those things which he hath not seen - Or inquiring into them. The word used here (ἐμβατεύων embateuōn) means to go in, or enter; then to investigate, to inquire. It has not, properly, the meaning of intruding, or of impertinent inquiry (see Passow), and I do not see that the apostle meant to characterize the inquiry here as such. He says that it was the object of their investigations to look, with great professed modesty and reverence, into those things which are not visible to the eye of mortals. The "things" which seem here to be particularly referred to, are the abstruse questions respecting the mode of the divine subsistence; the ranks, orders, and employments of angelic beings; and the obscure doctrines relating to the divine government and plans. These questions comprised most of the subjects of inquiry in the Oriental and Grecian philosophy, and inquiries on these the apostle apprehended would tend to draw away the mind from the "simplicity that is in Christ." Of these subjects what can be known more than is revealed?

Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind - Notwithstanding the avowed "humility," the modesty, the angelic reverence, yet the mind was full of vain conceit, and self-confident, carnal wisdom. The two things are by no means incompatible - the men apparently most meek and modest being sometimes the most bold in their speculations, and the most reckless in regard to the great landmarks of truth. It is not so with true modesty, and real "angelic veneration," but all this is sometimes assumed for the purpose of deceiving; and sometimes there is a native appearance of modesty which is by no means an index of the true feelings of the soul. The most meek and modest men in appearance are sometimes the most proud and reckless in their investigations of the doctrines of religion.

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," &c. 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."

Let no man beguile you of your reward: the original compound word, peculiar in the New Testament to Paul, and that in this Epistle only, (and not very frequent in other authors), hath occasioned interpreters here to render it variously, some joining the next following word with it, and some (as we read it) to that which follows after. The simple word is, Colossians 3:15, read rule, or judge, and it may be rendered intercede. Yet Paul doth not elsewhere use this word simply or in composition where he speaks of judging and condemning, Romans 2:1; however, it is borrowed from those who were judges or umpires in their games, the apostle most likely alluding to those, who through favour or hatred determined unjustly, to the defrauding those victors of their prize or reward to whom it was due. Hence some would have the import to be agreeable to our translation; Be careful these unjust arbiters do not defraud you of gaining Christ, and deceive you, ,{ as Matthew 24:4 Ephesians 5:6 2 Thessalonians 2:3} by prescribing false lists and giving you wrong measures, and so judging against you. One renders it: Let no man deceive you with subtle argument, who pleaseth or delights himself in humility; another: Let no man take your prize; others: Let no man master it or bear rule over you at pleasure; let none take upon himself, or usurp to himself, the parts or office of a governor or umpire over you. The apostle labours to fortify the true followers of Christ against such superstitious subtle ones, who by their artifice did assume a magisterial authority (without any sure warrant from God) to impose their traditionary and invented services upon them, and determine of their state, accordingly as the papists do at this day. One learned man thinks the apostle had not used this word here, but for some notable advantage, viz. because the simple word may signify to intercede as well as to judge; it made wonderfully to his purpose in this composition, (as he uses concision, Philippians 3:2), to disparage those seducers who did, from some notions of the Platonists, labour to gain credit to that opinion that the angels were intercessors between God and man.

In a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels; covering their imperious spirit by being volunteers in humility, or by a pretence of voluntary, uncommanded humility, alleging it would be presumption in them to address themselves immediately to God, and therefore they would pay a religious homage to angels, as of a middle nature between God and them, presuming they would mediate for them: an instance to express all that invented worship, which, how specious soever it may seem to be, hath no warrant from Christ, who alone can procure acceptance of our persons and services. He expects that his disciples should assert his rights, and the liberty with which he hath made them free, against the traditions of self-willed men, and no more to solemnize for worship, than teach for doctrines, the traditions of men, Matthew 15:2,6,9. We must not, under any pretext of humility, presume to know what belongs to our duty and God’s service better than Christ doth, showing us that he alone is the true and living way, and we may come boldly by him, Matthew 11:28 John 14:1,6 Eph 3:12 Hebrews 4:16 Hebrews 10:19,20. And therefore the adoring and invocating of angels as heavenly courtiers, whatever the papists out of a show of humility do argue, is not after Christ, but against him.

Intruding into those things which he hath not seen: yea, and for any one to assert it, and the like, is to be a bold intruder upon another’s possession, a thrusting a man’s self into the knowledge and determination of that which is above his reach, Psalm 131:1, and he hath no ground at all for, but doth pry or wade into a secret which a man cannot know. The apostle useth a Platonic word against those who did indulge themselves out of curiosity in the opinions of the Platonists about angels, the worshippers of which, amongst those who were professed Christians in Phrygia, were so tenacious of their error that they were not rooted out after the third century, when a canon was made against them under the name of Angelici, in the council of Laodicea near Colosse.

Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind; the first rise of such foolish presumption, was a being rashly puffed up with the sense of their flesh, a deluded mind moved by some carnal principle, setting out things with swelling words of vanity, wherewith in truth they have no acquaintance, and whereof they have no experience, 1 Timothy 1:7. 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.

{16} Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary {a} humility and worshipping of angels, {17} intruding into those things which he hath not seen, {18} {b} vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

(16) He disputes against the first type of corruptions, and sets down the worshipping of angels as an example: which type of false religion he refutes, first, this way: because those who bring in such a worship, attribute that to themselves which is proper only to God, that is, authority to bind men's consciences with religion, even though they seem to bring in these things by humility of mind.

(a) By foolish humility of mind: for otherwise humility is a virtue. For these angel worshippers blamed those of pride who would go straight to God, and use no other means besides Christ.

(17) Secondly, because they rashly thrust upon them as oracles those things which they neither saw nor heard, but devised by themselves.

(18) Thirdly, because these things have no other ground upon which they are built, but only the opinion of men, who please themselves immensely in their own devices.

(b) Without reason.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 2:18.[118] Warning against a further danger, with which they were threatened on the part of these false teachers.

μηδείς] not different from μήτις in Colossians 2:16, as if the latter emphasized the verb and the former the subject (Hofmann). This would be correct, if in Colossians 2:16 it were μὴ οὖν κρινέτω τις ὑμᾶς. Comp. on μήτις, Colossians 2:8, and on μηδείς, Colossians 2:4. Moreover, the words cannot be regarded (with Holtzmann) as a duplicate proceeding from the interpolator, especially as they contain a new warning, and in such a peculiar form (καταβραβ.).

καταβραβευέτω] Let no one deprive you of the prize. καταβραβεύειν, which is not a Cilician word (Jerome; see, on the contrary, Eustath. ad Il. i. 93. 33: καταβραβεύει αὐτὸν, ὥς φασιν οἱ παλαιοί), is only now preserved among ancient Greek authors in Dem. c. Mid. 544, ult.: ἐπιστάμεθα Στράτωνα ὑπὸ Μειδίου καταβραβευθέντα καὶ πὰντα πὰντα τὰ δίκαια ἀτιμωθέντα, where it expresses the taking away of victory in a judicial suit, and the procuring of a sentence of condemnation, and that in the form of the conception: to bring it about to the injury of some one, that not he, but another, shall receive the prize from the βραβεύς. Midias had bribed the judges. The κατά intimates that the prize was due to the person concerned, although it has been in a hostile spirit (not merely unrighteously, which would be παραβραβεύειν,[119] Plut. Mor. p. 535 C; Polyb. xxiv. 1. 12) withdrawn from him and adjudged to another. The right view substantially, though not recognising the distinction from παραβραβ., is taken by Chrysostom (παραβραβευθῆναι γάρ ἐστιν, ὅταν παρʼ ἑτέρων μὲν ἡ νίκη, παρʼ ἐτέρων δὲ τὸ βραβεῖον) and Theophylact, also Suidas: τὸ ἄλλου ἀγωνιζομένου ἄλλον στεφανοῦσθαι λέγει ὁ ἀπόστολος καταβραβεύεσθαι. Comp. also Zonaras, ad Concil. Laod. can. 35, p. 351: τὸ μὴ τὸν νικήσαντα ἀξιοῦν τοῦ βραβείου, ἀλλʼ ἑτέρῳ διδόναι αὐτὸ ἀδικουμένου τοῦ νικήσαντος. The conception is: (1) To the readers as true believers belongs the Messianic prize of victory,—this is the assumption upon which the expression is based; (2) The false teachers desire to deprive them of the prize of victory and to give it to others, namely, to themselves and their adherents, and that through their service of angels, etc.; (3) Just as little, however, as in the case of the κρίνειν in Colossians 2:16, ought the readers to give heed to, or let themselves be led astray by, this hostile proceeding of the καταβραβεύειν, which is based upon subjective vanity and is (Colossians 2:19) separation from Christ and His body,—this is implied in the imperatives. Consequently, the view of Jerome, ad Aglas. p. 10, is not in substance erroneous, although only approximately corresponding to the expression: “Nemo adversus vos praemium accipiat;” Erasmus is substantially correct: “praemium, quod sectari coepistis, vobis intervertat;” comp. Calvin, Estius, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, and others; while the Vulgate (seducat), Luther (“to displace the goal”), and others content themselves with a much less accurate statement of the sense, and Bengel imports into the passage the sense of usurped false leading and instruction, as Beza similarly took it.[120] The ΒΡΑΒΕῖΟΝ, to which ΚΑΤΑΒΡ. refers, is not Christian liberty (Grotius, who explains it praemium exigere), nor yet: “the honour and prize of the true worship of God” (de Wette), but, in accordance with the standing apostolic conception (comp. Php 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:24): the bliss of the Messianic kingdom, the incorruptible στέφανος (1 Corinthians 9:25), the ΣΤΕΦ. Τῆς ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗς (2 Timothy 4:8), Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς (1 Peter 5:4), Τῆς ΖΩῆς (Jam 1:12); comp. 2 Timothy 2:5. With reference to the ΒΡΑΒΕῖΟΝ, Elsner, Michaelis, Storr, Flatt, Steiger, and others, including Bähr, Böhmer, Reiche, Huther, and Bleek, following Photius in Oecumenius (ΜΗΔΕῚς ὙΜᾶς ΚΑΤΑΚΡΙΝΈΤΩ), have taken ΚΑΤΑΒΡΑΒ. in the sense of to condemn, parallel to the κρινέτω in Colossians 2:16, or to refuse salvation to (Hofmann). This rendering is not, indeed, to be rejected on linguistic grounds, since Hesychius and Suidas both quote the signification κατακρίνειν in the case of ΚΑΤΑΒΡΑΒΕΎΕΙΝ; but it cannot be justified by proofs adduced, and it is decidedly in opposition to the context through the following ΘΈΛΩΝ Κ.Τ.Λ., which presupposes not a judgment of the opponents, but an action, something practical, which, through their perverse religious attitude, they would fain accomplish.

θέλων] sc. καταβραβεύειν ὑμᾶς: while he desires to do this, would willingly accomplish it (comp. Dissen, ad Pind. Ol. ii. 97) by humility, etc. So rightly Theodoret (τοῦτο τοίνυν συνεβούλευον ἐκεῖνοι γίνεσθαι ταπεινοφροσύνῃ δῆθεν κεχρημένοι), Theophylact (ΘΈΛΟΥΣΙΝ ὙΜᾶς ΚΑΤΑΒΡΑΒΕΎΕΙΝ ΔΙᾺ ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡ.), Photius in Oecumenius, Calvin, Casaubon, and others, including Huther and Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 322 [E. T. 376]. The “languidum et frigidum,” which Reiche urges against this view, applies at the most only in the event of καταβραβ. being explained as to condemn; and the accusation of incorrectness of sense (Hofmann) is only based upon an erroneous explanation of the subsequent ἐν ταπεινοφρ. κ.τ.λ. The interpretation adopted by others: taking delight in humility, etc. (Augustine, Castalio, Vatablus, Estius, Michaelis, Loesner, and others, including Storr, Flatt, Bähr, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek, Hofmann, and Hilgenfeld), is based upon the extremely unnecessary assumption of an un-Greek imitation of חמץ ב, such as occurs, indeed, in the LXX. (1 Samuel 18:22; 2 Samuel 15:26; 1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Psalm 146:10), but not in the N. T.; for in Matthew 27:43, ΘΈΛΕΙΝ is used with the accusative, comp. on Romans 7:21. Moreover, in the O. T. passages the object of the delight is almost invariably (the only exception being Psalm 147:10) a person. Even in the Apocrypha that abnormal mode of expression does not occur. Others, again, hold that it is to be joined in an adverbial sense to καταβρ. It would then (see Erasmus, Annot.) have to be rendered cupide or studiose (Plat. Theaet. p. 143 D; and see Reisig, Conject. p. 143 f.), or unconstrained, voluntarily, equivalent to ἐθελοντί, ἐθελοντήν, ἐθελοντής (Plat. Symp. p. 183 A, very frequent in Homer, Soph. Phil. 1327, Aesch. Choeph. 19. 790, and the passages from Xenophon quoted by Sturz, Lex. II. p. 21), which sense, here certainly quite unsuitable, has been transformed at variance with linguistic usage into the idea: “hoc munus sibi a nullo tributum exercens” (Beza), or: unwarrantably (Böhmer, comp. Steiger), or of his own choice (Luther, who, like Ewald, couples it with ἘΜΒΑΤΕΎΩΝ), or: arbitrarily (Ewald), or: capriciously (Reiche), etc.; consequently giving it the sense of ἙΚΏΝ, ΑὐΤΟΘΕΛΉς, ΑὐΤΟΚΈΛΕΥΣΤΟς, or ΑὐΤΟΓΝΏΜΩΝ. Even Tittmann, Synon. p. 131, comes at length to such an ultro, erroneously quoting Herod, 9:14, where ΘΈΛΩΝ must be taken as in Plat. Theaet. l.c.

ἐν ταπεινοφρ. κ. θρησκ. τῶν ἀγγέλ.] ἐν is not propter, which is supposed to have the meaning: because ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡ. Κ.Τ.Λ. is necessary to salvation (Reiche); nor does it denote the condition in which the καταβραβεύειν takes place (Steiger, Huther); but, in keeping with the θέλων, it is the means by which the purpose is to be attained: by virtue of humility and worshipping of angels. Thereby he wishes to effect that the βραβεῖον shall be withdrawn from you (and given to himself and his followers). τ. ἀλλέλων is the genitive of the object (comp. Wis 14:27; Herodian, iv. 8. 17; Clem. Cor. I. 45; see also Grimm on 4Ma 5:6, and the passages from Josephus in Krebs, p. 339), and belongs only to θρησκ., not to ταπεινοφρ. That the latter, however, is not humility in the proper sense, but is, viewed from the perverse personal standpoint of the false teachers, a humility in their sense only, is plain from the context (see below, εἰκῆ φυσιούμ. κ.τ.λ.), although irony (Steiger, Huther) is not to be found in the word. Paul, namely, designates the thing as that, for which the false teachers held it themselves and desired it to be held by others, and this, indeed, as respects the disposition lying at the root of it, which they sought to exhibit (ἘΝ ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡ.), and as respects the abnormal religious phenomenon manifested among them (Κ. ΘΡΗΣΚ. Τ. ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ); and then proceeds to give a deterrent exposure of both of these together according to their true character in a theoretical (ἘΜΒΑΤ.) and in a moral (ΕἸΚῆ ΦΥΣΤῊΝ ΚΕΦΑΛῊΝ) respect. How far the false teachers bore themselves as ταπεινόφρονες, is correctly defined by Theodoret: λέγοντες, ὡς ἀόρατος ὁ τῶν ὅλων Θεὸς, ἀνέφικτος τε καὶ ἀκατάληπτος, καὶ προσήκει διὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων τὴν θείαν εὐμένειαν πραγματεύεσθαι, so that they thus regarded man as too insignificant in the presence of the divine majesty to be able to do without[121] the mediation of angels, which they sought to secure through θρησκεία (comp. 4Ma 4:11), thereby placing the merit of Christ (Romans 5:2) in the background. It is differently explained by Chrysostom and Theophylact (comp. also Photius in Oecumenius): the false teachers had declared the majesty of the Only-Begotten to be too exalted for lowly humanity to have access through Him to the Father, and hence the need of the mediation of angels for that purpose. In opposition to this view it may be urged, that the very prominence so frequently and intentionally given to the majesty of Christ in our Epistle, and especially as above the angels, rather goes to show that they had depreciated the dignity of Christ. Reiche and Ewald (comp. Hofmann’s interpretation below) find the ταπεινοφροσύνη in the ἀφειδία σώματος of Colossians 2:23, where, however, the two aberrations are adduced separately from one another, see on Colossians 2:23. Proofs of the existence of the worship of angels in the post-apostolic church are found in Justin, Ap. I. 6, p. 56,[122] Athenagoras, and others; among the Gnostic heretics (Simonians, Cainites): Epiph. Haer. xx. 2; Tertullian, praescr. 33; Iren. Haer. i. 31. 2; and with respect to the worshipping of angels in the Colossian region Theodoret testifies: ἔμεινε δὲ τοῦτο τὸ πάθος ἐν τῇ Φρυγίᾳ καὶ Πισιδίᾳ μέχρι πολλοῦ· οὗ δὴ χάριν καὶ συνελθοῦσα σύνοδος ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ τῆς Φρυγίας (A.D. 364, can. 35) νόμῳ κεκώλυκε τὸ τοῖς ἀγγέλοις προσεύχεσθαι, καὶ μέχρι δὲ τοῦ νῦν εὐκτήρια τοῦ ἁγίου Μιχαὴλ παρʼ ἐκείνοις καὶ τοῖς ὁμόροις ἐκείνων ἐστὶν ἰδεῖν. The Catholic expedients for evading the prohibition of angel-worship in our passage (as also in the Concil. Laod., Mansi, II. p. 568) may be seen especially in Cornelius a Lapide, who understands not all angel-worship, but only that which places the angels above Christ (comp. also Bisping), and who refers the Laodicean prohibition pointing to a “κεκρυμμένη εἰδδωλολαατρεία (“ὃτι οὐ δεῖ Χριστιανοὺς ἐγκαταλείπειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ ἀπιέναι καὶ ἁγγέλους ὀνομάζεινκ.τ.λ.), in accordance with the second Nicene Council, only to the cultus latriae, not duliae, consequently to actual adoration, not τιμητικὴν προσκύνησιν. In opposition to the words as they stand (for θρησκεία with the genitive of the subject would necessarily be the cultus, which the angels present to God, 4Ma 5:6; 4Ma 5:12; Joseph. Antt. xii. 5. 4; comp. Acts 26:5), and also in opposition to the context (see Colossians 2:19), several have taken τῶν ἀγγέλων as the genitive of the subject, and have explained it of a religious condition, which desired to be like that of the angels, e.g. Luther: “spirituality of the angels,” comp. Melanchthon, Schoettgen (“habitus aliquis angelicus”), Wolf, Dalmer. Nevertheless, Hofmann, attempting a more subtle definition of the sense, has again taken τῶν ἀγγέλων as genitive of the subject, and joined with it not only θρησκείᾳ, but also ταπεινοφροσύνῃ. The ταπεινοφροσύνη of the angels, namely, consists in their willingly keeping within the bounds assigned to them as spirits, and not coveting that which man in this respect has beyond them, namely, what belongs to the corporeal world. And the θρησκεία of the angels is a self-devotion to God, in which, between them and Him, no other barrier exists than that between the Creator and His creatures. That ταπεινοφροσύνη and this θρησκεία man makes into virtue on his part, when he, although but partially, renounces that which belongs to Him in distinction from the angels (ταπεινοφρ.), and, as one who has divested himself as much as possible of his corporeality, presents himself adoringly to God in such measure as he refrains from what was conferred upon him for bodily enjoyment. I do not comprehend how, on the one hand, the apostle could wrap up the combinations of ideas imputed to him in words so enigmatical, nor, on the other, how the readers could, without the guidance of Hofmann, extract them out of these words. The entire exposition is a labyrinth of imported subjective fancies. Paul might at least have written ἐν ἐγκρατείᾳ ἐπὶ τῷ ὁμοιώματι (or καθʼ ὁμοίωσιν, or καθʼ ὁμοιότητα) τῆς ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ θρησκείας τῶν ἀγγέλων! Even this would still have been far enough from clear, but it would at least have contained the point and a hint as to its interpretation. See, besides, in opposition to Hofmann, Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol. p. 193 f.

ἃ ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύων] Subordinate to the θέλων κ.τ.λ. as a warning modal definition to it: entering upon what he has beheld, i.e. instead of concerning himself with what has been objectively given (Colossians 2:19), entering the subjective domain of visions with his mental activity,—by which is indicated the mystico-theosophic occupation of the mind with God and the angels,[123] so that ἑώρακεν (comp. Tert. c. Marc. v. 19) denotes not a seeing with the eyes, but a mental beholding,[124] which belonged to the domain of the ΦΑΝΤΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ, in part, doubtless, also to that of visionary ecstasy (comp. Acts 2:17; Revelation 9:17; ὍΡΑΜΑ in Acts 9:10; Acts 9:12; Acts 10:3; 2 Chronicles 9:29, et al.; Luke 1:22). This reference must have been intelligible to the readers from the assertions put forth by the false teachers,[125] but the failure to observe it induced copyists, at a very early date, to add a negative (sometimes μή and sometimes οὐ) before ἑώρακεν. Ἐμβατεύειν (only used here in the N. T.; but see Wetstein, also Reisig, ad Oed. Col. praef. p. xxxix.), with accusative of the place conceived as object (Kühner, II. 1, p. 257), also with the genitive, with the dative, and with εἰς, means to step upon, as e.g. νῆσον, Aesch. Pers. 441; πόλιν, Eur. El. 595; γῆν, Joshua 19:49; also with reference to a mental domain, which is trodden by investigation and other mental activity, as Philo, de plant. Noë, p. 225 C, et al.; see Loesner, p. 369 f.; 2Ma 2:30; comp. also Nemes. de nat. hom. p. 64, ed. Matth.: οὐρανὸν ἐμβατεύει τῇ θεωρίᾳ, but not Xen. Conv. iv. 27, where, with Zeunius, ἐμαστεύετε ought to be read. Phavorinus: ἐμβατεῦσαι· τὸ ἔνδον ἐξερευνῆσαι ἢ σκοπῆσαι. It is frequently used in the sense of seizing possession (Dem. 894. 7; Eur. Heracl. 876; Schleusner, Thes. II. 332; Bloomfield, Gloss. in Aesch. Pers. p. 146 f.). So Budaeus and Calvin (se ingerens), both with the reading μή, also Huther (establishing himself firmly in the creations of fancy); still the context does not suggest this, and, when used in this sense, ἐμβατ. is usually coupled with εἰς (Dem. 894. 7, 1085. 24, 1086. 19; Isaiah 9:3, et al.; Colossians 2:18. This verse gives us our only definite information, apart from which it would have been a highly probable inference, that the false teachers practised angel-worship.—ὑμᾶς καταβραβευέτω. This is commonly translated “rob you of your prize”. The judge at the games was called βραβεύς or βραβευτής, and the prize βραβεῖον. But the verb βραβεύω apparently lost all reference to the prize, and meant simply “to decide”. In the two cases in which καταβραβεύω occurs it means to decide against or condemn. It is best therefore to take it so here, “let no one give judgment against you”; it is thus parallel to, though stronger than, κρινέτω (Colossians 2:16). (Field, Notes on Transl. of the N.T., pp. 196, 197, discusses the word; cf. also Ol. and Abb. ad loc.)—θέλων ἐν ταπεινοφροσύνῃ. This phrase is very variously interpreted. Some assume a Hebraism, and translate “taking pleasure in humility” (Winer, Lightf., Findl., Haupt). The LXX uses this not infrequently (but usually with persons, though otherwise in Psalm 111:1; Psalm 146:10); but there is no N.T. parallel for it, and Paul does not employ Hebraisms. For this idea he uses εὐδοκεῖν. Moreover it yields no relevant sense here. Others translate “wishing to do so in (or by) humility” (Mey., Ell., Sod., Weiss). But for this τοῦτο ποιεῖν should have been added, and on this interpretation θέλων has really little point. The rendering of Alford, Moule and others is not very different from this in sense, but more forcible. It connects θέλ. with καταβραβ., and translates “wilfully,” “of set purpose”. 2 Peter 3:5 is referred to for the construction. Oltramare’s view is similar, but he translates “spontaneously,” so apparently the R.V. mg. and Abbott. The unsatisfactoriness of these interpretations suggests that the text may be corrupt. Hort thinks that for θέλων ἐν ταπεινοφροσύνῃ we should read ἐν ἐθελοταπεινοφροσύνῃ. This word is used by Basil, and a similar compound occurs in Colossians 2:23. It is, of course, as Haupt says, difficult to understand how the copyists should have altered it into the very strange expression in the text. But this is not a fatal objection, and the conjecture is very possibly correct. It would mean “gratuitous humility,” a humility that went beyond what was required. ταπεινοφροσύνῃ is frequently explained as ironical. By a display of humility they beguiled their dupes. But the connexion with the following words makes this improbable. Their humility found an expression in angel worship. It is therefore that lowliness which causes a man to think himself unworthy to come into fellowship with God, and therefore prompts to worship of the angels. Such humility was perverted, but not therefore unreal. It was compatible with vanity towards others.—καὶ θρησκείᾳ τῶν ἀγγέλων: “and worship of angels”. The genitive is objective, though some have taken it as subjective. This has been done most recently and elaborately by Zahn. He takes τ. ἀγγ. with ταπειν. as well as with θρησκείᾳ. The former noun is used, he argues, in a non-Pauline sense, therefore it needs a definition, and that τ. ἀγγ. is intended to define it is made probable by the fact that it is not repeated before θρησκ. What is meant is a mortification and devotion suitable for angels, but not for men who live in bodies, an attempt to assimilate themselves to angels, who do not eat or drink. The chief ground urged for this view is that Judaism was too strenuously monotheistic to admit of angel worship, and Paul could only have regarded it as idolatry. Against this what is said in the Introduction, section ii., may be referred to. The angels worshipped by the false teachers are the στοιχεῖα τ. κόσμου, ἀρχαὶ κ. ἐξουσίαι.—ἃ ἑόρακεν ἐμβατεύων. If μὴ is inserted after , we may translate with Ellicott, in his earlier editions, “intruding into the things which he hath not seen”. This should probably be explained with reference to the invisible world, with which they professed to hold communion, but which really was closed to them. Ellicott still thinks this reading gives the better sense, though adopting the other in deference to the external evidence. But Paul could hardly have brought it against them that they had fellowship with what they could not see. For this was so with all who walked by faith. The negative, therefore, is not helpful to the sense, and is definitely excluded by the external evidence. The text without the negative is very variously explained. ἐμβατεύειν means “to stand upon,” then “to come into possession of” a thing, “to enter upon,” “to invade,” then in a figurative sense “to investigate”. Since ἃ ἑόρακεν also lends itself to diametrically opposite interpretations, the exegesis becomes doubly uncertain. It may mean the things which can be seen with the bodily eye, or it may refer to visions; they may be condemned as deluded visionaries, or for their materialism. Alford and Ellicott translate “taking his stand on the things which he hath seen,” and explain that he becomes an inhabitant of the world of sight rather than of faith. But the use of the perfect is against any reference to the circumstances of ordinary life, and the thought would have been far more simply and clearly expressed by τὰ ὁρατά. Generally it is supposed that “the things which he has seen” means his visions. Various views are then taken of ἐμβατεύων. Meyer translates “entering upon what he has beheld,” and explains that, instead of holding fast to Christ, he enters the region of visions. Several translate “investigating” (Beng., Grimm, Findl., Ol., Haupt). This is probably the best translation of the words as they stand, for the translation “parading his visions” (Sod. and? Abb.) seems not to be well established. The harshness of the combination, and uncertainty of the exegesis, give much probability to the view that the text has not been correctly transmitted. After it had been conjectured that we should read ἃ ἑώρα κενεμβατεύων, Lightfoot independently suggested the latter word, but for ἃ ἑώρα suggested ἐώρᾳ. or αἰώρᾳ. [Sod. incorrectly quotes the emendation as αἰῶρα; and in Abb. by a misprint we have αἰώρα. Ellicott not only misreports Lightfoot’s emendation, but does not even mention Taylor’s.] ἐώρα is used sometimes of that which suspends a thing, sometimes of the act of suspension. “In this last sense,” Lightfoot says, “it describes the poising of a bird, the floating of a boat on the waters, the balancing on a rope, and the like. Hence its expressiveness when used as a metaphor.” κενεμβατεύειν does not actually occur, but the cognate verb κενεμβατεῖν is not uncommon. A much better emendation, however, is that of Dr. C. Taylor (Journal of Philology, vii., p. 130), ἀέρα κενεμβατεύων, “treading the void of air”. In his Pirqe Aboth,2 p. 161, he says that the Rabbinic expression “fly in the air with nothing to rest upon” may have suggested the phrase to Paul. This emendation is accepted by Westcott and Hort, and regarded as the most probable by Zahn, who says that the text as it stands yields no sense. It involves the omission of a single letter, and although the province of conjectural emendation in the New Testament is very restricted, yet such a slip as is suggested may very easily have been made by Paul’s amanuensis or a very early copyist. Field urges as a fatal objection that “κενεμβατεύων is a vox nulla, the inviolable laws regulating this class of composite verbs stamping κενεμβατεῖν as the only legitimate, as it is the only existing, form” (loc. cit., p. 198). Lightfoot, on the contrary, asserts that it is unobjectionable in itself. Even if Field’s criticism be admitted, it would be better to read ἀέρα κενεμβατῶν than to retain the text. If the emendation is correct, Paul is asserting the baseless character of the false teaching; and all reference to visions disappears.—εἰκῇ should probably, in accordance with Pauline usage, be connected with the following rather than the preceding words. It may mean “groundlessly” (Mey., Alf., Ell., Ol., Haupt, Abb.) or “without result” (Sod. and others). The latter is the sense in Galatians 3:4; Galatians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 15:2, Romans 13:4, but, since it does not suit φυς., the former is to be preferred here.—φυσιούμενος: cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1 ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ, 1 Corinthians 13:4. They were puffed up by a sense of spiritual and intellectual superiority.—ὑπὸ τοῦ νοὸς τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ: “by the mind of his flesh”. The mind in this case is regarded as dominated by the flesh. Soden, followed by Abbott, says that the νοῦς as a natural faculty is ethically indifferent in itself, and so may stand just as well under the influence of σάρξ as of πνεῦμα. But in the most important passage, Romans 7:22-25, it is the higher nature in the unregenerate which wages unsuccessful conflict with the σάρξ. At the same time we see from Ephesians 4:17 that it could become vain and aimless and even (Romans 1:28) reprobate. The choice of the phrase here is probably dictated by Paul’s wish to drive home the fact that their asceticism and angel worship, so far from securing as they imagined the destruction of the flesh, proved that it was by the flesh that they were altogether controlled, even to the mind itself, which stood farthest from it.18. Let no man] Another parallel but distinct caution after that of Colossians 2:16.

beguile you of your reward] Rob you of your prize, R.V. The verb is compounded with the noun brabeion (used Php 3:14), an athletic prize. Here, as in Philippians, it means the life eternal, “the crown of life” (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). The Colossians were tempted to forsake their position and privilege in Christ, found and retained by faith; and, so far, they were tempted to lose their “hold on the eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:19) which is in Him alone (1 John 5:12). Cp. Revelation 3:11.—What their Lord would do to save them from the fatal step was altogether another matter; their one duty was not to take the step.

The alien teachers are represented here (having regard to the classical usage of the verb) “not as umpires, nor as successful rivals, but simply as persons frustrating those who otherwise would have won the prize” (Lightfoot).

Tyndale and Cranmer curiously render, “Let no man make you shote at a wronge marke,” probably influenced by Luther, who has Lasset euch Niemand das Ziel verrücken; an untenable paraphrase. Geneva, “Let no man … beare rule over you.”

in a voluntary humility] The Greek means, quite literally, “willing in humility; and some questions arise about the construction. These may be reduced to two main alternatives, (a) Is “willing” to be connected with the verb just previous, and to be rendered, “let no one rob you of your prize willingly,” “meaningly,” “of malice prepense”? (b) Is “willing” to be connected with the words just following, and explained, “taking pleasure in humility”? Of these (a) is easier grammatically, but Ellicott urges the grave objection that it attributes a Satanic and almost incredible malice to the teachers in question. It may be answered that St Paul need not be charging them with “meaning” to rob their followers of heaven, but with “meaning” to rob them of a faith with which as a fact the hope of heaven was bound up. Lightfoot advocates (b), and proves that it is a construction supported by the LXX., where it is not used “only with personal pronouns” (as Ellicott says), but with ordinary nouns; see Psalms 110. (Heb. and Eng. 111.) 1, 146. (Heb. and Eng. 147.) 10. The strong Hebraism, without any N.T. parallel, is certainly startling, however; and we recommend (a), though doubtfully, with the explanation given above. The rendering would be somewhat thus, in paraphrase: Let no man have his own way in robbing you &c.

humility] “Humility is a vice with heathen moralists but a virtue with Christian Apostles.… In this passage which (with Colossians 2:23) forms the sole exception to the general language of the Apostles, the divergence is rather apparent than real” (Lightfoot). An artificial, gratuitous, humility is not humility but its parody. And such was the thing in question; an abasement of man before unlawful objects (see next words) of worship; a prostration self-chosen, and also self-conscious.

worshipping of angels] A practice highly developed in later Judaism, while entirely absent from the apostolic teaching, and indeed clearly condemned here, and Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9, and implicitly in Hebrews 1—It is noticeable that the Council of Laodicea (a.d. 394), so near Colossæ, forbids (c. 35) Christians to leave the Church and go away “to name angels” in secret assemblies, calling this a “secret idolatry,” and apparently connecting it with Jewish influences. Theodoret in his Commentary here speaks of the existence in his time (cent. 5) of Oratories (euctêria) to the Archangel Michael in the region of Laodicea and Colossæ, and of their popularity, apparently as rivals to the regular Churches. At this day in Abyssinia Michael has his holyday every month.—See further Introd., pp. 15, 31, 33.

“Angels,” says the saintly Jansenist Quesnel here, “will always win the day over Jesus Christ despised (anéanti) and crucified, if the choice of a mediator between us and God is left to the vanity of the human mind.”

For a (doubtful) early sanction of angel-worship see a difficult sentence in Justin, Apology, 1. c. 6. Irenæus, Justin’s contemporary, says (ii. 57) that the Church “does nothing by the invocation of angels.”

Whatever its origin and details, such a worship inevitably beclouds the Christian’s view both of the majesty and of the nearness and tenderness of Christ his living Head.

Worshipping”:—thrêskeia; a word akin perhaps in etymology to “tremble,” and denoting religious devotion mainly in its external aspect; a cultus. The word or its cognate occurs elsewhere in N.T. Acts 26:5; James 1:26-27. Lightfoot quotes a sentence from Philo, the Jewish contemporary of the Apostles, where it is expressly distinguished from piety (hosiotês); and he says that “generally the usage of the word exhibits a tendency to a bad sense.” Such a sense is quite in point here; an unauthorized and abject cultus was the natural expression of a counterfeit “humility.”

intruding into those things which he hath not seen] Quœ vidit ambulans (Old Latin); Quœ non vidit ambulans (Vulgate);Dwelling in the things which he hath seen” (R.V.). Here are serious differences of reading and translation, which must be briefly discussed.

(a) Shall we render “Intruding into,” or, “Dwelling in”? Classical usage of the Greek verb favours the latter rendering; the word is used e.g. of a god’s haunt in a region or a spot. The usage in LXX. and Apocrypha slightly favours the former rendering; the word is used there of the invasion or new occupation of a country (Joshua 19:51; 1Ma 12:25; 1Ma 14:31). The balance must be struck by our conclusions on the rest of the phrase.

(b) “Things which he hath not seen:Things which he hath seen.” Is the negative to be omitted or not? “Many authorities, some ancient, insert ‘not’ ” (margin, R.V.). Ellicott approves the insertion of “not”; Lightfoot advocates the omission. It is difficult to discuss the evidence in a note, and we have attempted to state it in outline in Appendix J. Here it must suffice to say that we venture to recommend the reading which he hath not seen. It seems to us more likely, on a view of the facts, that the negative should have dropped out early than that it should have been deliberately inserted.

If we reject “not,” the meaning will most probably be that the erring teacher “dwells in, or dwells on, what he has seen,” his alleged visions and revelations, the “manifestations” which he says, and perhaps thinks, he has witnessed, and which he prefers to the apostolic Gospel. If we retain “not,” the meaning will be that he invades the region of the Unseen with a presumptuous confidence of assertion, as if he had seen it. In either case he might assert his enjoyment of angelic or other visions; but in the latter case the Apostle denies such a claim if made. Cp. Ezekiel 13:3; “Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing.”

vainly] The Greek word means “at random,” without reason or cause. Cp. Romans 13:4; 1 Corinthians 15:2. (This meaning in some passages glides into that of “without result”; Galatians 3:4; Galatians 4:11.) The true Gospel is not so; its loftiest assertion springs from deepest fact and truth.

puft up] A present participle, indicating habit and development. For the word in a similar connexion cp. 1 Corinthians 8:1.

by his fleshly mind] Lit., “by the mind of his flesh.”—“The mind” (nous) here is the merely reasoning faculty as distinguished from spiritual intuition. “The flesh” is, as often in St Paul, the unregenerate state, in which the sinful principle dominates. See Ephesians 2:3 and note there in this Series.—In that verse “flesh” and “mind” are somewhat similarly collocated; but the word rendered (in A.V.) “mind” is lit. “thoughts”; “the mind” in particular action.—He is “puffed up” by an exercise of thought characteristic of the unregenerate state.

L. THE VARIOUS READINGS OF Colossians 2:18Must we read (a) “The things which he hath not seen,” or (b) “The things which he hath seen?

The documentary evidence may be briefly stated thus:

i. For the omission of “not”:

Uncial MSS.:—אABD, the first three of which are, with C, the oldest copies we possess. אB were probably written cent. 4, A cent. 5. D probably belongs to cent. 6.

Cursive MSS.:—those numbered 17, 28, 67 in the list of cursive copies of St Paul’s Epistles. These belong to centt. 10 and 12. MS. 67 omits “not” by correction only; the correction is perhaps as late as cent. 15.

Versions:—the Old Latin (perhaps cent. 2) in three of its texts out of the five which contain the Epistle; the Coptic Version called the Memphitic (perhaps cent. 2); and two others.

Fathers:—Tertullian (cent. 2, 3); Origen (cent. 3), but somewhat doubtfully[119]; the commentator Hilary (cent. 4), quoted as Ambrosiaster, as his work is included with the works of Ambrose. Jerome and Augustine (cent. 4, 5) both notice both readings.

[119] He cites the text three times. Two of these occur where his Greek is known only through a Latin Version, and one of these two gives “not.” In the third, we have the Greek. Μὴ is inserted by the (last) critical Editor, De la Rue.

ii. For the retention of “not”:

Uncial MSS.:—C K L P, the first of cent. 5, the others of cent. 9. Besides, the reading οὐ (not μὴ) is given by a corrector of א, who dates perhaps cent. 7, and by correctors of D, who date perhaps cent. 8.

Cursive MSS.:—all with the three exceptions given above; i.e. more than 290 known copies, ranging from cent. 9 to cent. 15 or 16.

Versions:—the Syriac Versions (the earliest is probably of cent. 2); one text of the Old Latin; the Vulgate (Jerome’s revision of the Latin); the Gothic, Æthiopic, and others.

Fathers:—Origen (in one place; see further above); Chrysostom; Jerome (with deliberate preference); Augustine (likewise); Theodore of Mopsuestia; Theodoret, “and others” (Lightfoot).

The late Dean Burgon (The Revision Revised, p. 356, note), thus summarizes the evidence, and remarks upon it:

“We have to set off the whole mass of the copies—against some 6 or 7: Irenæus (i. 847), Theodorus Mops. (in loc.), Chrys. (xi. 372), Theodoret (iii. 489, 490), John Damascene (ii. 211)—against no Fathers at all (for Origen once has μὴ [iv. 655][120]; once has it not [iii. 63]; and once is doubtful [i. 583]). Jerome and Augustine both take notice of the diversity of reading, but only to reject it.—The Syriac versions, the Vulgate, Gothic, Georgian, Sclavonic, Æthiopic, Arabic, and Armenian—(we owe the information, as usual, to Dr Malan)—are to be set against the suspicious Coptic. All these then are with the Traditional Text: which cannot seriously be suspected of error.”

[120] See just above on this point, in our statement of the evidence for “not”. (Editor.)

It must be added that Lightfoot (in loco), and Westcott and Hort (N.T. in Greek, ii. 127), suspect the Greek text of Colossians 2:18 of corruption, and suggest or adopt ingenious emendations. The rendering of the clause in question thus altered would be, “treading the void in airy suspension,” or, “treading an airy void.” We venture to think the reasons for suspicion inadequate.Colossians 2:18. Μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβραβευέτω, let no man assume the office of umpire to dictate to you [let no man beguile you of your reward[16]]) A word closely connected with judging (κρινέτω), and establishing ordinances or dogmas (δογματίζεσθε), Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:20; for βραβεύω, I guide or regulate [‘moderor;’ Engl. Vers. rule], see Colossians 3:15, note; from which καταβραβεύω differs, as καταχράομαι [abuse] differs from χράομαι [use]; and the verb itself, which is compounded with κατὰ, governs the accusative, ὑμᾶς, you, for the preposition κατὰ would require the genitive: Hesychius has καταβράβεται (read καταβραβεύεται) κατακρίνεται, καταγωνίζεται. Therefore Paul means to say, Let no one, usurping the authority of judge [arbitrator] of the prizes, and accordingly abusing it, guide and regulate you in the race which you are running, and mislead you by prescribing what you, about to receive the prize, should follow, what you should avoid. A French interpreter has skilfully used the word maitriser, “to domineer;” for the apostle is not speaking of a rival snatching the prize of the race before you, but of an odious, perverse, insolent judge (umpire). On this verb depend four participles, through as many sentences, of which the first and third, the second and fourth, have respect to each other. The manifold advantage of this Chiasmus, now noticed, will by and by appear.—θέλων ἐν ταπεινοφροσύνῃ) Often חפץ, with ב following it, is expressed by the word θέλω, ἐθέλω, εὐδοκῶ, βούλομαι ἐν τινί, for example, 1 Samuel 18:22; 1 Samuel 18:25; comp. the compound ἐθελοθρησκεία, Colossians 2:23 : θέλων, one who does something with his will [with inclination: a volunteer in doing]. Comp. Mark 12:38, note.—ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡΟΣΎΝῌ ΚΑῚ ΘΡΗΣΚΕΊᾼ ΤῶΝ ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ, with humility of feeling (sentiment) and worshipping of angels) A Hendiadys. They worship angels under pretext of humility and modesty, as if they dared not immediately and directly address themselves to God and Christ. “This error,” says Alexander Morus, “had driven its roots so deep into the earth, that not even after three centuries could it be pulled out; for the 35th canon of the Council of Laodicea was framed against it; and this city was the metropolis of Phrygia, where Colosse also was. That canon condemns the Angelici, for so they were called.” “The Angelici,” says Augustine Haeres. 39, “are those inclined to the worship of angels.” By this authority, the invocation of saints and intercourse with spirits, how plausible soever they may be, are entirely taken away.—ἃ μὴ ἑώρακεν, ἐμβατεύων) Heinsius observes, This language is similar in principle to that of the Greek tragedians, ΚΕῖΝʼ ἘΜΒΑΤΕΎΩΝ, ὍΣΣΑ ΜῊ ΒΛΈΠΕΙΝ ΘΈΜΙς, intruding into those things at which it is unlawful to look. Ἑώρακεν, saw with the eyes, and ἘΜΒΑΤΕΎΩΝ, intruding with the feet, are spoken metaphorically of the mind. The foot should not get before the eyes: ἐμβατεύω, I go in, I enter in, I pass through (penetrate). It is used concerning a hostile invasion, 1Ma 12:25. It is figuratively applied to the understanding, and signifies, I pry into or search, I handle, Chrys. de Sac. For how should Christ, ὁ τὰς ἁπάντων ἐμβατεύων καρδίας, who searches the hearts of all, ask for the sake of learning? On this passage we have made several observations, T. I. p. 376. Moreover, there is a compound, ΚΕΝΕΜΒΑΤΕῖΝ, said of the vain study of abstruse subjects, on which see Suicer’s Thesaurus; and the same Al. Morus proves by the examples taken from Damascius, that this word was used by Plato. And there is little doubt, that Paul himself had in his mind the word of Plato, when he was refuting those who held the same opinion as Plato concerning angels; comp. κενῆς, Colossians 2:8. But yet, when he might have said, ἃ μὴ ἑώρα κενεμβατεύων, he yet does not say so (for the things into which the καταβραβεύων intrudes, are not in themselves utterly κενὰ, vain, but only not seen by him); but he lays down something even more weighty, since the ἐμβατεύειν rather expresses the haughtiness of the καταβραβεὑων. On the opposite side, the κρατεῖν, to hold the Head, corresponds, which is not done in vain, but tends to increase.—ΦΥΣΙΟΎΜΕΝΟς, puffed up) The antithesis is, humility of sentiment (ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡΟΣὐΝῌ); and yet these two are joined together.

[16] This is the Engl. Vers. Bengel translates it, let no one treat you according to his own whim (pro arbitrio). The verb καταβραβεύω signifies to decide against any one in adjudging the prizes at the public games. It appears, from a passage in Demosthenes, to imply fraud and injustice in the decision.

Wahl, Clavis N. T., renders the verb, palma or prœmio fraudo. “Properly it means, to be umpire in a contest to the detriment of some one.”—ED.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. Beguile of reward (καταβραβευέτω)

Only here in the New Testament. From κατά against, βραβεύω to act as a judge or umpire. Hence to decide against one, or to declare him unworthy of the prize. Bishop Lightfoot's rendering rob you of your prize, adopted by Rev., omits the judicial idea, which, however, I think must be retained, in continuation of the idea of judgment in Colossians 2:16, "let no man judge," etc. The attitude of the false teachers would involve their sitting in judgment as to the future reward of those who refused their doctrine of angelic mediation. Paul speaks from the standpoint of their claim.

In a voluntary humility (θέλων ἐν ταπεινοφροσύνῃ)

Render delighting in humility. This rendering is well supported by Septuagint usage. See 1 Samuel 18:22; 2 Samuel 15:26; 1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8. It falls in, in the regular participial series, with the other declarations as to the vain conceit of the teachers; signifying not their purpose or their wish to deprive the Christians of their reward, but their vain enthusiasm for their false doctrine, and their conceited self-complacency which prompted them to sit as judges. The worship of angels involved a show of humility, an affectation of superior reverence for God, as shown in the reluctance to attempt to approach God otherwise than indirectly: in its assumption that humanity, debased by the contact with matter, must reach after God through successive grades of intermediate beings. For humility, see on Matthew 11:29.

Worship of angels (θρησκείᾳ)

See on religious, James 1:26. Defining the direction which their humility assumed. The usage of the Septuagint and of the New Testament limits the meaning to the external aspects of worship. Compare Acts 26:5; James 1:27.

Intruding (ἐμβατεύων)

Rev., dwelling in. Only here in the New Testament. It is used in three senses: 1. To step in or upon, thence to haunt or frequent. So Aeschylus: "A certain island which Pan frequents on its beach" ("Persae," 449). 2. To invade. So in Apocrypha, 1 Macc. 12:25; 13:20; 14:31; 15:40. 3. To enter into for examination; to investigate or discuss a subject. So 2 Macc. 2:30, and so Philo, who compares truth-seekers to well-diggers. Patristic writers use it of searching the heart, and of investigating divine mysteries. Byzantine lexicographers explain it by ζητέω to seek; ἐξερευνάω to track out; σκοπέω to consider. In this last sense the word is probably used here of the false teachers who professed to see heavenly truth in visions, and to investigate and discuss philosophically the revelation they had received.

Which he hath not seen

Not must be omitted: which he imagines or professes that he has seen in vision. Ironical. "If, as we may easily imagine, these pretenders were accustomed to say with an imposing and mysterious air, 'I have seen, ah! I have seen,' - in relating alleged visions of heavenly things, the Colossians would understand the reference well enough" (Findlay).

Vainly puffed up (εἰκὴ φυσιούμενος)

Vainly characterizes the emptiness of such pretension; puffed up, the swelling intellectual pride of those who make it. See on 1 Corinthians 4:6; and compare 1 Corinthians 8:1. The humility is thus characterized as affected, and the teachers as charlatans.

By his fleshly mind (ὑπὸ τοῦ νοὸς τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ)

Lit., by the mind of his flesh. The intellectual faculty in its moral aspects as determined by the fleshly, sinful nature. See on Romans 8:23. Compare Romans 7:22-25; Romans 8:7. The teachers boasted that they were guided by the higher reason. Paul describes their higher reason as carnal.

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Colossians 2:17
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