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Colossians 2:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If ye be dead with Christ - See the notes on Romans 6:3, Romans 6:5; (note).

From the rudiments of the world - Ye 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.

Why, as though living in the world - 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?

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Wherefore - In view of all that has been said. If it be true that you are really dead to the world, why do you act as if you still lived under the principles of the world?

If ye be dead with Christ - If you are dead to the world in virtue of his death. The apostle here, as elsewhere, 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; Notes, Romans 6:2, note, 4, note, 8, note, 11, note.

From the rudiments of the world - Margin, “elements.” The elements or principles which are of a worldly nature, and which reign among worldly men; see the notes at Galatians 4:3.

Why, as though living in the world - Why do you allow them to influence you, as though you were living and acting under those worldly principles? They ought no more to do it, than the things of this world influence those who are in their graves.

Are ye subject to ordinances - The rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion; see the notes at Galatians 5:1-4.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
It looked like humility to apply to angels, as if men were conscious of their unworthiness to speak directly to God. But it is not warrantable; it is taking that honour which is due to Christ only, and giving it to a creature. There really was pride in this seeming humility. Those who worship angels, disclaim Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man. It is an insult to Christ, who is the Head of the church, to use any intercessors but him. When men let go their hold of Christ, they catch at what will stand them in no stead. The body of Christ is a growing body. And true believers cannot live in the fashions of the world. True wisdom is, to keep close to the appointments of the gospel; in entire subjection to Christ, who is the only Head of his church. Self-imposed sufferings and fastings, might have a show of uncommon spirituality and willingness for suffering, but this was not "in any honour" to God. The whole tended, in a wrong manner, to satisfy the carnal mind, by gratifying self-will, self-wisdom, self-righteousness, and contempt of others. The things being such as carry not with them so much as the show of wisdom; or so faint a show that they do the soul no good, and provide not for the satisfying of the flesh. What the Lord has left indifferent, let us regard as such, and leave others to the like freedom; and remembering the passing nature of earthly things, let us seek to glorify God in the use of them.
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