2:8-17 There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God. To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. In him, not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law. Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.
8. Translate, "Beware (literally, 'Look' well) lest there shall be (as I fear there is: the Greek indicative expresses this) any man (pointing to some known emissary of evil, Ga 1:7) leading you away as his spoil (not merely gaining spoil out of you, but making yourselves his spoil) through (by means of) his philosophy," &c. The apostle does not condemn all philosophy, but "the philosophy" (so Greek) of the Judaic-oriental heretics at Colosse, which afterwards was developed into Gnosticism. You, who may have "the riches of full assurance" and "the treasures of wisdom," should not suffer yourselves to be led away as a spoil by empty, deceitful philosophy: "riches" are contrasted with spoil; "full" with "vain," or empty (Col 2:2, 3, 9).
tradition of men—opposed to, "the fulness of the Godhead." Applied to Rabbinical traditions, Mr 7:8. When men could not make revelation even seem to tell about deep mysteries which they were curious to pry into, they brought in human philosophy and pretended traditions to help it, as if one should bring a lamp to the sundial to find the hour [Cauations for Times, p. 85]. The false teachers boasted of a higher wisdom in theory, transmitted by tradition among the initiated; in practice they enjoined asceticism, as though matter and the body were the sources of evil. Phrygia (in which was Colosse) had a propensity for the mystical and magical, which appeared in their worship of Cybele and subsequent Montanism [Neander].
rudiments of the world—(See on Ga 4:3). "The rudiments" or elementary lessons "of the (outward) world," such as legal ordinances; our Judaic childhood's lessons (Col 2:11, 16, 20; Ga 4:1-3). But Neander, "the elements of the world," in the sense, what is earthly, carnal and outward, not "the rudiments of religion," in Judaism and heathenism.
not after Christ—"Their" boasted higher "philosophy" is but human tradition, and a cleaving to the carnal and worldly, and not to Christ. Though acknowledging Christ nominally, in spirit they by their doctrine deny Him.