Colossians 2:4
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
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(4) Beguile you.—“To beguile” here is to reason into error; and “enticing words” are words of persuasion rather than of reason or revelation. Both words are used by St. Paul only in this passage. It would be difficult to describe more accurately the marvellous fabrics of Gnostic speculation, each step claiming to be based on some fancied probability or metaphysical propriety, but the whole as artificial as the cycles and epicycles of the old Ptolemaic astronomy. We know these in all the elaborate monstrosity of full growth; St. Paul doubtless saw them as yet only in embryo.

Colossians 2:4-5. And this, I say — Concerning the perfection of Christ and his gospel, and the treasures of wisdom and knowledge contained therein; lest any man should beguile you (see the margin) with enticing words — Of human philosophy, and science falsely so called, and should draw you off from a proper attachment to the truth as it is in Jesus. For though I be absent from you in body, yet I am with you in the spirit — The apostle not only seems to mean that his heart was much interested in all their concerns, but that God now, by the revelation of his Spirit, gave him a particular view of their circumstances, as he gave Elisha to see Gehazi running after Naaman, and receiving a present from him, 2 Kings 5:25-26. Not that there is any reason to suppose that either the apostle or Elisha possessed any permanent gift, whereby they had the knowledge of all the things done in their absence by those in whose conduct they were particularly concerned. The anxiety which St. Paul felt on various occasions, from his uncertainty as to the affairs of different churches, is inconsistent with such a supposition respecting him; and we have no reason to suppose that Elisha possessed a gift of this kind superior to what was conferred on the apostle. But a particular revelation on some certain occasions either of them might have; and such a one the latter seems to have had at this time concerning the state of the church at Colosse; as other apostles probably had respecting other churches, persons, or things. See Acts 5:3; Acts 5:8. Joying and beholding — Or, beholding with joy; your order — That is, your orderly walking; and the steadfastness of your faith — Which your enemies in vain endeavour to shake.

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.And this I say - Respecting the character and sufficiency of the truth revealed in Christ.

Lest any man should beguile you - Deceive you, lead you away from the truth.

With enticing words - Artful words, smooth and plausible arguments; such as were employed by the Greek sophists and rhetoricians.

4. And—"Now." Compare with "lest any man," &c. Col 2:8, 16, 18. He refers to the blending of Judaism with Oriental philosophy, and the combination of this mixture with Christianity.

enticing words—plausible as wearing the guise of wisdom and humility (Col 2:18, 23).

And this I say; here he suggests the ground of his insisting upon the excellent treasures of the saving knowledge of Christ, and the ample description of him.

Lest any man should beguile you; to this end, that he might fortify them against delusion by paralogisms, or sophistical and false reasonings, fallacious arguing, (as the word notes, Jam 1:22), under a colourable pretence and show of wisdom, Colossians 2:8,18,23. With enticing words; set off with rhetorical suasions and embellishments, intimating the prevalency of such blandishments, with fair words and good speeches to seduce the simple, if the heart were not established with grace, Romans 16:18 Ephesians 4:14 5:6 Hebrews 13:9; and therefore, esteeming the excellent knowledge of Christ, and being found in him, Philippians 3:8,9, they should beware of whatever, under a show of religion, is introduced to seduce them from the simplicity that is in Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:3.

And this I say,.... That he had such a conflict for them, and had told them of his care and fear on their account, and had signified his great desire that they might arrive to a more large and certain knowledge of the mysteries of grace, and had asserted that all solid spiritual wisdom and knowledge were in Christ; all which he said, to show his affection for them; to observe unto them, that there was no need to seek for wisdom and knowledge elsewhere, since there was such a fulness of it in Christ, and the Gospel; and to put them upon their guard against false teachers:

lest any man should beguile you with enticing words; by which are meant, not apt and pertinent words, such as are suited to the minds of men, and proper to convey right ideas of divine truth, poignant expressions, sound speech, and strong reasonings; for such the apostle himself used, and yet not enticing words of men's wisdom; and which design mere words, great swelling words of vanity, which like bubbles look big, and make a great noise, but contain nothing but wind and emptiness; fair speeches, specious pretences, false colourings, fallacious reasonings, a show of probability, and appearance of science, falsely so called; whereby deceitful workers, such as the followers of Simon Magus and the Gnostics, used, whom the apostle had in view; beguiled unstable souls, and deceived the hearts of the simple: wherefore the apostle said the above things, showing that all true wisdom was in Christ, and all spiritual knowledge was in the pure and unmixed Gospel; which was not to be parted with for other things, which through art and management, and the cunning craftiness of men, might at first sight carry in them a show of probability, and appearance of truth. The gold, the silver, and precious stones of divine truths, which have been proved by the standard, are not to be given up for such as only look like them, being wrought up through the fallacy of men; who by a set of unmeaning words, paralogisms, and false reasonings, lie in wait to deceive.

{3} And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with {e} enticing words.

(3) A passing over to the treatise following, against the corruptions of Christianity.

(e) With a planned type of talk made to persuade.

Colossians 2:4. After this affecting introduction, testifying to his zealous striving for the Christian development of his readers, and thereby claiming their faithful adherence to his gospel, the warning now follows, for the sake of which Paul has prefixed Colossians 2:1-3 (τοῦτο). That τοῦτο does not refer merely to Colossians 2:3 (so Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, Zanchius, Estius, and others, including Bähr and Böhmer; Huther is undecided) is in itself probable, since Colossians 2:1-3 form a connected sentence admirably preparatory in its entire purport for what follows, and is confirmed by Colossians 2:5, which glances back to Colossians 2:1. Hence: This contained in Colossians 2:1-3, which ye ought to know, I say with the design that, etc.

ἵνα μηδείς (see the critical remarks); comp. Mark 5:43; Titus 3:12; Revelation 3:11, et al.

παραλογίζ.] In N. T., only found elsewhere in Jam 1:22 (see Theile in loc.); frequent in the later Greek writers since Demosthenes (822. 25, 1037. 15). It indicates, by a term borrowed from false reckoning, the deception and overreaching that take place through false reasoning. What particular sophistries the false teachers, whose agitations at all events tended (see Colossians 2:8 f.) to the disadvantage of the Pauline gospel, were guilty of, does not appear. It is certain, however, that they were not those suggested by Böhmer (nothing good can come out of Nazareth; one who was crucified cannot have possessed divine wisdom), since the false teachers were not non-Christians. Hardly did these beguiling sophistries affect the person of the apostle, as if he were not concerning himself about the confirming and training of churches not planted by himself, as Hofmann thinks. In that case we should have in Colossians 2:1-3 only a self-testimony to the contrary, which, as assertion against assertion, would neither have been skilful nor delicate; nor do we in what follows find any defence in opposition to personal calumniation. This applies also in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 177. The γάρ in Colossians 2:5 by no means requires this interpretation.

ἐν πιθανολογίᾳ] by means of persuading speech; Luther’s “with rational discourses” misapprehends the meaning. It occurs in this place only in the N. T.; but see Plato, Theaet. p. 162 E; comp. Dem. 928. 14: λόγους θαυμασίως πιθανούς, also πιθανολογεῖν, Diog. L. x. 87; Diod. Sic. i. 39; and πιθανῶς λέγειν, Lucian, Amor. 7. Hence the art of persuasion: ἡ πιθανολογική, Arr. Epict. i. 8. 7.


4. And this I say, lest &c.] He states the precise practical occasion of such a general statement of truth. It is, the danger now surrounding the Colossians, and of which Paul, though absent, is keenly and lovingly cognizant.

beguile you] Lit., “reason you aside,” “lead you astray by reasoning.”

enticing words] Almost, “a persuasive style,” as distinguished from the power of solid facts truly presented and received. The pretensions of speculative heresy, always flattering man rather than humbling him, would answer this description exactly.—R.V., persuasiveness of speech.—“The subtlety of human reasonings has always been the stumbling-block of faith” (Quesnel).

Colossians 2:4. Μή τις, lest any man) So Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:18.—παραλογίζηται ἐν πιθανολογίᾳ, beguile you with enticing or plausible words) Comp. Romans 16:19, with what goes before. That is, an enticing plausible speech, which, for example, makes a show of humility, Colossians 2:18; Colossians 2:23. Some mixed together Judaism and the Eastern philosophy. See Budd. eccl. apost., pp. 466, 467.

Verse 4. - In this verse the apostle first definitely indicates the cause of his anxiety, and the Epistle begins to assume a polemic tone. This verse is, therefore, the prelude of the impending attack on the false teachers (vers. 8-23). This I say, that no one may be deluding you in persuasive speech (vers. 8, 18, 23; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4, 13; 1 Timothy 6:20; Psalm 55:21). This was the danger which made a more adequate comprehension of Christianity so necessary to the Colossians (vers. 2, 3). Πιθανολογία, one of the numerous hapax legomenon of this Epistle (words only used here in the New Testament), compounds into one word the πειθοῖ λόγοι ("persuasive words") of 1 Corinthians 2:4 (compare "word of wisdom," ver. 23). In classical writers it denotes plausible, ad captandum reasoning. Παραλογίζομαι (only here and James 1:22 in the New Testament) is "to use bad logic," "to play off fallacies (paralogisms)." The new teachers were fluent, specious reasoners, and had a store of sophistical arguments at command. The tense of the verb indicates an apprehension as to what may be now going on (vers. 8, 16, 18, 20; Colossians 1:23). We shall see afterwards (vers. 8-23) what was the doctrine underlying this "persuasive speech." Colossians 2:4Beguile (παραλογίζηται)

Only here and James 1:22. See note. Rev., delude. So Ignatius, speaking of the duty of obedience to the bishop, says: "He that fails in this, does not deceive the visible bishop, but attempts to cheat (παραλογίζεται) the Invisible" (Epistle to Magnesians, 3). The word is found in the Septuagint, Joshua 9:22; 1 Samuel 19:17; 2 Samuel 21:5.

Enticing words (πιθανολογίᾳ)

Rev., persuasiveness of speech. Only here in the New Testament. In classical Greek, of probable argument as opposed to demonstration. So Plato: "Reflect whether you are disposed to admit of probability (πιθανολογίᾳ) and figures of speech in matters of such importance" ("Theaetetus," 163). Compare 1 Corinthians 2:4.

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