Bible Book: Colossians 2

1 For I would that ye knew how great is my conflict for you and for those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,
2 that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may acknowledge the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ,
3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Paul was uneasy. The believers in Ephesus had known him in their midst for some years. Those in Colosse and Laodicea not. In Colosse Epafras had preached the gospel, possibly in Laodicea as well. So they probably did not know Paul in person. 
However that may be, the apostle was uneasy about the believers in both cities, because another gospel had been preached to them than they originally had received. He wished that they would stand firm in the faith and that their unanimity and consequently their love would not fade, but that they abundantly would have insight in the mystery about which he has written in the epistle to the Ephesians and in this epistle. It meant to have knowledge of all that pertains to Christ and is in Him, all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 
Were there who tried to convince the believers of greater wisdom than they knew by the gospel? Vain talk, for in Christ are hidden all treasures of wisdom. Did some speak of more or higher knowledge? 
Empty words, for more or greater wisdom and knowledge than in Christ cannot be found in the whole of the universe. Did some speak of the possibility to become more acceptable to God? Empty words. Even the best recipe, Gods law, cannot add anything to Gods love for us or the preciousness of our calling and destination, because Christ is in us, the warrant of glory which exceeds human comprehension.
It is by the consciousness of our richness in Him that we are armed against all empty and vain reasoning of men and against the seduction to strive after more and higher outside Christ, even when people with impressive talk point to the fact that the law has been given by the Lord. That is true indeed, but there is another truth, much greater, that God has given his Son. In the law God has given, we find only judgment, but in Christ we have grace for the sinner who ought to be judged, together with an abundance of blessing and richness.

  Wat U in Christus hebt gegeven,
en wat ons nog te wachten staat,
- behalve vrede, eeuwig leven -
dat U straks openbaren gaat,
het overtreft het menslijk denken,
en is te groot voor ’t mensen woord. 
Hetgeen uw wijsheid ons zal schenken,
is nooit gezien en nooit gehoord. 

Ach Heer, hoe kan het waarheid wezen,
maakt U ons werkelijk zo rijk,
dat wij, die U niet wilden vrezen,
straks voor Hem staan, zijn beeld gelijk?
O aard’ en hemel, wees getuige,
dat God in Christus overtreft
wat ons verwonderd reeds deed buigen,
als Hij de laagste ’t hoogst verheft.

What thou hast given in Christ, 
and what still awaits us, 
above peace, and everlasting life, 
and what will be revealed to us in time, 
exceeds human thinking, 
is too great for human words. 
What thy wisdom will give us, 
has never been seen or heard. 

Can it be true, Lord, 
will you really make us so rich,
that we, who were not inclined to fear you,
will stand before Him in due course, like Him?
O earth and heaven, be witness,
that God in Christ is exceeding 
what made us bow already,
when He raises the lowest into the highest position.

4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words;
5 for though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, rejoicing and beholding your order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
It is necessary for a Christian that he knows the riches of Christ and his riches in Him, so that deceivers will not be able to attain their end. He that is rich will not be impressed if someone tells him how he can become rich. But though the apostle uneasy, considering the wrong influences, he could to the other side could thank, thinking of their order and their firm faith.

6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him,
7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Yet warning or admonition were necessary. Their faith did not in the first place relate to a story, a theory or a doctrine, but to a Person, even Jesus Christ. We ought to walk “in Him”, that is like walking two feet behind Him, or being born in his arms. In that case one absolutely is going his course. 
Being rooted and built up in Him still goes further. It speaks of a complete union with Him, so that life is maintained by his sap only.
Moreover they had to stick to the faith that had been taught to them and not go farther (there is no farther, but there is a possibility of falling behind.). They ought to realise how many reasons they had to thank the Father.

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, following the tradition of men according to the rudiments of the world, and not in accordance with Christ.
Reasoning, reasoning, we are good at it. But the wise reasoning of men is `without significance in the presence of the greatness of Christ and what He has done. He is the truth and the gospel of the glory of Christ is the truth. What is contrary to that is deceit and lie, however importantly it may be presented.
Often vain deceit is not easily discovered; it can boast of a very high age. If moreover it is supported with reference to Bible verses, it is a difficult thing for those who do not stand firmly. That is the case when some try to persuade Christians to keep the law. It has been ordained by God indeed. A Christian however has been made free of sin (Romans 6:18), has been delivered from this present evil world (Galatians 1), but also been made free of the yoke of the law:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I, Paul, say unto you that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man who is circumcised, that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.(Galatians 5:1-3).

The rudiments of the world are the commands of the law, which is destined not for the righteous, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners (1 Timothy 1:9). The same word we have in Galatians 4:9, there called elements: 
But now after ye have known God, or rather are known by God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements unto which ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days and months and times and years.
In Greek it is the word Stoy-khi-on. It is clear that the epistle to the Galatians has been written because the believers in their territory had submitted themselves to the law, owing to the influence of Jewish preachers. 
The following quotation shows indeed, that Paul had to make clear to the Galatians, that a Christian should not go back to the law:
1 O foolish Galatians! Who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been clearly set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you: Did ye receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain—if it be yet in vain?
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit and worketh miracles among you, doeth He it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

In Colossians 2:8 believers are exhorted as well not to listen to various reasonings and teachings, based on tradition and the law. It is confirmed by what we find in verses 20-22
20 Therefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to its ordinances
21 ("Touch not, taste not, handle not,"
22 which all are to perish with the using), according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 
Those ordinances “touch not, taste not, handle not” we have in the law. So the problem had been caused by Jewish preachers. A return of their opposition to the truth of the gospel we now have on a small scale in believing Jews who again preach that a Christian ought to be circumcised and keep the law. It is against the truth in Scripture.

9 For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
What we have in Colossians 1:19 is repeated here. In Christ there is not a part of the Godhead, but the fullness of the Godhead, Father, Son and Spirit. That cannot be improved or enlarged, nor can we explain it. It is the mystery of the Godhead in a Man. I suppose that even angels cannot fathom or explain it. 

10 And ye are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power,
The miracle is that we, Christians, in Christ who is above all and everything, have got the fullness. How then would it be possible to add anything to our blessings, our place and our position, if He is living in us in whom is the fullness of the Godhead, even Head of all principality and power?

11 and 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.
Why has that been mentioned? Because it was necessary to make clear to the Colossians that it was wrong and impossible by keeping the law to seek anything better than we have through grace in Jesus Christ. 
Circumcision is a judgment of the flesh (a knife in the flesh!). The execution of the judgment of the flesh has been when Christ has been made sin and been judged on Golgotha. That has been the circumcision of Christ. By faith we have been crucified and have died with Him and consequently have put off the body of sin. That has been the circumcision of a Christian. So circumcision according to the law has no value or significance, would even be a denial of our being in Christ. 

12 Ye are buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye also are risen with Him through the faith wrought by the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.
Because a Christian died with Christ, there must also be a burial. That is baptism, as explained in Romans 6:3, 4:
3 Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 
That you seldom hear about baptism, but it is what God says in his Word. it is often said, that baptism is a seal of the covenant, but that you do not find in Scripture. People say that baptism is instead of circumcision, what they say is stated in Colossians 2:11 and 12.
We saw however that Colossians 2 did not say that. It says that we have been buried in baptism and not that we have been circumcised in baptism. Our circumcision was death, the death of Christ, the being crucified with Him.
Knowing these things, the preaching of Jewish law preachers must loose every and all significance for the Colossians and for us.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
A believer not only has been crucified and buried with Christ, but also been resurrected. 

14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us. He took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;
15 and having despoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
There has been the handwriting of ordinances that proved our guilt and there for threatened us. It was the law, forbidding what we did and so accusing us. But Christ nailed it to the cross and in that way blotted it out. 
How that? 
Well, the law promised life to anyone obeying to it. Christ obeyed in every aspect, but he died nevertheless. The law threatened with death anyone not obeying it. But we, though disobedient, got everlasting life. So the law has been nailed to the cross and every principality and power that would intend to accuse us with the demands of the law, has been despoiled and silenced. 

16 Let no man therefore judge you in regard to meat or drink, or in respect to a holy day or the new moon or the sabbath days,
17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.
So it is clear that nobody can any longer judge a believer for eating this or that, or for not keeping a religious holy day, regulations of the law that had significance as a blueprint of things to come, which meanwhile for the greater part have come indeed. (For the greater part because for instance the fulfilment of the day of atonement and the feast of tabernacles is still future and will come when Israel will have repented and the great feast of the end of Gods ways with his people will have come in the thousand years of Christ’s reign.)
The shadows, the feeble images, the blueprints we have in the law, but the reality that was depicted by them, is in Christ. Those shadows therefore have lost their force as commandments and are instructive images only.

18 Let no man beguile you of your reward by feigned humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, being vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19 and not holding to the Head, from whom all the body, having nourishment ministered and knit together by joints and bands, increaseth with the increase from God.
The Christian so to speak is running a race. When running a race one should not be hindered by this or that commandment or by carrying some weight, for he then surely will not the first one who reaches the end. Human regulations, commanding to be humble, even asking to worship angels, would be hindering things that do not come from God. They make us see more to our own piety than to Christ, to whom we should cling and through whom the church, the building of God, will grow.

20Therefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to its ordinances
21 ("Touch not, taste not, handle not,"
22 which all are to perish with the using), according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
It is remarkable that those commandments, that partly without doubt originated in the Jewish law, are called commandments and doctrines of men. But when God has nailed that handwriting of ordinances to the cross (verse 14), it will be a doctrine of men if men take it from the cross, smooth it and declare it binding again, for Christians even, whereas it was meant for the world. They are the temporary patterns but not the heavenly things themselves.

23 These things have indeed a show of wisdom in willworship and humility and neglecting of the body, but are not in any honor against the satisfying of the flesh.
Observing those ordinances and supposed commandments gives a reputation amongst men, but means no more than a puffing up of the religious “self” and is only a satisfaction for the flesh. It has no value for God.

J. Ph. Buddingh