The apostle here represents the privileges we Christians have above the Jews, which are very great.
I. Christ’s death is our life: And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, Col. 2:13. A state of sin is a state of spiritual death. Those who are in sin are dead in sin. As the death of the body consists in its separation from the soul, so the death of the soul consists in its separation from God and the divine favour. As the death of the body is the corruption and putrefaction of it, so sin is the corruption or depravation of the soul. As a man who is dead is unable to help himself by any power of his own, so an habitual sinner is morally impotent: though he has a natural power, or the power of a reasonable creature, he has not a spiritual power, till he has the divine life or a renewed nature. It is principally to be understood of the Gentile world, who lay in wickedness. They were dead in the uncircumcision of their flesh, being aliens to the covenant of promise, and without God in the world, Eph. 2:11, 12. By reason of their uncircumcision they were dead in their sins. It may be understood of the spiritual uncircumcision or corruption of nature; and so it shows that we are dead in law, and dead in state. Dead in law, as a condemned malefactor is called a dead man because he is under a sentence of death; so sinners by the guilt of sin are under the sentence of the law and condemned already, John 3:18. And dead in state, by reason of the uncircumcision of our flesh. An unsanctified heart is called an uncircumcised heart: this is our state. Now through Christ we, who were dead in sins, are quickened; that is, effectual provision is made for taking away the guilt of sin, and breaking the power and dominion of it. Quickened together with him—by virtue of our union to him, and in conformity to him. Christ’s death was the death of our sins; Christ’s resurrection is the quickening of our souls.
II. Through him we have the remission of sin: Having forgiven you all trespasses. This is our quickening. The pardon of the crime is the life of the criminal: and this is owing to the resurrection of Christ, as well as his death; for, as he died for our sins, so he rose again for our justification, Rom. 4:25.
III. Whatever was in force against us is taken out of the way. He has obtained for us a legal discharge from the hand-writing of ordinances, which was against us (Col. 2:14), which may be understood, 1. Of that obligation to punishment in which consists the guilt of sin. The curse of the law is the hand-writing against us, like the hand-writing on Belshazzar’s wall. Cursed is every one who continues not in every thing. This was a hand-writing which was against us, and contrary to us; for it threatened our eternal ruin. This was removed when he redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal. 3:13. He cancelled the obligation for all who repent and believe. “Upon me be the curse, my father.” He vacated and disannulled the judgment which was against us. When he was nailed to the cross, the curse was as it were nailed to the cross. And our indwelling corruption is crucified with Christ, and by virtue of his cross. When we remember the dying of the Lord Jesus, and see him nailed to the cross, we should see the hand-writing against us taken out of the way. Or rather, 2. It must be understood of the ceremonial law, the hand-writing of ordinances, the ceremonial institutions or the law of commandments contained in ordinances (Eph. 2:15), which was a yoke to the Jews and a partition-wall to the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus took it out of the way, nailed it to his cross; that is, disannulled the obligation of it, that all might see and be satisfied that it was no more binding. When the substance came, the shadows fled away. It is abolished (2 Cor. 3:13), and that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away, Heb. 8:13. The expressions are in allusion to the ancient methods of cancelling a bond, either by crossing the writing or striking it through with a nail.
IV. He has obtained a glorious victory for us over the powers of darkness: And, having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it, Col. 2:15. As the curse of the law was against us, so the power of Satan was against us. He treated with God as the Judge, and redeemed us out of the hands of his justice by a price; but out of the hands of Satan the executioner he redeemed us by power and with a high hand. He led captivity captive. The devil and all the powers of hell were conquered and disarmed by the dying Redeemer. The first promise pointed at this; the bruising of the heel of Christ in his sufferings was the breaking of the serpent’s head, Gen. 3:15. The expressions are lofty and magnificent: let us turn aside and see this great sight. The Redeemer conquered by dying. See his crown of thorns turned into a crown of laurels. He spoiled them, broke the devil’s power, and conquered and disabled him, and made a show of them openly—exposed them to public shame, and made a show of them to angels and men. Never had the devil’s kingdom such a mortal blow given to it as was given by the Lord Jesus. He tied them to his chariot-wheels, and rode forth conquering and to conquer—alluding to the custom of a general’s triumph, who returned victorious.—Triumphing over them in it; that is, either in his cross and by his death; or, as some read it, in himself, by his own power; for he trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him.