The GENUINENESS of this Epistle is attested by
[Dialogue with Trypho, p. 311, B.], who quotes "the first-born
of every creature," in reference to Christ, from
[To Autolychus, 2, p. 100].
[Against Heresies, 3.14.1], quotes expressly from this "Epistle to
Colosse (or, as it is spelt in the best manuscripts, "Colassæ") was
a city of Phrygia, on the river Lycus, a branch of the Meander. The
Church there was mainly composed of Gentiles (compare
ALFORD infers from
that Paul had not seen its members, and therefore could not have been
its founder, as THEODORET thought.
Col 1:7, 8
suggests the probability that Epaphras was the first founder of the
Church there. The date of its foundation must have been subsequent to
Paul's visitation, "strengthening in order" all the churches of Galatia
for otherwise we must have visited the Colossians, which
implies he had not. Had Paul been their father in the faith, he would
doubtless have alluded to the fact, as in
1Co 3:6, 10; 4:15;
1Th 1:5; 2:1.
It is only in the Epistles, Romans and Ephesians, and this Epistle,
such allusions are wanting; in that to the Romans, because, as in this
Church of Colosse, he had not been the instrument of their conversion;
in that to the Ephesians, owing to the general nature of the Epistle.
Probably during the "two years" of Paul's stay at Ephesus, when "all
which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus"
Ac 19:10, 26),
Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, Apphia and the other natives of Colosse,
becoming converted at Ephesus, were subsequently the first sowers of
the Gospel seed in their own city. This will account for their personal
acquaintance with, and attachment to, Paul and his fellow ministers,
and for his loving language as to them, and their counter salutations
to him. So also with respect to "them at Laodicea,"
The OBJECT of the Epistle is to counteract Jewish false teaching, by
setting before the Colossians their true standing in Christ alone
(exclusive of all other heavenly beings), the majesty of His person,
and the completeness of the redemption wrought by Him; hence they ought
to be conformed to their risen Lord, and to exhibit that conformity in
all the relations of ordinary life
"new moon, sabbath days," shows that the false teaching opposed in this
Epistle is that of Judaizing Christians. These mixed up with
pure Christianity Oriental theosophy and angel-worship, and the
asceticism of certain sections of the Jews, especially the Essenes.
Compare JOSEPHUS [Wars of the Jews,
2.8,13]. These theosophists promised to their followers a deeper
insight into the world of spirits, and a nearer approach to heavenly
purity and intelligence, than the simple Gospel affords. CONYBEARE and HOWSON think that some
Alexandrian Jew had appeared at Colosse, imbued with the Greek
philosophy of PHILO'S school, combining with it
the Rabbinical theosophy and angelology which afterwards was embodied
in the Cabbala. Compare JOSEPHUS
[Antiquities, 12.3,4], from which we know that Alexander the
Great had garrisoned the towns of Lydia and Phrygia with two
thousand Mesopotamian and Babylonian Jews in the time of a
threatened revolt. The Phrygians themselves had a mystic tendency in
their worship of Cybele, which inclined them to receive the more
readily the incipient Gnosticism of Judaizers, which afterward
developed itself into the strangest heresies. In the Pastoral Epistles,
the evil is spoken of as having reached a more deadly phase
(1Ti 4:1-3; 6:5),
whereas he brings no charge of immorality in this Epistle: a proof of
its being much earlier in date.
The PLACE from which it was written seems to have been Rome, during
his first imprisonment there
to the Epistle to the Ephesians, it was shown that the three Epistles,
Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, were sent at the same time,
namely, during the freer portion of his imprisonment, before the death
Col 4:3, 4;
Eph 6:19, 20,
imply greater freedom than he had while writing to the Philippians,
after the promotion of Tigellinus to be Prætorian Prefect. See
This Epistle, though carried by the same bearer, Tychicus, who
bore that to the Ephesians, was written previously to
that Epistle; for many phrases similar in both appear in the more
expanded form in the Epistle to the Ephesians (compare also
Note, see on
The Epistle to the Laodiceans
"spoil you"; "making a show of them openly"
"beguile of your reward," and "intruding"
The loftiness and artificial elaboration of style correspond to the
majestic nature of his theme, the majesty of Christ's person and
office, in contrast to the beggarly system of the Judaizers, the
discussion of which was forced on him by the controversy. Hence arises
his use of unusual phraseology. On the other hand, in the Epistle of
the Ephesians, subsequently written, in which he was not so hampered by
the exigencies of controversy, he dilates on the same glorious truths,
so congenial to him, more at large, freely and uncontroversially, in
the fuller outpouring of his spirit, with less of the elaborate and
antithetical language of system, such as was needed in cautioning the
Colossians against the particular errors threatening them. Hence arises
the striking similarity of many of the phrases in the two Epistles
written about the same time, and generally in the same vein of
spiritual thought; while the peculiar phrases of the Epistle to the
Colossians are such as are natural, considering the controversial
purpose of that Epistle.
PRAYER FOR THE
MINISTRY OF THE
1. by the will of God--Greek, "through," &c. (compare
Note, see on
Timothy--(Compare Notes, see on
He was with Paul at the time of writing in Rome. He had been companion
of Paul in his first tour through Phrygia, in which Colosse was. Hence
the Colossians seem to have associated him with Paul in their
affections, and the apostle joins him with himself in the address.
Neither, probably, had seen the Colossian Church (compare
but had seen, during their tour through Phrygia, individual Colossians,
as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia
who when converted brought the Gospel to their native city.
2. Colosse--written in the oldest manuscripts, "Colasse." As "saints"
implies union with God, so "the faithful brethren" union with Christian
and the Lord Jesus Christ--supported by some oldest manuscripts
omitted by others of equal antiquity.
3. Thanksgiving for the "faith, hope, and love" of the Colossians. So
in the twin Epistle sent at the same time and by the same bearer,
where like language is used of a Church which he had not at the time
love . . . to all--the absent, as well as those present
5. For--to be joined with the words immediately preceding: "The love
which ye have to all the saints because of (literally,
'on account of') the hope," &c. The hope of eternal life will never
be in us an inactive principle but will always produce "love." This
passage is abused by Romanists, as if the hope of salvation depended
upon works. A false argument. It does not follow that our hope is
founded on our works because we are strongly stimulated to live well;
since nothing is more effectual for this purpose than the sense of God's
free grace [CALVIN].
laid up--a treasure laid up so as to be out of danger of being
Faith, love, and hope
(Col 1:4, 5),
comprise the sum of Christianity. Compare
"the hope of the Gospel."
in heaven--Greek, "in the heavens."
whereof ye heard before--namely, at the time when it was preached to
in the word, &c.--That "hope" formed part of "the word of the truth
of the Gospel" (compare
that is, part of the Gospel truth preached unto you.
6. Which is come unto you--Greek, "Which is present among you,"
that is, which has come to, and remains with, you. He speaks of the word
as a living person present among them.
as it is in all the world--virtually, as it was by this time
preached in the leading parts of the then known world; potentially, as Christ's command was that the Gospel should be preached to all
nations, and not be limited, as the law was, to the Jews
(Mt 13:38; 24:14; 28:19).
However, the true reading, and that of the oldest manuscripts, is that
which omits the following "and," thus (the "it is" of English
Version is not in the original Greek): "As in all the world
it is bringing forth fruit and growing (so the oldest
manuscripts read; English Version omits 'and growing,' without
good authority), even as it doth in you also." Then what is asserted is
not that the Gospel has been preached in all the world, but that it is
bearing fruits of righteousness, and (like a tree growing
at the same time that it is bearing fruit) growing in
numbers of its converts in, or throughout, all the world.
heard of it--rather, "heard it."
and knew--rather, "came to know"; became fully experimentally
the grace of God in truth--that is, in its truth, and with true
7. As ye also learned--"Also" is omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
The insertion implied that those inserting it thought that Paul had
preached the Gospel to the Colossians as well as Epaphras, Whereas the
omission in the oldest manuscripts implies that Epaphras alone was
the founder of the Church at Colosse.
fellow servant--namely, of Christ. In
he calls him "my fellow prisoner." It is possible that Epaphras may
have been apprehended for his zealous labors in Asia Minor; but more
probable that Paul gave him the title; as his faithful companion in his
imprisonment (compare Note, see on
as to MEYER'S conjecture).
who is for you, &c.--Translate, "who is faithful in your behalf as
a minister of Christ"; hinting that he is one not to be set aside for
the new and erroneous teachers
Yet even they needed to be stirred up to greater love
Love is the first and chief fruit of the Spirit
9. we also--on our part.
pray--Here he states what in particular he prays for; as in
he stated generally the fact of his praying for them.
to desire--"to make request."
might be filled--rather, "may be filled"; a verb, often
found in this Epistle
as well as chiefly that "mystery of His will, according to His good
pleasure which He purposed in Himself; that in the fulness of times He
might gather together in one all things in Christ"
Col 2:2, 3; 3:10, 13; 4:5, 6).
On the contrary he less extols wisdom to the Corinthians, who
were puffed up with the conceit of knowledge.
wisdom--often mentioned in this Epistle, as opposed to the (false)
"philosophy" and "show of wisdom"
Col 2:8, 23;
understanding--sagacity to discern what on each occasion is suited to
the place and the time; its seat is "the understanding" or intellect;
wisdom is more general and has its seat in the whole compass of the
faculties of the soul [BENGEL]. "Wouldst thou know that the matters in
the word of Christ are real things? Then never read them for mere
knowledge sake" [Quoted by GAUSSEN.] Knowledge is desirable only when
seasoned by "spiritual understanding."
10.Greek, "So as to walk"; so that ye may walk. True knowledge of
God's will is inseparable from walking conformably to it.
worthy of the Lord--
unto--so as in every way to be well-pleasing to God.
pleasing--literally, "desire of pleasing."
being fruitful--Greek, "bearing fruit." This is the first
manifestation of their "walking worthy of the Lord." The second is,
"increasing (growing) in the knowledge of God (or as the oldest
manuscripts read, 'growing BY the full knowledge
of God')"; thus, as the Gospel word
was said to "bring forth fruit," and to "grow" in all the world, even
as it did in the Colossians, ever since the day they knew the
grace of God, so here it is Paul's prayer that they might
continue to "bring forth fruit," and "grow" more and more by the
full knowledge of God, the more that "knowledge"
"Being strengthened with all might," &c. The fourth is
"Giving thanks unto the Father," &c.
11.Greek, "Being made mighty with (literally, 'in') all
according to his glorious power--rather, "according to the power
(the characteristic of 'His glory,' here appropriate to Paul's argument,
Eph 1:19; 6:10;
as its exuberant 'riches,' in
of His glory." His power is inseparable from His glory
unto all patience--so as to attain to all patient endurance; persevering, enduring continuance in the faith, in spite of trials of
persecutors, and seductions of false teachers.
long-suffering--towards those whom one could repel. "Patience," or
"endurance," is exercised in respect to those whom one cannot repel
with joyfulness--joyful endurance
and "that ye may walk"
The connection is not, "We do not cease to pray for you
unto the Father--of Jesus Christ, and so our Father by adoption
(Ga 3:26; 4:4-6).
which hath made us meet--Greek, "who made us
meet." Not "is making us meet" by progressive growth in
holiness; but once for all made us meet. It is not
primarily the Spirit's work that is meant here, as the
text is often used; but the Father's work in putting us by
adoption, once for all, in a new standing, namely, that of
children. The believers meant here were in different stages of
progressive sanctification; but in respect to the meetness specified
here, they all alike had it from the Father, in Christ His Son, being
"complete in Him"
"sanctified by God the Father";
Still, secondarily, this once-for-all meetness contains in it
the germ of sanctification, afterwards developed progressively in the
life by the Father's Spirit in the believer. The Christian life of
heavenliness is the first stage of heaven itself. There must, and will
be, a personal meetness for heaven, where there is a
to be partakers, &c.--Greek, "for the (or 'our') portion of
Ac 20:32; 26:18;
of the saints in light." "Light" begins in the believer here,
descending from "the Father of lights" by Jesus, "the true light," and
is perfected in the kingdom of light, which includes knowledge, purity,
love, and joy. It is contrasted here with the "darkness" of the
13. from--Greek, "out of the power," out of the sphere in
which his power is exercised.
darkness--blindness, hatred, misery [BENGEL].
translated--Those thus translated as to state, are also transformed
as to character. Satan has an organized dominion with various orders of
powers of evil
Eph 2:2; 6:12).
But the term "kingdom" is rarely applied to his usurped rule
it is generally restricted to the kingdom of God.
his dear Son--rather as Greek, "the Son of His love": the Son on
whom His love rests
know Christ in the glorious character here described, as above the
highest angels to whom the false teachers
taught worship was to be paid. Paul describes Him: (1) in relation to
God and creation
(2) in relation to the Church
As the former regards Him as the Creator
(Col 1:15, 16)
and the Sustainer
of the natural world; so the latter, as the source and stay of the new
image--exact likeness and perfect Representative. Adam was made "in
the image of God"
But Christ, the second Adam, perfectly reflected visibly "the invisible
whose glories the first Adam only in part represented. "Image"
(eicon) involves "likeness" (homoiosis); but "likeness"
does not involve "image." "Image" always supposes a prototype, which it
not merely resembles, but from which it is drawn: the exact
counterpart, as the reflection of the sun in the water: the child the
living image of the parent. "Likeness" implies mere resemblance,
not the exact counterpart and derivation as "image"
expresses; hence it is nowhere applied to the Son, while "image" is
(Joh 1:18; 14:9;
Even before His incarnation He was the image of the invisible God, as
by whom God created the worlds, and by whom God appeared to the
patriarchs. Thus His essential character as always "the
image of God," (1) before the incarnation, (2) in the days of His
flesh, and (3) now in His glorified state, is, I think, contemplated
here by the verb "is."
first-born of every creature--
English Version might seem to favor Arianism, as if Christ were
a creature. Translate, "Begotten (literally, 'born') before
every creature," as the context shows, which gives the reason why He is
so designated. "For," &c.
Col 1:16, 17)
[TRENCH]. This expression is understood by
ORIGEN (so far is the Greek from favoring
Socinian or Arian views) as declaring the Godhead of Christ, and
is used by Him as a phrase to mark that Godhead, in contrast
with His manhood [Book 2, sec. Against Celsus]. The
Greek does not strictly admit ALFORD'S
translation, "the first-born of all creation."
16. For--Greek, "Because." This gives the proof that He is not
included in the things created, but is the "first-begotten" before
begotten as "the Son of God's love"
antecedently to all other emanations: "for" all these other emanations
came from Him, and whatever was created, was created by Him. by him--rather as Greek, "in Him": as the
conditional element, pre-existent and all-including: the creation of
all things BY Him is expressed afterwards,
and is a different fact from the present one, though implied in it
[ALFORD]. God revealed Himself in the Son, the
Word of the Father, before all created existence
That Divine Word carries IN Himself the
archetypes of all existences, so that "IN
Him all things that are in heaven and earth have been created."
The "in Him" indicates that the Word is the ideal ground of all
existence; the "by Him," below, that He is the instrument
of actually realizing the divine idea [NEANDER].
His essential nature as the Word of the Father is not a mere appendage
of His incarnation, but is the ground of it. The original relation of
the Eternal Word to men "made in His image"
is the source of the new relation to them by redemption, formed in His
incarnation, whereby He restores them to His lost image. "In
Him" implies something prior to "by" and "for Him" presently after: the
three prepositions mark in succession the beginning, the progress, and
the end [BENGEL].
all things--Greek, "the universe of things." That the
new creation is not meant in this verse (as Socinians interpret), is
plain; for angels, who are included in the catalogue, were not
new created by Christ; and he does not speak of the new creation till
The creation "of the things that are in the heavens" (so
Greek) includes the creation of the heavens themselves:
the former are rather named, since the inhabitants are more noble than
their dwellings. Heaven and earth and all that is m them
invisible--the world of spirits.
thrones, or dominions--lordships: the thrones are the greater of
principalities, or powers--rather, "rules, or
authorities": the former are stronger than the latter (compare
Note, see on
The latter pair refer to offices in respect to God's creatures:
"thrones and dominions" express exalted relation to God, they
being the chariots on which He rides displaying His glory
The existence of various orders of angels is established by this
all things--Greek, "the whole universe of things."
were--rather, to distinguish the Greek aorist, which precedes from
the perfect tense here, "have been created." In the former case the
creation was viewed as a past act at a point of time, or as done
once for all; here it is viewed, not merely as one historic act of
creation in the past, but as the
permanent result now and eternally continuing. by him--as the instrumental Agent
for him--as the grand End of creation; containing in Himself the
reason why creation is at all, and why it is as it is
[ALFORD]. He is
the final cause as well as the efficient cause.
is best, whereby "the first-born of every creature"
answers to "the first-born from the dead"
the whole forming one sentence with the words ("All things were created
by Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and by Him all things
consist, and He is the Head of the body, the Church") intervening as a
parenthesis. Thus Paul puts first, the origination by Him of the
natural creation; secondly, of the new creation. The
parenthesis falls into four clauses, two and two: the former two
support the first assertion, "the first-born of every creature"; the
latter two prepare us for "the first-born from the dead"'; the former
two correspond to the latter two in their form--"All things by Him
. . . and He is," and "By Him all things . . . and
Translate as Greek, "And He Himself (the great
HE) is (implying divine essential being)
before all things," in time, as well as in dignity. Since He is
before all things, He is before even time, that is, from
eternity. Compare "the first-born of every creature"
by him--Greek, "IN Him"
(as the conditional element of existence,
consist--"subsist." Not only are called into being from nothing, but
are maintained in their present state. The Son of God is the
Conserver, as well as the Creator of all things
less probably explains, "All things in Him come together into one
system: the universe found its completion in Him"
18. Revelation of Christ to the Church and the new creation, as the
Originator of both.
he--emphatical. Not angels in opposition to the false teachers'
doctrine concerning angel-worship, and the power of Oeons or (imaginary)
spirit emanations from God
The same One who is the Head of all things and beings by creation, is
also, by virtue of being "the first-born from the dead," and so "the
first-fruits" of the new creation among men, the Head of the Church.
who is--that is, in that He is the Beginning
[ALFORD]. Rather, this
is the beginning of a new paragraph. As the former paragraph, which
related to His originating the physical creation, began with "Who is"
so this, which treats of His originating the new creation, begins with
"who is"; a parenthesis preceding, which closes the former paragraph,
that parenthesis (see on
including from "all things were created by Him," to "Head of the body,
the Church." The head of kings and high priests was anointed, as
the seat of the faculties, the fountain of dignity, and original
of all the members (according to Hebrew etymology). So Jesus by
His unction was designated as the Head of the body, the Church.
the beginning--namely, of the new creation, as of the old
the beginning of the Church of the first-born
as being Himself the "first-born from the dead"
1Co 15:20, 23).
Christ's primogeniture is threefold: (1) From eternity the
"first-begotten" of the Father
(2) As the first-born of His mother
(3) As the Head of the Church, mystically begotten of the Father, as it
were to a new life, on the day of His resurrection, which is His
"regeneration," even as His people's coming resurrection will be their
"regeneration" (that is, the resurrection which was begun in the soul,
extended to the body and to the whole creation,
he might have the pre-eminence--Greek, "He
HIMSELF may (thus) become the One holding
the first place," or, "take the precedency." Both ideas are included,
priority in time and priority in dignity: now in the
regenerated world, as before in the world of creation
"Begotten before every creature, or "first-born of every creature"
19.Greek, "(God) was well pleased," &c.
in him--that is, in the Son
all fulness--rather as Greek, "all the fulness," namely,
of God, whatever divine excellence is in God the Father
Joh 1:16; 3:34).
The Gnostics used the term "fulness," for the assemblage of emanations,
or angelic powers, coming from God. The Spirit presciently by Paul
warns the Church, that the true "fulness" dwells in Christ alone. This
assigns the reason why Christ takes precedence of every creature
For two reasons Christ is Lord of the Church: (1) Because the fulness
of the divine attributes
dwells in Him, and so He has the power to govern the universe;
what He has done for the Church gives Him the right to preside
should . . . dwell--as in a temple
This indwelling of the Godhead in Christ is the foundation of
the reconciliation by Him [BENGEL]. Hence
connects as cause and effect the two things, the Godhead in Christ,
and the reconciliation by Christ.
20. The Greek order is, "And through Him (Christ) to
reconcile again completely (see on
all things (Greek, 'the whole universe of things') unto Himself
(unto God the Father,
having made peace (God the Father having made peace) through the blood
of His (Christ's) cross," that is, shed by Christ on the cross:
the price and pledge of our reconciliation with God. The Scripture
phrase, "God reconciles man to Himself," implies that He takes away by
the blood of Jesus the barrier which God's justice interposes against
man's being in union with God (compare Note, see on
Mt 5:23, 24.
by him--"through Him" (the instrumental agent in the new creation, as
in the original creation): emphatically repeated, to bring the person of
Christ, as the Head of both creations alike, into prominence.
things in earth . . . in heaven--Good angels, in one
sense, do not need reconciliation to God; fallen angels are excluded
But probably redemption has effects on the world of spirits unknown to
us. Of course, His reconciling us, and His reconciling
them, must be by a different process, as He took not on Him the
nature of angels, so as to offer a propitiation for them. But
the effect of redemption on them, as He is their Head as well as
ours, is that they are thereby brought nearer God, and so
gain an increase of blessedness [ALFORD], and
larger views of the love and wisdom of God
All creation subsists in Christ, all creation is therefore affected by
His propitiation: sinful creation is strictly "reconciled" from its
enmity; sinless creation, comparatively distant from His unapproachable
Job 4:18; 15:15; 25:5),
is lifted into nearer participation of Him, and in this wider sense is
reconciled. Doubtless, too, man's fall, following on Satan's fall, is a
segment of a larger circle of evil, so that the remedy of the former
affects the standing of angels, from among whom Satan and his host
fell. Angels thereby having seen the magnitude of sin, and the infinite
cost of redemption, and the exclusion of the fallen angels from it, and
the inability of any creature to stand morally in his own strength, are
now put beyond the reach of falling. Thus
BACON'S definition of Christ's Headship holds
good: "The Head of redemption to man; the Head of
preservation to angels." Some conjecture that Satan, when
unfallen, ruled this earth and the pre-Adamic animal kingdom: hence his
malice against man who succeeded to the lordship of this earth and its
animals, and hence, too, his assumption of the form of a serpent, the
subtlest of the animal tribes.
states expressly "peace in heaven" as the result of finished
redemption, as "peace on earth" was the result of its beginning at
BENGEL explains the reconciliation to be that of
not only God, but also angels, estranged from men because of
man's enmity against God.
accords with this: This is true, but only part of the truth: so ALFORD'S view also is but part of the truth. An actual
reconciliation or restoration of peace in heaven, as well
as on earth, is expressed by Paul. As long as that blood of
reconciliation was not actually shed, which is opposed
(Zec 3:8, 9)
to the accusations of Satan, but was only in promise, Satan could plead
his right against men before God day and night
hence he was in heaven till the ban on man was broken (compare
So here; the world of earth and heaven owe to Christ alone the
restoration of harmony after the conflict and the subjugation of all
things under one Head (compare
Sin introduced discord not only on earth, but also in heaven, by the
fall of demons; it brought into the abodes of holy angels, though not
positive, yet privative loss, a retardation of their highest and most
perfect development, harmonious gradation, and perfect consummation.
Angels were no more able than men by themselves to overcome the peace
disturbers, and cast out the devils; it is only "by," or "through
HIM," and "the blood of HIS
cross," that peace was restored even in heaven; it is only after
Christ has obtained the victory fully and legally, that Michael
and his angels can cast out of heaven Satan and his demons (compare
Thus the point of Paul's argument against angel-worship is, that angels
themselves, like men, wholly depend on Christ, the sole and true object
of worship [AUBERLEN].
21. The Colossians are included in this general reconciliation
Eph 2:1, 12).
alienated--from God and salvation: objectively banished
from God, through the barrier which God's justice interposed
against your sin: subjectively estranged through the alienation
of your own wills from God. The former is the prominent thought
Eph 2:3; 4:18).
by wicked works--rather as Greek, "in your wicked works"
(wicked works were the element in which your enmity subsisted).
yet now--Notwithstanding the former alienation,
now that Christ has come, God hath completely
reconciled, or restored to His friendship again (so the
Greek, compare Note, see on
22. In the body of his flesh--the element in which His reconciling
sufferings had place. Compare
"afflictions of Christ in my flesh"
Angels who have not a "body of flesh" are not in any way our
reconciling mediators, as your false teachers assert, but He, the Lord
of angels, who has taken our flesh, that in it He might
atone for our fallen manhood.
through death--rather as Greek, "through His death" (which
could only take place in a body like ours, of flesh,
to present you--
The end of His reconciling atonement by death.
holy--positively; and in relation to God.
unblamable . . . unreprovable--negatively. "Without
blemish" (as the former Greek word is translated as to Jesus,
in one's self. Irreproachable (the Greek for the
second word, one who gives no occasion for his being brought
to a law court) is in relation to the world without.
Sanctification, as the fruit, is here treated of;
justification, by Christ's reconciliation, as the tree, having
Eph 1:4; 5:26, 27;
At the same time, our sanctification is regarded here as perfect
in Christ, into whom we are grafted at regeneration or conversion, and
who is "made of God unto us (perfect) sanctification"
not merely progressive sanctification, which is the gradual
development of the sanctification which Christ is made to the
believer from the first.
in his sight--in God's sight, at Christ's appearing.
23. If--"Assuming that," &c.: not otherwise shall ye be so presented
at His appearing
grounded--Greek, "founded," "fixed on the
foundation" (compare Note, see on
Lu 6:48, 49).
settled--"steadfast." "Grounded" respects the foundation on
which believers rest; "settled," their own steadfastness
has the same Greek. not moved away--by the false teachers.
the hope of the gospel--
which ye have heard . . . which was preached to every
creature . . . whereof I . . . am . . .
a minister--Three arguments against their being "moved away from
the Gospel": (1) Their having heard it; (2) The universality of the
preaching of it; (3) Paul's ministry in it. For "to (Greek,
'in') every creature," the oldest manuscripts read, "in all
creation." Compare "in all the world,"
"all things . . . in earth,"
thus he implies that the Gospel from which he urges them not to be
moved, has this mark of truth, namely, the universality of its
announcement, which accords with the command and prophecy of Christ
By "was preached," he means not merely "is being
preached," but has been actually, as an accomplished fact,
preached. PLINY, not many years subsequently,
in his famous letter to the Emperor Trajan [Epistles, Book X.,
Epistle 97], writes, "Many of every age, rank, and sex, are being
brought to trial. For the contagion of that superstition [Christianity]
has spread over not only cities, but villages and the country."
whereof I Paul am--rather as Greek, "was made a
minister." Respect for me, the minister of this world-wide Gospel,
should lead you not to be moved from it. Moreover (he implies), the
Gospel which ye heard from Epaphras, your "minister"
is the same of which "I was made a minister"
if you be moved from it, ye will desert the teaching of the recognized
ministers of the Gospel for unauthorized false teachers.
24. Who--The oldest manuscripts omit "who"; then translate, "Now I
rejoice." Some very old manuscripts, and the best of the
Latin versions, and Vulgate, read as English Version. To
enhance the glory of Christ as paramount to all, he mentions his own
sufferings for the Church of Christ. "Now" stands in contrast to "I
was made," in the past time
fill up that which is behind--literally, "the deficiencies"--all
that are lacking of the afflictions of Christ (compare Note,
Christ is "afflicted in all His people's afflictions"
"The Church is His body in which He is, dwells, lives, and therefore
also suffers" [VITRINGA]. Christ was destined to
endure certain afflictions in this figurative body, as well as in His
literal; these were "that which is behind of the afflictions of
Christ," which Paul "filled up." His own meritorious sufferings
in expiation for sin were once for all completely filled up on the
Cross. But His Church (His second Self) has her whole measure of
afflictions fixed. The more Paul, a member, endured, the less remain
for the rest of the Church to endure; the communion of saints thus
giving them an interest in his sufferings. It is in reference to the
Church's afflictions, which are "Christ's afflictions, that Paul here
saith, "I fill up the deficiencies," or "what remain behind of the
afflictions of Christ." She is afflicted to promote her growth in
holiness, and her completeness in Christ. Not one suffering is lost
All her members have thus a mutual interest in one another's sufferings
But Rome's inference hence, is utterly false that the Church has a
stock treasury of the merits and satisfactions of Christ and His
apostles, out of which she may dispense indulgences; the context has no
reference to sufferings in expiation of sin and productive of
merit. Believers should regard their sufferings less in relation
to themselves as individuals, and more as parts of a grand whole,
carrying out God's perfect plan.
to fulfil--to bring it fully to all: the end of his stewardship:
"The fulness of Christ
and of the times
required him so to do" [BENGEL].
26. the mystery--(See on
Eph 1:9, 10;
The mystery, once hidden, now revealed, is redemption for the
whole Gentile world, as well as for the Jews, "Christ in you
(Gentiles) the hope of glory"
from ages--"from," according to ALFORD,
refers to time, not "hidden
from": from the time of the ages; still what is meant is that the
mystery was hidden from the beings living in those "ages." The
"ages" are the vast successive periods marked by successive orders of
beings and stages of creation. Greek, "Æons," a word used by the
Gnostics for angelic beings emanating from God. The Spirit by Paul
presciently, in opposition to Gnostic error already beginning
teaches, that the mystery of redemption was hidden in God's purposes in
Christ, alike from the angelic beings (compare
of the pre-Adamic "ages," and from the subsequent human
"generations." Translate as Greek, "the ages
. . . the generations."
made manifest to his saints--to His apostles and prophets primarily
27. would--rather as Greek, "willed," or "was pleased to
make known." He resolves all into God's good pleasure and will, that man should not glory save in God's grace.
what--How full and inexhaustible!
the riches of the glory of this mystery--He accumulates phrase on
phrase to enhance the greatness of the blessing in Christ bestowed by
God on the Gentiles. Compare
"all the treasures" of wisdom;Eph 3:8,
"the unsearchable riches of Christ";
"riches of His grace." "The glory of this mystery"
must be the glory which this once hidden, and now revealed, truth makes
you Gentiles partakers of, partly now, but mainly when Christ shall
Ro 5:2; 8:17, 18;
This sense is proved by the following: "Christ in you the hope of
the (so Greek) glory." The lower was the
degradation of you Gentiles, the higher is the richness of the glory to
which the mystery revealed now raises you. You were "without
Christ, and having no hope"
Now you have "Christ in you the hope of the glory"
just mentioned. ALFORD translates, "Christ among
you," to answer to "this mystery among the Gentiles." But the
whole clause, "Christ IN you
the hope of glory," answers to "this mystery," and not to the whole
sentence, "this mystery among the Gentiles." What is made
known "among you Gentiles" is, "Christ in you (now by faith
as your hidden life,
the hope of glory" (your manifested life). The contrast (antithesis)
between "CHRIST IN YOU" now as your hidden
life, and "the hope of glory" hereafter to be manifested,
requires this translation.
28. preach--rather as Greek, "announce" or "proclaim."
warning . . . teaching--"Warning" is connected with repentance, refers to one's conduct, and is addressed primarily to the heart.
"Teaching" is connected with faith, refers to doctrines, and is
addressed primarily to the intellect. These are the two heads of
every . . . every man--without distinction of Jew or Gentile, great
Ro 10:12, 13).
in all wisdom--with all the wisdom in our method of teaching
that we possess: so ALFORD. But
ESTIUS' view, which refers it to the wisdom
communicated to those being taught: keeping back nothing, but
instructing all in the perfect knowledge of the mysteries of faith
which is the true wisdom (compare
1Co 2:6, 7; 12:8;
at Christ's coming.
every man--Paul is zealous lest the false teachers should seduce
one single soul of Christ's people at Colosse. So each individual
among them should be zealous for himself and his neighbor. Even one
soul is of incalculable value.
perfect in Christ--who is the element in living union
with whom alone each believer can find perfection: perfectly
in doctrine, and full grown or matured in faith and
practice. "Jesus" is omitted in all the oldest manuscripts.
29. Whereunto--namely, "to present every man perfect in Christ."
I also labour--rather, "I labor also." I not only "proclaim"
(English Version, "preach") Christ, but I labor also.
of spirit (compare
The same Greek word is used of Epaphras
"laboring fervently for you in prayers": literally, "agonizing,"
"striving as in the agony of a contest." So Jesus in Gethsemane when
so "strive" (the same Greek word, "agonize"),
So Jacob "wrestled" in prayer
Compare "contention," Greek, "agony," or "striving earnestness,"
according to his working--Paul avows that he has power to "strive" in
spirit for his converts, so far only as Christ works in him and by
Translate as Greek, "I wish you to know how great a
conflict (the same Greek word as in
"agony of a conflict" of fervent, anxious prayer; not conflict
with the false teachers, which would have been impossible for him now
in prison) I have for you."
them at Laodicea--exposed to the same danger from false teachers as
the Colossians (compare
This danger was probably the cause of his writing to Laodicea, as well
as to Colosse.
not seen my face in the flesh--including those in Hierapolis
Paul considered himself a "debtor" to all the Gentiles
"His face" and presence would have been a "comfort"
Col 1:4, 7, 8,
in proof that he had not seen, but only heard of the
Colossians. Hence he strives by earnest conflict with God in
anxious prayer for them, to make up for the loss of his bodily presence
among them. Though "absent in the flesh, I am with you in the
2. Translate, "That their hearts may be comforted." The "their,"
compared with "you"
proves that in
the words, "have not seen my face in the flesh," is a general
designation of those for whom Paul declares he has "conflict,"
including the particular species, "you (Colossians) and them at
Laodicea." For it is plain, the prayer "that their hearts may be
comforted," must include in it the Colossians for whom he expressly
says, "I have conflict." Thus it is an abbreviated mode of expression
for, "That your and their hearts may be comforted." ALFORD translates, "confirmed," or allows "comforted" in
its original radical sense strengthened. But the Greek
supports English Version: the sense, too, is clear:
comforted with the consolation of those whom Paul had not seen,
and for whom, in consequence, he strove in prayerful conflict the more
fervently; inasmuch as we are more anxious in behalf of absent, than
present, friends [DAVENANT]. Their hearts would be
comforted by "knowing what conflict he had for" them, and how much he
is interested for their welfare; and also by being released from doubts
on learning from the apostle, that the doctrine which they had heard
from Epaphras was true and certain. In writing to churches which he had
instructed face to face, he enters into particular details concerning
them, as a father directing his children. But to those among whom he
had not been in person, he treats of the more general truths of
being--Translate as Greek in oldest manuscripts, "They being
in love--the bond and element of perfect knitting together; the
antidote to the dividing schismatical effect of false doctrine. Love to
God and to one another in Christ.
unto--the object and end of their being "knit together."
all riches--Greek, "all the riches of the full
Heb 6:11; 10:22)
of the (Christian) understanding." The accumulation of phrases,
not only "understanding," but "the full assurance of understanding";
not only this, but "the riches of," &c., not only this, but
"all the riches of," &c., implies how he desires to impress them
with the momentous importance of the subject in hand.
acknowledgment--The Greek implies, "full and accurate
knowledge." It is a distinct Greek word from "knowledge,"
ALFORD translates, "thorough . . .
knowledge." Acknowledgment hardly is strong enough; they did in
a measure acknowledge the truth; what they wanted was the
full and accurate knowledge of it (compare Notes, see on
Col 1:9, 10;
of God, and of the Father and of Christ--The oldest manuscripts omit
"and of the Father, and of"; then translate, "Of God (namely), Christ."
Two very old manuscripts and Vulgate read, "Of God the Father of
3. Translate in the Greek order, "In whom (not as ALFORD, 'in which') mystery; Christ is Himself the
as "treasures" answer to the "riches"; it is from the treasures
that the riches
are derived. "Are" is the predicate of the sentence; all the treasures
ARE in Him; hidden is predicated of the
state or manner in which they are in Him. Like a mine of unknown and
inexhaustible wealth, the treasures of wisdom are all in Him
hidden, but not in order to remain so; they only need to be
explored for you to attain "unto the riches" in them
but until you, Colossians, press after attaining the full
knowledge (see on
of them, they remain "hidden." Compare the parable,
"treasure hid." This sense suits the scope of the apostle, and sets
aside ALFORD'S objection that "the treasures are
not hidden, but revealed." "Hidden" plainly answers to "mystery"
which is designed by God, if we be faithful to our privileges, not to
remain hidden, but to be revealed (compare
1Co 2:7, 8).
Still as the mine is unfathomable, there will, through eternity, be
always fresh treasures in Him to be drawn forth from their hidden
wisdom--general, and as to experimental and
practical truth; whence comes "understanding"
knowledge--special and intellectual, in regard to
doctrinal truth; whence comes "the full knowledge"
4. And--"Now." Compare with "lest any man," &c.
Col 2:8, 16, 18.
He refers to the blending of Judaism with Oriental philosophy, and the
combination of this mixture with Christianity.
enticing words--plausible as wearing the guise of wisdom and
5. For--argument against their suffering themselves to be beguiled, drawn from a regard to his personal authority as though he were present.
joying and beholding--beholding with joy.
order--your good order; answering to "knit together"
as a well-organized body; the same Greek as that for knit
together, is used of the body" of the Church compacted," in
1Co 14:33, 40.
steadfastness--Greek, "the firm (or 'solid')
foundation." As "order" expresses the outward aspect of the Church; so
"steadfastness" expresses the inner basis on which their Church rested.
The Greek literally implies not an abstract quality, but the thing in the concrete; thus their "faith" here is the solid thing which
constituted the basis of their Church.
6. "As therefore ye received (once for all; the aorist tense; from
Epaphras) Jesus the Christ as your Lord
Joh 14:21, 23;
Ye have received once for all the Spirit of life in Christ;
carry into practice that life in your walk
This is the main scope of the Epistle.
built up--Greek, "being builded up." As "rooted"
implies their vitality; so "builded up," massive
solidity. As in the Song of Solomon, when one image is not
sufficient to express the varied aspects of divine truth, another is
employed to supply the idea required. Thus "walking," a third image
expresses the thought which "rooted" and "built," though each
suggesting a thought peculiar to itself, could not express, namely,
onward motion. "Rooted" is in the past tense, implying
their first conversion and vital grafting "in Him." "Built up"
is present (in the Greek), implying their progressive
increase in religion by union with Him.
refers to the Church; but the passage here to their
individual progress in edification
abounding therein with thanksgiving--advancing to fuller maturity
leading you away as his spoil (not merely gaining spoil out of
you, but making yourselves his spoil) through (by means of) his
philosophy," &c. The apostle does not condemn all philosophy,
but "the philosophy" (so Greek) of the Judaic-oriental
heretics at Colosse, which afterwards was developed into Gnosticism.
You, who may have "the riches of full assurance" and "the
treasures of wisdom," should not suffer yourselves to be led
away as a spoil by empty, deceitful philosophy: "riches"
are contrasted with spoil; "full" with "vain," or empty
When men could not make revelation even seem to tell about deep
mysteries which they were curious to pry into, they brought in human
philosophy and pretended traditions to help it, as if one should bring
a lamp to the sundial to find the hour [Cauations for Times, p.
85]. The false teachers boasted of a higher wisdom in theory,
transmitted by tradition among the initiated; in practice they enjoined
asceticism, as though matter and the body were the sources of evil.
Phrygia (in which was Colosse) had a propensity for the mystical and
magical, which appeared in their worship of Cybele and subsequent
rudiments of the world--(See on
"The rudiments" or elementary lessons "of the (outward) world," such as
legal ordinances; our Judaic childhood's lessons
(Col 2:11, 16, 20;
But NEANDER, "the elements of the world,"
in the sense, what is earthly, carnal and outward, not "the
rudiments of religion," in Judaism and heathenism.
not after Christ--"Their" boasted higher "philosophy" is but human
tradition, and a cleaving to the carnal and worldly, and not to Christ.
Though acknowledging Christ nominally, in spirit they by their doctrine
is not "after Christ," as all true philosophy is, everything which
comes not from, and tends not to, Him, being a delusion; "For in Him
(alone) dwelleth" as in a temple, &c.
of the Godhead--The Greek (theotes) means the
of the Godhead, not merely the divine perfections and
attributes of Divinity (Greek, "theiotes"). He, as man, was not
merely God-like, but in the fullest sense, God.
bodily--not merely as before His incarnation, but now "bodily in Him"
as the incarnate word
Believers receive of the divine unction which flows down from their
Divine Head and High Priest
He is full of the "fulness" itself; we, filled from Him.
Paul implies, Therefore ye Colossians need no supplementary sources of
grace, such as the false teachers dream of. Christ is "the Head of all
rule and authority" (so the Greek),
He, therefore, alone, not these subject "authorities" also, is to be
11. Implying that they did not need, as the Judaizers taught, the
outward rite of circumcision, since they had already the inward
spiritual reality of it.
are--rather, as the Greek, "Ye were (once for all) circumcised
(spiritually, at your conversion and baptism,
Ro 2:28, 29;
with a (so the Greek) circumcision made without hands"; opposed
to "the circumcision in the flesh made by hands"
Christ's own body, by which the believer is sanctified, is said to be
"not made with hands"
in putting off--rather as Greek, "in your putting off"; as an
alluding to the putting off the foreskin in circumcision.
the body of the sins of the flesh--The oldest manuscripts read,
"the body of the flesh," omitting "of the sins," that is, "the body,"
of which the prominent feature is fleshiness (compare
where "flesh" and "the body" mutually correspond). This fleshly body,
in its sinful aspect, is put off in baptism (where baptism answers its
ideal) as the seal of regeneration where received in repentance and
faith. In circumcision the foreskin only was put off; in
Christian regeneration "the body of the flesh" is spiritually
put off, at least it is so in its ideal conception, however imperfectly
believers realize that ideal.
by--Greek, "in." This spiritual circumcision is
realized in, or by, union with Christ, whose "circumcision," whereby He
became responsible for us to keep the whole law, is imputed to
believers for justification; and union with whom, in all His vicarious
obedience, including HIS CIRCUMCISION, is the
source of our sanctification. ALFORD makes it
explanatory of the previous, "a circumcision made without hands,"
namely, "the circumcision brought about by your union with Christ." The
former view seems to me better to accord with
Col 2:12; 3:1, 3, 4,
which similarly makes the believer, by spiritual union with Christ, to
have personal fellowship in the several states of Christ, namely, His
death, resurrection, and appearing in glory. Nothing was done or
suffered by our Mediator as such, but may be acted in our souls and
represented in our spirits.
view, however, is that of
the type (not Moses in the wilderness), circumcised the Israelites in
the second time: the people that came out of Egypt having been
circumcised, and afterwards having died in the wilderness; but those
born after the Exodus not having been so. Jesus, the Antitype, is the
author of the true circumcision, which is therefore called "the
circumcision of Christ"
As Joshua was "Moses' minister," so Jesus, "minister of the
circumcision for the truth of God" unto the Gentiles
12. Translate, "Having been buried with Him in
your baptism." The past participle is here coincident in time
with the preceding verb, "ye were (Greek) circumcised." Baptism
is regarded as the burial of the old carnal life, to which the act of
immersion symbolically corresponds; and in warm climates where
immersion is safe, it is the mode most accordant with the
significance of the ordinance; but the spirit of the ordinance is kept
by affusion, where immersion would be inconvenient or dangerous; to
insist on literal immersion in all cases would be mere legal
Ro 6:3, 4).
are risen--rather as Greek, "were raised with Him."
through the faith, &c.--by means of your faith in the
operation of God; so "faith of," for "faith in"
Faith in God's mighty operation in raising again Jesus, is saving faith
(Ro 4:24; 10:9);
and it is wrought in the soul by His same "mighty working" whereby He
"raised Jesus from the dead"
(Eph 1:19, 20).
BENGEL seems to me
(not as ALFORD understands
him) to express the latter sense, namely, "Through the faith which is
a work of the operation of God who," &c.
Eph 1:19, 20
accords with this; the same mighty power of God is exercised in raising
one spiritually dead to the life of faith, as was "wrought in Christ
when God raised Him literally from the dead." However, "faith of"
usually is "faith in"
but there is no grammatical impropriety in understanding it "the faith
which is the effect of the operation of God"
As His literal resurrection is the ground of the power put forth in our
spiritual resurrection now, so it is a pledge of our literal
13. you, being dead--formerly
(Eph 2:1, 2);
even as Christ was among the dead, before that God raised Him "from the
sins--rather as Greek is translated at end of this verse,
"trespasses," literally, "failings aside" from God's ways; actual
transgressions, as that of Adam.
uncircumcision of your flesh--your not having put off the old fleshly
nature, the carnal foreskin, or original sin, which now by spiritual
circumcision, that is, conversion and baptism, you have put off.
he quickened--GOD "quickened together with Him
(CHRIST)." Just as
Christ's resurrection proved that He was delivered from the sin laid on
Him, so our spiritual quickening proves that we have been forgiven our
14. Blotting out--Greek, "Having wiped out"; coincident in time
with "having forgiven you"
hereby having cancelled the law's indictment against you. The
law (including especially the moral law, wherein lay the chief
difficulty in obeying) is abrogated to the believer, as far as it was a
compulsory, accusing code, and as far as "righteousness"
(justification) and "life" were sought for by it. It can only produce
outward works, not inward obedience of the will, which in the believer
flows from the Holy Spirit in Him
(Ro 3:21; 7:2, 4;
the handwriting of ordinances--rather, "IN
ordinances" (see on
"the law of commandments contained in ordinances." "The handwriting"
(alluding to the Decalogue, the representative of the law, written
by the hand of God) is the whole law, the obligatory bond,
under which all lay; the Jews primarily were under the bond, but they
in this respect were the representative people of the world
"Not only was the law against us by its demands, but also an
adversary to us by its accusations" [BENGEL].
TITTMANN explains the Greek, "having a
latent contrariety to us"; not open designed hostility,
but virtual unintentional opposition through our frailty; not through
any opposition in the law itself to our good
Ro 7:7-12, 14;
The "WRITING" is part of "that which was contrary
to us"; for "the letter killeth" (see on
and took it--Greek, and hath taken it out of the way" (so
as to be no longer a hindrance to us), by "nailing it to the
cross." Christ, by bearing the curse of the broken law, has redeemed us
from its curse
In His person nailed to the cross, the law itself was nailed to it. One
ancient mode of cancelling bonds was by striking a nail through the
writing: this seems at that time to have existed in Asia [GROTIUS]. The bond cancelled in the present case was the
obligation lying against the Jews as representatives of the world, and
attested by their amen, to keep the whole law under penalty of
"Stripping off from Himself the principalities and the powers: " GOD put off from Himself the angels, that is,
their ministry, not employing them to be promulgators of the Gospel in
the way that He had given the law by their "disposition" or ministry
Heb 2:2, 5):
God manifested Himself without a veil in Jesus.
"THE principalities and
THE powers" refers back to
Jesus, "the Head of all principality and power," and
In the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God subjected all the
principalities, &c., to Jesus, declaring them to be powerless as to His
work and His people
Thus Paul's argument against those grafting on Christianity Jewish
observances, along with angel-worship, is, whatever part angels may be
supposed to have had under the law, now at an end, God having put the
legal dispensation itself away. But the objection is, that the context
seems to refer to a triumph over bad angels: in
Joh 7:4; 11:54,
support English Version against
ALFORD'S translation, "in openness of speech."
in it--namely, His cross, or crucifixion: so the Greek fathers
translate. Many of the Latins, "In Himself" or "in Him."
favors English Version, "reconcile . . . by the
cross, having slain the enmity thereby." If "in Him," that is,
Christ, be read, still the Cross will be the place and means of God's
triumph in Christ over the principalities
Eph 1:20; 2:5).
Demons, like other angels, were in heaven up to Christ's ascension, and
influenced earth from their heavenly abodes. As heaven was not yet
opened to man before Christ
so it was not yet shut against demons
(Job 1:6; 2:1).
But at the ascension Satan and his demons were "judged" and "cast out"
by Christ's obedience unto death
(Joh 12:31; 16:11;
and the Son of man was raised to the throne of God; thus His
resurrection and ascension are a public solemn triumph over the
principalities and powers of death. It is striking that the heathen
oracles were silenced soon after Christ's ascension.
16. therefore--because ye are complete in Christ, and God in Him has
dispensed with all subordinate means as essential to acceptance with
meat . . . drink--Greek, "eating
. . . drinking"
the sabbath--Omit "THE," which is not in
the Greek (compare Note, see on
"SABBATHS" (not "the sabbaths") of the day of
atonement and feast of tabernacles have come to an end with the Jewish
services to which they belonged
expressly distinguished "the sabbath of the Lord" from the other
sabbaths. A positive precept is right because it is
commanded, and ceases to be obligatory when abrogated; a moral
precept is commanded eternally, because it is eternally
right. If we could keep a perpetual sabbath, as we shall
hereafter, the positive precept of the sabbath, one in each week, would
not be needed.
"rests," Greek, "keeping of sabbath"
But we cannot, since even Adam, in innocence, needed one amidst his
earthly employments; therefore the sabbath is still needed and is
therefore still linked with the other nine commandments, as obligatory
in the spirit, though the letter of the law has been superseded by that
higher spirit of love which is the essence of law and Gospel alike
18. beguile--Translate, "Defraud you of your prize," literally, "to
adjudge a prize out of hostility away from him who deserves it"
[TRENCH]. "To be umpire in a contest to the detriment of one." This
defrauding of their prize the Colossians would suffer, by letting
any self-constituted arbitrator or judge (that is, false
teacher) draw them away from Christ," the righteous Judge" and Awarder
of the prize
in a voluntary humility--So "will-worship"
Literally, "Delighting ([WAHL]) in humility";
loving (so the Greek is translated,
"love to go in long clothing") to indulge himself in a
humility of his own imposing: a volunteer in humility
[DALLÆUS]. Not as ALFORD, "Let no one of purpose defraud you," &c.
Not as GROTIUS, "If he ever so much wish" (to
defraud you). For the participle "wishing" or "delighting," is one of
the series, and stands in the same category as "intruding," "puffed
up," "not holding"; and the self-pleasing implied in it stands
in happy contrast to the (mock) humility with which it seems to
me, therefore, to be connected. His "humility," so called, is a
pleasing of self: thus it stands in parallelism to "his fleshly
mind" (its real name, though he styles it "humility"), as
"wishing" or "delighting" does to "puffed up." The Greek for
"humility" is literally, "lowliness of mind," which forms a
clearer parallel to "puffed up by his fleshly mind." Under
pretext of humility, as if they durst not come directly to God and
Christ (like the modern Church of Rome), they invoked angels: as
Judaizers, they justified this on the ground that the law was given by
angels. This error continued long in Phrygia (where Colosse and
Laodicea were), so that the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 360) expressly framed its thirty-fifth canon
against the "Angelici" (as AUGUSTINE
[Heresies, 39], calls them) or "invokers of angels." Even as
late as THEODORET'S time, there were oratories to
Michael the archangel. The modern Greeks have a legend that Michael
opened a chasm to draw off an inundation threatening the Colossian
Christians. Once men admit the inferior powers to share invocation with
the Supreme, the former gradually engrosses all our serious worship,
almost to the exclusion of the latter; thus the heathen, beginning with
adding the worship of other deities to that of the Supreme, ended with
ceasing to worship Him at all. Nor does it signify much, whether we
regard such as directly controlling us (the pagan view), or as only
influencing the Supreme in our behalf (the Church of Rome's
view); because he from whom I expect happiness or misery, becomes the
uppermost object in my mind, whether he give, or only
procure it [Cautions for Times]. Scripture opposes the
idea of "patrons" or "intercessors"
1Ti 2:5, 6).
True Christian humility joins consciousness of utter personal demerit,
with a sense of participation in the divine life through Christ, and in
the dignity of our adoption by God. Without the latter being realized,
a false self-humiliation results, which displays itself in ceremonies
and ascetic self-abasement
which after all is but spiritual pride under the mock guise of
humility. Contrast "glorying in the Lord"
intruding into . . . things which he hath not seen--So very old
manuscripts and Vulgate and
ORIGEN read. But the oldest manuscripts
and LUCIFER omit "not"; then translate, "haughtily treading on
[ALFORD]) the things which he hath seen."
refers this to fancied visions of angels. But if Paul had meant a
fancied seeing, he would have used some qualifying word, as, "which
he seemed to see," not "which he hath seen." Plainly the things
were actually seen by him, whether of demoniacal origination
or phenomena resulting from natural causation, mistaken by him as if
supernatural. Paul, not stopping to discuss the nature of the things so
seen, fixes on the radical error, the tendency of such a one in all
this to walk by SENSE (namely, what he
haughtily prides himself on having SEEN),
rather than by FAITH in the UNSEEN "Head"
Thus is the parallelism, "vainly puffed up" answers to "haughtily
treading on," or "setting his foot on"; "his fleshly mind" answers to
the things which he hath seen," since his fleshliness betrays itself in
priding himself on what he hath seen, rather than on the
unseen objects of faith. That the things seen may have
been of demoniacal origination, appears from
"Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits and doctrines of devils" (Greek, "demons"). A warning to
puffed up--implying that the previous so called "humility" (Greek, "lowliness of mind") was really a "puffing up."
fleshly mind--Greek, "By the mind of his own flesh." The flesh,
or sensuous principle, is the fountain head whence his mind draws its
craving after religious objects of sight, instead of, in true
humility as a member, "holding fast the (unseen) Head."
19. Translate, "Not holding fast the Head." He who does not hold
Christ solely and supremely above all others, does not hold Him at all
[BENGEL]. The want of firm holding of Christ has set him loose to
(pry into, and so) "tread haughtily on (pride himself on) things which he
hath seen." Each must hold fast the Head for himself, not merely be
attached to the other members, however high in the body [ALFORD].
from which--rather, "from whom."
the body--that is, all the members of the body
joints--the points of union where the supply of nourishment passes
to the different members, furnishing the body with the materials of
bands--the sinews and nerves which bind together limb and limb. Faith,
love, and peace, are the spiritual bands. Compare "knit together in
having nourishment ministered--that is, supplied to it continually.
knit together--The Greek is translated, "compacted,"
implying firm consolidation.
with the increase of God--
that is, wrought by God, the Author and Sustainer of the
believer's spiritual life, in union with Christ, the Head
and tending to the honor of God, being worthy of Him, its Author.
20. Wherefore--The oldest manuscripts omit "Wherefore."
if ye be dead--Greek, "if ye died (so as to be freed) from," &c.
Ro 6:2; 7:2, 3;
rudiments of the world--
Carnal, outward, worldly, legal ordinances.
as though living--as though you were not dead to the world like your
crucified Lord, into whose death ye were buried
1Pe 4:1, 2).
are ye subject to ordinances--By do ye submit to be made subject to
ordinances? Referring to
you are again being made subject to "ordinances," the "handwriting" of
which had been "blotted out"
"meat . . . drink." He gives instances of the "ordinances"
in the words of their imposers. There is an ascending climax of
superstitious prohibitions. The first Greek word (hapse)
is distinguished from the third (thiges), in that the former
means close contact and retention: the latter,
momentary contact (compare
Greek, "Hold me not"; cling not to me"). Translate,
"Handle not, neither taste, nor even touch." The
three refer to meats. "Handle not" (a stronger term than "nor
even touch"), "nor taste" with the tongue, "nor even
touch," however slight the contact.
22. Which--things, namely, the three things handled, touched, and
are to perish--literally, "are constituted (by their very nature)
for perishing (or 'destruction by corruption') in (or 'with')
their using up (consumption)." Therefore they cannot really and
lastingly defile a man
after--according to. Referring to
Col 2:20, 21.
All these "ordinances" are according to human, not divine, injunction.
doctrines--Greek, teachings." ALFORD
translates, "(doctrinal) systems."
23. have--Greek, "are having"; implying the permanent characteristic which these ordinances are supposed to have.
show of wisdom--rather, "a reputation of wisdom"
will-worship--arbitrarily invented worship: would-be
worship, devised by man's own will, not God's. So jealous is
God of human will-worship, that He struck Nadab and Abihu dead for
burning strange incense
So Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for usurping the office of priest
Compare the will-worship of Saul
for which he was doomed to lose his throne. This "voluntary worship" is
the counterpart to their "voluntary humility"
both specious in appearance, the former seeming in religion to do even
more than God requires (as in the dogmas of the Roman and Greek
churches); but really setting aside God's will for man's own; the
latter seemingly self-abasing, but really proud of man's self-willed
"humility" (Greek, "lowliness of mind"), while virtually
rejecting the dignity of direct communion with Christ, the Head; by
worshipping of angels.
neglecting of the body--Greek, "not sparing of the body."
This asceticism seems to have rested on the Oriental theory that matter
is the source of evil. This also looked plausible (compare
not in any honour--of the body. As "neglecting of the body" describes
asceticism positively; so this clause, negatively. Not paying
any of that "honor" which is due to the body as redeemed by such a price
as the blood of Christ. We should not degrade, but have a just
estimation of ourselves, not in ourselves, but in Christ
to the satisfying of the flesh--This expresses the real tendency
of their human ordinances of bodily asceticism, voluntary humility, and
will-worship of angels. While seeming to deny self and the body,
they really are pampering the flesh. Thus "satisfying of the
flesh" answers to "puffed up by his fleshly mind"
so that "flesh" is used in its ethical sense, "the carnal nature" as
opposed to the "spiritual"; not in the sense, "body." The Greek
for "satisfying" implies satiating to repletion, or to
excess. "A surfeit of the carnal sense is human tradition" [HILARY THE DEACON, in BENGEL]. Tradition puffs up; it clogs the heavenly
perceptions. They put away true "honor" that they may "satiate to
the full THE FLESH." Self-imposed ordinances
gratify the flesh (namely, self-righteousness), though seeming to
EARTHLY, ON THE
UNION TO THE
MAN, AND TO
PUT ON THE
1. If . . . then--The connection with
Col 2:18, 23,
is, he had condemned the "fleshly mind" and the "satiating to the full
the flesh"; in contrast to this he now says, "If then ye have been once
for all raised up (Greek, aorist tense) together with Christ"
(namely, at your conversion and baptism,
seek those things . . . above--
sitteth--rather, as Greek, "Where Christ is, sitting on the
right of God"
The Head being quickened, the members are also quickened with Him.
Where the Head is, there the members must be. The contrast is between
the believer's former state, alive to the world but dead to God, and
his present state, dead to the world but alive to God; and between the
earthly abode of the unbeliever and the heavenly abode of the believer
said to Elijah when about to ascend, "As the Lord liveth
. . . I will not leave thee"; so we must follow the ascended
Saviour with the wings of our meditations and the chariots of our
affections. We should trample upon and subdue our lusts that our
conversation may correspond to our Saviour's condition; that where the
eyes of apostles were forced to leave Him, thither our thoughts may
[PEARSON]. Of ourselves we can no more ascend than
a bar of iron lift itself up' from the earth. But the love of Christ
is a powerful magnet to draw us up
It is not said, Ye must die practically to the world in order to become
dead with Christ; but the latter is assumed as once for all
having taken place in the regeneration; what believers are told is,
Develop this spiritual life in practice. "No one longs for eternal,
incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this
temporal, corruptible, and mortal life" [AUGUSTINE].
and your life . . . hid--
like a seed buried in the earth; compare "planted,"
Mt 13:31, 33,
"like . . . leaven . . . hid." As the glory
of Christ now is hid from the world, so also the glory of believers'
inner life, proceeding from communion with Him, is still hidden with
Christ in God; but
when Christ, the Source of this life, shall manifest Himself in glory,
then shall their hidden glory be manifest, and correspond in appearance
to its original [NEANDER]. The Christian's secret
communion with God will now at times make itself seen without his
(Mt 5:14, 16);
but his full manifestation is at Christ's manifestation
"It doth not yet appear (Greek, 'is not yet manifested')
what we shall be"
As yet Christians do not always recognize the "life" of one another, so
hidden is it, and even at times doubt as to their own life, so
weak is it, and so harassed with temptations
in God--to whom Christ has ascended. Our "life" is "laid up for" us
and is secured by the decree of Him who is invisible to the world
4. Translate, "When Christ shall be manifested who is our life
(Joh 11:25; 14:6, 19),
then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory"
The spiritual life our souls have now in Him shall be extended
to our bodies
then--and not till then. Those err who think to find a perfect Church
before then. The true Church is now militant. Rome errs in trying to
set up a Church now regnant and triumphant. The true Church shall be
visible as a perfect and reigning Church, when Christ shall be visibly
manifested as her reigning Head. Rome having ceased to look for Him in
patient faith, has set up a visible mockhead, a false anticipation of
the millennial kingdom. The Papacy took to itself by robbery that glory
which is an object of hope, and can only be reached by bearing the cross
now. When the Church became a harlot, she ceased to be a bride who goes
to meet her Bridegroom. Hence the millennial kingdom ceased to be
looked for [AUBERLEN].
5. Mortify--Greek, "make a corpse of"; "make dead"; "put to death."
Follow out to its necessary consequence the fact of your having once
for all died with Christ spiritually at your regeneration, by daily
"deadening your members," of which united "the body of the sins of the
flesh" consists (compare
"The members" to be mortified are the fleshly instruments of lust, in
so far as the members of the body are abused to such purposes.
Habitually repress and do violence to corrupt desires of which the
members are the instruments (compare
Ro 6:19; 8:13;
Ga 5:24, 25).
upon the earth--where they find their support
"things on earth"). See
Eph 5:3, 4.
inordinate affection--"lustful passion."
evil concupiscence--more general than the last
[ALFORD], the disorder
of the external senses; "lustful passion," lust within
covetousness--marked off by the Greek article as forming a whole
genus by itself, distinct from the genus containing the various species
just enumerated. It implies a self-idolizing, grasping spirit; far worse
than another Greek term translated "the love of money"
which is--that is, inasmuch as it is "idolatry." Compare
Note, see on
on its connection with sins of impurity. Self and mammon
are deified in the heart instead of God
walked . . . when ye lived in them--These sins were
the very element in which ye "lived" (before ye became once for
all dead with Christ to them); no wonder, then, that ye "walked"
in them. Compare on the opposite side, "living in the Spirit,"
having as its legitimate consequence, "walking in the Spirit"
like other unbelievers formerly.
put off--"Do ye also put away all these," namely, those just
enumerated, and those which follow [ALFORD].
anger, wrath--(See on
blasphemy--rather, "reviling," "evil-speaking," as it is translated
filthy communication--The context favors the translation,
"abusive language," rather than impure conversation. "Foul language"
best retains the ambiguity of the original.
put off--Greek, "wholly put off"; utterly renounced
the old man--the unregenerate nature which ye had before conversion.
his deeds--habits of acting.
10. the new man--(See on
Here (neon) the Greek, means "the recently-put-on
nature"; that lately received at regeneration (see on
Eph 4:23, 24).
which is renewed--Greek, "which is being renewed"
(anakainottmenou); namely, its development into a perfectly renewed
nature is continually progressing to completion.
in knowledge--rather as the Greek, "unto perfect
knowledge" (see on
Col 1:9, 10).
Perfect knowledge of God excludes all sin
after the image of him that created him--namely, of God that created
the new man
(Eph 2:10; 4:24).
The new creation is analogous to the first creation
As man was then made in the image of God naturally, so now spiritually.
But the image of God formed in us by the Spirit of God, is as much more
glorious than that borne by Adam, as the Second Man, the Lord from
heaven, is more glorious than the first man.
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." The
"image" is claimed for man,
[On First Principles, 3:6] taught, the image was
something in which all were created, and which continued to man after
contemplates both man's first creation and his being "renewed in
knowledge after the image of Him that created Him."
11. Where--Translate, "Wherein," namely, in the sphere of the renewed
neither . . . nor . . . nor . . . nor--Translate as Greek, "There
is no such thing as Greek and Jew (the difference of privilege
between those born of the natural seed of Abraham and those not, is
abolished), circumcision and uncircumcision
(the difference of legal
standing between the circumcised and uncircumcised is done away,
--bondman, freeman." The present Church is one called out of the
flesh, and the present world-course
wherein such distinctions exist, to life in the Spirit, and to the
future first resurrection: and this because Satan has such power now
over the flesh and the world. At Christ's coming when Satan shall no
longer rule the flesh and the world, the nations in the flesh, and the
word in millennial felicity, shall be the willing subjects of Christ
and His glorified saints
(Da 7:14, 22, 27;
Lu 19:17, 19;
Re 20:1-6; 3:21).
Israel in Canaan was a type of that future state when the Jews, so
miraculously preserved distinct now in their dispersion, shall be the
central Church of the Christianized world. As expressly as Scripture
abolishes the distinction of Jew and Greek now as to religious
privileges, so does it expressly foretell that in the coming new order
of things, Israel shall be first of the Christian nations, not for her
own selfish aggrandizement, but for their good, as the medium of
blessing to them. Finally, after the millennium, the life that is in
Christ becomes the power which transfigures nature, in the time
of the new heaven and the new earth; as, before, it first transfigured
the spiritual, then the political and social world.
Scythian--heretofore regarded as more barbarian than the barbarians.
Though the relation of bond and free actually existed, yet in relation
to Christ, all alike were free in one aspect, and servants of Christ in
1Co 1:30; 3:21-23;
in all--who believe and are renewed, without distinction of person;
the sole distinction now is, how much each draws from Christ. The unity
of the divine life shared in by all believers, counterbalances all
differences, even as great as that between the polished "Greek" and
the rude "Scythian." Christianity imparts to the most uncivilized the
only spring of sound, social and moral culture.
12. the elect of God--There is no "the" in the Greek, "God's elect"
The order of the words "elect, holy, beloved," answers to the order of
the things. Election from eternity precedes
sanctification in time; the sanctified, feeling God's
love, imitate it [BENGEL].
bowels of mercies--Some of the oldest manuscripts read singular,
"mercy." Bowels express the yearning compassion, which has its seat
in the heart, and which we feel to act on our inward parts
13. Forbearing--as to present offenses.
forgiving--as to past offenses.
quarrel--rather as Greek, "cause of blame," "cause of complaint."
Christ--who had so infinitely greater cause of complaint against us.
The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read "the Lord."
English Version is supported by one very old manuscript and old
versions. It seems to have crept in from
14. above--rather "over," as in
Charity, which is the crowning grace, covering the multitude of others'
must overlie all the other graces enumerated.
which is--that is, "for it is"; literally, "which thing is."
bond of perfectness--an upper garment which completes and
keeps together the rest, which, without it, would be loose and
disconnected. Seeming graces, where love is wanting, are mere
hypocrisy. Justification by faith is assumed as already having taken
place in those whom Paul addresses,
"elect of God, holy . . . beloved," and
so that there is no plea here for Rome's view of justification by
works. Love and its works "perfect," that is, manifest the full
maturity of faith developed
(Mt 5:44, 48).
Love . . . be ye perfect, &c.
(Jas 2:21, 22;
"If we love one another, God's love is perfected in us"
As to "bond," compare
"knit together in love"
"keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
15. peace of God--The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "The
peace of CHRIST" (compare
"The peace of GOD." Therefore Christ is God. Peace
was His legacy to His disciples before He left them
"MY peace I give unto you." Peace is peculiarly
His to give. Peace follows love
Eph 4:2, 3).
rule--literally, "sit as umpire"; the same Greek verb
simple, as appears compounded
The false teacher, as a self-constituted umpire, defrauds you of
your prize; but if the peace of Christ be your umpire ruling in your
hearts, your reward is sure. "Let the peace of Christ act as umpire
when anger, envy, and such passions arise; and restrain them." Let not
those passions give the award, so that you should be swayed by them,
but let Christ's peace be the decider of everything.
in your hearts--Many wear a peaceful countenance and speak peace
with the mouth, while war is in their hearts
(Ps 28:3; 55:21).
to the which--that is, with a view to which state of Christian peace
"God hath called us to peace."
ye are called--Greek, "ye were also called." The "also" implies
that besides Paul's exhortation, they have also as a motive to
"peace," their having been once for all called.
in one body--
The unity of the body is a strong argument for "peace" among the
be ye thankful--for your "calling." Not to have "peace ruling in
your hearts" would be inconsistent with the "calling in one body," and
would be practical unthankfulness to God who called us
16. The form which "thankfulness"
ought to take.
Let the word of Christ--the Gospel word by which ye have been
in all wisdom--ALFORD joins this clause
with "teaching," &c., not with "dwell in you," as English
Version, for so we find in
"teaching in all wisdom," and the two clauses will thus correspond, "In
all wisdom teaching," and "in grace singing in your hears" (so the
and . . . and--The oldest manuscripts read "psalms,
hymns, spiritual songs" (see on
At the Agapæ or love-feasts, and in their family circles,
they were to be so full of the Word of Christ in the heart that
the mouth should give it utterance in hymns of instruction, admonition,
and praise (compare
TERTULLIAN [Apology, 39], records that at
the love-feasts, after the water had been furnished for the hands and
the lights had been literally, according as any had the power, whether
by his remembrance of Scripture, or by his powers of composition, he
used to be invited to sing praises to God for the common good. Paul
contrasts (as in
Eph 5:18, 19)
the songs of Christians at their social meetings, with the bacchanalian
and licentious songs of heathen feasts. Singing usually formed part of
the entertainment at Greek banquets (compare
with grace--Greek, "IN
grace," the element in which your singing
is to be: "the grace" of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This clause
expresses the seat and source of true psalmody, whether in private or
public, namely, the heart as well as the voice; singing (compare
"peace . . . rule in your hearts"), the psalm of love
and praise being in the heart before it finds vent by the lips, and
even when it is not actually expressed by the voice, as in
closet-worship. The Greek order forbids English Version,
"with grace in your hearts"; rather, "singing in your hearts."
to the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read, "to God."
17. Literally, "And everything whatsoever ye do . . .
do all," &c.;
this includes words as well as deeds. in the name of the Lord Jesus--as disciples called by His
name as His, seeking His guidance and help, and desiring to act so
as to gain His approval
18. unto your own husbands--The oldest manuscripts omit "own," which
crept in from
as it is fit in the Lord--Greek, "was fit," implying that
there was at Colosse some degree of failure in fulfilling this duty, "as
it was your duty to have done as disciples of the Lord."
unto the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read, "IN the Lord," that is,
this is acceptable to God when it is done in the Lord, namely, from
the principle of faith,and as disciples in union with the Lord.
It is a different Greek verb, therefore translate here,
"irritate not." By perpetual fault-finding "children" are
"discouraged" or "disheartened." A broken-down spirit is fatal to youth
Eph 6:5, 6.)
This is to fear God, when, though none sees us, we do no evil:
but if we do evil, it is not God, but men, whom we fear.
singleness--"simplicity of heart."
fearing God--The oldest manuscripts read, "the Lord."
23. And--omitted in the oldest manuscripts (compare
Eph 6:7, 8).
Compare the same principle in the case of all men, Hezekiah
do, do it--two distinct Greek verbs, "Whatsoever ye
do, work at it" (or "labor at" it).
heartily--not from servile constraint, but with hearty good will.
24. the reward of the inheritance--"Knowing that it is from the Lord
(the ultimate source of reward), ye shall receive the compensation
(or recompense, which will make ample amends for your having no earthly
possession as slaves now) consisting of the inheritance"
(a term excluding the notion of meriting it by works: it is all
for ye serve--The oldest manuscripts omit "for," then translate as
Vulgate, "Serve ye the Lord Christ;" compare
25. But--The oldest manuscripts read, "for," which accords with "serve
the oldest reading: the for here gives a motive for obeying the
precept. He addresses the slaves: Serve ye the Lord Christ, and leave
your wrongs in His hands to put to rights: (translate), "For he that
doeth wrong shall receive back the wrong which he hath done (by
just retribution in kind), and there is no respect of persons" with the
Great Judge in the day of the Lord. He favors the master no more than
RELATION TO THE
AS TO THE
BEARERS OF THE
1. give--Greek "render": literally, "afford."
equal--that is, as the slaves owe their duties to you, so you
equally owe to them your duties as masters. Compare "ye masters
do the same things" (see on
ALFORD translates, "fairness," "equity," which
gives a large and liberal interpretation of justice in common matters
2. Continue--Greek, "Continue perseveringly," "persevere"
"watching thereunto"; here, "watch in the same," or
"in it," that is, in prayer: watching against the indolence as
to prayer, and in prayer, of our corrupt wills.
with thanksgiving--for everything, whether joyful, or sorrowful,
mercies temporal and spiritual, national, family, and individual
3. for us--myself and Timothy
a door of utterance--Translate, "a door for the word." Not as in
where power of "utterance" is his petition. Here it is an opportunity
for preaching the word, which would be best afforded by his
release from prison
4. ALFORD thinks that Paul asks their prayers for his release as if
it were the "only" way by which he could "make it (the Gospel) manifest"
as he ought. But while this is included in their subject of prayer,
5. (See on
Eph 5:15, 16.)
in wisdom--practical Christian prudence.
them . . . without--Those not in the Christian brotherhood
The brethren, through love, will make allowances for an indiscreet act
or word of a brother; the world will make none. Therefore be the more
on your guard in your intercourse with the latter, lest you be a
stumbling-block to their conversion.
redeeming the time--The Greek expresses, buying up for yourselves,
and buying off from worldly vanities the opportunity, whenever
it is afforded you, of good to yourselves and others.
"Forestall the opportunity, that is, to buy up an article out of the
market, so as to make the largest profit from it"
Contrast the case of those "of the world" who "therefore speak of
Even the smallest leaf of the believer should be full of the sap of the
(Jer 17:7, 8).
His conversation should be cheerful without levity, serious without
as to Jesus' speech.
seasoned with salt--that is, the savor of fresh and lively
spiritual wisdom and earnestness, excluding all "corrupt communication,"
and also tasteless insipidity
Compare all the sacrifices seasoned with salt
Not far from Colosse, in Phrygia, there was a salt lake, which gives to
the image here the more appropriateness.
how ye ought to answer every man--
So one very old manuscript and Vulgate read. But the oldest
manuscripts and the old Latin versions, "that YE may know OUR state." However,
the latter reading seems likely to have crept in from
comfort your hearts--distressed as ye are by my imprisonment, as
well as by your own trials.
9. Onesimus--the slave mentioned in the Epistle to Philemon
(Phm 10, 16),
"a brother beloved."
a faithful . . . brother--rather, "the faithful brother," he being
known to the Colossians as the slave of Philemon, their fellow townsman
and fellow Christian.
one of you--belonging to your city.
They shall make known unto you all things--Greek, "all
the things here." This substantial repetition of "all my state shall
Tychicus declare unto you," strongly favors the reading of English
to Rome. He was now at Rome with Paul (compare
Phm 23, 24).
As he is here spoken of as Paul's "fellow prisoner," but in
as Paul's "fellow laborer"; and vice versa, Epaphras in
as his "fellow prisoner," but here
conjectures that Paul's friends voluntarily shared his imprisonment by
turns, Aristarchus being his fellow prisoner when he wrote to the
Colossians, Epaphras when he wrote to Philemon. The Greek for
"fellow prisoner" is literally, fellow captive, an image from
prisoners taken in warfare, Christians being "fellow soldiers"
whose warfare is "the good fight of faith."
(Ac 12:12, 25);
the Evangelist according to tradition.
sister's son--rather, "cousin," or "kinsman to Barnabas"; the
latter being the better known is introduced to designate Mark. The
relationship naturally accounts for Barnabas' selection of Mark as his
companion when otherwise qualified; and also for Mark's mother's house
at Jerusalem being the place of resort of Christians there
The family belonged to Cyprus
this accounts for Barnabas' choice of Cyprus as the first station on
and for Mark's accompanying them readily so far, it being the country
of his family; and for Paul's rejecting him at the second journey for
not having gone further than Perga, in Pamphylia, but having gone
thence home to his mother at Jerusalem
on the first journey
touching whom--namely, Mark.
ye received commandments--possibly before the writing of this
Epistle; or the "commandments" were verbal by Tychicus, and
accompanying this letter, since the past tense was used by the
ancients (where we use the present) in relation to the time which it
would be when the letter was read by the Colossians. Thus
"I have written," for "I write." The substance of them was, "If he come
unto you, receive him." Paul's rejection of him on his second
missionary journey, because he had turned back at Perga on the first
Ac 13:13; 15:37-39),
had caused an alienation between himself and Barnabas. Christian love
soon healed the breach; for here he implies his restored confidence in
Mark, makes honorable allusion to Barnabas, and desires that those at
Colosse who had regarded Mark in consequence of that past error with
suspicion, should now "receive" him with kindness. Colosse is only
about one hundred ten miles from Perga, and less than twenty from the
confines of Pisidia, through which province Paul and Barnabas preached
on their return during the same journey. Hence, though Paul had not
personally visited the Colossian Church, they knew of the past
unfaithfulness of Mark; and needed this recommendation of him, after
the temporary cloud on him, so as to receive him, now that he was about
to visit them as an evangelist. Again, in Paul's last imprisonment, he,
for the last time, speaks of Mark
11. Justus--that is, righteous; a common name among the Jews;
of the circumcision--This implies that Epaphras, Luke, and Demas
(Col 4:12, 14)
were not of the circumcision. This agrees with Luke's Gentile
name (the same as Lucanus), and the Gentile aspect of his Gospel.
These only, &c.--namely, of the Jews. For the Jewish teachers were
generally opposed to the apostle of the Gentiles
Epaphras, &c., were also fellow laborers, but Gentiles.
unto--that is, in promoting the Gospel kingdom.
which have been--Greek, "which have been made," or "have
become," that is, inasmuch as they have become a comfort to me. The
Greek implies comfort in forensic dangers; a different Greek
word expresses comfort in domestic affliction [BENGEL].
12. Christ--The oldest manuscripts add "Jesus."
labouring fervently--As the Greek, is the same,
translate, "striving earnestly" (see on
literally, "striving as in the agony of a contest."
in prayers--Translate as Greek, "in his prayers."
complete--The oldest manuscripts read, "fully assured." It is
translated, "fully persuaded,"
Ro 4:21; 14:5.
In the expression "perfect," he refers to what he has already said,
Col 1:28; 2:2; 3:14.
"Perfect" implies the attainment of the full maturity of a
Christian. BENGEL joins "in all the will of God"
13. a great zeal--The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate have
for you--lest you should be seduced
a motive why you should be anxious for yourselves.
them that are in Laodicea . . . Hierapolis--churches
probably founded by Epaphras, as the Church in Colosse was. Laodicea,
called from Laodice, queen of Antiochus II, on the river Lycus, was,
according to the subscription to First Timothy, "the chiefest city of
All the three cities were destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 62 [TACITUS, Annals,
14.27]. Hierapolis was six Roman miles north of Laodicea.
14. It is conjectured that Luke "the beloved physician" (the same as
the Evangelist), may have first become connected with Paul in
professionally attending on him in the sickness under which he labored
in Phrygia and Galatia (in which latter place he was detained by
sickness), in the early part of that journey wherein Luke first is found
in his company
Demas--included among his "fellow laborers"
but afterwards a deserter from him through love of this world
He alone has here no honorable or descriptive epithet attached to his
name. Perhaps, already, his real character was betraying itself.
15. Nymphas--of Laodicea.
church . . . in his house--So old manuscripts and Vulgate read.
The oldest read, "THEIR house"; and one manuscript,
"HER house," which
makes Nymphas a woman.
16. the epistle from Laodicea--namely, the Epistle which I wrote to
the Laodiceans, and which you will get from them on applying to
them. Not the Epistle to the Ephesians.
to Ephesians and
to Colossians. The Epistles from the apostles were publicly read in
the church assemblies. IGNATIUS [Epistle to the
Ephesians, 12], POLYCARP [Epistle to the
Philippians, 3.11,12], CLEMENT [Epistle to
the Corinthians, 1. 47],
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear."
Thus, they and the Gospels were put on a level with the Old Testament,
which was similarly read
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, besides those extant, other
Epistles which He saw necessary for that day, and for particular
churches; and which were not so for the Church of all ages and places.
It is possible that as the Epistle to the Colossians was to be read for
the edification of other churches besides that of Colosse; so the
Epistle to the Ephesians was to be read in various churches besides
Ephesus, and that Laodicea was the last of such churches before
Colosse, whence he might designate the Epistle to the Ephesians here as
"the Epistle from Laodicea." But it is equally possible that the
Epistle meant was one to the Laodiceans themselves.
17. say to Archippus--The Colossians (not merely the
clergy, but the laymen) are directed, "Speak ye to Archippus."
This proves that Scripture belongs to the laity as well as the clergy;
and that laymen may profitably admonish the clergy in particular cases
when they do so in meekness. BENGEL suggests that
Archippus was perhaps prevented from going to the Church assembly by
weak health or age. The word, "fulfil," accords with his ministry being
near its close
However, "fulfil" may mean, as in
"make full proof of thy ministry." "Give all diligence to follow
it out fully"; a monition perhaps needed by Archippus.
in the Lord--The element in which every work of the Christian, and
especially the Christian minister, is to be done
18. Paul's autograph salutation (so
attesting that the preceding letter, though written by an amanuensis,
is from himself.
Remember my bonds--Already in this chapter he had mentioned his
an incentive why they should love and pray
for him; and still more, that they should, in reverential obedience to
his monitions in this Epistle, shrink from the false teaching herein
stigmatized, remembering what a conflict
he had in their behalf amidst his bonds. "When we read of his
chains, we should not forget that they moved over the paper as he
wrote; his [right] hand was chained to the [left hand of the] soldier
who kept him" [ALFORD].
Grace be with you--Greek, "THE
grace" which every Christian
enjoys in some degree, and which flows from God in Christ by the Holy