“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”
Literally:  “Let no one condemn you”—
“Defraud you of your prize,” literally, “to adjudge a prize out of hostility away from him who deserves it.”  “To be umpire in a contest to the detriment of one.” Let no man take the prize from you which the judge in the contests, has assigned you, in consequence of your having obtained the victory.  These eight words actually translate three Greek terms.

This is an allusion to the Olympic and Isthmian games, and to the prizes assigned to these who had obtained the victory in one or more of the contests which there took place.  The Colossians had fought and conquered under the direction of Christ, and He, as the sole Judge in this contest, had assigned to them the prize.  However, the false teachers, of course pretended great modesty, humility, and sanctity, and endeavored to turn them aside from the Gospel, and to induce them to end in the flesh who had begun in the Spirit.  Against these Paul warns them.

        BEGUILE:  (Grk.–katabrabeuetō)–This Greek verb is derived from two other Greek terms:  “prize” (brabeion) and “umpire”  (brabeus).    “To be umpire in a contest to the detriment of one.”  Here it means to decide or give judgment against. The judge at the games is called brabeus and the prize the brabeion

        “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize (brabeion)?  So run, that ye may obtain” (I I Cor. 9:24)
        “I press toward the mark of the prize (brabeion) of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).        .

This defrauding of their prize the Colossians would suffer, by letting any self-constituted arbitrator or judge (that is, false teacher) draw them away from Christ, “the righteous Judge” and Awarder of the prize (II Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; I Pet. 5:4), to angel-worship.  In this verse we find three things that described these false teachers.

The False Teacher was marked by

a “voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.”

“in a voluntary humility”
Literally:  “delighting in humility”–Tindal renders this, “Let no man make you shoot at a wrong mark, which, after his own imagination, walketh in the humbleness of angels.”

       VOLUNTARY:  (Grk.–thelon)–This Greek word does not, properly, belong to the word rendered “humility.”  This Greek word literally means, “to will to delight.” This Greek word is used only here in the N.T. in Acts 26:6; James 1:26,27, and in each of these other places it is rendered “religion.”  

The word rather relates to the subsequent part of the sentence, and means that the persons referred to were willing, (or had pleasure in attempting), to search into the hidden and complex things of religion. They were desirous of appearing to do this with an humble spirit–even with the modesty of an angel–but still they had pleasure in that profound and dangerous kind of inquiry.   

        HUMILITY:  (Grk.–trapeinophrosunēi)–This word means, “lowliness of mind, modesty, humbleness of deportment;” and Paul refers, doubtless, to the spirit assumed by those against whom he would guard the Colossians–the spirit of modesty or of humble inquirers.

         The meaning is, that they would not announce their opinions with dogmatic certainty, but they would put on the appearance of great modesty. In this way, they would become really more dangerous–for no false teachers are so dangerous as those who assume the aspect of great humility, and who manifest great reverence for Divine things. They may have argued for angel worship on the plea that God is high and far removed and so took angels as mediators as some men do today with angels and saints in place of Christ

“and worshipping of angels,”
Literally:  and worship of angels”— The reference is rather to the profound reverence–the spirit of lowly piety–which the angels evinced, and to the fact that the teachers referred to would assume the same spirit, and were, therefore, the more dangerous.”

Certainly the Jewish teachers would not deliberately teach that angels were to be worshipped.  They would come professing profound regard for the great mysteries of the faith, and for the incomprehensible perfections of the Lord, and would approach the subject with the supposed veneration which the angels have when they “look into these things,” (I Pet. 1:12). Understand that there was no bold, irreverent, or confident declamation regarding the worship of angels, but the danger in the case arose from the fact that they assumed so much the aspect of modest piety; so much the appearance of the lowly devotion of angelic beings.

The False Teacher Intruded into a Forbidden Area

“intruding into those things which he hath not seen”
Literally:  “pushing into the things which he has not seen”—Or, inquiring into them.

       INTRUDING:  (Grk.–eubateuōn)–The word used here means, “to go in,” or “to enter;” then “to investigate, to inquire.”  Paul is saying that it was the object of their investigations to look, with great professed modesty and reverence, into those things which are not visible to the eye of mortals. The “things” which seem here to be particularly referred to, are the obscure or perplexing questions respecting the mode of the Divine subsistence; the ranks, orders, and employments of angelic beings; and the obscure doctrines relating to the Divine government and plans.

The False Teacher Was “Vainly puffed up”

“vainly puffed by his fleshly mind.”
Literally:  {being} puffed up by the mind of his flesh without cause”—Notwithstanding the avowed “humility,” the modesty, the angelic reverence, yet the mind was full of vain conceit, and self-confident, carnal wisdom.

VAINLY PUFFED UP:  (Grk.–phusioumenos)–Implying that the previous so called “humility” (Greek, “lowliness of mind”) was really a “puffing up.”

Whatever appearances of humility or piety any may have who teach that you need other mediators besides Christ, or other observances besides those which He has appointed, they are ignorant or selfish, worldly and wicked, deceivers or deceived.  If they are truly honest in what they say, they are blind leaders of the blind (Matt/ 15:14).  Persons who occupy themselves in matters beyond the limits of the human mind, are lacking in humility as well as in wisdom and goodness. They are generally vain and light-minded, superficial and proud.

FLESHLY MIND: (Grk.-noos tēs sarkos)–Literally in the Greek, “By the mind of his own flesh.” The flesh, or sensuous principle, is the fountain head whence his mind draws its craving after religious objects of sight, instead of, in true humility as a member, “holding fast the (unseen) Head.”

“And not holding up 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 up the Head”
Literally: “And not holding fast the head”—Case of deserting
Christ as the Head.  The false teachers did not elevate Christ.  On the contrary, they attempted to demote Him, in contra-diction of the Holy Spirit Who came to glorify and elevate Him. 

Paul glorified Christ in the cross of the Savior–“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14)
1.       In the church, Christ should always have the preeminence (1:18).
2.      Not acknowledging Jesus Christ as the only Savior of mankind, and the only Head or chief of the Christian Church, on whom every member of it depends, and from whom each derives both light and life.

This is regarded here as essential to the maintenance of all the other doctrines of religion. He who has just views of the Redeemer will not be in much danger of erring respecting the other points of religious belief.

         The Gnostics dethroned Christ from His primacy (1:18) and placed Him below a long line of aeons or angels. They did it with words of praise for Christ as those do now who teach Christ as only the noblest of men. The Headship of Christ is the keynote of this Epistle to the Colossians and the heart of Paul's Christology.
         He who does not hold Christ solely and supremely above all others, does not hold Him at all. The want of firm holding of Christ has set him loose to (pry into, and so) “tread haughtily on (pride himself on) things which he hath seen.” Each must hold fast the Head for himself, not merely be attached to the other members, however high in the body.  The intellectual and legalistic teaching going on at Coloasse did not properly esteem Christ.  In its worship of angels, it denied to Christ four areas of emphasis.

 Emphasis #1:  Christ alone is the Head of the Body, the Church.
“And gave him to be the head over all things” (Eph. 1:22)–Appointed him to be the Supreme Ruler. There can only be one Head. The intellectual and legalistic teaching going on at Coloasse did not properly esteem Christ.  In its worship of angels, it denied to Christ four areas of emphasis.

To the Church. With reference to the church, or for its benefit and welfare.
1.        The universe is under His control and direction for the welfare of his people.

2.      All the elements–the physical works of God–the winds and waves– the seas and rivers—all are under Him, and all are to be made tributary to the welfare of the church.
3.     Earthly kings and rulers; kingdoms and nations are under his control.
       Thus far Christ has controlled all the wicked rulers of the earth, and they have not been able to destroy that church which he redeemed with his own blood.
4.      Angels in heaven, with all their ranks and orders, are under His control with reference to the church.|
5.      Fallen angels are under His control, and shall not be able to injure or destroy the church.

        The church, therefore, is safe. All the great powers of heaven, earth, and hell, are made subject to its Head and King; and no weapon that is formed against it shall prosper.

“from which all the body”
Literally:  “from Whom all the body”—Because Christ is the Head. Paul develops the figure of the body of which Christ is Head (1:18, 24).  This passage is almost word for word the same as in Eph. 4:15-16.  

 Emphasis #2:  Christ Nourishes the Body, the Church.
“by joints and bands having nourishment ministered”
Literally:  “being supplied and having been joined together through joints and bands

       JOINTS: (Grk.–haphōn)–the points of union where the supply of nourishment passes to the different members, furnishing the body with the materials of growth.

        BANDS:  (Grk.–sundesmōn)–the sinews and nerves which bind together limb and limb. Faith, love, and peace, are the spiritual bands. Compare “knit together in love” (v. 2; 3:14; Eph. 4:3).

       HAVING NOURISHED MINISTERED: (Grk.–epichorēgoumenon)–Literally:  “to furnish supplies for a musical chorus.” That is, supplied to it continually. “Receiving ministration.”   As a man nourishes his physical body, so Christ ministers to His spiritual body.

In ancient times a benefactor would pay for the singers and dancers at a festival.  In time, the term epichorēgoumenon came to mean, “to provide generously.”  In medical terminology, it ws used of the joints and ligaments which joined two bones together.

Emphasis #3:  Christ unites the Body, the Church.
         KNIT TOGETHER: (Grk.–sumbibazomenon)–This Greek word is translated, “compacted,” (Eph. 4:16): implying firm consolidation. This Greek word literally means, ”to sew together; to fit together; to unite; to make one.”  It is applied often to musicians, who produce harmony of various parts of music. The idea of harmony, or appropriate union, is in word.
         The body, whose members are properly united so as to produce the most beauty and rigor. Each member is in the best place, and is properly united to the other members. Let anyone examine, for instance, the tendons, nerves, muscles, and bones, by which the foot is secured to the body, and by which easy and graceful motion is obtained, and he will be satisfied of the wisdom by which the body is “joined together.” 
         How far the knowledge of Paul extended on this point we have not the means of ascertaining; but all the investigations of anatomists only serve to give increased beauty and force to the general terms which he uses here. All that he says here of the human frame is strictly accurate, and is such language as may be used by an anatomist now.

Emphasis #4:  Christ increases the Body, the Church.
“increaseth with the increase of God.”
Literally:  “will grow with the growth of God”—The increase of God; the increase which God bestows, consisting in faith, love, joy, peace, and other graces of the Spirit. That is, wrought by God, the Author and Sustainer of the believer's spiritual life, in union with Christ, the Head (I Cor. 3:6); and tending to the honor of God, being worthy of Him, its Author.

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which ever joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the unifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16).

As believers elevate and love Christ, they will love each other.  The result will be the ”increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16).

Asceticism and legalism are partners in humanistic religion.
1.      Asceticism promotes self-denial; the deliberate refusal to have material comforts in order to develop spiritual sensitivity. 
         It usually leads to fasting, celibacy and the monastic life.
2.      Legalism promotes harsh regulations and rules.

“Wherefore it ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,”

“Wherefore it ye be dead with Christ”
Literally:  “If, then, you died with Christ”—Paul is alluding to the picture of
burial in baptism (v. 12).  compare, for this idea of dying with Christ, (Rom. 6:3-11), and the notes on that passage. By dying with Christ, the Colossians had renounced sin and worldly confidence in the rudiments of the world; that is, the Mosaic ceremonies; see note to verse 8.

          If you are dead to the world in virtue of his death. Paul here speaks of a very close union with Christ. We died with Him; that is, such was the efficacy of His death, and such is our union with Him, that we became dead also to the world.  Die as truly unto sin, as He died for sin.  Live as truly unto God, as He lives with God.  This seems to be the spirit of the apostle's meaning.
          A man that is dead is uninfluenced and unaffected by the affairs of this life. He is insensible to sounds, and tastes, and pleasures; to the hum of business, to the voice of friendship, and to all the scenes of commerce, gaiety, and ambition. When it is said, therefore, that a Christian is dead to sin, the sense is, that it has lost its influence over him.  He is not subject to it; he is in regard to that, as the man in the grave is to the busy scenes and cares of this life. This idea is frequently seen in the N.T. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (3:3); “For I am dead to the law”  (Gal. 2:19); “Who–bare our sins–that we, being dead to sin,” etc., (I Pet. 2:24).
          “Were baptized into His death”  (Rom. 6:3).  This fact alone proves that ONLY  total immersion in water is the true and Scriptural mode of baptism. We are baptized (immersed) with particular reference to the design of His death, the great leading feature and purpose of His work By His death He became insensible to the things of the world; by baptism we in like manner become dead to sin.  . That was to free men from its power; to make them pure.

“from the rudiments of the world,”
Literally:  “from the elements of the world”—
Carnal, outward worldly, legal ordinances. The elements or principles which are of a worldly nature, and which reign among worldly men.

          RUDAMENTS:  (Grk.–stoicheiōn)–This word properly means “a row or series; a little step; a pin or peg,” and then anything elementary, as a sound, a letter.

        It then denotes the elements or rudiments of any kind of instruction, and in the New Testament is applied to the first lessons or principles of religion, (Heb. 5:1). It is applied to the elements or component parts of the physical world, II Pet. 3:10, 12. Here the figure is kept up of the reference to the infant, Gal. 4:1, 3; and the idea is, that lessons were taught under the Jewish system adapted to their nonage–to a state of childhood. They were treated as children under tutors and governors.
       You have renounced all hope of salvation from the observance of Jewish rites and ceremonies, which were only rudiments, first elements, or the alphabet, out of which the whole science of Christianity was composed.  We have often seen that the world and this world signify the Jewish dispensation, or the rites, ceremonies, and services performed under it.

WORLD:  (Grk.–kosmou)–Referring to the sum-total of human life in the ordered world, considered apart from, or alienated from and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God.

“why, as though living in the world,”
Literally:  “as living in {the} world”— “Why do you allow them to influence you, to subject you, as though you were living and acting under those worldly principles? Used only here in the N.T. They ought no more to do it than the things of this world influence those who are in their graves.

Why, as if ye were still under the same dispensation from which you have been already freed, are ye subject to its ordinances, performing them as if expecting salvation from this performance?  As though you were not dead to the world like your crucified Lord, into whose death ye were buried (Gal. 6:14; I Pet.4:1-2).

“are ye subject to ordinances,”
Literally:  “why are you under {its} decrees?–The rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion.  Have the vain worldly ordinances which they professed to have renounced imposed upon them?

       ORDINANCES:  (Grk.–dogmatizomai)–Literally:  “Obey rules and regulations, law, order decrees.”  Why do you submit to be made subject to ordinances?  Why, as if you were still under the same dispensation from which you have been already freed, are ye subject to its ordinances, performing them as if expecting salvation from this performance?

Referring to v. 14: you are again being made subject to “ordinances,” the “handwriting” of which had been “blotted out.”  Why seek justification by Jewish ordinances, which forbid certain meats or drinks, and make vain distinctions of days (v. 16).