Which all are to perish with the using - These are not matters of eternal moment; the different kinds of meats were made for the body, and go with it into corruption: in like manner, all the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion now perish, having accomplished the end of their institution; namely, to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
After the commandments and doctrines of men? - These words should follow the 20th verse, of which they form a part; and it appears from them that the apostle is here speaking of the traditions of the elders, and the load of cumbrous ceremonies which they added to the significant rites prescribed by Moses.
Which all are to perish with the using - This is commonly marked as a part of the parenthesis, or the quotation; and there is considerable difficulty in ascertaining its true meaning. It seems most probable that these are the words of the apostle himself, thrown in in the rapidity of composition, and that they are not to be connected with the phrase “touch not,” etc. If so, the idea is, that it cannot be of so much consequence as the Jewish teachers supposed, to mark distinctly the difference between meats and drinks. They were all to perish with the use of them. Nothing was permanent about them. It could really then be of no great importance what was eaten, or what was drunk, provided it was not in itself injurious. These ordinances had a value among the Hebrews when it was designed to keep them as a distinct people; but they had no value in themselves, so as to make them binding on all mankind. To suppose this, was the common error of the Jews; and hence, the apostle so frequently labored to show that the Jewish rites had no permanent value; see the Romans 14:1-6 notes; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, note; compare the notes at Matthew 15:17-18. According to this interpretation, Colossians 2:21 should be regarded as expressing the common maxim of the Jewish teachers, and the clause before us as the words of the apostle, and should be marked as a parenthesis. So it is marked in Hahn‘s Ed. of the New Testament.
After the commandments and doctrines of men - Many of the ordinances on which the Jews insisted were those which were handed down by tradition. They depended on human authority only, and of course, should not bind the conscience. Others take the words here to mean, “All which things tend to the corruption of religion (Doddridge), or are cause of destruction or condemnation (Robinson, Lexicon), by the use of these things, according to the commandments and doctrines of these men.”