ICC New Testament Commentary
For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;2:1-7. The apostle’s care and anxiety are not limited to those Churches which he had himself founded, or to which he had personally preached, but extended to those whom he had never seen. He is anxious that they should be confirmed in the faith and united in love, and, moreover, may learn to know the mystery, that is, the revealed will of God. It is no new doctrine they are to look for, but to seek to be established in the faith which they have already been taught, and to live in conformity thereto
1. Γάρ. “Striving, I say, for,” etc. The general statement κοπιῶ ἀγωνιζόμενος is supported by this special instance of his anxiety for the Colossian Church; and thus although γάρ is not merely transitional, the transition to the personal application is naturally effected.
θέλω γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι. So 1 Corinthians 11:3. More frequently οὐ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν. That either phrase does not necessarily commence a new section is clear from 1 Corinthians 11:3; Romans 11:25.
ἡλίκον, a classical word, not found in Sept. or Apocrypha, and in the N.T. only here and Jam 3:5.
ἀγῶνα ἔχω. As he was now a prisoner this ἀγών can only be an inward one. It is not to be limited to prayer (iv. 12), but includes anxiety, etc.
ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν. Here, as often, the reading varies between ὑπέρ and περί. The former is that of א A B C Db P; the latter of D*c G K L.
καὶ τῶν ἐν Λαοδικίᾳ (sic א A B* C D* G K L P).
The Laodiceans were probably exposed to the influence of the same heretical teaching as the Colossians. Hierapolis is probably alluded to in the words καὶ ὅσοι, κ.τ.λ., see 4:13. καὶ τῶν ἐν Ἰεραπόλει is actually added in some MSS. (10 31 73 118) and in Syr-Harcl.* It is clearly a gloss from 4:13.
καὶ ὅσοι, κ.τ.λ. καί here introduces the general after the particular, as in Acts 4:6 and often. It is only the context that decides whether this is the case or whether a new class is introduced. Here there would be no meaning in mentioning two particular Churches which had known him personally, and then in general all who had not known him. The inference is therefore certain that he had never visited Colossae, and this agrees with the incidental references in the Epistle as well as with the narrative in the Acts. See on αὐτῶν, ver. 2.
ἑώρακαν (Alexandrian) is better supported than the Attic ἑωράκασι. The spelling with ω is rather better supported here than that with o.
ἐν σαρκί does not qualify the verb, as if “seeing in the flesh” were contrasted with “seeing in the spirit” (δείκνυσιν ἐνταῦθα ὅτι ἑώρων συνεχῶς ἐν πνεύματι, Chrys.), but goes with πρόσωπόν μου, giving vividness to the expression. Naturally it is implied that they had a knowledge of him, though not personal.
2. ἵνα παρακληθῶσιν αἱ καρδίαι αὐτῶν. “That their hearts may be strengthened.” It can hardly be doubted that this is the meaning of παρακαλεῖν here, where there is no mention of, or allusion to, troubles or persecutions. The sense “comforted, consoled” is, indeed, defended by Meyer, Ellicott, Eadie, al. Ellicott observes: “surely those exposed to the sad trial of erroneous teachings need consolation”; but there is no trace of this view in the Epistle, nor would such consolation be the prime object of the apostle’s prayer and anxiety. No; what made him anxious was the danger they were in of being carried away by this erroneous teaching. It was not consolation that was required, but confirmation in the right faith. For this sense of παρακαλεῖν cf. 1 Corinthians 14:31 (RV. marg.).
αὐτῶν. We might have expected ὑμῶν, but αὐτῶν was suggested by the preceding ὅσοι. This is decisive as to the Colossians being included in the ὅσοι; for if excluded there, they are excluded here, and the writer returns to the Colossians in ver. 4 (ὑμᾶς) in a most illogical manner: “This I say about others who do not know me, in order that no man may deceive you.”
συμβιβασθέντες. “United, knit together,” the common meaning of the verb, and that which it has elsewhere in this Epistle (ver. 19) and in Ephesians 4:16, q.v. In the Sept. it always means to “instruct,” cf. 1 Corinthians 2:16 (quotation) and Acts 19:33. It is so rendered here by the Vulg. “instructi.” The nominative agrees with the logical subject of the preceding.
It is read by א A B C D* P al., Vulg., Syr. (both). The genitive συμβιβασθέντων is read in אc Dc K L and most MSS., but is obviously a grammatical correction.
ἐν ἀγάπῃ. “In love,” which is the “bond of perfection” (3:14).
καὶ εἰς expresses the object of the συμβιβ.; connected by καί, because the verb contains the idea of motion.
πᾶν πλοῦτος τῆς πληροφορίας τῆς συνέσεως. “All riches of full assurance of the understanding.” “Full assurance” seems the most suitable sense for πληροφορία, and it is also suitable in every other place in the N.T. where the word occurs (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Hebrews 6:11, Hebrews 10:22). “Fulness” would also be suitable, except in 1 Thessalonians 1:5. The word does not occur in Sept. or Apocr., nor in classical authors. On σύνεσις cf. 1:9. It has an intransitive sense, and hence never takes a genitive of the object; here it appears to mean the faculty of judging. He desires their judgment to be exercised with full certainty. De Wette observes that πλοῦτος expresses a quantitative, πληροφορία a qualitative, characteristic.
εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν, κ.τ.λ., seems best taken as parallel to the preceding εἰς, so that it emphatically points out the special object on which the σύνεσις is to be exercised. Some, however, connect this with παρακληθῶσιν, on the ground that ἐπίγνωσις implies as an antecedent condition the συμβιβ. κ.τ.λ. For ἐπίγνωσις, “full knowledge,” see Ephesians 1:17.
τοῦ θεοῦ Χριστοῦ. If this reading is adopted, there are three conceivable constructions: (a) Χριστοῦ in apposition to Θεοῦ, (b) Χριστοῦ dependent on Θεοῦ, (c) Χριστοῦ in apposition to μυστηρίου. The first (adopted by Hilary of Poitiers, also by Steiger and Bisping) is generally rejected, either on account of the context (Ell.) or because the phrase is destitute of Pauline analogy (Meyer, Moule, Lightfoot). But it appears to be inadmissible on other grounds. To point τοῦ Θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ, taking these in apposition and thus identifying ὁ Θεός and Χριστός, is obviously impossible, as it would mean, not that Θεός could be predicated of Χριστός, but that Χριστός could be predicated of ὁ Θεός, thus ignoring the distinction of Persons. On the other hand, if we point τοῦ Θεοῦ Χριστοῦ, and understand “the God Christ” (according to the rendering suggested, though not accepted, by Moule), the expression seems inconsistent with strict Monotheism. It defines Θεοῦ by the addition Χριστοῦ, and therefore suggests that other definitions are possible. ὁ Θεὸς πατήρ is not analogous, for two reasons; first, πατήρ only suggests υἱός, and, secondly, πατήρ expresses a relation proper to the Deity. Ellicott, who considers the construction not indefensible, takes it to mean “of God, even of Christ.” This is rather to suppose μυστηρίου supplied before Χριστοῦ, which is certainly untenable. But this is clearly not what he means, and it suggests that he hesitated to accept either of the other renderings.
According to the third view, Χριστοῦ is in apposition to μυστηρίου, so that Christ personally is the mystery of God (Ellicott, Lightfoot, Moule, al.). If this is the apostle`s meaning, he has expressed himself very obscurely. As μυστήριον is an abstract name, when it is explained as a person, we should expect ὅ ἐστιν as in i. 24, 27; 1 Corinthians 3:11. Lightfoot understands the “mystery” not as “Christ,” but “Christ as containing in Himself all the treasures of wisdom,” and in illustration of the form of the sentence compares Ephesians 4:15, εἰς αὐτόν … ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή, Χριστός, ἐξ οὗ πᾶν τὸ σῶμα, κ.τ.λ. This passage, it is obvious, adds another example of the use of ὅς ἐστιν in such sentences, and it can hardly be said to furnish a parallel to Lightfoot’s interpretation of ἐν ᾧ, for in Ephesians 4:15 a full stop might have been placed after Χριστός without impairing the figure. Moreover, the apostle has given a different definition of the μυστ. in i. 27 (to which he again alludes in iv. 3), and it is hard to suppose that he would give a different definition within a few lines, for different this certainly is. The second translation mentioned above, “the God of Christ,” has its parallel in the phrase, ὁ Θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, and in Ephesians 1:17, ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. This construction is adopted by Meyer and v. Soden. The addition of Χριστοῦ is explained by the consideration that it is only through Christ that God’s plan in this mystery is carried out; it is only because and in so far as God is the God of Christ that this μυστήριον could exist and be revealed. Meyer adds, “He that has recognised God as the God of Christ, to him is the Divine μυστήριον revealed.” This, after all, is not quite satisfactory, and requires us to read into the text more than is expressed.
If the shorter reading τοῦ Θεοῦ (omitting Χριστοῦ) is adopted, the difficulty disappears; but the difficulty is not so obvious as to tempt the ordinary copyist to omit the word.
The different readings are as follow:—
(1) τοῦ Θεοῦ. Without any addition. Db P 37 67** 71 80 116.
Adopted by Griesbach, Tisch. 2, Olsh., De Wette, Alford.
(2) τοῦ ΘεοῦΧριστοῦ. B, Hilary of Poitiers (De Trin. ix. 62, “in agnitionem sacramenti dei Christi,” adding, “Deus Christus sacramentum est”). Adopted by Lachmann, Tregelles, and Lightfoot without a comma after θεοῦ; by Tisch. 8, RV. with a comma, also by Harless (Eph. p. 458), Ellicott, Meyer, and v. Soden.
(3) τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὅ ἐστιν Χριστός. D* “Dei quod est Christus,” d e, Vigilius Thaps. So Augustine, De Trin. xiii. 24, “Dei quod est Christus Jesus.”
(4) τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς (add τοῦ A C 4) Χριστοῦ, א* A C 4, Vulg. in Codd., Amiat., Fuld.., f. Boh. (add Ἰησοῦ, Lagarde).
(5) τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ, אc two of Scrivener’s MSS. and a corrector in the Harclean Syriac.
(6) τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 47 73, Syr-Pesh (ed. princeps and Schaaf).
(7) τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Rec. Text), D3 K L most cursives, Syr-Harcl. (text), Theodoret, etc.
Isolated readings are—
(8) τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ, Cyril. Thes. p. 287.
(9) τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ, Clem. Alex. v. 10, 12, and with τοῦ before ἐν,17. So Ambrosiaster, “Dei in Christo.” τοῦ Χριστοῦ is given by Tisch. from his MS. of Euthalius, but with the remark, “sed non satis apparet.”
As far as documentary evidence goes (4) seems the best attested, and is probably the source of (5) (6) (7). But it is most probably an attempt to remove the difficulty of the simpler reading (1) or (2). Of these (2) is preferred by the critics above named, as accounting for all the rest, (1) the witnesses for which are later, being supposed to have originated from an attempt to remove the difficulty of the former reading. Meyer thinks that the original reading must have involved some dogmatic difficulty, which (4) does not.
The short reading, τοῦ Θεοῦ (1), would account for the others, but the attestation of it is not sufficiently early. Wescott and Hort suspect some corruption.
3. ἐν ᾧ. The antecedent is probably μυστηρίου, not Χριστοῦ. What the apostle is dwelling on is the greatness of the “mystery” (1:27), and the importance of the knowledge of it, in opposition to the supposed wisdom of the false teachers; hence the statement that “all the treasures,” etc., are contained in it. This is confirmed by the use of ἀπόκρυφοι, which corresponds to μυστήριον. So Alford, Eadie, Meyer, Soden, De Wette, etc.; but Ellicott, Lightfoot, and many comm. refer the ᾧ to Christ. With this latter reference, the wisdom and knowledge are those possessed by Christ as a treasure which He communicates. With the reference to μυστ. the terms have an objective sense, these being characteristics of the Divine plan. These treasures St. Paul calls ἀπόκρυφοι, probably in allusion to the pretended hidden wisdom of the false teachers, which nevertheless was merely superficial and concerned external observances, whereas the true Christian wisdom was inward and profound. These treasures of wisdom are not “kept concealed,” ἀποκεκρυμμένοι, they are “hidden, laid up,” ἀπόκρυφοι; but capable of being discovered. For this reason, as well as on account of the position of the word, ἀπόκρυφοι is not to be construed with εἰσίν as the direct predicate,—a construction which would require it to come next to εἰσίν. Meyer and Alford take the word as attributive, “all the secret treasures.” The absence of the article is against this, although not perhaps fatal; since, as Alford observes, οἱ ἀπόκρυφοι would imply that there were other treasures, only those that are secret being contained, etc. The position of the word, however, suggests that it is a secondary predicate (Ellicott, Lightfoot, v. Soden, al.), “all the treasures, etc., as hidden treasures,” i.e. “hiddenly,” ὥστε παρʼ αὐτοῦ δεῖ πάντα αἰτεῖν. Chrys. “quo verbo innuitur quod pretiosum et magnificum est in Christo non prominere, aut protinus in oculos incurrere hominum carnalium, sed ita latere ut conspiciatur tantummodo ab illis quibus Deus oculos dedit aquilinos, id est, spirituales ad videndum,” Davenant, quoted by Ellicott. The word occurs in connexion with θησαυροί in Isaiah 45:3, δώσω σοι θησαυροὺς σκοτεινοὺς ἀποκρύφους: also 1 Macc. 1:23, ἔλαβε τοὺς θησαυροὺς τοὺς ἀποκρύφους. On the Gnostic use of the word to designate their esoteric writings, see Lightfoot’s note.1
The expression θησαυρὸς σοφίας is used by Plato, Phileb. 15 E, ὥς τινα σοφίας εὑρηκὼς θησαυρόν, and by Xen. Mem. iv. 2. 9, ἄγαμαί σου διότι οὐκ ἀργυρίου καὶ χρυσίου προείλου θησαυροὺς κεκτῆσθαι μᾶλλον ἢ σοφίας.
σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως. These terms occur together, Romans 9:33, and several times in Eccles. Sept. “While γνῶσις is simply intuitive, σοφία is ratiocinative also. While γνῶσις applies chiefly to the apprehension of truths, σοφία superadds the power of reasoning about them and tracing their relations,” Lightfoot. Augustine’s distinction is that σοφία is “intellectualis cognitio aeternarum rerum”; γνῶσις, “rationalis temporalium,” so that the former pertains to contemplation, the latter to action (De Trin. xii. 20, 25). This, however, is quite opposed to usage. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. i. 1, opposed γνῶσις to πρᾶξις. And in 1 Corinthians 13:2, St. Paul connects γνῶσις with the apprehension of eternal μυστήρια.
4. τοῦτο λέγω. In this expression τοῦτο often refers to what follows, but with ἵνα it refers to what precedes; cf. John 5:34. τοῦτο is not to be limited to ver. 3. Ver. 5 shows that 1-3 are included, if, indeed, the reference does not extend further back.
δέ is omitted in א* A* (apparently) B, but added in אc Acorr. C D K L P, and apparently all other authorities. Weiss considers it certainly genuine.
ἳνα μηδείς. So א* A B C D P al. ἳνα μή τις, אc K L, most MSS.
παραλογίζηται. In N.T. only here and Jam 1:22; frequent in Sept. and later Greek writers. It applies primarily to false reckoning, and thence to fallacious reasoning; hence, παραλογισμός, a fallacy or paralogism; cf. ἀπάτῃ τινι παραλογισάμενος ὑμᾶς, Aeschines, p. 16, 33.
ἐν πιθανολογίᾳ. “By persuasive speech,” “a persuasive style,” Moule. The word occurs in Plato, Theaet. p. 162 E (πιθανολογίᾳ τε καὶ εἰκόσι); the verb πιθανολογεῖν in Arist. Eth. Nic. i. 1; also Diog. Laert. x. 87, al. In classical writers the sense is only that of probable reasoning as opposed to demonstration; but see Demosth. 928, 14, λόγους θαυμασίως πιθανούς, and ἡ πιθανολογική= “the art of persuasion,” Arrian, Epict. i. 8. 7.
Compare St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 2:4, οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖς σοφίας λόγοις, ἀλλʼ ἐν ἀποδείξει πνεύματος. πιθανολογία expresses the subjective means of persuasion, the personal influence; παραλογ. the objective, the appearance of logic.
5. εἰ γὰρ καὶ. The καὶ after εἰ does not belong to the whole clause introduced by εἰ, but emphasises the word immediately following; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16, 2 Corinthians 11:6.
τῇ σαρκὶ ἄπειμι. It has been inferred from this that St. Paul had been at Colossae; but without reason. The same expression, indeed, occurs 1 Corinthians 5:3; but this proves nothing, γάρ.
ἀλλά introduces the apodosis, when it is contrasted with a hypothetical protasis; cf. Romans 6:5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 5:16, al. τῷ πνεύματι, “in spirit,” not “by the spirit,” as Ambrosiaster and Grotius, “Deus Paulo revelat quae Colossis fierent.” The antithesis is the common one of body and spirit; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:3, ἀπὼν τῷ σώματι, παρὼν δὲ τῷ πνεύματι.
σὺν ὑμῖν. Stronger than ἐν ὑμῖν, expressing union in a common interest.
χαίρων καὶ βλέπων. There is no need to suppose a logical transposition, or to separate the participles as if χαίρων meant “rejoicing at being with you in the spirit” (Meyer, Alford). The apostle’s joy may have been due to many circumstances, and this joy led him to contemplate further their orderly array.
ὑμῶν τὴν τάξιν. The pronoun is placed emphatically first, not so much to accentuate this τάξις as an advantage which they possessed over others, as because the apostle’s interest was in them personally and in the τάξις only as belonging to them.
τὴν τάξιν καὶ τὸ στερέωμα. Both terms are supposed by Hofmann, Lightfoot, Soden, al., to contain a military metaphor, perhaps suggested by St. Paul’s enforced companionship with the praetorian guard, στερέωμα being rendered by Lightfoot “solid front, close phalanx”; by Soden, “bulwark,” “Bollwerk.” τάξις is frequently used of military array, e.g. Xen. Anab. i. 2. 18, ἰδοῦσα τὴν λαμπρότητα καὶ τὴν τάξιν τοῦ στρατεύματος ἐθαύμασεν: Plut. Vit. Pyrrh. 16, κατιδὼν τάξιν τε καὶ φυλακὰς καὶ κόσμον αὐτῶν καὶ τὸ σχῆμα τῆς στρατοπεδείας ἐθαύμασε. στερέωμα is found in the Sept. Psalm 18:2; Genesis 1:6, Rev_1 Macc. 9:14 is quoted in support of the military sense, εἶδεν ὁ Ἰούδας ὅτι Βακχίδης καὶ τὸ στερέωμα τῆς παρεμβολῆς ἐν τοῖς δεξίοις.
But neither word has this military sense of itself, but from the context, and here the context suggests nothing of the kind. τάξις is used equally of the organisation of a state or a household, e g. Demosth. p. 200, 4, ταύτην τὴν τάξιν αἱρεῖσθαι τῆς πολιτείας. Compare also Plato, Gorgias, p. 504 A, τάξεως … καὶ κόσμου τυχοῦσα οἰκία. St. Paul has it again, 1 Corinthians 14:40, πάντα … κατὰ τάξιν γινέσθω. Here the idea of a well-ordered state lies much nearer than that of an army. The apostle rejoices in the orderly arrangement of the Colossian Church. The opposite state would be ἀταξία, and of this he finds some instances in Thessalonica, where some walked ἀτάκτως, and he reminds them ὅτι οὐκ ἠτακτήσαμεν ἐν ὑμῖν (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 2 Thessalonians 3:11).
With στερέωμα τῆς πίστεως compare Acts 16:5, ἐστερεοῦντο τῇ πίστει, and 1 Peter 5:9, ᾧ ἀντίστητε στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει. It is most natural to take the word here as = the firm structure of your faith, i.e. the solidity of your faith. ὅτε πολλὰ συναγαγὼν συγκολλήσεις πυκνῶς καὶ ἀδιασπαστῶς, τότε στερέωμα γίνεται, Chrys.
We gather from this that the Church at Colossae was still substantially sound in the faith, and it is instructive to observe how here as in other Epistles St. Paul is careful to commend what he finds deserving of commendation.
It is worthy of notice that d e translate as if they read ὑστέρημα for στερέωμα “quod deest necessitatibus fidei vestrae.” Augustine agrees, quoting, “id quod deest fidei vestrae” (Ep. 149, Joh. 98). So also Ambrosiaster.
6. ὡς οὖν παρελάβετε. “As, then, ye received, i.e. from your teachers” = καθὼς ἐμάθετε ἀπὸ Ἐπαφρᾶ, 1:7; καθὼς ἐδιδάχθητε, ver. 7. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:1, καθὼς παρελάβετε παρʼ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ, κ.τ.λ.; 1 Corinthians 15:1, 1 Corinthians 15:2, 1 Corinthians 15:11:23; Galatians 1:9, Galatians 1:12; Php 4:9 (ἐμάθετε καὶ παρελάβετε).
Ellicott, however, and Moule understand it as meaning that they received “Christ Himself, the sum and substance of all teaching.” The sense is good, but does not agree so well with the usage of παραλαμβάνειν or with the context, in which we have the contrast between true and false teaching in relation to the Christian walk (καθὼς ἐδιδάχθητε, κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρ.).
τὸν Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν τὸν Κύριον. As St. Paul does not use the phrase ὁ Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς, this is naturally divided into τὸν Χριστόν and Ἰησοῦν τὸν Κύριον, so that τὸν Χρ. is the immediate object of παραλ. This is confirmed by the frequency of ὁ Χριστός in this Epistle, and by the designation of the object of the Christian preaching as ὁ Χριστός in Php 1:15, Php 1:17. Further, it will be observed that in what follows up to 3:4 it is not the notion of Ἰησοῦς or of Κύριος that is prominent, but that of Χριστός. The Christ, rather than the gospel, is specified as the object of the instruction, because “the central point of the Colossian heresy was the subversion of the true idea of the Christ,” Lightfoot. Ἰησοῦν τὸν Κύριον adds to the official designation the name of Him to whom it belongs, “even Jesus the Lord.” Compare Ephesians 4:20, Ephesians 4:21. The position of τὸν Κύριον after Ἰησοῦν (instead of the usual τὸν Κύριον Ἰησοῦν) points to the two elements of which the true doctrine of the Christ consists, viz. first, the recognition of the historical person, Jesus; and, secondly, the acceptance of Him as the Lord.
ἐν αὐτῷ περιπατεῖτε. This phrase does not occur elsewhere, but it corresponds to the idea of τὰς ὁδούς μου ἐν Χριστῷ, 1 Corinthians 4:17; ζῶντας ἐν Χριστῷ, Romans 4:11, etc.
7. ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ ἐποικοδομούμενοι. The propriety of the tenses is to be observed; the settled state, which is the antecedent condition of περιπατατεῖν ἐν αὐτῷ, is expressed by the perfect; the continual development which is always advancing, by the present. The three figures are disparate, the apostle’s thoughts being occupied with the lesson to be enforced, without regard to the consistency of his metaphor; see Ephesians 3:18. Some commentators put a stop at περιπατεῖτε, connecting the participles with the following ver. 8 a construction which leaves ἐν αὐτῷ π. very isolated.
The ἐπι- in ἐποικοδ. probably does not convey “the accessory idea of the foundation,” which would not agree well with ἐν; besides, it is clear from περιπατεῖτε and ἐρριζ. that the apostle has not before him the distinct figure of a building, but is using the word as St. Jude does, ver. 20, ἐποικοδομοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς τῇ ἁγιωτάτῃ ὑμῶν πίστει, in the derived ethical sense “being built up.” Lightfoot remarks that in this Epistle and that to the Ephesians, Christ is represented rather as the binding element than as the foundation of the building; see Ephesians 2:20.
βεβαιούμενοι qualifies the idea of both the preceding participles. The present gives the idea “being more and more stablished.”
τῇ πίστει is taken by Meyer and Lightfoot as an instrumental dative, “by your faith.” “Faith,” says the latter, “is, as it were, the cement of the building.” But this is to press unduly the metaphor in ἐποικοδ., which, as we have seen, is not intended any more than the other two verbs to convey a definite picture. There is no question here of the instrument, and τῇ πίστει is better taken as a dative of reference, as in Judges 1:20. There πίστις was that which needed βεβαίωσις. καθὼς ἐδιδάχθητε, “even as ye were taught,” i.e. so that ye continue firm and true to the lessons which ye were taught by Epaphras; cf. 1:7, not “taught to be established by or in your faith.”
περισσεύοντες ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ. “Abounding in thanksgiving.” If ἐν αὐτῇ is read after περισς., then ἐν εὐχ. is “with thanksgiving,” although even with this reading some expositors interpret “in your faith abounding in thanksgiving.”
τῇ πίστει without ἐν, B D* 17 al., Vulg., Ambrosiaster, Theoph. ἐν τῇ πίστει, א Do K L P, most MSS., Chrys., al. ἐν πίστει, A C 672. ἐν would readily come in from the impression made by the repeated ἐν in the context.
ἐν αὐτῇ is added after περισσεύοντες in B Dc K L most MSS., Syr-Pesh, Arm., Chrys. Also אc D* 1 d e f, Vulg., Syr., mg. have ἐν αὐτῷ. The words are absent from א* A C 17 and some other MSS., Amiat., Fuld.., Eth. The words are omitted in the text of RV. but retained in the marginal reading. They may have been added originally from a recollection of 4:2, where we have ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ. This is rather more probable than that they were omitted because περισσεύοντες was thought to be sufficiently defined by ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ. So Weiss.
he apostle has reason to know (having, no doubt, been so informed by Epaphras) that there are amongst the Colossians teachers who are propagating mischievous heresies, dangerous to the faith, and inculcating precepts not consistent with their position as members of Christ’s kingdom. These teachers make a professsion of philosophy, but it is a mere system of deceit and of human origin, and so far is it from being an advance on what they have been taught that it really belongs to a more elementary stage of progress. Ye, he tells them, have been already made full in Christ, in whom dwells the whole fulness of the Godhead, and who is therefore far above all these angelic beings of whom they speak. Ye need no circumcision of the flesh, for ye have received in Christ the true circumcision of the spirit. By Him ye have been raised from death to life, and His work is complete; He has wholly done away with the bond that was against you.
8. βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς ἔσται. “Beware lest there be anyone,” etc. For τις with the participle and article, cf. Galatians 1:7, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς. As it gives prominence to the person and his action, it appears to point to some particular person whom the apostle has in view but does not wish to name. Compare Ignat. Smyrn. 5, ὅν τινες ἀγνοοῦντες ἀρνοῦνται … τὰ δὲ ὀνόματα αὐτῶν … οὐκ ἔδοξέ μοι ἐγγράψαι. The future indic. ἔσται indicates the reality of the danger, cf. Mark 14:2, μήποτε ἔσται θόρυβος, and Hebrews 3:12, βλέπετε μήποτε ἔσται ἔν τινι ὑμῶν, κ.τ.λ. ὑμᾶς before ἔσται is somewhat emphatic: “you who are such persons as I have thus commended.”
This order, ὑμᾶς ἔσται, is that of B C K L P; but א A D have ἔσται ὑμᾶς, which, as the more obvious order, was more likely to be written in error.
ὁ συλαγωγῶν. A later Greek word (not indeed found till after St. Paul) used by Aristaenetus (2:22) with οἶκον in the sense “plunder,” in which sense it is understood here by Chrys., Theodoret, and some moderns. Theodoret supplies τὴν πίστιν, Theophyl. τὸν νοῦν. If this were the sense here, the object could hardly be omitted. But the proper meaning of the word seems to be “to carry off as spoil.” So Heliodorus, Aeth. x. 35, ὁ τὴν ἐμὴν θυγάτερα συλαγωγήσας. And this meaning corresponds with that of the analogous compounds, δουλαγωγεῖν, σκευαγωγεῖν, λαφυραγωγεῖν. Von Soden remarks that it also corresponds better with the idea of a destroyed bond in ver. 14 to suggest that they might again be brought into bondage; cf. Galatians 5:1. The Vulgate “decipiat” is very inadequate.
διὰ τῆς φιλοσοφίας. A term not occurring elsewhere in the N.T., and no doubt adopted here because it was used by the false teachers themselves. The combination of it here with κενὴ ἀπάτη indicates that the sense is nearly “his philosophy, so called, which is a vain deceit.” Compare ψευδώνυμος γνῶσις, 1 Timothy 6:20. Chrysostom remarks: ἐπειδὴ δοκεῖ σεμνὸν εἶναι τὸ “τῆς φιλοσοφίας” προσέθηκεε καὶ κενῆς ἀπάτης. That the word φιλοσοφία was in use in Jewish circles appears from Philo and Josephus. The former applies the word to the religion of the Jews and the law of Moses, perhaps for the purpose of giving dignity to them in the eyes of Gentile readers. He speaks of ἡ κατὰ Μωϋσῆν φιλοσοφία (De Mut. Nom. 39), ἡ πάτριος φιλοσοφία (Leg. ad Cai. 23), ἡ Ἰουδαϊκὴ, φιλοσοφίο (ib. 33). Josephus calls the three Jewish sects τρεῖς φιλοσοφίαι (Ant. xviii. 1. 2). It is clear from the connexion with κενῆς ἀπάτης that St. Paul is not condemning philosophy in general, which, indeed, would be quite beside his purpose.
καὶ κενῆς ἀπάτης. The absence of the article shows that this is not a different thing from ἡ φιλοσοφία, but is a characteristic of it. ἀπάτη is opposed to λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας, 1:5, and to σοφία καὶ γνῶσις, 2:3.
κατὰ τὴν παρὰδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Probably to be connected with the immediately preceding words rather than with συλαγωγῶν. The teaching of the Colossian false teachers was essentially traditional and esoteric. The Essenes, their spiritual predecessors, as well as the Gnostics, subsequently claimed to possess such a source of knowledge. The oath taken by the full members of the former sect bound them not to communicate any of their doctrines to anyone otherwise than as he himself had received them, and, further, to guard carefully the books of their sect and the names of the angels (Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 7; Lightfoot, pp. 89, 90). Compare the designation Kabbala, “tradition,” applied by the Jews to their later mystic theology.
κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου. “According to the rudiments of the world” (?). This κατά with the following κατὰ Χριστόν may perhaps be best connected with συλαγωγῶν, as the ideas they introduce have a different logical relation to the main idea, and οὐ κατὰ Χριστόν is too brief to form the antithesis to the other two κατά clauses.
τὰ στοιχεῖα (= Galatians 4:3) (originally = “letters of the alphabet”) is generally understood by modern commentators as meaning “elementary teaching,” “the A B C of religious instruction”; compare παιδαγωγός in Gal. Then τοῦ κόσμου would mean having reference to mundane, or material, not spiritual things (Alford, Lightfoot, al.). But De Wette takes κόσμος as = “humanity,” as the subject of this instruction (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19). So Oltramare. Meyer, on the other hand, understands by it “the non-Christian world,” “rudiments with which the world concerns itself” ( = Bleek, Weiss, al.).
Neander judges that a comparison of all the Pauline passages and the Pauline association of ideas favour our understanding the phrase as denoting the earthly, elsewhere termed τὰ σαρκικά. Hence, 2:20, στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου and κόσμος may, he thinks, be considered as synonymous.
An entirely different interpretation has been adopted by several recent commentators. According to this, τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου are the personal elemental spirits. According to Jewish ideas, not only were the stars conceived as animated by spiritual beings,1 but all things had their special angels. In the Book of Enoch, 82. 10 ff., it is said with reference to the angels of the stars that they keep watch, that they may appear at their appointed times, in their proper orders, etc. There are, first, the four leaders who divide the seasons, then the twelve leaders of the orders (taxiarchs), who divide the months; and for the 360 days there are heads over thousands (chiliarchs), who divide the days. Anyone who is curious about the matter may learn the principal names in the book itself. In 18. 15 we read of stars which suffer punishment because they have transgressed the commandment of God as to their appearing. In the Book of Jubilees, cap. 2, amongst the creations of the first day are the Angels of the Presence, but also the angels of the winds, of clouds, of cold and heat, of hail, hoarfrost, thunder, etc. Perhaps Psalm 104:4 may have some relation to this conception; certainly it seems to be illustrated by the Apocalypse, vii. 1, 2, xiv. 18, xvi. 5 (τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων), xix. 17; and by the interpolation in John 5:4. It is obvious that the term properly used of the elements ruled by these spirits might readily be applied to the spirits themselves, especially as there was no other convenient term. It agrees with this that in Galatians 4:1 ff. those who were δεδουλωμένοι ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου are compared to those who are under ἐπίτροποι καὶ οἰκονόμοι,—a comparison which suggests personality in the former. And again, ib. 8, 9, δουλεύειν τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θεοῖς appears to be equivalent to δουλεύειν τοῖς στοιχείοις, κ.τ.λ.
In the present passage the observance of times and seasons, etc., is κατὰ τὰ στ.τ.κ., not κατὰ Χρ., a contrast which does not agree well with the conception of στ. as elements of instruction. This view of τὰ στοιχεῖα gives special pertinence to the proposition which follows, ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ, κ.τ.λ., and ver. 10, ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας. Ritschl defends this personal interpretation of στοιχεῖα at length (Rechtfertigung u. Versöhnung, 3rd ed. ii. p. 252), but needlessly limits the meaning to the angels of the lawgiving. Spitta adopts the more general reference (Der Zweite Brief des Petras u.der Brief des Judas, 1885, 263 ff.). He quotes from the Test. Levi, c. 4, a passage which speaks of the burning up of τὰ ἀόρατα πνεύματα, just as 2 Peter 3:10 speaks of the burning up of στοιχεῖα. This view is unreservedly adopted by Kühl, the recent editor of the Epistles of Peter and Jude in Meyer’s Kommentar, and by v. Soden in his comment on the present passage.2
9. ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα. See 1:19; and on πλήρωμα, Lightfoot’s dissertation, Colossians, p. 323 ff.
τῆς θεότητος, “of the Godhead,” i.e. of the Divine nature. θεότης, the abstract of θεός, must not be confounded with θειότης, which is used with propriety in Romans 1:20, and which means, not the essence, but the quality of divinity. θεότης is found in Lucian, Icarom. ix., τὸν μέν τινα πρῶτον Θεὸν ἐπεκάλουν, τοῖς δὲ τὰ δεύτερα καὶ τὰ τρίτα ἔνεμον τῆς θεότητος; and in Plutarch, Mor. p. 415 C, ἐκ δὲ δαιμόνων ὀλίγαι μὲν ἔτι χρόνῳ πολλῷ διʼ ἀρετῆς καθαρθεῖσαι παντάπασι θεότητος μετέσχον. The δαίμονες were always θεῖοι, but a few became in course of time θεοί. The same author, Mor. p. 857 A, says, πᾶσιν Αἰγυπτίοις θειότητα πολλὴν καὶ δικαιοσύνην μαρτυρήσας, i.e. a Divine faculty. The Versions generally, including the Vulgate, fail to mark the distinction, doubtless for want of a word to express θεότης. The word deitas was a later coinage (not quite according to Latin analogy). Trench quotes from Augustine, De Civ. Dei, vii. § 1, “Hanc divinitatem, vel, ut sic dixerim deitatem: nam et hoc verbo uti jam nostros non piget, ut de Graeco expressius transferant id quod illi θεότητα appellant.”
σωματικῶς, “bodilywise, corporeally.” Not ἀσωμάτως as in the λόγος before the Incarnation, but in His glorified body σῶμα τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ, Php 3:21. Chrysostom draws attention to the accuracy of the expression, μὴ νομίσῃς Θεὸν συγκεκλεῖσθαι, ὡς ἐν σώματι.
This interpretation, which is that adopted by most modern commentators, is the only one tenable, but many others have been suggested. Theophylact and Oecumenius took the word to mean “essentially,” οὐσιωδῶς, i.e. not merely as an influence, as in the saints or as in the prophets. So Calvin, Beza, and, more recently, Olshausen and Usteri. But the word cannot have this meaning.
Augustine (Epist. 149) understands it to mean “really” not “typically,” “vere non umbratice,” not “umbratiliter,” as in the temple made with hands; and so many moderns (including Bengel and Bleek), comparing ver. 17, where σῶμα is contrasted with σκιά. But there the idea is that of a body which cast a shadow, and the passage does not justify our rendering the adverb “really.”
Others, again, understanding πλήρωμα of the Church, take σωματικῶς to mean, “so that the Church is related to Him as His body” (Baumgarten-Crusius, al.), thus making the body of Christ dwell in Christ, instead of Christ in the body.
10. καὶ ἐστὲ ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρωμένοι. “And ye are in Him made full.” Alford, Ellicott, and Lightfoot render, “ye are in Him, made full,” regarding the clause as containing two predications. But the connexion seems to require the fact to be emphasised, that it is “in Him” that the πεπληρωμένον εἶναι rests; for on this depends the inference that nothing more is lacking in our relation to God. The πεπληρωμένοι obviously corresponds with the πλήρωμα. Christ is πεπληρωμένος: ye being in Him share in His πλήρωμα, and are therefore yourselves πεπληρωμένοι. Compare John 1:16, ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν: Ephesians 3:9, ἴνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ, also ibid. 4:13 and 1:23.
ὃς ἐστιν. So א A C K L P and nearly all MSS. with the Latin e f g Vulg. and Chrys., Theodoret, al. But B D G 47* with d have ὅ ἐστιν, perhaps a correction made on the supposition that αὐτῷ referred to πλήρωμα, or by oversight c was lost before e c. Lachmann adopts it, placing καὶ to ἐν αὐτῷ in a parenthesis. The image, however, would be quite confused if the πλήρωμα were represented as the head; ἡ κεφαλή is always Christ. Besides, we should be obliged to refer ἐν ὧ also to πλήρωμα, and this would not yield any tolerable sense. Ewald, adopting ὅ ἑστιν, takes it as= “scilicet,” comparing 1:24, 27 and 3:17; but this would require τῇ κεφαλῇ.
ἡ κεφαλὴ πάσης ἀρχῆ καὶ ἐξουσίας. He is the head of all those angelic powers to whose mediation the false teachers would teach you to seek. As they are subordinate to Christ, ye have nothing to expect from them which is not given you in full completeness in Christ.
11. ἐν ὧ καὶ περιετμήθητε. “In whom also ye were (not ‘are,’ as AV.) circumcised.” “Ye have received the circumcision of the heart, by which ye have put off the whole body of the flesh, and therefore ye have no need of the symbolical circumcision of the flesh.”
The aorists point to the time of their reception into the Christian Church by baptism.
περιτομῇ, “with a circumcision,” not “the circumcision.”
ἀχειροποιήτῳ, “not wrought by hands,” not physical: cf. Mark 14:58; 2 Corinthians 5:1; and Ephesians 2:11, where we have the other side of the contrast, οἱλεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομὴ ἐν σαρκι χειροποιήτου. The idea of spiritual circumcision is frequent in the O.T.; see note on the passage in Eph. In St. Paul, compare Romans 2:28; Php 3:3. At first sight it might appear from this clause that the Colossians had been tempted like the Galatians to submit to circumcision. But in that case we should find, as in the Epistle to the Galatians, some direct condemnation of the practice; whereas in 16-23 there is no reference to it. Possibly the allusion here is to some claim to superiority on the part of the false teachers.
ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει. ἐν specifies that in which the περιτομή consisted. The substantive ἀπέκδυσις has not been found in any earlier writer (for the verb, see ver. 15). It expresses a complete putting off and laying aside, and was probably chosen with reference to the figure of circumcision. The connexion requires it to be understood passively, not “ye have put off,” but “was put off from you.”
τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός, i.e. “the body which consists in the flesh,” “the fleshly body,” so that we are no more ἐν τῇ σαρκι (Romans 7:5, Romans 7:8:8, Romans 7:9). The change is ideally represented as complete, which it is in principle.
Some expositors take σῶμα in the sense of “mass, totality” (Calvin, Grotius, al.); but this is against N.T. usage, and does not agree so well with the context, the images in which are connected with the body, “buried, raised.” The expression σῶμα τῆς σαρκός, 1:22, has a different meaning.
The Rec. Text after σώματος adds τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν, with אc Dbc K L and most MSS., Syr., Chrys., etc.
The words are absent from א* A B C D* G P some good cursives, Old Lat. Vulg., Boh., etc. They are clearly a gloss.
ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ. The simplest and most natural interpretation is: “the circumcision which belongs to Christ, and is brought about by union with Him,” in contrast to the circumcision of Moses and of the patriarchs. Thus it is nearly equivalent to “Christian circumcision,” but expresses the idea that the source of this circumcision is in Christ.
Some commentators have taken Χριστοῦ as the genitive of the object, the thought being supposed to be that in the circumcision of Christ we are circumcised. So Schöttgen: “Circumcisio Christi qui se nostri causa sponte legi subjecit, tam efficax fuit in omnes homines, ut nulla amplius circumcisione carnis opus sit, praecipue quum in locum illius baptismus a Christo surrogatus sit.” This is not only without support from Scripture analogy, but is foreign to the context, in which the circumcision spoken of is ἀχειροποίητος. The baptism mentioned in ver. 12, in which we are buried with Him, is our baptism. Soden also takes Χριστοῦ as an objective genitive, understanding, however, περιτομή in the sense of ἀπέκδυσις τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός just specified, which echoes 1:22.
Chrysostom and Theophylact understand the genitive as subjective, ὁ Χριστὸς περιτέμνει ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι ἀπεκδύων ἡμᾶς τοῦ παλαίου βίου, Theoph. This does not harmonise with the following συνταφέντες αὐτῷ.
12. συνταφέντες αὐτῷ, κ.τ.λ. We have the same figure in Romans 6:3, Romans 6:4, which may almost be regarded as a commentary on this passage. The figure was naturally suggested by the immersion in baptism, which St. Paul interprets as symbolical of burial, the emersion similarly symbolising the rising again to newness of life.
συνταφέντες is to be connected with περιετμήθητε, and specifies when and how this was brought about.
ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι. So most authorities, א* A C Dc K L P, etc. But אc, B D* F G 47 672 71 have βαπτισμῷ, which Lightfoot prefers on the ground that it is the less usual word in this sense. That it might be so used is shown by its occurrence in Josephus, Ant. xviii. 5. 2, of the baptism of John. But in two of the other three passages in which it occurs in the N.T., it means lustration or washing, e.g. of vessels: Mark 7:4 (in Rec. also 8); Hebrews 9:10. The third passage, Hebrews 6:2, is doubtful. In the Latin version as well as in the Latin Fathers, “baptisma” and “baptismus” are used indifferently. St. Paul uses the substantive “baptism” in only two other places (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:5), and this is not sufficient to supply any basis for inference as to his usage. Etymologically βαπτισμός would signify rather the act of dipping, βάπτισμα the act as complete. Weiss thinks the former more suitable here.
ἐν ᾧ, viz. βαπτίσματι. This seems clearly required by the analogy between συνταφέντες ἐν and συνηγέρθητε. Chrysostom, however, and most comm. understand ἐν Χριστῷ. Meyer defends this on the ground, first, of the parallelism of ἐν ᾧ καί—ἐν ᾧ καί; secondly, because, if baptism were intended, ἐν would not be suitable to the rising again, and we should expect ἐξ, or at least the non-local διά; and, lastly, because as συνταφέντες is defined by ἐν τῷ βαπτ., so is συνηγέρθητε by διὰ τῆς πίστεως; and, therefore, the text suggests no reason for continuing to it the former definition also. To the second objection (adopted also by Eadie), it may be replied that βάπτισμα (βαπτισμός) includes the whole act. It is only when we take in the two things signified, the “death unto sin” and the “new birth unto righteousness,” or the putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new, that βάπτισμα can be identified with περιτομὴ ἀχειροποίητος; for περιτομή also signified the entrance into a holy state as well as the separation from the state of nature. The first objection has really no weight, for it is much more natural to connect συνηγέρθητε with συνταφέντες than with περιετμήθητε; and this is strongly confirmed by the passage in Rom. just referred to: συνετάφημεν αὐτῷ διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσματος … ἵνα ὥσπερ ἠγέρθη Χριστός … οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς περιπατήσωμεν, κ.τ.λ. Further, as Lightfoot observes, the idea of Χριστῷ must be reserved for συνηγέρθητε, where it is wanted: “ye were raised together with Him.” (So Alford, Beza, De Wette, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Soden, al.)
συνηγέρθητε. Compare Galatians 3:27, ὅσοι εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε Χριστὸν ἐπενδύσασθε. The Χριστὸν ἐπενδύσασθαι presupposes the ἀπέκδυσις τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός.
διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ Θεοῦ. “Through your faith in the working of God.” Bengel, De Wette, al., understand ἐνεργείας as a genitive of cause, “faith produced by the operation of God.” But the genitive after πίστις, when not that of the person, is always that of the object. Cf. Mark 11:22; Acts 3:16; Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16, Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:12; Php 1:27, etc. Ephesians 1:19 is cited in favour of this interpretation, but κατὰ τὴν ἐνεργείαν there is not to be joined to τοὺς πιστεύοντας; see note on the passage. The former interpretation is also more suitable to the context. The πίστις here is specified as faith in the resurrection, πιστεύοντες γὰρ τῇ τοῦ Θεοῦ δυνάμει προσμένομεν τὴν ἀνάστασιν, ἐνέχυρον ἔχοντες τοῦ δεσπότου χριστοῦ τὴν ἀνάστασιν, Theodoret. πίστεως ὅλον ἐστίν· ἐπιστεύσατε ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς ἐγεῖραι, καὶ οὕτως ἠγέρθητε, Chrys. Faith is the subjective means by which the grace is received; only by a belief in the resurrection can the rising again with Christ be appropriated by the individual. By belief in the resurrection of Christ we believe in the power of God, of which it is an evidence; and this belief, again, is the means by which that power works in the life and produces an effect analogous to that resurrection. Compare Romans 4:24, Romans 6:8, Romans 10:9.
B D G 17 and most MSS. have τῶν before νεκρῶν; אA C K L P and several cursives omit it. In most instances of this or similar phrases ἐκ νεκρῶν is used without τῶν, and with no variety in codd. (In Ephesians 1:20 L and some twenty-five MSS. prefix τῶν.) But in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 א B D G L P and many MSS., with Chrys., Theodoret, al., have τῶν, A C K and many MSS. omitting it. It seems, therefore, more probable that τῶν was omitted here in conformity with usage than that it was wrongly added. See on Luke 20:35.
13. καὶ ὑμᾶς, νεκροὺς ὄντας τοῖς παραπτώμασι … ὑμῶν. See Ephesians 2:1.
καὶ τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν. Some commentators understand σαρκός as a genitive of apposition, or “epexegetical,” “the uncircumcision which consisted in your carnal, sinful nature”; “exquisita appellatio peccati originalis,” Bengel. But the apostle could hardly have said νεκροὺς τῇ σαρκὶ ὑμῶν without some further definition. If, indeed, he were addressing Jews, the expression in this sense would be intelligible, since it would be at once obvious that ἀκροβ. was figuratively used, and therefore σαρκός also. But though intelligible it would be very strange, as it would imply a hidden contrast between the literal and figurative meanings of σάρξ. As addressed to Gentiles, who had the literal ἀκροβυστία τῆς σαρκός, the words can hardly be understood otherwise than as referring to the external fact. But it is referred to only on account of its symbolical significance. Dead in your trespasses and your alienation from God, of which the uncircumcision of your flesh was a symbol. τῆς σαρκός appears to be added in contrast to the περιτομὴ ἀχειροποίητος, and at the same time to suggest the symbolical sense. Hence the apostle does not say ἡμῶν, although presently after he introduces the first person.
The Rec. Text has ἐν before τοῖς παραπτώμασιν, with אa A C D F G K P and most MSS. It is omitted by Tisch., Lightfoot, with א* B L 17 and some other MSS. Chrys., D*, G and a few others, with the Latin d e g, prefix ἐν to τῇ ἀκροβυστία also.
συνεζωοποίησεν ὑμᾶς. ὑμᾶς is repeated for emphasis.
So א* A C K L and about fifty cursives, Syr. Eth. etc. B 17 37 and more than twenty other cursives read ἡμᾶς, conforming to the following ἡμῖν. אc D G P and many MSS. Old Lat., Vulg., Boh., Chrys., etc. omit. The reasons for omission may have been the desire to simplify the grammar, and to avoid the proximity of ὑμᾶς and ἡμῖν.
As B reads ἡμᾶς here for ὑμᾶς, so אc L P and many others, with Vulg., Eth., Theodoret, al., have ὑμῖν for ἡμῖν.
On συνεζωοποίησε, see Ephesians 2:5. What is the subject? Ellicott, following Chrysostom, replies: Christ; partly on account, first, of “the logical difficulty of supplying a nom. from the subordinate gen. Θεοῦ”; secondly, of the prominence given to Christ throughout the preceding context, the acts described in the participles (ἐξαλ. κ.τ.λ., compared with Ephesians 2:15, and χαρις. with Colossians 3:13); and, lastly, the difficulty of referring vv. 14 and 15 to God the Father. On the other hand, the reasons for adopting ὁ Θεός as the subject seem decisive. (1) There is really less logical difficulty in supplying ὁ Θεός from τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἐγείραντος than in supplying ὁ Χριστός from αὐτῷ or αὐτόν, where it is the object, or from τοῦ Χριστοῦ. (2) καὶ ὑμᾶς makes it almost necessary to understand the same subject to συνεζωοποίησε as to ἐγείραντος. (3) This is further confirmed by the συν in συνεζωοποίησεν, and by σὺν αὐτῷ. He that quickened you along with Him must surely be the same who is said to have raised Him. (4) In St. Paul it is always God, not Christ, who is the subject of ἐγείρει, συνεγείρει, ζωοποιεῖ, συνζωοποιεῖ. (5) Lastly, in Ephesians 2:4, which is so closely parallel, ὁ Θεός is the subject of συνεζωοποίησε. Hence we seem compelled to take ὁ Θεός here as the subject, whatever the difficulty of vv. 14, 15. And so Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, v. Soden.
χαρισάμενος, “having forgiven.” Moule prefers “forgiving,” i.e. in the act of quickening. There is no grammatical objection to this; but logically, at least, the χαρίζεσθαι must precede the ζωοποιεῖν. The verb χαρίζεσθαι properly means “to grant as a favour” (see on Ephesians 4:32). Compare in the N.T. Luke 7:21, ἐχαρίσατο βλέπειν: Acts 3:14, φονέα χαρισθῆναι: 25:11, οὐδείς με δύναται αὐτοῖς χαρίσασθαι; ib. 16, 27:24, κεχάρισταί σοι ὁ Θεὸς πάντας τοὺς πλέοντας μετὰ σοῦ. Php 1:29; Philemon 1:22.
It does not seem necessary to suppose that its use in the sense “forgive an offence” is derived from that of “forgiving a debt”; but even if so, there is no reason to think that it continued to suggest the latter idea. Here at all events, notwithstanding χειρόγραφον, it would appear not to have been so intended, else παραπτώματα would hardly be used, which would interfere with the figure. See on Luke 7:21, Luke 7:42.
ἡμῖν is here the right reading, with א* A B C D G K and most MSS., d e g Goth., Syr. (both), Boh., Arm., Chrys., al.
ὑμῖν is read by אc L P and many MSS. f, Vulg., Eth. The apostle at the earliest moment, as we may say, includes himself, claiming his share in the transgression and in the forgiveness. Such transition is frequent with him; cf. 1:10-13, 3:3, 4; Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 2:3, Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 2:14, Ephesians 2:4:31, 32, Ephesians 2:5:2. For the converse transition see Galatians 3:25, Galatians 3:26, Galatians 3:4:5, Galatians 3:6. If χαρισάμενος were simultaneous with συνεζωοποίησεν, St. Paul must have used ὑμῖν here.
14. ἐξαλείψας, “blotting out” (because simultaneous with χαρισάμενος, and specifying the act by which the χαρ. was carried out). Strictly, it means “wiping out or away,” “cera obducta delere.” It is used of “sins,” Acts 3:19; of a “name,” Revelation 3:5; of “tears,” Revelation 7:17, Revelation 21:4. It is used also in classical writers of blotting out or wiping out a writing, e.g. Plato, Rep. p. 386 C, p. 501 B, and hence of abolishing a law, Dem. p. 468, 1, etc.
τὸ καθʼ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον. “The bond that was against us.” χειρόγραφον, properly an autograph, was in later Greek a technical term for a written acknowledgment of debt, for which the older term was συγγραφή or γραμματεῖον. “Chirographum” became the usual Roman legal term; cf. Cic. Fam. vii. 18; Juvenal, Sat. xvi. 41.
Here the χειρόγραφον is the Mosaic Law, which being unfulfilled is analogous to an unpaid “note of hand.” But the figure must not be pressed too far, for in this case the χειρόγραφον was not written by the debtor. Nor is it necessary to suppose that the apostle had in view the assent of the Jewish people; Deuteronomy 27:14-26; Exodus 24:3 (Chrys., Oecum., Theoph., Lightfoot, etc.), or in the case of the Gentiles the assent of conscience to the moral law. The fact of obligation is sufficient to justify the use of the figure. Hence it is τὸ καθʼ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον, but not ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον. Although the Gentiles had not the written law, they had “the work of the law written in their hearts,” and therefore come under the same obligation.
For a detailed account of other views of χειρόγραφον, see Eadie.
δόγμασιν, “consisting in δόγματα, i.e. ordinances,” compare Ephesians 2:15, τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασι, where see note on the meaning of δόγμα, which in the N.T. is always “a decree.”
The dative is best regarded as closely connected with χειρόγραφον only, being dependent on the idea of γεγραμμένον involved in the word. Compare Plato, Ep. 7. p. 243 A, ὃ δὴ πάσχει τὰ γεγραμμένα τύποις. So Meyer, Alford, Eadie, Lightfoot, Soden. The explanation is not without difficulty, as χειρογ. is a synthetic compound; and Lightfoot thinks it possible that ἐν may have dropped out after the similar termination -ον. If so, it must have been in the earliest ages that the error occurred, since no trace remains of the reading ἐν.
Two or three other explanations deserve notice; first, that of Winer, al., followed by Ellicott, according to which δόγμασι is a nearer definition of the whole, τὸ καθʼ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον expressing at the same time what the χειρόγραφον was, and in what respect it was against us. For this we should expect τὸ τοῖς δόγμασιν καθʼ ἡμῶν χ., or τὸ καθʼ ἡμῶν χ. τῶν δογμάτων, or the like.
Erasmus, Olshausen, Conybeare, and others connect τοῖς δόγμασιν with the following clause: “the handwriting, which by its ordinances, was against us,” a very unnatural construction, for which Acts 1:2 affords no parallel.
The Greek commentators (Chrysostom, Severianus, Theodore Mops., Theodoret, Oec., Theoph.) connect δόγμασιν with ἐξαλείψας, understanding the word to mean the doctrines or precepts of the gospel, as the instrument by which the blotting out was effected. Jerome adopts this view; and so, amongst moderns, Grotius, Estius, Bengel, Fritzsche.
But this is not only opposed to the use of δόγμα in the N T., but, what is of more importance, it is inconsistent with fact. For it is not by precepts or doctrines (ἡ εὐαγγελικὴ διδασκαλία, Theoph.), nor by faith (Theodoret), that the handwriting, i.e. the Mosaic Law, is abrogated. Moreover, the cognate verb δογματίζεσθε in ver. 20 has obvious reference to the δόγματα here, and it is implied that such δόγματα are obsolete. It is remarkable that the Greek commentators named above do not even allude to the correct interpretation, adopting without question that construction which was grammatically simplest. Irenaeus, however (quoted by Lightfoot), appears to have taken the more correct view.
The term δόγματα is used here instead of νόμος, doubtless in order to fix attention on the formal element, the plurality of precepts,—an element which was common to it and the δογματίζειν of the false teachers. It thus prepares for the τί δογματίζεσθε of ver. 20. See on Luke 2:1.
ὃ ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡμῖν. “Which was directly opposed to us.” Here first the idea of the hostility of the χειρόγραφον is expressed, the καθʼ ὑμῶν only asserting its validity with reference to us.
ὑπεναντίος occurs again Hebrews 10:27. The ὑπό does not in this word imply either secrecy (Beza, al.) or mitigation, as = “subcontrarius,” a signification which ὑπό in composition often has, but which does not belong to ὑπενατίος either in the Sept. or in classical writers. For the Sept. cf. Gen. 22:27; Exodus 23:27; and for classical usage, two passages cited by Lightfoot, viz. Arist. De Gen. et Corr i. 7, ἐοίκασι οἱ τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον λέγοντες ὑπεναντία φαίνεσθαι λέγειν, where it means “self-contradictory,” and [Plato] Alcib. Sec. 138 C, ΣΩ. Τὸ μαίνεσθαι ἆρα ὑπεναντίον σοι δοκεῖ τῷ φρονεῖν; ΑΛ. Πάνυ μὲν οὖν … 139 B, ΣΩ. Καὶ μὴν δύο γε ὑπεναντία ἑνὶ πράγματι πῶς ἂν εἴη, where the argument turns on the sense of direct opposition involved in the word.
καὶ αὐτὸ ἦρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου. “And it (emphatic) He hath taken out of the way.” The χειρόγραφον, the writing on which had been blotted out, has now been itself removed out of the way. αἴρειν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου or ἐκ μεσοῦ was a classical expression for removing out of the way, as, on the contrary, ἐν μέσῳ εἶναι meant “to be in the way.” For the former, compare Dem. De Corona, p. 354, τὸ καταψεύδεσθαι καὶ διʼ ἐχθράν τι λέγειν ἀνελόντας ἐκ μέσου; also Acts 17:33 and 2 Thessalonians 2:7, μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἕως ἂν ἐκ μέσου γένηται. The idea “from between us and God” is not implied, but only that of an obstacle, as these and other passages show. The change of structure from the participles to the finite verb is to be noted, as well as the perfect ἦρκεν. The perfect fixes attention on the present state of freedom resulting from the action which was especially before the apostle’s mind. “It is suggested,” says Lightfoot, “by the feeling of relief and thanksgiving which rises up in the apostle’s mind at this point.” This is quite sufficient to account for the change of construction; but there was another and more imperative reason in the necessity for adding a further participial definition to the “taking away.” It is clear that ἆρας … προσήλωσας would not have conveyed the same idea.
Lightfoot and others suppose a change of subject at ἦρκεν, viz. from ὁ Θεός to ὁ Χριστός. A new subject, it is thought, must be introduced somewhere, because “no grammatical meaning can be assigned to ἀπεκδυσάμενος by which it could be understood of God the Father,” and the severance created here by the change of construction suggests this as the best point of transition, the alternative point being at ἀπεκδυσάμενος. Barry observes that such grammatical anomalies are not uncommon in St. Paul. But certainly this cannot be said of such a misleading confusion or hidden change of subject as this would be. Lightfoot compares the transition in i. 17-19. If the interpretation given in the note there is correct, there is no hidden transition, the subject of εὐδόκησεν being expressed. But even if ὁ Θεός is the subject of εὐδόκησεν in 1:19, there is no analogy. For the change of subject there is not concealed, and the only peculiarity is that ὁ Θεός is not expressed; and the very ground on which commentators defend this view of the construction is that the verb εὐδοκεῖν and the substantive εὐδοκία are so often used absolutely of God’s good pleasure that the verb itself suggests “God” as its subject. Here, on the contrary, there is nothing in the words to indicate or suggest a new subject. On the contrary, ἦρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου only expresses a different aspect of the same idea that is presented in ἐξαλείψας. No intelligible reason has been alleged why St. Paul should say, “God blotted out the handwriting, Christ removed it out of the way.” Indeed, had this been stated with the subjects expressed, it would have created a difficulty.
Further, this view is open to the fatal objection, that it dissociates χαρισάμενος and ἐξαλείψας from the Cross. It inevitably suggests that the forgiveness and the blotting out of the χειρόγραφον ascribed to God are one thing, and the removal, etc., ascribed to Christ a distinct and subsequent work. V. Soden, indeed (who, however, does not suppose any change of subject), suggests such a distinction as possible. He remarks that in the figure itself αἴρειν προσηλώσαντα denotes a step beyond ἐξαλείφειν, so that we might regard the ἐξαλ. as accomplished in the sending of Christ, the αἴρειν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου in His death. He considers it more probable, however, that both expressions are figures for one and the same thing, the χαρίζεσθαι τὰ παραπτώματα, the former applying to it in its effect, the latter adding the means by which the effect is accomplished.
προσηλώσας αὐτὸ τῷ σταυρῷ. The aorist expresses the historical fact. The verb does not occur elsewhere in the N.T., but is found in classical writers, and with σταυρῷ in 3 Macc. 4:9, and Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 14. 9. The thought expressed is similar to that in Galatians 3:13. As Meyer observes, “since by the death of Christ on the Cross the law which condemned men lost its penal authority, inasmuch as Christ by His death endured for men the curse of the Law and became the end of the Law, hence in the fact that Christ as a ἱλαστήριον was nailed to the Cross, the Law itself was nailed thereon, whereby it ceased to be ἐν μέσῳ.” The figure in προσηλώσας is suggested simply by the idea of the crucifixion; there is no reason to suppose, with Grotius, any allusion to a custom of driving a nail through obsolete laws or decrees, and so hanging them up in public, a custom which seems to be unproved.
15. ἀπεκδυσάμενος τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας, ἐδειγμάτισεν, κ.τ.λ. The verb ἀπεκδύεσθαι appears not to occur in any writer before St. Paul; its occurrence, therefore, here and in 3:9, as well as that of ἀπέκδυσις in ver. 11, is remarkable. It is, no doubt, chosen in order to express more emphatically the completeness of the action. Both ἀποδύειν and ἐκδύειν occur in classical authors in the sense “strip,” hence of enemies, “strip of arms, spoliare.” For ἐκδύειν in the sense “strip,” see Matthew 27:28, Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:20; Luke 10:30. The middle occurs 2 Corinthians 5:4 of putting off the mortal body. In this Epistle, 3:19, ἀπεκδυσάμενοι occurs again in the sense “strip off and put away,” viz., τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον. It is very difficult to decide in what sense the word is used here.
First, it has been taken absolutely, “having put off from himself his body, he made a show,” etc., as RV. marg. This, which supposes ὁ Χριστός to be the subject, is the interpretation adopted by Hilary, Ambrose, Augustine, and some other Latins. Probably, however, they had before them a Latin counterpart of the reading found in G, viz. τὴν σάρκα καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας. The Latin of G has the same. Thus Hilary has twice, “exutus carnem et potestates ostentui fecit” (773, 990); once, however, he has “spolians se carne et principatus et potestates ostentui fecit” (204).
Novat. also has “exutus carnem potestates dehonestavit” (De Trin. 16). It will be observed that these quotations, except the third from Hilary, agree with G in omitting τὰς ἀρχάς. This reading may have originated from the eye or ear error of a copyist, aided by the suggestion of ἀπεκδ.; but more probably was a gloss, which was supposed to be a correction, and so substituted for the correct text. There is a trace either of the reading or the interpretation in a Docetic work quoted by Hippolytus, Haer. viii. 10, p. 267, ψυχὴ ἐκείνη ἐν τῷ σώματι τραφεῖσα, ἀπεκδυσαμένη τὸ σῶμα καὶ προσηλώσασα πρὸς τὸ ξύλον καὶ θριαμβεύσασα διʼ αὐτοῦ τὰς ἀρχάς, κ.τ.λ. The Syriac Peshitto has the same interpretation, “by the putting off of his body”; and so the Gothic also.
In support of this interpretation 2 Corinthians 5:4 is referred to, where the cognate verb ἐκδύσασθαι is used absolutely of putting off the body. But there the metaphor is not abruptly introduced, the verb only carrying out the figure introduced with its explanation in vv. 2, 3. Here it would be quite isolated, being neither explained nor suggested by anything in the context, with which, indeed, the idea would have no apparent connexion. Some expositors, indeed, have found an allusion to the metaphorical use of ἀποδύεσθαι, “to prepare for a contest,” as in Plut. Mor. 811 E, πρὸς πᾶσαν ἀποδυόμενοι τὴν πολιτικὴν πρᾶξιν. This explanation is very far-fetched, and entirely unsuitable.
2. Ellicott, Lightfoot, al., adopt the interpretation of the Greek commentators, Chrysostom, Severianus, Theodore Mops., and Theodoret, viz. taking τὰς ἀρχάς, κ.τ.λ., as governed by ἀπεκδ., the sense being, “having stripped off from himself the hostile powers of evil.” “Our Lord by His death stripped away from Himself all the opposing Powers of Evil (observe the article) that sought in the nature which He had condescended to assume to win for themselves a victory,” Ell. Similarly Lightfoot, “Christ took upon Himself our human nature with all its temptations (Hebrews 4:15). The powers of evil gathered about Him. Again and again they assailed Him; but each fresh assault ended in a new defeat.” “The final act in the conflict began with the agony of Gethsemane; it ended with the Cross of Calvary. The victory was complete. The enemy of man was defeated. The powers of evil, which had clung like a Nessus robe about His humanity, were torn off and cast aside for ever. And the victory of mankind is involved in the victory of Christ. In His Cross we too are divested of the poisonous clinging garments of temptation and sin and death; τῷ ἀποθέσθαι τὴν θνητότητα, says Theodore, ἣν ὑπὲρ τῆς κοινῆς ἀφεῖλεν εὐεργεσίας, ἀπεδύσατο κἀκείνων (i.e. τῶν ἀντικειμένων δυνάμεων) τὴν αὐθεντείαν ᾗπερ ἐκέχρηντο καθʼ ἡμῶν.”
But this interpretation is open to serious if not fatal objections. In the first place, as the verb means to divest of clothing, it requires us to regard these hostile powers in the light of a clothing of God or Christ, a “Nessus robe,” as Lightfoot expresses it.
If the interpretation, “putting off the body,” is to be rejected on the ground that the metaphor, though a natural one, is not suggested or explained by the context, the objection applies more strongly to the view in question, which supposes a metaphor by no means easy to understand and not elsewhere paralleled. The putting off the old man, ch. 3:9, is not at all parallel. Lightfoot compares Philo, Quod det. pot. ins. 13 (i. p. 199), where the image in the context is that of a wrestling bout, ἐξαναστάντες δὲ καὶ διερεισάμενοι τὰς ἐντέχνους αὐτῶν περιπλοκὰς εὐμαρῶς ἐκδυσόμεθα; but there the figure is sufficiently explained by the context. Here (and this is the second objection) the figure would be irrelevant to the context. As Alford observes, “is it in any way relevant to the fact of the law being antiquated by God in the Great Sacrifice of the atonement, to say that He in that act (or, according to others, Christ in that act) spoiled and triumphed over the infernal potentates?” Lastly, there is another very strong objection. If it was only by putting off His human body on the Cross that He could put off from Himself the powers of evil that beset His humanity, this would not be victory, but retreat.
3. Alford observes, and apparently with justice, that the terms ἀρχαί and ἐξουσίαι are general; and a specific reference to “infernal powers” is not to be assumed unless it is determined by the context, as in Ephesians 6:12. “Now the words have occurred before in this very passage, ver. 10, where Christ is exalted as κεφαλὴ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας, and it is hardly possible to avoid connecting our present expression with that, seeing that in τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας the articles seem to contain a manifest reference to it.” Taking the words, then, in a more general sense, he explains the whole by reference to passages in which the Law is said to have been administered by angels, Galatians 3:19, διαταγεὶς διʼ ἀγγέλων: Hebrews 2:2, ὁ διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος: Acts 7:53, ἐλάβετε τὸν νόμον εἰς διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων. Compare Jos. Ant. xv. 5. 3, ἡμῶν τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν δογμάτων, καὶ τὰ ὁσιώτατα τῶν ἐν τοῖς νόμοις διʼ ἀγγέλων παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ μαθόντων, “they were the promulgators of the χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν.” That writing was first wiped out, and then nailed to the Cross—abrogated and suspended there. “Thus God ἀπεξεδύσατο τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας—divested Himself of, put off from Himself, that ἀγγέλων διαταγή, manifesting Himself henceforward without a veil in the exalted Person of Jesus.” It is no objection to this “that thus more prominence would be given to angelic agency in the law than was really the fact; the answer is, that the prominence which is given is owing to the errors of the false teachers, who had evidently associated the Jewish observances in some way with the worship of angels.” With reference to this, the statement of Theodoret quoted below on ver. 18 is important, τοὺς ἀγγέλους σέβειν εἰσηγοῦντο, διὰ τούτων λέγοντες δεδόσθαι τὸν νόμον. “St. Paul’s argument will go only to this,—that whatever part the angelic powers may have had, or be supposed to have had in the previous dispensation, all such interposition was now at an end, that dispensation itself being once for all antiquated and put away.” Ritschl’s view is similar. Ellicott’s objection to this view is that it rests on the assumption that the verse refers to Θεός, not Χριστός. But, in fact, it only assumes that the contrary is not proved. The principal objection to taking ὁ Θεός as the subject throughout is the supposed difficulty or impossibility of interpreting ἀπεκδυσάμενος, κ.τ.λ., of God the Father. It is not logical to adopt this argument, and then to reject an interpretation which meets this difficulty on the ground that the subject must be ὁ Χριστός.
4. The foregoing interpretations assume that ἀπεκδυσάμενος, being in the middle voice, must mean “stripping from himself.” But the middle often only expresses a personal interest, and the cognate verb ἀπεδυσάμεθα occurs in Plato, Rep. p. 612 A (quoted by Meyer), in the sense “nudavimus.” Nor does the fact that in 3:9 the same verb in the same voice means “strip from oneself,” decide the question as to its meaning here. As Bp. Perowne observes (apud Moule), there are classical parallels to such a varying use of the middle in neighbouring contexts See Soph. Ajax, 245, 647. It is allowable, therefore, to take the verb here in the sense “spoil, disarm,” the middle conveying the idea “sibi exspoliare.” This sense, accordingly, is adopted by Bengel, De Wette, Meyer, Moule, Eadie, Soden. Most of these, however, understand as in (1) (2) by the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι the infernal powers. Some of the objections made to (2) apply to this view also. First, that if these were intended we should expect this to be specified; and, secondly, that it does not harmonise with the context. What had the disarming of the infernal powers to do with the abolition of the δόγματα? or what connexion had the assertion of it with the warning against the θρησκεία τῶν ἀγγέλων? Meyer’s explanation is that it was in sin that these powers had their strength in their hostility to God, and “the power of sin was in the Law” (1 Corinthians 15:56); hence with the law “the infernal power stands and falls.” Surely a faulty argument. The abolition of the law does not do away with sin. Moule, again, says, “He who is King of all orders of good angels is here presented as Conqueror of their evil counterpart.” This supposes that τὰς ἀρχάς, κ.τ.λ., here are actually contrasted with πάσης ἀρχῆς, κ.τ.λ., in ver. 10, of which contrast there is no indication.
5. V. Soden adopts the translation “spoiled,” i.e. “disarmed,” but adopts a view of ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι similar to that of Alford and Ritschl, viz. that they are the angelic powers in so far as they represent the Law, and thereby have power over men, and doubly over those who do not fulfil it, that is (since ideally the law was valid for all men), not Jews only, but Gentiles also (Galatians 4:3, Galatians 4:9, Galatians 4:3:19; 1 Corinthians 8:5 sqq.). The fact, which in ver. 14 was described on the side of men, is now carved out in its significance for the angelic powers who represented those δόγματα, having in view the fact that δογματίζειν the taught in Colossae, which the apostle is combating, was ultimately a θρησκεία τῶν ἀγγέλων (18, 23).
This view is equally tenable whether the subject is taken to be ὁ Θεός or ὁ Χριστός, and it seems less open to objection than the former. The remark quoted above from Alford as to the prominence given to angelic action is equally applicable to this interpretation.
ἐδειγμάτισεν. A rare word, which, perhaps, is also to be read in Matthew 1:19, μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι:1 and Lightfoot also quotes a passage from Acta Pauli et Petri, in which it occurs, ἵνα μὴ μόνον ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ Σίμωνος ἀπάτης φύγωσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ δειγματίσουσιν αὐτόν, where it is explained in the context as “to proclaim.” The substantive δειγματισμός occurs in the Rosetta inscription. The idea involved in δειγματίζειν is only that of public exhibition, not of shame (παραδειγματίζειν).
ἐν παρρησίᾳ. The rendering “openly,” as in AV. and retained in RV., is approved by Bengel, De Wette, Olsh., Wordsworth, and Eadie. δημοσίᾳ, πάντων ὁρώντων, Theoph., Alford would preserve the idea of “openness of speech,” “declaring and revealing by the Cross that there is none other but Christ the Head πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας.” “Openness of speech,” however, seems unsuitable to the connexion. As to the sense “openly, publicly,” it seems to be supported by John 7:4, where ἐν παρρησίᾳ εἶναι is opposed to ἐν κρυπτῷ ποιεῖν, and 11:54, Ἰησοῦς οὐκέτι παρρησίᾳ περιεπάτει ἐν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ἀλλὰ ἀπῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν, κ.τ.λ. In St. Paul, however, it always means “with boldness, or confidence ”(an idea which is also present in the places cited), and so it is understood here by Meyer, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Soden. Hofmann connects ἐν παρρησίᾳ in the sense “openly” with θριαμβεύσας, which, however, already contains that idea.
θριαμβεύσας αὐτούς. αὐτούς, masc. of the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξ., because they are treated as personal existences, not with any reference to their possible designation as ἀγγέλους.
θριαμβεύσας, “triumphing over them,” or, rather, “leading them in triumph,” as in 2 Corinthians 2:14. This is the usual signification of the verb with accus. of person. E.g. Plut. Thes. et Rom_4, βασιλεῖς ἐθριάμβευσε καὶ ἡγεμόνας. Wetstein, on Cor. l.c., gives other examples.
ἐν αὐτῷ. Bengel, De Wette, al., take this as = ἐν Χριστῷ. But Christ is not mentioned in ver. 14. Most commentators understand it as = ἐν σταυρῷ. To this Soden objects that σταυρός in ver. 14 is only a secondary idea; and he refers the pronoun to χειρόγραφον. In doing away with the χειρόγραφον God triumphed over those who administered it. (Meyer, Exo_4 (1874), does not mention this view, which is attributed to him by Ellicott (1857) and Eadie (1855).) The Vulgate has “in semetipso,” and so RV. margin. G reads ἐν ἑαυτῷ.
The metaphor is a very bold one whether understood of God or of Christ. If αὐτῷ refers to σταυρῷ, the words would certainly be more suitable to Christ, and in that case the antithesis between θριάμβευσας and ἐν σταυρῷ would be extremely striking. “The violence of the metaphor,” says Lightfoot, “is its justification. The paradox of the Crucifixion is thus placed in the strongest light—triumph in helplessness and glory in shame. The convict’s gibbet is the victor’s car.” No doubt this way of putting the thought is very striking; but if this had been the meaning of the apostle, might we not expect that he would express it more distinctly, instead of almost hiding it, as we may say, in an unemphatic pronoun with an ambiguous preposition ἐν ? We might have expected some such expression, for instance, as σταυρωθεὶς ἐθριάμβευσε. But, in fact, the contrast suggested would be quite irrelevant to the apostle’s purpose, and the more striking it is the less likely is it that he would introduce it in this way as a side. thought, thus tending to draw the reader’s attention from the argument.
For ἐν αὐτῷ Origen (in several places) reads ἐν τῷ ξύλῳ. So also his translator (Int. ii. 416), commenting on “in ligno crucis,” says: “licet in aliis exemplaribus habeatur triumphans in semetzpso, sed spud Graecos habetur in ligno.”
16-23. Practical application of these principles to the ascetic precepts and the angel-worship of the false teachers. With their precepts about eating and drinking and observance of days, they would have you attach yourselves to the shadow, whereas you are in possession of the reality. The cult of angels is inculcated as a becoming exercise of humility; but this is a false humility, and is really the fruit of carnal pride, vaunting itself in the pretended knowledge o f these angelic powers, and is derogatory to Christ the Head, on whom alone we depend for spiritual health and growth
16. Μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω. “Therefore,” seeing that the law of ordinances has been done away with, “let not any one,” not μηδείς, but μή τις, as in ver. 8, pointing to some definite persons; κρινέτω, not “condemn,” but “judge you, take you to task.” Compare Romans 14:3, Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 10:29.
ἐν βρώσει ἢ ἐν πόσει. “In eating or in drinking,” i.e. in the matter of eating or drinking. Compare Romans 14:17, οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ βρῶσις καὶ πόσις. βρῶσις in St. Paul is always the action of eating (1 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:10), not the thing eaten (βρῶμα, 1 Corinthians 6:13, 1 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 10:3, al.; Hebrews 9:10). In Homer, indeed, βρῶσις is used for “food” (Il. i. 210, al.); and so in St. John 4:32; cf. 34, 6:27, 55. There is a similar difference between πόσις and πόμα.
The Mosaic Law contained no prohibition respecting drinks except in special cases, namely, those of Nazirite vows and of priests ministering in the tabernacle (Numbers 6:3; Leviticus 10:9). There was also a prohibition of drinking from vessels rendered unclean by the dead bodies of unclean animals (Leviticus 11:34). We know, however, that the Essenes, the prototypes of the Colossian false teachers, went far beyond the Mosaic code, abstaining wholly from wine and from animal food (see Lightfoot, p. 86).
Lightfoot reads καὶ ἐν πόσει, with B, Syr-Pesh, Boh., Tertull., Origen. Tertullian, however, reads et in all four places, therefore his evidence in this instance is valueless. The Syriac also has “and” in three of the four places, “or” only in the second; its evidence also, therefore, counts for nothing. The apostle might have written καί not ἤ, because and βρῶσις and πόσις naturally belong together (but so, indeed, do the following three), and the occurrence of ἤ in the other three clauses would easily lead a copyist to substitute it here. But the authority for και is too slight.
Compare 1 Corinthians 11:27, ἐσθίῃ τὸν ἄρτον ἢ πίνῃ τὸ ποτήριον, κ.τ.λ., where A, some cursives, Syr-Pesh, Boh., Eth., Origen, al. have καί.
ἢ ἐν μέρει, “in the matter of”; compare ἐν τουτῷ τῷ μέρει, 2 Corinthians 3:10, 2 Corinthians 3:9:3; μέρος often denotes the class or category, especially with verbs like τιθέναι, as in Plato, Rep. i. 348 E, ἐν ἀρετῆς καὶ̀ σοφίας τίθης μέρει τὴν ἀδικίαν. Chrys. and Theodoret take it here in the sense “part,” οὐ γὰρ δὴ πάντα κατεῖχον τὰ πρότερα, Chrys.
ἑορτῆς ἢ νουμηνίας ἢ σαββάτων. The words specify the annual, monthly, and weekly celebrations; cf. Galatians 4:10.
σάββατα, though plural, means “a Sabbath day,” being, in fact, a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic, and from its form mistaken for a plural. Thus Josephus distinctly, Ant. iii. 10. 1, ἑβδόμην ἡμέραν ἥτις σάββατα καλεῖται; also ib. i. 1. 1. Compare Hor. Sat i. 9. 69, “hodie tricesima Sabbata.” See on Luke 4:31.
B G have the spelling νεομηνίας, and so the Vulg.
17. ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα Χριστοῦ. σκιά does not mean an outline or sketch (as understood by Calvin and many others), which would be σκιαγραφία or σκιαγράφημα, and is excluded by the antithesis of σῶμα. A sketch would be contrasted with the complete picture. It is simply “shadow,” having in itself no substance, but indicating the existence of a body which casts the shadow. σῶμα accordingly retains its proper signification “body,” not “substance.” Compare Philo, De Conf. Ling. p. 434, τὰ μὲν ῥητὰ τῶν χρησμῶν σκιάς τινας ὡσανεὶ σωμάτων εἶναι: opposed to τὰ ὑφεστῶτα ἀληθεῖᾳ πράγματα. Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 2. 5, σκιὰν αἰτησόμενος βασιλείας, ἧς ἥρπασεν ἑαυτῷ τὸ σῶμα. Compare also Hebrews 10:1, σκιὰν ἔχων ὁ νόμος τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, οὐκ αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα τῶν πραγμάτων: ib. 8:5, σκιᾷ λατρεύουσι τῶν ἐπουρανίων. The figure expresses both the unsubstantiality and the supersession of the Mosaic ritual. But the thought found in it by some Greek commentators, and adopted by Meyer and Lightfoot, that the shadow comes before the substance (ἡ σκιὰ προτρέχει τοῦ σώματος), is not contained in the text; for it is no part of the idea of a shadow that it goes before the body, or is seen before it. Theodoret presses the figure still further: προλαμβάνει ἡ σκιὰ τὸ σῶμα ἀνίσχοντος τοῦ φωτός· ὡς εἶναι σκιὰν μὲν τὸν νόμον σῶμα δὲ τὴν χάριν, φῶς δὲ τὸν δεσπότην Χριστόν.
Meyer again presses the tense of ἐστι so far as to infer that τὰ μέλλοντα are not the already then existing Christian relations, the καινὴ διαθήκη (rather τὰ τῆς καινῆς διαθηκής), but belong “wholly” to the αἰὼν μέλλων. The present, however, is sufficiently explained by the remark of Davenant (apud Ellicott), “loquitur de illis ut considerantur in suâ naturâ, abstractae a circumstantiis temporis.” Yet it may be used in its temporal sense quite as well as the presents in Hebrews 10:1. sqq. For the observance of these times and seasons had not ceased, although that of which they were the shadow had come. Meyer’s interpretation would vitiate the apostle’s reasoning, for if τὰ μέλλοντα were still wholly future, the σκιά would not be superseded, and the observances referred to would retain their importance.
V Soden regards σῶμα as denoting τὰ μέλλοντα in their concrete organisation, i.e. the Church (cf. ver. 19).
τοῦ χριστοῦ, i.e. belongs to Christ; the blessings typified by these observances are found in Him. The article is prefixed in א* A C P 17 al., Oec.; omitted in אc D G K L most MSS., Chrys., etc. Chrysostom mentions a strange punctuation: οἱ μὲν οὖν τοῦτο στίζουσι· τὸ δὲ σῶμα, Χριστοῦ, ἡ δὲ ἀληθεία ἐπὶ Χριστοῦ γέγονεν· οἱ δὲ, τὸ δὲ σῶμα Χριστοῦ μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβραβευέτω, τούτεστιν, ἐπηρεαζέτω. So Augustine, Ep. 59, “Corpus autem Christi nemo vos convincat,” confessing that he does not understand it. This connexion is also supported by A B P (apparently א also) al., Eth.
18. Μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβραβευέτω. καταβραβεύειν is an extremely rare word. Jerome reckoned it as one of St. Paul’s Cilicisms, but it has been found in two other places. First in Demosth. Mid. p. 544 (not as used by the orator, but in a statement of witnesses), διὰ ταύτην τὴν αἰτίαν ἐπιοτάμεθα Στράτωνα ὑπὸ Μειδίου καταβραβευθέντα καὶ παρὰ πάντα τὰ δίκαια ἀτιμωθέντα. Strato had been arbitrator in a cause between Demosthenes and Meidias, and as the latter did not appear, gave judgment against him. On this account Meidias contrived to have Strato condemned to ἀτιμία. The other passage quoted in the Lexicons and commentators is in Eustathius on Hom. Il. A. 402 sqq. Speaking of the assistance which Briareus, son of Poseidon, rendered to Zeus, when Poseidon, with two other deities, conspired against him, Eustathius observes that as amongst men sons often differ from their fathers, οὕτως οὐδὲ ὁ μυθικὸς Βριάρεως φίλα φρονεῖ τῷ πατρί, ἀλλὰ καταβραβεύει αὐτόν, ὥς φασιν οἱ παλαιοί, τοῦ φυσικοῦ θεσμοῦ προθέμενος τὸ δίκαιον. Here the word clearly means “decides, or takes part, against,” and from the words ὥς φασιν οἱ παλαιοί, may be regarded as almost a definition of the word by a scholar to whom it was familiar. It will be observed that neither in this passage nor in the former is there any question of a prize.
This meaning of the verb is confirmed by its etymology. The simple verb βραβεύειν, which, of course, signifies primarily “to act as βραβεύς or umpire,” awarding the prize, βραβεῖον (1 Corinthians 9:24; Php 3:14), seems, in all the examples that we have of its use, to have dropped all reference to a prize, and to mean only “to decide.” For instance, Isocr. Areop. p. 144 B, ἐν τῇ κληρώσει τὴν τύχην βραβεύσειν. The same writer, Phil. c. 29, uses τὰ παρά (τινος) βραβευόμενα to express regulations made by a person. In Demosthenes, again, Ol. p. 36, 7, τὰ τῶν ἄλλων δίκαια βραβεύειν is “to arbitrate or decide on the rights of others.” So p. 1231, 11, of the unequal treatment of rich and poor, τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον ὑμῶν ταῦτα βραβευόντων. Josephus, Ant. ix. 1. 1, has: παρεκελεύσατο μηδενὸς οὕτως ὡς τοῦ δικαίου προνοουμένους κρίνειν τοῖς ὄχλοις … βραβεύειν δὲ ἅπασι τὸ ἶσον; and Ant. xiv 9. 5, ὡς εἰ καὶ πολέμου ῥοπὰς βραβεύει τὸ θεῖον. Compare also Colossians 3:15, ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. In accordance with this meaning of βραβεύειν, καταβρ. would mean “to decide or give judgment against”; and it is so interpreted by Photius (ap. Oec.) and Hesychius, κατακρινέτω. So also the Syriac Versions.
This gives an excellent sense here, the phrase being stronger than the similar one in ver. 16, κρινέτω. It is adopted instead of κατακρινέτω, probably in order to suggest the idea of assumption of authority. This is the interpretation adopted by Reiche, Bleek, Field (Otium Narvicense), and many others. Bengel’s interpretation is: “ne quis brabeutae potestatem usurpans, atque adeo abutens, vos currentes moderetur, perperamque praescribat quid sequi quid fugere debeatis praemium accepturi”; and similarly a-Lapide and Beza. This seems to put too much into the word.
The Greek commentators, who seem to have had no independent knowledge of the word, take it to be equivalent to παραβραβεύειν, which occurs in Polybius and Plutarch, and means to assign the prize unfairly. Zonaras (ap. Suicer) says: καταβραβεύειν ἐστι τὸ μὴ νικήσαντα ἀξιοῦν τοῦ βραβείου, ἀλλʼ ἑτέρῳ διδόναι αὐτό. This implies that ὁ καταβραβεύων is the judge. Suidas’ words are: τὸ ἄλλου ἀγωνιζομένου ἄλλον στεφανοῦσθαι λέγει ὁ ἀπόστολας καταβραβεύεσθαι. Meyer, adopting this view, supposes the apostle to mean “willing (θέλων) to bring it about that the prize may be withheld from you and given to him and his.” As their obtaining the prize would not involve others losing it, this would imply folly as well as malice. The meaning assigned by recent commentators generally, viz. “rob or beguile you of your prize,” i.e. “cause you to lose your reward by defeat,” or the like, does not agree either with Suidas or Zonaras, and it increases the difficulty of θέλων. It results from the desire to retain a reference to a βραβεῖον, which, as we have seen, is not generally retained in the simple verb, nor, as far as we can judge, in the compound.
θέλων ἐν ταπεινοφροσύνῃ. These words are very difficult. Many commentators (including Augustine, Estius, Bleek, Lightfoot) explain them as a Hebraism in imitation of the Hebrew חפץ ב״, “taking delight in,” or rather (since the Hebrew verb does not mean θέλειν, but εὐδοκεῖν), of the occasional Septuagint rendering of that expression (1 Samuel 18:22; 2 Samuel 15:26; 2Sa_1 Kings, 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Psalm 111:1, Psalm 147:10). In 1 Chronicles 28:4, the same words occur as a rendering of רצה ב״. Lightfoot also quotes from the Test. XII. Patr. Asher i., ἐὰν οὖν ἡ ψυχὴ θέλῃ ἐν καλῷ.
The main objection to this, and it is a fatal one, is that St. Paul does not use Hebraisms which so violate Greek grammar. The fact of such an expression occurring in the Sept., especially in Sam., Kings and Chron., is not a reason for attributing it to St. Paul. Indeed, except in Psalm 147:10, the object in the Sept. is always a person. In the Apocrypha, θέλειν ἐν is not found. The expression θελητὰς νόμου, 1 Macc. 4:42, is not parallel. Nor is this interpretation relevant to the context, for it is not the pleasure which the false teacher takes in his humility, etc., that is in question.
Alford connects θέλων with the participle, translating “of purpose,” and comparing 2 Peter 3:5, λανθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας. He also quotes Theophylact as apparently supporting this view, θέλουσιν ὑμᾶς καταβραβεύειν διὰ ταπεινοφρ. But both this comment and the passage in 2 Pet. are equally, if not more, applicable to the following interpretation.
Other expositors connect θέλων with the following words, supplying καταβραβεύειν. So Theodoret: τοῦτο τοίνυν συνεβούλευον ἐκεῖνοι γίνεσθαι, ταπεινοφροσύνῃ δῆθεν κεχρημένοι (compare Theoph. above); and so Photius, Buttmann, Eadie, Ellicott, and many others. Theodoret, indeed, presses θέλων too far; the purpose of the false teachers was not directly, but indirectly hostile to the Colossians.
RV marg. has: “of his own mere will, by humility,” etc. This agrees nearly with Beza: “hoc munus sibi a nullo tributum exercens,” Reiche, Tittmann, al. It also corresponds well with ἐθελοθρησκεία below, and, on the whole, appears to deserve the preference. The construction (which is the same as Alford’s) is simpler grammatically than that last mentioned, and the sense obtained is more satisfactory. Luther (followed by Ewald and Tyndale) gives a similar sense to θέλων, but connects it with ἐμβατεύων.
Lightfoot quotes two conjectural emendations, viz. θέλγων, suggested by Leclerc (ad loc.) and Bentley (Crit. Sacr. p. 59), and more plausibly ἐλθών, suggested by Toup (Emend. in Suidam, ii. p. 63). We can hardly suppose, however, that if ἐλθών had stood here originally it could be corrupted into θέλων. Hort conjectures ἐν ἐθελοταπεινοφροσύνῃ. The last word is actually employed by Basil, and compounds of ἐθελο- were used freely when St. Paul wrote. Compare Aug. Ep. 149, § 27: “Sic enim et vulgo dicitur qui divitem affectat thelodives, et qui sapientem thelosapiens, et cetera hujusmodi. Ergo et hic thelohumilis, quod plenius dicitur thelon humilis, id est volens humilis, quod intelligitur ‘volens videri humilis,’ ‘affectans humilitatem.’ ”
ἐν ταπεινοφροσύνῃ καὶ θρησκείᾳ τῶν ἀγγέλων. ταπ. is elsewhere (except ver. 23) treated as a virtue, and so in this Ephesians 3:12. But there is false as well as true humility, and here it is defined by the following θρησκείᾳ τῶν ἀγγ., which again is illustrated by it. What is referred to, then, is the humility which finds expression in the worship of angels, and this worship again is that which is inspired by this false humility. Perhaps the false teachers made much of humility in inculcating this θρησκεία, chiefly from false notions as to the power of the angels; but partly, it may be, from an idea that God Himself was too high and unapproachable for men, who must therefore use the mediation of angels. This is the explanation given by Theodoret: λέγοντες ὡς ἀόρατος ὁ τῶν ὅλων Θεός, ἀνεφικτός τε καὶ ἀκατάληπτος, καὶ προσήκει διὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων τὴν θείαν εὐμένειαν πραγματεύεσθαι. Compare Augustine, Conf. x. 42, “Quem invenirem qui me reconciliaret tibi? Ambiendum mihi fuit ad angelos? Multi conantes ad te redire, neque per se ipsos valentes, sicut audio, tentaverunt haec, et inciderunt in desiderium curiosarum visionum, et digni habiti sunt illusionibus.” Zonaras, again, in commenting on the 35th Canon of the Council of Laodicaea, says there was an ancient heresy of some who said that we should not call on Christ for help or access to God, but on the angels, ὡς τάχα τοῦ τὸν Χριστὸν ἐπικαλεῖσθαι πρὸς τὰ εἰρημένα μείζονος ὄντος τῆς ἡμετέρας ἀξίας (Suicer, i. p. 45). So also Chrysostom and Theophylact. This latter view, however, would place Christ high above the angels, and therefore cannot have been that of the Colossians, who required to be taught the superiority of Christ. Nor can Theodoret’s explanation be adopted without hesitation, since there is nothing in the context about the mediation of angels or of Christ; nor does this view of ταπεινοφρ. agree with the following ἃ ἑώρακεν, κ.τ.λ. Theodoret, however, throws light on the passage when he states that οἱ τῷ νόμῳ συνηγοροῦντες καὶ τοὺς ἀγγέλους σέβειν αὐτοῖς εἰσηγοῦντο, διὰ τούτων λέγοντες δεδόσθαι τὸν νόμον, for which reason, he adds, the Council at Laodicaea forbade praying to angels: καὶ μέχρι δὲ τοῦ νῦν εὐκτήρια τοῦ ἁγίου Μιχαὴλ παρʼ ἐκείνοις καὶ τοῖς ὁμόροις ἐστὶ ἰδεῖν.
ἃ ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύειν or ἃ μὴ ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύων. ἐμβατεύειν is properly to step or stand on (as an ἐμβάτης). So with gen. Soph. Oed. Tyr. 845, ἐμβατεύειν πατρίδος. Hence “to dwell in,” Eurip. Heracl. 875, κλήρους δʼ ἐμβατεύσεσθε χθονός: and similarly of a god, to “haunt” a place. Soph. Oed. Col. 671, ἵνʼ ὁ βακχειώτας αἰεὶ Διόυσος ἐμβατεύει. It also means to “enter upon” a country, “to invade.” Later, it is found in a figurative sense of “entering into” a subject of inquiry. So Philo, De Plant. Noe. ii. 19, “As some of those who open up wells often fail to find the sought-for water,” οὕτως οἱ προσωτέρω χωροῦντες τῶν ἐπιστημῶν καὶ ἐπιπλέον ἐμβατεύοντες αὐταῖς, ἀδυνατοῦσι τοῦ τέλους ἐπιψαῦσαι: and so perhaps 2 Macc. 2:30, τὸ μὲν ἐμβατεύειν καὶ περὶ πάντων ποιεῖσθαι λόγον … τῷ τῆς ἱστορίας ἀρχηγέτῃ καθήκει (but RV. “to occupy the ground”). Athanas. on Matthew 11:27, τολμηρὸι ἐμβατεύειν τὴν ἀπερινόητον φύσιν. Nemes. De Nat. Hom. (p. 64, ed. Matth.), οὐρανὸν ἐμβατεύει τῇ θεωρίᾳ.
If we read ἑώρακεν the sense will be, “dwelling in,” as RV. “taking his stand upon,” as RV. marg. or “poring over, busying himself with,” or with the idea of pride in his possession, “making parade with.” “What he hath seen” is then to be understood ironically, his “visions.”
Hilgenfeld (quoted by Meyer) understands the words to mean, without irony, “taking his stand on the ground of sense”; but against this is the perfect ἑώρακεν as well as the expressive ἐμβατεύων. Besides, the error in question was based on a supposed knowledge of angels.
The Rec. Text a ἃ μὴ ἑώρακεν conveys the idea, “intruding into things which he hath not seen.” At first sight this is easier. But, as Alford remarks, it “would be a strange and incongruous expression for one who was advocating a religion of faith—whose very charter is of μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πεπιστευκότες—to blame a man or a teacher for a ἃ μὴ ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύειν.” We should rather expect it to be regarded as a fault in a teacher that he took his stand in the realm of sight.
If, however, the negative was written from the apostle’s point of view, we should expect the objective οὐχ to be used; if, on the other hand, it is from the false teacher’s point of view, “intruding” would not be a suitable translation, but “searching,” or the like.
As to the reading, the evidence is as follows:—
Without the negative:
MSS.: א* A B D* 17 28 672 codd. mentioned by Jerome (Ep. 121 ad Alg. i. p. 880); codd. mentioned by Augustine (Ep. 149, ii. p. 514).
Versions: Old Latin, d e m Boh., Arab. (Leipz.) Eth.
Fathers, etc.: Tertullian (cont. Marc. v. 19, “ex visionibus angelicis,” and apparently Marcion himself also); Origen once (in the Latin translation. In Cant. iii. p. 63, “in his quae videt”). Also, cont. Cels. i. p. 583 (Greek, the editions prior to De la Rue); Lucifer’s De non conv. c. haer. p. 782, Migne; Ambrosiaster (explaining thus: “inflantur motum pervidentes stellarum, quas angelos vocat.” In the citation of the text editions differ). Pseudo-Augustine, Quaest. ex N. T. ii. 62, iii. App. p. 156.
With the negative μή:
MSS.: C K L P and all cursives except those above mentioned.
Versions: Old Latin fg Vulg., Goth., Syr. (both), Arm.
Fathers, etc.: Origen once (in the Latin transl. In Rom. ix. § 42, iv. p. 665). Also, cont. Celsum, as above (Greek as edited by De la Rue, who, however, says nothing about MSS., but remarks: “at Gelenius legit.” ἃ μὴ ἑώρακεν, Tisch.); Ambrose. In Psa_118, Exp. 20 (i. p. 1222), Pelagius, Chrysostom, Theodore Mops., Theodoret, John Dam.
With οὐ, אc C Dbe G.
It will be observed that no MS. older than the ninth century reads μή, and with the exception of C none older than the seventh has a negative in either form. It is open to question whether οὐ, inserted by way of correction in א and D, was derived from MS. authority or was merely a conjecture.
The “deliberate preference” of Jerome and Augustine cannot rightly be reckoned as “evidence” in favour of μή. The words of the former are: “Quae nec ipse vidit qui vos superare desiderat, sive vidit (utrumque enim habetur in Graeco).” The words of Augustine are: “Quae non vidit inculcares, vel sicut quidam codices habent, quae vidit inculcares.” Their evidence amounts simply to this, that some of the MSS. they consulted or were acquainted with had the negative and some had not. As to their judgment, that is a different thing. Jerome’s “utrumque habetur in Graeco” expresses none. Even Augustine’s do not contain any direct or decided expression of preference, nor does he say anything as to the respective value of the MSS. which he quotes.
The reading which omits the negative is preferred by Tisch., Treg., WH. (see post), Alford, Meyer, Soden, Lightfoot (but see post). Burgon thinks the Rec. Text “cannot seriously be suspected of error” (Revision Revised, p. 356).
Lightfoot concludes from a review of the evidence that the negative is a later insertion; but as the combination “invading what he has seen” is so hard and incongruous as to be hardly possible, he suspects a corruption of the text prior to all existing authorities; and in this Hort and Taylor agree with him. He conjectures αἰώρα (or ἐώρᾳ) κενεμβατεύων, “raised aloft, treading on empty air,” the existing text, αεωρακενεμβατευων, being “explained partly by an attempt to correct the form ἐώρᾳ into αἰώρᾳ, or conversely, and partly by the perplexity of transcribers when confronted with such unusual words.” κενεμβατεύειν does not itself occur, but κενεμβατεῖν is not infrequent. It is used by Plutarch, Basil, and others in a figurative sense, e.g. Basil, i. p. 135, τὸν νοῦν … μυρία πλανηθέντα καὶ πολλὰ κενεμβατήσαντα; i. p. 596, σοῦ δὲ μὴ κενεμβατείτω ὁ νοῦς. The other word, αἰώρα, which is used in a literal sense, either of the instrument for suspending or of the position of suspension, as the floating of a boat, the balancing on a rope, the poising of a bird, etc. is used figuratively by Philo, De Somn. ii. 6 (i. p. 665), ὑποτυφούμενος ὑπʼ αἰώρας φρενῶν καὶ κενοῦ φυσήματος; Quod Deus Immut. § 36 (i. p. 298), ὥσπερ ἐπʼ αἰώρας τινος ψευδοῦς καὶ ἀβεβαίου δόξης φορεῖσθαι κατὰ κενοῦ βαίνοντα.
Dr. C. Taylor (Journal of Philology, 1876, xiii. 130), followed by Westcott and Hort, prefers ἀέρα κενεμβατεύων. There is an earlier conjecture which involves even less change, or none, in the text, viz. ἃ ἑώρα (or ἂ ἑώρακεν) κενεμβατεύων. ἑώρακεν is better than ἑώρα, and the emendation only supposes the common error of omission of a repeated syllable. Ingenious, however, as these conjectures are, it does not seem necessary to depart from the text of the best MSS. (Blass thinks κενεμβατεύων fairly certain, Gram. p. 67.)
εἰκῆ φυσιούμενος. εἰκῆ is by some comm. connected with the preceding clause (De W., Conybeare, al.) in the sense “rashly, uselessly.” But εἰκῆ in St. Paul precedes the words it qualifies (Romans 13:4; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Galatians 4:11), except Galatians 3:4, where there is a special reason for placing it after ἐπάθετε. Its usual meaning in St. Paul is “to no purpose, fruitlessly”; and so it is understood here by v. Soden; but it equally admits the other sense, “without reason,” which it has in Matthew 5:22, and this is more suitable to φυσιούμενος. The false teachers were without reason puffed up with the idea of their superior knowledge. There is a sharp irony in the contrast between ταπεινοφροσυνη and φυσιούμενος. τὸ δέ γε φυσιούμενος τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ ἐνάντιον οὐκ ἔστι· τὴν μέν γὰρ ἐσκήπτοντο, τοῦ δὲ τύφου τὸ πάθος ἀκριβῶς περιέκειντο, Theodoret.
ὑπὸ τοῦ νοὸς τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ. “By the mind of his flesh.” The νοῦς as a natural faculty is in itself indifferent, and may be under the influence either of σάρξ or πνεῦμα; cf. Romans 1:28, Romans 1:12:2; 1 Timothy 6:5; Titus 1:15, and Romans 7:25; 1 Corinthians 14:14, 1 Corinthians 14:15. The expression here used, “mind of, or belonging to, the flesh” (possessive genitive), seems to continue the irony. The false teachers claimed a higher intelligence, perhaps a deeper spiritual insight; whereas the apostle declares that it was carnal, not spiritual. Compare Revelation 2:24, “which know not the deep things of Satan, as they say,” where “as they say” refers to “deep things,” which are then bitterly characterised as “of Satan.”
19. καὶ οὐ κρατῶν. “And not holding fast.” For this sense of κρατεῖν with accus., compare Mark 7:3, Mark 7:4, Mark 7:8, κρ. τὴν παράδοσιν: Acts 2:24, οὐκ ἦν δυνατὸν κρατεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ: 3:11, κρατοῦντος δὲ αὐτοῦ τὸν Πέτρον καὶ Ἰωάννην: 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Revelation 2:1, Revelation 2:13, Revelation 2:14, Revelation 2:15, Revelation 2:25, Revelation 2:3:11, Revelation 2:7:1. Frequently, however, it means “to seize”; but that sense is inapplicable here.
τὴν κεφαλήν, ἐξ οὗ. The relative is masculine, because it is a person that is referred to as the Head; not because Χριστοῦ is implied; cf. ver. 15. Meyer, however, followed by Eadie, regards οὗ as neuter, referring to the Head, not personally, but in an abstract sense “from which source.” To understand it as referring to Christ, Eadie thinks, would destroy the harmony of the figure. The objection does not apply to the explanation just given. It is to be noted that D*, Syr-Harcl., Arm. add Χριστόν.
ἐξ is causal, “from who as the source,” and the relative clause expresses the perverseness of the οὐ κρατῶν, κ.τ.λ., as much as to say “whereas from this,” etc.
διὰ τῶν ἁφῶν καὶ συνδέσμων. For the meaning of these words see note on Ephesians 4:16. σύνδεσμος means in general any of the connecting bands in the body, whether ligaments proper, or tendons, or muscles; but in its special sense is limited to the “ligaments,” as appears from a passage in Galen quoted by Lightfoot. But in a passage like the present this technical sense is not to be pressed; the purpose of the figure is to express the complete dependence of the Church as a whole, and of all its members as parts of an organised body, on Christ directly, angels not intervening.
ἐπιχορηγούμενον καὶ συμβιβαζόμενον. Compare Ephesians 4:16, συναρμολογούμενον καὶ συμβιβαζόμενον. There, the main purpose was to insist on the vital cohesion and union of the parts with each other; here, on dependence on the Head. Here as there the present participles are to be noted; the process is a continuing one. For ἐπιχορ. cf. 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:5 2 Peter 1:11, ἐπι indicates rather direction than intensity. ἐπιχορ. seems to be the function of the ἁφαί, συμβιβ. of the σύνδεσμοι. For the passive of ἐπιχορ., compare Polyb. iv. 77. 2, πολλαῖς ἀφορμαῖς ἐκ φύσεως κεχορηγημένος. Arist. Pol. iv. 1, σῶμα κάλλιστα πεφυκὸς καὶ κεχορηγημένον.
αὔξει τὴν αὔξησιν, cognate accusative; not a periphrasis, nor added “to give force to the meaning of the verb,” but because it was desired to define the nature of the αὔξησις as τοῦ Θεοῦ, a growth having its root in God, belonging to God; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6, ὁ Θεὸς ηὔξανεν. In Ephesians 4:16 also “growth” is the result aimed at; but there, in accordance with the difference in the points of view just referred to, it is τὸ σῶμα itself which τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ σώματος ποιεῖται εἰς οἰκοδομὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ. Lightfoot remarks that the discoveries of modern physiology have invested the apostle’s language with far greater distinctness and force than it can have worn to his own contemporaries. “The volition communicated from the brain to the limbs, the sensations of the extremities telegraphed back to the brain, the absolute mutual sympathy between the head and the members, the instantaneous paralysis ensuing on the interruption of continuity,—all these add to the completeness and life of the image.” He quotes several very interesting passages from Hippocrates, Galen, and others as illustrating ancient speculation on the subject, and he reminds us that one of the apostle’s most intimate companions at this time was “the beloved physician” (iv. 14). It may be remarked, however, that the apostle is speaking of supply and binding together rather than of volition and sensation (unless we adopt Meyer’s view of ἁφαί (see on Eph.)). Theophylact also remarks: ἀπὸ τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶα αἴσθησις καὶ πᾶσα κίνησις.
20. εἰ ἀπεθάνετε σὺν Χριστῷ. “If ye died with Christ” (not “if ye be dead,” as AV.). They had died with Christ in baptism, vv. 11, 12, and had risen again with Him. Comp. John 6:49, John 6:58.
ἀπὸ τῶν στοιχείων τοῦ κόσμου. ἀποθνήσκειν ἀπό occurs here only in the N.T. The dative is used Romans 6:2; Galatians 2:19. Here the preposition is more suitable, inasmuch as what is referred to is liberation from a dominating power.
τί ὡς ζῶντες ἐν κόσμῳ, not merely as being in the world, but living your life in the world. Their true “life was hid with Christ in God,” 3:3. To live in the world would be εἶναι ἐν τῇ σαρκί.
δογματίζεσθε. Probably best taken with RV. as middle. “Why do ye subject yourselves (or allow yourselves to be subjected) to ordinances?” The middle, indeed, implies some blame to the readers. But they were not compelled by force, so that even if the verb be understood as passive, it is implied that they submitted to the yoke.
The verb δογματίζειν occurs frequently in Sept. and Apocr., meaning “to issue a decree.” Elsewhere it is used of the precepts of philosophers. In the active it takes the indirect object in the dative, 2 Macc. 10:8, which therefore may become the subject of the passive.
οὖν of the Rec. Text has little support, of uncials only א* and אc.
τῷ before Χριστῷ scarcely any.
21. “μὴ ἅψῃ μηδὲ γεύσῃ μηδὲ θίγῃς.” Examples of the δόγματα, “Handle not, neither taste, nor touch.” ἅπτεσθαι is stronger than θιγγάνειν, suggesting rather “taking hold of” than merely “touching.” Thus Themist. Paraphr. Arist. 94, ἡ τῶν ζώων ἁφὴ κρίσις ἐστὶ καὶ ἀντίληψις τοῦ θιγγάνοντος. Compare Xen. Cyrop. i. 3. 5, ὅτι σε, φάναι, ὁρῶ, ὅταν μὲν τοῦ ἄρτου ἅψῃ, εἰς οὐδὲν τὴν χεῖρα ἀποψώμενον, ὅταν δὲ τούτων τινὸς θίγῃς εὐθὺς ἀποκαθαίρει τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὰ χειρόμακτρα. In the N.T. comp. Matthew 8:3, ἥψατο αὐτοῦ ὁ Ἰησοῦς: ib. 15, τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς: John 20:17, μή μου ἅπτου (often in the Gospel): 1 Corinthians 7:1, γυναικὸς μὴ ἅπτεσθαι: 2 Corinthians 6:17, ἀκαθάρτου μὴ ἅπτεσθε. θιγγάνειν occurs in N.T. only here and Hebrews 11:28, Hebrews 12:20 (a quotation). Hence there is a climax of prohibitions, reversed in the AV., following perhaps (through Tyndale) the Latin, which has “tangere” for ἅπτεσθαι, and “contrectare” for θιγεῖν. Coverdale renders well (except as to the order), “as when they say, touch not this, taste not that, handle not that.” There were such prohibitions in the Mosaic law, and these were, doubtless, not only re-enacted, but exaggerated by the Colossian false teachers, as they had been by the Jewish. The form of the Rabbinical precepts was just that here given. The Essenes also abstained from the use of wine, oil, and animal food, and would not touch food prepared by defiled hands.
Some commentators have suggested a special object for each of the three verbs; for example, for ἅψῃ (γυναικός), which others have supplied to θίγῃς. This form of asceticism, which also was practised by the Essenes, is referred to in 1 Timothy 4:3, κωλυόντων γαμεῖν; but it is not suggested by anything in the present context, and would hardly be referred to so obscurely. Other suggestions have been offered which do not deserve mention, since it is clear that St. Paul is only citing typical forms of prohibition. For the same reason we must not suppose the prohibitions limited to food.
It is a singular illustration of the asceticism of a later date, that some Latin commentators (Ambrose, Hilary, Pelagius) regarded these prohibitions as the apostle’s own. In the words of Augustine, who argues against this view: “tanquam praeceptum putatur apostoli, nescio quid tangere, gustare, attaminare, prohibentis” (Epist. cxix., ii. p. 412). Jerome gives the correct interpretation, which he illustrates from the Talmud, i. 84.
22. (ἅ ἐστι πάντα εἰς φθορὰν τῇ ἀποχρήσει.) The clause is parenthetical. “Which things (the objects which it is forbidden to touch) are all (destined) for corruption in their consumption.” For εἶναι εἰς compare Acts 8:20, εἴη εἰς ἀπωλείαν: 2 Peter 2:12, γεγεννημένα … εἰς ἅλωσιν καὶ φθοράν. φθορά has its proper sense of decomposition, referring to the physical dissolution of such things in their natural use; ἀπόχρησις meaning “using up,” “consumption.” The thought is that these things which are merely material, as is shown by their dissolution in the ordinary course of nature, have in themselves no moral or spiritual effect. The argument is strikingly similar to that in Matthew 15:17, εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται: so much so, indeed, that we might suppose that the apostle had this discourse in his mind. Compare also 1 Corinthians 6:12, where the same consideration is differently applied; and ib. 8:8, where the principle is expressed, “Meat will not commend us to God; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse; nor if we eat, are we the better.” This is the view taken by the Greek commentators as well as by most moderns. Theodoret says: οὐ σκοπεῖτε ὡς μόνιμον τούτων οὐδέν· εἰς κόπρον γὰρ ἅπαντα μεταβάλλεται: and Oecumenius: φθορᾷ γάρ, φησίν, ὑπόκειται ἐν τῷ ἀφεδρῶνι.
Other interpretations are as follow:—
First, the antecedent of ἅ is taken to be the precepts referred to: “which δόγματα all by their use tend to (everlasting) destruction.” So Ambrose, Augustine, Corn. a Lapide, al. For this sense of φθορά, see Galatians 6:8. But ἀπόχρησις never means simply “use,” but “using up,” “consumption”; nor, indeed, would the simple χρῆσις be suitable in the sense of “observance,” τήρησις. Moreover, the addition τῇ ἀποχρήσει would, on this view, be quite superfluous.
Secondly, it is held by some that these words are those of the false teachers, repeated in irony by St. Paul: “omnia haec (vetita) usu suo perniciem afferunt.” Or, again—
Thirdly, the words, similarly interpreted, are connected with the following: κατὰ τὰ ἐντάλματα, κ.τ.λ. “Which things tend to destruction”; “scil. si ex doctorum Judaicorum praeceptis et doctrinis hac de re judicium feratur.” So Kypke, De Wette, and others.
Against both these interpretations the objection from the meaning of ἀπόχρησις holds good, for it was not the “using up” of these things, but their simple use, that these teachers condemned.
κατὰ τὰ ἐντάλματα καὶ διδασκαλίας τῶν ἀνθρώπων. To be connected with vv. 20, 21. The article covers both nouns, which belong to the same category, and is generic. These δόγματα were of human invention, not founded on the Divine commands and teaching. διδασκαλίας is a term of wider application than ἐντάλματα, “precepts and in general teachings.” The expression is taken from Isaiah 29:13, μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων καὶ διδασκαλίας. Compare Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:723. ἅτινά ἐστιν λόγον μὲν ἔχοντα σοφίας. ἅτινα = “which are such things as,” or “which kind of things.” The position of ἐστιν seems to forbid our separating it from ἔχοντα, as Lightfoot and others do, joining it with οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ. Bengel connects it with πρὸς πλησμονήν, κ.τ.λ.
ἐστιν ἔχοντα is not quite the same as ἔχει; the former marks that the character of the precepts is such that a λόγος σοφίας belongs to them. Deuteronomy 31:11, οὐδὲ λόγον τὸ πρᾶγμʼ ἔχον ἐστί.
λόγον σοφίας = “the repute of wisdom.” For this sense of λόγον ἔχειν, compare Plato, Epinomis, p. 987 B, ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἑωσφόρος ἕσπερός τε ὢν αὑτὸς Ἀφροδίτης εἶναι σχέδον ἔχει λόγον: Herod. v. 66, Κλεισθένης … ὅσπερ δὴ λόγον ἔχει τὴν πυθίην ἀναπεῖσαι.
This repute is explained by the professed basing of these precepts on φιλοσοφία, ver. 8. The addition of μέν suggests at once that this repute was not well founded. The contrasted character which we expect to be introduced with δέ appears to be replaced by the negative characteristic οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ, κ.τ.λ. which, of course, implies the absence of true wisdom, but is not opposed to λόγον σοφίας, but to ἐν ἐθελοθρ. κ.Τ.λ. This use of μέν without the δέ clause following is frequent. See Jelf, § 766; Winer, § 63. 2. e.
ἐν ἐθελοθρησκείᾳ. ἐν indicating on what this repute for wisdom rests. The substantive ἐθελοθρησκεία is not found elsewhere (except in eccles. writers), but the verb ἐθελοθρησκεῖν is explained by Suidas, ἰδίῳ θελήματι σέβειν τὸ δοκοῦν. Epiphanius explains the name of the Pharisees: διὰ τὸ ἀφωρισμένους εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων διὰ τὴν ἐθελοπερισσοθρησκείαν παρʼ αὐτοῖς νενομισμένην (Haer. i. 16). Similar compounds, however, are frequent in Greek, as ἐθελοδουλεία (Plato, Conv. 184 C; Rep. 562 D); ἐθελοπρόξενος, Thuc. iii. 70. 2, where the Schol. explains: ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ γενόμενος καὶ μὴ κελευσθείς, κ.τ.λ. The meaning of ἐθελοθρ. is therefore clear; it is “self-imposed worship.”
καὶ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ, viz. what the false teachers called so; see ver. 18. Lightfoot supposes the force of ἐθελο. to be carried on; but this seems unnecessary.
καὶ ἀφειδίᾳ σώματος. “And unsparing treatment of the body.” The substantive ἀφειδία occurs in the definition of ἐλευθερία in [Plato] Def. 412 D, ἀφειδία ἐν χρήσει καὶ ἐν κτήσει οὐσίας. The verb ἀφειδεῖν βίου occurs in Thuc. ii. 43; ἀφ. σωμάτων in Lys. Or. Fan. 25; ἀφειδῶς ἐχρῶντο τοῖς ἰδίοις σώμασιν εἰς τὴν κοινὴν Diod. Sic. xiii. 60. A frequent Latin rendering here was “vexatic,” but Vulg. has “ad non parcendum.” Augustine mentions both (Ep. 149).
After ταπεινοφροσύνῃ, τοῦ νοός is added in G d e f g Vulg. Syr-Harcl., Hil. al.
Καί before ἀφειδίᾳ is omitted by B m Origen (Latin transl. iv. 665), Hil. al. Lachmann and Lightfoot bracket it, the latter saying it should probably be omitted, ἀφειδίᾳ being then taken as an instrumental dative.
ἀφειδία is the spelling in א B* C D G L and most MSS.
οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινὶ πρὸς πλησμονὴν σαρκός. These words are among the most difficult in the Epistle. The Greek commentators understand ἐν τιμῇ τινι of the honour to be paid to the body (suggested by the preceding ἀφειδίᾳ σώματος), and πλησμ. τῆς ς. of the satisfaction of bodily appetites.
This view has been adopted by many modern expositors, including Corn. a Lapide, Calvin, De Wette, and Scholefield. Estius expresses it thus: “Sentit apostolus sapientiam illam aut praecepta talia esse, per quae corpori debitus honor, pertinens ad expletionem, i. e. justam refectionem carnis, subtrahatur.” It is a decisive objection to this interpretation that it assigns an impossible sense to πλησμονή, which is never used in the sense of moderate satisfaction, but always in that of “repletion” or “excessive indulgence.” It is expressly so defined by Galen, Op. xv. p. 113 (quoted by Lightfoot), who says that not only physicians but the other Greeks apply the word μᾶλλόν πως … ταῖς ὑπερβολαῖς τῆς συμμέτρου ποσότητος. Here, where it would stand in contrast to the asceticism of the false teachers, it would be particularly inappropriate. Moreover, this view supposes σάρξ be used in an indifferent sense as equivalent to σῶμα, and that in a context in which it has just occurred with an ethical meaning. The change from σώματος to σαρκός can be explained only by the latter having an ethical meaning here as in ver. 18.
Lightfoot (followed by RV. and Moule) adopts and ably defends the interpretation given by Conybeare (Life and Epistles of St. Paul), and before him by Sumner, viz. “yet not really of any value to remedy indulgence of the flesh,” or more literally as RV. “but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.” St. Paul “allows that this πλησμονή is the great evil to be checked, … but he will not admit that the remedies prescribed have any substantial and lasting efficacy.”
But this interpretation is open to serious objection from the linguistic point of view. First, as to the meaning assigned to πρός. It is, no doubt, often convenient to translate it “against”; but the idea of hostility or opposition is not in the preposition itself, which only means “with a view to,” “looking to,” etc., but in the words with which it is joined, as in Acts 6:1, 24:19; Ephesians 6:11.
Lightfoot shows also that it is frequently used by Aristotle, and especially by Galen, after words denoting utility, etc., to introduce the object, to check or prevent which the thing is to be employed. Thus Aristotle, Hist. An. iii. 21, συμφέρει πρὸς τὰς διαρροίας: De Respir. 8, βοηθεῖ πρὸς ταύτην τὴν φθοράν: Galen, De Comps. Medic., Opp. xii. p. 420, τοῦ δόντος αὐτὰ πρὸς ἀλωπεκίας φαλακρώσεις: p. 476, βραχυτάτην ἔχοντι δύναμιν ὡς πρὸς τὸ προκείμενον σύμπτωμα: and so very frequently. This use is very parallel (as Lightfoot indeed observes) to that of the English “for.” Compare “good for a cold, for a hurt.”
Here the sense of the preposition seems to be “with reference to,” the object being a state or condition. On the other hand, if the object is a word signifying action or the production of an effect, “for” and πρός still signifying “with reference to” can only suggest “with a view to (producing).” For example, “good for cutting, good for the satisfaction of thirst.”
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 “so as to produce πλ.”
Secondly, as to the sense of ἐν τιμῇ τινί, “of real value.” Lightfoot, after Wetstein, quotes Lucian, De Merc. Cond. 17, τὰ καινὰ τῶν ὑποδημάτων ἐν τιμῇ τινὶ καὶ ἐπιμελείᾳ ἐστίν, and Hom. Il. ix. 319, ἐν δὲ ἰῇ τιμῇ, κ.τ.λ. But in these and similar passages τιμή means “estimation,” not objectively “real value,” and ἐν τιμῇ εἶναι is to be “in esteem,” not to be “of value.” Hence also the use of τιμή in the sense of “price.” Sometimes the two ideas, “estimation” and “value,” may approximate, as, indeed, our word “value” is sometimes incorrectly used as “valuation.” But here the interpretation in question supposes τιμή to mean “real value,” as opposed to mere “estimation.” No instance has been produced which would justify such a supposition.
Thirdly, as to οὐ … τινί. This can hardly mean “not any” in the sense of “none,” i.e. οὐδεμία. τις means “aliquis,” not “ullus” (except in poetry). So here the Latin: “in honore aliquo.”
The οὐκ contradicts the combination ἐν τιμῇ τινί, implying that on the other side this had been said or assumed. Thus the words would mean: “not for some (supposed) τιμή.”
These last two objections are fatal to all interpretations which require οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινί to be understood as “not of any real value.” Eadie regards λόγον to τινί as participial, and joins ἐστιν with πρὸς πλ., which is very harsh.
Alford connects πρὸς πλησμ. κ.τ.λ. with δογματίζεσθε, treating all between as parenthetical, and understanding οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινί as = “not in any real honour done to the body.” “Why are ye suffering yourselves to be thus dogmatised, and all for the satisfaction of the flesh,” for the following out of a διδασκαλία, the ground of which is in the φυσιοῦσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ νοὸς τῆς σαρκός, ver. 18. Then follow most naturally the exhortations of the next chapter, vv. 2, 5. To the objection that the antithesis presented by οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινί thus not to ἐθελοθρ. κ.τ.λ. but merely to ἀφειδίᾳ αώματος, he replies that “if the apostle wished to bring out a negative antithesis to these last words only, he could hardly do so without repeating the preposition, the sense of which is carried on to ἀφειδίᾳ.” This interpretation yields a very appropriate sense, and gives τινί its proper sense. But it is difficult to admit so long a parenthesis separating the verb from its qualification. It is not analogous to other Pauline parentheses.
It remains that we take τιμή in the sense of “honour,” and πρὸς πλ. τῆς σαρκός as = “for the full satisfaction of the flesh.” The words suggest that the observation of such precepts was supposed to bring honour, and in contradicting this St. Paul with abrupt and sharp irony declares that the only honour would be such as satisfied the carnal nature, and that their boasted ἀφειδία σώματος was in very truth πλησμονὴ τῆς σαρκός. and this striking contrast explains the adoption of πλησμονή in this unusual sense.
This is the view adopted by Soden and (nearly) by Meyer. Ellicott and Barry take a similar view of the connexion, but understand τιμή as “value.”
Syr-Harcl. The Harclean Syriac.
Fuld. Cod. Fuldensis
Boh Bohairic. Cited by Tisch. as “Coptic,” by Tregelles as “Memphitic,” by WH. as “me.”
Syr-Pesh The Peshitto Syriac.
1 Mr. Charles compares Book of Enoch, 46. 3, “the Son of Man who reveals all the treasures of that which is hidden.”
1 A notion which, it may be remembered, was shared by the great astronomer Kepler.
2 In Test. Solomanis (Fabricius, Cod. Pseudep. Vet. Test. i. 1047) we read ἡμεῖς ἐσμὲν τὰ λεγόμενα στοιχεῖα, οἱ κοσμοκράτορες τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, ἀπάτη, ἔρις, κλώθων, ζάλη, πλάνη, δύναμις, κ.τ.λ. This, however, is a very late document.
1 The Text. Rec. there has παραδειγματίσαι,—a word which frequently occurs in Folyb. etc.; also Numbers 25:4; Isa. 4:17; Jeremiah 13:22; Ezekiel 28:17.
WH Westcott and Hort.
De De Wette.
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
(Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
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.