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Dunagan's Commentary on the Bible Dunagan's Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Colossians 1". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ dun/ colossians-1.html. 1999-2014.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Colossians 1". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 1:1-14:
I. Salutation: 1:1-2
II. Thanksgiving For The Faith and Love Of The Colossians: 1:3-8
III. Prayer For the Colossians: 1:9-11
IV. Gratitude Expressed For Our Deliverance: 1:12-14
I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 1:15-29:
I. The Preeminence of Jesus Christ: 1:15-20
A. His Equality with God: 1:15
B. His Superiority to all Creation: 1:16-17
C. His Preeminence over the New Creation: 1:18
D. His Preeminence in Redemption: 1:20
II. The Aims and Responsibilities of Redemption: 1:21-23
III. The Aims and Goals of Paul's Stewardship: 1:24-29
II. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS:
As we enter the book of Colossians we should note how Paul confronts the various errors facing these Christians. He forcefully preaches the truth. Sometimes the best way to meet error is to emphasize the truth. To preach the truth so fully and plainly that the proponents of error lose their foothold upon the minds of men ( Tit_1:9-11 ). Such preaching must get down to specifics ( Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9; 20-23 ).
This letter also contains what some call "Christian tact". Before you deal with a negative situation, give credit where credit is due. Before Paul warns the Colossians, he praises them for their faith and love (1:4)
Col_1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
'AN APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS' -
Points to Note:
1. 'It is not necessary to refer to Paul as "Saint Paul", for such a title actually downgrades him. All Christians are "saints", but not all are apostles..it emphasizes the truth that Paul was Christ's representative, not the representative of the church. He was not an apostle appointed by ecclesiastical authority....Thus the medieval conceit that the Holy Scriptures belonged to the church and were in some sense the property of it and therefore subject to their exclusive interpretation is defeated and destroyed by the apostolical title itself.' [Note: _ James Burton Coffman Commentaries. Volume 8. p. 323.]
2. The Church isn't over the Scriptures, rather, First Century congregations were reminded that they were to place themselves "under" the Scriptures ( 1Co_14:37 ; 1Th_2:13 ; 2Th_3:6-14 ).
3. Even though Paul had never personally seen many of these Christians in Colossae (2:1), he was still their apostle. 'The designation "apostle" is reserved for Paul; it is not shared with Timothy--nor yet with Epaphras, who (as appears from v. 7) first brought the gospel to Colossae. Paul alone was the Colossians's apostle, even if he had never visited them in person.' (F.F. Bruce p. 38)
4. Thus, if Paul's apostolic authority extended to congregations he hadn't personally established, then the authority of what he and the other apostles wrote extends to all congregations until the end of time .
'OF CHRIST JESUS' -'To Christ Jesus he owes his appointment and his authority. Through Paul no one less that Christ Jesus himself is addressing the church.' (Hendriksen p. 43) Thus when Paul spoke, Jesus was speaking ( Act_9:15 ; Act_22:15 ; Act_26:15-18 ; Gal_1:11-12 ). Hence to reject the words of an Apostle is a rejection of the will of God ( Mat_10:40 ; Joh_13:20 )
'THROUGH THE WILL OF GOD' -( Gal_1:11-12 ). 'He had attained his high office neither through aspiration..nor through usurpation--not yet through nomination by other men.' (Hendriksen p. 43) ( 1Co_1:1 ; 2Co_1:1 ; Gal_1:1 ; Eph_1:1 ; 2Ti_1:1 )
At the outset of this letter Paul makes clear what "right" he has to address this congregation. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ, and that settles it. 'That office is not something which he has earned or achieved; it is something which has been given him by God.' (Barclay p. 103) ( 1Co_15:9-10 )
Point to Note:
The advocates of the New Hermeneutic contend that the letters written by the Apostles are simply "love letters" to the churches. But such a theory must admit: (1) Jesus didn't speak through these men. For if the doctrines in the epistle to the Colossians are not binding upon Christians today, then this letter was simply Paul's feeble, unaided and human attempt to apply certain truths to his own generation. (2) Even the Gospels are irrelevant, for apostles and other professed inspired men also wrote those letters. How can you consistently deny the authority of 1,2,3 John and Revelation and yet except the authority of the gospel of John? How can you reject Paul's 13 letters and yet accept the gospel of Mark and Luke, which were written by Paul's co-workers? And how can you accept the gospel of Luke but reject the book of Acts? For they were both written by the same author. (3) And if the book of Colossians was simply a "love letter" to the Church, then could the Church ignore the teachings found in it? Could they fellowship those who disagreed with Paul's statements concerning the Deity of Christ (2:9)? Or what he wrote about the Sabbath Day? (2:16) Or man-made religion? (2:20-23). Or the worship of angels? (2:18) Or various moral issues? (3:1-13)
'AND TIMOTHY OUR BROTHER' -Timothy was with Paul in Rome during a portion of his imprisonment ( Php_1:1 ; Phm_1:1 ). Carefully note that Timothy isn't an apostle. The Biblical writers didn't carelessly use terms. They didn't call every male Christian by the title "elder", etc..
'OUR BROTHER' -'It recognizes that fellowship of believers which constitutes the most perfect brotherhood the world has ever known.' (Erdman p. 36)
Points to Note:
1. God gives credit where credit is due. Timothy isn't an apostle, but 'during the long years of travel and of toil...Timothy had been Paul's most trusted comrade..He was Paul's most loyal follower and imitator, his fellow worker, his "true child in faith"' (Erdman p. 35) ( Php_2:19-22 ; 2Ti_3:10-15 ).
2. The Christian doesn't have to worry about "recognition" or being "remembered". God takes care of His own, God rewards faithful service. ( Rev_14:13 ) God will exalt those who humble themselves ( Luk_18:14 ).
3. It is sad when Christians must look outside the Lord's church to find "brotherly" closeness. We are failing to restore the New Testament Church, we are failing to practice true Christianity if we can't find any close friends among fellow Christians. ( Col_4:9-17 )
Col_1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ that are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
'TO THE SAINTS' -Every Christian is a saint for every Christian has been set apart by the blood of Christ ( 1Co_1:2 ; Act_20:28 ; Heb_10:29 ; Rev_1:5-6 ).
Points to Note:
1. 'It did not denote a special group which possessed eminent virtues, nor did it refer to such as had passed from earth to heaven.' (Erdman p. 36)
2. The thought crosses my mind, if religious bodies can't even properly define such a clear biblical term. Then why would anyone place confidence in what they teach on other subjects?
3. When God calls Christians "saints", it should remind us that we have been set apart and freed from an unworthy way of living (1:12-14), and from a fate worse than death. But along with such a great deliverance, comes a great responsibility. Christians are called upon to glorify God ( 1Pe_2:9 ). And to live the type of life that would bring honor to Him ( Mat_5:16 ).
4. Instead of being merely afraid of hell (which is too self-centered, i.e. what might happen to me). The Christian should always have a healthy fear of letting God down, of doing something that would bring dishonor to the Divine family. Of doing something that would bring pain and grief to God, regardless of of whether we felt pained at the moment.
'AND FAITHFUL' -4103. pistos pis-tos'; from 3982; objectively, trustworthy; subjectively, trustful: -believe(-ing, -r), faithful(-ly), sure, true.
Points to Note:
1. In view of the errors which faced this congregation and which face every congregation. You cannot over-emphasize the importance of Christians who believe and trust completely in what God has said.
2. Carefully note that God isn't impressed with "skeptical brethren", "agnostic brethren", "I only believe in myself-brethren", "I can't trust God enough-brethren", or the ever popular, "I put my trust in science, human wisdom, psychology and technology, rather than God and the Bible-brethren".
3. True children of God are those to place their full confidence in the Word of God ( Mat_4:4 ; Rom_1:16-17 ; Heb_10:36-39 ).
4. "Brotherhood" is based on a trust or conviction in a common faith. Thus fellowship is inherently tied to doctrine, i.e. what must be believed ( 2Jn_1:9-11 ).
5. "Faithful" can also mean "reliable, dependable" ( 2Ti_2:2 ).
'IN CHRIST JESUS' -Which means that baptism stands between one and being "a faithful brother". For baptism stands between one and being "in Christ Jesus" ( Gal_3:26-27 ).
'THAT ARE AT COLOSSAE' -Carefully note that the Christian is "in Christ" no matter where on this earth he precisely lives. Barclay notes, 'He lives in this world whose duties he does not treat lightly; but above and beyond that he lives in Christ...That is why outward circumstances make little difference to the Christian; his peace and his joy are not dependent on them. That is why he will do any job with all his heart. It may be menial, unpleasant, painful, it may be far less distinguished than he might expect to have; its rewards may be small and its praise non-existent; nevertheless the Christian will do it diligently, uncomplainingly and cheerfully, for he is in Christ and does all things as to the Lord.' (pp. 104-105) ( Eph_6:5 )
Point to Note:
'They were "disciples", for they were learning of Christ ( Act_11:26 ). They were "saints", for they belonged to God. They were "brethren", for they were in one spiritual brotherhood. They were "believers", for they shared one common faith. They were "Christians", for they found in Christ the sum and substance of their lives. There are messages here for all who bear these names. They are "disciples": they must seek fuller knowledge. They are "saints": they must be pure. They are "brethren": they must show their love. They are "believers": they must "live by faith". They are "Christians": they must center their lives in Christ.' (Erdman p. 37)
'GRACE TO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD OUR FATHER' -'The only instance in which the name of the Father stands in the opening benediction of an epistle without the addition "and Jesus Christ".' (Vincent p. 462)
Bruce adds, 'It is difficult to say why the words "and the Lord Jesus Christ" are absent from the salutation in Colossians. In any case, all that these words could convey is set forth in detail in the celebration of the person and work of Christ later in the letter (cf. vv. 13-20).' (p. 39)
Points to Note:
1. God wants Christians to know exactly where they stand before Him. He wants them to be confident and He wants them to enjoy their relationship with Him. The message to these Christians is "God's favor" to you, i.e. God approves of you. Now what more encouraging message could you ever hear than that? And what motivation to resist error!
2. God wants Christians to have "peace" in their lives. Peace with Him and peace with each other ( Eph_4:1-3 ).
3. 'The biblical concept of peace has to do with wholeness, particularly with reference to relationships...' [Note: _ Word Biblical Commentary. Peter T. O'Brien p. 6.]
4. Again, this is a very encouraging message. To some congregations God said, 'I have this against you..' ( Rev_2:20 ). The Colossians heard from God, 'We are on the same side, we are united, we have fellowship and harmony.'
5. God doesn't dispense "grace and peace" in some mysterious fashion. Rather, God's favor and peace are available to anyone who meets His conditions for salvation ( Eph_2:14-19 ). And let us always remember that grace is conditional ( Tit_2:11-12 ).
6. Though this letter was sent to the church in Colossae, it was likewise to be heeded by the other congregations in the area ( Col_4:16 ).
PAUL'S GRATITUDE FOR THE COLOSSIANS:
Col_1:3 We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
'WE GIVE THANKS TO GOD' -Gratitude and thanksgiving is often a neglect aspect in our prayers. It is so easy to view prayer as simply "asking God" for things ( Php_4:6 ). Before Paul "asks" for anything in reference to these Christians, he first of all gives thanks to God.
'WE' -Paul as well as Timothy. A like-mindedness is to exist among Christians. We should rejoice in the same things, have the same values ( Rom_12:15 ).
'THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST' -
Points to Note:
1. 'The Father of', doesn't suggest that Jesus is inferior to the Father. This same epistle argues that Jesus is "as much God" as the Father (2:9). In addition, 1:16 makes it clear that Jesus wasn't created by the Father. But rather, He Himself was the active agent in the creation of all things visible and invisible. (See Joh_1:1-3 )
2. Without Jesus, 'the Father' couldn't be called 'our Father'. It is only through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice that we can have a relationship with God ( Joh_14:6 ).
3. In the gospels we find the same sort of equality with God ( Joh_5:18-23 ) in reference to Jesus ( Joh_1:1-3 ); and yet at the same time He voluntarily assumed the role of a Son, and spoke of "my God and your God" ( Joh_20:17 ). Thus all the statements in the gospels which place Jesus in a role of subjection to the Father; we already know that such statements were never meant to imply any inferiority in the Son or a less than Divine status ( Joh_14:9 ).
'PRAYING ALWAYS FOR YOU' -'constantly praying' (Wey). ( 1Th_5:17 )
Points to Note:
1. The good news is that many Christians constantly pray. The not so good news is that we often pray merely for ourselves. Be impressed that Paul is praying for Christians which he had never met.
2. We need to pray for Christians, wherever they might be, for Christians are very valuable people. A true believer in Jesus Christ isn't found on every street-corner. And Christians possess a knowledge that you just can't place a price-tag upon.
3. I like what Eadie says here, 'Paul and Timothy, on hearing of the spiritual progress of the Colossians, did not congratulate one another , but gave the glory to God. So much had Timothy of Paul's own spirit, that the apostle had no hesitation in saying, "We thank God".' (p. 5)
4. Paul prayed for other Christians besides those in this congregation ( 1Th_1:2 ; Eph_1:16 ; Rom_1:8 ; Php_1:3-4 ; 1Co_1:4 ). I wonder if our own lives would be richer and happier and our relationship with God and brethren deeper, if we prayed this much for others, instead of for ourselves?
THE REASONS FOR THIS GRATITUDE:
Col_1:4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have toward all the saints,
'HAVING HEARD' -i.e. by way of Epaphras (1:4).
'OF YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS' -
Points to Note:
1. A faith that one would "hear" about must be more than mental assent. Such a faith must be expressing itself in concrete attitudes and actions ( Jam_2:24-25 ; Jam_1:22 ).
2. Just "faith" in God isn't enough. The faith must be "in Christ Jesus" ( Joh_8:24 ). One must believe that Jesus is the Son of God for faith to be worth anything ( Rom_10:9-10 ).
3. Having faith in Christ involves: (a) Being completely satisfied with Him as a Saviour, refusing to believe that one needs more than Christ. (b) Being completely satisfied with His revelation of truth through His apostles ( Eph_3:3-5 ; Joh_16:13 ). (c) It is a faith that completely accepts and trusts everything that Jesus said, regardless of the amount of "evidence" presented by the opposition in support of an contrary position ( Rom_3:4 ).
'AND OF THE LOVE WHICH YE HAVE TOWARD ALL THE SAINTS' -Faith and love go hand in hand ( Eph_1:15 ; Gal_5:6 ). True love is defined by "faith". Faith refuses to call something "loving", which Jesus says is sinful or selfish ( 1Co_13:6 ; Rom_13:8-10 ).
Points to Note:
1. 'The same Magnet, Christ Jesus, who attracts sinners to himself and changes them into saints..draws them into closer fellowship with each other.' (Hendriksen p. 47)
2. 'The Christian must have faith; he must know what he believes. But he must also have love for men; he must turn that belief into action. It is not enough simply to have faith, for there can be an orthodoxy which knows no love. It is not enough only to have love for men, for without real belief that love can become mere sentimentality. The Christian has a double commitment--he is committed to Jesus Christ and he is committed to his fellow-men.' (Barclay p. 105)
3. Here again we find the two great commandments, love for God (demonstrated by faith in His Son) and love for others.
4. Brotherly love is an essential characteristic of true Christianity ( 1Jn_4:20 ; 2Pe_1:7 ). Something is seriously wrong with a "spirituality" which supposedly is moving one closer to God but at the same time farther away from their brethren. Despite the errors which existed in the First Century, Paul never felt that he was the last faithful Christian on the face of the earth and neither did he end up worshipping all by himself.
'ALL THE SAINTS' -Christians from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. A warning against an "exclusive" or "club-like" Christianity, in which only a certain segment of the church is fellowshipped.
Col_1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
'BECAUSE OF THE HOPE' -Paul also thanks God for the "hope" which is laid up for these Christians. And he could express such confidence, because the "faith" and "love" of these members demonstrated that they did stand in a right relationship with God and such a hope was a present reality for them. The ultimate end of their faith and love would be eternal life, i.e. hope fulfilled.
'HOPE' -1680. elpis el-pece'; from a primary elpo (to anticipate, ususally with pleasure); expectation (abstractly or concretely) or confidence: -faith, hope.
-'Christian hope is not mere wishing. It is a fervent yearning, confident expectation, and patient waiting..assurance that these promises will indeed be realized..' (Hendriksen p. 49)
'WHICH IS LAID UP FOR YOU' -'in heaven where no power, human or otherwise, can touch it.' (O'Brien pp. 11-12) ( Mat_6:19-20 ).
'IN THE HEAVENS' -
Points to Note:
1. Notice the singular "hope". Only one hope for all Christians exists ( Eph_4:4 ). And this hope is always placed in heaven ( Mat_5:12 ; Mat_6:19-20 ; Php_3:20 ; Col_3:1-4 ; 1Pe_1:4 ).
Unfortunately, the Jehovah Witnesses try to persuade us that in reality only 144,000 Christians will end up in heaven. It is strange indeed that the apostles never talked about the "hope that is laid up for you upon the earth", or "set your mind on things below".
2. Since eternal life is called "hope" ( Tit_1:2 ), then eternal life must be a real possibility. 'Were it completely beyond reach, it might excite a romantic wish in one heart, and cover another in despair.' (Eadie p. 10) Hence serving God acceptably isn't an impossibility. In fact, Jesus felt that being a Christian wasn't always the hardest path in life ( Mat_11:28-30 ).
3. It is so easy to forget what is involved in our heavenly hope and why our minds must remain focused on this goal: (a) Total fulfillment, meaning, purpose and satisfaction ( Rev_21:4 ). (b) A body that doesn't in any way hinder us from serving God ( 1Co_15:1-58 ). (c) A wonderful new perspective, devoid of selfishness, self-pity and wrong-thinking ( Rev_21:4 ; Rev_22:4 ). (d) Complete and intimate fellowship with God. (e) The absence of those things which frustrate and "spoil" the good times ( Rev_21:27 ; 1Pe_1:4 ).
'WHEREOF YE HEARD BEFORE IN' -'Hope' comprises a portion of the subject-matter known as the 'gospel'. Therefore, the gospel message does contain the "doctrine" of the Christian's hope. And defining the gospel message merely as the details concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a mistake ( Act_8:5 ; Act_8:12 ). Not only does "faith" come by hearing ( Rom_10:17 ). The Christian is also dependent upon the gospel message to properly define both love ( 1Co_13:6 ) and hope ( 1Pe_1:4 ; Tit_1:2 ). Thus if "hope" is part of the gospel, then heaven and hell is part of the gospel.
'THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL' -'the truthful Word of the glad-tidings' (Con). 'the word of truth, which is the gospel' (O'Brien p. 12)
Points to Note:
1. One cannot separate the "gospel message" from God's word. Neither can one make an artificial distinction between "the gospel" and "doctrine". See Act_13:12 ; Act_2:42 ; Rom_6:17 where the word "doctrine" is used in reference to the plan of salvation. Actually the same body of truth is referred to in the Scriptures as "the faith" ( Php_1:27 ; Act_6:7 ; Col_1:23 ); "the gospel" ( Col_1:23 ; Act_20:24 ); "the truth" ( Col_1:5 ; Gal_2:5 ); "the word" ( Eph_1:13 ); "doctrine" ( 1Ti_6:3 ; 1Ti_4:6 ; 1Ti_1:10 ).
2. Barclay notes: 'The gospel is truth. All previous religions could be entitled "guesses about God". The Christian gospel gives a man not guesses but certainties about God.' (p. 107)
3. Over against the philosophies and speculations which these Christians were facing or would face (2:8). They had already heard the truth. Why listen to anything else?
VARIOUS OTHER QUALITIES OF THIS GOSPEL:
Col_1:6 which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also, since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth;
'WHICH IS COME UNTO YOU' -i.e. this gospel.
'EVEN AS IT IS ALSO IN ALL THE WORLD' -(1:23). The message is a universal message ( Mar_16:15 ) and was rapidly spread by the Apostles and other Christians in the First Century. 'Possibly with a suggestion of the universal character of the Gospel as contrasted with the local and special character of false gospels.' (Vincent p. 464)
Point to Note:
Some have claimed that 1:6 and 1:23 are exaggerations concerning the spread of the gospel in Paul's day. But in the Second Century Justin Martyr wrote, 'There is no people, Greek or barbarian, or of any other race by whatever appellation or manners they may be distinguished, however ignorant of arts or agriculture, whether they dwell in tents or wander about in covered wagons, among whom prayers and thanksgivings are not offered in the name of the crucified Jesus to the Father and Creator of all things...On the basis of all the data available it has been estimated that by the close of the Apostolic Period the total number of Christian disciples had reached half a million.' (Hendriksen p. 51) (See 1Th_1:8 ; Php_1:12 ; Act_17:6 )
'BEARING FRUIT AND INCREASING' -'and everywhere it bears fruit and grows' (Con).
Points to Note:
1. 'The gospel is universal. It is for all the world. It is not confined to any one race or nation, nor to any one class or condition. Very few things in this world are open to all men .' (Barclay p. 107)
2. The gospel is a very powerful message ( Rom_1:16 ). We dare not underestimate the convicting and life-changing punch that it packs ( Act_2:37 ).
3. Christians need to remember that all we are called upon to do is simply spread this message. The "converting" power doesn't lie within us, we don't have to be super-salesmen ( 1Co_3:6 ). The message will sell itself to honest and good hearts ( Luk_8:15 ).
4. All of this should remind us that the gospel doesn't need any improvement or supplement. To this day, in our part of the world, the gospel continues to spread, convict hearts, produce faith ( Rom_10:17 ), bring people to Christ ( 2Th_2:14 ), and bring about transformed lives ( Col_3:5 ff; Gal_5:22-23 ).
5. Instead of feeling that nobody wants the true gospel today. Or that the gospel can't compete with the popular and smooth-sounding religious errors of our time. We need to remind ourselves that nothing can stop the gospel message ( 2Ti_2:9 ). The Christians in the First Century faced just as many "false teachings" as we do today. Religious errors existed which were just as popular with the mainstream of society. And yet the gospel spread, penetrated new regions, and even those which you would think that Satan had a strangle-hold upon ( Php_1:13 ; Act_18:10 )
'AS IT DOTH IN YOU ALSO' -'The Colossians are being reminded of the power..and successful course of the gospel, as a reason for gratitude. Here, too, there is the implication, "Don't you remember the mighty change that occurred when the message of God's redemptive truth made its first appearance among you? That gospel needs no addition or supplement. Its influence is being felt in ever-increasing measure, both extensively, invading region after region..' (Hendriksen p. 50)
'SINCE THE DAY YE HEARD' -The Christians in Colossae hadn't grown apathetic. The gospel was continuing to produce new converts in this city and individual members were continuing to grow (1:4).
'AND KNEW THE GRACE OF GOD IN TRUTH' -
'KNEW' -1921. epiginosko ep-ig-in-oce'-ko; from 1909 and 1097; to know upon some mark, i.e. recognize; by implication, to become fully acquainted with, to acknowledge: -(ac-, have, take)know(-ledge, well), perceive.
Points to Note:
1. The gospel message is the only message which accurately presents God's grace. Among other things it reveals that grace isn't an excuse to sin ( Rom_6:1 ), and that grace brings the obligation and motivation to live a godly life ( Tit_2:11-12 ).
2. All other messages offer a false hope. Here is the importance of hearing the pure gospel, the gospel which was taught by the apostles ( Gal_1:6-9 ). In addition, the importance of defending the gospel and opposing any corruptions to it, so that present and future generations can have the same opportunity to be saved, as we have ( Gal_2:5 ; 2Ti_4:2-4 ).
3. The word "knew" in this verse means a full knowledge. After one hears the gospel it is completely inexcusable to think that salvation can be found in someone besides Jesus Christ ( Joh_14:6 ), or, that one can continue a life of sin and still end up saved.
Col_1:7 even as ye learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow-servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,
'EVEN AS YE LEARNED OF' -Which seems to infer that the Colossians had first heard the gospel from Epaphras. He had been the first one to preach to them 'the grace of God in truth'.
'EVEN AS' -Epaphras proclaimed the exact same gospel as that preached by Paul and Timothy. The same unity in doctrine among First Century preachers and teachers can be found in Gal_2:1-10 ; 2Ti_3:10 and 2Pe_3:15-16 .
Points to Note:
1. Someone besides an Apostle can preach the 'grace of God in truth'. You don't have to be an inspired man to properly interpret the writings of the apostles ( Eph_3:3-5 ; Eph_5:17 ).
2. Paul here endorses what is preached by Epaphras. Thus, in the very beginning of this letter, Paul makes is perfectly clear what "side" he is standing upon. 'This is not merely an endorsement of the doctrine they had received..but..a gracious recognition of the faithful friend..' (Erdman p. 43)
'EPAPHRAS' -1889. Epaphras ep-af-ras'; contracted from 1891; Epaphras, a Christian: -Epaphras.
-(EP uh frus) (charming). (Nelsons p. 342).
'OUR BELOVED FELLOW-SERVANT' -One who had served both Paul and the Colossians. Carefully note that as famous and popular Paul was, such fame didn't go to his head. He didn't see himself as the center of the universe. Often, he took the time to commend the efforts of other Christians. He was always giving praise, where praise was due. Eadie notes, 'He had none of that ignoble rivalry which just "hints a fault and hesitates dislike". He felt no envy at their success, but was so identified with their work, that whatever gladdened them gladdened him; he shared in their triumphs and was saddened at their reverses.' (p. 17) Paul, a man freed of selfish-ambition ( Rom_12:15 ).
'FELLOW..' -'The dearest of all ties for Paul is to find men sharing things with him. The work, the 'athletic' life, the yoke, the slavery, the imitation,--these are all expressions of his relation with Jesus Christ, the very essence of life; how much more it is to him when he finds his friends standing with him in that great loyalty.' (F.F. Bruce p. 43)
'WHO IS A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST ON OUR BEHALF' -Remember, the word "minister" simply means "servant". To be a "minister" of Christ, means that one faithfully carries out the commands of Christ. "Serving" Christ means passing on to others exactly what Christ taught. Many modern "ministers" need to be reminded of this very simple truth. It isn't the task of the preacher to invent or discover "new" truth, it is his job to preach the truth once for all delivered to the saints ( Jud_1:3 ; 2Ti_4:2-4 ).
'FAITHFUL' -( 2Ti_2:2 ). This man was living "proof" that the gospel had borne fruit among the Colossians.
'ON OUR BEHALF' -'Epaphras has ministered on Paul's behalf..and so the Colossians may be sure that the "truth" was faithfully taught to them.' (O'Brien pp. 15-16) 'In a true sense Epaphras was Paul's messenger to Colossae.' (Robertson p. 475)
Points to Note:
1. 'He puts his seal upon the ministry of Epaphras, and vindicates it against all questioning at home.' (P. P. Comm. p. 4)
2. For all practical purposes, Paul is saying, 'Whoever rejects the preaching of Epaphras, rejects us.'
3. From other passages we learn that: (a) Epaphras apparently was a native of Colossae (4:12?). (b) Worked not only with the Christians in Colossae but was also trying to assist the congregations in nearby Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:13). (c) Was one of those Christians who were trying to make Paul's imprisonment in Rome more tolerable ( Phm_1:23 ).
Col_1:8 who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
'YOUR LOVE IN THE SPIRIT' -'who tells us of the love with which the Spirit has inspired you' (TCNT).
Points to Note:
1. The Spirit had produced such love in them, for they had been responsive to the Spirit's instruction concerning the why's and how's of true love ( 1Co_13:4-8 ; 1Jn_4:11 ; Joh_13:34-35 ; Gal_5:16-26 ; Gal_6:1-8 ). It is very hard to listen to the gospel message without being impressed with the fact that God is easy to love. And since we have been recipients of such love, we need to share it with others.
2. Of course this involved a love for God. But it also appears that such love was directed towards Paul and Timothy. Besides being taught by the Spirit, it is also a "spiritual love", for it isn't based upon worldly considerations, i.e. physical attractiveness, social position, etc... Most of the brethren in Colossae had never seen either Paul nor Timothy, but they loved them. Like the Colossians, today we have a great fondness for men like Paul and Timothy, because we love what they stood for, we love the characteristics they demonstrated and we admire their devotion to God.
PAUL'S PRAYER FOR THE COLOSSIANS:
'Paul's 218-word sentence starts here at verse 9 and reaches through verse 20. Beginning at verse 15, however, and continuing through verse 20, Christ's Pre-eminence is set forth. Hence, 1:9-14 can be considered a unit of thought all by itself..In the original this part of the sentence--six verses in all--has 106 words.' (Hendriksen p. 54)
Point to Note:
Unfortunately, the religious world and even the church contains people who have ceased to have any "use" for prayer. Some claim that "prayer" is simply a positive mental exercise to psych yourself up to do something. Is prayer nothing more than an "internal pep rally"? Let it be noted that the great heros of the Bible were men and women who prayed ( Dan_6:10 ; Mat_14:23 ; Jam_5:17 ). To under-estimate the power of prayer is to under-estimate the power of God. The prayers of righteous men and women will always be effective, for the God they pray to, is the same God who holds the universe together ( Col_1:17 ). The book of Esther should teach Christians that God can work great things in seemingly impossible circumstances, with very little resources, against great opposition, and with nothing more than "time and chance".
These recorded prayers also serve as good measuring-sticks for Christians today. Faithful congregations still exist, false doctrine still threatens many congregations. When we pray for Christians in other regions, we should make sure that we are touching upon the same needs and concerns that Paul mentioned.
Col_1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
'FOR THIS CAUSE' -Probably involving all the blessings manifested by this congregation (1:3-8), including their love for Paul and Timothy.
'WE ALSO' -Paul and Timothy, including those associated with him (4:10-14).
'SINCE THE DAY WE HEARD IT' -i.e. the day they have received the favorable news of the church here from Epaphras.
'DO NOT CEASE TO PRAY AND MAKE REQUEST FOR YOU' -( 1Th_5:17 ). It would seem that Paul and his associates had prayed for the church in Colossae even before Epaphras had arrived. But since his arrival and hearing the good news about this congregation (1:3-8), and the threats they faced, prayers for this church had been "re-doubled". This congregation had become a pre-occupation among Paul and his fellow-workers.
'THAT YE MAY BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL' -
'FILLED' -Note how Paul isn't afraid to pray for too much. 'The Lord does not want his people to ask for too little. In the spiritual sphere he does not want them to live frugally..' (Hendriksen p. 56) In the absence of miraculous gifts, such as inspiration, this "filling" would only happen as the result of "study" ( 2Ti_2:15 ; Act_17:11 ).
'KNOWLEDGE' -1922. epignosis ep-ig'-no-sis; from 1921; recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: -(ac-)knowledge(-ing, -ment).
'HIS WILL' -And not our will.
Points to Note:
1. 'It is vain to try to serve God without knowing what he desires of us.' (Hendriksen p. 56)
2. The "knowledge" prayed for isn't "speculation" concerning the nature of God, etc..Rather, it is that each Christian would "fully know" the will of God revealed in the Scriptures. Carefully note: (a) An accurate interpretation of the Bible is more than a possibility, rather, it is God's will for each Christian ( Eph_5:17 ; 2Ti_2:15 ). (b) Some doctrines might be hard to understand ( 2Pe_3:15-16 ), but they are not impossible to understand. (c) Each Christian can fully know the Scriptures. The Bible isn't written on a level only for some elite class. (d) It doesn't take you the rest of your life to figure out what God wants you to do. And neither should it take us the rest of our lives to figure out an essential biblical teaching. (e) And the person who says, 'The more I study the Bible, the less I know', is obviously doing something wrong in reference to their study methods. (f) Paul didn't see a Christianity in which mature and studied Christians were increasingly more "confused" about the will of God. Paul didn't see a Christianity in which there would be an "steady increase" in gray areas.
3. Paul often prays for churches and the subject of a full knowledge, often comes up in those prayers ( Eph_1:17-18 ; Php_1:9-10 ).
4. Especially in view of the fact that this congregation was facing or would face false teachers, who boasted in "superior knowledge" (2:8) and "new revelations" (2:18); these Christians desperately need to: (a) Know the truth and know it well. (b) Be convinced that the religion of Jesus Christ contained the "full truth" ( Joh_16:13 ). Robertson notes, 'The cure for these intellectual upstarts is not ignorance, not obscurantism, but more knowledge of the will of God.' (p. 475)
5. 'It's great object is to know the will of God. We are trying not so much to make God listen to us as to make ourselves listen to him...It so often happens that in prayer we are really saying, "Thy will be changed", when we ought to be saying, "Thy will be done". The first object of prayer is not so much to speak to God as to listen to him.' (Barclay p. 108)
6. Today many people ridicule Bible Study, Bible class or preaching. But such are the exact methods by which this prayer is fulfilled.
7. For this prayer to become a reality: (a) Christians do possess in the Bible "all truth". If the Bible is incomplete or corrupted, then Christians can't be "filled" with the full and complete knowledge of God's will. (b) The Bible is written on a level of which all honest men and women can equally understand. (c) The Bible teaches one body of truth.
'IN ALL SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING' -
'SPIRITUAL' -as opposed to the wisdom of this world ( 1Co_1:21 ). The type of "wisdom" that goes against the grain of "secular advice". The Sermon on the Mount is a great contrast between earthly wisdom and God's wisdom (Matthew chapters 5-7).
'WISDOM' -'which discriminates between the false and the true, and grasps the relations in which things stand to each other.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 499) 'discerning the relations of different truths, the logical bearing and consequences of one's principles..' (P.P. Comm. p. 5)
For the best defense against error, is the ability to discern the logical ramifications of Biblical passages. But this again demands diligent effort. The willingness to contemplate Scripture, compare passages, make intensely practical applications and the courage to follow a truth to its logical end. And most importantly, it demands a love for truth ( Pro_23:23 ; 2Th_2:10-12 ), and a proper evaluation of self and God ( Pro_1:7 )
Points to Note:
1. The Bible is much more than just a book of facts and figures. With a full knowledge of the will of God, also comes wisdom and discernment, i.e. the ability to apply it to real life ( Heb_5:14 ).
2. '"Understanding" is...what the Greeks sometimes described as critical knowledge, meaning the ability to apply first principles to any given situation which may arise in life...he is praying that they may understand the great truths of Christianity and may be able to apply them to the tasks and decisions which meet them in everyday living. A man may quite easily be a master of theology and a failure in living; able to write and talk about the eternal truths and yet helpless to apply them to the things which meet him every day . The Christian must know what Christianity means, not in a vacuum but in the business of living.' (Barclay pp. 108-109)
Col_1:10 to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
'TO WALK' -i.e. to live, conduct oneself.
'WORTHILY OF THE LORD' -( Eph_4:1 ; Php_1:27 ; 1Th_2:12 ).
'UNTO ALL PLEASING' -'to His full satisfaction' (Wms); 'and so please God in every way' (TCNT).
Points to Note:
1. 'This lofty wisdom and insight is not an end in itself. It must issue in right practice. Doctrine and ethics are for Paul inseparable. Right conduct must be founded on right thinking.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 499)
Bible knowledge, classes and personal study that fail to change the life are all in vain for that particular individual. God doesn't care how many Scriptures you may have memorized, if such knowledge isn't put into practice.
2. The religion of Jesus Christ and the Bible doesn't exist for mere human intellectual gratification.
3. Carefully note that God hasn't left men in the dark concerning what pleases Him. We don't have to guess or speculate. God has already told us! ( Mic_6:8 ; Mar_16:16 )
4. An imperfect human being can please God! Such isn't an impossible task. 'Walking worthily' doesn't mean that we live like we "deserve" salvation. It means that we take God and His word very seriously. That we understand that Jesus died for us and that God has given us His word so that imperfect human beings can realize that the purpose of our existence is to bring honor to God. To manifest attitudes and behavior that positively reflects upon Him as our Creator ( Mat_5:16 ; Php_2:15 ).
5. You might say that "walking worthily" means living a life that says two basic things: (a) God's decision to create mankind was a good idea. (b) Jesus' death upon the cross to redeem sinful men was a sacrifice well spent.
6. The only real motive that will last for the Christian. Is when a Christian makes up their mind that "pleasing God" is the most important thing in life ( 2Co_5:9 ; Gal_2:20 )
7. And why shouldn't we want to please God? Considering all that God has positively done for us, what would ever cause us to run away from or hold something against Him? We must be honest, God has treated all of us much better the we deserve ( Psa_103:10 ). And God has done something for us, which none of us would have done for God ( Rom_5:6-8 ), much less, each other. The honest truth is, those of us who are unwilling to place God in first place, must be people who are still pre-occupied with themselves, selfish and spiritually immature ( Mat_6:33 ; Mat_16:24-26 ). Nothing is wrong with God, His will "the Church", or what He has done. Something is wrong with us.
8. Also note that the Bible doesn't teach truths which are impractical or truths that are divorced from real life. You won't find a more down-to-earth religion that the religion of Jesus Christ. Preaching that goes over everyone's head, preaching that ceases to be practical, preaching that dwells on concepts divorced from real life, is preaching that is devoid of the gospel.
'BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK' -Which infers that "good works" are by no means just something God has given Christians so that they keep busy and avoid boredom.
Points to Note:
1. God is very vocal about His people being "fruitful", i.e. productive in their service ( Joh_15:1-6 ; Eph_2:10 ; Tit_2:14 ; Tit_3:14 )
2. God expects "success" in the various good works which we tackle. Which infers: (a) God hasn't given us a hopeless cause. (b) God has given us everything we need to succeed ( 2Ti_3:16-17 ). (c) We are capable. (d) God wants Christians to enjoy their "responsibilities".
3. God demands more than just "rote" in good works, i.e. giving a good work mere token effort. Too often Christians approach various good works with the attitude, 'I don't suppose you want to learn anything about the Bible, do you?' 'I don't suppose you need any encouragement or help'. 'I don't suppose you want to change your life'. 'It sure looks like to me that this is a hopeless case or situation.'
4. Note the expression, 'every good work'. Whether it be teaching others, benevolence, training children, encouraging the weak, correcting the unfaithful, etc..."fruit" of some sort can be borne in all those endeavors.
'AND INCREASING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD' -Again the emphasis upon a full or true knowledge of God's revealed will. 'all the time learning to know God better and better' (Tay). This verse may infer that a full and true knowledge of God's will is ONLY POSSIBLE for those Christians who are willing to apply to life and put into action God's truth, i.e. if you don't use it, you will lose it. If you don't apply it to your own life, you will lose sight of that particular truth. And that applying the will of God, using it, being involved in good works, IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN WHY GOD STANDS FOR THAT PARTICULAR TRUTH. ( Jam_1:22-27 )
Col_1:11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy;
'STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER' -( Eph_6:10 ; Php_4:13 ; 1Ti_1:12 ). Note that such strengthening is connected with "knowing his will" (1:10). This isn't some mysterious inner strengthening, that overrides human freewill. Paul often strengthened the churches by teaching them ( Act_14:22 ; Act_16:4-5 ). 'empowered with all power' (Robertson p. 476)
'ALL' -Consider how Paul prays for the utmost growth among Christians ( Eph_1:19 ).
'ACCORDING TO THE MIGHT OF HIS GLORY' -i.e. His glorious might ( Eph_1:19 ; Rom_6:4 ) Eadie notes, 'If we survey the glory of God in creation, the immensity of its architectural power overwhelms us; or in providence, its exhaustless and versatile energy perplexes us; or in redemption, its moral achievements delight and amaze us.' (p. 28)
The same type of "power" is available to Christians, i.e. through the true knowledge of God ( Rom_1:16 ). If we just allow ourselves to be convicted by the gospel message, motivated by the selfless sacrifice of Jesus Christ, silenced by the grace of God and our own sins ( Rom_8:32 ), then we will be convinced that there is nothing that we cannot face and overcome with such promises, instruction, incentives, warnings and assurances. '..realize the God-like in spiritual heroism, so as to resist evil, overcome temptation, banish fear, surmount difficulties, embrace opportunities of well-doing...and prove that they are able to rise above everything before which unaided humanity sinks and succumbs.' (Eadie p. 28)
'UNTO ALL PATIENCE' -Carefully note the result of such strengthening . The strengthening that Paul was praying for, wouldn't result in miracles, superhuman strength or the removal of all difficulties. The strengthening under consideration falls into the moral and ethical realm
'PATIENCE' -5281. hupomone hoop-om-on-ay'; from 5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: -enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).
Points to Note:
1. Consider carefully the contents of these prayers being offered by Paul and his associates. 'There is nothing in this world so practical as prayer. It is not escape from reality. Prayer and action go hand in hand. We pray not in order to escape life but in order to be better able to meet it.' (Barclay p. 109)
2. And remember, the "patience" which is a godly virtue, isn't mere resignation. 'it does not mean patience in the sense of simply bowing the head and letting the tide of events flow over one. It means not only the ability to bear things, but the ability, in bearing them, to turn them into glory. It is a conquering patience ...the ability to deal triumphantly with anything that life can do to us.' (Barclay p. 110) ( Jam_1:2-4 ; Rom_5:3-5 )
3. Unfortunately, too many members are under the impression that as long as they don't cuss, swear or lose their temper, that they have been "patient". 'It is the ability to go manfully onward in the midst of life's setbacks.' [Note: _ The Book of Colossians. Garland Elkins, Thomas B. Warren Editors. p. 57.] 'stout-heartedness under ill fortune' (P.P. Comm. p. 5)
'LONGSUFFERING' -3115. makrothumia mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah; from the same as 3116; longanimity, i.e. (objectively) forbearance or (subjectively) fortitude: -longsuffering, patience.
-Which includes longsuffering with people ( 1Th_5:14 ). Sadly, the people we tend to be the least longsuffering with, are those people we claim to love the most, i.e. our parents, spouses, children and especially our own brethren. 'Long endurance that does not retaliate' (Robertson p. 476)
These passages and others infer the truth that causes of distress, trial and irritation will always exist in this life. The Christian greatly needs patience and longsuffering for the precise reason that MANY EVENTS AND PEOPLE in life will try one's patience and fortitude. False teachers will always exist. Suffering will always exist. The temptation for fulfillment now will always exist, etc..
'WITH JOY' -Listen to Erdman: 'It is possible to endure and to forbear with a spirit which is stoical and sour; but it should be possible for a Christian to meet difficulties and to endure wrongs with a temper of buoyant and triumphant gladness..' (p. 47) Joyfulness and patient endurance, contentment in the midst of adversity--now that's Christianity ( Php_4:11-12 ).
'If joy is not rooted in the soil of suffering, it is shallow. It is easy to be joyful when things go well...So the Christian prayer is, "Make me, O Lord, victorious over every circumstance; make me patient with every person; and withal give me the joy which no circumstance and no man will ever take from me'. (Barclay p. 110)
Thus the real question isn't, "Are you still faithful?" The real question is, "Are you happy that you are still faithful?" Do you resent your tender conscience and morality or do you rejoice in such things? Are you mad at the church or do you rejoice in the fellowship available with other Christians?
This infers that if one is a Christian and miserable, that such a person is simply "enduring" for the sake of outward appearances, the feelings of others, etc...
THE ABUNDANT REASONS TO REJOICE:
Col_1:12 giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;
'GIVING THANKS' -Gratitude is a prominent theme in this letter (2:7; 3:15,17; 4:2). Eadie notes, 'such joy is no romantic enthusiasm, for it is based upon experience .' (p. 31) 'Patience, perseverance, and joy should continually be accompanied by a thankful spirit. In Christianity, it has been well said, theology is grace, and ethics is gratitude . If God's action and attitude toward his people have been characterized by grace, their response to him, in life and conduct as well as in thought and word, should be characterized by gratitude. Nothing less is fitting .' (F.F. Bruce p. 49) ( Eph_5:4 )
People often will say, 'Never lose your sense of humor'. Let it also be said, 'May you never lose your sense of gratitude towards God.'
'UNTO THE FATHER' -Where Paul has us direct our gratitude ( Eph_5:20 ).
'MADE US MEET' -2427. hikanoo hik-an-o'-o; from 2425; to enable, i.e. qualify: -make able (meet).
-'fitted us' (Con); 'qualified us' (Mof); 'who has qualified us' (NASV). 'to make sufficient, to make competent, to qualify' (P.P. Comm. p. 6). 'Who made us fit or adequate for.' (Robertson p. 476)
Point to Note:
Since everyone doesn't have an inheritance in heaven ( 1Th_4:13 ), and yet God desires that all be saved ( 2Pe_3:9 ) it must be assumed that certain conditions need to be met before God "qualifies" one ( Joh_1:12 ). Those conditions are hearing the gospel ( Rom_10:17 ); faith ( Joh_3:16 ); repentance ( Act_17:30 ); confession ( Rom_10:9-10 ); and baptism ( Mar_16:16 ).
And note, since God "made us meet", such conditions as faith and baptism are not to be viewed as human attempts to merit or earn salvation. Both are part of God's gracious provisions for our salvation, that we must simply submit to ( Eph_2:1-8 ).
'PARTAKERS OF THE INHERITANCE' -'to share the lot of those who are living in the light' (Phi).
Points to Note:
1. 'For his holy people, the people of his choice, God in earlier days provided an earthly inheritance, a land which they might enter and possess. But the inheritance in view here belongs to a higher plane and a more enduring order than any terrestrial Canaan.' (F.F. Bruce p. 50)
2. Thus Christians, Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ, the church now constitutes the "people of God" ( Gal_3:26-29 ; 1Pe_2:9 ; Eph_2:11-22 ).
3. The "inheritance" stressed in the N.T. isn't the land of Canaan, rather it is heaven itself ( 1Pe_1:4 ). The Premillennialist is wrong on a number of counts: (a) Physical Israel no longer has any role in the plan of God. (b) No land remains to be inherited by the people of God, if it does, then it belongs to Christians! The true seed of Abraham ( Gal_3:26-29 ).
4. This inheritance involves all the present and future blessings which come from being "in Christ" ( Eph_1:3 ; Eph_2:7 ).
'OF THE SAINTS IN LIGHT' -Need not be limited to future glory. Christians who are alive walk "in the light" as well ( Eph_5:8 ; 1Th_5:5 ; 1Jn_1:7 ; 1Jn_2:10 ).
No matter "who" you are. If you are a Christian, then God has qualified you to receive the inheritance that is reserved for every faithful Christian! You, even plain ordinary you, can go to heaven too!
Col_1:13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;
'WHO' -i.e. the Father (1:12). Now Paul describes their glorious deliverance from a condition of former hopelessness.
'DELIVERED' -4506. rhoumai rhoo'-om-ahee; middle voice of an obsolete verb, akin to 4482 (through the idea of a current; compare 4511); to rush or draw (for oneself), i.e. rescue: -deliver(-er).
-How foolish to assert, 'What has God done for me'! Or, 'Why should I serve Him?'
'OUT OF THE POWER OF DARKNESS' -'the dominion of' (Con).
Points to Note:
1. Unfortunately, many members attempt to glorify or romanticize their "unconverted days". God brings us back to reality ( Rom_6:21 ; 1Pe_4:1-4 ). These were not the days of "wine and roses", rather, they were the days of darkness.
2. Eadie notes, 'What men should believe and what they should do, what they should rest on and what they should hope for, what the mind should fasten on as truth and what the heart should gather in upon itself as a portion, what the spirit should present as acceptable worship and what the conscience should venerate as a rule of duty--all had been a matter of deep perplexity or hopeless uncertainty to the Colossians prior to their spiritual translation. There were occasionally in the heathen world shrewd guesses at truth...But the masses were involved in obscurity..Ignorance, vice, and misery, the triple shades of this darkness, held possession of them.' (pp. 35-36) ( Act_26:18 )
3. And lest the reader suppose that things have changed, and that people outside of Christ in our enlightened 20th Century are close to the light. Allow me to say the following words: Evolution, Abortion, Gay Rights, Casinos, Cocaine, Alcohol, Astrology, Pornography and Feminism. A mere casual reading of bumper stickers will inform you that your neighbors are in darkness just as much as the neighbors and friends of these Christians in Colossae.
4. And let us also remember the "darkness" that exists in the denominational world, from hence we hear things like, 'It doesn't matter what you believe, just as long as you're sincere.' Or, 'baptism isn't essential to salvation.'
'TRANSLATED' -3179. methistemi meth-is'-tay-mee; or ( 1Co_13:2 ) methistano meth-is-tan'-o; from 3326 and 2476; to transfer, i.e. carry away, depose or (figuratively) exchange, seduce: -put out, remove, translate, turn away.
'THE KINGDOM OF THE SON OF HIS LOVE' -'kingdom of his beloved Son' (Con).
Points to Note:
1. The Kingdom is a present reality and it was present in the First Century. You cannot be translated into something which doesn't exist. What these Christians were delivered from was a real present reality, i.e. the domain of darkness. Therefore, where they were translated had to be a present reality also.
2. The Kingdom that the Bible emphasizes isn't a millennial kingdom upon this earth. It is a spiritual kingdom composed of all Christians ( Rev_1:5-6 ; Rev_5:9-10 ). It is the same relationship which is also referred to by the descriptive title "church" (Compare Act_20:28 = Rev_1:5-6 ) and ( Act_2:38 ; Act_2:41 ; Act_2:47 "added" with Col_1:13 'translated'.)
3. Baptism is an essential part of this translation process, as is faith. ( Joh_3:5 ; Act_2:38 ; Act_2:41 ; 1Co_12:13 ; Col_2:12-13 ). In this kingdom is found forgiveness or those in the kingdom are forgiven (1:14) But God places baptism as the last act prior to the forgiveness of sins ( Act_2:38 ; Act_22:16 ).
'THE SON OF HIS LOVE' -'This kingdom is also a realm of love, for the Son who rules is the supreme object of the Father's affection. He is the well-beloved Son; he is "the Son of his love." (Erdman p. 48) Thus if one is in the kingdom, they are definitely in the right place, as far as God is concerned. What closer relationship could a person have with God while upon this earth, then be in the kingdom in which His beloved Son rules???
This means that those in the Kingdom have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, for it is the Kingdom that He rules over ( Eph_1:22-23 ). Thus, Jesus isn't a distant Savior. We don't need angels, Mary, Joseph or the Righteous Brothers to intercede for us or inform the Lord that we are in need ( Heb_4:14-16 ).
Col_1:14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins:
'IN WHOM' -i.e. in the Son. Thus being "in the kingdom" is the same as being "in Christ". Which means: (a) Absolutely no redemption or salvation is found outside of Christ ( Eph_1:3 ). Or, in other words, those outside the church aren't saved ( Eph_5:23 ; Act_2:47 ; Act_20:28 ). (b) Those outside of Christ have no favorable relationship with God ( 1Pe_2:9-10 ; Eph_2:11 ). (c) Again, the significance of baptism is seen. For baptism stands between one and being "in Christ" ( Gal_3:26-27 ).
'REDEMPTION' -629. apolutrosis ap-ol-oo'-tro-sis; from a compound of 575 and 3083; (the act) ransom in full, i.e. (figuratively) riddance, or (specially) Christian salvation: -deliverance, redemption.
-'Continuing the image of an enslaved and ransomed people' (Vincent p. 467). Which means that one isn't really purchased by God until they are "in Christ" ( Eph_1:7 ). Now, the price of our redemption is the blood of Christ ( 1Pe_1:18-19 ). Once again, the importance of not only faith, but baptism is demonstrated. For the final act prior to such redemption is baptism ( Mar_16:16 ). Which informs us that the "grace" of Rom_3:24 has conditions.
'THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS' -
Points to Note:
1. Regardless of what other generations may claim, let it be noted, that what our redemption primarily consists of, isn't the liberation from poor self-esteem or hurtful memories of the past. But, our own sins, selfish and arrogant acts, were what necessitated our redemption! Unfortunately, many modern denominations are preaching a "gospel" which in effect blames everyone else for our "bondage".
2. 'When anybody heard the Greek word "ransom" (on which the word "redemption" is based) ..is was natural for him to think of the purchase-money for manumitting slaves.' (Hendriksen pp. 64-65)
Col_1:15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;
In the following section Paul expands upon the Son mentioned in 1:13-14. It appears that in writing this section that God through Paul is confronting a present or future error which would threaten the church.
Barclay writes, 'There was a tendency of thought in the early Church called Gnosticism...These men were dissatisfied with what they considered the rude simplicity of Christianity and wished to turn it into a philosophy and to align it with the other philosophies which held the field at that time (sound familiar?). The Gnostics began with the basic assumption that matter was altogether evil and spirit altogether good..and that it was out of this evil matter that the world was created. The Christian, to use the technical phrase, believes in creation out of nothing; the Gnostic believed in creation out of evil matter. Now God was spirit..it followed, as the Gnostic saw it, that the true God could not touch matter and, therefore, could not himself be the agent of creation. So the Gnostics believed that God put forth a series of emanations, each a little further away from God until at last there was one so distant from God, that it could handle matter and create the world. The Gnostics went further. As the emanations went further and further from God, they became more and more ignorant of him. And in the very distant emanations there was not only ignorance of God, but also hostility to him. The Gnostics came to the conclusion that the emanation who created the world was both ignorant of and hostile to the true God; and sometimes they identified that emanation with the God of the Old Testament. This has certain logical consequences. (i) ...the world was not God's world but that of a power hostile to him...(ii) As the Gnostics saw it, Jesus Christ was by no means unique...They insisted that Jesus was merely one of these emanations. He might stand high in the series; he might even stand highest; but he was only one of many...' (pp. 114-115)
It is against this type of background or context that the Preeminence of Jesus Christ is set forth.
THE TRUE NATURE OF JESUS CHRIST:
'WHO' -i.e. His beloved Son (1:13-14).
'IMAGE' -1504. eikon i-kone'; from 1503; a likeness, i.e. (literally) statue, profile, or (figuratively) representation, resemblance: -image.
-'is more than likeness which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype.' (Vincent p. 468)
-'It includes the three ideas of "resemblance, representation, revelation". It expresses ...such a representation as that of a face reflected in a mirror.' (Erdman p. 51)
-'the visible expression of' (Phi); 'the exact likeness of' (Wms); 'the true likeness of the God we cannot see' (Knox).
Points to Note:
1. Other passages reveal that Jesus is 'not simply a sketch of God or a summary and more than a lifeless portrait of him. In him there is nothing left out; he is the full manifestation of God, and nothing more is necessary.' (Barclay pp. 118-119)
2. Consider the following passages ( Joh_1:1 ; Joh_1:18 ; Joh_14:6-9 ; 2Co_4:4 ; Php_2:6 ; Col_1:19 ; Col_2:9 ; Heb_1:3 ' and the exact representation of His nature.. ').
3. Contrary to what the Jehovah Witnesses advocate, Jesus isn't an angel or even an archangel ( Heb_1:4-14 ). Actually the Witnesses have more in common with the Gnostics than Paul. For they place Jesus on a spiritual level below the Father.
'OF THE INVISIBLE GOD' -( 1Ti_6:16 ; 1Ti_1:17 ; Joh_1:18 ).
Points to Note:
1. 'To say that Christ is the image of God is to say that in him the nature and being of God have been perfectly revealed--that in him the invisible has become visible.' (F.F. Bruce pp. 57-58)
2. Eadie notes, 'A visible God can alone be the image of God, possessing all the elements and attributes of His nature. The Divine can be fully pictured only in the Divine.' (p. 43)
3. And we should carefully note that Jesus was the 'image of the invisible God' when He was upon the earth. For He was in the same invisible condition as the Father both previous to His incarnation and following His ascension. Jesus taught such while He was upon this earth ( Joh_1:18 ; Joh_14:9 ). This means that Jesus was both fully God and fully man when He walked upon this earth. Jesus didn't cease to be God when He partook of flesh and blood ( Joh_1:1 ; Joh_1:14 ; Joh_5:18 ; Joh_5:23 ).
4. This also infers that God can't be fully understood apart from Jesus Christ ( Joh_1:18 ; Joh_14:9 ). Jesus is the perfect manifestation of the invisible God. His compassion, mercy, anger at sin, human stubbornness, etc...are exactly the way that God the Father feels about the same things.
'Such a revelation ( Joh_1:18 ) as Christ gives enables man to know a God who can be trusted and obeyed and loved. Hungering human hearts are not willing to accept the verdict that there is no God; nor are they satisfied with abstractions concerning "the Absolute", "the Unknowable", or "the Reign of Law". In Christ is found a God who is near, who cares, who hears, who pities, and who saves.' (Erdman p. 52)
5. Unfortunately, even some within the church seem to be arguing that Jesus was simply a perfect man while upon the earth. Actually, this position is advocated by the Witnesses, 'Rutherford said that "In truth, when Jesus was on earth he was a perfect man, nothing more and nothing less." [Note: _ Jehovah Witnesses. Volume 1. Maurice Barnett p. 15.]
But a perfect man isn't the 'image of the invisible God'. Before he sinned, Adam was a perfect man. But was the sinless Adam omnipresent, all-knowing, eternal (self-sufficient and dependent upon nothing outside of himself for his existence)? Certainly not. Jesus was much more than simply a perfect man, He was the eternal God, the Creator in the flesh ( Joh_1:1-14 ).
JESUS AND THE CREATION:
'THE FIRSTBORN' -4416. prototokos pro-tot-ok'-os; from 4413 and the alternate of 5088; first-born (usually as noun, literally or figuratively): -firstbegotten(-born).
Points to Note:
1. While the word "firstborn" can mean the first one born ( Gen_27:19 ; Exo_11:5 ; Luk_2:7 ). From the context and other passages we are forced to conclude that the word "firstborn" in this context and others refers not to the origin of Jesus, but to the position of Jesus.
2. The word "firstborn" is often used in the Scriptures with no reference to "time", but rather to a position of preeminence ( Exo_4:22 ; Heb_12:23 ).
3. The context of Col_1:15-20 demands that the word "firstborn" refers to position and not to origin. For the word is used again in 1:18, 'the firstborn from the dead'. But Jesus wasn't the first person raised from the dead. Rather, He is the most important one resurrected, the one resurrected to die no more, the resurrection that guarantees the resurrection of every person ( 1Co_15:22-23 ; Rev_1:5 ).
6. Other Scriptures remove Jesus from the category of "created beings" ( Joh_1:1 ; Joh_1:3 ; Col_1:16 ). Even from the category of created beings in the spiritual realm (1:16; Heb_1:7-8 ). In addition, it is impossible for a created being to fully disclose God, for part of what makes God, God, is His eternal (uncreated) nature.
7. The Jehovah Witnesses have made a big mistake. For in declaring that Jesus is a created being, they only have succeeded in lowering the concept of God. For if a created being can be called "the very image of God's substance" ( Heb_1:3 ), doesn't that mean that the Father is very close to being a created being Himself?
8. In reference to the Creation, Jesus is before it, separate from it and superior to it.
9. Those groups which insist that Jesus is a created being or only a perfect man while upon the earth must deal with the additional fact that: (a) Only God is to be worshipped ( Mat_4:10 ). (b) Worshipping any created being, even an angel is considered to be idolatry ( Rom_1:25 ). (c) Even angels rejected worship ( Rev_22:8-9 ). (d) And yet Jesus while upon the earth, He not only accepted worship ( Mat_14:33 ); but clearly promoted Himself as one worthy to be worshipped ( Joh_5:23 ). The apostles advocated the same thing ( Eph_5:19 ).
10. The following Scriptures teach both a pre-existence of Jesus (before the incarnation or creation itself), and an eternal nature for Jesus ( Heb_1:2 ; Heb_10:5-9 ; Joh_1:1-2 ; Joh_8:58 ; Rev_1:17 ; Rev_2:8 ; Rev_22:13 ; Rev_22:16 ; Isa_9:6 )
Col_1:16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;
'FOR' -Which explains the previous statement that Jesus is the "firstborn of all creation". Jesus isn't a created being, for "in him were ALL THINGS CREATED". Again, the previous statement refers to position and not origin. Jesus can rightfully be called the preeminent one of creation for He created it all!
'IN HIM' -Carefully note we have three expressions in this verse in reference to Jesus and the Creation: (a) "in him". (b) "through him". (c) "unto him".
Points to Note:
1. The first expression "in him", probably means that He is the "source" of all created things. '"in him" all creative force resided.' (Erdman p. 52) Compare with Eph_1:4 , like redemption, creation wasn't accomplished independent of Christ. 'On Christ depended the act of creation so that it was not done independently of him.' (O'Brien p. 45)
2. "In Him" simply means that the "power" to create everything in both the spiritual and physical realms, out of nothing, inherently resides in Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus wasn't simply there at the creation. He did more than "assist" the Father or "lend a hand". It was out of Who He is, it was from the power that inherently resides in the Son that all things were made. Creation could have been done "in the Father" or "in the Holy Spirit". For all three members of the Godhead inherently have the same ability. But it was done "in the Son".
'WERE ALL THINGS CREATED' -( Joh_1:3 ; Heb_1:2 ) 'The article gives a collective sense "the all", the whole universe of things.' (Vincent p. 469)
'WERE CREATED' -'The aorist tense, denoting a definite historical event.' (Vincent p. 469). "Matter" isn't eternal, rather it had a definite beginning. ( Heb_1:10-12 )
'IN THE HEAVENS AND UPON THE EARTH, THINGS VISIBLE AND THINGS INVISIBLE, WHETHER THRONES OR DOMINIONS, OR PRINCIPALITIES OR POWERS'
Points to Note:
1. 'Every form of matter and life owes its origin to the Son of God, no matter in what sphere it may be found...Christ's creative work was no local or limited operation; it was not bounded by this little orb...Every form and kind of matter, simple or complex--the atom and the star, the sun and the clod--every grade of life from the worm to the angel--every order of intellect and being around and above us..are the product of the Firstborn.' (Eadie pp. 51-52)
2. Both the Jews and Gnostics had a highly developed system of angels in their theology. Paul simply states that all beings in the spiritual realm, no matter how high or powerful, owe their origin to the Son of God..'He is in effect saying to the Gnostics, '"You give a great place in your thinking to angels. You rate Jesus Christ merely as one of them. So far from that, he created them." Paul lays it down that the agent of God in creation is no inferior, ignorant and hostile secondary god, but the Son himself.' (Barclay p. 120)
3. Hendriksen notes, 'The present-day application of this truth is immediately evident..' (p. 70) Too many "religious" and "non-religious" people fear what might be "out-in-space" (i.e invaders from another planet). Or they fear what "might to out there in the 'spirit world'", i.e. ghosts, demons, etc...Hey Christian, the Son of God, the God that you serve created the entire physical and spiritual universe! The God that you serve is "in charge", relax! ( Heb_13:5-6 ).
I like what Bruce said, 'For those who have been redeemed by Christ, the universe has no ultimate terrors: they know that their Redeemer is also creator, ruler, and goal of all.' (p. 63)
4. Obviously, Jesus cannot be both "creature" and "Creator" at the same time. If He created "all things", then that infers that He didn't create himself, i.e. He is separate and distinct from "created things".
5. It would be ridiculous then to worship the devil or even angels, for such spiritual beings, are still only "created" beings.
6. This verse seems to suggest that all evil spirits, demons and the devil himself are created beings, i.e the devil isn't "divine". (Compare 1:16 with Eph_1:20-21 ; Eph_6:12 ; Rom_8:38 ) Which means: (a) The devil isn't all-powerful, neither is he all-knowing, omnipresent, or eternal. Which means that even the devil has his own "blind-spots" ( 2Co_2:11 ). (b) Since everything created by God is good ( Gen_1:31 ), this would suggest that all evil forces in the spiritual realm were originally good. (c) And if Jesus originally created such beings, being their Creator HE CAN ALSO DISPOSE OF THEM ( Mat_25:41 ; 2Pe_2:4 ).
'AND THINGS INVISIBLE' -'That is to say, all the laws by which this world is order and not chaos are an expression of the mind of the Son. The law of gravity and the rest, the laws by which the universe hangs together, are not only scientific laws but also divine.' (Barclay p. 120)
'By this the apostle declares that the invisible beings of the world above us, however lofty their names or mighty their powers, are Christ's creatures as much as the lowliest objects within our sight.' (Coffman p. 337)
'THROUGH HIM' -i.e. He is the active agent or the instrument in Creation.
'AND UNTO HIM' -Jesus is the Final Goal toward which all creation is heading ( 2Co_5:10 ). The same expression is used in reference to God the Father ( 1Co_8:6 ; Rom_11:36 ). 'All things, as they had their beginning in Him, tend to Him as their consummation, to depend on and serve Him ( Heb_2:10 )...The false teachers maintained that the universe proceeded from God indirectly, through a succession of emanations. Christ, at best, was only one of these. As such, the universe could not find its consummation in Him.' (Vincent p. 470)
Points to Note:
1. Which means that until a man or woman obeys Jesus Christ, they still haven't found the true purpose for which they were created. Which in turn means, as long as a person remains outside of Christ, they aren't functioning properly, they are operating contrary to the Owner's Manual, tremendous potential is being lost and wasted. True and real happiness, contentment or fulfillment isn't possible ( Ecc_2:1-11 ).
2. The sole purpose of this universe is to serve Jesus Christ. And that's it ( Ecc_12:13-14 ).
Col_1:17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.
'AND HE' -Jesus Christ.
'IS BEFORE ALL THINGS' -In the sense of time and priority. To create all things, the Creator must be in existence before all things. And this is an eternal, self-existence ( Isa_9:6 ). Jesus could simply say of Himself, as was said at the Burning Bush, "I AM" ( Exo_3:14 ; John 8:24; 58 ).
'IN HIM ALL THINGS CONSIST' -'hold together', 'subsist' (Con), 'the universe is one harmonious whole' (Wey), 'all coheres in him' (Mof).
'CONSIST' -4921. sunistao soon-is-tah'-o; or (strengthened) sunistano soon-is-tan'-o; or sunistemi soon-is'-tay-mee; from 4862 and 2476 (including its collat. forms); to set together, i.e. (by implication) to introduce (favorably), or (figuratively) to exhibit; intransitively, to stand near, or (figuratively) to constitute: -approve, commend, consist, make, stand (with).
-'to place together and here to cohere, to hold together..Christ is the controlling and unifying force in nature.' (Robertson p. 479)
Points to Note:
1. 'Christ not only creates, but maintains in continuous stability and productiveness.' (Vincent p. 471)
2. Apart from Jesus Christ, the physical universe would fly apart ( Heb_1:3 ). Which apparently is what is going to happen when Jesus comes again and the physical universe completely dissolves ( 2Pe_3:9-10 ). For the physical universe to come to an end, Jesus simply must let go of it.
3. 'they form "a cosmos instead of a chaos"...To see Christ as "existent behind all laws", to regard stars and atoms, and the worlds of men and of angels, as "in him" and "through him" and "unto him", is to gain a wholly new and overwhelming vision of his glory and to find a new beauty and splendor in the universe he has made and ever sustains.' (Erdman p. 54)
4. And Eadie says, 'Are we not entranced with the dignity of our Redeemer and are we not amazed at His condescension and love? That the creator and upholder of the universe should come down to such a world as this, and clothe Himself in the inferior nature of its race, and in that nature die to forgive and save it, is the most amazing of revelations. Dare we lift our hearts to contemplate and credit it? And yet it is truth, most glorious truth...The God of the first chapter of Genesis is the babe of the first chapter of Matthew. He whom Isaiah depicts as "the Lord God, the creator of the ends of the earth", "who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span", is the Christ crucified...He who, in the pages of Jeremiah, is "the true God, the living God, and an everlasting King", is in the pages of John the Word made flesh--the weeping Jesus--the master girded with towel and washing his disciple's feet--the sufferer crowned with thorns and nailed in nakedness to the cross.... He by whom all things were made had not "where to lay His head". What faith in power and extent should not be reposed in such a Saviour-God!' (pp. 58-59)
JESUS AND THE CHURCH:
Col_1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
'AND' -in addition to the Creation, Christ also holds a position of preeminence over the "new creation".
'THE HEAD OF THE BODY' -( Eph_1:21-23 ).
Points to Note:
1. 'the body is the servant of the head...Without him the Church cannot think the truth, cannot act correctly, cannot decide its direction.' (Barclay p. 121)
2. Which leaves no room or authority for a human head (the pope), governing body (the Watchtower), convention or conference over the Church. Jesus is the sole head of the Church.
3. Therefore, the "true church" will always be composed of those people who are listening to the head (2:19; Eph_5:23 ; 1Ti_6:3 ; 2Jn_1:9 ).
4. Macknight in quoting Dr. Leachman says, 'It is evident to every one, that the reducing of men under one great head, is the most natural means of uniting them to one another.'
5. 'if the Son of God is the Organic and Ruling Head of the church, then the church is in no sense whatever dependent on any creature, angel or otherwise....' (Hendriksen p. 77)
The modern application: (a) The Church doesn't mean Mary, Joseph or the illustrious dead to intercede on its behalf. (b) The church doesn't need outside sources of spiritual nourishment, i.e. New Age thinking, human philosophy, or Eastern Religion. (c) Christ in His revelation has given the church everything it needs to function effectively. We don't need "new truth", at the same time we don't need a new purpose, new "offices" or a new organizational structure.
6. Since the same God who Created this Universe is the Same God who authored the Bible: (a) Scientific truth and spiritual truth will never contradict, i.e. true science and true biblical teaching will never find themselves in conflict. (b) In addition, since this same God created everything in the spiritual and invisible realm. The Christian always knows that the Bible is right when it touches upon scientific truth, metaphysical truth, religious truth, moral truth, etc...(c) THE BIBLE IS THE ORIGINAL AND ONLY GENUINE "WHOLE EARTH CATALOG".
'OF THE BODY' -i.e. the Church ( Eph_1:22-23 ). We often forget that in calling the church, 'the body', God is stressing how dependent the church is upon Christ and also the dependence, closeness and togetherness and mutual participation and work that should exist in this relationship. Being a Christian means being a functioning part of the body ( Rom_12:4-5 ; 1Co_12:13 ff).
'WHO IS THE BEGINNING' -Since this verse is dealing with Christ's role in redemption, it appears that the verse means, 'He is the origin of the church', as well as the universe ( Mat_16:18 ; Act_20:28 ). He is the author of our salvation ( Heb_2:10 ), the source of eternal life (5:9); and the pioneer who has blazed the trail to heaven ( Heb_12:2 ).
'THE FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD' -( Rev_1:5 ). That is, the preeminent one among all the resurrected. The first one to be resurrected to die no more. And the one from whom all future resurrections are tied ( 1Co_15:22-23 ).
Points to Note:
1. This statement means that Jesus also holds a place of absolute authority over the realm of death ( Rev_1:17-18 ; Heb_2:14-15 ; 2Ti_1:10 ). There is no realm or sphere which isn't under His present authority ( Mat_28:18 ). 'Even in that realm where men seek to avoid His direction, they will find that He is reigning there also.' (Elkins/Warren p. 79)
2. 'Christ is not merely someone who lived and died and of whom we read and learn.' (Barclay p. 121) The church isn't founded upon a dead hero or deceased founder. Mankind isn't faced with a "legacy", but a living Christ!
3. 'By his Resurrection he has shown that he has conquered every opposing power and that there is nothing in life or in death which can bind him.' (Barclay p. 122)
'THAT IN ALL THINGS' -All realms, physical, spiritual. In Creation and In The Church, Among the Living and among the dead.
'HE MIGHT HAVE THE PREEMINENCE' -'that he, in all things, may stand first' (TCNT); 'occupy the foremost place' (Wey); 'to be in all things alone supreme' (NEB); 'so that He is first in everything' (Tay)
'PREEMINENCE' -4409. proteuo prote-yoo'-o; from 4413; to be first (in rank or influence): -have the preeminence.
Points to Note:
1. Human sin had somewhat frustrated the original purposes of Creation. But through His death for sin and resurrection, Jesus frustrated the devil's evil purposes: (a) Saved men didn't have to fear death ( Heb_2:14-15 ). (b) All men could find deliverance and freedom in Christ ( Joh_8:32 ; Act_26:18 ).
2. Through His resurrection He manifested His superiority in the spiritual realm ( Col_2:15 ; Rom_1:4 ; Eph_1:20-21 ). The resurrection seriously demonstrated that nothing, no power or dominion can stand in the way of God's purposes. All the powers of evil couldn't stop his resurrection from the dead.
3. Carefully note that Jesus is First In All Things NOW! He presently reigns as King in the physical and spiritual realm ( Mat_28:18 ; Eph_1:20-23 ; Rev_3:21 ).
Col_1:19 For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell;
'FOR IT WAS' -All of this was by matter of design. Nothing in the above verses happened by accident. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn't an act of last minute planning, going to plan B or Divine desperation.
'THE GOOD PLEASURE OF THE FATHER' -The Father doesn't resent the equality of the Son. In 'God' we find complete unity, admiration, love, respect, and purpose ( Joh_10:30 ). There is never and there has been never a "power-struggle" among the members of the Godhead. In contrast, observe the jealousy, envy, etc...that is found among the "god's" in other religious systems.
'IN HIM' -i.e. Christ.
'ALL THE FULNESS DWELL' -'the full nature of God' (Phi); 'the whole of the divine perfections' (Wey). ( Col_2:9 )
'FULNESS' -4138. pleroma play'-ro-mah; from 4137; repletion or completion, i.e. (subjectively) what fills (as contents, supplement, copiousness, multitude), or (objectively) what is filled (as container, performance, period): -which is put in to fill up, piece that filled up, fulfilling, full, fulness.
-'The word must be taken in its passive sense--that with which a thing is filled, not that which fills. The fulness denotes the sum-total of the divine powers and attributes... Thus the phrase "in Him should all the fulness dwell" gathers into a grand climax the previous statements--image of God, first-born of all creation, Creator, the eternally preexistent, the Head of the Church, the victor over death, the first in all things..' (Vincent p. 473)
Points to Note:
1. Vincent's observation is correct. For "who" else could such a being be? The previous expressions demand a Being who is eternal, all-powerful, all-wise, omnipresent, holy, merciful, etc...that the only Being Who could meet those conditions IS GOD HIMSELF!
2. Note the word "all". 'The powers and attributes of Deity were not to be distributed among a multitude of angels.' (Hendriksen p. 79)
3. Thus any "doctrine" or religious system which denies that all wisdom, power, redemption etc...can be found in Jesus Christ, is a false teaching.
4. The word "fulness" may have been chosen, to fight the error faced or to be faced by these Christians. Gnosticism believed that a whole series of powers existed between the supreme God and man, so that any communication between God and us or us and God, had to pass through all these spiritual mediators. 'Those who thought in this way would be careful to treat those powers with becoming respect. But the whole of this theosophical apparatus is undermined here in one simple, direct affirmation: the totality of divine essence and power is resident in Christ. He is the one, all-sufficient intermediary between God and the world of humanity, and all the attributes of God--are disclosed in him.' (Bruce pp. 73-74)
CHRIST AND OUR REDEMPTION:
Col_1:20 and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens.
'THROUGH HIM TO RECONCILE ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF' -As in Creation, Christ is also the active agent in our redemption. And Jesus was chosen, because He was all-sufficient to perform the work.
'RECONCILE' -604. apokatallasso ap-ok-at-al-las'-so; from 575 and 2644; to reconcile fully: -reconcile.
Note the thought of "reconcile FULLY". Christ offers a reconciliation that needs no improvement, addition or supplement. Christ doesn't offer a "basic" or "bare bones" salvation package. When you are saved, you are fully reconciled to God. There is no need for human or angelic mediators ( 1Ti_2:5 ) to perfect or put on the finishing touches.
Points to Note:
1. God didn't need to be reconciled to man, for God didn't have a problem. Man needed to be reconciled to God (1:21). We were the ones who had sinned.
2. God took the initiative in our redemption ( Rom_5:6-8 ; Joh_3:16 ). God was moving toward us, manifesting love for us, even while we were in sin or moving alway from Him.
3. God takes our salvation every seriously. He didn't commit this task to angels. He didn't have a mere man die for the human race. This job, He came down and performed Himself ( Joh_1:1 ; Joh_1:14 ) .
4. The word reconcile also infers that we hadn't always been hostile towards God. Sin was a path that we chose ( 1Pe_2:25 ), our lost condition was a result of our own selfish choices ( Eph_2:1-3 ; Eph_4:17-19 ). We weren't born lost, rather we were born pure and innocent ( 1Co_14:20 ).
'ALL THINGS' -Defined at the end of the verse. This means that all men "can" be saved, if they so desire ( 2Pe_3:9 ). The Calvinistic idea of "limited atonement", i.e. Jesus only died for the predestined, is a false concept.
At the same time "all things" doesn't teach that all are automatically saved ( Mar_16:16 ) or that all will eventually be saved at some point in eternity ( Mat_25:46 ). Jesus made reconciliation possible for all men. Unfortunately, many refuse to accept such an offer ( Act_13:46 ).
'HAVING MADE PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS' -The price of such reconciliation ( 1Pe_1:18-19 ). 'Peace' with God couldn't be purchased "cheaply" or effortlessly. This should let us know how selfish and just plain evil every sin really is.
Points to Note:
1. 'In the death of Jesus, God is saying to us, "I love you like that. I love you enough to see my Son suffer and die for you."...and a love like that demands an answering love. If the Cross will not waken love in men's hearts, nothing will .' (Barclay pp. 122-123)
2. 'The fullness of the Divine energy is manifested in Christ in the work of reconciliation as well as in that of creation.' (Bruce p. 74)
3. 'Man needed to be reconciled to God, but God took the initiative. In all the other religions of the world, men are seeking God; in Christianity, God is seeking men. He has undertaken the work of reconciliation. He has removed the obstacles (or made their removal a possibility). He has provided an atonement for sin. He has issued his appeal and he has sent forth the gospel messengers..' (Erdman p. 57)
4. Obviously, this reconciliation is only available in Jesus Christ ( Joh_14:6 ; Act_4:12 ). Look seriously at this context. To argue that one can be saved outside of Christ, apart from His sacrifice is to claim a terrible doctrine, i.e. my own goodness or sincerity can cleanse me from sin IN A MANNER EQUAL WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SON OF GOD.
'THROUGH HIM' -Again it is stressed that the ONLY means of reconciliation that exists between man and God is the Son of God. And why not? We shouldn't have a apologize for such a truth. Look at Jesus Christ, is any religious leader His equal? Did Buddha bring everything into existence? Did Joseph Smith die for our sins? Does Mohammed hold the universe together? Was Karl Marx raised from the dead? Where all things created "in" Timothy Leary? Look, if God Himself, the Creator in the flesh had to die for our sins, then shouldn't that tell you something? There is no other way.
'WHETHER THINGS UPON THE EARTH, OR THINGS IN THE HEAVENS' -
Point to Note:
Considering the following facts: (a) In Scripture it is people who are reconciled to God. (b) No salvation is provided for angelic beings who sinned ( Heb_2:16 ; 2Pe_2:4 ). (c) Man is the only morally responsible being on the earth ( Gen_1:26 ). I must conclude that the "things" in the above verse only refers to "people", i.e. Jesus died for everyone so all could have the chance to obey the gospel and be saved ( 1Ti_2:4 ). Therefore, the "things" in the heavens, could refer to the O.T. faithful who were redeemed by the blood of Christ also ( Heb_9:15 ).
HOW WE ENDED UP IN NEED OF RECONCILIATION:
Col_1:21 And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works,
'AND YOU' -i.e. the current members of the Church at Colossae.
'BEING IN TIME PAST' -Before they became Christians.
'ALIENATED' -526. apallotrioo ap-al-lot-ree-o'-o; from 575 and a derivative of 245; to estrange away, i.e. (passively and figuratively) to be non-participant: -alienate, be alien.
Points to Note:
1. God often reminds Christians of their former past ( Rom_5:8-11 ; 1Co_6:9-11 ; Eph_2:1-3 ; Eph_2:11 ; 1Pe_4:1-4 ; Tit_3:3 ). The Bible is honest, 'And he does not disguise the truth when he describes their past condition.' (Eadie p. 77)
2. A clear passage which teaches that the non-Christian is alienated from God. There is no salvation outside of Christ. Even the good "moral" non-Christian is lost ( Act_10:1-2 ; Act_11:13-14 ).
'AND ENEMIES IN YOUR MIND' -'To God, in the active sense' (Vincent p. 475) 'Active sense here..hostile' (Robertson p. 482) 'a conscious antagonism' (O'Brien p. 66). These people were not merely the objects of God's wrath, but like so many people, they opposed God in their mind ( Rom_1:18-28 ).
Points to Note:
1. This infers that alienation from God isn't ultimately linked with ignorance. This infers that the heathen world knew a lot more about God, ethics, truth, right and wrong, morality, etc...then they would have cared to admit ( Rom_1:32 ).
2. God's truth is so clear, it is so clear that certain things are wrong ( Gal_5:19 ), that even non-Jews, even people who had very little if any contact with the Scriptures, still had to violate their consciences, and turn their mind to worthless thoughts in order to engage in a life of sin ( Eph_4:17-19 ).
3. What you allow yourself to think and become convinced of is critical. For wrong thoughts eventually lead to hell, if not challenged and corrected. Men and women start their departure from God in their own minds ( Pro_4:23 ; Mar_7:20-23 ).
4. Which reveals that genetics doesn't stand in anyone's way to depart from some sin. People who can't seem to change their lives are the same people who are refusing to change their minds, i.e. which is the first step in repentance. It's not the actual act of sin that has a hold on that person, rather, it is how that people perceives that sin in their own mind, i.e. they have convinced themselves that they can't enjoy life without it.
5. And it is so easy to get "bent out of shape" in our minds. We are constantly faced by situations, if approached with the wrong attitude, could make us bitter against God, resent His restrictions, challenge His authority, or blame Him for our suffering. Christian, be oh so careful in what frame of mind you allow to yourself to dwell. The difference between ending up in Heaven or Hell is at times as simple as what you chose to believe and what you chose to reject.
6. Various things about God cause the self-centered to get angry: (a) The accusation that they are indeed a sinner ( Rom_3:23 ). (b) That they must humble themselves to gain salvation, i.e. that salvation cannot be earned, merited or deserved. (c) That God is the center of the Universe, not themselves. (d) That God demands a total repentance and commitment ( Luk_14:26 ff). Instead, we often want a religion we can play at on the weekends, something that we can dabble in now and then.
'IN YOUR EVIL WORKS' -Hostility to God eventually finds an avenue of visible expression. You cannot 'have something against God' for long without it manifesting itself in your speech or conduct. You can tell when somebody resents God.
Points to Note:
1. Sin doesn't happen in a vacuum. Evil deeds happen when we have a wrong or bad attitude. Sin is proof that something is astray in our hearts. We can't simply say, 'I don't know what came over me'. And neither can we excuse the habitual sins of others by saying, 'But they really do have a good heart.' Everyone can have a good heart, but as long as one remains in sin, they are demonstrating that a good heart is something they lack.
2. Our own deeds do say something very insightful and honest about us ( Eph_5:5-6 ; Tit_1:16 '..but by their deeds they deny Him.')
3. It was even God's will that the sacrifice of Christ would reconcile former sinners, men and women who had been hostile to God in the past ( Rom_5:6-8 ).
Col_1:22 yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him:
'IN THE BODY OF HIS FLESH' -A body which consisted of flesh ( Heb_2:14 ; Joh_1:14 ). Without which there could have been no death.
Points to Note:
1. In this chapter Paul has emphasized the Deity of Jesus Christ (1:15-19) and also His humanity (1:22). Fully God in a fully human body. Any teaching which either detracts from His humanity or Deity must be rejected.
2. 'It should be added, however, that the Holy Spirit who inspired Colossians...foresaw the time when the Docetics would be teaching that Jesus Christ appeared to men in a spiritual body, and since he had no physical body only seemed to suffer and die on the cross.' (Hendriksen p. 84)
3. The Gr. Ex. N.T. notes, 'Paul has in mind the false spiritualism which thought reconciliation could be accomplished by spiritual beings only, and hence attached little or no value to the work of Christ in a body composed of flesh..' (p. 512)
4. Since Jesus had a body of flesh, we must note that the flesh (human nature/the physical body) isn't inherently sinful. For Jesus was in the flesh, but never sinned ( 1Pe_2:22 ). We must then conclude that our real struggle against sin, isn't fought "in the body", rather, it is fought in the "mind" (1:21). And hence severe treatment of the body is vain as an defense against sin (2:21-23). We won't be successful against temptation, until we chose to make the determination to mentally dwell on the right things ( Php_4:8 ).
'THROUGH DEATH' -
Points to Note:
1. The death of Jesus Christ was an actual historic event. Undermine and death and resurrection and you completely undermine any hope of salvation. For our reconciliation is inherently tied to both ( 1Co_15:12 ff; Rom_4:25 ).
2. This verse also teaches that Jesus had to die, if we were to end up saved . Unfortunately, even some Christians are under the impression that the sacrifice of Jesus was simply one viable option that existed to make forgiveness of sins a reality. We must realize, that it was the only option. Our sins are so bad that it necessitated that God sacrifice Himself for us. There was no other way ( Luk_22:42-43 ).
THE GOALS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF BEING RECONCILED:
'TO PRESENT YOU HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH AND UNREPROVABLE BEFORE HIM' -'consecrated, faultless, and blameless in His presence' (Wms); 'so that he may present you before himself as dedicated men, without blemish and innocent in his sight' (NEB).
'PRESENT YOU...BEFORE HIM' -Some believe that this refers to the future Judgement, when Christ delivers up the Kingdom to God, the Father ( 1Co_15:24 ; Eph_5:27 ).
Point to Note:
But in view of what Paul was teaching against. The first application might be our condition immediately after our reconciliation, i.e. how we stand before God immediately after baptism. The point being that the blood of Christ is sufficient to cleanse us from all sin and to present us completely pure and innocent in the sight of a Holy and Just God. This verse completely undermines any teaching which argues that we need something more than Christ to bring us into favor with God, i.e. parts of the Old Covenant, rules concerning food, the worship of angelic beings, etc...John argues that the Christian, now, in this lifetime can stand "in the light" ( 1Jn_1:7-10 ).
Col_1:23 if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister.
'IF SO BE' -Which is tied to the preceding verse. Standing right in the sight of God (holy, without blemish and unreprovable), also demands certain things of us. Clearly, our salvation is conditional ( 2Ti_2:12-13 ). And if salvation is conditional, then the whole system known as Calvinism completely falls to the ground, including the doctrine of Predestination.
'THAT YE' -We are accountable for our own spiritual welfare. Nobody can serve God for us. So much for the idea that parents can believe for their children ( Mar_16:16 ) or that you can be baptized for someone else.
'CONTINUE' -'The verb means to stay at or with.' (Vincent p. 476) 'This reconciliation assumes, of course, that you maintain a firm position in the faith.' (Phi) Now everybody continues in something, but for the Christian continuing in one realm is the only one that counts.
'IN THE FAITH' -
Points to Note:
1. The phrase "the faith" can mean two things: (a) One's own personal conviction. (b) The contents of Christian doctrine, i.e. what must be believed by Christians ( Jud_1:3 ; 1Ti_4:1 ). And for all practical purposes, you really can't separate the definitions. The Christian must believe the right doctrines, but the conviction they have must also be their own. It's not enough merely to be a member of a church which teaches the truth, you must be convicted of such truths in your own heart.
2. The word "continue" is the same concept as the word "abide". To end up saved we must remain loyal to everything that Christ taught. ( Joh_15:1-7 ; 2Jn_1:9 ).
3. Far from the gospel needing any supplement. The real danger is in embracing any supplement, of adding man-made rules and regulations to the will of God ( Mat_15:8-9 ). Continuing in the faith means rejecting any notion that the Word of God isn't sufficient.
4. 'It is easy to twist the idea of the love of God and to say, "Well, if God loves me like this and wishes noting but reconciliation, sin does not matter. I can do what I like and God will still love me." The reverse is true. The fact that a man is loved does not give me carte blanche to do as he likes; it lays upon him the greatest obligation in the world..' (Barclay p. 125) That is, of demonstrating that in my life the sacrifice of Christ was not wasted nor was it done in vain. ( Heb_10:26 ff)
'GROUNDED' -2311. themelioo them-el-ee-o'-o; from 2310; to lay a basis for, i.e. (literally) erect, or (figuratively) consolidate: -(lay the) found(-ation), ground, settle.
Which reminds us of Jesus' story about the house built upon the rock ( Mat_7:24-27 ). The only solid foundation in life is a life built upon what God has said.
'STEDFAST' -1476. hedraios hed-rah'-yos; from a derivative of hezomai (to sit); sedentary, i.e. (by implication) immovable: -settled, stedfast.
'AND NOT MOVED AWAY FROM' -As opposed to continual shifting ( Eph_4:14 ).
'THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL WHICH YE HEARD' -
Points to Note:
1. There is only one true gospel ( Gal_1:6-9 ). And there is only one true hope ( Eph_4:4 ). The gospel that was preached by the apostles is the standard. Any message that deviates from that message does not lead to salvation, rather it leads to destruction ( 2Jn_1:9 ).
2. Emphatically only one religion leads to salvation, i.e. the religion of Jesus Christ.
3. The verse infers that there will be various things or people in life who will try to move us away from the truth. We cannot be so naive as to believe that everyone who claims to be a Christian is. Or that everyone who claims to preach the truth, actually has it.
4. The verse infers that the individual Christian, in order to succeed must have their own strong convictions concerning right doctrines ( 1Pe_3:15 ). I must be sold on the faith myself-not just the elders or the preacher.
5. From this verse every eldership, preacher or teacher derives the right to teach classes which are designed to "ground" members in the faith. A warning here exists for all Christians, especially new Christians--Make sure you take advantage of classes which are designed to give you a solid foundation in the faith.
'WHICH WAS PREACHED IN ALL CREATION UNDER HEAVEN' -Which again emphasizes that Christianity is the only valid religion upon the planet-yea in the solar system. The Great Commission cries out that all other religious systems are vain ( Mar_16:15-16 ); being "good" isn't good enough. And simply being sincere, won't save you.
'It recognized no boundaries whether racial, national, or regional..it had actually invaded every large center of the then known world.' (Hendriksen p. 85)
Christians in the First Century were convinced that everyone outside of Christ was lost and hell bound, that salvation couldn't be found in any other person or religious system ( Act_4:12 ). Maybe that is one reason why they were so zealous. And maybe, just maybe, a reason that we at times don't seem so enthusiastic about teaching people, is because we have allowed something to convince us that people can be saved without being a Christian.
Erdman notes. 'The message which has been found to meet the needs of all classes and races commends itself as being a message from God.' (p. 60)
'WHEREOF I PAUL WAS MADE A MINISTER' -This statement forms a natural transition into the verses that follow: (a) The same gospel that the Colossians had heard, is the same gospel Paul preached. Thus Paul throws his apostolic authority behind the gospel they had heard from Epaphras. (b) And since Colossae was predominately a church composed of Christians from a Gentile background, they naturally fell within his God-given sphere of work ( Act_26:18 ). (c) Paul's area of service was to get this message of reconciliation (1:21-22) out in the world. (d) 'He reminds them that the gospel they have heard, the gospel he himself preaches, is the very gospel Christ commissioned him to proclaim.' (Erdman p. 61)
THE AIM AND PURPOSE OF PAUL'S MINISTRY:
Col_1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church;
'NOW I REJOICE IN MY SUFFERINGS FOR YOUR SAKE' -
Points to Note:
1. Paul didn't rejoice in suffering, because he enjoyed pain. Rather, what make the sufferings tolerable, and especially what made them "meaningful", was Paul's perspective. His sufferings had enabled the gospel to come to Colossae, i.e. especially his determination to work in Ephesus, despite the opposition ( 1Co_16:8-9 ). For from Ephesus, the gospel penetrated into the interior of Asia, where Colossae was located ( Act_19:10 ).
2. Hard times, setbacks, frustrations, etc..become more meaningful, and "purposeful" when we get our minds off ourselves and realize that others are greatly benefiting because we are enduring. The Christian must realize that he or she doesn't live for themselves.
3. In addition, Paul's present imprisonment was directly linked with his preaching to the Gentiles. And the Colossian church was largely Gentile in composition. He had upset many people by preaching to non-Jews ( Act_22:21-22 )
'AND FILL UP ON MY PART THAT WHICH IS LACKING OF THE AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST IN MY FLESH FOR HIS BODY'S SAKE, WHICH IS THE CHURCH'
Points to Note:
1. Carefully note that Paul has already argued that the sacrifice of Christ is completely sufficient to reconcile us to God (1:22). So we must reject any interpretation which suggests that Paul is teaching that his own good works are needed to make the atonement of Jesus Christ more effective.
2. Thus we must reject the Catholic notion that the extra good deeds of righteous men in the past can be obtained in furthering our own salvation. The practice of indulgences is linked with this false doctrine: 'INDULGENCES. In the Roman Catholic Church this is the remission of all or part of the debt of temporal punishment owed to God due to sin after the guilt has been forgiven...since the sinner is unable to do sufficient penance to expiate all his sins, he is able to draw on the spiritual treasury formed by the surplus merits of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.' [Note: _ The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. J.D. Douglas, Editor. p. 508.]
3. In contrast, Paul has argued: The sacrifice of Jesus can completely and fully bring you into a state of complete innocence in the sight of God. (1:22) To argue that Mary and the Saints had so many good deeds to their account, that they didn't need them all to get to heaven, must logically mean: (1) Mary and others didn't need the grace of God ( Eph_2:8-9 ). (2) Good works can forgive sin. (3) The death of Christ is equal in value to the good works of religious men and women. (4) The blood of Christ can't fully cleanse you of sin ( 1Pe_1:18-19 ). (4) God Himself can't provide anything more "cleansing" that the good deeds performed by fallible human beings. Brethren, when you elevate Mary to a god-like status, you must automatically lower God Himself.
4. What Paul is actually saying: (a) His sufferings don't cleanse anyone of sin, rather, Jesus died so people could become Christians, but effort needs to be put forth to spread that message, to extend the borders of the kingdom, to keep the church that Jesus died for strong in the faith. 'therefore, anyone who serves the Church by widening her borders..saving her from errors, is doing the work of Christ.' (Barclay p. 126) (b) Jesus said that if we seek to walk in His steps, i.e. take up His cause, then we will encounter suffering ( Mat_10:25 ; Joh_15:18-21 ; Php_3:10 ; 2Ti_3:12 ). (3) 'They were incurred in making known the redeeming work of Christ..they were endured for the sake of Christ. They were like those of Christ, endured for the benefit of others. They thus united Paul with Christ.' (Erdman p. 63)
5. This informs us that when we sacrifice so that others can be saved, fight against false doctrine, share the gospel with others, put the church ahead of our own needs, etc...that we have fellowship with Christ. That we are prepared to further God's cause, despite the personal cost--and that's the attitude Jesus has ( Php_2:5 ).
'ON MY PART' -Paul realized that he could only do 'his part'. He couldn't serve God for anyone else and neither could he suffer in another Christian's place. Are we willing "on my part" to fill up whatever sacrifices are needed in our own time and generation to further the gospel message? Are we committed to that goal? What sacrifices need to be made today by members of the church to see that the church is growing, strong and sound in our own time?
'FOR HIS BODY'S SAKE, WHICH IS THE CHURCH' -What an attitude, especially when we hear so many members bad-mouthing the church today.
Points to Note:
1. I am expendable, the church isn't. The church belongs to Jesus Christ ( Act_20:28 ). It is His bride ( Eph_5:22 ff). If members really loved Christ as they claim, then you wouldn't see congregations fighting and dividing over non-essentials. Neither would you find members who divide without making every effort to keep the body united.
2. To what lengths am I willing to sacrifice myself for the well-being of this congregation?
3. And friend, if you find that it is just a chore to attend services, then you know that you are a long way from biblical Christianity ( 2Co_12:15 ).
Col_1:25 whereof I was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given me to you-ward, to fulfil the word of God,
'WHEREOF I WAS MADE A MINISTER' -'Of which' (Rhm). This reveals that the apostles were appointed to serve the needs of the body of Christ, i.e. of which body.
'ACCORDING TO THE DISPENSATION OF GOD WHICH WAS GIVEN ME TO YOU-WARD' -'in virtue of the office with which God entrusted me' (TCNT).
'DISPENSATION' -3622. oikonomia oy-kon-om-ee'-ah; from 3623; administration (of a household or estate); specifically, a (religious) "economy": -dispensation, stewardship.
-'is first house-management, then administration.' (P.P. Comm. p. 16) 'From..house..and..to dispense or manage. Hence..a house-steward.' (Vincent p. 478).
Points to Note:
1. The word "dispensation" doesn't refer to a period of time in the above passage, but rather to a stewardship. Paul was made to serve in God's house, the church ( 1Ti_3:15 ), because a stewardship in that house had been entrusted to him. In writing to the Colossians he was fulfilling his duties of being such a steward, i.e. he was teaching the truth, building up the body and opposing those in opposition.
2. This position was "given" Paul, i.e. he hadn't campaigned for it or earned it ( Col_1:1 ; 1Co_15:9-10 ).
'TO YOU-WARD' -i.e. especially toward the Gentiles, for their benefit. ( Act_26:18 ; Eph_3:1-2 ; Eph_3:6-8 ).
'TO FULFIL THE WORD OF GOD' -'that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God.' (NASV); 'to fill full or to give full scope to the Word of God.' (Robertson p. 484)
Points to Note:
1. The primary purpose of the apostles (which even is the primary purpose of preachers), is to get the message out. To fully preach God's truth ( 2Ti_4:2 ; Act_20:20 ; Act_20:27 'For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God'; 2Th_3:1 ). We can be a friendly church, a hospitable church, etc...But if we aren't an evangelizing church, then we aren't doing our job.
2. We must allow elders, preachers, teachers, etc...to fulfill their stewardship. (a) The house of God does need care and management. We cannot naively think that every member will just do what Christ tells them. (b) People need to be encouraged, admonished and rebuked ( 2Ti_4:2-4 ). (c) We must learn to appreciate church discipline, godly confrontation ( Gal_6:1 ; Mat_18:15 ), and teaching that does expose error ( Eph_5:11 ). For stewards are responsible for seeing that the house of God remains clean ( 1Co_5:6-7 ). (d) We must always remember that this house is God's house, it doesn't belong to the servants! We must keep it up according to God's standards and not what we are comfortable with.
Col_1:26 even the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints,
'EVEN THE' -The word of God, the gospel Paul preached, that the Colossians had already heard, reveals the very mystery of God.
Points to Note:
1. In Scripture the word "mystery" doesn't mean the "mysterious". Rather it refers to something previously hidden, but now revealed. Note the language here, 'which had been hid..but now hath it been manifested.' (Compare Eph_3:3-5 )
2. Note the contrast: The false teaching which became known as Gnosticism, claimed that certain mysteries could only be learned by the initiated or elite. Erdman writes, 'It denotes, not something which men are hiding from their fellowmen, but something which could never have been know by men had it not been for a divine revelation... It is not something which is hard to be understood, or which must be kept secret , but a reality which God has revealed so that it may be proclaimed to all the world.' (p. 64) This 'mystery' is manifested (through the apostles preaching- 1Co_2:6-13 ), to his saints, i.e. all Christians.
3. Various particulars concerning God's plan to redeem mankind had remained undisclosed in past generations ( 1Co_2:6 ff; Eph_3:3-6 ; 1Pe_1:10-12 ).
'HID FOR AGES AND GENERATIONS' -Unaided human wisdom would have never discovered God's plan. Hence, without the Bible, man is blind concerning many important truths ( Jer_10:23 ). This should also remind us concerning what a privileged time and generation we live in. We have the complete revelation, we can see God's plan completely unfolded in all its glory and wisdom.
'MANIFESTED' -5319. phaneroo fan-er-o'-o; from 5318; to render apparent (literally or figuratively): -appear, manifestly declare, (make) manifest (forth), shew (self).
Through the apostles Jesus promised the revelation of all truth ( Joh_16:13 ). We must conclude, if the Book of Mormon, Science and Health Key To The Scriptures and other so-called inspired writings have any merit, then we must also conclude that Christians in the First Century didn't have God's complete disclosure of truth. Any document claiming inspiration following the day and age of the apostles must either be rejected or we must conclude that Jesus didn't deliver.
'TO HIS SAINTS' -Including those at Colossae. Hence, Paul is telling the Colossians, 'Don't let anyone come along and deceive you into thinking that you don't have the full truth in the gospel that you have heard. The Gospel is God's revealed mystery. And you have already heard it!'
Col_1:27 to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
'TO WHOM' -i.e. to ordinary people.
'GOD WAS PLEASED TO MAKE KNOW WHAT IS THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF THIS MYSTERY AMONG THE GENTILES' -'the surpassing glory of that hidden Truth when proclaimed among the Gentiles' (TCNT); 'how rich among the non-Jews is the glory of this hidden truth' (Beck).
Points to Note:
1. God doesn't have any truth to hide. God isn't jealous about what He knows. It pleased God to let Gentiles know about salvation in Christ Jesus! God wants men and women to know the truth ( 1Ti_2:4 ).
2. Again, let it be noted that Christianity isn't a "mystery religion". The church isn't a club in which only so many are allowed in. The church has no truth that it secretly guards from the average member.
3. God even wants the heathen saved! ( Gal_1:15-16 )
'THE RICHES OF THE GLORY' -'The full wealth of the divine mercy and goodness (God's glory) has been revealed in the inclusion of the Gentile peoples of all the world in the saving purpose of God.' (Erdman p. 65) Bruce says, 'Had this grace been shown to believing Jews alone, it might not have excited such wonder...But non-Jews are included as well, and included on an equal footing with Jews.' (p. 85)
That God would invite through the gospel people from all nations, many of them having demonstrated very little interest in true religion or morality in the past ( Eph_2:1-3 ). That He would still give them the chance to hear the truth and be saved, demonstrates what a glorious abundance of spiritual wealth is found in the nature of God and the gospel message.
'WHICH IS CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY' -'Christ among you! Your hope of glory!' (TCNT); 'the hope of all glorious things to come' (Phi)
'WHICH IS' -The center of this mystery, its most glorious element.
'CHRIST IN YOU' -The aim of all Christian teaching is to get the sinner to completely turn over their life to Jesus Christ. To allow Christ, through His will to direct every aspect of their lives, to "live by faith" ( Gal_2:20 ; 2Co_5:6-15 ; Mat_16:24-26 ; Php_2:3-6 ). To so identify with Christ, His will, His purpose, aims, goals, etc..That one ceases to be that autonomous individual ( Col_3:1-4 ). As one writer said, where a man is more concerned about finding God then finding himself. Where one is more concerned about pleasing God then finding self-fulfillment.
'THE HOPE OF GLORY' -Which includes all the promises given to Christians. Promises of future glory ( 1Pe_1:4 ; 1Jn_3:1-3 ; Rev_21:1-4 ). But such a hope is only available to those who follow Christ, as their first priority in life ( Mat_6:33 ; 2Ti_2:11-13 ). Those whose minds are centered upon Christ ( Rom_8:6-11 ).
Which also infers, if you don't have Christ, then you don't have any hope.
Col_1:28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ;
'WHOM WE PROCLAIM' -i.e. Christ
'ADMONISHING' -3560. noutheteo noo-thet-eh'-o; from the same as 3559; to put in mind, i.e. (by implication) to caution or reprove gently: -admonish, warn.
Points to Note:
1. Proclaiming Christ involves warning and teaching! Now, some are telling us that preaching Christ simply involves talking about the life of Christ, or talking about what Christ did for us, without any negative overtones that someone in the audience just might be in sin.
2. How do you preach Christ without preaching on sin? For the primary purpose of Jesus' mission to this earth was to die for our sins. How do you preach Christ without preaching on hell. For, what was Jesus trying to save us from? How do you preach Christ without preaching on human accountability and responsibility? For doesn't the love of God manifested in the sacrifice of His Son ethically demand an intense gratitude from the human race?
3. Preaching Christ includes warning, admonition, rebuke, exhortation, and teaching (i.e. DOCTRINE). ( 2Ti_4:2 ). Away with this silly idea that you can teach the man, but not the plan.
4. 'Clearly for Paul and his colleagues evangelistic and missionary outreach was not effected by some superficial presentation of the saving message about Christ to the world, but rather was prosecuted through warning and intensive teaching..' (O'Brien pp. 87-88)
'TEACHING' -1321. didasko did-as'-ko; a prolonged (causative) form of a primary verb dao (to learn); to teach (in the same broad application): -teach.
Points to Note:
1. The word "admonition" infers that people need to be "warned", i.e. sin is bad and hell exists. The word "teaching" infers that everyone needs "doctrine". Everyone needs doctrine because: (a) Correct doctrine isn't instinctive ( Pro_16:25 ). (b) A tremendous amount of false doctrine exists ( 1Jn_4:1 ). (c) Correct doctrine isn't always pleasing to the ears of man ( 2Ti_4:3 ).
2. Whether people accept it or not, our salvation is inherently linked with believing the correct doctrines ( 1Ti_4:16 ; 2Jn_1:9 ).
3. Therefore: (a) "Every man" can believe the truth. The Bible only teaches one body of truth. (b) Religious division isn't God's fault or due to some inadequacy in the Divine Word. (c) False doctrines arise from ulterior motives within man himself ( 2Pe_3:16 ff; 2Ti_4:3 ff).
'EVERY MAN' -
Points to Note:
1. 'The Gnostic would never have agreed that every man could be warned and taught and presented complete to God. He believed that the knowledge necessary for salvation was so involved and difficult that it must be the possession of the spiritual aristocracy and the chosen few.' (Barclay p. 126)
2. 'the only thing in this world which is for every man is Christ..Not every man can master every craft, or even every game..There are those who are tone-deaf..Not every man can be a writer...There are gifts a man will never possess; there are privileges a man will never enjoy; there are heights of this world's attainment which a man will never scale; but to every man there is open the good news of the gospel..' (Barclay p. 127)
3. Every man can UNDERSTAND the gospel.
4. Again we see the universal nature of the gospel message. How can anyone claim that Christianity is "intolerant" or "narrow-minded", when the gospel is open to all? And when every man can become a mature Christian.
5. Every man needs the gospel! ( Rom_3:23 )
'IN ALL WISDOM' -'in the whole range of wisdom' (Ber). 'Thus opposed to the idea of esoteric...wisdom represented by the false teachers; higher knowledge for the few philosophic minds, and blind faith for the masses. In Christian teaching the highest wisdom is freely open to all .' (Vincent p. 480) ( Joh_8:32 ; Col_2:2-3 ) 'There is no part of Christian teaching that is to be reserved for a spiritual elite. All the truth of God is for all the people of God.' (Bruce p. 87)
This also infers that God's wisdom can be understood by every member. When a preacher proclaims the gospel, he doesn't have to hold back on even the greatest of truths. That's just how plain the gospel message is ( Act_20:27 ).
'THAT WE' -Paul and his co-workers.
'PRESENT EVERY MAN PERFECT IN CHRIST' -'complete in Christ' (Rhm); 'full grown' (Con); 'mature' (Wms).
'PERFECT' -5046. teleios tel'-i-os; from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with 3588) completeness: -of full age, man, perfect.
Points to Note:
1. Such maturity is accomplished through the teaching previously mentioned in this verse. This isn't a maturity that happens by accident. Rather, it is the result of good preaching and good listening and application ( Heb_5:12-14 ).
2. Paul didn't envision a class of Christians who couldn't mature because of certain factors outside of their control, i.e. environment or heredity.
3. This means that members who fail to grow have only themselves to blame. But this also means that "every man" can succeed at being a faithful and happy Christian, if they only make use of the teaching found in the Scriptures.
4. The work of elders, preachers and teachers is to see that members mature in the faith and learn how to serve ( Eph_4:11-13 )
Col_1:29 whereunto I labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
'WHEREUNTO' -i.e. of presenting every man perfect in Christ. In fact, the purpose of this very letter was to enable the Colossians to be mature in Christ.
'I LABOR' -2872. kopiao kop-ee-ah'-o; from a derivative of 2873; to feel fatigue; by implication, to work hard: -(bestow) labour, toil, be wearied.
'STRIVING' -75. agonizomai ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee; from 73; to struggle, literally (to compete for a prize), figuratively (to contend with an adversary), or genitive case (to endeavor to accomplish something): -fight, labor fervently, strive.
-'indicates the most strenuous and self-denying effort.' (Erdman p. 66) 'to contend in athletic games, to agonize, a favourite metaphor with Paul.' (Robertson p. 486)
Points to Note:
1. Evidently Paul believed that half-hearted Christians wouldn't end up saved ( Rev_3:15-16 ).
2. He also realized that an immature and untaught membership was only inviting spiritual disaster for any congregation ( Rom_16:18 ; Heb_5:12 ; Col_2:8 ). Paul was willing to completely expend himself out in achieving the goal of 1:28.
3. In view of these statements let none say that preaching, bible classes, sermons, etc...are unimportant or part of a by-gone era.
4. 'His apostolic work did not rest with the conversion of his hearers.' (Bruce p. 88) A tremendous amount of work is left to be done, even after one is converted. A lifetime of work.
5. And this is the grandest work in the world. To present a man mature in Christ--now that is the greatest work and accomplishment known to man. 'In such a work it is a privilege to exhaust our strength; in the performance of the duties of such an office, it is an honour to be permitted to wear out life itself.' (Eadie p. 102)
6. 'It was, indeed, no sluggish heart that beat in the apostle's bosom. His was no torpid temperament. There was such a keenness in all its emotions and anxieties, that its resolve and action were simultaneous movements.' (Eadie p. 102)
'ACCORDING TO HIS WORKING, WHICH WORKETH IN ME MIGHTILY' -'with all the strength that God gives me' (Phi).
Points to Note:
1. Paul was using all the spiritual gifts had God had bestowed upon Him to accomplish this purpose. He was using the gift of inspiration as much as he could in teaching and admonishing others ( 2Ti_1:6 ).
2. Paul was using whatever opportunities came his way ( Act_16:6-10 ). And Paul was willing to be as faithful and zealous a Christian as it was possible for him to be. Paul was willing to be as much as he could be-- 1Co_15:10 ; Php_4:13
3. Carefully note: "His working" didn't override Paul's freewill. For Paul had to strive and toil. God gave Paul certain gifts, privileges, and opportunities--Paul then was willing to use every ounce of those things, to milk it for all that it's worth--he will go as far as grace will take him.