Category Archives: COLOSSIANS 2

The apostle Paul warns against heretics who would side-track the believers at Colosse.

COLOSSIANS 2

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Survey of the chapter
Verses 1-3 are really a continuation of the subject of the greatness of the mystery, beginning in 1:24.
In verses 4-19 Paul warns about four ways in which heretics would seek to lead them astray.  He tells the Colossian believers they would:

Verse 4 Beguile you with enticing words.
Verse 8 Spoil you through philosophy.
Verse 16 Judge you in meat and drink.
Verse 18 Beguile you of your reward.

In verses 20-23 one consequence of being dead with Christ is set out.

Structure of the chapter

Verses 1-3 Appreciating the mystery of Christ.
Verses 4-19 Avoiding the error of those who deny Christ.
Verses 20-23 Acting on the truth of association with Christ.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 1-3:

2:1  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;

2:2  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;

2:3  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

 

Verses 1-3        Appreciating the mystery of Christ.

2:1  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;

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you- Paul agonised in prayer, (the word “conflict” is “agona”, from which we derive the word agony, and it is used in Luke 22:44 of Christ’s conflict in Gethsemane), in view of the greatness of the truth he has just written about, and in view, also, of the greatness of the danger that lurked all around them, which danger he is about to write about.  Agony is the exertion of the athlete as he strives to attain his objective.  Paul is not striving to win for himself, but that the Colossians might do so.  He knows that hostile spirit-forces are opposing the believers, seeking to make them go off course.  Jericho was a barrier to Israel, the stronghold that prevented them from entering in to the inheritance that God had given them.  The word Jericho means “City of the moon”, and Paul reminds the Ephesians believers that they wrestle against “the rulers of the darkness of this world”, Ephesians 6:12.
Even though we have an intercessor on high, Romans 8:34, and an intercessor within, 8:26, we still need to pray for ourselves, for the Spirit helps us as we pray; He does not intercede instead of us but alongside of us.  Prayer is a sign of our dependence on God and faith in God.
And for them at Laodicea- some twenty-six years later Laodicea had declined in spirituality, being more interested in material riches that spiritual ones.  Both Colosse and Laodicea were on the river Meander.  This river gradually silted up, however, and left Colosse poorer commercially, and Laodicea richer.  Sadly, however, the greater prosperity affected the Laodicean believers, so that they boasted that they were “rich, increased in goods, and had need of nothing”, but they knew not that they were poor, spiritually, Revelation 3:17.  This can easily happen when prosperity comes, for dependence upon the Lord can easily decline and we become self-sufficient.  We must remember that even though in Old Testament times financial prosperity was a sign of God’s approval, in this age it is not so.  In fact, the apostle writes to Timothy that he should turn away from those who said that gain was a sign of godliness, 1 Timothy 6:5.  Melchizedek strengthened Abraham with bread and wine before the King of Sodom came with his temptation, “Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself”, Genesis 14:21.  As the Lord Jesus said, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”, Matthew 16:26.  Starting out on the Christian pathway we should resolve to go in for spiritual things, even if that means less material things.  This will be to the profit of our souls.  This will prevent the tragedy of looking back on a life spent in worldly pursuits, and asking what, out of the accumulated wealth we have acquired, we can give to buy back the lost opportunities.  The answer, of course, is nothing.
And for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh- Paul had an interest in the spiritual progress of all believers, even those he had never seen.  It is one of the signs of a true believer that he loves those who are born of God.  As John wrote, “every one that loveth Him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him”, 1 John 5:1.  And the Colossians were marked by this, for in 1:4 Paul can write of their love to all the saints.
We should remember, however, that just because we love a believer it does not mean that we can automatically have fellowship with him, for the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship go together, Acts 2:42.  We should only have fellowship with the things and the people that the apostles would have had fellowship with.

2:2  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;

That their hearts might be comforted- the heart of man is the very centre of his being.  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”, Proverbs 4:23.  Just as the natural heart is critical to our life, (for “the life of the flesh is in the blood”, Leviticus 17:11), and forth from it is circulated our life-blood, so the centre of the moral being of the believer should be safeguarded and comforted.  To be comforted means to be strengthened and fortified.  A fort was a stronghold in ancient times.  So our hearts need to be protected and strengthened to withstand the attacks of the enemy.
Being knit together in love- Satan loves to divide the people of God.  The slogan of many a military strategist has been “Divide and rule”.  The apostle is earnestly praying that the Colossians might not be disunited.  Love is the major uniting bond of believers- love to God and Christ, love to fellow-believers, all grounded in the love of God’s word, as he will go on to say.
And unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding- this is one of Paul’s complicated phrases.  It is best understood by beginning at the end and working backwards. The main subject of the phrase is “understanding”.  Then we have the “full assurance of understanding”.  Then we have “all riches of the full assurance of the understanding”.
The word understanding as used here means literally “to put together”, and refers to the believer’s ability to relate truth to truth so as to gain a right appreciation of Divine things.  This demands effort, concentration and persistence, but it reaps a reward, as the word riches indicates.

Full assurance may be thought of as complete confidence.  Many believers lack assurance because they do not allow the truth of the word of God to govern their thinking.  Instead of appreciating what God has done for them and in them through Christ, they look to themselves, and find failure and weakness.  This only unsettles and disturbs, whereas if we look to what God has done we shall be assured in our hearts.  This is not to say that we may be complacent about our failures and shortcomings, but we should remember that the true believer is “accepted in the Beloved”, Ephesians 1:4, not accepted by God because of anything he has done or been.
No wonder the apostle speaks of “all riches”, for every conceivable blessing has been granted to the believer, Ephesians 1:3, and it only remains to enter in to an appreciation of these things in faith.
To the acknowledgement of the mystery of God- the great goal the apostle had as he prayed for these Colossian believers is now set out for us.  We might well pray this prayer for our fellow-believers, too, as well as for ourselves.  He desires that they fully acknowledge, or are fully acquainted with, the truths that he, as an apostle, had been entrusted with, and which had passed on to the saints.
He has set us the goal of the (full) knowledge of God, in 1:10.  The eternal life we receive when we believe not only enables us to know God initially, but it empowers us to get to know Him increasingly.  This is the highest goal set before us, and the life we have been given enables us to achieve it, in dependence upon God.  To have the knowledge of God in this way will mean that we have God alone as our object; all other knowledge will recede.  Believers will be totally absorbed with who and what God is, in eternity.  Moreover, with that knowledge will come insight into all that is mysterious now.  Those many things which seem so puzzling will be resolved then, as we are enabled to fathom to some degree the inner secrets of God’s purpose.  We should strive for that now, but it will only be fully realised in eternity, when all that hinders us will have been removed.
And of the Father- there was a mystery about God as Father that has now been disclosed to believers.  The Lord Jesus, when He prayed to His Father as recorded in John 17, was able to say “I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it”, verse 26.  So the name, (meaning the person), of the Father had been declared by the Son by His life down here.  God had not been addressed as Father by any in the Old Testament.  The psalmist had used a figure of speech when he wrote of God pitying His children as a father does, Psalm 103:13, but the revelation of God as Father was only given when the Son came to reveal Him.  This revelation was so complete that He could say, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father”, John 14:9.  And as the apostle John wrote, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we might know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ”, 1 John 5:20.  As a result, when He went back to heaven He ascended back to one who is not only His Father, but ours too, John 20:17.
And of Christ- the name Son tells us of His nature, and His relationship with the Father.  The word Christ, however, is a title, and relates to an office.  The word means “Anointed”, and marks out the Lord Jesus as the long-promised Messiah.  There is a further dimension to His Christ-hood, however, as indicated by Peter on the Day of Pentecost.  He declared that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ”, Acts 2:36.  The Jews knew that the Christ or Messiah would be their King; now they learn that He will have another way to exercise His office, for as the Ascended One He unites His people with Himself in a way that can be likened to the way in which the human body is joined to its head.  It was the special task of the apostle to set these things out; it remained for the Colossian believers to enter into an understanding of them.

2:3  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In whom are hid- not in the sense of being hidden out of reach to believers.  The treasures are, however, out of reach of heretics like the gnostics.
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge- the claim of the gnostics to have superior knowledge must be spurious, since all the truth resides in Him.  (As He Himself said, I am…the truth”, John 14:6).  Since they knew not Christ, they knew not the wisdom that is in Him.
Something of the spiritual excitement of the apostle as he thought of this wisdom and knowledge is conveyed to us by the word treasures.  To him, the knowledge Christ gives is worth more than earth’s riches.  We read about wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and there wisdom is personified, (an anticipation of the coming of Christ the Wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24), and speaks like this:

“I love them that love me;
and those that seek me early shall find me.
Riches and honour are with me;
yea, durable riches and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold;
yea, than fine gold;
and my revenue than choice silver.
I lead in the way of righteousness,
in the midst of the paths of judgement:
that I may cause them that love me to inherit substance;
and I will filll their treasures”, Proverbs 8:17-21.

Wisdom is insight into the true nature of things, and knowledge is the information we need to put that wisdom into practice in our lives, so that we may live intelligently to God’s glory, and are able also to resist the teachings of heretics.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 4 to 19:

2:4  And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

2:5  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.

2:6  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him:

2:7  Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

2:8  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.

2:9  For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

2:10  And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power:

2:11  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:

2:12  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.

2:13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

2:14  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;

2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

2:16  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:

2:17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

2:18  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,

2:19  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.

Verses 4-19        Avoiding the error of those who deny Christ.

Warning:  Beware of those who beguile with enticing words.

2:4  And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

And this I say- this introduces a new section, as the apostle is more specific in his warnings about false teachers.  Verse 5 can be considered as a parenthesis, so “This I say” connects with “As ye have therefore” in verse 6.  We should remember that the apostle has full authority from Christ, so “I say” has special force.
Lest any man should beguile you with enticing words- having presented the truth as to the person of Christ, Paul is now protecting the minds of the believers from error.  In 1:28 he had spoken of warning and teaching.  To beguile means to deceive by false reasoning.  This is why the apostle prayed that the believers at Colosse might be given wisdom, so that they might discern what was false.  Enticing words describe the persuasive speech of those who promote error.  Not having the Spirit of God in their hearts, they have to rely on natural eloquence.  Paul writes elsewhere of those who “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple”, Romans 16:18.  This is not to say that preachers and teachers should be hard to listen to, or awkward in their presentation of the truth, but it must be done in the power of the Spirit of God and not of the flesh.  Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 reads, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.  The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth”.

2:5  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.

For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit- Epaphras, (who was from Colosse), had given a faithful report as to conditions in the assembly in that city, and he had endeared the believers to the heart of the apostle.  It was a company the apostle would have been happy to associate with, and in his spirit he did so.  Every assembly should strive to be the sort of company in which Paul would be happy.  Two things are next mentioned as being pleasing to the apostle, namely their order, and the steadfastness of their faith.
Joying and beholding your order- every assembly should be marked by order, the spiritual order of those who keep in step with one another by a mutual love of the word of God and its instructions.  In many ways the assembly at Corinth was in disorder, so the apostle had to exhort them to do everything decently and in order, 1 Corinthians 14:40.
And the stedfastness of your faith in Christ- their order was more collective, as they met together, but the steadfastness of their faith is especially seen in their personal lives as they lived by faith day by day, refusing to allow circumstances to move them.  Note the connection between order and faith.  Disorder prevents faith flourishing, for the distractions are too great.  By constantly exposing their souls to the truth of Scripture, their faith would be strengthened, and they would not give way when error about Christ was presented to them.

2:6  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him:

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord- they had received Him by faith, and that initial faith should continue to mark them.  John writes of those who “believe on His name”, John 1:12, the sense being, “who keep on believing on His name”.  The phrase that Paul uses three times in his epistles to show that justification is by faith, is “the just shall live by faith”.  But as found in Habukkuk 2:4, the phrase is, “the just shall live by his faith”.  So the initial faith that results in justification, is the same faith by which the justified one lives subsequently.  His life is governed by his faith.
He is Christ Jesus, implying that He is exalted to heaven with Divine approval; there is no deficiency in Him, therefore, that needs to be made up by the suggestions of the heretics.  He is Lord, and therefore those He authorises to expound the truth, the apostles, should not be set aside in favour of unauthorised false teachers.
So walk ye in Him- their unseen Lord should be their guide, not the unbelieving false teachers, no matter how plausible their arguments seemed to be.  There are those who use this expression to support their view that things like the Lord’s Supper, and baptism, are not necessary, since they involve things we can see, and, they say, faith and sight are not compatible.  This is not the case, however, for faith is necessary in baptism, as even our chapter will show in verse 12, “the faith of the operation of God”.  Baptism is a response in faith to the work of God in raising Christ from the dead.  So to walk in faith includes being baptised.

2:7  Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Rooted and built up in Him- the apostle uses a variety of figures of speech to illustrate what he is teaching.  Having spoken of walking in the previous verse, he now uses descriptions of a healthy plant.  First of all it is rooted.  This reminds us of verse 5, where he spoke of the steadfastness of their faith in Christ.  They were not like the stony ground hearers of the parable of the sower, who had begun well, but after a while had withered because, as the Lord said, “these have no root”, Luke 8:13.  On the contrary, these were firmly settled in Christ by true and lasting faith.
A plant also needs to grow if it is to be fruitful.  Again the secret is “in Him”; spiritual growth comes when we take advantage of all the resources available to those who are in Christ.  This growth would be jeopardised if they listened to the poisonous doctrines of the false teachers.
And stablished in the faith- as a plant grows, it puts out an ever-increasing network of roots, which enable it to draw nutrients from a wide area for the support of its structure.  This the believers should do, as they explore the richness of the truth in Christ which nourishes their souls, causing them to grow more into His likeness.  Roots also give stability to a plant so that it can withstand the wind.  There are hostile winds of doctrine blowing around the believer, and he needs stability to withstand their force, see Ephesians 4:14.
All three of these words, “rooted”, “built up” and “stablished” are perfect participles, which means they express action which is ongoing, and not once-for-all.  Believers need to constantly grow and develop in the things of Christ, for eternal life is not a static thing, but progressive and ongoing.
As ye have been taught- they should continue as they had begun, having been faithfully taught by Epaphras and others, 1:7.  They should not be tempted by the novel ideas of the gnostics.  As the apostle John exhorted, “Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning”, 1 John 2:24.
Abounding therein with thanksgiving- whilst it is true that the Lord Jesus cursed the fig tree because it bore no fruit, nevertheless foliage is necessary for a plant to flourish.
We should never neglect to thank God for the teaching that He gives to us through the teachers Christ has given to the body of Christ for our instruction.  Those teachers have a difficult and stressful task, as they labour to bring the word of God to us.  The apostle will seek the prayers of believers in 4:3 that his ministry might be effective.  If an apostle needed prayer, how much more those who are not apostles.

2:8  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.

Warning: Beware of those who spoil you through philosophy.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit- the figure changes, and now the apostle likens false teachers to the wolves that come to snatch away sheep.  The Good Shepherd Himself made clear that none can pluck the sheep from either His hand or the hand of His Father, John 10:28-30, nevertheless the threat of damage to the spiritual life of the sheep is real, and the apostle warns of the danger false teachers pose.  They use philosophy, which is the product of the human mind, and which has been condemned by God through the cross, as 1 Corinthians 1 makes clear.  Christ is the wisdom of God, and all the resources we need to inform our minds and govern our practice is in Him.  The wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, but it has an attraction for the carnal mind.  We should not confuse this wisdom with the use of logic, which is everywhere used by the apostle in his writings, drawing conclusions in a reasoned way.  The logic must be based on Scripture, and not on human speculation which has no authority.
Allied to this philosophy is vain deceit; dealing in error as they do, the false teachers cannot rely on the truth to make their case, but need to employ deceptive methods to promote their cause.  The consequence of this is vain, empty and devoid of positive good, and detracts from Christ.
After the tradition of men- Christian traditions, the handings down of the apostles and the Lord Himself are to be kept faithfully, but the writings of those who oppose the truth should be rejected.  There is such a thing as the New Testament Apochrypha.  These writings do not have the sanction of the apostles, being written after they had passed from the scene.  Jude can write of the “faith once (for all) delivered unto the saints”, Jude 3, so the body of Christian doctrine, known as the faith, was complete in his day.  Any additions thereto are to be regarded with great suspicion.  There is a lack of discernment about this in our day, and outrageous and often blasphemous writings are made into films and books, and deceive people into thinking that they represent Christian truth, which they do not.
The Lord Jesus censured the rulers of His day for the way in which they elevated the traditions of the Jews above the Scriptures, saying, “Ye make the word of God of no effect by your tradition”, Matthew 15:6.
After the rudiments of the world- this expression was used by the apostle in Galatians 4:3,9 in relation to the basic and simple truths that the law was able to impart, but which did not represent the full truth as found in Christ.  It seems that the false teachers attacking the Colossians were mixing gnostic speculation with Judaism, to make a combination of ideas that would appeal to everybody.  Those impressed by intellectualism on the one hand, and those impressed by ritualism and asceticism on the other.  Whatever the doctrines were, the apostle is clear that they are of the world, and therefore are not helpful to the believer, who has life from heaven.
And not after Christ- this is the decisive thing which condemns false doctrine.  It does not conform to what Christ teaches, nor does it give a correct view of Him personally.  We need to ask about any teaching, or proposed action based on teaching, whether it relates well to Christ, or whether it is contrary to Him.  He is always the test, as He Himself indicated to the Jews with the question, “What think ye of Christ”, Matthew 22:42.

2:9  For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily- Christ is the reference point, for the reason Paul now gives.  The reason why everything must centre in Christ is because He is the one through whom the Godhead expresses itself.  The word “fulness” was greatly used by the gnostics, and in their teachings it represented the sum total of all the qualities of God which were to be found spread around amongst an endless array of minor spirit-beings.  This was a total misuse of the word, for the reason stated here.  The fulness is in Christ, not temporarily, but as a resident, as is indicated by the word “dwelleth”.
Every attribute of Deity resides permanently in Christ, and is happy to do so, again as the word “dwelleth” indicates.  There is nothing lacking in Him, and He is able to manifest God fully.  He left nothing of His Deity behind when He came down from heaven; He left nothing of His manhood behind when He went back to heaven.  Hence the fullness dwells bodily.
Early in the history of the world man lost the concept of the One True God, who had every attribute and quality enshrined within Himself.  Forsaking this knowledge, man invented false gods, each of whom they believed had some virtue, but none of them possessing every virtue.  Satan was only to ready to position himself through his evil agents behind these ideas, and hold man in bondage.

2:10  And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power:

And ye are complete in Him- believers are “in Christ”, reckoned by God to be positionally where Christ is.  He is beyond death, so, in principle, are believers.  He is seated in heaven, so are believers, Ephesians 2:6.  He is sure of the approval of His Father, so are believers.  No wonder the apostle says they are complete “in Him”.  Their position is one of full acceptance, full provision, full salvation.  And this is heightened by the fact just noticed that He embodies within Himself all the fullness of the Godhead.  All that fulness ensures the complete welfare of His people.  And this includes the constant nourishment of their souls by means of the truth.  He has all fulness and they have no lack.
They have no need of the heretics, who come along claiming to be able to take them beyond what there is in Christ.  This was the strategy of Satan in the Garden of Eden.  He did not tempt Eve to murder Adam, or any such thing.  He tempted her with the prospect of being as gods, knowing good and evil, Genesis 3:5.  In other words, to advance her in knowledge beyond what God had said.  She fell, but the Colossians should learn the lesson, and not fall into that trap.  Beware of any religion that claims to give the knowledge of God apart from reference to Christ as the Son of God, equal with the Father.  “What think ye of Christ?  Whose Son is He?”, is always the test, Matthew 22:42.  Many profess to think well of Christ, so both questions need to be answered.
Which is the head of all principality and power- He is far above angels because of His Deity, (for He is the creator of angels, 1:16); and also because of His ascension, for He is raised “far above all principality and powers, Ephesians 1:20,21.  Verse 15 will tell us He defeated evil spirit-powers at Calvary.  So no spirit can override what Christ teaches, for He is above and in control. All teaching must come from Him; He does not delegate this to angels.  Indeed, Paul warned the Galatians that even if an angel came and preached to them, they were to think of him as cursed, Galatians 1:8.  The Gnostic theory of an almost endless stream of lesser deities linking man to God is a fabrication.  See 1 Timothy 1:4, “endless genealogies”.

2:11  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:

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands not only are believers complete in Christ, they are separated unto Him from the sphere where error flourishes.  Christ cannot link sinners with Himself, so He must cut them off from their links with Adam so as to join them to Himself.  This He did at the cross, where He dealt with all that Adam represented.
When God made a covenant with Abraham, He made physical circumcision the sign of that covenant.  Abraham was now special to Himself, and had the mark on his body to prove it.  Such a rite is no longer relevant, so that the apostle described physical circumcision as “concision”, a cutting off and a maiming, Philippians 3:2, whereas believers are now the true circumcision, properly cut off by God from their links with Adam’s world.  This means they are cut off from the sphere where heretics operate, for such men are of the world, being unbelievers, and as such have no contact with the things of God.
When he is dealing with the case of the Jew in his epistle to the Romans, the apostle shows that true circumcision is a heart matter, “”For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:  but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God”, Romans 2:28,29.  This is why Stephen was justified in calling the Jews who were about to stone him, “uncircumcised in heart and ears”, Acts 7:51.
In putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ- we have seen there was the circumcision of Abraham.  There was also the circumcision of Moses, for under his leadership the people became cut off to God nationally by the covenant of the Law given at Sinai.  Further, there was the circumcision of Joshua, when the people crossed the Jordan and it was found that some had not been circumcised during the desert journey.  All these variations were of physical circumcision, but the circumcision of Christ is spiritual in character.  It has to do with the whole body; in other words, it is not limited to part of the body as with the physical ceremony; this circumcision separates the whole body for God.  Clearly this is a radical thing.  And only the crucifixion of Christ can effect it.  It is in His cutting off that the believer is cut off, and that not partially, but wholly.
What is cut off is the body as the vehicle by which sins of the flesh are conceived and committed, the flesh being the sinful self, which is resident in the body.  Paul calls the body “the body of sin” in Romans 6:6.  He is there concerned with the sin-principle within, whereas here it is the sin-practice that is in view; nonetheless the idea is that the body is the base of operations from which sins proceed.  As far as God is concerned, that body has been cut off so that it may be brought over into resurrection conditions to be used for God.  That which is called “the body of sin” in Romans 6:6 can be presented to God in Romans 12:1, for God has wrought upon it to His glory.

2:12  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.

Buried with Him in baptism- having cut off our body by associating it with Christ in His cutting off by crucifixion, the process is confirmed by the “burial” of that body.  Just as our circumcision is not literal, so our burial is not either, for it is burial in water, not the earth.  When immersed by the act of baptism, the believer is placed in a watery grave, and this is after the likeness of Christ’s state when He was in the tomb; what the apostle calls “the likeness of His (state of) death”, Romans 6:4.
We can clearly see the error of infant sprinkling, from this verse.  How can the sprinkling of a few drops of water on a person even remotely be called a burial?  And how can the so-called “baptism” of an infant be justified, when the apostle here speaks of “the faith of the operation of God”.  The candidate for baptism must have faith, and must be immersed, or else the procedure is invalid.
Wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God baptism has two aspects.  It is a burial, and it is a resurrection.  Just as surely as the believer, when under the water, is like Christ was in death, so he is like Christ is in resurrection, when brought up out of the water.  And this is an act of faith, for it something that the believer is responsible for getting done.  When Ananias said to Paul, “Arise, and be baptised”, he used the Middle voice, so the sense was “Get thyself baptised”.  Whilst it is true that evangelists are commanded to baptise, they cannot force this on people.  After all, evangelists are commanded to preach, but they cannot force people to believe.  It is the responsibility of men to believe when the gospel is preached in their hearing; it is the responsibility of believers to get themselves baptised.  In fact, the Lord Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved”, Mark 16:16, so all the time a professed believer remains unbaptised, there is a question-mark over the reality of his profession.  This is not to say that baptism contributes to salvation, or else the Lord would have said, “He that believeth not and is not baptised shall be damned”, but He did not.
Notice that the faith that moves the believer to get baptised is faith in the operation of God; it is not faith in baptism.  The virtue lies in what God did through Christ by His death, burial and resurrection, not in the process of baptism, as if that is a means of grace.
Who hath raised Him from the dead- so baptism is a very positive thing, not only in its practice, for the believer comes up out of the water, but also in its principle, for it is response to the God who raised up Christ.  By association with Him we are linked to that which is clear of death and judgement.  All that opens up for Christ because He is risen, opens up for believers too.

2:13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

And you having established that the believer is a person in a new situation altogether through the resurrection of Christ, the apostle now reviews what it is that he has been delivered from.  By so doing he will expand on the expression “the operation of God” of the previous verse.  He turns his attention particularly to those who were Gentiles before conversion, for that was, no doubt, the situation with most of the Colossian believers to whom he is writing the epistle.
Being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh- not only were they devoid of response to God, being dead, and demonstrating this by sinning, but also they were uncircumcised, for they had not the separating advantages that God had given to the Jews.  He had placed a hedge around that nation, but no such restrictions were known by the Gentile.  He was left to walk in his own way, as Paul told the idol-worshippers of Lystra, Acts 14:16.  Their backs were turned to God and their faces were turned to sin and the world.  They were uncircumcised physically and morally.  Note it is the uncircumcision of the flesh, not just of the physical body; the whole tendency of the sinner to commit sin, whether of mind or body, is in view, for the flesh is the self-principle in man.
Hath He quickened together with Him- to quicken means to make alive.  Paul is showing that this operation is all of God.  No credit attaches to the sinner.  He is dead, and totally reliant on life from God if he is to live in any real sense of the word.  Being dead in sins, he has no stock of merit by which to claim blessing from God.  But God is rich in grace, and is pleased to associate those who believe with His Son in His death and resurrection experience.
Having forgiven you all trespasses- nothing contrary to God can be taken over into resurrection.  The just basis of this forgiveness is the death of Christ, the subject of the next few phrases.

2:14  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;

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us- clearly, by the use of the word “us” as opposed to the “and you” of verse 13, the apostle now turns his attention mainly to those believers who were formerly Jews.  Not exclusively so, however, for the Gentiles had the law written in their hearts, according to Romans 2:15, and the Jews had the law, not only written on tables of stone by the finger of God, but in the book of the law written by Moses.  But it is as if Moses did not write with permanent ink, for here we learn that what was written was blotted out.  The law is not the rule of life for the believer.  Believers who try to please God by keeping the law will always be defeated, and therefore miserable, as Paul found in Romans 7.  The example of Christ is our model, and it is in this that the Spirit of God encourages.
Which was contrary to us note the double assertion that the law was not on our side.  It was not only against us rather than for us, but also it was “contrary to us”, attacking us relentlessly because of our sinfulness.  Paul found that “sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me”, Romans 7:11.  Clearly, we need someone to deliver us from the law and its demands.
And took it out of the way- the commandments of the law would represent a stumblingblock to the believer as he seeks to walk the pathway of faith.  God has taken this hindrance out of the way, so the path is cleared of obstacles.  This is not to say that the Law of God has been disposed of; that cannot be.  But it is removed as a means of pleasing God.  Believers please God by living like Christ.  When they so live, they fulfil the righteousness of the law, meaning all that the law demanded as being right.  A Christ-like life will never break the law of God.
Nailing it to His cross- the subject of the verbs used here is God.  So He has quickened, forgiven, blotted out, taken out of the way, nailed, and in verse 15 He is said to spoil, make a show, and triumph.  Eight mighty acts that God has performed on the basis of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ.
It is as if God placed the handwriting of the law into the hands of Christ, and the nails went through not only his hands, but also the manuscript, fastening it to the cross that that it could not be active against the believer.  We might almost say that it is the blood of Christ as it trickled over this manuscript that has blotted out its words, so that it cannot make its demands or act contrary to the believer any more.  And since it is nailed to the cross, it cannot be re-written.

2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

And having spoiled principalities and powers- there were other enemies of the believer, and their power must be broken too.  The gnostic heretics made a great deal of supposed intermediaries between the believer and God.  This verse exposes such mediators as being none other than evil spirit-forces, fallen angels who are still allowed to influence men’s thinking.  God has spoiled them through Christ, however, and they are powerless now as far as the believer is concerned.  To spoil means to “strip off the armour”.  Their defences have been removed, and they are defeated foes.  The believer is more than a match for them as he puts on the armour provided for him by God, Ephesians 6:13.  When men asserted that the miracles of Christ were accomplished by the power of Satan, amongst other things the Lord said in reply, “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all the armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils”, Luke 11:21,22.  Satan is the strong man, and Christ is the stronger than he.  Satan’s defences are taken away, and he is vulnerable to attack.
He made a show of them openly- God has raised up His Son, not only from the grave, but also to His throne, as Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost in the words, “”By the right hand of God exalted…the Lord said unto my Lord, ‘Sit Thou on My right hand'”, Acts 2:33, 34.
Paul refers to Christ’s ascension with the words of the psalmist, “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men”, Ephesians 4:8.  The initial reference in the psalm is to the ascension of David to the throne of Israel after he had defeated his enemies.  So the gifts mentioned in large part were the spoils of war, as a reading of 2 Samuel 8:9-12 will show.
Three ideas come together in the verse quoted.  First, the absolute triumph of Christ, as indicated by the fact that having been crucified on a cross, He has now ascended to the very throne of God.  Second, the utter defeat of Satan and his forces, crippling them to such an extent that, even though they are allowed a certain amount of latitude, they are easily defeated by means of the resources Christ gives.  Third, the bestowal of gifts in grace, to enable believers to grow.
In the expression “He led captivity captive”, captivity is personified to represent all that had held unbelievers captive, and which would try to lead them captive as believers.  Such is the triumph of Christ that He can move through the sphere of the prince of the power of the air unhindered.  In Daniel 10:12,13 we read of the way in which the progress of the angel Gabriel was hindered by an evil angel-prince, and he had to be assisted by Michael the archangel.  No such delay is suffered by Christ, who rises to heaven with “angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him”, 1 Peter 3:22.
It is clear from Scripture that the Lord Jesus has defeated the enemy in all of his guises:
The Prince of this world came to Christ when He was down here, yet He could say he “hath nothing in Me”, John 14:30.  As a result of Calvary the prince of this world has been cast out, John 12:31.
As the Devil, and wielding the power of death, he has been utterly defeated by the death and resurrection of Christ, Hebrews 2:14.
As god of this age he is defeated every time a blinded mind is made to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6.
As Satan he is defeated when Christ intercedes for His own, Luke 22:31,32.
As Devil, the accuser, he is defeated by Christ our advocate, 1 John 2:1.

Triumphing over them in it- the apostle returns at the end of the sentence to the event which started this sequence off.   The cross is the ground on which God has defeated the powers of evil.  If the Son of God can humble Himself even to the death of the Cross, and be crucified in weakness, as 2 Corinthians 13:4 puts it, and yet rise again and ascend to God’s throne, He must be superior to any force.  And so He is.  The Devil is defeated, and so, therefore, are his evil hosts, which he uses to infiltrate the minds of men with error, the “doctrines of demons” that Paul refers to in 1 Timothy 4:1.

Warning;  Beware of those who judge you in meat and drink.

2:16  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:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink- the word “therefore” shows that the apostle is about to apply the truths he has just set out.  He lists various features of the Old Testament tabernacle and temple system, which were ordained of God for Israel.  God gave Israel a strict dietary code, listing the types of creature they were not to eat, Leviticus 11.  This not only served a hygeine purpose, but also meant they would not be able to have easy contact with Gentiles in their homes, for their they would be offered prohibited foods.   The drinks could refer to the prohibition of wine as far as the Nazirites were concerned, Numbers 6.  The idea is of material things that the Law demanded, but which the apostle will show are out of date.  The Colossian heretics were apparently teaching that these things were binding on believers.  The apostle warns them not to allow these false teachers to judge or criticise them for not participating in Jewish rituals.
Or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days- these are the prescribed days in Israel’s religious calendar by which their religion was regulated.  A holy day was a day during the set feasts; the new moon was the starting point for the month, and determined when the feast began; the sabbath days were the weekly ordinance in israel, in which all unnecessary work ceased, so that the day could be set apart for sacred purposes.  There was also a Sabbath at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, on the eighth day, Leviticus 23:39.  So whether it was a qustion of personal things like meat and drink, or collective things like festivals, the heretics were wrong to insist on adherence to Old Testament ordinances, for the reason the apostle will now give.

2:17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Which are a shadow of things to come- there cannot be a shadow unless there is an object to cast a shadow when the light is shone upon it.  That object is Christ; the Old Testament ordinances were but shadows.  The things of which they spoke were “to come”, in those days, but now they are come.  We may study them to see how they spoke of Christ, but now He is come, there is no need for them.  To continue with them is to show ignorance of the principles of Christianity.  Christendom continues with these things, and mixes with them the unholy practices of paganism, to produce a system of things which is obnoxious to God.  Believers should beware of being unwittingly drawn into these practices, for instance by celebrating Christmas and Easter, which are almost entirely pagan in origin and meaning.  The policy of the Emperor Constantine to amalgamate heathenism and Christianity has been a blight on Christian testimony for 1600 years.  To go along with it is to perpetuate the tragedy.
But the body is of Christ-  no significance attaches now to the different kinds of meat available, as Peter found in Acts 10:9-16; 28.  There is no Nazirite vow now, since the source of true joy, Christ Himself, has come, and wine is no longer needed for the  purpose of cheering the heart of man, Judges 9:13.  In Him the festivals of Israel either have or will have been fulfilled, 1 Corinthians 5:7; 15:23; every day may be held sacred to the Lord, Romans 14:6; the passing of time, as measured by the moon’s phases, is irrelevant, for the believer is in touch with eternal realities, Hebrews 9:12,15:13:20; and as far as the believer is concerned, true rest has been found in Christ, Matthew 11:29.  No legalistic celebration of a day can replace or improve on that.
The fact that He is the body which casts the shadow is testimony to His pre-existence.  It is also a testimony to the fact that He has always been the centre of God’s purpose, even in the days of the tabernacle rituals.

Warning: beware of those who beguile you of your reward.

2:18  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,

Let no man beguile you of your reward- those who run the race of faith, and who wish to win the reward of a prize, must see to it that no-one and nothing distracts them.  Allegiance to Christ demands that we focus on Him.  Satan does not want this, so he tries to attract us with other things to stop us concentrating on the things of Christ.
In a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels- the heretics claimed that God was unapproachable, and men need the agency of angels to bridge the gap.  This seems to be a humble position, but in fact it ignores the fact there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5.  The humility that finds its roots in the human will, (which is the sense of “voluntary humility”), is spurious.  Grateful for the supposed intervention of angels, the worship of angels began to be practised.  There was a temple in honour of Michael the archangel in Colosse, so the apostle’s warnings were very relevant.  Today, men worship Mary and the saints, and are likewise condemned by God.  Even the apostle John was tempted to worship an angel, but was severely rebuked by him with the words, “See thou do it not…worship God”, Revelation 22:9.  If an apostle was tempted, how careful we as ordinary believers should be, for our God is a jealous God, Exodus 20:5.
Intruding into those things which he hath not seen- the unknown spirit-world has a fascination for the natural mind.  God has forbidden any attempt to contact the world of the spirits.  Through Isaiah He said, “And when they shall say unto you, ‘Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter:’ Should not a people seek unto their God?  For the living to the dead?  To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”, Isaiah 8:19,20.  That these things continue is seen from the warning of the Lord Jesus to those who will pass through the time of tribulation that, “if they shall say unto you, ‘Behold he is in the secret chambers’; believe it not”, Matthew 24:26.
Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind- far from showing true humility, these men are in fact puffed up in pride, claiming to have superior knowledge, and access into higher realms not open to the “ordinary” believer.  Their minds are governed by the flesh, being unregenerate persons, and this leads them astray.  Their pride is vain and empty pride, based on nothing substantial or spiritual, but rather the imaginings of their own thinking.

2:19  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.

And not holding the Head- Christ is the head of the church, which is His body.  He is far superior to any real or supposed spirit-powers.  To give way to the heresy-mongers is to not “hold the “Head”, that is, to not give Him His proper and supreme place, especially in the matter of building up His people.  The heretics did not hold the head, but believers must be careful to do so.  A body does not have to hold on to the head to maintain its position in the body, (so union with Christ is not the responsibility of believers, but their Head), but it does have to rely on the head to govern the supply of nourishment for its maintenance and growth.
From which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered- nourishment is ministered from the head, not from any external sources, least of all, devilish ones.  No good angel can supply us, either, for all administration is entrusted to the Head.  In Ephesians 4:11,12 the apostle writes in similar vein, and there explains that the apostles and prophets with their written ministry, and pastors and teachers with their spoken ministry, are the channels of supply to us directly from our head.  To ignore the ministry of the word is to ignore the ministrations of the Head, to our loss, and His dishonour.
And knit together- the joints and bands of our body not only give strength and structure, but also serve as means of supply to the whole body.  What is true of the human body is also true of the body of Christ, the church.  Much if not all of the disunity and fragmentation of believers could be avoided if there was a response to the teaching the Head sends down.  This would not only build up, but bind together.
Increaseth with the increase of God- a body that does not grow is a tragedy, but the church grows and develops with the increase of God.  This may be taken to mean the increase God supplies through Christ, or, alternatively, the increase that God is looking for, and the Epistle to the Ephesians makes it clear that what God is looking for and working towards is likeness to Christ in His people.  The language of that passage is as follows:

“till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
that we henceforth be no more children…
But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into Him in all things,
which is the head…”
Ephesians 4:13,14,15.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 20 TO 23:

2:20  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,

2:21  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;

2:22  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

2:23  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.

Verses 20-23    Acting on the truth of association with Christ.

2:20  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,

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world- one of the things the believer died to in the death of Christ is the ordinances of the law.  These have no jurisdiction over dead persons.  We are “dead to the law by the body of Christ”, Romans 7:4.  In other words, the process the body of Christ went through, namely, death, burial and resurrection, is the process we have been associated with.  The elementary and rudimentary matters that the law of Moses set out were for the life of Israel on the earth.  They do not fit for heaven.  They were symbolic things, having great meaning, indeed, but now set aside by Christ.  As such they are not relevant to those who are linked to Him in His heavenly place.
Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances- believers live in the world by physical necessity, but not moral necessity.  They are not of the world, but are sent into it as witness-bearers.  They should live as though they are citizens of heaven, as indeed they are, Philippians 3:20, and not as though citizens of the world.  Those who were God’s earthly nation in Old Testament times had ordinances to keep which were appropriate to being on earth.  Such things are not appropriate to those who are linked to heaven.  After all, Paul has told us that the ordinances were blotted out, and then the manuscript was nailed to the cross so that it could not be re-written.

2:21  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;

Touch not the apostle sums up the ordinances of the law in three short phrases.  They are all negative, which is characteristic of the law.  The commandments were given by God to prevent sins being committed, and “Thou shalt not” is a constant refrain.  The Levites were not allowed to touch the vessels of the tabernacle; the ordinary Israelite was not allowed to touch the altar.  The whole nation were forbidden to touch mount Sinai, but to fence it off and keep away.  This was indicative of the fact that closeness of approach to God was not possible under the law.
Taste not- Israel was given dietary laws by God not only for their physical welfare, but also to mark them out as different to the nations.  This is why the command to eat prohibited food was so significant to Peter, as he is about to meet Cornelius, a Gentile, in his house, Acts 10:27-29.  There were those in the church, especially those who had been Jews, who were reluctant to eat other foods, and the apostle deals with that matter in Romans 14:1-4,6.
Handle not- the first verb “touch” is more strong than this one, which means that there is a progression, with the final verb prohibiting the slightest contact; such is the nature of the law, it admits no compromise or slight deviation.
We might contrast these two ideas of not touching and not tasting with the fact that believers can hold and taste.  The word used here is the same as that of John 20:17 when the Lord Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father”.  The implication being that, strangely, after He was gone back to heaven she could touch Him.  And so she could, as all believers can, for they are joined to Him vitally.  And that in a way not possible under the law.
We may taste, too.  When David was hungry, and went into the tabernacle to ask the priest for food, he was given the showbread that had been replaced that Sabbath day with hot bread, 1 Samuel 21:1-6.  When he wrote about this later, David exhorted his readers to “taste and see that the Lord is good”, Psalm 34:8.  When Peter alludes to those words he writes, “if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious”, 1 Peter 2:3.  He is writing to believers as Christian priests, and just as the Aaronic priests had showbread to taste, so the believer feeds upon Christ the Living Bread.  But David was not an Aaronic priest, but was of the tribe of Judah.  Nonetheless, since the Lord is gracious, he was allowed the loaves.

2:22  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Which all are to perish with the using- all those things that are prohibited under the law are material things, which one day will all be dissolved, 2 Peter 3:10.  Why be occupied with things that are passing and material, when that which is eternal and spiritual is available to us?
After the commandments and doctrines of men?  Originally the things of which Paul is speaking were commandments from God, but they are no longer so, not being binding on believers.  The false teachers were trying to impose them upon the Colossian believers, however, and as such they had become the commandments of men, and the substance of their doctrine.

2:23  Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship- to the carnal mind these things seemed the right thing to do, for man is a religious being, and even though he rejects God’s word, he still is inclined to some sort of religious activity.  This is true of men universally.  The worship the heretics were professing to offer to God was the product of their own will, and was not Divine worship at all.
And humility they displayed a mock humility, claiming to be so abased before God that they could not approach Him directly.  The true believer has “boldness and access with confidence” to God, but only “by the faith of Him”, that is, by faith in Christ who introduces the believer into the presence of the Father, and pleads His worth, not theirs, Ephesians 3:12.
And neglecting of the body- the strange doctrine of some was that if you starved and abused the body, then nearness to God might be achieved.  We are to mortify the deeds of the body, reckoning the death of Christ to apply to it, in principle, Romans 8:13.  We are not required to mortify the body itself.  Christianity alone gives the proper place of honour and dignity to the body, and brings about circumstances whereby it may be presented to God as a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1.  Needless to say when the apostle said he kept under his body, and brought it into subjection, 1 Corinthians 9:27, he was not saying he abused his body, but that he refused to allow the capacity of his body to commit sin any licence.
Not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh- as far as God is concerned, these practices, far from pleasing Him, are reckoned to be dishonourable, however much men might approve of them.  All these ideas did was satisfy carnal minds; they did not satisfy God, which should be our main aim.