Colossians 2:3
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) In whom are hid all the treasures.—The order of the original is curious: “in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, as hidden treasures.” The word “hidden” (apocryphi) is an almost technical word for secret teaching given only to the initiated; used originally as a term of honour (as the participle of the kindred verb is used in 1Corinthians 2:7-8, “the wisdom of God in mystery, even the hidden wisdom . . . which none of the princes of this world knew”), afterwards, from the character of these “apocryphal” books, coming to signify spurious and heretical. St. Paul evidently takes up here a word, used by the pretenders to a special and abstruse knowledge, and applies it to the “heavenly things” which He alone knows “who is in heaven” (John 3:12-13). From our full comprehension they are hidden; if ever we know them, it will not be till “we know even as we are known.” But the previous words show that we can have full practical apprehension of them by our knowledge of Christ, who knows them—a knowledge begun in faith, and perfected chiefly in love.

Wisdom and knowledge.—Comp. Romans 11:33 and 1Corinthians 12:8 (“the word of wisdom” . . . “the word of knowledge”). On the true sense of “wisdom” and its relation to other less perfect gifts, as “prudence,” “intelligence,” “knowledge,” see Note on Ephesians 1:8. “Knowledge” is clearly the development of wisdom in spiritual perception, as “intelligence” in testing and harmonising such perception, and “prudence” in making them, so tested, the guide of life. The word “knowledge” (gnosis) was the word which, certainly afterwards, probably even then, was the watchword of “Gnosticism”—the unbridled and fantastic spirit of metaphysical and religious speculation then beginning to infest all Christian thought. It can hardly be accidental that St. Paul here, as elsewhere, subordinates it to the higher gift of wisdom.

2:1-7 The soul prospers when we have clear knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. When we not only believe with the heart, but are ready, when called, to make confession with the mouth. Knowledge and faith make a soul rich. The stronger our faith, and the warmer our love, the more will our comfort be. The treasures of wisdom are hid, not from us, but for us, in Christ. These were hid from proud unbelievers, but displayed in the person and redemption of Christ. See the danger of enticing words; how many are ruined by the false disguises and fair appearances of evil principles and wicked practices! Be aware and afraid of those who would entice to any evil; for they aim to spoil you. All Christians have, in profession at least, received Jesus Christ the Lord, consented to him, and taken him for theirs. We cannot be built up in Christ, or grow in him, unless we are first rooted in him, or founded upon him. Being established in the faith, we must abound therein, and improve in it more and more. God justly withdraws this benefit from those who do not receive it with thanksgiving; and gratitude for his mercies is justly required by God.In whom - Margin, "wherein." The more correct translation is "in whom." The reference is doubtless to Christ, as his name is the immediate antecedent, and as what is affirmed here properly appertains to him.

Are hid - Like treasures that are concealed or garnered up. It does not mean that none of those "treasures" had been developed; but that, so to speak, Christ, as Mediator, was the great treasure-house where were to be found all the wisdom and knowledge needful for people.

All the treasures - It is common to compare any thing valuable with "treasures" of silver or gold. The idea here is, that in reference to the wisdom and knowledge needful for us, Christ is what abundant treasures are in reference to the supply of our wants.

Wisdom - The wisdom needful for our salvation. Notes, 1 Corinthians 1:24.

And knowledge - The knowledge which is requisite to guide us in the way to life. Christ is able to instruct us in all that it is desirable for us to know, so that it is not necessary for us to apply to philosophy, or to the teachings of human beings.

3. Translate in the Greek order, "In whom (not as Alford, 'in which') mystery; Christ is Himself the 'mystery' (Col 2:2; 1Ti 3:16), and to Christ the relative refers) are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden." The "all" here, answers to "all" in Col 2:2; as "treasures" answer to the "riches"; it is from the treasures that the riches (Col 2:2) are derived. "Are" is the predicate of the sentence; all the treasures ARE in Him; hidden is predicated of the state or manner in which they are in Him. Like a mine of unknown and inexhaustible wealth, the treasures of wisdom are all in Him hidden, but not in order to remain so; they only need to be explored for you to attain "unto the riches" in them (Col 2:2); but until you, Colossians, press after attaining the full knowledge (see on [2413]Col 2:2) of them, they remain "hidden." Compare the parable, Mt 13:44, "treasure hid." This sense suits the scope of the apostle, and sets aside Alford's objection that "the treasures are not hidden, but revealed." "Hidden" plainly answers to "mystery" (Col 2:2), which is designed by God, if we be faithful to our privileges, not to remain hidden, but to be revealed (compare 1Co 2:7, 8). Still as the mine is unfathomable, there will, through eternity, be always fresh treasures in Him to be drawn forth from their hidden state.

wisdom—general, and as to experimental and practical truth; whence comes "understanding" (Col 2:2).

knowledge—special and intellectual, in regard to doctrinal truth; whence comes "the full knowledge" (Col 2:2).

In whom: this may relate eitter to the Divine mystery, wherein are in abundance all necessary doctrines to consolation and salvation stored up, respecting the foregoing verse; compare 1 Corinthians 2:7 Ephesians 3:3,4; in opposition to the vain show of wisdom seducers did boast of; or, (as the most ancient and modern take it), to Christ, the immediate antecedent: in whom, ( as we render it), i.e. in Christ, considered either:

1. As the object, which being rightly known, we may have all wisdom and perfect knowledge to salvation: he speaks not here of all that Christ knoweth, he reveals not all that in the gospel to us, but what we must know of him that we may be saved. Or:

2. As the subject, because all the treasures of wisdom in order to salvation, are not only known and found out in Christ, but also are hid, do dwell and abide in him as the fountain, what he can give to us for our consolation and perfection.

It had been little pertinent for Paul to have said that all these deep things of God {1 Corinthians 2:10} were known to our Lord; but that they are found in him, do dwell in him, are all stored up, displayed, and set forth in him, to be seen through the veil, that is to say his flesh, Hebrews 10:20, or the infirmity of his cross. The series of the apostle’s discourse, comparing Colossians 2:8,9, shows it to be thus understood of Christ as the subject and fountain of all saving wisdom, in opposition to the comments of human wisdom which the false doctors did boast of. Continuing the metaphor, he shows from what fund the treasures of saving knowledge may be drawn: by treasures intimating the excellency and abundance thereof; there was some store in the tabernacle of Moses, but very small compared to the abundance certainly to be found in Christ, all else of no worth to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ for consolation, Colossians 2:2 Philippians 3:8: things to be believed and practised are, by way of eminency, Christian wisdom and knowledge. The treasures of which, how and when hid, is to be well considered, because in our translation, and in almost all others, the Greek word we render hid is by trajection put next to the relative whom, whereas it is indeed in the original the last word in the verse, and seems to be expressive rather of what was hid before Christ than what is hid in him. For, as a learned man saith, hidden treasures, as such, seem to be like hidden music, of no regard; or like the hidden talent, Luke 19:20. It not being so easy to think that the apostle in this Epistle teaches, that the secrets which had lain hid from the wise men of the world in the ages past, now were made bare, brought into light, and made known even to babes by Christ, Colossians 1:26,27, with Luke 10:21; and having just before, Colossians 2:2, spoken of the understanding and acknowledgment of the mystery of the Father and the Son, what should the riches of glory to the knowledge of the mystery be, but the treasures of wisdom now revealed, heretofore hid, of which continuedly a little after he says that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily, i.e. personally, not in a shadow, as it were hid in a cloud, but in flesh that may be really seen and touched? So that it shonld seem best to retain hid as it is placed in the Greek, to this sense; q.d. In Christ are, and dwell in the greatest fulness, all the treasures of wisdom, hid under the law, which are therefore called a mystery, secret, or hidden thing from ages and generations, Colossians 1:26,27, now made manifest to his saints, they are now not hid in Christ, but made known amongst the Gentiles as God willed. Not then hidden riches, i.e. treasures of wisdom and knowledge of this mystery as of hid treasure, but out of Christ, and before Christ amongst the Jews: for Christ himself is that mystery Colossians 4:3, not hid after his appearance, but manifested, and manifesting the Father, John 1:18. However, if any will rather choose to read, as if in Christ were at present hid all treasures, it is to be understood, stored up, not exposed to the view of every eye, being as in a rich cabinet, not to keep them from being known to men, but rather to make them more precious and desirable. For Christ came when sent of his Father to spread this heavenly wealth. He is the Sun of righteousness, John 1:9: the unbelieving must thank themselves if, where he is truly preached, he be hid to them, and his arm be revealed but to a few, Isaiah 53:1 2 Corinthians 4:3,4: it is their own blinding that they do not savingly discern what is displayed in Christ. Wherefore both may be true in divers respects:

1. Consider the thing in itself, objectively; so treasures of wisdom are evidently laid up in Jesus Christ, and manifested upon his appearance, 1 Timothy 3:16 Titus 2:11. But:

2. With respect to the eyes and perceptions of men, subjectively, as naturally obscured and corrupted by sin; so natural men, or mere animal men, perceive not in Christ the riches of wisdom and knowledge which are in him as our Mediator, when they look upon him as having no beauty or comeliness for which they should desire him, Isaiah 53:2; he, as crucified, being to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Gentiles foolishness, when he is to those of them who are called, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:23,24. The Lutherans’ inference hence, that omnisciency agrees to Christ’s human nature, is altogether inconsequent; both (as before) because the apostle’s business here is not to acquaint us what Christ himself knoweth, but what is to be known by us, which may be found treasured up in him.

Treasures here in him not being considered absolutely, but comparatively to all the knowledge of men and angels. Yet, from a supposal of an infinite knowledge in Christ, who is God-man in one person, it followeth not that the soul of his human nature knoweth all things. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This may be understood either of the mystery of the Gospel, which contains the rich mines and hidden treasures of all divine truths; so called, because of the richness and intrinsic value and excellency of them; and because of their variety and abundance, being the unsearchable riches of Christ: or of Christ himself; and not so much of his personal wisdom, either as God, being the all-wise God, the wisdom of God, an omniscient Being, that knows all persons and things whatever, within the whole circle of wisdom and knowledge; or as man, whose wisdom and knowledge, though created, was very large and abundant; or as Mediator, on whom the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and of knowledge, rests; but of that fulness of truth as well as grace, which dwells in him as in its subject and fountain; by whom it comes, and from whom it is derived unto us; and our highest wisdom and knowledge lies in knowing him, whom to know is life eternal; and the excellency of whose knowledge surpasses everything else; it is the greatest riches, and most valuable treasure; nor is there anything worth knowing but what is in Christ, all is laid up in him: and being said to be "hid" in him, shows the excellency of the wisdom and knowledge that is in him only valuable things being hid, or compared to hid treasure; that this cannot be had without knowing him; that it is imperfect in the present state, and is not yet fully and clearly revealed; and therefore should be inquired after, and searched for, and Christ should be applied unto for it: , "treasures of wisdom", is a phrase used by the Targumist (q),

(q) Jonathan ben Uzziel in Exodus 40.4.

In whom are hid all the treasures of {d} wisdom and knowledge.

(d) There is no true wisdom outside of Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 2:3. Ἐν ᾧ] is to be referred to τοῦ μυστηρίου—a remark which applies also in the case of every other reading of the foregoing words—not to Christ,[81] as is commonly done with the Recepta, and by Böhmer, Dalmer, and Hofmann even with our reading. The correct reference is given, in connection with the Recepta, by Grotius (against whom Calovius contends), Hammond, Bengel, and Michaelis; and in connection with our reading, by Huther, Schenkel, and Bleek; its correctness appears from the correlation in which ἀπόκρυφοι stands to τοῦ μυστηρ. The destination of this relative clause is to bring out the high value of the ἐπίγνωσις τοῦ μυστηρίου (since in Him, etc.), and that in contrast to the pretended wisdom and knowledge of the false teachers; hence also the emphatic πάντες οἱ θησ. κ.τ.λ.

The σοφία and γνῶσις are here conceived objectively, and the genitives indicate wherein the treasures consist. The distinction between the two words is not, indeed, to be abandoned (Calvin: “duplicatio ad augendum valet;” comp. Huther and others), but yet is not to be defined more precisely than that γνῶσις is more special, knowledge, and σοφία more general, the whole Christian wisdom, by which we with the collective activity of the mind grasp divine relations and those of human morality, and apply them to right practice. Comp. on Colossians 1:9.

On θησαυροί, comp. Plato, Phil. p. 15 E: ὥς τινα σοφίας εὑρηκὼς θησαυρόν, Xen. Mem. iv. 2. 9, i. 6. 14; Wis 7:14; Sir 1:22; Bar 3:15.

ἀπόκρυφοι] is not the predicate to εἰσί (so most writers, with Chrysostom and Luther), as if it were ἀποκεκρυμμένοι εἰσιν instead of εἰσὶν ἀπόκρυφοι; for, as it stands, the unsuitable sense would be conveyed: “in whom all treasures … are hidden treasures.” But neither is it a description of the qualitative how of their being in Him,[82] in so far, namely, as they do not lie open for ordinary perception (Hofmann); for this adverbial use of the adjective (see Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 4. 12, 2:2. 17; Krüger, § 57. 5) would be without due motive here, seeing that the apostle is concerned, not about the mode of the ἐν ᾧ εἰσι, but about the characterizing of the treasures themselves, whereupon the how in question was obvious of itself. We must therefore take ἀπόκρυφοι simply as an attributive adjective to ΘΗΣΑΥΡΟΊ, placed at the end with emphasis: in whom the collective hidden treasures … are contained. Comp. LXX. Isaiah 45:3; 1Ma 1:23; Matthew 13:44. The treasures, which are to be found in the mystery, are not such as lie open to the light, but, in harmony with the conception of the secret, hidden (comp. Matt. l.c.), because unattainable by the power of natural discernment in itself, but coming to be found by those who attain εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου, whereby they penetrate into the domain of these secret riches and discover and appropriate them. The objection to this view of ἈΠΟΚΡ. as the adjective to ΘΗΣ., viz. that there must then have been written ΟἹ ἈΠΟΚΡ. (Bähr, Bleek, Hofmann), is erroneous; the article might have been (1Ma 1:23), but did not need to be, inserted. With the article it would mean: quippe qui absconditi sunt; without the article it is simply: “thesauri absconditi” (Vulgate), i.e. ἀπόκρυφοι ὄντες, not ΟἹ ὌΝΤΕς ἈΠΌΚΡΥΦΟΙ.

[81] Older dogmatic expositors (see especially Calovius) discover here the omniscience of Christ.

[82]
In connection with which Bähr, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Bleek convert the notion of being hidden into that of being deposited for preservation (ἀποκεϊσθαι, Colossians 1:5).Colossians 2:3. ἐν ᾧ may refer to μυστηρίου (Beng., Mey., Alf., Ol., Sod., Haupt, Abb.) or to Χριστοῦ (Ell., Hofm., Lightf., Holtzmann, Findl., Moule). The former is defended on the ground that ἀπόκρ. corresponds to μυστ. It is also urged that μυστ. is the leading idea. On the other hand, if Christ is rightly identified with the mystery, there is no practical difference between the two views, and it is simpler to refer to Χ. as the nearer noun.—εἰσὶν πάντες οἱ θησαυροὶ τῆς σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως ἀπόκρυφοι. Bengel, Meyer and Alford take ἀπόκρ. as an ordinary adjective with θησαυροὶ, “in whom are all the hidden treasures”. For this we should have expected οἱ ἀπόκρ., and there is no stress on the fact that the hidden treasures are in Christ, yet the position of the word at the end of the sentence is explained as due to emphasis. Generally Chrysostom has been followed in taking it as the predicate to εἰσὶν, “in whom are hidden all the treasures”. But this is excluded by its distance from the verb. Accordingly it should be taken as a secondary predicate, and thus equivalent to an adverb, “in whom are all the treasures … hidden,” i.e., in whom all the treasures are, and are in a hidden manner (Hofm., Ell., Lightf., Sod., Haupt, Abb.). The force of the passage then is this; all, and not merely some of, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are contained in Christ, therefore the search for them outside of Him is doomed to failure. But not only are they in Christ, but they are contained in a hidden way. Therefore they do not lie on the surface, but must be sought for earnestly, as men seek for hidden treasure. They are not matters of external observances, such as the false teachers enjoined, but to be apprehended by deep and serious meditation. If Lightfoot is right in thinking that ἀπόκρ. is borrowed from the terminology of the false teachers, there is the added thought that the wisdom they fancied they found in their secret books was really to be found in Christ alone. But it is hardly likely that there is any such reference here. Even if the allusion to literature were more plausible than it is, there is no evidence that the word was used in this sense so early. Besides it occurs twice with θης. in the LXX. The distinction between σοφίας and γνώσεως is not easy to make here; the former is general, the latter special. Lightfoot says: “While γνῶσις applies chiefly to the apprehension of truths, σοφία super-adds the power of reasoning about them and tracing their relations”. Moule thinks it is God’s wisdom and knowledge that are here attributed to Christ, but this seems uncertain.3. in whom] Christ, the Secret of God, is now characterized as such; the Secret is—Christ as the Treasury of wisdom and knowledge.

are hid &c.] Better, regarding the order of the Greek, in whom are all the treasures, &c., hidden (there). The thought that they are “hidden” is emphasized.—See below, note on “wisdom &c.”

all] So that He is absolutely sufficient, and supposed supplies from elsewhere are a delusion. So “all riches” just above; and Colossians 1:19.

the treasures] A rich (and frequent) plural.

wisdom and knowledge] Words recurring together Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 12:8. In such a passage they are scarcely perhaps to be minutely distinguished[82] (as they must be in 1 Corinthians 12); they blend into the one idea of the resources of the Divine Mind. For surely here, as in Romans 11 (a near parallel), it is the wisdom and knowledge of God which are in view; a point not noticed by Ellicott, Alford, or Lightfoot. (There is doubtless a reflected reference here to human speculation, exercised upon the treasures of Divine thought.)

[82] Where wisdom (sophia) and knowledge (gnôsis) have to be distinguished, the essential difference appears to be that sophia is a moral-mental term, gnôsis a term purely mental, or rather one which fixes attention on the cognition of truth simply as such. Conceivably, the man of “knowledge” may stop with a mere sight of truth; the man of “wisdom” reflects upon it, receives it, in a way affecting character and action. The words “wise.” “wisdom”, in the Greek, are thus “never in Scripture ascribed to other than God or good men, except in an ironical sense” (Trench, N.T. Synonyms, 2nd Series).

The treasures of this Divine “wisdom and knowledge” are in Christ “hiddenly” (Ellicott), inasmuch as they are (a) to be found in Him alone, (b) to be found therefore only by entrance into Him, (c) never, even so, to be “found out unto perfection.”—The Greek word, as Lightfoot shews, is in all likelihood borrowed from the heretical vocabulary, and transfigured. The embryo “Gnostic” of St Paul’s days probably, as his successors certainly, gloried in an alleged possession of inner, esoteric, secrets of being and of knowing, treasured in books thence called apocryphal (secret, hidden); a word identical with the Greek adjective here (apocruphoi). (So that, in the Fathers, by “apocryphal” books are not meant the Jewish religious books we commonly call so, but the “secret” literature of the heretical sects.)

Christ is thus the glorious “Apocrypha” (if we may dare to say so) of the Christian; our “esoteric wisdom” is only an ever-deepening insight into Him revealed.—“Jesus Christ is a great Book. He who can indeed study Him in the word of God will know all he ought to know. Humility opens this Divine Book, faith reads in it, love learns from it” (Quesnel).Colossians 2:3. Ἐν ᾧ) in Whom, rather in which, viz. the mystery of God and the Father and of Christ. He who possesses this ought to ask for nothing more, so far as wisdom and other good things are concerned. Regarding Christ Himself, the question is taken up at Colossians 2:9.—εἰσὶ, are) Construe: all hidden treasures are in that mystery [But Engl. Vers. makes ἀπόκρυφοι prædicate, In whom are hid, etc.]: ἀπόκρυφοι, without the article.—πάντες, all, cor responds to the all, Colossians 2:2.—οἱ θησαυροὶ, treasures) Hence are derived πλοῦτος, the riches, ibid.—τῆς σοφίας, of wisdom) Hence comes the σύνεσις, understanding, ibid.—τῆς γνώσεως, of knowledge) Hence ἐπίγνωσις, the full knowledge,[5] ibid: comp. 1 Corinthians 13:12, note.—ἈΠΌΚΡΥΦΟΙ, hidden) for it is a mystery, ibid: comp. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8.

[5] Engl. Vers. acknowledgment. Επίγνωσις is more than γνῶσις.—ED.Verse 3. - In whom (or, which) are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden(ly) (Ephesians 1:8, 9; Ephesians 3:8; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 1:5, 6, 30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3). Bengel, Meyer, Alford, and others make the relative pronoun neuter, referring to "mystery;" but "Christ," the nearer antecedent, is preferable (vers. 9, 10; Colossians 1:16, 17, 19). In him the apostle finds what false teachers sought elsewhere, a satisfaction for the intellect as well as for the heart - treasures of wisdom and knowledge to enrich the understanding, and unsearchable mysteries to exercise the speculative reason. "Hidden" is, therefore, a secondary predicate: in whom are these treasures, - as hidden treasures" (Ellicott, Lightfoot). (For a similar emphasis of position, compare "made complete," ver. 10, and "seated," Colossians 3:1.) Meyer and Alford, with the Vulgate, make "hidden" an attributive: "in whom are hidden treasures." Chrysostom and leading versions make it primary predicate: "in whom are hidden," etc., against the order of the words. This word also belongs to the dialect of the mystic theosophists (see note, Colossians 1:27: comp. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Isaiah 45:3; Proverbs 2:1-11). (On "wisdom," see note, Colossians 1:9.) Knowledge (γνῶσις, not ἐπίγνωσις, ver. 2; Colossians 1:9; Colossians 3:10; for this phrase is more comprehensive) is the more objective and purely intellectual side of wisdom (comp. Romans 11:33). Hid (ἀπόκρυφοι)

Only here, Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:7. Not to be joined with are, as A.V. Its position at the end of the sentence, and so far from are, shows that it is added as an emphatic secondary predicate. Hence, as Rev., in whom are all the treasures, etc., hidden. For a similar construction, see Colossians 3:1, "where Christ is on the right hand of God seated (there)." James 1:17, "Every perfect gift is from above, coming down." Grammatically, hidden may be taken as an attribute of treasures; "in whom the hidden treasures are contained;" but the other is preferable. The words which immediately follow in Colossians 2:4, suggest the possibility that hidden may convey an allusion to the Apocrypha or secret writings of the Essenes, whose doctrines entered into the Colossian heresy. Such writings, which, later, were peculiar also to the Gnostics, contained the authoritative secret wisdom, the esoteric teaching for the learned few. If such is Paul's allusion, the word suggests a contrast with the treasures of christian wisdom which are accessible to all in Christ.

Wisdom and knowledge

See on Romans 11:33.

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