And having spoiled - Plundered as a victorious army does a conquered country. Notes, Colossians 2:8. The terms used in this verse are all military, and the idea is, that Christ has completely subdued our enemies by his death. A complete victory was achieved by his death, so that every thing is now in subjection to him, and we have nothing to fear.
Principalities and powers - Notes, Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 6:12, note. The "principalities and powers" here referred to, are the formidable enemies that had held man in subjection, and prevented his serving God. There can be no doubt, I think, that the apostle refers to the ranks of fallen, evil spirits which had usurped a dominion over the world, John 12:31, note; Ephesians 2:2, note. The Saviour, by his death, wrested the dominion from them, and seized upon what they had captured as a conqueror seizes upon his prey. Satan and his legions had invaded the earth and drawn its inhabitants into captivity, and subjected them to their evil reign. Christ, by his death. subdues the invaders and recaptures those whom they had subdued.
He made a show of them openly - As a conqueror, returning from a victory, displays in a triumphal procession the kings and princes whom he has taken, and the spoils of victory. This was commonly done when a "triumph" was decreed for a conqueror. On such occasions it sometimes happened that a considerable number of prisoners were led along amidst the scenes of triumph see the notes at II Corinthians 2:14. Paul says that this was now done "openly" - that is, it was in the face of the whole universe - a grand victory; a glorious triumph over all the powers of hell It does not refer to any public procession or display on the earth; but to the grand victory as achieved in view of the universe, by which Christ, as a conqueror, dragged Satan and his legions at his triumphal car; compare Romans 16:20.
Triumphing over them in it - Margin, or, "himself." Either "by the cross," or "by himself." Or, it may mean, as Rosenmuller suggests, that "God Colossians 2:12 triumphed over these foes in him; i. e., in Christ. The sense is substantially the same, that this triumph was effected by the atonement made for sin by the Redeemer. See the word "triumph" explained in the Notes on II Corinthians 2:14. The meaning of all this is, that since Christ has achieved for us such a victory, and has subdued all the foes of man, we should not be led captive, but should regard ourselves as freemen. We should not be made again the slaves of custom, or habit, or ritual observances, or superstitious rites, or anything whatever that has its origin in the kingdom of darkness. We are bound to assert and to use our freedom, and should not allow any hostile power in the form of philosophy or false teaching of any kind, to plunder or "spoil" us; Colossians 2:8. The Christian is a freeman. His great Captain has subdued all his enemies, and we should not allow them again to set up their dark empire over our souls. The argument of the apostle in these verses Colossians 2:13-15 is derived from what Christ has done for us. He mentions four things:
(1) He has given us spiritual life.
(2) He has forgiven all our trespasses.
(3) He has blotted out or abolished the "ordinances" that were against us.
(4) He has triumphed over all our foes. From all this he infers (Colossians 2:16 ff) that we should not be made captive or subdued by any of the rites of superstition, or any of the influences of the kingdom of darkness.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Colossians 2:15:
2 Corinthians 2:14
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