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;
I. The first wish of the Apostle appears as if it embodied the whole, "that their hearts might be comforted," that is, that by Divine preparation and discipline, they might be prepared, and strengthened, and become heirs of sanctification and rest. "That their hearts might be comforted." Here is the design of the Apostle, God's purpose which His messenger declares, that the end of our religion is our happiness. "That their hearts might be comforted," and that this may be brought about through the processes of obedience, and of faith, is the burden of the Apostolic prayer.
II. The verse then proceeds to unfold the elements, the constituents by which this prosperity of the spirit is to come; and the first and highest of these would appear to be "that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love." The word here rendered "knit together" applies to the fitting of the parts of a house in completeness and harmony. So the heart is to be knit together in unity: not united after many dislocations by bonds from without; bonds which the body may fray away, bonds which the hands of violence may sunder, but compelled from within, weaving the web of its defence, like the spider that is in kings' palaces, out of the texture of its own frame. Love is the root of all other graces, and the ground upon which the temple is to rise.
III. "Unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding." The possession of an assured faith, the importance of an intellectual perception of the truth, and of a decisive grasp of its great principles in the inner man, is urged by the Apostle in many exhortations, and enforced upon us as surely by the experiences of our own witnessing hearts. The faith that is so carefully concealed that only those who enter into the Shekinah of the spirit are aware of its existence, is in sad danger of dying from the very closeness of the air in which alone it permits itself to breathe; but the faith that gives itself to acknowledgment, to testimony, to witness-bearing, is traced by the air of the mountain, and breathes and thrives healthily among the free fellowships of men.
W. M. Punshon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 168.
References: Colossians 2:2.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 384. Colossians 2:6.—R. Tuck, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 85; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 536; Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 313; Ibid., Sermons, vol. viii., p. 488; W. Cunningham, Sermons, p. 292; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 02. Colossians 2:6, Colossians 2:7.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 216. Colossians 2:7.—Church of England Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 245. Colossians 2:8.—R. Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., pp. 120, 104. Colossians 2:8-10.—Good Words, vol. iii., pp. 373, 575. Colossians 2:9.—G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, p. 18. Colossians 2:9-10.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 139; H. Goodwin, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 241. Colossians 2:10.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 65; I. Taylor, Saturday Evening, p. 344; R. S. Candlish, The Sonship and Brotherhood of Believers, pp. 38, 54; J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 285.
Colossians 2:12(with Colossians 3:1)
Buried with Him in Baptism.
In our baptism we are made partakers both of the death and resurrection of Christ.
I. People in general, thinking as they do more or less slightly about baptism, forget very much the way in which Holy Scripture speaks about it. They think it a right thing to have their children baptised, but they are not very anxious about it. They do it, but they are not sure that they see much good in it. Now compare with this the way in which the Bible speaks. Hear, for instance, what St. Paul says to the Romans, "Know ye not, that all we which were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death," etc. He tells us that in our baptism we died with Christ, that we were made partakers of His death, that we were buried with Him, that we became united in the likeness of His death. We are brought so wonderfully near to Christ by being baptised and made members of His body, that what is literally true of Him is, in a figure, true of us also; that we actually partake, by the Holy Spirit of God, of Him, and so we have a real share in everything that is His—in His sufferings, in His death, in His resurrection. Yes, and in being already citizens of heaven and sitting with Him in heavenly places.
II. God has seen fit to call on us for lives of service. He has allowed us to live on, some of us to grow old, others to look forward, so far as man can look forward, to years of life, and all sorts of toil and labour in His Church upon the earth. We must, therefore, all our lives long, repeat and enlarge, and draw out into Christian habit and the long use of holy living, the rising with Christ which in summary we partook of when we were baptised; working hard and faithfully in our several callings, doing all the good we possibly can to our neighbours, helping on the kingdom of God in all ways, showing good examples, praying for one another, seeking more and more those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, lifting up our minds to high and heavenly things.
G. Moberly, Parochial Sermons, p. 122.
Reference: Colossians 2:12.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 87.
Colossians 2:13The New Life.
We notice here—
I. The state of the natural man "dead in sins." The death which holds the cold, lifeless limbs of flesh, is not more true and not half so awful, as this death that darkens the conscience, and perverts the reason, and corrupts the heart, and wraps up all the soul in the deep lethargy of sin from the call of the Saviour's love.
II. The state of the spiritual man quickened together with Christ. Experience of the dead soul we all certainly have had; happy they who have experience of the living soul likewise. The ceaseless activity of bodily life, which makes it happiness to live, and pleasure to move, and which for one part or other of the frame finds ceaseless occupation, represents the motions of the Spirit, which now stir with an inward life the once slumbering soul. The soul has been called out of its grave; it has arisen from the dead, and now stands a living thing before God,—all ear and eye and heart, all love, obedience, and attention.
III. Note the procuring means of change: "having forgiven us all trespasses." All things were easy to God but this one. Was it needed for the purposes of His will to create new worlds? He did but speak, and it was done; He commanded, and they stood fast. Was it needed to deliver a chosen people from the hands of earthly enemies? He did but blow with His wind, and through the deep sea, as along a conqueror's pathway, moved on in safety the armies of the Beloved. But to save souls and to remove out of the way those sins, which stood between us and Him, and yet to keep His truth and vindicate His justice—to be just, and yet the Justifier of man—needed a sacrifice great and wonderful even before God, the sacrifice of His own dear Son. The gift of the Holy Ghost could not be bestowed, till in the blood of the dying Son of God, and for the merits of His infinite propitiation, God had "forgiven us our trespasses."
E. Garbett, The Soul's Life, p. 98.
References: Colossians 2:14.—J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 353. Colossians 2:14, Colossians 2:15.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 12. Colossians 2:15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 273; Expositor, 1st series, vol. x., p. 403. Colossians 2:16.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 133. Colossians 2:16, Colossians 2:17.—J. Burton, Christian Life and Truth, p. 275. Colossians 2:19.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 297.
Colossians 2:20I. The one chief thing which the Lord had to accomplish upon earth was a death. That death He would have held in perpetual remembrance in His Church. The great thing which a Christian has to learn is to die daily. How to die is the great lesson for those whose "life is hid with Christ in God." We may easily appear to countenance that slavish occupation of the mind with the mere circumstance of death and experience of dying, which is the source of so much of that sickliness of soul which enfeebles the Church in our times. When I say "learn how to die," I am not thinking of the shrinking flesh which has to be mastered; that is a simple matter. Nor do I refer to the dread meeting with the realities of the eternal state to which the angel of death ushers us. I mean by learning how to die, learning how to lay up treasures which we may carry with us through death, to enrich the life which we shall live in the sphere beyond. We are dead, as the Lord was dead, to that which sin has made of His world. And what was He alive to? "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work."
II. Our Lord gives no hint that man can be a being of two homes—very happy here, very full of the good of this world and very satisfied with it, while very ready at the same time to find a home in the world to come. The Lord's life seemed to say the very opposite of all this. The blessed life for man lies beyond death. Give up the world as a home, give up life as a scene of perfect satisfaction and joy. Take up thy cross; make life a pilgrimage. This is the Christian philosophy of life, wherein whoso walketh and worketh, not weary of patience, not shrinking from the cross, is thrice blessed, blessed with the blessedness of the Lord Jesus.
III. The Lord would have us simply live in a sphere which is above the shock of earth's perturbations. The man who lives a heavenly life on earth will be in no unseemly haste to get out of it. That is the Christian expectation of death. It is the half-developed, the half-experienced, who would pluck half-ripe the fruit of immortality. To the complete Christian, death is only supremely welcome when the work of life is nobly done, and its rich fruit is treasured up on high. And that moment is only known to God. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." When we can take that song upon our lips, it is time to go hence, to fall asleep in the arms of death, to awake in the bosom of the everlasting glory.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 227.
References: Colossians 2:20-22.—J. H. Newman, Sermons on Subjects of the Day, p. 199. Colossians 2:22-23.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. xii., p. 289.
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.