Why if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances,…
I. THE APPEAL —
1. Was to their position and profession as Christians. They had died with Christ, and, therefore, to that which was ful filled in His death.
2. Was based upon their Christian liberty. What had they to do with those things from which they were delivered by Christ's death — the mere material alphabet of religion? It was as ridiculous as if an educated man should go back to his spelling book; or a liberated slave fear his task master.
3. Described the character of the bondage of which they were in danger. "Touch not," etc., are not Paul's words, but the mottoes of the heretical teachers, and refer to distinctions in meats and drinks. True Christians ought to be far above the region of such carnal commandments, for to them all things are pure, and every creature of God good. Moreover, they perish in the using, and how then can they benefit the soul? (Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 8:8). And lastly they are based on human authority, whereas the Christian owes allegiance to none but Christ.
II. THE ARGUMENT.
1. The ordinances are pretentious. They have a show of wisdom.
(1) In will worship, or some mode of worship God has not required.
(2) In humility. But it is an affectation of lowliness which cannot look up directly to God in Christ, but thinks it necessary to find some subordinate mediators. Such prevails now.
(3) In neglecting the body. The fleshly tabernacle may indeed be weakened without the slightest effect in conquering any sinful tendency in the soul.
(4) How these rudiments of the world had a show of wisdom is not difficult to see. To go beyond the Divine requirement in self-denial, and do works of supererogation has the appearance of magnanimity.
2. These ordinances are really worthless.
(1) Negatively — "Not in any honour" — they are of no spiritual efficacy.
(2) Positively — they gratify the flesh, and prop up the fleshly mind with notions of its self righteousness and sufficiency. Lessons:
1. The vanity and error of asceticism.
2. The sacredness of Christian liberty.
(J. Spence, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,