And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
I. THE ERRORS PAUL DESIRES TO COUNTERACT. These were the current "philosophy" of the day. There were many forms of thought which preceded Christianity. For hundreds of years men had been indulging in speculation, groping after light, and weaving systems; and the Colossian philosophy seems to have been an amalgamation of the four principal.
1. The philosophy of Plato, with its mystic doctrine of everything having an archetypal model.
2. Jewish fables and endless genealogies picked up by the exiles in Babylon.
3. Ceremonialism and the observing of days, etc.
4. Gnosticism, the affectation of superior knowledge.
II. THE DOCTRINE WITH WHICH HE WOULD COUNTERACT THESE ERRORS. "Ye are complete in Him."
1. Note who and what Christ is. The glory of Christ is set .over against these speculations.
(1) He possesses the loftiest ideal — "All the fulness of the Godhead," not one of His emanations, and that fulness "bodily," brought within the comprehension of man.
2. He has done a great work (Colossians 1:20). It is not matter that is sinful, but man, and from this Christ redeems him.
(3) He sustains a glorious relation to the universe (Colossians 1:15, 18; Colossians 2:19). He is not one of an illustrious order, but Creator and Head of all.
4. He maintains a close union to the man who accepts Him (Colossians 1:27).
2. If Christ is all this to a man, then that man is complete in Him.
(1) If a man be striving after the knowledge of God, he is complete in Christ. This has been the problem of philosophy from Thales till now. What is the first principle? Water, air, fire, mind, love, have each in turn been the answer. And now a "philosophy" is confessing the problem insoluble, calling God by a name more hopeless than that on the Athenian altar — the Unknowable. But who that knows Christ can ever be thus in the dark (John 14:9).
(2) If a man would approach God he is complete in Christ. Afar from God man cannot rest, but sin keeps him away. But through Christ we have access (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19) and close fellowship.
(3) If a man is anxious about his standing before God he is complete in Christ. Through Him we may have a better and firmer one than Adam's. In Christ a man stands accepted and welcomed with nought wanting to the fulness of his redemption.
(4) If a man wants to lead a holy life he is complete in Christ. This was the aim of the Gnostics; not holiness indeed, but freedom from the impurities of matter. Hence they tried asceticism. But sin is not to be purged by scourging the body. Christ however can kill it by the power of a new life which His Spirit implants.
(5) If a man is longing for light on the great questions of destiny he is complete in Christ, who has brought life and immortality to light.
(6) Do we ask for a bond of brotherhood in the human race? We are complete in Christ in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, etc.
(7) Do we ask for a redemption that shall perfect body, as well as soul and spirit? We are complete in Him who is "the Saviour of the body" and "the resurrection and the life."
III. THE SUITABILITY OF THIS DOCTRINE FOR COUNTERACTING MODERN ERRORS. The true method of meeting false doctrine is to show that all our nature craves is to be found in Christ. But since Christ is enough in Himself He must be accepted as being so, and not as the mere complement of some other system.
1. Are you in peril of Rationalism? Learn what Jesus is, and you will find reason and conscience to say, "Here is one at whose feet we can sit to be their enlightener and lord."
2. Are you attracted by Positivism? Here in Christ is all that is attractive in its assertions, and nought of its dismal negations. They worship they know not what in worshipping "Humanity." But no one who has ever caught a glimpse of Christ can ever barter a living Saviour for that. One in the race and yet over it. Over it, that He might redeem, educate, and glorify it; and yet who can give to each member eternal life.
3. Do the claims of a so-called priesthood attract you? If you knew what Christ is you would let no one have the impertinence to come between you and Him. We need a mediator between God and man; but none between us and Jesus. Con clusion: This doctrine is grand enough for the philosopher, yet simple enough for us all. We are complete in Christ for living or dying; for time or eternity.
(C. Clemance, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: