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Colossians 2:23

    Colossians 2:23 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    These things seem to have a sort of wisdom in self-ordered worship and making little of oneself, and being cruel to the body, not honouring it by giving it its natural use.

    Webster's Revision

    Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

    World English Bible

    Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but aren't of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

    Clarke's Commentary on Colossians 2:23

    Which things have indeed a show of wisdom - All these prescriptions and rites have indeed the appearance of wisdom, and are recommended by plausible reasons; but they form a worship which God has not commanded, and enjoin macerations of the body, accompanied with a humiliation of spirit, that are neither profitable to the soul, nor of any advantage to the body; so that the whole of their religion is nothing worth.

    What is here termed will-worship, εθελοθρησκεια, signifies simply a mode of worship which a man chooses for himself, independently of the revelation which God has given. The whole system of Deism is an εθελοθρησκεια, a worship founded in the will or caprices of man, and not in the wisdom or will of God; and it is just as profitable to body and soul as that of which the apostle speaks. God will be served in his own way; it is right that he should prescribe to man the truths which he is to believe, and the ordinances which he is to use. To refuse to receive his teaching in order to prefer our own fancies, is to light a farthing candle as a substitute for the noonday sun. From the beginning of the world God has prescribed the worship which was best pleasing to himself, and never left a matter of such moment to man. The nations which have either not had a revelation, or refused to receive that which God has given, show, by their diversity of worship, superstition, absurdity, and in many cases cruelty, what the state of the whole would have been, had not God, in his infinite mercy, blessed it with a revelation of his will. God has given directions concerning his worship; and he has appointed the seventh day for the peculiar exercises of spiritual duties: other times he has left to man's convenience; and they abuse the text who say that the appointment of particular times and places for religious service is will-worship. God prescribes the thing, and leaves it to man, except in the case of the Sabbath, to appoint the time and the place; nor is it possible to be too frequent in God's worship, any more than to be too fervent.

    Barnes' Notes on Colossians 2:23

    Which things - Which scrupulous observance of the numerous precepts enjoining rites and ceremonies, the observance of days, and the distinctions between meats and drinks.

    Have indeed a show of wisdom - Have a great appearance of piety and of regard for the will of God They have a show of "wisdom," too, or of a deep acquaintance with divine things. They who insist on them appear to be learned in what constitutes religion, and to have a deep insight into its mysteries. Doubtless they who urged the obligation of these things laid claim to uncommon acquaintance with the nature of religion, and urged the observance of these things on the ground of their tendency to promote piety, just as they always do who insist much on the observance of religious rites and ceremonies.

    In will-worship - Voluntary worship; i. e., worship beyond what God strictly requires-supererogatory service. Probably many of these things they did not urge as being strictly required, but as conducing greatly to piety. The plea doubtless was, that piety might be promot ed by service rendered beyond what was absolutely enjoined, and that thus there would be evinced a spirit of uncommon piety - a readiness not only to obey all that God required, but even to go beyond this, and to render him voluntary service. There is much plausibility in this; and this has been the foundation of the appointment of the fasts and festivals of the church; of penances and self-inflicted tortures; of painful vigils and pilgrimages; of works of supererogation, and of the merits of the "saints." A large part of the corruptions of religion have arisen from this plausible but deceitful argument. God knew best what things it was most conducive to piety for his people to observe; and we are most safe when we adhere most closely to what he has appointed, and observe no more days and ordinances than he has directed. There is much apparent piety about these things; but there is much wickedness of heart at the bottom, and there is nothing that more tends to corrupt pure religion.

    And humility - Notes, Colossians 2:18. There is a great show of reverence for divine things in the manner in which they pursue their investigations, and in their humble and meek compliance with painful rites and ceremonies; in fastings, abstinence, and penances. Under all this there lurks often the worst kind of pride; because:

    "Pride may be pampered while the flesh grows lean."

    And neglecting the body - Putting on sackcloth and ashes; subjecting it to painful fastings and penances; appearing in a form of squalid poverty, as if the body were not worth regarding, and as if the attention were so much engrossed by the nobler care of the soul, as to be entirely regardless of the body. Yet, we may observe,

    (1) God made the body as well as the soul, and has shown his care of it by its" being fearfully and wonderfully made," and by all the provision which he has made for all its needs.

    (2) Religion pertains to the body as well as the soul, and should teach a man properly to regard it. Man is bound so to take care of the body, as to have the most health and the longest life possible in the service of his Creator, and so as to be able to employ it in the best manner. There is no religion in ragged or squalid clothing, in a dirty face, in offensive personal habits, in filth and defilement, and in setting at defiance the decencies of life.

    (3) much affected sanctity may exist where there is a most proud and corrupt heart. A long face, a demure countenance, a studied disregard of the decencies of dress and the courtesies of life, as if they were unworthy of notice, may be the exponent of the most hateful pride, and of the basest purposes of the soul. A man should be on his guard always against one who, under pretence of extraordinary sanctity, professes to despise the ordinary dress and usages of society.

    Not in any honour - That is, there is no real honor in these things; there is nothing to ennoble and elevate the soul; nothing that is to be commended.

    To the satisfying of the flesh - The only effect is, to satisfy or please the flesh; that is, the carnal and corrupt nature, for so the word "flesh" is often used in the Scriptures. The effect of these observances, on which so much stress is laid as if they would promote piety, is merely to gratify pride, self-righteousness, the love of distinction, and the other carnal propensities of our nature. There seems to be a great deal of humility and piety in them; there is really little else than pride, selfishness, and ambition.

    Remarks On Colossians 2

    1. We should feel a deep interest for the welfare of other Christians, even those whom we have never seen; Colossians 2:1-2. All belong to the same family, have the same enemies to contend with, are engaged in the same warfare, are traveling to the same heaven. By our prayers and sympathy, we may often do much good to those whom we shall never see until we meet them in heaven.

    2. We should be on our guard against the seductive arts of false teachers. They are often plausible; they can urge arguments which we may not be able to answer; they may have much more learning than we have; and they may put on the appearance of great humility and of real piety; Colossians 2:3-4.3. It is, in general, a safe rule for a Christian to abide by the views which he had on the great subjects of religion when he became converted; Colossians 2:6. Then the heart was tender and soft - like wax - and received the impression which the Spirit made on it. There are some things in which the heart judges better than the head; and in which we are quite as likely to go right if we follow the former as we are the latter. In relation to the performance of many of the duties of life - the duties of kindness and charity - the heart is often a more safe guide than the head; and so in many things pertaining more immediately to religion, a man is more likely to judge right if he follows the promptings of his feelings in the happiest moments of piety, than he is to wait for the more cool and cautious course of argument. The same thing may be true even of many of the doctrines of religion. When a poor sinner trembles on the verge of hell, he feels that none but an Almighty Saviour can deliver him, and he goes and commits himself to Jesus as God - and he is not in much danger of erring in that. He will be more likely to be drawn aside from the truth by the artful reasonings of the advocates of error, than he will by his feelings at that moment.


    Wesley's Notes on Colossians 2:23

    2:23 Not sparing the body - Denying it many gratifications, and putting it to many inconveniences. Yet they are not of any real value before God, nor do they, upon the whole, mortify, but satisfy, the flesh. They indulge our corrupt nature, our self - will, pride, and desire of being distinguished from others.

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