Colossians 2:23
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
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(23) Will worship, and humility . . .—It seems difficult to connect these words with the merely ceremonial observances immediately above; and, in fact, they are almost an exact repetition of the description of the superstitious worship of the angels given in Colossians 2:18. “Will worship” is, indeed, nearly what we call superstition—the constant craving for objects to which we may find some excuse for paying reverence. The prefix applies in sense, though not in grammatical form, to the “humility” also; a studied humility being either a pretence or a self-degradation. But in the words “neglecting of the body” (properly, being unsparing of it in hardship, and generally careless of it) we pass to the ceremonial ordinances. It is more than likely that the superstition and false asceticism were connected together—the latter being the condition of the supposed spiritual insight of the former.

Which things . . . flesh.—This passage is difficult. (1) Our version translates literally, and would seem to regard the last words as simply an explanation, from the point of view of the false teachers, of “neglecting of the body,” as “not honouring it for the satisfaction, or surfeiting of the flesh;” and we certainly find that the Jewish ascetics did brand the most necessary satisfaction of appetite as a “surfeiting of the flesh.” But there is a fatal objection to this interpretation—that, in that case, St. Paul would leave the false pretension without a word of contradiction, which is almost incredible. Hence (2) we must regard the “not in any honour” as antithetical to “the show of wisdom.” The ordinances, says St. Paul, have “a show of wisdom,” but “are in no honour,” i.e., are “of no value.” The common use of the word rendered “honour,” for “price,” or “pay” (see Matthew 27:6; Acts 7:16; Acts 19:19; 1Corinthians 6:20; 1Corinthians 7:23; 1Timothy 5:17), would readily lend itself to this sense. The only doubtful point (3) is the interpretation of the last words, “for the satisfying of the flesh.” There seems little doubt that the phrase is used in a bad sense. Hence we must dismiss all reference to a right honouring of the body by innocent satisfaction of its needs. We have therefore to choose between two interpretations. Some interpret “of no value against the satisfaction of the flesh.” But, though the Greek will bear this sense, it is certainly not the common sense of the preposition used; and its adoption would expose the whole phrase to the charge of ambiguity and obscurity. The other interpretation is “of no real value” (tending) “to the satisfaction of the flesh.” This is abrupt, but suits well the indignant and abrupt terseness of the passage. It gives (quite after St. Paul’s manner) not only a denial of the “neglecting of the body,” but a retort on the false teachers of the very charge they made against their opponents. (Comp. the use of the word “dogs,” in Philippians 3:2.) It conveys a most important truth. That “extremes meet” we know well; and that there is a satisfaction of the fleshly temper (see above, Colossians 2:18) in the attempt over much to curb the flesh, the whole history of asceticism bears witness. Moreover, this interpretation alone gives a completeness of antithesis. To “the show of wisdom” it opposes the “no real value;” to the pretended “neglecting of the body” the real” satisfaction of the flesh.”

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.Which things - Which scrupulous observance of the numerous precepts enjoining rites and ceremonies, the observance of days, and the distinctions between meats and drinks.

Have indeed a show of wisdom - Have a great appearance of piety and of regard for the will of God They have a show of "wisdom," too, or of a deep acquaintance with divine things. They who insist on them appear to be learned in what constitutes religion, and to have a deep insight into its mysteries. Doubtless they who urged the obligation of these things laid claim to uncommon acquaintance with the nature of religion, and urged the observance of these things on the ground of their tendency to promote piety, just as they always do who insist much on the observance of religious rites and ceremonies.

In will-worship - Voluntary worship; i. e., worship beyond what God strictly requires-supererogatory service. Probably many of these things they did not urge as being strictly required, but as conducing greatly to piety. The plea doubtless was, that piety might be promot ed by service rendered beyond what was absolutely enjoined, and that thus there would be evinced a spirit of uncommon piety - a readiness not only to obey all that God required, but even to go beyond this, and to render him voluntary service. There is much plausibility in this; and this has been the foundation of the appointment of the fasts and festivals of the church; of penances and self-inflicted tortures; of painful vigils and pilgrimages; of works of supererogation, and of the merits of the "saints." A large part of the corruptions of religion have arisen from this plausible but deceitful argument. God knew best what things it was most conducive to piety for his people to observe; and we are most safe when we adhere most closely to what he has appointed, and observe no more days and ordinances than he has directed. There is much apparent piety about these things; but there is much wickedness of heart at the bottom, and there is nothing that more tends to corrupt pure religion.

And humility - Notes, Colossians 2:18. There is a great show of reverence for divine things in the manner in which they pursue their investigations, and in their humble and meek compliance with painful rites and ceremonies; in fastings, abstinence, and penances. Under all this there lurks often the worst kind of pride; because:

"Pride may be pampered while the flesh grows lean."

And neglecting the body - Putting on sackcloth and ashes; subjecting it to painful fastings and penances; appearing in a form of squalid poverty, as if the body were not worth regarding, and as if the attention were so much engrossed by the nobler care of the soul, as to be entirely regardless of the body. Yet, we may observe,

(1) God made the body as well as the soul, and has shown his care of it by its" being fearfully and wonderfully made," and by all the provision which he has made for all its needs.

(2) Religion pertains to the body as well as the soul, and should teach a man properly to regard it. Man is bound so to take care of the body, as to have the most health and the longest life possible in the service of his Creator, and so as to be able to employ it in the best manner. There is no religion in ragged or squalid clothing, in a dirty face, in offensive personal habits, in filth and defilement, and in setting at defiance the decencies of life.

(3) much affected sanctity may exist where there is a most proud and corrupt heart. A long face, a demure countenance, a studied disregard of the decencies of dress and the courtesies of life, as if they were unworthy of notice, may be the exponent of the most hateful pride, and of the basest purposes of the soul. A man should be on his guard always against one who, under pretence of extraordinary sanctity, professes to despise the ordinary dress and usages of society.

Not in any honour - That is, there is no real honor in these things; there is nothing to ennoble and elevate the soul; nothing that is to be commended.

To the satisfying of the flesh - The only effect is, to satisfy or please the flesh; that is, the carnal and corrupt nature, for so the word "flesh" is often used in the Scriptures. The effect of these observances, on which so much stress is laid as if they would promote piety, is merely to gratify pride, self-righteousness, the love of distinction, and the other carnal propensities of our nature. There seems to be a great deal of humility and piety in them; there is really little else than pride, selfishness, and ambition.

Remarks On Colossians 2

1. We should feel a deep interest for the welfare of other Christians, even those whom we have never seen; Colossians 2:1-2. All belong to the same family, have the same enemies to contend with, are engaged in the same warfare, are traveling to the same heaven. By our prayers and sympathy, we may often do much good to those whom we shall never see until we meet them in heaven.

2. We should be on our guard against the seductive arts of false teachers. They are often plausible; they can urge arguments which we may not be able to answer; they may have much more learning than we have; and they may put on the appearance of great humility and of real piety; Colossians 2:3-4.3. It is, in general, a safe rule for a Christian to abide by the views which he had on the great subjects of religion when he became converted; Colossians 2:6. Then the heart was tender and soft - like wax - and received the impression which the Spirit made on it. There are some things in which the heart judges better than the head; and in which we are quite as likely to go right if we follow the former as we are the latter. In relation to the performance of many of the duties of life - the duties of kindness and charity - the heart is often a more safe guide than the head; and so in many things pertaining more immediately to religion, a man is more likely to judge right if he follows the promptings of his feelings in the happiest moments of piety, than he is to wait for the more cool and cautious course of argument. The same thing may be true even of many of the doctrines of religion. When a poor sinner trembles on the verge of hell, he feels that none but an Almighty Saviour can deliver him, and he goes and commits himself to Jesus as God - and he is not in much danger of erring in that. He will be more likely to be drawn aside from the truth by the artful reasonings of the advocates of error, than he will by his feelings at that moment.


23. have—Greek, "are having"; implying the permanent characteristic which these ordinances are supposed to have.

show of wisdom—rather, "a reputation of wisdom" [Alford].

will-worship—arbitrarily invented worship: would-be worship, devised by man's own will, not God's. So jealous is God of human will-worship, that He struck Nadab and Abihu dead for burning strange incense (Le 10:1-3). So Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for usurping the office of priest (2Ch 26:16-21). Compare the will-worship of Saul (1Sa 13:8-14) for which he was doomed to lose his throne. This "voluntary worship" is the counterpart to their "voluntary humility" (Col 2:18): both specious in appearance, the former seeming in religion to do even more than God requires (as in the dogmas of the Roman and Greek churches); but really setting aside God's will for man's own; the latter seemingly self-abasing, but really proud of man's self-willed "humility" (Greek, "lowliness of mind"), while virtually rejecting the dignity of direct communion with Christ, the Head; by worshipping of angels.

neglecting of the body—Greek, "not sparing of the body." This asceticism seems to have rested on the Oriental theory that matter is the source of evil. This also looked plausible (compare 1Co 9:27).

not in any honour—of the body. As "neglecting of the body" describes asceticism positively; so this clause, negatively. Not paying any of that "honor" which is due to the body as redeemed by such a price as the blood of Christ. We should not degrade, but have a just estimation of ourselves, not in ourselves, but in Christ (Ac 13:46; 1Co 3:21; 6:15; 7:23; 12:23, 24; 1Th 4:4). True self-denial regards the spirit, and not the forms of ascetical self-mortification in "meats which profit not those occupied therein" (Heb 13:9), and is consistent with Christian self-respect, the "honor" which belongs to the believer as dedicated to the Lord. Compare "vainly," Col 2:18.

to the satisfying of the flesh—This expresses the real tendency of their human ordinances of bodily asceticism, voluntary humility, and will-worship of angels. While seeming to deny self and the body, they really are pampering the flesh. Thus "satisfying of the flesh" answers to "puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Col 2:18), so that "flesh" is used in its ethical sense, "the carnal nature" as opposed to the "spiritual"; not in the sense, "body." The Greek for "satisfying" implies satiating to repletion, or to excess. "A surfeit of the carnal sense is human tradition" [Hilary the Deacon, in Bengel]. Tradition puffs up; it clogs the heavenly perceptions. They put away true "honor" that they may "satiate to the full THE FLESH." Self-imposed ordinances gratify the flesh (namely, self-righteousness), though seeming to mortify it.

Which things have indeed a show of wisdom: by way of concession the apostle here grants that the precepts and doctrines of men about religious abstinences had a

show of wisdom; and it was but a mere show, a bare pretext, a specious appearance, a fair colour of wisdom, which is of no worth, not the reality and truth of Christian wisdom, however it might beguile those that were taken more with shadows than substance, Colossians 2:3,4,8,17.

In will-worship;

1. In arbitrary superstition, or human invention, or selfwilled religion, rather than Divine institutions; as all the ancients, and almost all the moderns, do interpret that word, it having no good, but an ill character; accounting the compound word here which we render will-worship, of no better import, as to the ordainers of worship, than the two simple words of which it is compounded, expressing human arbitrariness and worship, Colossians 2:18, (even as the apostle doth, by a compound word which signifies peace making, Colossians 1:20, understand the very same thing which he expressed by the two simple words of which it is compounded in another Epistle, Ephesians 2:15), it being rational to conceive, considering the apostle’s drift in the context, that by will-worship he doth connote the same here, that by willing in worship he doth asunder there. For though a performing those acts of worship willingly, which God himself hath commanded, be necessary, and commendable in his willing people, Psalm 110:3, and they cannot be acceptable otherwise; yet when the will of man, in contradistinction to the will of God, is considered as constitutive of that worship which is offered to God of a man’s own brain and devising, without God’s warrant, then that will-worship is hateful to God, and the more voluntary the more abominable. It being most just, that not in what way we will and choose, but only in that way which he willeth and chooseth, we should worship him with acceptance; which should be our greatest care, 2 Corinthians 5:9. We know, amongst men, those persons of honour that give liveries to their servants, would discard such of them as should come to attend them in new ones of their own devising, though those servants might be so foolish as to conceit those of their own devising were more expressive of their humble respects. Much more is worship of man’s devising distasteful to the all-wise God, who sees through all colours, and though he loves a willing worshipper, yet he hates will-worship.

And humility; however it be palliated:

2. With a pretended demission of mind, or an affectation of humility, as if more self-abasement were designed in such an arbitrary way of worship; like those hypocrites in their fasts, who put on mortified looks and a neglected garb, with disguised contenances, Matthew 6:16, showing themselves most submissive to the orders of their superiors in that way of man’s devising.

And neglecting of the body; wherein the more superstitiously devout do labour to outdo others:

3. In punishing, not sparing, neglecting, or afflicting the body; as some monks at this day in the papacy, in denying it that with which nature should be supplied.

Not in any honour, which a learned man thinks the apostle would have read as included in a parenthesis, as conceiving the series of his discourse requires these to be joined, viz. neglecting of the body as to what pertains to the satisfying of the flesh. So by not in any honour, is not here meant a sparing of the body in order to real sanctification, temperance and continence, in opposition to the dishonouring of the body by luxury, as Romans 1:26, with 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 1 Thessalonians 4:4 Hebrews 13:4. That honour of the body the apostle doth elsewhere require, he doth here oppose to the seducers’ pretended mortifications. For their religious abstinence was not from that which occasioned luxury, only from some certain sorts of meat, the use of which no way defiles the body, nor violates in any manner the holiness and honour it ought to be kept in. Others read, neglecting the body, which is in no esteem.

To the satisfying of the flesh; for pampering the flesh. Not in any esteem, i.e. with God, or not in any humour to God, but in a tendency only to make provision for the flesh, as Romans 13:14. Others take honour for regard; q.d. In no regard to the supplying of nature with that which is due to it. Others take hononr for having a care of, 1 Timothy 5:3; q.d. Neglecting the body in taking no care of it, or not at all valuing the things that are requisite to the due nourishment of it: this is somewhat generally received; having no care that the body may have that which will satisfy nature. And if the last phrase, which we translate to the satisfying of the flesh, seem not so well to express moderate satiety, we should consider it is said in a good sense, God filled the hungry with good things, Luke 1:53, and Christ filled the multitude, John 6:12; yea, the use of the word in authentic Greek authors may be found to note a moderate as well as immoderate filling, i.e. in a good sense, for a satiety (or enough) that is not vicious.

Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom,.... The authors of them set up for men of wisdom, and were esteemed such, and are often styled "wise men"; and their scholars that received their traditions, and explained and enforced them on others, , "the disciples of the wise men": and they pretended, that these constitutions of theirs were "a hedge for the law", and for the honour of it, and to preserve it, and keep men from transgressing it; and this carried in it some appearance of wisdom: and their pretensions to it lay in the following things,

in will worship; being what was over and above that which was commanded by God, and so, like the freewill offerings under the law, must be acceptable to him; this was one of their colours, which had some show of wisdom, religion, and zeal:

and humility: in worshipping of angels, and not coming directly, and with boldness, to God or Christ; or rather in subjecting themselves to the yoke of the law, and submitting to the decrees of the fathers and doctors of the church, who were more wise, and learned, and knowing than they, and so had the appearance of prudence, gentleness, and goodness:

and neglecting of the body; by fastings and watchings, whereby they seemed to be very religious and devout, holy and mortified persons, who kept under their bodies, subdued their unruly appetites, and fulfilled not the lusts of the flesh: but then this was only a show of wisdom and godliness; there was no truth nor reality in these things; they were only a mere form, an outside show, a mere pretence; there was no true devotion nor religion in them: and so

not in any honour; or to be had in any esteem; for if the rites of the ceremonial law itself were weak and beggarly elements, much more must these additions to it, and corruptions of it, be such; and at most only regarded things external, that were

to the satisfying, of the flesh; either the body, or the carnal mind, in which they were vainly pulled up: though some consider this last clause as explanative of the former, "neglecting of the body", or not sparing it, but afflicting it with austerities of life; depriving it of its proper right, what is necessary for it, not taking due care of it, so as to satisfy nature; whereby instead of honouring, they dishonoured it: for though the body is not to be pampered, and the lusts of it indulged, or luxury and intemperance to be encouraged; yet since the body is the work of God's hands, is the habitation of the soul, and by which it performs its offices, and is the purchase of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and will be raised a glorious body at the last day, it ought not to be neglected and dishonoured; but should have a sufficiency of food and clothing, whereby it may be comfortably and honourably nourished and supported.

{24} Which things have indeed a shew of {f} wisdom in {g} will worship, and humility, and {h} neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the {i} satisfying of the flesh.

(24) The taking away of an objection. These things have a good appearance, because men by this means seem to worship God with a good mind, and humble themselves, and neglect the body, which the most part of men curiously pamper and cherish. But yet nonetheless the things themselves are of no value, for they do not pertain to the things that are spiritual and everlasting, but to the nourishment of the flesh.

(f) Which seem indeed to be some exquisite thing, and such wise devices as though they came from heaven.

(g) From here sprang the works of supererogation, as the papists call them, that is to say, works that form a reserve fund of merit that can be drawn on in favour of sinners, as though men performed more than is commanded them: which was the beginning and the very ground upon which monk's merits were brought in.

(h) A graphic description of monasticism.

(i) Seeing they stand in meat and drink, in which the kingdom of God does not stand.

Colossians 2:23. And of what nature and quality is that, which I have just termed τὰ ἐντάλματα κ. διδασκαλ. τῶν ἀνθρ.?

ἅτινα] quippe quae, i.e. ita comparata, ut (Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1, 30). The conception was different in of Colossians 2:22, where the thing in question was regarded purely objectively, as mere object.

ἐστί] belongs to ἔχοντα, without, however, being with this equivalent to ἔχει; it introduces what the ἅτινα are as regards their quality. If it belonged to οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινι (Bähr), or to πρὸς πλησμ. τ. σ. (Bengel), or to ἐν ἐθελοθρησκείᾳ κ.τ.λ. (that which moves and has its being in ἐθελορ. κ.τ.λ.), as Hofmann thinks, taking λόγον μ. ἔχοντα σοφ. parenthetically—why should it not have been actually placed beside that to which it would belong? Apart from this, Hofmann’s connection of it with ἐν ἐθελοθρ. could alone deserve consideration, since from ἐν ἐθελοθρ. onwards all that follows is consecutive. But even this connection must be abandoned, because the sphere of subsistence indicated by ἐν ἐθελοθρ. κ.τ.λ. would be too wide for such special prohibitions, Colossians 2:21, as are conveyed by ἅτινα, and because we have no right to put aside from the connection, as a mere incisum, the important thought (comp. Colossians 2:8) expressed by λόγ. τ. ἔχ. σοφίας, which comes in with ἐστί so emphatically at the very head of the judgment, and appropriately, as regards meaning, attaches to itself all that follows.

λόγον ἔχειν, explained by many since Jerome approximately in the sense of speciem or praetextum habere (see Kypke, de Wette, Dalmer, and others; also Köster in the Stud. u. Krit. 1854, p. 318), may, according as we adopt for λόγος the signification ratio or sermo, mean either: to have ground (so in the passages from Demosth., Dionys. Hal., and Lesbonax in Kypke; from Plat, in Ast, Lex. II. p. 257; from Polyb. in Schweighäuser, Lex. p. 370[134]), in which case the ground may certainly be only an apparent one, a pretext (comp. Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 36); further, to have an insight into something (often thus in Plato, e.g. Rep. p. 475 C), to have regard to (Herod. i. 62; Plat. Tim. p. 87 C); or: to have a reputation, so that one is in any relation the subject of discourse, of legend, of mention, of rumour, etc.; see e.g. Plat. Epin. p. 987 B: ἙωσφόροςἈφροδίτης εἶναι σχεδὸν ἔχει λόγον (dicitur), Herod. v. 56: λόγον ἔχει τὴν Πυθίην ἀναπεῖσαι, comp. 9:78; Xen. Oec. 11. 4 (the same thing conceived under another form: λόγος ἔχει τινα, Herod. vii. 5, and frequently). The latter signification is here to be adhered to, because the subsequent ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ ΤΙΝΙ, when correctly rendered, accords with it as bearing on the matter in hand, and is in sense appropriately correlative. Hence: that which has a repute of wisdom, popularly passes for wisdom. Comp. ὄνομα ἔχειν (Revelation 3:1) and ὈΝΟΜΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ (1 Corinthians 5:11).

ΜΈΝ] without a subsequent ΔΈ; there was before the apostle’s mind the contrast: repute, truly, but not the reality, οὐ δύναμιν, οὐκ ἀλήθειαν, Chrysostom. He omitted to express this, however, led aside by the progress of his discourse, so that instead of bringing in the antithesis of ΛΌΓΟΝ by ΔΈ, he makes ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ ΤΙΝΙ follow without ΔΈ, and in contrast not to the ΛΌΓΟΝ, but to the ἘΝ ἘΘΕΛΟΘΡ. Κ. Τ. Λ.,—from which we are to gather in substance, what in starting with ΛΌΓΟΝ ΜΈΝ it was intended to express. See Erasmus, Annot., and generally Winer, p. 534 f. [E. T. 719]; Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 313 [E. T. 365]; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 656; Maetzner, ad Antiph. p. 153; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 163 f. The linguistic phenomenon of this μέν without an adversative word following is so common, that there is no ground for requiring before ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ Τ. an ἈΛΛΆ (Hofmann), which might have been used (Baeumlein, p. 170), but not necessarily. Holtzmann also takes too much offence at the absence of a formal contrast, and finds in πρὸς πλησμ. τ. σαρκός an ill-inserted remnant of the original.

ἘΝ ἘΘΕΛΟΘΡΗΣΚΕΊᾼ] instrumental, specifying by what means it is brought about, on the part of those who lay down the commandments and doctrines referred to, that the latter have a repute of wisdom: through self-chosen worship, i.e. through a cultus, which is not divinely commanded, but is the work of their own self-determination. What was meant by this, the reader was aware; and Colossians 2:18 places it beyond doubt that the worship of angels formed an essential and chief part of it, though it need not, from the general character of the expression in our passage, have been meant exclusively; other forms of capricious cultus may have been included with it. The substantive ἐθελοθρ. does not occur elsewhere except in ecclesiastical writers; but the verb ἐθελοθρησκεῖν is explained by Suidas: ἸΔΊῼ ΘΕΛΉΜΑΤΙ ΣΈΒΕΙΝ ΤῸ ΔΟΚΟῦΝ, and Epiph. Haer. i. 16 explains the name Pharisees: διὰ τὸ ἀφωρισμένους εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων διὰ τὴν ἐθελοπερισσοθρησκείαν παρʼ αὐτοῖς νενομισμένην. Comp. ἘΘΕΛΟΔΟΥΛΕΊΑ (Plat. Symp. p. 184 C, Rep. p. 562 D), ἐθελοκάκησις, ἐθελοκίνδυνος, ἐθελόπορος, ἐθελοπρόξενος (Thuc. iii. 70. 2, where the scholiast explains: ἈΦʼ ἙΑΥΤΟῦ ΓΕΝΌΜΕΝΟς ΚΑῚ ΜῊ ΚΕΛΕΥΣΘΕῚς Κ. Τ. Λ.), and various others. Hofmann erroneously takes away from the word in itself the bad sense, and explains (after the analogy of ἘΘΕΛΟΠΟΝΊΑ and ἘΘΕΛΟΥΡΓΊΑ): worship, which one interests himself in. This view is prohibited by the evident retrospective reference of this word and the following one to Colossians 2:18, where, according to the right interpretation, the θρησκεία was certainly something bad. The unfavourable meaning, according to Hofmann’s present explanation (he gave a different but also erroneous view in his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 72; see, in opposition to it, my third edition), is only got by the addition of σώματος, which belongs to all the three points, so that ἐθελοθρησκεία σώματος must be understood as a worship gladly and earnestly rendered, but which is rendered only with bodily demeanour. But σώματος does not suit either with ἘΘΕΛΟΘΡ. or ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡ.,[135] but only with ἀφειδίᾳ. For it is plain from ἈΦΕΙΔΊᾼ ΣΏΜΑΤΟς that ΣΏΜΑΤΟς is the genitive of the object, from which it follows that θρησκεία σώματος would yield the opposite sense: a ΘΡΗΣΚΕΊΑ rendered to the body (comp. θρησκ. τῶν ἀγγέλων in Colossians 2:18), which would come ultimately to the idea of the ΛΑΤΡΕΎΕΙΝ Τῇ ἩΔΟΝῇ (Lucian, Nigr. 15), comp. Plut. Mor. p. 107 C: λατρεία τοῦ σώματος, and on the matter conceived as ΘΡΗΣΚΕΊΑ, Php 3:19.

ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡΟΣ.] from the point of view of the false teachers (comp. Colossians 2:18), what they thus designated; although in fact it consisted in this, that, as in all false humility, they with spiritual conceit (comp. Colossians 2:18, and subsequently πρὸς πλησμον. τ. σαρκός) took pleasure in unduly undervaluing themselves—an ethical self-contempt, which involved in relation to God the ἘΘΕΛΟΘΡΗΣΚΕΊΑ, and towards the body an unsparingness through mistaken abstinence and mortifying asceticism, inconsistent with Christian liberty. On ἀφειδίᾳ, comp. Plat. Defin. p. 412 D; Plut. Mor. p. 762 D; further, ἀφειδεῖν βίου, Thuc. ii. 43. 3; ΨΥΧῆς, Soph. El. 968; σωμάτων, Lys. ii. 25, Diod. Sic. xiii. 60.

ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ ΤΙΝΙ] not through anything whatever that is an honour, not through anything honourable, by which that repute would appear founded in truth and just. The expression is purposely chosen, in order to make the λόγος σοφίας appear as repute without honour, i.e. without any morally estimable substratum on the part of the persons concerned. The following πρὸς πλησμονὴν τῆς σαρκός is also purposely chosen; in it ΠΛΗΣΜΟΝ. significantly glances back to ἈΦΕΙΔΊᾼ, and Τῆς ΣΑΡΚΌς to ΣΏΜΑΤΟς, and there is produced a thoughtful contrast, a striking ethical oxymoron: for the sake of fully satisfying the flesh. Those commandments and doctrines have a repute of wisdom, etc., in order to afford thereby full satisfaction to the material-psychical human nature. Thus, while the repute of wisdom is procured among other things by mortifying the body, the flesh is satisfied; the fleshly sinful lust of these men gets fully satisfying nourishment conveyed to it, when they see that their doctrines and commandments pass for wise. What lust of the flesh it is which Paul has in view, is placed beyond doubt by the case itself and also by Colossians 2:18, namely, that of religious conceit and pride, which through the λόγον σοφίας ἔχειν feels itself flattered and gratified in the fancy of peculiar perfection. This interpretation, which we have given of ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ ΤΙΝΙ, ΠΡῸς ΠΛΗΣΜΟΝῊΝ Τῆς ΣΑΡΚΌς, is held in substance, following Hilary (“sagina carnalis sensus traditio humana est”), by Bengel, Storr, Flatt, Böhmer, Steiger, Bähr, Huther, Dalmer, Bleek, and others. Most, however, refer ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ ΤΙΝΙ to the honour to be shown to the body (or the σάρξ, see Luther), and ΠΡῸς ΠΛΗΣΜ. Τ. ΣΑΡΚ. to bodily satisfaction, so that the sense results: not in some esteeming of the body to the satisfying of bodily wants;[136] “sentit apost., sapientiam illam aut praecepta talia esse, per quae corpori debitus honor, pertinens ad expletionem, i.e. justam refectionem carnis, subtrahatur,” Estius. So, in substance, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, Oceumenius, Theophylact, Pelagius, Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Musculus, Clarius, Zeger, Erasmus Schmid, Zanchius, Vatablus, Calovius, Cornelius a Lapide, Wolf, Michaelis, Nösselt, Rosenmüller, and others, including de Wette and Baumgarten-Crusius. It is fatal to this view:—(1) that ἐν τιμῇ τινι, as is shown by the repetition of ἘΝ, is the contrast not merely to ἘΝ ἈΦΕΙΔΊᾼ ΣΏΜΑΤΟς, but to the entire connected ἘΝ ἘΘΕΛΟΘΡΗΣΚΕΊᾼΣΏΜΑΤΟς, and hence the reference to the honour to be shown to the body does not seem justified by the context;[137] (2) further, that for the designation of the mere satisfaction at this particular place, where Paul could only have had a πρόνοιαν τῆς σαρκός in view, as in Romans 13:14, the term ΠΛΗΣΜΟΝΉΝ would be very inappropriate, especially in contradistinction to the mortifications of the false teachers, since it denotes filling up, satisfying fully, even in Exodus 16:3 (see generally the passages from the LXX. and Apocrypha quoted by Schleusner, Thes. IV. p. 375 f.); comp. Plat. Legg. viii. p. 837: Xen. Mem. iii. 11. 14, rep. Lac. 2. 5, Cyrop. iv. 2. 40, Ages. 5. 1; Lucian. Nigr. 33, Ep. Saturn. 28; Polyb. ii. 19. 4; (3) finally, that the interchange of σώματος and ΣΑΡΚΌς, in the event of the latter not being meant in an ethical character, would seem to be without a motive, while, according to our view, ΣΑΡΚΌς stands in as ingenious correlation with ΣΏΜΑΤΟς, as ΠΛΗΣΜΟΝΉΝ with ἈΦΕΙΔΊᾼ. These arguments apply also in opposition to Ewald’s view; “what seems very wise, but is in no value whatever, is rather quite useless for the satisfaction of the flesh, which yet also demands its rights, if man would not wantonly disorganize his earthly life or even destroy it” (2 Corinthians 10:3). Hofmann finally takes πλησμονὴ τ. σαρκός rightly, but explains ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ ΤΙΝΙ in such a way as to make ΤΙΝΙ masculine, and to attach it as appropriating dative to τιμῇ: “not so that honour accrues to any one.” This is to be rejected, because Paul, instead of simply and clearly writing τιμῇ τινος, would only have expressed himself in a way singularly liable to be misunderstood by ΤΙΝΊ, which every reader was led to join as a feminine with ΤΙΜῇ (“in honore aliquo,” Vulgate). Nor is it to be easily seen what subjects, beyond the teacher of the false wisdom himself, we should have to conceive to ourselves under τινί taken as masculine.

[134] So Hilgenfeld, in his Zeitschr. 1870, p. 250, holding that what is rejected in the legal sense in ver. 22 is here “permitted as voluntary asceticism.” See, however, on the sequel, from which the impossibility of this interpretation is self-evident.

[135] According to Hofmann, namely, ταπεινοφροσύνη σώματος is a disposition of self-humiliation, which, however, only weakens the body by abstinences. But it would rather have the absurd sense: humility of the body; for τατεινοφροσύνη neither means humiliation nor self-humiliation, but humility, meekness, ver. 18, Colossians 3:12; Php 2:3.

[136] “God will have the body honoured, i.e. it is to have its food, clothing, etc., for its necessities, and not to be destroyed with intolerable fasting, labour, or impossible chastity, as the doctrine of men would do,” Luther’s gloss.

[137] This applies also in opposition to Olshausen, who in the case of ἐν τιμῇ τινε follows the explanation of respect for the body, but with regard to πρὸς πλησμ. τ. σαρκ. follows our view.

Colossians 2:23. ἅτινα: i.e., which commandments and teachings.—λόγον σοφίας. This may be taken in the sense of “a word of wisdom,” but with no inner truth. Others translate “appearance of wisdom” (Beng., De W. and others). But this seems not to be a meaning of λόγ. Klöpper’s translation, “reason” or “ground,” yields no very good sense. It is best, with most recent commentators, to translate “a reputation for wisdom”. μέν is not followed by δε, but this is not uncommon (see Winer-Moulton, pp. 719–721).—ἐν ἐθελοθρησκείᾳ καὶ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ καὶ ἀφειδίᾳ σώματος. It is impossible to connect σώμ. with all three datives (Hofm.), it can belong only to ἀφειδίᾳ, with which it is connected as an objective genitive, “severity to the body”. If καὶ is retained before ἀφ. the sense of the earlier datives is not affected. If, however, it is omitted their sense may be affected. It is possible to take ἀφ., then, as an instrumental dative with λόγον ἔχοντα. But it is also possible to take it, with Haupt, as an explanatory apposition to the earlier datives. In this case ἐθελ. and ταπ. have both an ascetic meaning. Against this, however, is the fact that the words cannot be separated from the parallel expressions in Colossians 2:18. This seems to fix the sense of ἐθελ. as a worship of angels, which was not required of them, and ταπ. will mean what it meant in Colossians 2:18. ἐθελοθρ. occurs nowhere else, and was probably coined by Paul. Similar compounds were not unusual, and generally, though not invariably, had a bad sense. This is commonly supposed to attach to this word, but in any case it gets a bad sense from its context. ἀφ. σώμ. is the clearest assertion we have of the ascetic character of the false teachings.—οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινί, πρὸς πλησμονὴν τῆς σαρκός. These words, which constitute this verse one of the most difficult in the New Testament, have received very various explanations. It is disputed whether οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τ. should be connected with the preceding or following words, and also with what πρ. πλησ. τ. σαρκός should be connected. Sumner, followed by Conybeare and Evans on 1 Corinthians 7:2, interpreted πρὸς as meaning “to check,” and translated “not in any value to check the indulgence of the flesh,” connecting οὐκ ἐν τ. τ. with the following words. This view was adopted by Lightfoot, and has been accepted by Moule and now by Ellicott. It has been inserted, with altogether insufficient warning, in R.V. It is a new explanation, and since propounded has found comparatively little favour. Lightfoot quotes numerous examples to prove that πρός after words denoting value, utility, sufficiency, etc., is used in the sense “to check” or “to prevent”. But in these cases the meaning does not lie in πρός, but in πρός after some word which imposes this sense upon it (e.g., φάρμακον), and there is nothing of the kind here. Abbott, in his valuable criticism of this interpretation, points out that πρός means “with a view to,” and if the object is a word signifying action or the production of an effect it will mean with a view to (producing). “Hence it seems to follow that unless πλησμονή be taken in the sense of ‘a state of repletion,’ which would be unsuitable, πρὸς πλησμονήν could only mean to produce πλ.” A further question relates to the use of τιμῇ. Our word “value” is ambiguous, and τιμή may mean “value” in the sense of “price”. But in this interpretation it is used in the sense of “efficacy,” and this sense needs to be established. It seems necessary to reject this explanation on linguistic grounds. But the sense it yields is less good than appears at first sight. For what would be said would be that these things had a reputation for wisdom in “will-worship,” etc., but they had not a reputation for wisdom in any value against the indulgence of the flesh. But obviously this cannot be the meaning. The sense imposed “but have not any value” can only be got out of the words by straining them. Another view, which keeps the same connexion of words, is that the translation should be “not in any honour to it [i.e., the body] to satisfy the [reasonable] wants of the flesh”. This must be rejected because πλ. is not used in this good sense, and σαρκός cannot be used as equivalent to σώματος in a context where σώμ. has been used just before, for the terms must stand in emphatic contrast. Soden and Abbott translate “not in any honour for the full satisfaction of the flesh”. This means that there is no real honour, but what there is, is such as to satisfy the carnal nature. So Meyer, not in any honour, but serving to satiate the flesh. The objection to this view is that ἀλλά at least is required before πρὸς πλ. τ. σαρκός. Alford connects οὐκ ἐν τ. τ. with the preceding words, but πρ. πλ. τ. ς. with δογματίζεσθε. This gives a fairly good sense, and requires no necessary words to be supplied, but the parenthesis is incredibly long. A less lengthy parenthesis is involved in the interpretation of Bähr, Eadie and Weiss: “Which things, having indeed a reputation of wisdom in will-worship and humility and severity to the body, not in any honour, are for the indulgence of the flesh”. If the contrast is between severity to the body and honour to it, we should have expected αὐτοῦ after τιμῇ. It is also strange that ἐν should be placed before τιμῇ and not before ἀφειδ. And the meaning is not probable, for it is implied that Paul thought that a reputation for wisdom ought to rest on honour to the body, which is absurd. Findlay’s view, “not in any honour, against surfeiting of the flesh,” not only yields a thought most obscurely expressed, but must be rejected because of its translation of πρὸς. All these interpretations are open to serious if not fatal objections. It is therefore not unlikely that Hort is right in the suspicion, shared also by Haupt, that we have to do here with a primitive corruption, for which no probable emendation has been suggested. He thinks that the text of the Epistle, and especially of the second chapter, was badly preserved in ancient times.

23. which things] More precisely, if the word may be tolerated, which-like things; the prohibitions given above, Colossians 2:21, and all others which depend on the same principle.

have indeed] More precisely, do indeed have, with a slight emphasis on the admission. There was a specious and seductive “reasonableness” in the theory.

a shew] Greek, logos; “word, speech,” and so “repute;” with an implied contrast here between such repute and reality (ergon).

of wisdom] It was a characteristic of Jewish thought at the time to attempt to throw a glamour of philosophic fitness over Pharisaic doctrine and practice. See Introd., p. 32.

will worship] The Greek compound noun denotes a self-chosen, self-imposed, service (in the religious sense); a round of supererogatory observance; a parody on the genuine reverence and obedience of the Gospel.—The element in the compound represented by “worship” is the noun used James 1:27 (and see 26), and rendered “religion” in our Versions.

humility] See above, on Colossians 2:18. The special direction of this false humility here would be, perhaps, that of abject submission to Pharisaic “directors,” mistaken for a true surrender to the will of God.—“Who can submit our will to the will of God, save the Spirit of God?” (Quesnel).

neglecting of the body] Lit., unsparing (treatment) of the body; a severe and active physical asceticism.—Something of Oriental dualism may well have influenced this ascetic practice. Scarcely anywhere outside Scripture itself is the true honour of the body recognized in religious systems; the tendency to regard it as merely the burthen, or prison, of the soul appears almost everywhere. And this is a fruitful source of the asceticism which rather attacks than disciplines the body.—Cp. Wis 9:15 : “The corruptible body presseth down the soul.” The Pharisee Josephus (contra Apion., 2.24) says that “the soul, by its union with the body, is subject to miseries.” The Alexandrian Philo, a coeval, like Josephus, of the Apostles (as perhaps the author of Wisdom also was) calls the body, “a loathsome prison.” Twelve centuries later Francis of Assisi called his body, “my brother, the ass.” See Dr F. W. Farrar’s note on Wisdom 9, in the Speaker’s Commentary.—Contrast 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, etc.

not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh] Better, as R.V., not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh. This explanation, fully sustained by the Greek grammar, was long ago advocated by Mr Conybeare (C. and Howson, Life etc. of St Paul, ch. 25, in a note to the translation of the Epistle), and had been suggested still earlier (as he says) by Abp Sumner. It satisfies the context as no other does, supplying just such a counterpart as might be expected (from the use of the word “indeed,” μὲν) to the admission that the system had “a shew of wisdom.” See Lightfoot’s note for full proof that the Greek preposition (πρὸς) is rightly rendered (perhaps we may better say explained) “against” in such a context.

Other interpretations are as follows; (a) “to satisfy the (reasonable) wants of the body.” But this gives a good meaning to the Greek word rendered by A.V. “satisfy,” whereas it has by usage a meaning of excess and indulgence.—In this explanation, the words “not in any honour” are taken as a clause apart, parallel with the words just previous; “not (holding the body) in any honour.”—(b) An explanation which supposes St Paul to put the case from his opponent’s view-point: “it being no worthy thing to regard the satisfaction of the flesh.” This is the hesitating exposition of Theodore of Mopsuestia (cent. 4–5).—(c) An explanation which, like (a), breaks the last clause into two: “not of any (real) value, (but) tending only to gratify the flesh,” i.e., to inflate the pride of unregenerate man. So, on the whole, many modern expositors. But the sentence is thus unnaturally dislocated, and a meaning given to the word “flesh” improbable in this context.

As explained above, the words are a pregnant warning against the delusive but specious hope that the human spirit is to be transfigured into moral harmony with the Divine purity through inflictions on the body. The sublime true secret of that transfiguration is given us in e.g. Romans 8:13; “If ye by the Spirit mortify the practices of the body, etc.” And see below on ch. Colossians 3:4-5.

Colossians 2:23. Ἅτινα, which) An Anaphora [repetition of the same word in beginnings]: comp. , which, Colossians 2:22.—ἔστι, are) Construe, are—for, to the satisfying (ἐστινπρὸς πλησμονὴν), as Colossians 2:22, are for perishing (ἐστινεἰς φθορὰν); therefore resolve ἔχοντα into though (whereas) they have, that it may form a clause: ἔστι, are, and πρὸς, to, being disjoined, the sentence becomes appropriately (appositely) suspended.—λόγον) a name and a plausible appearance.—μὲν, indeed) The force of the particle δὲ, but, which makes an Apodosis, is concealed in the finite verb ἔστι, are.[18]—ἘΘΕΛΟΘΡΗΣΚΕΊᾼ, will-worship) ἐθελοθρησκεία, as well as humility of sentiment (ταπεινοφροσύνη), has a plausible appearance. For this word, as E. Schmidius well shows, denotes worship (whether right or wrong), performed willingly and with ready inclination: such ΕὐΠΕΊΘΕΙΑ, ready promptness or obsequiousness, has the appearance of wisdom: comp. Jam 3:17; for it seems to be removed from obstinacy, as humility of sentiment (ταπεινοφροσύνη) seems to be removed from pride.—ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΦΡΟΣΎΝῌ, humility of sentiment) Colossians 2:18, note.—καὶ ἀφειδίᾳ σώματος, [Engl. Vers., neglecting of, etc.] and with severe treatment of [not sparing] the body) which is the case when many things are withheld from the body, which might be afforded to it, Colossians 2:21; nay, the body itself is purposely worn down [mortified]. This also looks plausible, for it becomes saints, 1 Corinthians 9:27; although ἀφειδία expresses something more odious, than ΤῸ ὙΠΩΠΙΆΖΕΙΝ ΚΑῚ ΔΟΥΛΑΓΩΓΕῖΝ, in the passage quoted from first Corinthians. These three things, plausible in appearance, involve a threefold relation: to God, to angels, to one’s own self; and therefore they have, when joined together, a perfect appearance.—ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΤΙΜῇ ΤΙΝΙ, not in any price or estimation [honour]) This clause closely coheres with the preceding; and the latter, ἐν, in, is opposed to the preceding ἐν, in. The LXX. ἄνευ τιμῆς, i.e. without price, for nothing, Isaiah 55:1; Psalm 44:13; Job 31:39. It becomes the man who is ennobled by faith, to have a just estimation of himself, not in himself, but in his Lord Jesus Christ alone, whereby he is not unworthily to degrade himself, inasmuch as having been redeemed at such a price, and striving for such a great reward, for example, through the appearance of ἐθελοθρησκείας, will-worship: Acts 13:46; Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:4. This estimation produces holy φιλοτιμίαν, ambition (φιλοτιμοῦμεν, we labour with ambition), 2 Corinthians 5:9; but it is restrained by true self-denial, and again is tarnished by the commandments of men [Colossians 2:20-21], which, because they bring to us nothing worth while, nothing worthy of estimation [nothing ἐν τιμῇ τινὶ], comp. Hebrews 13:9, have an entirely empty and vain appearance of wisdom and every good thing: comp. by all means, ΕἸΚῆ, vainly, Colossians 2:18. This passage is in consonance with Php 3:19, where see the note; and both accord with Habakkuk 2:16, ΠΛΗΣΜΟΝΗΝ ΑΤΙΜΙΑΣ ἐκ δόξης, Κ.Τ.Λ., Thou hast filled thyself with shame for glory; drink thou therefore also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered. But true τίμη, price or estimation [‘honour’], is theirs who see the glory of the Lord, lb., Colossians 2:14.—πρὀς πλησμονὴν τῆς σαρκὸς) to the satisfying of the flesh: πλησμονὴ, satisfying to the full, satiety, generally denotes excess: σὰρξ, flesh, does not signify the body, but is put as at Colossians 2:18.[19] Hilarius the deacon, whose commentary on the thirteen epistles of Paul is found among the works of Ambrose, on this passage, says: “Sagina carnalis sensus, traditio humana est,” human tradition is the overloading (surfeiting) of the carnal sense or appetite. A golden sentence. Tradition puffs up; it clogs the sense of heaven (the perception of heavenly things). Ἐθελοθρησκεία, κ.τ.λ., and πλησμονὴ τῆς σαρκὸς, are therefore in antithesis, and yet joined together. They put away true τιμὴν, price, value, or estimation [‘honour’], that they may satisfy to the full the flesh; πρὸς denotes that which is regarded as the important concern, or the end, for the sake of which the other things (practices) are assumed (adopted).

[18] Which, though having indeed (μὲν) a name of wisdom, etc., yet (δὲ understood and implied in ἔστι) are to the mere satisfying of the flesh.—ED.

[19] τοῦ νοὸς τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, of his fleshly mind: i.e. flesh, not literally, but in the spiritual application carnality.—ED.

Verse 23. - Such as have (literally, are (things) having) word indeed of wisdom (vers. 4, 8; 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4, 13; 1 Corinthians 12:8). The antecedent of "such as" is "command merits and teachings" (Meyer, Alford, Ellicott), not "decrees" (ver. 21). For ver. 22 supplies the immediate antecedent, and the wider sense thus given is necessary to support the comprehensive and summary import of ver. 23. The Greek "are having" brings into view the nature and qualities of the subject, in accordance with ἅτινα, such as, the qualitative relative (comp. ἥτις, Colossians 3:5; see Moulton's Winer, pp. 209, 210; also Meyer and Ellicott, on the grammatical point). A certain "word of wisdom" was ascribed to the false teachers in ver. 4 (note the play upon λόγος in St. Paul's Greek). They were plausible dealers in words, and had the jargon of philosophy at their tongue's end (ver. 8, compare note on ἐμβατεύων, ver. 18). On this the apostle had first remarked in his criticism of their teaching, and to this he first, adverts in his final resume. "Word of wisdom" is one of the "gifts of the Spirit" in 1 Corinthians 12:8; but the disparaging μέν, indeed, with the emphatic position of λόγον throwing σοφίας into the shade, in view also of the censures already passed in vers. 4, 8, puts a condemnatory sense upon the phrase: "having word indeed of wisdom" - "that and nothing more, no inner truth, no pith and substance of wisdom" (so Chrysostom and OEcumenius). "Word and deed," "word and truth," form a standing antithesis (Colossians 3:17; Romans 15:18; 1 Corinthians 4:19, 20; 1 John 3:18, etc.), the second member of which supplies itself to the mind; and the solitary μὲν in such a connection is a well-established classical idiom (see Winer's or A. Buttmann's 'Grammar;' also Meyer). It is superfluous, therefore, as well as confusing to the order of thought, to seek in the sequel for the missing half of the antithesis. Other renderings of λόγον - "show" (English A.V., Bengel, De Wette), "ground" or "reason" (Vulgate, Klopper), "reputation" (Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot) - are partly doubtful or exceptional in point of usage, and partly overlook the pointed reference of vers. 22, 23 to the language of vers. 4 and 8. And the combination of λόγον ἔχοντα into a single phrase is scarcely justified here in face of the established Pauline association of "word" and "wisdom" (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:16, as well as 1 Corinthians 12:8). Both in this Epistle and in 1 Corinthians the writer is contending against forms of error which found their account in the Greek love of eloquence and of dexterous word-play. While the first part of the predicate, therefore, explains the intellectual attractiveness of the Colossian error, the clause next following accounts for its religious fascination; and the third part of the verse strikes at the root of its ethical and practical applications. (Shown) in (or, with) devotion to (or, delight in) worship (or, voluntary worship) and lowliness of mind (ver. 18). The preposition "in" brings us into the moral and religious sphere of life in which this would be wisdom of doctrine had its range and found its application. The prefix ἐθελο = - ofἐθελοθρησκεία ordinarily connotes" willingness" rather than "wilfulness;" and the "delighting in worship" of ver. 18 (see note) points strongly in this direction. As against Ellicott and Lightfoot on the etymological point, see Hofmann, pp. 102, 103. Only so far as the worship in question (see note, ver. 18, on "worship") is evil, can the having a will to worship be evil. The other characteristics of the error marked in this verse seem to be recommendations, and "devotion to worship" is in keeping with them. This disposition, moreover, has an air of "humility," which does not belong to a self-imposed, arbitrary worship. There is a love of worship for mere worship's sake which is a perversion of the religious instinct, and tends to multiply both the forms and objects of devotion. This spurious religiousness took the form, in the Colossian errorists, of worship paid to the angels. On this particular worship the apostle passed his judgment in ver. 18, and now points out the tendency from which it springs. In ver. 18 "humility" precedes; here it follows "worship," by way of transition from the religious to the moral aspect of the now teaching. And (or, with) unsparing treatment of (the) body - not in any honour (as) against surfeiting of the flesh (vers. 16, 21, 22; Philippians 3:19-21; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Corinthians 6:13-20; 1 Corinthians 12:23-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:4). The "and" linking this clause to the last under the government of "in," is textually doubtful; Lightfoot cancels it; Westcott and Hort give the omission as a secondary reading. Mr. Hort regards the passage, like ver. 18, as hopelessly corrupt - a verdict which we would fain believe is too despairing. If καὶ be struck out, then ἀφειδείᾳ must be attached, somewhat loosely, to the principal predicate (" are having") as an instrumental dative. On either construction, the sense appears to be that it was its combination of ascetic rigour with religious devotion that gave to the system in question its undoubted charm, and furnished an adequate field for the eloquence and philosophical skill of its advocate. 'Αφειδεία, unsparingness, and πλησμονή, surfeiting - both found only here in the New Testament - and along with them "body" and "flesh," stand opposed to each other. This clause, therefore, contains a complete sense, and we must not look outside it for an explanation of the included words, "not in any honour." As we have seen, the first clause of the predicate (" having word indeed," etc.) needs no such complement. The clause "not .... flesh" is a comment on the words, "unsparing treatment of the body." On this topic the apostle had not yet expressed his mind sufficiently. He has in vers. 16, 20-22 denounced certain ascetic rules as obsolete, or as trifling and needless; but he has yet to expose the principle and tendency from which they sprang. He is the more bound to be explicit on this subject inasmuch as there were ascetic leanings in his own teaching, and passages in his earlier Epistles such as Romans 8:13; Romans 13:14; 1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 9:27, which the "philosophical" party might net unnaturally wrest to their own purposes. He could not condemn severity to the body absolutely, and in every sense. The Colossian rigorism he does condemn -

(1) as not in keeping with bodily self-respect, which is the safeguard of Christian purity; and

(2) as not in reality directed against sensual indulgence, the prevention of which is the proper end of rules of abstinence. These two objections are thrown into a single terse, energetic negative clause, obscure, like so much in this chapter, from its brevity and want of connecting particles. In 1 Thessalonians 4:4 the phrase, "in honour," occurs in a similar connection: "That each one of you know how to 'gain possession of his own vessel" (i.e. "to become master of his body:" see Wordsworth and Alford on the passage; also Meyer's reference on Romans 1:24) "in sanctification and honor" (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 for the apostle's teaching respecting the dignity of the human body; also Philippians 3:19-21). The contempt of Alexandrine theosophists for physical nature was fatal to morality, undermining the basis on which rests the government of the body as the "vessel" and vesture of the spiritual life. Their principles took effect, first, in a morbid and unnatural asceticism; then, by a sure reaction, and with equal consistency, in unrestrained and shocking licence. See, for the latter result, the Epistles to the seven Churches of Asia (Romans 2. and 3.); in the Pastoral Epistles, the two opposite effects are both signalized. The rendering "value" given by Lightfoot and the Revisers seems to us misleading; τιμὴ means "value" only in the sense of "price," as in 1 Corinthians 6:20, and this surely is not their meaning. Πλησμονὴ has been taken in a milder sense by the Greek commentators, Luther, and others: "satisfaction" "(legitimate) gratification." So the apostle is made to charge the false teachers with "not honouring the body, so as to grant the flesh its due gratification." But this rendering confounds the "body" and the "flesh," here contrasted, and gives πλησμονὴ a meaning without lexical warrant (see Meyer and Lightfoot). And the sentiment it expresses errs on the anti-ascetic side, and comes into collision with Romans 13:14 and Galatians 5:16. Πλησμονή, in the LXX and in Philo, as in earlier Greek, denotes "physical repletion," and is associated with drunkenness and sensual excess generally. Hence we cannot admit the interpretation of Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, who make the "flesh" here the sinful principle generally, and understand "surfeiting" figuratively, supposing the apostle to mean, that the ascetic rules in question, while they dishonour the body, tend to gratify the carnal mind." This gives an idea true in itself, and agreeing with the sense of "flesh" in vers. 11, 18, but out of place here, while it strains the meaning of πλησμονή (see Lightfoot's exhaustive argument). The preposition πρὸς does not help us, meaning "for" or "against," according to its connection. We combine Lightfoot's interpretation of πρὸς πλησμονὴν τῆς σαρκὸς with Wordsworth's and Alford's of οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινί. The saying of Philippians 3:19 ("whose god is their belly, and their glory in their shame") contains the same opposition of "honour" to "fleshly indulgence" as that supposed here, possibly suggested by the phrase, "surfeiting of dishonor" (πλησμονὴ ἀτιμίας), of the LXX in Habakkuk 2:16. Here, then, the apostle lays hold of the root principle of the false teachers' whole scheme of morality, its hostility to the body as a material organism. Such a treatment, he declares, dishonours the body, while it fails, and for this very reason, to prevent that feeding of the flesh, the fostering of sensual appetency and habit, in which lies our real peril and dishonour in regard to this vessel of our earthly life. Here we have a suitable starting-point for the exhortations of the next chapter, where the apostle, in vers. 1-4, shows the true path of deliverance from sensual sin, and in vers. 5-7 sets forth the Christian asceticism - "unsparing treatment" of the flesh indeed! The line of teaching adopted by the errorists may be illustrated by Philo's doctrine in his third book of the 'Allegories of the Sacred Law,' § 22: "'God saw that Er was wicked;' for he knows that this leathern burden of ours, the body - for Er, being interpreted, is leathern - is evil and always plotting against the soul; and it is ever under the power of death, indeed actually dead [comp. Romans 8:10]. Yet this all do not see, but only God, and those he loves. For when the mind [νοῦς comp. note, ver. 18] becomes engaged in sublime contemplations and is initiated into the mysteries of the Lord [note, Colossians 1:26], it judges the body to be evil and hostile;" again ('On the Change of Names,' § 4): "Pale and wasted, and reduced to skeletons as it were, are the men devoted to instruction, having transferred to the powers of the soul their bodily vigour also, so that they have become, as we might say, dissolved into a single form of being, that of pure soul made bodiless by force of thought [διανοία: see Colossians 1:21, note]. In them the earthly is destroyed and overwhelmed, when reason [νοῦς: ver. 18], pervading them wholly, has see its choice on being well pleasing to God." The writer has attempted an elucidation of this verse in the Expositor, first series, vol. 12. pp. 289-303.

Colossians 2:23

Which things (ἅτινα)

The double relative classifies, putting these precepts and teachings, and all that are like them, in one category: a class of things which. For similar usage, see Galatians 4:24; Galatians 5:19; Philippians 4:3.

Have a show of wisdom (ἐστιν λόγον ἔχοντα σοφίας)

Lit., are having a reputation for wisdom. The finite verb are, with the participle having, denotes what is habitual, and marks the permanent quality of these precepts, etc. Λόγον, A.V., show, is rather plausible reason, a show of reason, and hence a reputation. They pass popularly for wisdom.

Will-worship (ἐθελοθρησκείᾳ)

Only here in the New Testament. Worship self-imposed or volunteered. Similar compounds of ἐθέλω to will sometimes carry the meaning of pretence, unreality; as ἐθελόκωφος pretending deafness; ἐθελορήτωρ a pretentious orator. Augustine makes hybrid Latin compounds, as thelodives, one who takes on the airs of a rich man; thelosapiens, one who affects wisdom. More commonly, however, the sense is that of voluntariness or officiousness. Thus Thucydides says that Pithias acted as ἐθελοπρόξενος voluntary agent or representative of the Athenians (iii., 70). Εθελοκίνδυνος is running voluntarily into danger, foolhardy: ἐθελοδουλεία is voluntary slavery. The idea of pretense seems to be involved here along with that of self-chosen worship.


Voluntary and affected.

And neglecting (καὶ ἀφειδίᾳ)

Only here in the New Testament. From ἀ not and φείδομαι to spare. Hence unsparing treatment or severity. Also used for lavishness, extravagance of means and of life. So Thucydides: "The running aground of the ships was reckless (ἀφειδὴς." iv. 26). Neglecting is wrong. Rev., correctly, severity. The καὶ and before severity is doubtful. If omitted, severity to the body defines have a reputation for wisdom, the outward austerity being that which makes the popular impression of a higher wisdom.

In any honor (ἐν τιμῇ τινὶ)

Rev., better, of any value. The real value of these ascetic practices contrasted with their popular estimation. Price or value is the original meaning of τιμή, and its use in this sense is frequent in classical Greek. So in the New Testament, as Matthew 27:9, "the price of Him who was priced (τετιμημένου)." In Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23. The idea of value appears in 1 Peter 1:19. "Ye were redeemed - with the precious (τιμίῳ) blood of Christ;" something of real and adequate value. So 1 Peter 2:4, of Christ as the living stone, precious (ἔντιμον), of recognized value.

To the satisfying (πρὸς πλησμονὴν)

To means as a remedy against. Πλησμονὴν denotes repletion, surfeiting. Paul says that these ascetic observances, while they appeal to men as indications of superior wisdom and piety, have no value as remedies against sensual indulgence.

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