The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

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Irish1975
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The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by Irish1975 »

This section of Colossians, especially the last sentence at 2:15, is perplexing--

Colossians 2:8-15

Βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς ἔσται ὁ συλαγωγῶν διὰ τῆς φιλοσοφίας καὶ κενῆς ἀπάτης κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου καὶ οὐ κατὰ Χριστόν· ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς, καὶ ἐστὲ ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρωμένοι, ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας. Ἐν ᾧ καὶ περιετμήθητε περιτομῇ ἀχειροποιήτῳ ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός, ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, συνταφέντες αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτισμῷ, ἐν ᾧ καὶ συνηγέρθητε διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν· καὶ ὑμᾶς νεκροὺς ὄντας [ἐν] τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν, συνεζωοποίησεν ὑμᾶς σὺν αὐτῷ, χαρισάμενος ἡμῖν πάντα τὰ παραπτώματα. ἐξαλείψας τὸ καθ’ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν ὃ ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡμῖν, καὶ αὐτὸ ἦρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου προσηλώσας αὐτὸ τῷ σταυρῷ· ἀπεκδυσάμενος τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας ἐδειγμάτισεν ἐν παρρησίᾳ, θριαμβεύσας αὐτοὺς ἐν αὐτῷ. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it (NRSV).

1. The status of the rulers and authorities in the first instance (v. 10), in which Christ is their head, contrasts very significantly with the drama in which they are embroiled in the second instance, in which God triumphs over them. It would appear that these moments are narrated out of order, the triumph happening first, and the headship second. Even so, it is unclear how this transformation was thought to occur. In the moment of crucifixion, God triumphs over the powers; then he makes the resurrected Christ the head of those same powers. Is there a larger story or myth about the transformation of the powers that is going on here? And can the Christian interpretation of the powers and authorities as essentially evil be reconciled with the idea that Christ has become their head?

2. I am wondering about the interpretation of ἀπεκδυσάμενος. From my edition of Liddell & Scott (the middle Liddell), this verb appears to an intransitive and deponent verb, which would mean that God is divesting himself of the powers. Since this meaning is obviously repugnant to Christianity, the verb is translated as transitive, as though it is the rulers and authorities that God is divesting (but of what are they being divested?). My Bauer/Arndt/Gingrich dictionary gives a separate entry for this transitive sense ("disarm"), but it only cites this very passage in support of that reading. I wonder if there are any philologists who can help me with this (too bad Ben Smith isn't around anymore).

3. "Made a public example of them" also seems like a less natural translation of ἐδειγμάτισεν ἐν παρρησίᾳ than something like, exposed them openly. It depends on whether this event is being conceived mythically and spiritually, or in some manner consistent with the Gospel passion as real world event. Furthermore, there seems to be an interesting contrast with 1 Cor 2:6-8, in which the archons of this aeon crucify the Lord of Glory in ignorance of God's secret wisdom (revealed only to Paul). Was this bit of Colossians written to refute the idea in 1 Cor?
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by gryan »

Irish1975 wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:21 pm
2. I am wondering about the interpretation of ἀπεκδυσάμενος.

(too bad Ben Smith isn't around anymore).
I see/saw Ben Smith as a servant leader. His ability to find source material was amazing and his knowledge of Greek was always to be taken seriously. I had noticed his absence and was missing him.

On ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15, I notice that the word only appears twice in the NT, both times in Col, the second time in a positive sense for participation in the transformation of the cross/spiritual circumcision. https://biblehub.com/greek/554.htm

On rulers and authorities among "the Gentiles" vs among followers of Jesus, I've been pondering the teaching of Jesus in Mark 10:42.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by GakuseiDon »

Irish1975 wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:21 pm This section of Colossians, especially the last sentence at 2:15, is perplexing--

Colossians 2:8-15

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it (NRSV).

1. The status of the rulers and authorities in the first instance (v. 10), in which Christ is their head, contrasts very significantly with the drama in which they are embroiled in the second instance, in which God triumphs over them. It would appear that these moments are narrated out of order, the triumph happening first, and the headship second. Even so, it is unclear how this transformation was thought to occur. In the moment of crucifixion, God triumphs over the powers; then he makes the resurrected Christ the head of those same powers. Is there a larger story or myth about the transformation of the powers that is going on here? And can the Christian interpretation of the powers and authorities as essentially evil be reconciled with the idea that Christ has become their head?
How I see this (based on nothing other than English translation):
  1. Christ is raised in power by the crucifixion and resurrection
  2. Christ is made the head of the rulers and authorities so they are forced to yield to Christ and his name. (gMark may have seen the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist as that event).
  3. Christ displays this headship over those powers and authorities publicly by being able to be invoked by name in exorcisms and healings of diseases caused by evil spirits. (gMark may have seen Christ displaying that power from the time of Jesus's baptism.)
I don't see the headship and triumph as being listed out of order. They seem to the consequence of crucifixion and resurrection.
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by perseusomega9 »

gryan wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 4:23 pm
Irish1975 wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:21 pm
2. I am wondering about the interpretation of ἀπεκδυσάμενος.

(too bad Ben Smith isn't around anymore).
I see/saw Ben Smith as a servant leader. His ability to find source material was amazing and his knowledge of Greek was always to be taken seriously. I had noticed his absence and was missing him.

On ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15, I notice that the word only appears twice in the NT, both times in Col, the second time in a positive sense for participation in the transformation of the cross/spiritual circumcision. https://biblehub.com/greek/554.htm

On rulers and authorities among "the Gentiles" vs among followers of Jesus, I've been pondering the teaching of Jesus in Mark 10:42.
What happened to Ben?
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by andrewcriddle »

There is a detailed discussion in the commentary section at Colossians 2:15

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Irish1975
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by Irish1975 »

andrewcriddle wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:02 am There is a detailed discussion in the commentary section at Colossians 2:15

Andrew Criddle
These are interesting remarks by 19th century scholars.

1. ἀπεκδυσάμενος means "having stripped (or divested) Himself" of the powers, not (as in almost all translations) "disarmed," "stripped," "spoiled" or "despoiled" the powers.

2. The subject of the verb is not Christ, but God himself.

Ellicott's Commentary:
This verse is one of great difficulty.

...The difficulty lies in the word here translated "having spoiled." Now this translation (as old as St. Jerome's Vulgate), makes all simple and easy; but the original word certainly means "having stripped Himself"--as in Colossians 3:9, "having put off (stripped off from ourselves) the old man." It is a word used by St. Paul alone in the New Testament, and by him only in these two passages, the latter of which makes the sense perfectly clear. Being forced, then, to adopt this translation, we see that the words admit of two renderings. (1) First, "having stripped from Himself the principalities and powers," that is, having stripped off that condition of the earthly life which gave them a grasp or occasion against Him. But this, though adopted by many old Greek commentators (Chrysostom among the rest), seems singularly harsh in expression and far-fetched in idea, needing too much explanation to make it in any sense clear. (2) Next, "having unclothed Himself, He made a show of principalities and powers." On the whole this rendering, although not free from difficulty, on account of the apparent want of connection of the phrase "having stripped Himself" with the context, seems the easiest.


Pulpit Commentary:

Απεκδυσάμενος has been rendered, from the time of the Latin Vulgate, "having spoiled" (exspolians), a rendering which is "not less a violation of St. Paul's usage (Colossians 3:9) than of grammatical rule" (Lightfoot; so Alford, Ellicott, Wordsworth, Hofmann, Revisers). It is precisely the same participle that we find in Colossians 3:9, and the writer has just used the noun ἀπέκδυσις (ver. 11) in a corresponding sense (see note in loc. on the force of the double compound). He employs compounds of δύω in the middle voice seventeen times elsewhere, and always in the sense of "putting off [or, 'on'] from one's self;" and there is no sure instance in Greek of the middle verb bearing any other meaning.

...The Revised margin follows the earlier Latin Fathers and some ancient versions, supplying "his body" as object of the participle, understanding "Christ" as subject. But the context does not, as in 2 Corinthians 5:3, suggest this ellipsis, and it is arbitrary to make the participle itself mean "having disembodied himself." Nor has the writer introduced any new subject since ver. 12, where" God" appears as agent of each of the acts of salvation set forth in vers. 12-15. Moreover, "the principalities and the dominions" of this verse must surely be those of ver. 10 and of Colossians 1:16 (compare the "angels" of ver. 18). We understand St. Paul, therefore, to say "that God [revealing himself in Christ; 'in him,' 15 b] put off and put away those angelic powers through whom he had previously shown himself to men."

...The apostle returns to the point from which he started in ver. 10. He has just declared that God has cancelled and removed the Law as an instrument of condemnation; and now adds that he has at the same time thrown off and laid aside the veil of angelic mediation under which, in the administration of that Law, he had withdrawn himself. Both these acts take place "in Christ." Both are necessary to that "access to the Father" which, in the apostle's view, is the special prerogative of Christian faith...

...We are compelled, with all deference to its high authority, to reject the view of the Greek Fathers, to which Ellicott, Lightfoot, and Wordsworth have returned, according to which "Christ in his atoning death [in it; 'the cross,' ver. 15 b] stripped off from himself the Satanic powers." For it requires us to bring in, without grammatical warrant, "somewhere" (Lightfoot), "Christ" as subject; it puts upon" the principalities and the dominions" a sense foreign to the context...

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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by lsayre »

perseusomega9 wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 4:08 am What happened to Ben?
It appears (potentially, to me at least) that he was unwillingly and unwillfully unmasked. Some forums stipulate that to a bannable offense, whereby it is the unmasker who gets the boot.
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by mbuckley3 »

"The subject of the verb is not Christ, but God himself."

Well, not according to W.L. Knox, the poor man's A.D. Nock, maybe, but a fine philologist nonetheless. I'm citing his 'St. Paul and the Church of the Gentiles' (1939). For context, writing in the era of Reitzenstein, Knox sees Paul (a C1 figure, not a C2 'Paul') appropriating the language of 'gnostic' opponents, with a descending redeemer. So (p169) :
"He had descended secretly through the spheres of the rulers, and assumed a body that was
subject to them in so far as it was of a material character, but exempt from them in so far as He
was free from sin; thus Jesus reversed the fall of Adam.."
The secret descent coheres with 1Cor 2.8, of course.

Anyway, to get to the point, p169, fn 4 :
"The subject changes from God to Jesus at the beginning of v.14; Lightfoot, ad loc., is certainly
right against Dibelius in understanding 'εν 'αυτώ at the end of v.15 as 'in it', i.e. in the Cross. The
meaning of the passage depends on Christ having 'put off' the material body at His death; the
middle 'απεκδυσάμενος could not be used of God 'putting off' the rulers in Christ. In Origen
c.Cels. 2.64 the body of Jesus which had 'put off the rulers' was invisible to all but the
disciples; this (cf. 3.42) is a fair statement of Paul's thought that Jesus at death 'put off' the
material."

Now that Colossians has been banished from the realm of 'Authenticity', the merits of this 'patristic' interpretation of a C2 text might be more apparent...
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by Irish1975 »

mbuckley3 wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:18 pm "The subject of the verb is not Christ, but God himself."

Well, not according to W.L. Knox, the poor man's A.D. Nock, maybe, but a fine philologist nonetheless. I'm citing his 'St. Paul and the Church of the Gentiles' (1939).


"The subject changes from God to Jesus at the beginning of v.14; Lightfoot, ad loc., is certainly
right against Dibelius in understanding 'εν 'αυτώ at the end of v.15 as 'in it', i.e. in the Cross. The
meaning of the passage depends on Christ having 'put off' the material body at His death; the
middle 'απεκδυσάμενος could not be used of God 'putting off' the rulers in Christ. In Origen
c.Cels. 2.64 the body of Jesus which had 'put off the rulers' was invisible to all but the
disciples; this (cf. 3.42) is a fair statement of Paul's thought that Jesus at death 'put off' the
material."
I see little philology in this exegesis. Sometimes the text means what it “could not” mean.
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Re: The meaning of ἀπεκδυσάμενος in Col 2:15

Post by gryan »

perseusomega9 wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 4:08 am
What happened to Ben?
Seems to be away from the forum, taking a breather perhaps. Hope he comes back!
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