New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:3 In whom. Since Christ is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:16, 17), and since His gospel is implicit in every thing created (Colossians 1:23), it follows that true science is essentially thinking God’s thoughts after Him. All the treasures of true wisdom and knowledge are stored up in Christ (Matthew 13:52), and all education should be Christ-centered.
2:3 wisdom. False wisdom (i.e., “philosophy”—see Colossians 2:8) was the device used by Satan to tempt Eve (Genesis 3:6), and false knowledge (i.e., “false science”—see I Timothy 6:20) was the corrupt fruit which brought death into the world (Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19).
2:3 knowledge. “Knowledge” is synonymous with “science,” both being translations of the Greek gnosis. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning” of both true wisdom and true knowledge (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).
2:6 As ye have. That is, we have received Christ by faith; therefore we should also walk by faith in him, trusting Him for all needed provision and guidance.
2:6 so walk. The Christian “walk” should be in His light (John 8:12), in wisdom (Colossians 4:5), in circumspection (Ephesians 5:15), in newness of life (Romans 6:4), by faith (II Corinthians 5:7), honestly (I Thessalonians 4:12), and in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
2:7 Rooted. We need to have strong roots in Christ to be fruitful for Him. Contrast Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21. See also Ephesians 3:17.
2:8 spoil. “Spoil”—that is, “despoil,” or “lead captive.”
2:8 philosophy. It is significant that, despite the prominence of philosophy in the entire Graeco/Roman world, this is the only mention of the word “philosophy” (from a combination of two Greek words, meaning “love of wisdom”) in the Bible, and here God warns us against it. Similarly the only mention of philosophers (Acts 17:18) describes the two major philosophical schools of thought, both of which opposed Paul as he preached Christ. Paul may have been thinking mainly of the Epicureans and Stoics when he wrote this warning, but his divinely guided pen simply said to beware of all philosophy. The love of human wisdom characterizes every system of philosophy; they all follow the tradition of men and the elements of the world. Instead, men should love Christ, who is made true wisdom unto us (I Corinthians 1:30) and in whom are stored all the treasures of true wisdom and true knowledge. As Paul had already written, Christ had created and was sustaining everything (Colossians 1:16-17). Any philosophy centered in men or so-called “gods,” rather than in the true God of creation, is bound to be false and harmful.
2:9 Godhead. For the other two occurrences of “Godhead” in the Scriptures, see notes on Acts 17:29 and Romans 1:20. Each is a slightly different Greek word, but all mean essentially the same in their respective contexts—that is, God in His full nature and character, the “Godhood” of God; God as He is. Since God is revealed in Scripture as a triune God, the term has always been associated with the Trinity, even though that is not its precise meaning. The “fullness of the Godhead” is manifest—that is, shown convincingly to be true—in the incarnate Christ. The Son in His bodily presence could not thereby also be the omnipresent Father, but His character, His claims and His works did “manifest” the reality of His omnipresence, His eternal existence and all the other divine attributes. “Dwelleth” implies eternal continuance in the bodily state.
2:10 complete in him. “Complete” is the same in the Greek as “fulfilled.” That is, God’s purpose in creating each believer is fulfilled when he or she is truly “in Him.”
2:11 without hands. Paul, writing to the Gentile Christians at Colosse, would certainly not here be referring to literal circumcision, which he rejected as a ritual requirement for Gentiles (e.g., Galatians 5:2,6). The “circumcision made without hands” refers to the spiritual significance of circumcision, which applies to Gentiles as well as Jews. The covenant that God had made with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14) was to be signified by the physical rite of circumcision (“cutting round”). It was a national and earthly covenant, applicable only to the chosen nation fathered by Abraham, and did not of itself assure personal salvation in heaven to those who submitted to it. However, it should have encouraged in them and symbolized to them a spiritual separation also, dedicating themselves to serve the Lord and to do His will. Similarly, God’s people in any nation and any age should so dedicate themselves, cutting themselves off from the natural sins of the flesh. In that sense, every true believer has submitted to spiritual circumcision.
2:12 baptism. Since the rite of male circumcision was specifically a sign of identity with the earthly people of God, so baptism has now become the symbolic initiatory rite of all God’s people, whether male or female, Jew or Gentile, into the heavenly family of God. It also, like circumcision, symbolizes separation from sin and unto God, but in a different and more meaningful way than circumcision can do. It identifies the believer with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, as we are “buried with Him” in the baptismal waters, then “risen with Him” to a new life. See also notes on Romans 6:4-13.
2:13 together. In principle, or position, we have already been raised physically with Christ as well as spiritually, since His victory over death assures our ultimate resurrection as well, with sins forgiven and the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. See John 14:19; Romans 4:3-8; 8:10-11; Ephesians 2:4-7.
2:14 handwriting of ordinances. When a criminal was crucified, the charges against him were specified, being nailed to his cross. In this case, the charges against Christ encompassed the whole law of God, because Christ was dying for all the sins of all the world. Note Galatians 3:10,13.
2:15 principalities and powers. This phrase, “principalities and powers,” referring usually to the angelic hierarchy, occurs eight times in the New Testament, all in the writings of Paul (Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Colossians 1:16; 2:10; 2:15; Titus 3:1). In this case (as also in Ephesians 6:12) it refers specifically to the Satanic coterie of rebellious angels, surrounding Christ on the cross (note Psalm 22:12-21). By dying for the sins of the world, Christ actually defeated Satan (even though the Devil may well have been temporarily gloating over his apparent triumph) because He thereby paid the price to redeem all men from their Satanic captivity (compare Hebrews 2:14-15).
2:16 judge you. Because Christ has paid for all our sins, and because believers have been saved entirely by grace, we should not allow ourselves to be intimidated by either legalistic stipulations (e.g., “sabbath days”) or pagan rituals (e.g., “worshipping of angels,” Colossians 2:18). Both were threats to the Colossian church because of the Judaizers on the one hand and the pagan philosophers on the other. The same dangers in somewhat different garb (modern legalists and new-age pantheists, respectively) confront believers today.
2:19 the Head. Christ is the Head; we are members of His body and should look only to Him for guidance and provision. See also Ephesians 1:23; 4:12-16; Colossians 1:18.