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The Supremacy and All-Sufficiency of Christ
1-8. Salutation to the Colossian Christians, and thanksgiving for the news of their spiritual state.
Paraphrase. ’(1, 2) Paul and Timothy salute the saints and believers in Colossæ. (3-5) We always thank God, when we pray for you, on account of your faith and the love you display in hope of the heavenly reward, of which you heard when the gospel was first proclaimed to you. (6-8) This gospel is the word of truth which approves itself by its universal diffusion and success, and has from the very first achieved a similar success among yourselves, taught you as it has been in its genuine reality by Epaphras, who has ministered to you in my place and has made known your love to me.’
2. Faithful] better, ’believing.’ And the Lord Jesus Christ] RV rightly omits.
3. Better, ’We always give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you.’
5. For the hope] i.e. based on the hope.
6, 7. It is the gospel as Epaphras taught it them, not that urged on them by the false teachers, which is exercising this worldwide influence. The universal corrects the local.
7b. RV ’who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf’ is probably right. The Apostle of the Gentiles could not himself visit Colossæ. Epaphras has done this part of his work for him. Epaphras is not to be identified with Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30; Philippians 4:18).
9-14. St. Paul’s prayer that the Colossians may be filled with wisdom, strength, and thanksgiving.
Paraphrase. ’(9) Since we heard the glad report, as you pray for us so we pray without ceasing for you, that you may be filled with a knowledge of God’s will touching your conduct, a knowledge characterised by wisdom and insight. (10) Such knowledge is not indeed an end in itself. It must lead to a life well pleasing to Christ; you must bear fruit and increase in every good work by means of your knowledge of God. (11) This you can do only as God Himself strengthens you, and this He will do not simply according to your need, but in the measure of His own power. Thus you will be strengthened for the supreme test, the trial of steadfastness and forbearance, which you will meet with joy. (12-14) Give thanks also to the Father, who qualified you to share in the lot of the saints which is situated in the realm of light, by rescuing you from the dominion of darkness and translating you into the kingdom of that Son on whom His love rests, in whom we possess deliverance, the forgiveness of our sins.’
9. In all wisdom, etc.] RV ’in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.’
10. RM ’by the knowledge.’
12. Made us meet] better, ’qualified you.’ Usually the saints in light is taken as. a single phrase meaning ’saints in heaven.’ But ’in light’ should be connected with ’the lot.’ It defines its situation. ’The lot’ (AV inheritance) ’of the saints’ is the blessedness awaiting them.
13. His dear Son] RV ’the Son of his love.’
14. Redemption] The view that the word means ransom is very dubious. ’Deliverance’ is the best translation. Omit through his blood.
15-23. The supremacy of the Son in the universe and the Church.
Paraphrase. ’(15) This Son of God’s love, in whom we have our deliverance, the pardon of our sins, is the exact image of God, so that while God is the invisible, He is manifested to us in His Son. (16) The Son also possesses the first-born’s dominion over every creature in virtue of the fact that the creation of all things depended on Him, whether in heaven or on earth, whether visible or invisible. Let it be specially observed that in the ’all things’ thus created must be included the Angelic powers of the loftiest orders. All things I say have come into existence by His agency, and He is the goal for which they have been created. (17) He is before all things and the principle of their cohesion. (18) And this preëminence in the universe is matched by His preëminence in the Church. He is the Head of the body, inasmuch as He is the ruler who has passed to His dominion from the dead, in order that He who is from the first supreme in the universe may become supreme in the Church, and thus be supreme in every sphere. (19, 20) This position He attained because God was well pleased that all the fulness of His Grace should dwell in His Son, and thus reconcile through Him all things to Himself. It was through the blood shed on His Cross that peace was thus made. And the scope of this reconciliation was universal, it embraced not things in earth alone, but those in the heavens; (21) aye, and you Colossians, too, once estranged from God and hostile to Him though you were. (22, 23) Now you have been reconciled in the Son’s fleshly body through His death, to present yourselves blameless before God, if you stand unshaken in the Gospel.’ The aim of this great exposition of the nature and work of the Son is to accord to Him the supreme position alike in the world and the Church, and sweep away the false teaching which assigned to angelic mediators the position and functions of the Son. He and not they created, sustains, and rules the universe; they, even the loftiest, are merely His creatures. He, and not they, is the Redeemer, they are among the redeemed.
15. The image perfectly resembles and reveals the original. First born] The word expresses priority to and then supremacy over. Probably the latter only is meant here. Every creature] better than RV ’all creation.’
16. By him] RV ’in him.’ Thrones, etc.] various ranks of higher angels.
17. Consist] RM ’That is, hold together.’ The Son is the centre of unity for the universe.
19. RV ’For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell.’ A very difficult v., but probably this is more correct than RM, ’For the whole fulness of God was pleased to dwell in him.’ The fulness is not as in Colossians 2:9, the fulness of Godhead, but the fulness of grace possessed by the Son in His incarnate state.
20. The Son’s atoning death availed for the whole angelic world, as well as for the world of men, since the Son is Head of both.
20-22. Very difficult, but probably a full stop should be placed at the end of Colossians 1:21. We may translate, ’And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his Cross, through him, whether the things on earth or the things in the heavens, you also who once were alienated and enemies in mind in evil works. But now ye have been reconciled in the body of his flesh,’ etc.
22. Body of his flesh] as against the false teachers who thought non-incarnate angels could redeem.
24—C. Colossians 2:3. Paul’s sufferings, labours, and anxieties for the Church.
Paraphrase. ’(24-26) I rejoice in the sufferings I endure for your sake, and fill up the measure of afflictions Christ has still to endure in my flesh on behalf of His body, the Church, which I serve in my office of stewardship entrusted to me by God, to set forth the gospel in its universal scope, that secret hidden from eternity but now revealed to His saints. (27) To them God has willed to make known how rich is the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles which is none other than the indwelling Christ, the pledge of your participation in the heavenly glory. (28, 29) This Christ we proclaim to all, that we may present each perfect in Him—an end to which I devote all the energy which He has made to work so mightily in me. (Colossians 2:1-3) For let me assure you how intense is my inward struggle for you and the Laodiceans, personally unknown to me though you are, that you may be strengthened and knit together in love to attain all rich fulness of insight, a full knowledge of Christ the divine mystery, in whom exist all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, not on the surface, but concealed where they must be discovered by earnest search.’
24. Christ suffers in His members in virtue of their union with Him, and the afflictions Paul undergoes in prison are filling up the measure of suffering Christ has still to endure in him.
25. Dispensation] RM ’stewardship.’
26. Mystery] truth not to be discovered by man’s unaided power, and therefore known only through divine revelation. This mystery was concealed from the ages before the world and the generations of mankind, in other words from angels and from men.
Colossians 2:1. Paul was personally unknown both to the Colossians and the Laodiceans.
2. Full assurance] RM ’fulness.’ To the acknowledgement, etc.] RV, better, ’that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ.’ The wealth of full understanding consists in knowledge of the mystery of God, and this mystery of God is no other than Christ Himself, since in Him God’s eternal purpose is realised and revealed. They need not go to other sources as the false teachers advise, all is contained in Christ.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Colossians 1". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17