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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 1

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Παύλου ἐπιστολὴ πρὸς Κολοσσαεῖς

A B K min. Copt. have the superscription πρὸς Κολασσαεῖς . So Matth. Lachm. and Tisch. Comp. on Colossians 1:2 .


Colossians 1:1 . The arrangement Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (Lachm. Tisch.) has preponderant testimony in its favour, but not the addition of Ἰησοῦ after Χριστοῦ in Colossians 1:2 (Lachm.).

Colossians 1:2 . Κολοσσαῖς ] K P, also C and א in the subscription, min. Syr. utr. Copt. Or. Nyss. Amphiloch. Theodoret, Damasc. et. al. have Κολασσαῖς . Approved by Griesb., following Erasm. Steph. Wetst.; adopted by Matth. Lach. Tisch. 7. The Recepta is supported by B D E F G L א , min. Vulg. It. Clem. Chrys. Theophyl. Tert. Ambrosiast. Pelag. The matter is to be judged thus: (1) The name in itself correct is undoubtedly Κολοσσαί , which is supported by coins of the city (Eckhel, Doctr. num. III. p. 107) and confirmed by Herod. vii. 30 (see Wessel. and Valck. in loc.); Xen. Anab. i. 2. 6 (see Bornem. in loc.); Strabo, xii. 8, p. 576; Plin. N. H. v. 32. (2) But since the form Κολασσαί has so old and considerable attestation, and is preserved in Herodotus and Xenophon as a various reading, as also in Polyaen. viii. 16, and therefore a mere copyist’s error cannot be found in the case the more especially as the copyists, even apart from the analogy which suggested itself to them of the well-known κολοσσός , would naturally be led to the prevalent form of the name Κολοσσαί , we must assume that, although Κολοσσαί was the more formally correct name, still the name Κολασσαί was also (vulgarly) in use, that this was the name which Paul himself wrote, and that Κολοσσαῖς is an ancient correction. If the latter had originally a place in the text, there would have been no occasion to alter the generally known and correct form of the name.

After πατρὸς ἡμῶν , Elz. (Lachm. in brackets) has καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ , in opposition to B D E K L, min. vss. and Fathers. A complementary addition in accordance with the openings of other epistles, especially as no ground for intentional omission suggests itself (in opposition to Reiche, Comm. crit. p. 351 f.).

Colossians 1:3 . καὶ πατρί ] Lachm. and Tisch. 7: πατρί . So B C*, vss. and Fathers, while D* F G, Chrys. have τῷ πατρί . Since, however, Paul always writes ὁ Θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ( Rom 15:6 ; 2 Corinthians 1:3 ; 2 Corinthians 11:31 ; Ephesians 1:3 ; also 1 Corinthians 15:24 ; Ephesians 5:20 ), and never ὁ Θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ τ . κ . or ὁ Θεὸς πατὴρ τ . κ ., the Recepta, which has in its favour A C** D*** E K L P א , min. Vulg. and Fathers, is with Tisch. 8 to be retained. The καί was readily omitted in a mechanical way after the immediately preceding Θεοῦ πατρός .

Instead of περί , Lachm. reads ὑπέρ , which is also recommended by Griesb., following B D* E* F G, min. Theophyl. Not attested by preponderating evidence, and easily introduced in reference to Colossians 1:9 (where ὑπέρ stands without variation).

Colossians 1:4 . Instead of ἣν ἔχετε (which is recommended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. and Tisch.), Elz. Matth. Scholz have τήν merely, but in opposition to A C D* E* F G P א , min. vss. (including Vulg. It.) Fathers. If τήν were originally written, why should it have been exchanged for ἣν ἔχετε ? On the other hand, ἣν ἔχετε , as it could be dispensed with for the sense, might easily drop out, because the word preceding concludes with the syllable HN, and the word following ( εἰς ), like ἔχετε , begins with E. The grammatical gap would then, following Ephesians 1:15 , be filled up by τήν .

Colossians 1:6 . καὶ ἔστι ] καί is wanting in A B C D* E* P א , min. and some vss. and Fathers; condemned by Griesb., omitted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8. But, not being understood, this καί , which has the most important vss. and Fathers in its favour, was omitted in the interest of simplicity as disturbing the connection.

καὶ αὐξανόμενον ] is wanting in Elz. Matth., who is of opinion that Chrys. introduced it from Colossians 1:10 . But it is so decisively attested, that the omission must be looked upon as caused by the homoeoteleuton, the more especially as a similar ending and a similar beginning here came together (ONKA).

Ver 7. καθὼς καί ] καί is justly condemned by Griesb. on decisive evidence, and is omitted by Lachm. and Tisch. A mechanical repetition from the preceding.

ὑμῶν ] ABD*GF א *, min.: ἡμῶν ; approved by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. But since the first person both precedes and follows ( ἡμῶν … ἡμῖν ), it was put here also by careless copyists.

Colossians 1:10 . After περιπατῆσαι , Elz. Tisch. 7 have ὑμᾶς , against decisive testimony; a supplementary addition.

εἰς τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν ] Griesb. Lachm. Scholz. Tisch. 8 have τῇ ἐπιγνώσει . So A B C D* E* F G P א , min. Clem. Cyr. Maxim. But it lacks the support of the vss., which (Vulg. It. in scientia Dei) have read the Recepta εἰς τ . ἐπίγν . attested by D*** E** K L and most min., also Theodoret, Dam. Theophyl. Oec., or with א ** and Chrys. ἐν τῇ ἐπιγνώσει . The latter, as well as the mere τ ῇ ἐπιγν ., betrays itself as an explanation of the difficult εἰς τ . ἐπίγν ., which, we may add, belongs to the symmetrical structure of the whole discourse, the participial sentences of which all conclude with a destination introduced by εἰς .

Colossians 1:12 . ἱκανώσαντι ] Lachm.: καλέσαντι καὶ ἱκανώσαντι , according to B, whilst D* F G, min. Arm. Aeth. It. Didym. Ambrosiast. Vigil. have καλέσαντι merely. Looking at the so isolated attestation of καλ . κ . ἱκαν ., we must assume that καλέσαντι was written on the margin by way of complement, and then was in some cases inserted with καί , and in others without καί substituted for ἱκανώσ .

Instead of ἡμας , Tisch. 8 has ὑμᾶς ; but the latter, too weakly attested by B א , easily slipped in by means of the connection with εὐχαρ .

Colossians 1:14 . After ἀπολυτρ . Elz. has διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ , against decisive testimony; from Ephesians 1:7 .

Colossians 1:16 . τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τά ] Lachm. has erased the first τά and bracketed the second. In both cases the τά is wanting in B א *, Or.; the first τά only is wanting in D* E* F G P and two min. But how easily might TA be absorbed in the final syllable of πάν TA; and this would then partially involve the omission of the second τά ! The assumption that the final syllable of πάντα was written twice would only be warranted, if the omitting witnesses, especially in the case of the second τά , were stronger.

Colossians 1:20 . The second δἰ αὐτοῦ is wanting in B D* F G L, min. Vulg. It. Sahid. Or. Cyr. Chrys. Theophyl. and Latin Fathers. Omitted by Lachm. It was passed over as superfluous, obscure, and disturbing the sense.

Colossians 1:21 . Instead of the Recepta ἀποκατήλλαξεν , Lachm., following B, has ἀποκατηλλάγητε . D* F G, It. Goth. Ir. Ambrosiast. Sedul. have ἀποκαταλλαγέντες . Since, according to this, the passive is considerably attested, and the active ἀποκατήλλαξεν , although most strongly attested (also by א ), may well be suspected to be a syntactic emendation, we must decide, as between the two passive readings ἀποκατηλλάγητε and ἀποκαταλλαγέντες , in favour of the former, because the latter is quite unsuitable. If the Recepta were original, the construction would be so entirely plain, that we could not at all see why the passive should have been introduced.

Colossians 1:22 . After θανάτου , A P א , min. vss. Ir. have αὐτοῦ , which Lachm. has admitted in brackets. It is attested so weakly, as to seem nothing more than a familiar addition.

Colossians 1:23 . τῇ before κτίσει is, with Lachm. and Tisch., to be omitted, following A B C D* F G א , min. Chrys.

Instead of διάκονος , P א have κήρυξ κ . ἀπόστολος . A gloss; comp. 1 Timothy 2:7 . In A all the three words κήρυξ κ . ἀπ . κ . δίακ . are given.

Colossians 1:24 . νῦν ] D* E* F G, Vulg. It. Ambrosiast. Pel. have ὅς νῦν . Rightly; the final syllable of διάκονος in Colossians 1:23 , and the beginning of a church-lesson, co-operated to the suppression of ὅς , which, however, is quite in keeping with the connection and the whole progress of the discourse.

After παθήμ . Elz. has μου , against decisive testimony.

ὅ ἐστιν ] C D* E, min.: ὅς ἐστιν . So Lachm. in the margin. A copyist’s error.

Colossians 1:27 . The neuter τί τὸ πλοῦτος (Matth. Lachm. Tisch.) is attested by codd. and Fathers sufficiently to make the masculine appear as an emendation: comp. on 2 Corinthians 8:2 .

ὅς ἐστιν ] A B F G P, min. (quod in Vulg. It. leaves the reading uncertain): ὅ ἐστιν . So Lachm. A grammatical alteration, which, after Colossians 1:24 , was all the more likely.

Colossians 1:28 . After διδάσκ ., πάντα ἄνθρωπον is wanting in D* E* F G, min. vss. and Fathers. Suspected by Griesb., but is to be defended. The whole καὶ διδάσκ . πάντα ἄνθρωπ . was omitted owing to the homoeoteleuton (so still in L, min. Clem.), and then the restoration of the words took place incompletely.

After Χριστῷ Elz. has Ἰησοῦ , against decisive testimony.

Verses 1-2

Colossians 1:1-2 . Διὰ θελήμ . Θεοῦ ] see on 1 Corinthians 1:1 . Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:1 ; Ephesians 1:1 .

καὶ Τιμόθ .] see on 2 Corinthians 1:1 ; Philippians 1:1 . Here also as subordinate joint-author of the letter , who at the same time may have been the amanuensis , but is not here jointly mentioned as such (comp. Romans 16:22 ). See on Philippians 1:1 .

ὁ ἀδελφός ] see on 1 Corinthians 1:1 ; referring, not to official (Chrys.: οὐκοῦν καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπόστολος ), but generally to Christian brotherhood.

τοῖς ἐν Κολ . ἁγ . κ . τ . λ .] to the saints who are in Colossae . To this theocratic designation, which in itself is not as yet more precisely defined (see on Romans 1:7 ), is then added their distinctively Christian character: and believing brethren in Christ . Comp. on Ephesians 1:1 . ἁγίοις is to be understood as a substantive, just as in all the commencements of epistles, where it occurs (Romans 1:7 ; Romans 1:0 Cor.; 2 Cor.; Eph.; Phil.); and ἐν Χριστῷ is closely connected with πιστ . ἀδ ., with which it blends so as to form one conception (hence it is not τοῖς ἐν Χ .), expressly designating the believing brethren as Christians , so that ἐν Χ . forms the element of demarcation, in which the readers are believing brethren, and outside of which they would not be so in the Christian sense. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 4:17 ; Ephesians 6:21 ; in which passages, however, πιστός is faithful , a meaning which it has not here (in opposition to Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Dalmer), because everywhere in the superscriptions of the Epistles it is only the Christian standing of the readers that is described. No doubt ἐν Χριστῷ was in itself hardly necessary; but the addresses have a certain formal stamp. If ἁγίοις is taken as an adjective : “the holy and believing brethren” (de Wette), ἐν Χριστῷ being made to apply to the whole formula, then πιστοῖς coming after ἁγίοις (which latter word would already have , through ἐν Χ ., its definition in a Christian sense, which, according to our view, it still has not ) would be simply a superfluous and clumsy addition, because ἁγίοις would already presuppose the πιστοῖς .

The fact that Paul does not expressly describe the church to which he is writing as a church (as in 1 Cor.; 2 Cor.; Galatians 1:0 and 2 Thess.) has no special motive (comp. Rom., Eph., Phil.), but is purely accidental. If it implied that he had not founded the church and stood in no kind of relation to it as such , and especially to its rulers (de Wette, by way of query), he would not have written of a Λαοδικέων ἐκκλησία (Colossians 4:16 ). Indeed, the principle of addressing as churches those communities only which he had himself founded, is not one to be expected from the apostle’s disposition of mind and wisdom; and it is excluded by the inscription of the Epistle to the Ephesians (assuming its genuineness and destination for the church at Ephesus), as also by Philippians 1:1 (where the mention of the bishops and deacons would not compensate for the formal naming of the church). It is also an accidental matter that Paul says ἐν Χριστῷ merely, and not ἐν Χ . Ἰησοῦ (1 Cor.; Eph.; Phil.; 2 Thess.), although Mayerhoff makes use of this, among other things, to impugn the genuineness of the epistle; just as if such a mechanical regularity were to be ascribed to the apostle!

χάρις ὑμῖν κ . τ . λ .] See on Romans 1:7 .

Verse 3

Colossians 1:3 f. Thanksgiving for the Christian condition of the readers, down to Colossians 1:8 . ε ὐ χαριστο ͂ υμεν ] I and Timothy; plural and singular alternate in the Epistle (Colossians 1:23-24 ; Colossians 1:28-29 ff., Colossians 4:3 ); but not without significant occasion.

καὶ πατρὶ κ . τ . λ .] who is at the same time the Father, etc. See on Ephesians 1:3 .

πάντοτε ] belongs to εὐχαρ ., as in 1 Corinthians 1:4 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:2 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ; Philemon 1:4 , and not to περὶ ὑμ . προσευχ . (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Bengel, and many others, including Böhmer, Olshausen, Dalmer) a connection opposed to the parallel Ephesians 1:16 , as well as to the context, according to which the thanksgiving is the main point here , and the prayer merely a concomitant definition; and it is not till Colossians 1:9 that the latter is brought forward as the object of the discourse, and that as unceasing . This predicate belongs here to the thanking , and in Colossians 1:9 to the praying , and περὶ ὑμῶν προσευχ . words which are not, with Bähr, to be separated from one another (whereby προσευχ . would unduly stand without relation) is nothing but a more precise definition of πάντοτε : “ always ( each time , Philippians 1:4 ; Romans 1:10 [11] ), when we pray for you .”

ἀκούσαντες κ . τ . λ .] with reference to time; after having heard , etc. Comp. Colossians 1:9 . In that, which Paul had heard of them, lies the ground of his thanksgiving. The πίστις is faith (Romans 1:8 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:3 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ) not faithfulness (Ewald), as at Philemon 1:5 , where the position of the words is different. That Paul has heard their faith praised , is self-evident from the context. Comp. Ephesians 1:15 ; Philemon 1:5 .

ἐν Χ . Ἰ .] on Christ , in so far, namely, as the faith has its basis in Christ . See on Mark 1:15 ; Galatians 3:26 ; Ephesians 1:13 ; Ephesians 1:15 . As to the non-repetition of τήν , see on Galatians 3:26 .

ἫΝ ἜΧΕΤΕ ] Paul so writes, not by joining on immediately ( ΤῊΝ ἈΓΆΠΗΝ ΕἸς ΠΆΝΤΑς Κ . Τ . Λ . ), nor yet by the mere repetition of the article, as in Ephesians 1:15 (so the Recepta , see the critical remarks), because he has it in view to enter more fully upon this point of ἀγάπη , and indeed definitely upon the reason why they cherished it .

[11] For a like use of ἀεί , see Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 360 A.

Verse 5

Colossians 1:5 . Διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα κ . τ . λ .] on account of the hope , etc., does not belong to εὐχαρ . Colossians 1:3 (Bengel, “ex spe patet, quanta sit causa gratias agendi pro dono fidei et amoris;” comp. Bullinger, Zanchius, Calovius, Elsner, Michaelis, Zachariae, Storr, Rosenmüller, Hofmann, and others), because the ground for the apostolic thanksgiving at the beginnings of the Epistles, as also here at Colossians 1:4 , always consists in the Christian character of the readers (Romans 1:8 ; 1 Corinthians 1:4 ff.; Ephesians 1:15 ; Philippians 1:5 ; 1Th 1:3 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ; 2 Timothy 1:5 ; Philemon 1:5 ), and that indeed as a ground in itself , [12] and therefore not merely on account of what one has in future to hope from it; and, moreover, because εὐχαριστεῖν with ΔΙΆ and the accusative does not occur anywhere in the N. T. It is connected with ἫΝ ἜΧΕΤΕ Κ . Τ . Λ . , and thus specifies the motive ground of the love; for love guarantees the realization of the salvation hoped for. So correctly, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Calvin, Estius, Steiger, Bleek, and others. The more faith is active through love, the richer one becomes εἰς Θεόν (Luke 12:21 ), and this riches forms the contents of hope. He who does not love remains subject to death (1 John 3:14 ), and his faith profits him nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ). It is erroneous to refer it jointly to πίστις , so as to make the hope appear here as ground of the faith and the love; so Grotius and others, including Bähr, Olshausen, and de Wette; comp. Baumgarten-Crusius and Ewald. For ἣν ἔχετε (or the Rec . τήν ) indicates a further statement merely as regards ΤῊΝ ἈΓΆΠΗΝ ; and with this accords the close of the whole outburst, which in Colossians 1:8 emphatically reverts to ΤῊΝ ὙΜῶΝ ἈΓΆΠΗΝ .

The ἘΛΠΊς is here conceived objectively (comp. ἐλπ . βλεπομένη , Romans 8:24 ): our hope as to its objective contents , that which we hope for. Comp. Job 6:8 ; 2Ma 7:14 , and see on Romans 8:24 and Galatians 5:5 ; Zöckler, de vi ac notione voc . ἐλπίς , Giss. 1856, p. 26 ff.

ΤῊΝ ἈΠΟΚΕΙΜ . ὙΜῖΝ ἘΝ Τ . ΟὐΡ . ] What is meant is the Messianic salvation forming the contents of the hope (1 Thessalonians 5:8 ; Romans 5:2 ; Romans 8:18 ff.; Colossians 3:3 f.), which remains deposited , that is, preserved, laid up (Luke 19:20 ), in heaven for the Christian until the Parousia, in order to be then given to him. [13] On ἀποκ . comp. 2 Timothy 4:8 ; 2Ma 12:45 ; Kypke, II. p. 320 f.; Loesner, p. 360; Jacobs, ad Ach. Tat . p. 678. Used of death, Hebrews 9:27 ; of punishments, Plat. Locr . p. 104 D, 4Ma 8:10 . As to the idea, comp. the conception of the treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:20 ; Matthew 19:21 ; 1 Timothy 6:19 ), of the reward in heaven (see on Matthew 5:12 ), of the πολίτευμα in heaven (see on Philippians 3:20 ), of the κληρονομία τετηρημένη ἐν οὐραν . (1 Peter 1:4 ), and of the βραβεῖον τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως (Philippians 3:14 ).

ἣν προηκούσατε κ . τ . λ .] Certainty of this hope, which is not an unwarranted subjective fancy, but is objectively conveyed to them through the word of truth previously announced. The πρό in προηκούσατε (Herod, viii. 79; Plat. Legg vii. p. 797 A; Xen. Mem . ii. 4. 7; Dem. 759. 26, 955. 1; Joseph. Antt . viii. 12. 3) does not denote already formerly , whereby Paul premises se nihil allaturum novi (Calvin and many), but must be said with reference to the future , to which the hope belongs; hence the sense imported by Ewald: where with the word of truth began among you (Mark 1:15 ), is the less admissible. The conception is rather, that the contents of the ἐλπίς , the heavenly salvation, is the great future blessing, the infallible pre-announcement of which they have heard . As previously announced , it is also previously heard .

τῆς ἀληθείας is the contents of the λόγος (comp. on Ephesians 1:13 ); and by τοῦ εὐαγ ., the ἀλήθεια , that is, the absolute truth, is specifically defined as that of the gospel , that is, as that which is announced in the gospel . Both genitives are therefore to be left in their substantive form (Erasmus, Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, and many others understand τῆς ἀληθ . as adjectival: sermo verax; comp. on the contrary, on ἀλήθ . τοῦ εὐαγγ ., Galatians 2:5 ; Galatians 2:14 ), so that the expression advances to greater definiteness. The circumstantiality has something solemn about it (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:4 ); but this is arbitrarily done away, if we regard τοῦ εὐαγγ . as the genitive of apposition to τῷ λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθ . (Calvin, Beza, and many others, including Flatt, Bähr, Steiger, Böhmer, Huther, Olshausen, de Wette, Hofmann); following Ephesians 1:13 , Paul would have written τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ .

[12] In opposition to the view of Hofmann, that Paul names the reason why the news of the faith and love of the readers had become to him a cause of thanksgiving.

[13] It is erroneous to say that the Parousia no longer occurs in our Epistle. It is the substratum of the ἐλπὶς ἀποκ . ἐν τ . οὐρ . Comp. Colossians 3:1 ff. (in opposition to Mayerhoff, and Holtzmann, p. 203 f.).

Verse 6

Colossians 1:6 . In what he had just said, ἣν προηκούσατε … εὐαγγελίου , Paul now desires to make his readers sensible of the great and blessed fellowship in which, through the gospel, they are placed, in order that they may by this very consciousness feel themselves aroused to faithfulness towards the gospel, in presence of the heretical influences; ἐπειδὴ μάλιστα οἱ πολλοὶ ἐκ τοῦ κοινωνοὺς ἔχειν πολλοὺς τῶν δογμάτων στηρίζονται , Chrysostom. Comp. Oecumenius: προθυμοτέρους αὐτοὺς περὶ τὴν πίστιν ποιεῖ ἐκ τοῦ ἔχειν πάντας κοινωνούς .

εἰς ὑμᾶς ] not ἐν ὑμῖν , because the conception of the previous arrival predominates; 1Ma 11:63 . Often so with παρεῖναι in classical authors (Herod. i. 9, vi. 24, viii. 60; Polyb. xviii. 1.1; comp. Acts 12:20 ). See Bornemann and Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 2; Bremi, ad Aeschin . p. 320; and generally, Nägelsbach, z. Ilias , p. 158 f., Exodus 3:0 . Observe, moreover, the emphasis of τοῦ παρόντος : it is there! it has not remained away; and to the presence is then added the bearing fruit .

καθὼς καὶ ἐν παντὶ τ . κόσμῳ ] A popular hyperbole. Comp. Romans 1:8 ; Acts 17:6 , and see Colossians 1:23 . The expression is neither arbitrarily to be restricted, nor to be used against the genuineness of the Epistle (Hilgenfeld), nor yet to be rationalized by “as regards the idea ” (Baumgarten-Crusius) and the like; although, certainly, the idea of the catholicity of Christianity is expressed in the passage (comp. Romans 10:18 ; Mark 14:9 ; Mark 16:15 ; Matthew 24:14 ).

καὶ ἔστι καρποφ . κ . τ . λ .] Instead of continuing: καὶ καρποφορουμένου κ . τ . λ ., Paul carries onward the discourse with the finite verb, and thus causes this element to stand out more independently and forcibly: [14] “ and it is fruit-bearing and growing ” (see Maetzner, ad Lycurg. Leocr . p. 108; Heindorf, ad Plat. Soph . p. 222 B; Winer, p. 533 [E. T. 717]), by which is indicated the fact, that the gospel, wherever it is present, is also in course of living dynamical development , and this state of development is expressed by ἔστι with the participle. This general proposition based on experience: καὶ ἔστι καρποφ . κ . αὐξαν ., is then by ΚΑΘῺς Κ . ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ confirmed through the experience found also among the readers; so that Paul’s view passes, in the first clause ( τοῦ παρόντος … κόσμῳ ), from the special to the general aspect, and in the second, from the general to the special. With ΚΑΡΠΟΦΟΡ . (not occurring elsewhere in the middle ) is depicted the blissful working in the inward and outward life (comp. Galatians 5:22 ; Ephesians 5:9 ); and with αὐξανόμ . the continuous diffusion , whereby the gospel is obtaining more and more adherents and local extension. Comp. Theodoret: καρποφορίαν τοῦ εὐαγγ . κέκληκε τὴν ἐπαινουμένην πολιτείαν · αὔξησιν δὲ τῶν πιστευόντων τὸ πλῆθος . Huther and de Wette groundlessly refrain from deciding whether ΑὐΞ . is intended to refer to the outward growth or to the inward (so Steiger), or to both . See Acts 6:7 ; Acts 12:24 ; Acts 19:20 . Comp. Luke 13:19 ; Matthew 13:32 . The μᾶλλον στηρίζεσθαι , which Chrysostom finds included in αὐξ ., is not denoted , but presupposed by the latter. Comp. Theophylact. The figure is taken from a tree , in which the καρποφορία does not exclude the continuance of growth (not so in the case of cereals).

ἈΦʼ Ἧς ἩΜΈΡ . Κ . Τ . Λ . ] since the first beginning of your conversion which so happily took place (through true knowledge of the grace of God), that development of the gospel proceeds among you; how could ye now withdraw from it by joining yourselves to false teachers?

ΤῊΝ ΧΆΡΙΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ] contents of the gospel, which they have heard; the object of ἠκούσ . is the gospel, and Τ . ΧΆΡΙΝ Τ . ΘΕΟῦ belongs to ἘΠΈΓΝΩΤΕ ; and by ἘΝ ἈΛΗΘΕΊᾼ (2 Corinthians 7:14 ), equivalent to ἈΛΗΘῶς (John 17:8 ), the qualitative character of this knowledge is affirmed: it was a true knowledge, corresponding to the nature of the χάρις , without Judaistic and other errors . Comp. on John 17:19 . Holtzmann hears in ἠκούσατε … ἀληθῶς “the first tones of the foreign theme,” which is then in Colossians 1:9-10 more fully entered upon. But how conceivable and natural is it, that at the very outset the danger which threatens the right knowledge of the readers should be present to his mind!

[14] If καί is not genuine, as Bleek, Hofmann, and others consider (see the critical remarks), the passage is to be translated: as it also in the whole world is fruit-hearing, by which Paul would say that the gospel is present among the readers in the same fruit-bearing quality which it developes on all sides. But in that case the following καθὼς καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν would necessarily appear as very superfluous. No doubt we might, after the preceding παρόντος , take the ἐστί , with F. Nitzsch, as equivalent to πάρεστι (see Stallb. ad Plat. Phaed. p. 59 B); and to this comes also the punctuation in Tisch. 8, who puts a comma after ἐστίν . But how utterly superfluous would this ἐστί then be!

Verse 7

Colossians 1:7 f. Καθώς ] not quandoquidem (Flatt, comp. Bähr), but the as of the manner in which . So, namely, as it had just been affirmed by ἐν ἀληθείᾳ that they had known the divine grace, had they learned it (comp. Philippians 4:9 ) from Epaphras . Notwithstanding this appropriate connection, Holtzmann finds in this third καθώς a trace of the interpolator.

Nothing further is known from any other passage as to Epaphras the Colossian (Colossians 4:12 ); according to Philemon 1:23 , he was συναιχμάλωτος of the apostle. That the latter circumstance is not mentioned in our Epistle is not to be attributed to any special design (Estius: that Paul was unwilling to make his readers anxious). See, on the contrary, on Colossians 4:10 . Against the identity of Epaphras with Epaphroditus , see on Philippians 2:25 . The names even are not alike (contrary to the view of Grotius and Ewald, who look upon Epaphras as an abbreviation); Ἐπαφρᾶς and the corresponding feminine name Ἐπαφρώ are found on Greek inscriptions.

συνδούλου ] namely, of Christ (comp. Philippians 1:1 ). The word, of common occurrence, is used elsewhere by Paul in Colossians 4:7 only.

ὅς ἐστιν κ . τ . λ .] This faithfulness towards the readers, and also, in the sequel, the praise of their love , which Epaphras expressed to the apostle, are intended to stir them up “ne a doctrina, quam ab eo didicerant, per novos magistros abduci se patiantur,” Estius. The emphasis is on πιστός .

ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ] for, as their teacher, he is the servant of Christ for them, for their benefit . The interpretation, instead of you (“in prison he serves me in the gospel,” Michaelis, Böhmer), would only be possible in the event of the service being designated as rendered to the apostle ( διάκονός μου ἐν Χριστῷ , or something similar). Comp. Philemon 1:13 . Even with Lachmann’s reading, ὑπ . ἡμῶν (Steiger, Olshausen, Ewald), it would not be necessary to take ὑπέρ as instead; it might equally well be taken as for in the sense of interest, as opposite of the anti-Pauline working (comp. Luke 9:50 ). The present ἐστί (Paul does not put ἦν ) has its just warrant in the fact, that the merit, which the founder of the church has acquired by its true instruction, is living and continuous , reaching in its efficacy down to the present time. This is an ethical relation, which is quite independent of the circumstance that Epaphras was himself a Colossian (in opposition to Hofmann), but also makes it unnecessary to find in ἐστι an indirect continuance of Epaphras’ work for the Colossians (in opposition to Bleek).

ὁ καὶ δηλώσας κ . τ . λ ] who also (in accordance with the interest of this faithful service) has made us to know; comp. 1 Corinthians 1:11 . The ἀγάπη is here understood either of the love of the Colossians to Paul (and Timothy), as, following Chrysostom, most, including Huther, Bleek, and Hofmann, [15] explain it, or of the brotherly love already commended in Colossians 1:4 (de Wette, Olshausen, Ellicott, and others). But both these modes of taking it are at variance with the emphatic position of ὑμῶν (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:12 ; 2 Corinthians 1:6 ; 2 Corinthians 7:7 ; 2 Corinthians 8:13 , et al .), which betokens the love of the readers to Epaphras as meant. There had just been expressed, to wit, by ὑ̔ πὲρ ὑμῶν , the faithful, loving position of this servant of Christ towards the Colossians , and correlative to this is now the love which he met with from them , consequently the counter-love shown to him, of which he has informed the apostle. A delicate addition out of courtesy to the readers.

ἐν πνεύματι ] attaches itself closely to ἈΓΆΠΗΝ , so as to form one idea, denoting the love as truly holy not conditioned by anything outward, but divinely upheld which is in the Holy Spirit as the element which prompts and animates it; for it is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 ; Romans 15:30 ), οὐ σαρκικὴ , ἀλλὰ πνευματική (Oecumenius). Comp. ΧΑΡᾺ ἘΝ ΠΝ ., Romans 14:17 .

[15] Who, at the same time, makes the ἐν πνεύματι suggest the reference, that the ἁγάπη took place in a manner personally unknown which must have been conveyed in the context.


Since ἀφʼ ἧς ἡμέρας ἠκούσατε κ . τ . λ ., Colossians 1:6 , refers the readers back to the first commencement of their Christianity, and καθὼς ἐμάθετε ἀπὸ Ἐπαφρᾶ κ . τ . λ ., Colossians 1:7 , cannot, except by pure arbitrariness, be separated from it as regards time and regarded as something later, it results from our passage that Epaphras is to be considered as the first preacher of the gospel at Colossae, and consequently as founder of the church . This exegetical result remains even if the Recepta καθὼς καί is retained. This καί would not, as Wiggers thinks (in the Stud. u. Krit . 1838, p. 185), place the preaching of Epaphras in contradistinction to an earlier one, and make it appear as a continuation of the latter (in this case καθὼς καὶ ἀπὸ Ἐπαφρ . ἐμάθετε or καθὼς ἐμάθετε καὶ ἀπὸ Ἐπαφρ . would have been employed); but it is to be taken as also, not otherwise , placing the ἐμάθετε on a parity with the ἐπέγνωτε . This applies also in opposition to Vaihinger, in Herzog’s Encykl . iv. p. 79 f.

Verse 9

Colossians 1:9 . Intercession , down to Colossians 1:12 .

διὰ τοῦτο ] on account of all that has been said from ἀκούσαντες in Colossians 1:4 onward: induced thereby, we also cease not , etc. This reference is required by ἀφʼ ἧς ἡμέρας ἠκούσαμεν , which cannot correspond to the δηλώσας ἡμῖν , belonging as that does merely to an accessory thought, but must take up again (in opposition to Bleek and Hofmann) the ἀκούσαντες which was said in Colossians 1:4 . This resumption is emphatic , not tautological (Holtzmann).

καὶ ἡμεῖς ] are to be taken together , and it is not allowable to join καί either with διὰ τοῦτο (de Wette), or even with προσευχ . (Baumgarten-Crusius). The words are to be rendered: We also (I and Timothy), like others , who make the same intercession for you, and among whom there is mentioned by name the founder of the church, who stood in closest relation to them.

προσευχ .] “ Precum mentionem generatim fecit, Colossians 1:3 ; nunc exprimit, quid precetur” (Bengel).

καὶ αἰτούμενοι ] adds the special ( asking ) to the general ( praying ). Comp. 1Ma 3:44 ; Matthew 21:22 ; Mark 11:24 ; Ephesians 6:18 ; Philippians 4:6 . As to the popular form of hyperbole, οὐ παυόμ ., comp. on Ephesians 1:16 . On ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν , so far as it is also to be taken with κ . αἰτούμ ., comp. Lys. c. Alc . p. 141.

ἵνα πληρωθ .] Contents of the asking in the form of its purpose . Comp. on Philippians 1:9 . The emphasis lies not on πληρωθ . (F. Nitzsch, Hofmann), but on the object (comp. Romans 15:14 ; Romans 1:29 , al .), which gives to the further elucidation in Colossians 1:9-10 its specific definition of contents.

τὴν ἐπίγν . τοὺ θελ . αὐτοῦ ] with the knowledge of His will , accusative, as in Philippians 1:11 ; αὐτοῦ applies to God as the subject, to whom prayer and supplication are addressed. The context in Colossians 1:10 shows that by the θέλημα is meant, not the counsel of redemption (Ephesians 1:9 ; Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, and many others, including Huther and Dalmer), but, doubtless (Matthew 6:10 ), that which God wills in a moral respect (so Theodoret, who makes out a contrast with the νομικαῖς παρατηρήσεσιν ). Comp. Romans 2:18 ; Romans 12:2 ; Ephesians 5:17 ; Ephesians 6:6 ; Colossians 4:12 . The distinction between γνῶσις and ἐπίγνωσις , which both here and also in Colossians 1:10 ; Colossians 2:2 ; Colossians 3:10 , is the knowledge which grasps and penetrates into the object, is incorrectly denied by Olshausen. See on Ephesians 1:17 .

ἐν πάσῃ κ . τ . λ .] instrumental definition of manner, how, namely, this πληρωθῆναι τὴν ἐπίγν . τ . θελ . αὐτοῦ (a knowledge which is to be the product not of mere human mental activity, but of objectively divine endowment by the Holy Spirit) must be brought about: by every kind of spiritual wisdom and insight , by the communication of these from God; comp. on Ephesians 1:8 . A combination with the following περιπατῆσαι (comp. Colossians 4:5 : ἐν σοφίᾳ περιπ .), such as Hofmann suggests, is inappropriate, because the two parts of the whole intercession stand to one another in the relation of the divine ethical foundation , (Colossians 1:9 ), and of the corresponding practical conduct of life (Colossians 1:10 f.); hence the latter portion is most naturally and emphatically headed by the expression of this Christian practice, the περιπατῆσαι , to which are then subjoined its modal definitions in detail. Accordingly, περιπατῆσαι is not, with Hofmann, to be made dependent on τοῦ θελήμ . αὐτοῦ and taken as its contents, but τ . θελ . τ . Θ . is to be left as an absolute idea, as in Colossians 4:12 . On πνευματικός , proceeding from the Holy Spirit , [16] comp. Rom 1:11 ; 1 Corinthians 2:13 ; 1 Corinthians 12:1 ; Ephesians 1:3 ; Ephesians 5:19 , et al . The σύνεσις is the insight , in a theoretical and (comp. on Mark 12:33 ) practical respect, depending upon judgment and inference, Ephesians 3:4 ; 2 Timothy 2:7 . For the opposite of the pneumatic σύνεσις , see 1 Corinthians 1:19 . It is related to the σοφία as the special to the general , since it is peculiarly the expression of the intelligence in the domain of truth, [17] while the ΣΟΦΊΑ concerns the collective faculties of the mind, the activities of knowledge, willing, and feeling, the tendency and working of which are harmoniously subservient to the recognised highest aim, if the wisdom is πνευματική ; its opposite is the ΣΟΦΊΑ ΣΑΡΚΙΚΉ (2 Corinthians 1:12 ; James 3:15 ), being of man, and not of God, in its aim and efforts. According as ΦΡΌΝΗΣΙς is conceived subjectively or objectivized, the ΣΎΝΕΣΙς may be considered either as synonymous with it (Ephesians 1:8 ; Daniel 2:21 ; Plat. Crat . p. 411 A), or as an attribute of it ( Sir 1:4 : σύνεσις φρονήσεως ).

[16] Hence ἡ ἄνωθεν σοφία , James 3:15 ; James 3:17 . The predicate, although in the case of divine endowment with σοφία and σύνεσις obvious of itself (as Hofmann objects), was yet all the more apposite for expressly bringing the point into prominence, the greater the danger which threatened Colossae from non-divine, fleshly wisdom; comp. Colossians 2:23 .

[17] Comp. Dem. 269. 24: σύνεσις , ᾖ τὰ καλὰ καὶ αἰσχρὰ διαγινώσκεται .

Verse 10

Colossians 1:10 . The practical aim [18] which that πληρωθῆναι κ . τ . λ . is to accomplish; ἀεὶ τῇ πίστει σὐζεύγνυσι τὴν πολιτείαν , Chrysostom. The Vulgate renders correctly: ut ambuletis (in opposition to Hofmann, see on Colossians 1:9 ).

ἀξίως τοῦ κυρίου ] so that your behaviour may stand in morally appropriate relation to your belonging to Christ. Comp. Romans 16:2 ; Ephesians 4:1 ; Php 1:27 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ; 3 John 1:6 . The genitive (and in the N. T. such is always used with ἀξίως ) does not even “perhaps” (Hofmann) belong to the following εἰς π . ἀρεσκ ., especially as ἁρεσκεία , in the Greek writers and in Philo (see Loesner, p. 361), stands partly with, partly without, a genitival definition, and the latter is here quite obvious of itself. Such a combination would be an unnecessary artificial device. Comp. Plat. Conv . p. 180 D: ἀξίως τοῦ Θεοῦ .

εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκείαν ] on behalf of every kind of pleasing , that is, in order to please Him in every way. The word only occurs here in the N. T., but the apostle is not on that account to be deprived of it (Holtzmann); it is found frequently in Polybius, Philo, et al.; also Theophr. Char . 5; LXX. Proverbs 31:30 (Proverbs 30:30 ); Symmachus, Psalms 80:12 . On πᾶσαν ἀρ . comp. Polybius, xxxi. 26. 5: πᾶν γένος ἀρεσκείας προσφερόμενος . Among the Greeks, ἀρεσκεία (to be accentuated thus, see Winer, p. 50 [E. T. 57]; Buttmann, Neut. Gr . p. 11 [E. T. 12]) bears, for the most part, the sense of seeking to please . Comp. Proverbs 31:30 : ψευδεῖς ἀρεσκείαι .

ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ κ . τ . λ .] There now follow three expositions , in order to define more precisely the nature and mode of the περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως κ . τ . λ . We must, in considering these, notice the homogeneous plan of the three clauses, each of which commences with a prepositional relation of the participial idea, viz. (1) ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ κ . τ . λ ., (2) ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει , (3) μετὰ χαρᾶς , and ends with a relation expressed by εἰς , viz. (1) εἰς τ . ἐπίγν . τ . Θεοῦ , (2) εἰς πᾶσ . ὑπομ . κ . μακροθυμ ., (3) εἰς τὴν μερίδα κ . τ . λ . The construction would be still more symmetrical if, in the third clause, ἐν πάσῃ χαρᾷ (Romans 15:32 ) had been written instead of μετὰ χαρᾶς which was easily prevented by the versatility of the apostle’s form of conception.

ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ καρποφ . is to be taken together (and then again, αὐξανόμ . εἰς τὴν ἐπίγν . τ . Θεοῦ ), inasmuch as ye by every good work (by your accomplishing every morally good action) bear fruit , as good trees, comp. Matthew 7:17 . But not as if the καρποφορεῖν and the σὐξάνεσθαι were separate things; they take place, as in Colossians 1:6 , jointly and at the same time , although, after the manner of parallelism, a special more precise definition is annexed to each. Moreover, ἐν παντὶ ἔργ . ἀγ . is not to be connected with εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκ . (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, and others, also Steiger); otherwise we mistake and destroy the symmetrical structure of the passage.

καὶ αὐξανόμ . εἰς τ . ἐπίγν . τ . Θ .] and , inasmuch as with this moral fruit-bearing at the same time ye increase in respect to the knowledge of God , that is, succeed in knowing Him more and more fully. The living, effective knowledge of God, which is meant by ἐπίγν . τ . Θεοῦ (Colossians 1:6 ; Colossians 3:10 ; Colossians 2:2 ), sustains an ethically necessary action and reaction with practical morality. Just as the latter is promoted by the former, so also knowledge grows through moral practice in virtue of the power of inward experience of the divine life (the ζωὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ , Ephesians 4:18 ), by which God reveals Himself more and more to the inner man. The fact that here τοῦ Θεοῦ generally is said, and not τοῦ θελήματος Θεοῦ repeated, is in keeping with the progressive development set forth; there is something of a climax in it. On εἰς , used of the telic reference, and consequently of the regulative direction of the growth, comp. on Ephesians 4:15 ; 2 Peter 1:8 . The reading τῇ ἐπιγνώσει τ . Θ . would have to be taken as instrumental , with Olshausen, Steiger, Huther, de Wette, Bleek, who follow it, but would yield after Colossians 1:9 something quite self-evident. We may add that αὐξάν ., with the dative of spiritual increase by something, is frequent in Plato and classic writers.

As to the nominatives of the participles, which are not to be taken with πληρωθ . (Beza, Bengel, Reiche, and others), but relate to the logical subject of περιπατ . ἀξίως , comp. on Ephesians 4:2 ; 2 Corinthians 1:7 .

[18] Not to be attached as object of the request immediately to προσευχόμενοι , and all that intervenes to be assigned to the interpolator (Holtzmann, p. 85). Yet, according to Holtzmann, p. 123, ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ down τοῦ Θεοῦ is alleged to be simply an interpolated duplicate of ver. 6; in which case, however, it would not be easy to see why καρποφορούμενοι was not written, after the precedent of ver. 6, but on the contrary καρποφοροῦντες .

Verse 11

Colossians 1:11 is co-ordinate with the foregoing ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ … Θεοῦ .

ἐν πάσῃ δυν . δυναμ .] ἐν is instrumental, as in Colossians 1:9 (Ephesians 6:10 ; 2 Timothy 2:1 ); hence not designating that, in the acquiring of which the invigoration is supposed to consist (Hofmann), but: by means of every (moral) power (by its bestowal on God’s part) becoming empowered . δυναμόω (Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 605) does not occur in Greek authors, and is only found here and at Hebrews 11:34 , Lachm. in the N. T.; in the LXX. at Ecclesiastes 10:10 ; Daniel 9:27 ; Ps. 67:31; in Aquila; Job 36:9 ; Psalms 64:4 . Paul elsewhere uses ἐνδυναμοῦν .

κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξ . αὐτ .] according to the might of His majesty; with this divine might (see as to κράτος on Ephesians 1:19 ), through the powerful influence of which that strengthening is to be imparted to them, it is also to be correspondent and thereby its eminent strength and efficacy are characterized ( κατά in Ephesians 1:19 has another sense). Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 ; Philippians 3:21 . And τὸ κράτος τ . δόξ . αὐτ . is not His glorious power (Luther, Castalio, Beza, and others; also Flatt and Bähr), against which αὐτοῦ should have been a sufficient warning; but τὸ κράτος is the appropriate attribute of the divine majesty (of the glorious nature of God). Comp. Ephesians 3:16 ; Sir 18:5 . The κράτος therefore is not the glory of God (Böhmer), but the latter has the former, and the δόξα is not to be referred to a single aspect of the divine greatness (Grotius: power; Huther: love ), but to its glorious whole . Comp. on Romans 6:4 .

εἰς πᾶσαν ὑπομ . κ . μακροθ .] in respect to every endurance (in affliction, persecution, temptation, and the like, comp. Romans 5:3 ; 2 Corinthians 1:6 ; 2 Corinthians 6:4 ; James 1:3 f.; Luke 8:15 ; Romans 2:7 , et al .) and long-suffering (towards the offenders and persecutors), that is, so as to be able to exercise these virtues in every way by means of that divine strengthening. The distinction of Chrysostom: μακροθυμεῖ τις πρὸς ἐκείνους οὓς δυνατὸν καὶ ἀμύνασθαι · ὑπομένει δὲ , οὓς οὐ δύναται ἀμύνασθαι , is arbitrary. See, on the contrary, for instance, Hebrews 12:2-3 . Others understand it variously; but it is to be observed, that ὑπομονή expresses the more general idea of endurance, and that μακροθυμία , the opposite of which is ὀξυθυμία (Eur. Andr . 729; James 1:19 ) and ὀξυθύμησις (Artem. iv. 69), always refers in the N. T. to the relation of patient tolerance towards offenders. Comp. Colossians 3:12 ; Galatians 5:22 ; Romans 2:4 ; Ephesians 4:2 ; also Hebrews 6:12 ; James 5:10 .

μετὰ χαρᾶς ] is joined with πᾶσαν ὑπομ . κ . μακροθ . by Theodoret, Luther, Beza, Castalio, Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, Bengel, Heinrichs, and many others, including Olshausen, Bähr, Steiger, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Dalmer, so that the true, joyful patience (comp. Colossians 1:24 ) is denoted. But the symmetry of the passage (see on Colossians 1:10 ), in which the two previous participles are also preceded by a prepositional definition, points so naturally to the connection with what follows (Syr., Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Estius, and others, including Lachmann, Tischendorf, Böhmer, Huther, Ewald, Ellicott, Bleek, Hofmann), that it cannot be abandoned without arbitrariness. Even in that case, indeed, the thought of joyful patience, which is certainly apostolic (Romans 5:3 ; 1 Peter 1:6 ; Romans 12:12 ; comp. Matthew 5:12 ), is not lost, when the intercession rises from patience to joyful thanksgiving . Observe also the deliberate juxtaposition of μετὰ χαρᾶς εὐχαριστ .

Verse 12

Colossians 1:12 . While ye give thanks with joyfulness , etc., a third accompanying definition of περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως κ . τ . λ . (Colossians 1:10 ), co-ordinate with the two definitions preceding, and not to be connected with οὐ παυόμεθα κ . τ . λ . (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Calvin: “iterum redit ad gratulationem,” Calovius, Böhmer, Baumgarten-Crusius).

τῷ παρτί ] of Jesus Christ; comp. Colossians 1:13 , and τοῦ Κυρίου in Colossians 1:10 , not: “the Father absolutely ” (Hofmann). It is always in Paul’s writings to be gathered from the context, whose Father God is to be understood as being (even at Ephesians 1:17 ); never does he name God absolutely ( in abstracto ) ὁ πατήρ . Comp. Colossians 1:3 , which, however, is held by Holtzmann to be the original, suggesting a repetition by the editor at our passage, in spite of the fact that the two passages have different subjects. Just as little does εἰς τὴν μερίδα κ . τ . λ . betray itself as an interpolation from Ephesians 1:18 ; Ephesians 1:11 (Holtzmann), seeing that, on the one hand, the expression at our passage is so wholly peculiar, and, on the other hand, the idea of κληρονομία is so general in the N. T. Comp. especially Acts 26:18 . [19]

τῷ ἱκανώσαντι κ . τ . λ .] Therein lies the ground of the thanksgiving, quippe qui , etc. God has made us fit ( ἡμᾶς applies to the letter-writers and readers, so far as they are Christians ) for a share in the Messianic salvation through the light , inasmuch as, instead of the darkness which previously prevailed over us, He has by means of the gospel brought to us the ἀλήθεια , of which light is the distinctive element and the quickening and saving principle (Ephesians 5:9 ) of the Christian constitution both in an intellectual and ethical point of view (Acts 26:18 ); hence Christians are children of the light ( Eph 5:8 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:5 ; Luke 16:8 ). Comp. Romans 13:12 ; 2Co 6:14 ; 1 Peter 2:9 . In Christ the light had attained to personal manifestation (John 1:4 ff; John 3:9 ; John 8:12 ; Matthew 4:16 , et al .), as the personal revelation of the divine nature itself (1 John 1:5 ), and the gospel was the means of its communication (Ephesians 3:9 ; Hebrews 6:4 ; 2 Corinthians 4:4 ; Acts 26:23 , et al .) to men, who without this enlightenment were unfit for the Messianic salvation (Ephesians 2:1 ff; Ephesians 4:18 ; Ephesians 5:11 ; Eph 6:12 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:4 , et al .). The instrumental definition ἐν τῷ φωτί is placed at the end , in order that it may stand out with special emphasis; hence, also, the relative sentence which follows refers to this very element. An objection has been wrongly urged against our view (which is already adopted by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact; comp. Estius and others, including Flatt and Steiger), that Paul must have used πνεῦμα instead of φῶς (see Olshausen). The ἱκανοῦν ἐν τῷ φωτί is, indeed, nothing else than the καλεῖν εἰς τὸ φῶς (1 Peter 2:9 ) conceived in respect of its moral efficacy, and the result thereof on the part of man is the εἶναι φῶς ἐν κυρίῳ (Ephesians 5:8 ), or the εἶναι υἱὸν τοῦ φωτός (1 Thessalonians 5:5 ; John 12:36 ), ὡς φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ (Philippians 2:15 ). But the light is a power; for it is τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς (John 8:12 ), has its armour (Romans 13:12 ), produces its fruit (Ephesians 5:9 ), effects the Christian ἐλέγχειν (Ephesians 5:13 ), endurance in the conflict of affliction (Hebrews 10:32 ), etc. Ἐν τῷ φωτί is usually connected with τοῦ κλήρου τῶν ἁγίων , so that this κλῆρος is described as existing or to be found in light, as the kingdom of light; in which case we may think either of its glory (Beza and others, Böhmer, Huther), or of its purity and perfection (Olshausen, de Wette, and Dalmer) as referred to. But although the connecting article τοῦ might be wanting, and the κλῆρος τ . ἁγ . ἐν τῷ φωτί might thus form a single conception, it may be urged as an objection that the heritage meant cannot be the temporal position of Christians, but only the future blessedness of the Messianic glorious kingdom; comp. Colossians 1:13 , τὴν βασιλ . τοῦ υἱοῦ . Hence not ἐν τῷ φωτί , but possibly ἐν τῇ δόξῃ , ἐν τῇ ζωῇ , ἐν τοῖς οὐρανεῖς , or the like, would be a fitting definition of κλῆρος , which, however, already has in τῶν ἁγίων its definite description (comp. Ephesians 1:18 ; Acts 20:32 ; Acts 26:18 ). Just as little for the same reason, and because τ . μερίδα already carries with it its own definition (share in the κλῆρος ) is ἐν τῷ φωτί to be made dependent on τὴν μερίδα , whether ἐν be taken locally (Bengel: “Lux est regnum Dei, habentque fideles in hoc regno partem beatam”) or as in Acts 8:21 (Ewald), in which case Hofmann finds the sphere expressed (comp. also Bleek), where the saints have got their peculiar possession assigned to them , so that the being in light stands related to the future glory as that which is still in various respects conditioned stands to plenitude as if κλῆρος (comp. on Acts 26:18 ) had not already the definite and full eschatological sense of the possession of eternal glory. This κλῆρος , of which the Christians are possessors ( τῶν ἁγίων ), ideally before the Parousia, and thereafter really, is the theocratic designation ( נחלה ) of the properly of the Messianic kingdom (see on Galatians 3:18 ; Ephesians 1:11 ), and the ΜΕΡῚς ( חלק ) ΤΟῦ ΚΛΉΡΟΥ is the share of individuals [20] in the same. Comp. Sir 44:23 .

[19] The mode in which Acts 26:18 comes into contact as regards thought and expression with Colossians 1:12-14 , may be sufficiently explained by the circumstance that in Acts 26:0 also Paul is the speaker. Holtzmann justly advises caution with reference to the apparent echoes of the Book of Acts in general, as Luke originally bears the Pauline stamp.

[20] Comp. also Bleek. Hofmann incorrectly says that τοῦ κληροῦ serves only to designate the μερίς as destined for special possession. In that case, at least, the qualitative genitive of the abstract must have been put τῆς κληρονομίας , as in Psalms 16:5 ). But the concrete τοῦ κλήρου τ . ἁγ . is, as the literal sense of μερίς , portio, most naturally suggests, the genitivus partitivus (G. totius ), so that the individual is conceived as μερίτης of the κλῆρος of the saints, in which he for his part συμμετέκει .

Verse 13

Colossians 1:13 . A more precise elucidation of the divine benefit previously expressed by τῷ ἱκανώσαντι … φωτί . This verse forms the transition, by which Paul is led on to the instructions as to Christ, which he has it in view to give down to Colossians 1:20 . [21]

ἐκ τῆς ἐξουσ . τοῦ σκοτ .] τοῦ σκοτ . is not genitive of apposition (Hofmann), but, corresponding to the εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν that follows, genitive of the subject: out of the power, which darkness has . The latter, as the influential power of non-Christian humanity (of the κόσμος , which is ruled by the devil, Ephesians 2:2 ), is personified; its essence is the negation of the intellectual and ethical divine ἀλήθεια , and the affirmation of the opposite. Comp. Luke 22:53 ; Matthew 4:16 ; Acts 26:18 ; Romans 13:12 ; Ephesians 5:8 ; Ephesians 6:12 , et al . The act of the ἑῤῥύσατο has taken place by means of the conversion to Christ, which is the work of God , Romans 8:29 f.; Ephesians 2:4 ff. It is to be observed, that the expression ἐκ τ . ἐξουσ . τ . σκότους is chosen as the correlative of ἐν τῷ φωτί in Colossians 1:12 .

καὶ μετέστησεν ] The matter is to be conceived locally ( εἰς ἕτερον τόπον , Plat. Legg . vi. p. 762 B), so that the deliverance from the power of darkness appears to be united with the removing away into the kingdom, etc. Comp. Plat. Rep . p. 518 A: ἔκ τε φωτὸς εἰς σκότος μεθισταμένων καὶ ἐκ σκότους εἰς φῶς .

εἰς τὴν βασιλ . κ . τ . λ ., that is, into the kingdom of the Messiah , Eph 5:5 ; 2 Peter 1:11 ; for this and nothing else is meant by ἡ βασιλεία Χριστοῦ ( τοῦ Θεοῦ , τῶν οὐρανῶν ) in all passages of the N. T. Comp. Colossians 4:11 ; and see on Rom 14:17 ; 1 Corinthians 4:20 ; Matthew 3:2 ; Matthew 6:10 . The aorist μετέστ . is to be explained by the matter being conceived proleptically ( τῇ γὰρ ἐλπίδι ἐσώθημεν , Romans 8:24 ), as something already consummated (comp. on ἐδόξασε , Romans 8:30 ). Thus the kingdom which is nigh is, by means of their fellowship of life with their Lord (Ephesians 2:6 ), as certain to the redeemed as if they were already translated into it. The explanation which refers it to the Christian church (so still Heinrichs, Bähr, Huther, and most expositors) as contrasted with the κόσμος , is just as unhistorical as that which makes it the invisible inward, ethical kingdom (see especially Olshausen, following an erroneous view of Luke 17:21 ), to which also Bleek and Hofmann ultimately come. Certainly all who name Christ their Lord are under this king (Hofmann); but this is not yet his βασιλεία ; that belongs to the future αἰών , Ephesians 5:5 ; 1Co 6:9 f., 1 Corinthians 15:24 ; 1 Corinthians 15:50 ; Galatians 5:21 , et al.; John 18:36 .

τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ ] in essential meaning, indeed, nothing else than τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἀγαπητοῦ (Matthew 3:17 ; Matthew 17:5 , et al .), or τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀγαπητοῦ αὐτοῦ (Matthew 12:18 ; Mark 12:6 ), but more prominently singling out the attribute (Buttmann, Neut. Gr . p. 141 [E. T. 162]): of the Son of His love , that is, of the Son who is the object of His love, genitive of the subject . Comp. Genesis 35:18 : υἱὸς ὀδύνης μου . Entirely parallel is Ephesians 1:6 f.: ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ , ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν κ . τ . λ . Augustine, de Trin . xv. 19, understood it as genitive of origin , making ἀγάπη αὐτοῦ denote the divine substantia . [22] So again Olshausen, in whose view the expression is meant to correspond to the Johannine ΜΟΝΟΓΕΝΉς . This is entirely without analogy in the N. T. mode of conception, according to which not the procreation (Colossians 1:15 ), but the sending of the Son is referred to the divine love as its act; and the love is not the essence of God (in the metaphysical sense), but His essential disposition (the essence in the ethical sense), even in 1Jn 4:8 ; 1 John 4:16 . Consequently it might be explained: “of the Son, whom His love has sent ,” if this were suggested by the context; so far, however, from this being the case, the language refers to the exalted Christ who rules ( βασιλείαν ). The expression itself, ΥἹῸς Τῆς ἈΓΆΠ . ΑὐΤΟῦ , is found in the N. T. only here, but could not he chosen more suitably or with deeper feeling to characterize the opposite of the God-hated element of σκότος , which in its nature is directly opposed to the divine love. The view, that it is meant to be intimated that the sharing in the kingdom brings with it the ΥἹΟΘΕΣΊΑ (Huther, de Wette), imports what is not expressed, and anticipates the sequel. Holtzmann without ground, and unfairly, asserts that in comparison with Ephesians 1:6 our passage presents “stereotyped modes of connection and turns of an ecclesiastical orator,” under which he includes the Hebraizing ΥἹῸς Τῆς ἈΓΆΠΗς ΑὐΤ . as being thoroughly un-Pauline as if the linguistic resources of the apostle could not even extend to an expression which is not indeed elsewhere used by him, but is in the highest degree appropriate to a specially vivid sense of the divine act of love; something sentimental in the best sense.

[21] This Chiristological outburst runs on in the form of purely positive statement, although having already in view doctrinal dangers of the kind in Colossae. According to Holtzmann, the Christology belongs to the compiler; the whole passage, vv. 14 20, is forced and without motive, and it is only in ver. 21 that we find the direct sequel to ver. 13. The latter statement is incorrect. And why should this excursus, as a grand basis for all the exhortations and warnings that follow, be held without due motive? Holtzmann forms too harsh a judgment as to the whole passage Colossians 1:9-23 , when he declares it incompatible with any strict exegetical treatment.

[22] Theodore of Mopsuestia finds in the expression the contrast that Christ was the Son of God οὐ φύσει , ἀλλʼ ἀγάπῃ τῆς υἱοθεσίας .

Verse 14

Colossians 1:14 . Not a preliminary condition of the υἱοθεσία (de Wette), nor the benefit of which Christians become partakers in the kingdom of the Son of God (Huther; against which it may be urged that the βασιλεία does not denote the kingdom of the church ); nor yet a mark of the deliverance from darkness having taken place (Ritschl in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol . 1863, p. 513), since this deliverance necessarily coincides with the translation into the kingdom; but it is the abiding ( ἔχομεν , habemus , not accepimus ) relation, in which that transference into the kingdom of God has its causal basis . The ransoming (from the punishment of sin, see the explanatory τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτ .) we have in Christ , inasmuch as He, by the shedding of His blood as the purchase-price (see on 1 Corinthians 6:20 ; Galatians 3:13 ; Galatians 4:5 ), has given Himself as a λύτρον (Matthew 20:28 ; Mark 10:45 ; 1 Timothy 2:6 ); and this redemption, effected by His ἱλαστήριον (Romans 3:21 ff.), remains continually in subsistence and efficacy. Hence: ἐν ᾧ , which specifies wherein the subjective ἔχομεν is objectively based, as its causa meritoria (Romans 3:24 ). Comp., moreover, on Ephesians 1:7 , whence διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ has found its way hither as a correct gloss. But the deleting of this addition by no means implies that we should make τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν also belong to τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν (Hofmann), as in Hebrews 9:15 , especially as Paul elsewhere only uses ἀπολύτρωσις either absolutely (Romans 3:24 ; 1 Corinthians 1:30 ; Ephesians 1:7 ; Ephesians 4:30 ) or with the genitive of the subject (Romans 8:23 ; Ephesians 1:14 ). The expression ἄφεσις τ . ἁμαρτ . is not used by him elsewhere in the epistles (comp., however, Romans 4:7 ), but at Acts 13:38 ; Acts 26:28 . Holtzmann too hastily infers that the writer had read the Synoptics.

Verse 15

Colossians 1:15 . As to Colossians 1:15-20 , see Schleiermacher in the Stud. u. Krit . 1832, p. 497 ff. ( Werke z. Theol . II. p. 321 ff.), and, in opposition to his ethical interpretation (of Christ as the moral Reformer of the world), Holzhausen in the Tüb. Zeitschr . 1832, 4, p. 236 ff.; Osiander, ibid . 1833, 1, 2; Bähr, appendix to Komment . p. 321 ff.; Bleek on Hebrews 1:2 . See generally also Hofmann, Schriftbew . I. p. 153 ff., II. 1, p. 357 ff.; Beyschlag in the Stud. u. Krit . 1860, p. 446 f.

After having stated, in Colossians 1:14 , what we have in Christ (whose state of exaltation he has in view, see Colossians 1:13 , τὴν βασιλείαν ), Paul now, continuing his discourse by an epexegetical relative clause, depicts what Christ is , namely, as regards His divine dignity having in view the influences of the false teachers, who with Gnostic tendencies depreciated this dignity. The plan of the discourse is not tripartite (originator of the physical creation, Colossians 1:15 f.; maintainer of everything created, Colossians 1:17 ; relation to the new moral creation, Colossians 1:18 ff., so Bähr, while others divide differently [23] ), but bipartite , in such a way that Colossians 1:15-17 set forth the exalted metaphysical relation of Christ to God and the world , and then Colossians 1:18 ff., His historical relation of dignity to the church . [24] This division, which in itself is logically correct (whereas Colossians 1:17 is not suited, either as regards contents or form, to be a separate, co-ordinate part), is also externally indicated by the two confirmatory clauses ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κ . τ . λ . in Colossians 1:16 and Colossians 1:19 , by which the two preceding [25] affirmations in Colossians 1:15 and Colossians 1:18 are shown to be the proper parts of the discourse. Others (see especially Bengel, Schleiermacher, Hofmann, comp. also Gess, Pers. Chr . p. 77) have looked upon the twice-expressed ὅς ἐστιν in Colossians 1:15 and Colossians 1:18 as marking the beginning of the two parts. But this would not be justifiable as respects the second Ὅς ἘΣΤΙΝ ; for the main idea, which governs the whole effusion, Colossians 1:15-20 , is the glory of the dominion of the Son of God , in the description of which Paul evidently begins the second part with the words καὶ αὐτός , Colossians 1:18 , passing over from the general to the special, namely, to His government over the church to which He has attained by His resurrection. On the details, see below.

ὅς ἐστιν κ . τ . λ .] It is to be observed that Paul has in view Christ as regards His present existence, consequently as regards the presence and continuance of His state of exaltation (comp. on. Colossians 1:13-14 ); hence he affirms, not what Christ was , but what He is . On this ἐστίν , comp. Colossians 1:17-18 , and 2 Corinthians 4:4 . Therefore not only the reference to Christ’s temporal manifestation (Calvin, Grotius, Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others), but also the limitation to Christ’s divine nature or the Logos (Calovius, Estius, Wolf, and many others, including Bähr, Steiger, Olshausen, Huther) is incorrect. The only correct reference is to His whole person , which, in the divine-human state of its present heavenly existence, is continually that which its divine nature this nature considered in and by itself was before the incarnation; so that, in virtue of the identity of His divine nature, the same predicates belong to the exalted Christ as to the Logos. See Philippians 2:6 ; John 17:5 .

εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου ] image of God the invisible . Comp. on 2 Corinthians 4:4 . As, namely, Christ in His pre-existence [26] down to His incarnation already possessed the essential divine glory, so that He was as to nature ἴσα Θεῷ , and as to form of appearance ἘΝ ΜΟΡΦῇ ΘΕΟῦ ὙΠΆΡΧΩΝ (see on Philippians 2:6 ); so, after He had by means of the incarnation divested Himself, not indeed of His God-equal nature, but of His divine ΔΌΞΑ , and had humbled Himself, and had in obedience towards God died even the death of the cross, He has been exalted again by God to His original glory (Philippians 2:9 ; John 17:5 ), so that the divine ΔΌΞΑ now exists (comp. on Colossians 2:9 ) in His glorified corporeal manifestation (Philippians 3:21 ); and He the exalted Christ in this His glory, which is that of His Father, represents and brings to view by exact image God, who is in Himself invisible. He is ἈΠΑΎΓΑΣΜΑ Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς ΚΑῚ ΧΑΡΑΚΤῊΡ Τῆς ὙΠΟΣΤΆΣΕΩς ΘΕΙῦ (Hebrews 1:3 ), [27] and, in this majesty, in which He is the exactly similar visible revelation of God, He will present Himself to all the world at the Parousia (Matthew 16:27 ; Matthew 25:31 ; Philippians 3:20 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:7 ; 1 Peter 4:13 ; Titus 2:13 , et al .). The predicate τοῦ ἀοράτου , placed as it is in its characteristically significant attributive position (Bornemann, Schol. in Luc . p. xxxvi.; Bernhardy, p. 322 f.) behind the emphatic τοῦ Θεοῦ , posits for the conception of the exact image visibility (Hebrews 12:14 ; 2 Corinthians 3:18 ; Acts 22:11 ); but the assumption that Paul had thus in view the Alexandrian doctrine of the Logos , the doctrine of the hidden and manifest God (see Usteri, Lehrbegr . p. 308; comp. Bähr, Olshausen, Steiger, Huther), the less admits of proof, because he is not speaking here of the pre-existence , but of the exalted Christ, including, therefore, His human nature; hence, also, the comparison with the angel Metatron of Jewish theology (comp. Hengstenberg, Christol . III. 2, p. 67) is irrelevant. The Fathers, moreover, have, in opposition to the Arians, rightly laid stress upon the fact (see Suicer, Thes . I. p. 415) that, according to the entire context, εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ is meant in the eminent sense, namely of the adequate , and consequently consubstantial, image of God ( μόνος … καὶ ἀπαραλλάκτως εἰκών , Theophylact), and not as man (Genesis 1:26 ; comp. also 1 Corinthians 11:7 ; Colossians 3:10 ) or the creation (Romans 1:20 ) is God’s image. In that case, however, the invisibility of the εἰκών is not at all to be considered as presupposed (Chrysostom, Calovius, and others); this, on the contrary, pertains to the Godhead in itself (1 Timothy 1:17 ; Hebrews 11:27 ), so far as it does not present itself in its εἰκών ; whereas the notion of ΕἸΚΏΝ necessarily involves perceptibility (see above); “Dei inaspecti aspectabilis imago,” Grotius. This visibility and that not merely mental (Romans 1:20 ) had been experienced by Paul himself at his conversion, and at Christ’s Parousia will be fully experienced by all the world. Different from this is the (discursive) cognoscibility of God, which Christ has brought about by His appearance and working. John 1:18 ; John 14:9 . This applies against the view of Calvin, Clericus, and many others, including de Wette: “in His person, appearance, and operation … God has made Himself as it were visible; ” comp. Grotius: “Adam imago Dei fuit, sed valde tenuis; in Christo perfectissime apparuit, quam Deus esset sapiens, potens, bonus;” Baumgarten-Crusius: “the affinity to God (which is held to consist in the destination of ruling over the spirit-world) as Christ showed it upon earth.” Thus the substantiality of the exact image is more or less turned into a quasi or quodammodo , and the text is thus laid open to every kind of rationalizing caprice. We may add that Christ was already, as λόγος ἄσαρκος , necessarily the image of God, but ἘΝ ΜΟΡΦῇ ΘΕΟῦ , in purely divine glory; not, as after His exaltation, in divine-human δόξα ; consequently, the doctrine of an eternal humanity of Christ (Beyschlag) is not to be based on ΕἸΚῺΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ . Comp. Wis 7:26 , and Grimm, Handb . p. 161 f. The idea, also, of the prototype of humanity , which is held by Beyschlag here to underlie that of the image of God (comp. his Christol . p. 227), is foreign to the context. Certainly God has in eternity thought of the humanity which in the fulness of time was to be assumed by His Son (Acts 15:18 ); but this is simply an ideal pre-existence (comp. Delitzsch, Psychol . p. 41 ff.), such as belongs to the entire history of salvation, very different from the real antemundane existence of the personal Logos.

πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως ] After the relation of Christ to God now follows His relation to what is created , in an apologetic interest of opposition to the Gnostic false teachers; βούλεται δεῖξαι , ὅτι πρὸ πάσης τῆς κτίσεώς ἐστιν ὁ υἱός · πῶς ὤν ; διὰ γενήσεως · οὐκοῦν καὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων πρότερος , καὶ οὕτως ὥστε καὶ αὐτὸς ἔκτισεν αὐτούς , Theophylact. The false teachers denied to Christ the supreme unique rank in the order of spirits. But he is first-born of every creature , that is, born before every creature having come to personal existence , [28] entered upon subsistent being, ere yet anything created was extant (Romans 1:25 ; Romans 8:39 ; Hebrews 4:13 ). Analogous, but not equivalent, is Proverbs 8:22 f. It is to be observed that this predicate also belongs to the entire Christ, inasmuch as by His exaltation His entire person is raised to that state in which He, as to His divine nature, had already existed before the creation of the world, corresponding to the Johannine expression ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος , which in substance, although not in form, is also Pauline; comp. Philippians 2:6 . Philo’s term πρωτόγονος , used of the Logos, denotes the same relation; but it is not necessary to suppose that Paul appropriated from him this expression , which is also current among classical authors, or that the apostle was at all dependent on the Alexandrian philosophic view. The mode in which he conceived of the personal pre-existence of Christ before the world as regards (timeless) origin, is not defined by the figurative πρωτότοκος more precisely than as procession from the divine nature (Philo illustrates the relation of the origin of the Logos, by saying that the Father ἀνέτειλεν Him), whereby the premundane Christ became subsistent ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ and ἴσα Θεῷ (Philippians 2:6 ). The genitive πάσης κτίσεως , moreover, is not the partitive genitive (although de Wette still, with Usteri, Reuss, and Baur, holds this to be indubitable), because the anarthrous πᾶσα κτίσις does not mean the whole creation , or everything which is created (Hofmann), and consequently cannot affirm the category or collective whole [29] to which Christ belongs as its first-born individual (it means: every creature; comp. on πᾶσα οἰκοδομή , Ephesians 2:21 [30] ); but it is the genitive of comparison , corresponding to the superlative expression: “ the first-born in comparison with every creature ” (see Bernhardy, p. 139), that is, born earlier than every creature. Comp. Bähr and Bleek, Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 241; Weiss, Bibl. Theol . p. 424; Philippi, Glaubensl. II. p. 214, Exodus 2:0 . In Revelation 1:5 , πρωτότοκ . τῶν νεκρῶν , the relation is different, τ . νεκρῶν pointing out the category; comp. πρωτότοκ . ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδ ., Romans 8:29 . The genitive here is to be taken quite as the comparative genitive with πρῶτος ; see on John 1:15 , and generally, Kühner, II. 1, p. 335 f. The element of comparison is the relation of time ( πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι , John 17:5 ), and that in respect of origin . But because the latter in the case of every ΚΤΊΣΙς is different from what it is in the case of Christ, neither πρωτόκτιστος nor πρωτόπλαστος is made use of, [31] terms which would indicate for Christ, who is withal Son of God, a similar mode of origin as for the creature but the term πρωτότοκος is chosen, which, in the comparison as to time of origin, points to the peculiar nature of the origination in the case of Christ , namely, that He was not created by God, like the other beings in whom this is implied in the designation κτίσις , but born , having come forth homogeneous from the nature of God. And by this is expressed, not a relation homogeneous with the κτίσις (Holtzmann), a relation kindred to the world (Beyschlag, Christol . p. 227), but that which is absolutely exalted above the world and unique. Theodoret justly observes: οὐχ ὡς ἀδελφὴν ἔχων τὴν κτίσιν , ἀλλʼ ὡς πρὸ πᾶσης κτίσεως γεννηθείς . At variance with the words, therefore, is the Arian interpretation, that Christ is designated as the first creature; so also Usteri, p. 315, Schwegler, Baur, Reuss. With this view the sequel also conflicts, which describes Christ as the accomplisher and aim of creation; hence in His case a mode of origin higher and different from the being created must be presupposed, which is, in fact, characteristically indicated in the purposely-chosen word πρωτότοκος . The Socinian interpretation is also incorrect [32] (Grotius, Wetstein, Nösselt, Heinrichs, and others), that κτίσις denotes the new ethical creation, along with which there is, for the most part, associated the reference of πρωτότοκ . to the highest dignity (Pelagius, Melanchthon, Cameron, Hammond, Zachariae, and others, including Storr and Flatt; comp. de Wette), which is assumed also by many who understand it of the physical creation. It is decisive against this interpretation, that κτίσις would necessarily require for the moral notion a more precise definition, either by a predicate ( καινή , 2 Corinthians 5:17 ; comp. Barnabas, ep. c. xvi.: λαβόντες τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν καὶ ἐλπίσαντες ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου , ἐγενόμεθα καινοὶ , πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς κτιζόμενοι ), or at least by a context which admitted of no doubt; also, that πρωτότοκος never means the most excellent , and can only have this sense ex adjuncto (as at Psalms 89:28 ; Romans 8:29 ), which in this passage is not by any means the case, as the context (see Colossians 1:16 , and πρὸ πάντων in Colossians 1:17 ; comp. also πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν in Colossians 1:18 ) brings prominently forward the relation of time . Chrysostom justly says: οὐχὶ ἀξίας κ . τιμῆς , ἀλλὰ χρόνου μόνον ἐστὶ σημαντικόν , and already Theophilus, ad Autol . ii. 31, p. 172: ὅποτε δὲ ἠθέλησεν ὁ Θεὸς ποιῆσαι ὅσα ἐβουλεύσατο , τοῦτον τὸν λόγον ἐγέννησε προφορικόν , πρωτότοκον πάσης κτίσεως . This πρωτότοκον εἶναι belongs to the high dignity of Christ (comp. Revelation 3:14 : ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ ), but it does not signify it. Comp. Justin, c. Tr . 100: πρωτότοκον μὲν τοῦ Θεοῦ κ . πρὸ πάντων τῶν κτισμάτων . The ethical [33] interpretation of the passage appears all the more mistaken, since according to it, even if πρωτότοκ . is understood temporally (Baumgarten-Crusius: “ ΚΤΊΣΙς is that which is remodelled , and πρωτότοκος , He who has come first under this category, has first received this higher spiritual dignity”), Christ is made to be included under the κτίσις , which is at variance both with the context in Colossians 1:16 f., and with the whole N. T. Christology, especially the sinlessness of Christ. If, however, in order to obviate this ground of objection, ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς is combined as an adjective with ΕἸΚΏΝ , we not only get a complicated construction, since both words have their genitival definition, but ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς (instead of ΠΡΩΤΌΤΥΠΟς ) would be an inappropriate predicate for εἰκών . This applies against Schleiermacher, who, taking ΚΤΊΣΙς as “disposition and arrangement of human things,” educes the rationalizing interpretation, that Christ is in the whole compass of the spiritual world of man the first-born image, the original copy of God; that all believers ought to be formed in the image of Christ, and thence the image of God would likewise necessarily arise in them an image of the second order. In the interest of opposition to heresy, some, following Isidore of Pelusium, Ep . iii. 31, p. 237, and Basil the Great, c. Eunom . iv. p. 104, have made the first- born even into the first- bringer-forth ( πρωτοτόκος , as paroxytone, according to the classical usage, Hom. Il . xvii. 5; Plat. Theaet . p. 161 A, 151C; Valckenaer, Schol . II. p. 389), as, with Erasmus in his Annot . (but only permissively) Erasmus Schmid and Michaelis did, although πρωτοτόκος in an active sense occurs only of the female sex, and the very ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς ἘΚ Τ . ΝΕΚΡ . of Colossians 1:18 ought to have dissuaded from such an idea, to say nothing of the unfitness and want of delicacy of the figure [34] as relating to Christ’s agency in the creation of the world, and of the want of reference in the πρῶτον to the idea of a δεύτερον an idea which, with the usual interpretation, is implied in κτίσεως .

Colossians 1:15 f. is, moreover, strikingly opposed to that assumption of a world without beginning (Schleiermacher, Rothe).

[23] e.g . Calovius: “Redemptoris descriptio a Deitale: ab opere creationis,” and “quod caput ecclesiae sit.” Comp. Schmid, Bibl. Theol. II. p. 299 f.

[24] Olshausen brings the two divisions under the exegetically erroneous point of view that, in vv. 15 17, Christ is described without reference to the incarnation, and in vv. 18 20, with reference to the same.

[25] In conformity with the confirmatory function of the ὅτι , according to which not the clause introduced by ὅτι , but the clause which it is to confirm, contains the leading thought, to which ὅτι κ . τ . λ . is logically subordinated. Hence the two parts are not to be begun with the two clauses ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ themselves (so Rich. Schmidt, Paulin. Christol. p. 182), in which case, moreover, ver. 15 is supposed to be quite aloof from this connection a supposition at variance with its even verbally evident association with ver. 16.

[26] Sabatier, p. 290, without reason represents the apostle as in a state of indistinct suspense in regard to his conception of this pre-existence. And Pfleiderer (in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1871, p. 533) sees in the pre-existence a subjective product, the consequence, namely, of the fact that Christ is the ideal of the destiny of the human mind, hypostasized in a single person, to which is transferred the eternity and unchanged self-equality of the idea.

[27] This is the chief point of agreement between our Epistle and the Epistle to the Hebrews; and it is explained by the Pauline basis and footing, on which the author of the latter stood. The subsequent πρωτότοκος πασ . κτίσ ., however, has nothing to do with πρωτότοκος , Hebrews 1:6 , where the absolute word is rather to be explained in accordance with Romans 8:29 . We make this remark in opposition to Holtzmann, according to whom “the autor ad Ephesios as to his Christology walks in the track opened by the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Other apparent resemblances to this letter are immaterial, and similar ones can be gathered from all the Pauline letters.

[28] According to Hofmann ( Schriftbew.), the expression is also intended to imply that the existence of all created things was brought about through Him. But this is only stated in what follows, and is not yet contained in πρωτότοκος by itself, which only posits the origin of Christ (as λόγος προφορικός ) in His temporal relation to the creature; and this point is the more purely to he adhered to, seeing that Christ Himself does not belong to the category of the κτίσις Calvin also has understood it as Hofmann does; comp. also Gess, v. d. Pers. Chr. p. 79, and Beyschlag, p. 446, according to whom Christ is at the same time to be designated as the principle of the creature, whose origin bears in itself that of the latter.

[29] Comp. Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 608 C. The article would necessarily be added, as πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις , Jdt 16:14 , or ἡ πᾶσα κτίσις , 3Ma 6:2 , or ἡκτίσις πᾶσα . Comp. also ὅλη ἡ κτίσις , Wis 19:6 .

[30] Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 156: “In relation to all that is created, Christ occupies the position which a first-born has towards the household of his father.” Essentially similar is his view in his Heil. Schr. N. T., p. 16, where π . κτίσ . is held to mean “all creation,” and to signify “all that is created in its unity,” which is also the opinion of Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol. p. 211. The interpretation of Hofmann (comp. Gess, Pers. Chr. p. 79) is incorrect, because there would thereby be necessarily affirmed a homogeneous relation of origin for Christ and all the κτίσις The κτίσις would stand to Christ in the relation of the μετατεχθείς , to the πρωτότεκις , of the ἐπίγονος to the πρωτόγονος . Hofmann indeed (Heil. Schr. in loc.) opines that πάσης κτίσεως is simply genitive “of the definition of relation.” But this, in fact, explains nothing, because the question remains, What relation is meant to be defined by the genitive? The πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως is not at all to be got over so easily as it is by Hofmann, namely, with a grammatically erroneous explanation of the anarthrous πᾶσα κτίσις , and with appeal to Psalms 89:28 (where, in fact, πρωτότοκος stands without genitive, and בְּכו̇ר in the sense of the first rank).

[31] How much, however, the designations πρωτόκτιστος , κτίσμα , κτίζειν κ . τ . λ ., as applied to the origin of the Son, were in use among the Alexandrians (following Proverbs 8:22 , where Wisdom says: κύριος ἔκτισέ με , comp. Sir 1:4 ; Sir 24:8 f.), may be seen in Gieseler, Kirchengesch. I. 1, p. 327, Exodus 4:0 .

[32] The Socinian doctrine argues thus: “primogenitum unum ex eorum numero, quorum primogenitus est, esse necesse est;” but Christ could not be “unus e rebus conditis creationis veteris,” an assumption which would be Arian; He must consequently belong to the new creation, from which it follows, at the same time, that He does not possess a divine nature. See Catech. Racov. 167, p. 318, ed. Oeder.

[33] Both errors of the Socinians, etc., are already present in Theodore of Mop-suestia, namely, that πρωτότοκος πάτ . κτίτ does not stand ἐτὶ χρόνου , but ἐπὶ προτιμήσεως and signifies ἐτὶ χρόνου ; and that the following ἐν αὐτῷ κ . τ . λ . does not denote τὴν πρώτην , but τὴν ἐν αὐτῷ γενομένην ἀνάκτισιν . Comp. also Photius, Amphil. 192.

[34] πρῶτον αὐτὸν τετοκέναι , τοῦτʼ ἐστι πιποιηκέναι τὴν κτίσιν , Isidore, l.c.

Verse 16

Colossians 1:16 . For in Him were all things created , the logically correct confirmation of πρωτότοκος πάσ . κτίσεως . For if the creation of all things took place in Christ, it is evident that He must stand before the series of created things, and be πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως .

ἐν αὐτῷ ] is not equivalent to διʼ αὐτοῦ (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Beza, Bleek, and many others), but: on Christ depended (causally) the act of creation, so that the latter was not done independently of Him in a causal connection apart from Him but it had in Him the ground essentially conditioning it. In Him lay, in fact, the potency of life, from which God made the work of creation proceed, inasmuch as He was the personal principle of the divine self-revelation, and therewith the accomplisher of the divine idea of the world. A well-known classical usage to denote the dependence of a state of things, the causality of which is contained in any one . See Bernhardy, p. 210; Kühner, II. 1, p. 403 f.; from the N. T., Winer, p. 364 [E. T. 521]. Not as if the “causa principalis ” of the creation lay in Christ, but the organic causality of the world’s becoming created was in Him; hence the following διʼ αὐτοῦ affirms not a different state of things , but the same thing under a varied form of conception and designation, by which it is brought out in greater definiteness. The primary ground of creation is ever God, Rom 11:36 ; 1 Corinthians 8:6 ; Hebrews 11:3 . The speculative interpretation of scholastic theology, which found here the “causa exemplaris ,” according to which the idea omnium rerum was in Christ, is indeed followed in the main again by Beyschlag, as earlier by Kleuker, Böhmer, Bähr, Neander, Schleiermacher, Steiger, Julius Müller, Olshausen (the latter saying: “the Son of God is the intelligible world, the κόσμος νοητός , that is, things in their very idea; He bears their essence in Himself”), but is destitute of confirmation from the modes of conception and expression elsewhere in the N. T., and, as ἐκτίσθη denotes the historical fact of the having been created, it would require not ἐν αὐτῷ , but ἐξ αὐτοῦ , by which the coming forth of the real from the ideal existence in Christ might be expressed. Huther finds the inward connection indicated by ἐν αὐτῷ in the idea, that the eternal essence of the universe is the divine essence itself, which in Christ became man. This idea in itself has no biblical ground; and Paul is speaking here, not of the existence and essence of the universe in Christ, but of the becoming created, which took place in Christ ( ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν , John 1:4 ), consequently of a divine act depending on Christ; comp. John 1:3 : χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἓν ὃ γέγονεν ; Hebrews 1:2 ; and Bleek in loc . Lastly, de Wette finds in ἐν besides the instrumental agency at the same time something of a telic idea (comp. also Ewald and Weiss, Bibl. Theol . p. 424 f.); but this blending together of two heterogeneous references is not justified by the διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτόν that follows.

ἐκτίσθη ] physical act of creation; Schleiermacher ought not to have called in question the linguistic usage to this effect, with a view to favour the ethical interpretation of the founding of the church . See Wis 1:14 ; Wis 10:1 ; Wis 11:18 ; Deuteronomy 4:32 ; comp. Genesis 6:7 ; Sir 24:9 , comp. Sir 15:14 ; Jdt 13:18 ; comp. Genesis 1:1 ; 1 Corinthians 11:9 ; Ephesians 3:9 ; Romans 1:25 ; Revelation 10:6 , comp. Revelation 14:7 . The word may have the meaning adopted by Schleiermacher: to obtain its arrangement and constitution (Herod. i. 149, 167, 168; Thuc. i. 100; Aesch. Choeph . 484; Soph. Ant . 1101; Pind. Ol . vi. 116; 3 Esdr. 4:53), and that according to the relative nature of the notion implied in the word condere (comp. Blomf. Gloss, in Aesch. Pers . 294); but not here, where it is correlative with πάσης κτίσεως , and where the quite general and in no way to be restricted τὰ πάντα follows. Throughout the N. T., in general κτίζω , κτίσις , κτίσμα , denote the original bringing forth, never merely the arrangement of that which exists; and even in such passages as Ephesians 2:10 ; Ephesians 2:15 ; Ephesians 4:24 , the relation is conceived, only in a popular manner, as actual creation .

Observe, moreover, the distinction of the tenses: ἐκτίσθη , which denotes the act that took place; and then ἔκτισται , which denotes the creation which has taken place and now subsists . See Winer, p. 255 [E. T. 340]; Kühner, II. 1, p. 143 f., and ad Xen. Mem . iii. 1. 4, iii. 7. 7.

τὰ πάντα ] the collective whole , namely, of what is created. This is then specified in a twofold way, as well in regard to place as in regard to nature.

τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς κ . τ . λ .] the things to be found in the heavens and those to be found on earth . This is certainly a less exact designation of all created things than that in Revelation 10:6 ( τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ κ . τ . λ .; comp. Nehemiah 9:6 ; Genesis 2:1 , et al .), but does not differ from it, as it does not exclude heaven and earth themselves, the constituent elements of which, in the popular view, are included in these two categories. Comp. 1 Chronicles 29:11 . It is incorrect, therefore, to press this expression in opposition to the explanation which refers it to the creation of the world (Wetstein: “non dicit ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐκτίσθη sed τὰ πάντα , etc., quo habitatores significantur, qui reconciliantur,” comp. Heinrichs and others, also Catech. Racov . 132, p. 214, ed. Oeder), and to think, with Schleiermacher, of the kingdom of heaven; but it is arbitrary also, especially after τὰ πάντα , to make the apostle mean primarily the living (Bähr, de Wette) or rational creatures. The expression embraces everything; hence there was neither need for the mention of the lower world , nor, looking at the bipartite form of enumeration, occasion for it (it is otherwise in Philippians 2:10 ; Revelation 5:3 ). The idea that Paul could not have adduced those under the earth as a special class of created beings, because God had not created them with the view of their being under the earth (de Wette), would imply a reflection alien to the vivid flow of the passage before us.

τὰ ὁρατὰ κ . τὰ ἀόρατα ] By the latter is meant the heavenly world of spirits , the angelic commonwealth, as is evident from the more precise enumeration which follows, and not the souls of men (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others), which, on the contrary, as animating a portion of the ὁρατά , are included among the latter. Theodoret erroneously asserts that even τὰ ὁρατά applies to heavenly things (sun, moon, and stars); it applies to everything visible, as in Plat. Phaed . p. 79 A: θῶμεν οὖν , εἰ βούλει , ἔφη , δύο εἴδη τῶν ὄντων τὸ μὲν ὁρατόν , τὸ δὲ ἀειδές .

The ἀόρατα are now more precisely specified disjunctively by εἴτε , sive … sive (put more than twice; comp. Plat. Rep . p. 612 A, 493 D; Sir 41:4 ). As to the four denominations of angels which follow whose difference of rank Hofmann groundlessly denies, [35] understanding thereby merely “ spirits collectively, of whatever name they may be ” see on Ephesians 1:21 ; Romans 8:38 . In accordance with Ephesians 1:21 , where the grades of angels are mentioned in descending order, the arrangement here must be understood so, that the θρόνοι are the highest and the κυριότητες the lowest class, the ἀρχαί and the ἐξουσίαι being two middle orders lying between these two extremes. At Eph. l.c . Paul names also four grades of the angelic hierarchy; but neither there nor here has he intended to give a complete enumeration of them, for in the former case he omits the θρόνοι , and in the latter the δυνάμεις . The θρόνοι are not mentioned elsewhere in the N. T. (nor yet in Ignat. ad Trail . 5), but they occur in the Test. Levi , p. 548, in which they are placed in the seventh heaven ( ἐν ᾧ ἀεὶ ὕμνοι τῷ θεῷ προσφέρονται ), also in Dionys. Areop. Hier. coel . 6 ff., and in the Rabbins (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm . p. 1097; Schoettgen, Hor . p. 808). As regards the expression , the last three denominations are to be taken as abstracts , which represent the respective concretes , and analogously the concrete noun θρόνοι is used for those to be found on the thrones (for those enthroned ); comp. Kühner, II. 1, p. 11; Ruhnken, ad Tim . p. 190. In this case the very natural supposition that the angels, whose designation by the term θρόνοι must have been in current use , were, in the imagery which gave sensuous embodiment to religious ideas, conceived as on thrones , is not to be called in question (in opposition to Fritzsche, ad Rom . II. p. 226). They were probably conceived as enthroned round the throne of God (comp. Revelation 4:4 ; Revelation 20:4 ). It is to be observed, moreover, generally that Paul presupposes the various classes of angels, which he names, as well known; although we are unacquainted with the details of the case, this much is nevertheless certain, that the apostle was far removed from the dreamy fancies indulged in on this point by the later Rabbins (see Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth . II. p. 374). But very soon after the apostolic age (comp. Hermas, Past . vis. iii. 4), instruction as to τοποθεσίας τὰς ἀγγελικάς was regarded as teaching for the more perfect . See Ignatius, ad Trall . 5. For the Christian faith there remains and suffices the testimony as to different and distinctively designated stages and categories in the angelic world, while any attempt to ascertain more than is written in Scripture passes into the fanciful domain of theosophy.

With ἐξουσίαι is concluded the confirmatory sentence ( ὅτι ), so that a full stop is to be placed after ἐξουσ . With τὰ πάντα begins a new sentence, in which τὰ πάντα and αὐτός correspond to one another; hence a comma only must stand after ἔκτισται . There is no reason for placing (with Lachmann) τὰ πάντα down to ἐκκλησ . in a parenthesis.

τὰ πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ κ . τ . λ .] a solemn recapitulation , [36] but in such a way that, instead of the act of creation previously mentioned, there is now presented the finished and ready result ( ἔκτισται ); the causal relation which was previously denoted by ἐν is now more precisely indicated as a relation of mediate agency ( διʼ αὐτοῦ , comp. 1 Corinthians 8:6 ); then in εἰς αὐτόν a new element is added, and the emphasis which in Colossians 1:16 lay on ἐκτίσθη , is now laid on τὰ πάντα which stands at the head of the sentence. We cannot say with Hofmann, that by διʼ αὐτοῦ and εἰς αὐτόν the Son comes to stand in contradistinction to what has been created as Creator , after by ἐν αὐτῷ the creative act has been presented as one that had taken place only not without the Son . By the latter, ἐν αὐτῷ would become too general and indefinite a thought; while διʼ αὐτοῦ in fact leaves the Father as the Creator, which He is, and predicates of the Son merely the “causa medians ” of the execution of the work, just as εἰς αὐτόν predicates the “causa finalis ” of the same.

εἰς αὐτόν ] in reference to Him, for Him , as the aim and end, “in quo Pater acquiescit,” Beza. Comp. Romans 11:36 ; 1 Corinthians 8:6 ; Barnab. Ep . 12: ἐν αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα καὶ εἰς αὐτόν . The more exact purport of this relation is apparent from all that follows down to Colossians 1:20 . Everything, namely, is created, in order to be dependent on Christ and to serve His will and aim . [37] Comp. on Ephesians 1:23 ; Ephesians 4:10 ; Philippians 2:9 ff. The final cause of the world, referred in Romans 11:36 to God , is here affirmed of Christ , and with equal right; for He, as He was the organ of God in creation, is the commissioned ruler to whom the κυριότης τῶν πάντων is committed (Matthew 28:18 ; Php 2:9 ; 1 Corinthians 15:27 ; Hebrews 2:8 ), in order that everything created may have the ethical telic destination of serving Him. [38] More special definitions of the meaning of εἰς αὐτόν are without due warrant, and in particular, the often-repeated one: to His glorification (Beza, Flatt, Böhmer, and others); it lays down Christ in general as the legitimus finis (Calvin).

The expositors, who explain the words as referring to the new moral creation, have summoned to their aid all kinds of arbitrary conjectures in detail a remark which applies not merely to Nösselt, Heinrichs, and others, but also to Schleiermacher, who holds (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius) that τὰ ἐν τ . οὐρ . is everything that belongs to the kingdom of heaven, and ΤᾺ ἘΠῚ Τ . Γῆς everything which belongs to civil order in earthly kingdoms; that ΤᾺ ὉΡΑΤΆ and ΤᾺ ἈΌΡΑΤΑ apply only to the latter; that the ΘΡΌΝΟΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . are magisterial offices , and the like.

[35] See, on the other hand, Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 292 f.; Philippi, Glaubensl. II. p. 308 f.; Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 559.

[36] Ewald well says: “Just at this point the discourse breaks forth as if with fresh force, so as once more to express as clearly as possible the whole in all conceivable temporal relations.”

[37] And, if the world was created not merely διʼ αὐτοῦ but also εἰς αὐτόν , conse-sequently in telic reference to Him, it is certain that with the counsel of creation there was also posited, in prospect of the entry of sin, the counsel of redemption. Comp. Thomasius, Christi Pers. u. Werk, I. p. 196 f.; Julius Müller, Dogm. Abhand. p. 121 ff.

[38] This εἰς αὐτόν is wrongly found incompatible with 1 Corinthians 8:6 (see, after Mayerhoff, Baur, and others, especially Holtzmann, p. 219), where, in fact, it is said of the ethical existence of Christians that they exist for God through Christ, inasmuch as the subject of εἰς αὐτόν (for God) and of διʼ αὐτοῦ (through Christ) is not the universe, but the ἡμεῖς . The relation of subordination between Father and Son would be only done away with at our passage, in the event of its being said of Christ that τὰ πάντα were created ἐξ αὐτοῦ . But by ἑν αὐτῷ , and by the more precise definition διʼ αὐτοῦ , it is guarded; and the subordination remains unaffected by the circumstance that the εἰς αὐτόν is laid down by God for the world as its telic aim. This εἰς αὐτόν ἔκτισται is the necessary preliminary condition, on God’s part, to the universal dominion which he has destined for Christ, and which the latter shall one day, at the goal of consummation, hand over to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24 ; 1 Corinthians 15:28 ). Moreover, what Paul says of the κτίσις in Romans 8:0 is essentially connected with that εἰς αὐτόν , which does not go beyond Paul or come at all into opposition to him. The resemblance of our passage to ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος , Revelation 1:17 ; Revelation 22:13 , rests upon the Christological basis of their common faith, not upon a dependence of our epistle on the Apocalypse, which would doubtless imply a post-Pauline date (in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 247).

Verse 17

Colossians 1:17 . Καὶ αὐτός ] which is to be separated from the preceding by a comma only (see on Colossians 1:16 ), places, in contradistinction to the created objects in Colossians 1:16 ( τὰ πάντα ), the subject , the creating self: and He Himself, on His part , has an earlier existence than all things, and the collective whole subsists in Him.” Never is αὐτός in the nominative [39] the mere unemphatic “ he ” of the previous subject (de Wette), either in Greek authors or in the N. T., not even in passages such as Buttmann ( Neut. Gr . p. 94 [E. T. 107]) brings forward; see Fritzsche, ad Matth . p. 47; Winer, p. 141 f. [E. T. 187]; Kühner, II. 1, p. 563.

πρὸ πάντων ] like ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς , referring to time , not to rank (as the Socinians, Nösselt, Heinrichs, Schleiermacher, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others hold); Paul thus repeatedly and emphatically lays stress on the pre-existence of Christ. Instead of ἐστί , he might have written ἦν (John 1:1 ); but he makes use of the former, because he has in view and sets forth the permanence of Christ’s existence, and does not wish to narrate about Him historically, which is done only in the auxiliary clauses with ὅτι , Colossians 1:16 ; Colossians 1:19 . On the present, comp. John 8:58 . His existence is more ancient than that of all things ( ΠΆΝΤΩΝ , not masculine, as the Vulgate and Luther translate).

ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ ] as in Colossians 1:16 , referring to the causal dependence of the subsistence of all existing things on Christ .

συνέστηκε ] denotes the subsistence of the whole, the state of lasting interdependence and order , an idea which is not equivalent to that of creation, but presupposes it. Reiske, Ind. Dem . ed. Schaef. p. 481: “Corpus unum, integrum, perfectum, secum consentiens esse et permanere.” Comp. 2 Peter 3:5 ; Plat. Rep . p. 530 A: ξυνεστάναι τῷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ δημιουργῷ αὐτόν τε καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ , Tim . 61 A: γῆν … ξυνεστηκυῖαν , Legg . vii. p. 817 B: ἡ πολιτεία ξυνέστηκε μίμησις τοῦ καλλίστου … βίου . Herod. vii. 225; Philo, quis rer. div. haer . p. 489: ὁ ἔναιμος ὄγκος , ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ διαλυτὸς ὢν καὶ νεκρὸς , συνέστηκε κ . ζωπυρεῖται προνοίᾳ Θεοῦ κ . τ . λ . It expresses that there is in Christ not merely the creative cause, but also the cause which brings about organic stability and continuance in unity (preserving and governing) for the whole of existing things. Comp. Hebrews 1:3 . Of attempts at explanation under the moral interpretation, we may note that of Schleiermacher: the consolidating of earthly relations and institutions; and that of Baumgarten-Crusius: “in this new world He is Lord in recognition and in sway

[39] Bengel correctly observes on ver. 16: “Ipse hic saepe positum magnam significat majestatem et omnem excludit creaturam.”


The intentional prominence given to the fact of the creation of all things through Christ, and in particular of the creation of the angels in their various classes, justifies the supposition that the false teachers disparaged Christ in this respect, and that they possessed at least elements of the Gnostic- demiurgic doctrine which was afterwards systematically elaborated. There is no evidence, however, of their particular views, and the further forms assumed by the Gnostic elements, as they showed themselves according to the Fathers in Simon Magus (Iren. Haer . i. 20 “Eunoiam … generare angelos et potestates, a quibus et mundum hunc factum dixit;” comp. Epiph. Haer . xxi. 4), Cerinthus , etc., and especially among the Valentinians , while certainly to be recognised as fundamentally akin to the Colossian doctrinal errors (comp. Heinrici, Valentinian. Gnosis , 1871), are not to be identified with them; nor are those elements to be made use of as a proof of the post-apostolic origin of the epistle, as still is done by Hilgenfeld (see his Zeitschr . 1870, p. 246 f.), and more cautiously by Holtzmann. Of Ebionitism only Essene elements are to be found in Colossae, mingled with other Gnostic doctrines, which were not held by the later Ebionites. In particular, the πρὸ πάντων εἶναι , on which Paul lays so much stress, must have been doubted in Colossae, although a portion of the Ebionites expressly and emphatically taught it ( λέγουσιν ἄνωθεν μὲν ὄντα πρὸ πάντων δὲ κτισθέντα , Epiph. Haer . XXX. 3). Moreover, the opinion that Paul derived the appellations of the classes of angels in Colossians 1:16 from the language of the heretics themselves (Böhmer, comp. Olshausen) is to be rejected, because in other passages also, where there is no contrast to the Gnostic doctrine of Aeons, he makes use in substance of these names (Romans 8:38 ; 1 Corinthians 15:24 ; comp. Ephesians 1:20 ff; Ephesians 3:10 ; Ephesians 6:11 ff.). They are rather to be regarded as well-known and generally-current appellations, which were derived from the terminology of later Judaism, and which heretics made use of in common with the orthodox. The anti-Gnostic element is contained, not in the technical expressions, but in the doctrinal contents of the passage; and it was strong enough to induce Marcion, who took offence at it, to omit Colossians 1:15-17 (Tertullian, c. Marcion , v. 19). See, besides, Räbiger, Christol. Paul . p. 51 f.; Lechler, apost. Zeit . p. 55 f.; Klöpper, l.c .

Verse 18

Colossians 1:18 . Second part (see on Colossians 1:15 ) of the exhibition of the exaltedness of Christ. To that which Christ is as πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Colossians 1:16-17 ) is now added what He is as πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν , namely, the Head of the Church, and thus His πρωτεύειν has its consummation ( ἐν πᾶσιν ). The latter, namely, ἵνα γένηται … πρωτεύων , embraces also a retrospect to that πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως , and includes it in ἐν πᾶσιν , without its being necessary, however, to attach Colossians 1:18 to the carrying out of the relation to the world expressed in πρωτότοκ . π . κτίσ . (Hofmann, comp. Rich. Schmidt). The perspective proceeds from the dignity of the original state of our Lord to that of His state as Saviour , from His cosmical to His soteriological glory, and so at length exhibits Him to view as the ἐν πᾶσι πρωτεύων .

That Colossians 1:18 , with its confirmation in Colossians 1:19 f., has an apologetic reference to the Gnostic false teaching, must be assumed from its connection with what goes before. The passage is to be looked upon as antagonistic to the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18 ), which disparaged Christ in His dignity as Head of the Church, but not (in opposition to Bähr and Huther) as antagonistic to a theological dogma, such as is found in the Cabbala, according to which the body of the Messiah (the Adam Kadmon) is the aggregate of the emanations. For the emphasis of the passage and its essential point of doctrine lie in the fact that Christ is the Head of the church, and not in the fact that He is the head of the church; it is not the doctrine of another σῶμα , but that of any other πρωτεύων , which is excluded.

καὶ αὐτός ] stands again, as κ . αὐτός in Colossians 1:17 , in significant reference to τὰ πάντα : et ipse, in quo omnia consistunt, est caput, etc ., so that the passage continues to divide itself as into the links of a chain.

τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησ .] to be taken together; the second genitive is that of apposition (Winer, p. 494 [E. T. 666]), which gives to the word governing it concrete definiteness; comp. Müller in the Luther. Zeitschr . 1871, p. 611 ff. On the familiar Pauline mode of considering the church of believers, livingly and actively ruled by Christ as the head (Ephesians 3:10 ; Philippians 3:6 ; Acts 9:31 ), as His body , [40] comp. 1 Corinthians 10:17 ; 1 Corinthians 12:12 ff., 1 Corinthians 10:27 ; Ephesians 1:23 ; Ephesians 4:12 ; Ephesians 5:23 ; Ephesians 5:30 ; Romans 12:5 .

ὅς ἐστιν κ . τ . λ .] epexegetical relative clause (as in Colossians 1:15 ), the contents of which are related by way of confirmation to the preceding statement (Matthiae, p. 1061 f.; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem . i. 2. 64; Stallbaum, ad Phil . p. 195 f.), like our: he, who, etc ., which might be expressed, but not necessarily , by ὅστις (or ὍΣΓΕ ). Comp. on Ephesians 1:14 . If Christ had not risen, He would not be Head of the church (Acts 2:24-36 ; 1 Corinthians 15:0 ; Romans 1:4 , et al .).

ἀρχή ] beginning; which, however, is not to be explained either as “initium secundae et novae creationis ” (Calvin), progenitor of the regenerate (Bisping), or “ author of the church ” (Baumgarten-Crusius), or even “ ruler of the world ” (Storr, Flatt); but agreeably to the context in such a way, as to make it have with the appositional πρωτότοκος its definition in ἘΚ ΤῶΝ ΝΕΚΡῶΝ , just as if the words ran: ἈΡΧῊ ΤῶΝ ΝΕΚΡῶΝ , ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς ἘΞ ΑὐΤῶΝ , although Paul did not express himself thus, because at once upon his using the predicate ἀρχή in and by itself the exegetical ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς suggested itself to him. Accordingly Christ is called ἈΡΧῊ ( ΤῶΝ ΝΕΚΡῶΝ ) , inasmuch as He is among all the dead the first arisen to everlasting life . It is arbitrary to discover in ἀρχή an allusion to the offering of first-fruits sanctifying the whole mass (Chrysostom, Beza, Ewald, and others); especially as the term ἀπαρχή , which is elsewhere used for the first portion of a sacrifice (Romans 11:16 ), is not here employed, although it has crept in from 1 Corinthians 15:20 ; 1 Corinthians 15:23 , in a few minusculi and Fathers, as in Clement also, Cor . I. 24, Christ is termed ἀπαρχὴ τῆς ἀναστάσεως . To assume a reminiscence of 1 Corinthians 15:0 (Holtzmann) is wholly unwarranted, especially as ἈΠΑΡΧΉ is not used. On ἈΡΧΉ , used of persons , denoting the one who begins the series, as the first in order of time, comp. Genesis 49:3 , where ἀρχὴ τέκνων μου is equivalent to ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς ΜΟΥ , as also Deuteronomy 21:17 . In what respect any one is ἀρχή of those concerned, must be yielded by the context, just as in this case it is yielded by the more precisely defining ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς ἘΚ Τ . ΝΕΚΡῶΝ ; hence it has been in substance correctly explained, following the Fathers: ἀρχή , φησίν , ἐστι τῆς ἀναστάσεως , ποὸ πάντων ἀναστάς , [41] Theophylact. Only τῆς ἀναστάσεως is not to be mentally supplied , nor is it to be conjectured (de Wette) that Paul had intended to write ἀρχὴ τ . ἀναστάσεως , but, on account of the word πρωτότοκος presenting itself to him from Colossians 1:15 , did not complete what he had begun. It follows, moreover, from the use of the word πρωτότοκος , that ἀρχή is to be taken in the temporal sense, consequently as equivalent to primus , not in the sense of dignity (Wetstein), and not as principle (Bähr, Steiger, Huther, Dalmer, following earlier expositors).

πρωτότοκος ἐκ τ . νεκρ .] ἐκ τ . νεκρ . is conceived in the same way as in ἀναστῆναι ἐκ τ . νεκρ . (Ephesians 5:14 ), so that it is the dead in Hades among whom the Risen One was, but from whom He goes forth ( separates Himself from them, hence also ἀπὸ τ . νεκρ ., Matthew 14:2 ; Matthew 27:64 ; Matthew 28:7 ), and returning into the body, with the latter rises from the tomb. Comp. πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν , Acts 26:23 , also 1 Corinthians 15:22 f. This living exit from the grave is figuratively represented as birth; comp. Revelation 1:5 , where the partitive genitive τῶν νεκρ . (not ἐκ . τ . ν .) yields a form of conceiving the matter not materially different. Calvin takes πρωτότοκος ἐκ . τ . ν . as specifying the ground for ἀρχή : “ principium (absolutely), quia primogenitus est ex mortuis; nam in resurrectione est rerum omnium instauratio.” Against this it may be urged, that ἀρχή has no more precise definition; Paul must have written either ἀρχὴ τῆς καινῆς κτίσεως , or at least ἧς instead of ὅς . Calvin was likewise erroneously of opinion (comp. Erasmus, Calovius) that Christ is called Primogenitus ex mortuis , not merely because He was the first to rise, but also “ quia restituit aliis vitam .” This idea is not conveyed either by the word or by the context, however true may be the thing itself; but a belief in the subsequent general resurrection of the dead is the presupposition of the expression πρωτότοκος ( αἰνίττεται δὲ ὁ λόγος καὶ τὴν πάντων ἡμῶν ἀνάστασιν , Theodoret). This expression is purposely chosen in significant reference to Colossians 1:15 , as is intimated by Paul himself in the following ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν κ . τ . λ . But it is thus all the more certain, that πρωτότοκος ἐκ τ . νεκρ . is to be taken independently, and not adjectivally together with ἀρχή (Heinrichs, Schleiermacher, Ewald), which would only amount to a tautological verboseness ( first-born beginning ); and, on the other hand, that ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν may not be separated from πρωτότοκος in such a way as to emphasize the place, issuing forth from which Christ is what He is, namely, ἀρχή , πρωτότοκος ; the former , “as the personal beginning of what commences with Him;” the latter , “in the same relation to those who belong to the world therewith coming into life as He held to the creation” (Hofmann). In this way the specific more precise definition, which is by means of ἐκ τ . νεκρῶν in significant reference to Colossians 1:15 attached to the predicates of Christ, ἀρχή and πρωτότοκος , would be groundlessly withdrawn from them, and these predicates would be left in an indefiniteness, in which they would simply be open vessels for receiving a gratuitously imported supplement.

ἵνα γένηται κ . τ . λ .] not to be restricted to the affirmation ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν (Hofmann), [42] but to be referred to the whole sentence that Christ is ἀρχή , πρωτότοκος ἐκ τ . νεκρ ., expressing the divine teleology of this position of Christ as the Risen One: in order that He may become , etc.; not: in order “that He may be held as ” (Baumgarten-Crusius), nor yet “that He may be ” (Vulgate, and so most expositors), as γίγνεσθαι and εἶναι are never synonymous. The ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύει is looked upon by Paul as something which is still in course of development (comp. Steiger and Huther), and is only to be completed in the future, namely, when the Risen One shall have conquered all the power of the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:25 f.) and have erected the kingdom of the Messiah but of this result His resurrection itself was the necessary historical basis , and hence the future universal πρωτεύειν is the divinely intended aim of His being risen.

ἐν πᾶσιν ] in all points , without excepting any relation, not, therefore, merely in the relation of creation (Colossians 1:15-17 ). Comp. Philippians 4:12 ; 1 Timothy 3:11 ; 1Ti 4:15 ; 2 Timothy 2:7 ; 2 Timothy 4:5 ; Titus 2:9 ; Hebrews 13:4 ; Hebrews 13:18 . Ἐν παντί is more commonly used by Paul ( 1Co 1:5 ; 2 Corinthians 4:8 , et al .). According to Beza, πᾶσιν is masculine : “inter omnes , videlicet fratres , ut Romans 8:29 .” So also Kypke and Heinrichs. But this would be here, after the universal bearing of the whole connection, much too narrow an idea, which, besides, is self-evident as to the Head of the church. According to Pelagius, it denotes: “tam in visibilibus quam in invisibilibus creaturis .” At variance with the text; this idea was conveyed by Colossians 1:16-17 , but in Colossians 1:18 another relation is introduced which does not refer to created things as such.

αὐτός ] emphatic, as in Colossians 1:17-18 .

πρωτεύων ] having the first rank , not used elsewhere in the N. T., but see Esther 5:11 ; 2Ma 6:18 ; 2Ma 13:15 ; Aquila, Zechariah 4:7 ; Plat. Legg . iii. p. 692 D, Dem . 1416. 25: πρωτεύειν ἐν ἅπασι κράτιστον . Xen. Cyr . viii. 2. 28; Mem . ii. 6. 26. This precedence in rank is to be the final result of the condition which set in with the πρωτότοκον εἶναι ἐκ τ . νεκρ .; but it is not contained in this πρωτότοκον εἶναι itself, an idea against which the very ἵνα γένηται is logically decisive (in opposition to de Wette’s double signification of πρωτότοκ .).

[40] In which is expressed the idea of the invisible church. Comp. Julius Müller, Dogmat. Abh. p. 316 ff. And this conception and representation belong quite to the apostle’s general sphere of ideas, not specially to that of the Epistle to the Ephesians, into which the interpolator is supposed by Holtzmann again to enter here, after he has manifested a comparative independence in vv. 15 18.

[41] The Fathers have already correctly judged that even in regard to the isolated cases of rising from the dead, which have taken place through Christ and before Him, Christ remains the first-risen. Theophylact: εἰ γὰρ καὶ ἄλλοι πρὸ τούτου ἀνέστησαν , ἀλλὰ πάλιν ἀπέθανον · αὐτὸς δὲ τὴν τελείαν ἀνάστασιν ἀνέστη . Comp. on 1 Corinthians 15:20 .

[42] So that it would express the design, which Christ Himself had in His coming forth from the dead.

Verse 19

Colossians 1:19 . [43] ὍΤΙ ] Confirmatory of the ἽΝΑ ΓΈΝΗΤΑΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . , just said: “about which divinely intended ΓΊΓΝΕΣΘΑΙ ἘΝ ΠᾶΣΙΝ ΑὐΤῸΝ ΠΡΩΤΕΎΟΝΤΑ there can be no doubt, for it has pleased , that in Him , etc.” How could He, who was thus destined to be possessor of the divine fulness and reconciler of the world, have been destined otherwise than to become ἐν πᾶσιν πρωτεύων ! This confirmation, therefore, does not refer to the statement that Christ is the Head of the church (Steiger, Huther, comp. Calovius), which has already its confirmation by means of Ὅς ἘΣΤΙΝ ἈΡΧῊ Κ . Τ . Λ . , nor at all to ἘΚ ΤῶΝ ΝΕΚΡῶΝ (Hofmann, following up his incorrect explanation of these words), as if the reason were specified why Christ should have gone to His high dignity as beginner of a new world by the path of deepest abasement a thought which Paul would have known how to express quite differently (comp. Philippians 2:7 f.) than by the bare ἐκ τῶν νεκρ ., which is currently used everywhere of resurrection from death, and without conveying any special significance of humiliation. Nor yet does Paul move in a circle , by putting forward in Colossians 1:19 as ground of proof that from which in Colossians 1:15 ( ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν κ . τ . λ .) he had started (de Wette); for Colossians 1:19 is a historical statement (observe the aorists ), whereas Colossians 1:15 expressed what Christ is , His habitual being .

ἐν αὐτῷ ] although belonging to ΚΑΤΟΙΚ . , is prefixed in emphatic transposition (Kühner, II. 2, p. 1101).

ΕὐΔΌΚΗΣΕ ] He was pleased, placuit ei , that, etc. As to this use of εὐδοκεῖν in the later Greek (1 Corinthians 1:21 ; Galatians 1:15 , et al .), for which, in the classical language, δοκεῖν merely was employed, see Fritzsche, ad Rom . II. p. 370. On the accusative with infinitive , comp. 2Ma 14:35 ; Polyb. i. 8. 4. The subject , whose pleasure it is, is not expressed; but that it is God, is obvious from the context, which in ἵνα γένηται κ . τ . λ . has just stated the divine purpose. Among Greek authors also ὁ Θεός is not unfrequently omitted, where it is self-evident as the subject. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 30 c. According to Ewald and Ellicott (also Weiss, Bibl. Theol . p. 428, Exodus 2:0 , and Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol . p. 208), πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα is the subject; and the whole fulness is a new expression for the Godhead, inasmuch as, going as it were out of itself, it fills something separate and thus becomes visible (= כבוד יהוה , ΔΌΞΑ , ΛΌΓΟς , ΠΝΕῦΜΑ ). Without support from N. T. usage; ΠᾶΝ , too, would be unsuitable for the subject of εὐδόκησε ; and εἰς αὐτόν in Colossians 1:29 clearly shows that Θεός is conceived as subject, to which εἰρηνοποιήσας then refers. According to Hofmann (comp. also his Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 357 f.), Christ is meant to be the subject of εὐδόκ . Colossians 1:20 itself, and Ephesians 1:9 , ought to have precluded this error. Throughout the whole of the N. T. it is never Christ, but always the Father , who in respect to the work of redemption to be executed gives the decree, while Christ executes it as obedient to the Father; hence also Paul, “beneficium Christi commemorans, nunquam dimittit memoriam Patris,” Bengel. Comp. Reiche, Comment. crit . p. 263.

πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικ .] that in Him the whole fulness was to take up its abode . The more precise definition of the absolute ΠᾶΝ ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ is placed beyond doubt by the subject to be mentally supplied with ΕὐΔΌΚΗΣΕ , [44] namely, τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ (Ephesians 3:19 ; comp. ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡ . Τῆς ΘΕΌΤΗΤΟς , Colossians 2:9 ). ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ , the signification of which is not to be defined actively: id quod rem implet (in opposition to Storr, Opusc . I. p. 144 ff., Bähr, Steiger), but passively: id quo res impletur (see generally on Ephesians 1:10 ; Ephesians 3:19 , Fritzsche, ad Rom . II. p. 469), has here, as in Ephesians 3:9 , the derivative general notion of copia , πλοῦτος , like the German Fülle . What is meant, namely, is the whole charismatic riches of God , His whole gracious fulness of εὐλογία πνευματική (Ephesians 1:3 ), of which Christ became permanent ( ΚΑΤΟΙΚῆΣΑΙ ) possessor and bearer, who was thereby capable of fulfilling the divine work of reconciliation (see the following ΚΑῚ ΔΙʼ ΑὐΤΟῦ ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . ). The case is otherwise in Colossians 2:9 , where the divine essence ( τῆς θεότητος ) is indicated as the contents of the ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ , and the ΚΑΤΟΙΚΕῖΝ of the same in Christ is affirmed as present and with reference to His state of exaltation . It would be an utterly arbitrary course mentally to supply here the τῆς θεότητος , Colossians 2:9 , and to regard both passages as an echo of Ephesians 1:23 , where the notion of ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ is a very different one (in opposition to Holtzmann). Inasmuch as the charismatic ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ of God , meant in our passage, dwelt in Christ , and consequently Christ was the possessor and disposer of it, this divine fulness is not in substance different from the πλήρωμα Χριστοῦ , out of which grace passed over to men (John 1:16 ; Ephesians 4:13 ). The thought and expression in 1 Corinthians 15:28 are different from our passage, and different also from Ephesians 1:23 . Beza aptly observes: “cumulatissima omnium divinarum rerum copia, quam scholastici gratiam habitualem … appellant, ex qua in Christo, tanquam inexhausto fonte, omnes gratiae in nos pro cujusque membri modulo deriventur;” comp. also Bleek. Observe, at the same time, the stress lying on the πᾶν , in contrast to a merely partial imparting out of this fulness, which would have been inadequate to the object of reconciling the universe. The ontological interpretation of the “fulness of the nature of God” (Huther, Dalmer, Weiss; Oecumenius, and Theodoret: the nature of the Θεὸς λόγος ; Calovius and others: of the communicatio hypostatica , that is, of the absolute immanence of God in Him, comp. Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde , I. p. 222; Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol . p. 201) does not correspond to the idea of εὐδόκησεν , for doubtless the sending of the Son, and that with the whole treasure of divine grace , into the world (John 3:17 ) for behoof of its reconciliation and blessedness, was the act of the divine pleasure and resolve; but not so the divine nature in Christ, which was, on the contrary, necessary in Him, [45] although by His incarnation He emptied Himself of the divine mode of appearance ( δόξα or μορφή , Philippians 2:6 ff.). The divine nature is presupposed in what is here said of Christ. Comp. Gess, v. d. Pers. Christi , p. 85. Some (see especially Steiger, Bähr, and Reuss) have regarded τὸ πλήρωμα as derived from the Gnostic terminology of the false teachers , who might perhaps, like Valentinus, have given this name to the aggregate of the Aeons (see Baur, Gnosis , p. 157), [46] and in opposition to whom Paul maintains that in Jesus there dwells the totality of all divine powers of life, and not merely a single emanated spirit; but this view is all the more unwarranted, because Paul himself does not intimate any such polemical destination of the word; on the contrary, in Ephesians 3:19 also he uses πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τ . Θεοῦ evidently without any reference of the kind. And if he had wished to place the whole fulness of the efflux of divine power in contrast to an asserted single emanation, he must have prefixed, not ἐν αὐτῷ ( in Him and in none other ), but πᾶν ( the whole πλήρωμα , not merely a single constituent element of it) with the main emphasis, and have logically said: ὅτι πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα εὐδόκησεν ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικῆσαι . Hofmann (comp. his Schriftbew . p. 29, 359), who in general has quite misunderstood Colossians 1:19 f. (comp. above on εὐδόκησεν ), takes πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα as “the one-like totality of that which is; ” and holds that the will of Christ (to which εὐδοκ . applies) can only have been, “ that that may come to dwell in Him, which otherwise would not be in Him, consequently not what is in God, but what is out of God. ” This idea of the immanent indwelling of the universe in Christ, repeated by Schenkel in the sense of Christ being the archetype , would be entirely alien to the N. T. view of the relation of Christ to the world, and is not indicated either at Ephesians 1:10 or here in the context by τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν . Christ is not the place for the world , so that ultimately all comes to dwell in Him, as all has been created in Him and has in Him its subsistence; but the world originated and maintained through Him, which He was to redeem, is the place for Him . [47] If Paul had really entertained the obscure paradoxical conception attributed to him by Hofmann, he would have known how to express it simply by τὸ πᾶν (or τὰ πάντα ) κατοικῆσαι , or by τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ παντὸς (or τῶν πάντων ) κατοικῆσ . Lastly, at utter variance with both the word and the context, some have based on Ephesians 1:22 f. the interpretation of πλήρωμα as the church . So already Theodoret: πλήρ . τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ἐν τῇ πρὸς Ἐφεσίους ἐκάλεσεν , ὡς τῶν θείων χαρισμάτων πεπληρωμένην . Ταύτην ἔφη εὐδοκῆσαι τὸν Θεὸν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ κατοικῆσαι , τουτέστιν αὐτῷ συνῆφθαι , and recently in substance Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others; comp. also Schleiermacher, who, in accordance with Romans 11:12 ; Romans 11:25 , understands “ the fulness of the Gentiles and the collective whole of Israel ,” the dwelling of whom in Christ is the “definitive abiding state,” which the total reconciliation (see the sequel) must necessarily have preceded, as this reconciliation is conditioned by the fact that both parties must have become peaceful.

κατοικῆσαι ] The πλήρωμα is personified, so that the abiding presence , which it was to have according to the divine εὐδοκία in Christ, appears conceived under the form of taking up its abode; in which, however, the idea of the Shechinah would only have to be presupposed, in the event of the πλήρωμα being represented as appearance ( כבוד יהוה ). See on Romans 9:5 . Comp. John 1:14 . Analogous is the conception of the dwelling of Christ (see on Ephesians 3:17 ) or of the Spirit (see Theile on James 4:5 ) in believers. Comp. also 2 Peter 3:13 . In point of time , the indwelling of the divine fulness of grace according to God’s pleasure in Christ refers to the earthly life of the Incarnate One , who was destined by God to fulfil the divine work of the ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα , and was to be empowered thereto by the dwelling in Him of that whole divine πλήρωμα . Without having completed the performance of this work, He could not become ἐν πᾶσιν πρωτεύων ; but of this there could be no doubt, for God has caused it to be completed through Him ( ὅτι , Colossians 1:19 ). Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 215 f. (comp. also Weiss, Bibl. Theol. p. 428, Exodus 2:0 ), refers εὐδόκησε κ . τ . λ . to the heavenly state of Christ, in which God, by way of reward for the completion of His work, has made Him the organ of His glory (Philippians 2:9 ); he also is of opinion that ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ in Colossians 1:20 does not apply to the reconciliation through His blood, but to the reunion of all created things through the exalted Lord, as a similar view is indicated in Philippians 2:10 . But this idea of the ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ is just the point on which this view breaks down. For Colossians 1:21 clearly shows that ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ is to be taken in the usual sense of the work of reconciliation completed through the ἹΛΑΣΤΉΡΙΟΝ of Christ. Moreover, that which Christ received through His exaltation was not the divine ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ , but the divine ΔΌΞΑ .

[43] Holtzmann, after having rejected vv. 14 18 entirely as an interpolation, allows to stand as original in vv. 19, 20 only the words: ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν καταλλάξαι , to which καταλλ . there is then attached in ver. 21, as object, καὶ ὑμᾶς , also you, with reference to ἡμᾶς in ver. 13. How daring and violent, and yet how paltry (rescuing merely the καὶ ὑμᾶς ), would the procedure of the author thus have been!

[44] Hence not: “la totalité de l’être qui doit être realisée dans le monde,” Sabatier, l’apôtre Paul, p. 209.

[45] As in the Son of God in the metaphysical sense; hence the original being of God in Him cannot be conceived merely as ideal, which was to develope itself into reality, and the realization of which, when it at length became perfect, made Him the absolute abode of the fulness of Godhead. So Beyschlag, Christol. p. 232 f., according to whom Christ would be conceived as “man drawing down upon himself” this indwelling of God. He is conceived as the incarnate Son (comp. ver. 13 ff.), who, in accordance with the Father’s decree, has appeared as bearer ot the whole fulness of salvation. For He was its dwelling not merely in principle, but in fact and reality, when He appeared, and He employed it for the work, which the Father desired to accomplish by Him (ver. 20). Comp. Galatians 4:4 ; Romans 8:3 . The indwelling of the πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα He had not, indeed, to achieve by his own effort; but He had, in obedience towards the Father, to preserve (comp. Hebrews 4:15 ), apply, communicate it; and so this indwelling is not merely in the risen One, but in His very work on the cross the presupposition of the universal reconciliation, ver. 20.

[46] Baur himself ( Paulus , II. p. 12 ff.) likewise explains πλήρωμα from the technical language of the Gnostics, especially of the Valentinian doctrine of Aeons, but finds the Gnosticism to belong to the (post-apostolic) writer of the epistle. According to Baur (see his Neutest. Theol. p. 258), Christ is the πλήρωμα of God as He “in whom that which God is in Himself, according to the abstract idea of His nature, is filled with its definite concrete contents.” Comp. also Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1870, p. 247, according to whom our passage is intended to affirm that the Pleroma of divine nature is to be sought not in the prolix series of the Aeons of the Gnostics, but in Christ alone. Holtzmann, with more caution, adheres to the view that the idea of the πλήρωμα forms a first step towards the extended use which the Gnostics make of the word; whereas Hilgen-feld ( Zeitschr. 1873, p. 195) finds the idea here already so firmly established, “that the πλήρωμα emerges as in a certain measure holding an independent position between God and Christ.”

[47] Comp. Rich. Schmidt, l.c. p. 208.

Verse 20

Colossians 1:20 . [48] “Haec inhabitatio est fundamentum reconciliationis,” Bengel. Hence Paul continues: καὶ διʼ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα , and through Him to reconcile the whole . As to the double compound ἀποκαταλλ ., prorsus reconciliare , [49] see on Ephesians 2:16 . The considerations which regulate the correct understanding of the passage are: (1) that τὰ πάντα may not in any way be restricted (this has been appropriately urged by Usteri, and especially by Huther); that it consequently cannot be referred either merely to intelligent beings generally (the usual view), or to men (Cornelius a Lapide, Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others), especially the Gentiles (Olshausen), or to the “universam ecclesiam ” (Beza), but is, according to the context (see Colossians 1:16 ff.), simply to be taken as quite general: the whole of that which exists (has been created); (2) that the reconciling subject is here not Christ (Hofmann, in accordance with his incorrect reference of εὐδόκησε in Colossians 1:19 ), but God , who through Christ ( διʼ αὐτοῦ ) reconciled all things; (3) that consequently ἀποκαταλλάξαι cannot be meant of the transforming of the misrelation between the world and Christ into a good relation (Hofmann), and just as little of the reconciliation of all things with one another , of the removal of mutual hostility among the constituent elements composing τὰ πάντα , but only of the universal reconciliation with the God who is hostile to sin, [50] as is clearly evident from the application to the readers in Colossians 1:21 . The only correct sense therefore is, that the entire universe has been reconciled with God through Christ . But how far? In answering this question, which cannot be disposed of by speculation beyond the range of Scripture as to the having entered into the finite and having returned again to the infinite (Usteri), nor by the idea imported into ἀποκαταλλ . of gathering up into the unity of absolute final aim (Baur, neut. Theol . p. 257), the following considerations are of service: ( a ) The original harmony, which in the state of innocence subsisted between God and the whole creation, was annulled by sin, which first obtained mastery over a portion of the angels, and in consequence of this (2 Corinthians 11:3 ), by means of the transgression of Adam, over all mankind (Romans 5:12 ). Comp. on Ephesians 1:10 . ( b ) Not only had sinful mankind now become alienated from God by sin and brought upon themselves His hostility (comp. Colossians 1:21 ), but also the whole of the non-rational creation (Romans 8:19 ff.) was affected by this relation, and given up by God to ματαιότης and δουλεία τῆς φθορᾶς (see on Rom. l.c .). ( c ) Indeed, even the world of heavenly spirits had lost its harmony with God as it originally existed, since a portion of the angels those that had fallen formed the kingdom of the devil, in antagonism to God, and became forfeited to the wrath of God for the everlasting punishment which is prepared for the devil and his angels. ( d ) But in Christ, by means of His ἱλαστήριον , through which God made peace ( εἰρηνοποιήσας κ . τ . λ .), the reconciliation of the whole has taken place, in virtue of the blotting out, thereby effected, of the curse of sin. Thus not merely has the fact effecting the reconciliation as its causa meritoria taken place, but the realization of the universal reconciliation itself is also entered upon , although it is not yet completed , but down to the time of the Parousia is only in course of development , inasmuch, namely, as in the present αἰών the believing portion of mankind is indeed in possession of the reconciliation, but the unreconciled unbelievers (the tares among the wheat) are not yet separated; inasmuch, further, as the non-intelligent creation still remains in its state of corruption occasioned by sin (Romans 8:0 ); and lastly, inasmuch as until the Parousia even the angelic world sees the kingdom of the devil which has issued from it still although the demoniac powers have been already vanquished by the atoning death, and have become the object of divine triumph (Colossians 2:15 ) not annulled, and still in dangerous operation (Ephesians 6:12 ) against the Christian church. But through the Parousia the reconciliation of the whole which has been effected in Christ will reach its consummation, when the unbelieving portion of mankind will be separated and consigned to Gehenna, the whole creation in virtue of the Palingenesia (Matthew 19:28 ) will be transformed into its original perfection, and the new heaven and the new earth will be constituted as the dwelling of δικαιοσύνη (2 Peter 3:13 ) and of the δόξα of the children of God (Romans 8:21 ); while the demoniac portion of the angelic world will be removed from the sphere of the new world, and cast into hell. Accordingly, in the whole creation there will no longer be anything alienated from God and object of His hostility, but τὰ πάντα will be in harmony and reconciled with Him; and God Himself, to whom Christ gives back the regency which He has hitherto exercised, will become the only Ruler and All in All (1 Corinthians 15:24 ; 1 Corinthians 15:28 ). This collective reconciliation, although its consummation will not occur until the Parousia, is yet justly designated by the aorist infinitive ἀποκαταλλάξαι , because to the telic conception of God in the εὐδόκησε it was present as one moment in conception.

The angels also are necessarily included in τὰ πάντα (comp. subsequently, τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ); and in this case seeing that a reconciliation of the angels who had not fallen, who are holy and minister to Christ (Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 269 ff.), considered in themselves as individuals, cannot be spoken of, and is nowhere spoken of in the N. T. [51] it is to be observed that the angels are to be conceived according to category , in so far, namely, as the hostile relation of God towards the fallen angels affected the angelic world viewed as a whole. The original normal relation between God and this higher order of spirits is no longer existing, so long as the kingdom of demons in antagonism to God still subsists which has had its powers broken no doubt already by the death of Christ (Colossians 2:14 f; Hebrews 2:14 ), but will undergo at length utter separation a result which is to be expected in the new transformation of the world at the Parousia. The idea of reconciliation is therefore, in conformity with the manner of popular discourse, and according to the variety of the several objects included in τὰ πάντα , meant partly in an immediate sense (in reference to mankind), partly in a mediate sense (in reference to the ΚΤΊΣΙς affected by man’s sin, Romans 8:0 , and to the angelic world affected by its partial fall); [52] the idea of ἀποκαταλλάξαι , in presence of the all-embracing τὰ πάντα , is as it were of an elastic nature. [53] At the same time, however, ἀποκαταλλ . is not to be made equivalent (Melanchthon, Grotius, Cornelius a Lapide, Flatt, Bähr, Bleek, and others) to ἀποκεφαλαιώσασθαι (Ephesians 1:10 ), which is rather the sequel of the former; nor is it to be conceived as merely completing the harmony of the good angels (who are not to be thought absolutely pure, Job 4:18 ; Job 15:15 ; Mark 10:18 ; 1 Corinthians 6:3 ) with God (de Wette), and not in the strict sense therefore restoring it an interpretation which violates the meaning of the word. Calvin, nevertheless, has already so conceived the matter, introducing, moreover, the element foreign to the literal sense of confirmation in righteousness: “quum creaturae sint, extra lapsus periculum non essent, nisi Christi gratia fuissent confirmati .” According to Ritschl, in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol . 1863, p. 522 f., Paul intends to refer to the angels that had been active in the law-giving on Sinai (Deuteronomy 33:2 ; Ps. 67:18, LXX.), to whom he attributes “a deviation from God’s plan of salvation.” But this latter idea cannot be made good either by Colossians 2:15 , or by Galatians 3:19 , or by Ephesians 3:10 , as, indeed, there is nothing in the context to indicate any such reference to the angels of the law in particular. The exegetical device traditionally resorted to, that what was meant with respect to the angels was their reconciliation, not with God , but with men , to whom on account of sin they had been previously inimical (so Chrysostom, Pelagius, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Zanchius, Cameron, Calovius, Estius, Bengel, Michaelis, Böhmer, and others), is an entirely erroneous makeshift, incompatible with the language of the passage.

εἰς αὐτόν ] is indeed to be written with the spiritus lenis , as narrating the matter from the standpoint of the author , and because a reflexive emphasis would be without a motive; but it is to be referred, not to Christ , who, as mediate agent of the reconciliation, is at the same time its aim (Bähr, Huther, Olshausen, de Wette, Reiche, Hofmann, Holtzmann, and others; comp. Estius, also Grotius: “ut ipsi pareant”), but to God , constituting an instance of the abbreviated form of expression very usual among Greek writers (Kühner, II. 1, p. 471) and in the N. T. (Winer, p. 577 [E. T. 776]), the constructio praegnans : to reconcile to Godward , so that they are now no longer separated from God (comp. ἀπηλλοτρ ., Colossians 1:21 ), but are to be united with Him in peace . Thus εἰς αὐτ ., although identical in reality, is not in the mode of conception equivalent to the mere dative (Ephesians 2:16 ; Rom 5:10 ; 1 Corinthians 7:11 ; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ), as Beza, Calvin, and many others take it. The reference to Christ must be rejected, because the definition of the aim would have been a special element to be added to διʼ αὐτοῦ , which, as in Colossians 1:16 , would have been expressed by καὶ εἰς αὐτόν , and also because the explanation which follows ( εἰρηνοποιήσας κ . τ . λ .) concerns and presupposes simply the mediate agency of Christ ( διʼ αὐτοῦ ).

εἰρηνοποιήσας , down to σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ , is a modal definition of διʼ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι (not a parenthesis): so that He concluded peace , etc., inasmuch, namely, as the blood of Christ, as the expiatory offering, is meant to satisfy the holiness of God, and now His grace is to have free course, Romans 5:1 ; Ephesians 6:15 . The aorist participle is, as Colossians 1:21 shows, to be understood as contemporary with ἀποκαταλλ . (see on Ephesians 1:9 , and Kühner, II. 1, p. 161 f.; Müller in the Luther. Zeitschr . 1872, p. 631 ff.), and not antecedent to it (Bähr), as has been incorrectly held by Ernesti in consistency with his explanation of Colossians 1:19 (see on Colossians 1:19 ), who, moreover, without any warrant from the context, in accordance with Ephesians 2:14-16 , thinks of the conclusion of peace between Jews and Gentiles . The nominative refers to the subject; and this is, as in the whole sentence since the εὐδόκησεν , not Christ (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Luther, Storr, Heinrichs, Flatt, Steiger, Hofmann, and many others), but God . The verb εἰρηνοποιεῖν , occurring only here in the N. T., which has elsewhere ποιεῖν εἰρήνην (Ephesians 2:15 ; James 3:18 ), and also foreign to the ancient Greek, which has εἰρηνοποίος , is nevertheless found in Hermes, ap. Stob. Ecl. ph . i. 52, and in the LXX. Proverbs 10:10 .

διὰ τοῦ αἵμ . τ . σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ ] that is, by means of the blood to be shed on His cross , which, namely, as the sacrificial blood reconciling with God (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ), became the causa medians which procured the conclusion of peace between God and the world. Romans 3:25 ; Romans 5:9 f.; Ephesians 1:7 . The reason, which historically induced Paul to designate the blood of Christ with such specific definiteness as the blood of His cross , is to be sought in the spiritualism of the false teachers, who ascribed to the angels a mediating efficacy with God. Hence comes also the designation so intentionally material of the reconciling sacrificial death, Colossians 1:22 , which Hofmann seeks to avoid as such, namely, as respects its definite character of a satisfaction. [54]

διʼ αὐτοῦ ] not with the spiritus asper , equivalent to διʼ ἑαυτοῦ , as those take it who refer εἰρηνοποιήσας to Christ as subject ( ἑαυτὸν ἐκδούς , Theophylact), since this reference is erroneous. But neither can διʼ αὐτοῦ be in apposition to διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τ . στ . αὐτοῦ (Castalio, “per ejus sanguinem, h. e. per eum ”), for the latter , and not the former, would be the explanatory statement. It is a resumption of the above given διʼ αὐτοῦ , after the intervening definition εἰρηνοποιήσας κ . τ . λ ., in order to complete the discourse thereby interrupted, and that by once more emphatically bringing forward the διʼ αὐτοῦ which stood at the commencement; “ through Him ,” I say, to reconcile, whether they be things on earth or whether they be things in heaven. Comp. on Ephesians 1:11 ; Romans 8:23 .

εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τ . γ ., εἴτε τὰ ἐν τ . οὐρ .] divides, without “affected tautology” (Holtzmann), but with a certain solemnity befitting the close of this part of the epistle, the τὰ πάντα into its two component parts. As to the quite universal description, see above on τὰ πάντα ; comp. on Colossians 1:16 . We have, besides, to notice: (1) that Paul here (it is otherwise in Colossians 1:16 , where the creation was in question, comp. Genesis 1:1 ) names the earthly things first , because the atonement took place on earth, and primarily affected things earthly; (2) that the disjunctive expression εἴτε … εἴτε renders impossible the view of a reconciliation of the two sections one with another (Erasmus, Wetstein, Dalmer, and others). To the category of exegetical aberrations belongs the interpretation of Schleiermacher, who understands earthly and heavenly things , and includes among the latter all the relations of divine worship and the mental tendencies of Jews and Gentiles relative thereto: “Jews and Gentiles were at variance as to both, as to the heavenly and earthly things, and were now to be brought together in relation to God, after He had founded peace through the cross of His Son.” The view of Baumgarten-Crusius is also an utter misexplanation: that the reconciliation of men (Jews and Gentiles) among themselves, and with the spirit-world, is the thing meant; and that the reconciliation with the latter consists in the consciousness given back to men of being worthy of connection with the higher spirits.

Lastly, against the reference to universal restoration , to which, according to Olshausen, at least the tendency of Christ’s atonement is assumed to have pointed, see on Ephesians 1:10 , remark 2. Comp. also Schmid in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol . 1870, p. 133.

[48] According to Holtzmann, p. 92, the author is assumed to have worked primarily with the elements of the fundamental passage 2 Corinthians 5:18 f., which he has taken to apply to the cosmical ἀποκαταλλαγή . But, instead of apprehending this as the function of the risen Christ, he has by διὰ τοῦ αἵματος κ . τ . λ . occasioned the coincidence of two dissimilar spheres of conception, of which, moreover, the one is introduced as form for the other. The interpolator reproduces and concentrates the thought of Ephesians 1:7 ; Ephesians 1:10 ; Ephesians 2:13-17 , bringing the idea of a cosmical reconciliation (Ephesians 1:10 ) into expression in such a way “that he, led by the sound of the terminology, takes up at the same time and includes the thought of the reconciliation of the Jews and Gentiles.” In opposition to this view, the exegesis of the details in their joint bearing on the whole will avail to show that the passage with all its difficulty is no such confused medley of misunderstanding and of heterogeneous ideas, and contains nothing un-Pauline. The extension of the reconciliation to the celestial spheres, in particular, has been regarded as un-Pauline (see, especially, Holtzmann, p. 231 ff.). But even in the epistles whose genuineness is undisputed it is not difficult to recognise the presuppositions, from which the sublime extension of the conception to an universality of cosmic effect in our passage might ensue. We may add, that Ephesians 1:10 is not “the leading thought of the interpolation” at ver. 16 ff. (Holtzmann, p. 151); in ver. 16 ff. much more is said, and of other import.

[49] As if we might say in German, abversöhnen, that is: to finish quite the reconciliation. Comp. ἀφιλάσκεσθαι , Plat. Legg. ix. p. 873 A.

[50] God is the subject, whose hostility is removed, by the reconciliation (comp. on Romans 5:10 ); τὰ πάντα is the object, which was affected by this hostility grounded of necessity on the holiness and righteousness of God. If the hostile disposition of men towards God, which had become removed by the reconciliation, were meant (Ritschl in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1863, p. 515), the universal τὰ πάντα would not be suitable; because the whole universe might, indeed, be affected by the hostility of God against sin, but could not itself be hostilely disposed towards Him. See, moreover, on ver. 21.

[51] According to Ignatius, Smyrn. 6, the angels also, ἐὰν μὴ πιστεύσωσιν εἰς τὸ αἷμα Χριστοῦ , incur judgment. But this conception of angels needing reconciliation, and possibly even unbelieving, is doubtless merely an abstraction, just as is the idea of an angel teaching falsely (Galatians 1:8 ). It is true that, according to 1 Corinthians 6:3 , angels also are judged; but this presupposes not believing and unbelieving angels, but various stages of moral perfection and purity in the angelic world, when confronted with the absolute ethical standard, which in Christianity must present itself even to the angels (Ephesians 3:10 ). Comp. on 1 Corinthians 6:3 .

[52] The idea of ἀποκαταλλάξαι is not in this view to be altered, but has as its necessary presupposition the idea of hostility, as is clear from εἰρηνοποίησας and from ἐχθρούς , ver. 21, compared with Ephesians 2:16 ! Compare Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 276 ff.; Eur. Med. 870: διαλλαγῆναι τῆς ἔχθρας , Soph. Aj. 731 (744): θεοῖσιν ὡς καταλλαχθῇ χόλου , Plat. Rep. p. 566 E: πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω ἐχθροὺς τοῖς μὲν καταλλαγῇ , τοὺς δὲ καὶ διαφθείρῃ . This applies also against Hofmann’s enervating weakening of the idea into that of transposition from the misrelation into a good one, or of “an action, which makes one, who stands ill to another, stand well to him.” In such a misrelation (namely, to Christ, according to the erroneous view of εὐδόκησε ) stand, in Hofmann’s view, even the “spirits collectively,” in so far as they bear sway in the world-life deteriorated by human sin, instead of in the realization of salvation. Richard Schmidt, l.c. p. 195, also proceeds to dilute the notion of reconciliation into that of the bringing to Christ, inasmuch as he explains the καταλλάσσειν as effected by the fact that Christ has become the head of all, and all has been put in dependence on Him. Hilgenfeld, l.c. p. 251 f., justly rejects this alteration of the sense, which is at variance with the following context, but adheres, for his own part, to the statement that here the author in a Gnostic fashion has in view disturbances of peace in the heavenly spheres (in the πλήρωμα ).

[53] Comp. Philippi, Glaubensl. IV. 2, p. 269 f., Exodus 2:0 .

[54] According to Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 362 ff., by the blood of the cross, ver. 20, the death of Christ is meant to be presented as a judicial act of violence, and “what befell Him” as an ignominy, which He allowed to be inflicted on Him with the view of establishing a peace, which brought everything out of alienation from Him into fellowship of peace with Him. ver. 22 does not affirm the expiation of sin, but the transition of mankind, which had once for all been effected in Christ, from the condition involved in their sin into that which came into existence with His death. Christ has, in a body like ours, and by means of the death to which we are subject, done that which we have need of in order that we may come to stand holy before Him. Not different in substance are Hofmann’s utterances in his Heil. Schr. N. T. But when we find it there stated: “how far Christ has hereby (namely, by His having allowed Himself to be put to death as a transgressor by men) converted the variance, which subsisted between Him and the world created for Him, into its opposite, is not here specified in detail,” that is an unwarranted evasion; for the strict idea of reconciliation had so definite, clear, firm, and vivid (comp. ver. 14, Colossians 2:13 f.) a place in the consciousness of the apostle and of the church, which was a Pauline one, that it did not need, especially in express connection with the blood of the cross, any more precise mention in detail. Comp. Galatians 3:13 ; Romans 3:25 . Calvin well says: “Ideo pignus et pretium nostrae cum Deo pacificationis sanguis Christi, quia in cruce fusus.”

Verse 21

Colossians 1:21 . As far as Colossians 1:23 , an application to the readers of what had been said as to the reconciliation, in order to animate them, through the consciousness of this blessing, to stedfastness in the faith (Colossians 1:23 ).

καὶ ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ .] you also , not: and you , so that it would have to be separated by a mere comma from the preceding verse, and νυνὶ δὲ … θανάτου would, notwithstanding its great importance, come to be taken as parenthetical (Lachmann), or as quite breaking off the discourse, and leaving it unfinished (Ewald). It begins a new sentence, comp. Ephesians 2:1 ; but observe, at the same time, that Ephesians 2:0 is much too rich in its contents to admit of these contents being here compressed into Colossians 1:20-21 (in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 150). As to the way in which Holtzmann gains an immediate connection with what precedes, see on Colossians 1:19 . The construction (following the reading ἀποκατηλλάγητε , see the critical notes) has become anacoluthic , inasmuch as Paul, when he began the sentence, had in his mind the active verb (which stands in the Recepta ), but he does not carry out this formation of the sentence; on the contrary, in his versatility of conception, he suddenly starts off and continues in a passive form, as if he had begun with καὶ ὑμεῖς κ . τ . λ . See Matthiae, p. 1524; Winer, p. 527 ff. [E. T. 714]; and upon the aorist, Buttmann, Neut. Gr . p. 171 [E. T. 197].

ἀπηλλοτρ . κ . τ . λ ] when ye were once in the state of estrangement , characterizes their heathen condition. As to ἀπηλλοτρ ., see on Ephesians 2:12 ; from which passage ἀπὸ τῆς πολιτείας τ . Ἰσρ . is here as unwarrantably supplied (Heinrichs, comp. Flatt), as is from Ephesians 4:14 τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ (Bähr). In conformity with the context, seeing that previously God was the subject as author of reconciliation, the being estranged from God ( τοῦ Θεοῦ ), the being excluded from His fellowship, is to be understood. Comp. ἄθεοι ἐν τ . κόσμῳ , Ephesians 2:12 . On the subject-matter, Romans 1:21 ff.

ἐχθρούς ] sc. τῷ Θεῷ , in a passive sense (comp. on Romans 5:10 ; Romans 11:28 ): invisos Deo , [55] as is required by the idea of having become reconciled, through which God’s enmity against sinful men, who were τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς (Ephesians 2:3 ), has changed into mercy towards them. [56] This applies in opposition to the usual active interpretation, which Hofmann also justly rejects: hostile towards God, Romans 8:7 ; James 4:4 (so still Huther, de Wette, Ewald, Ritschl, Holtzmann), which is not to be combined with the passive sense (Calvin, Bleek).

τῇ διανοίᾳ and ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἜΡΓΟΙς Τ . Π . belong to both the preceding elements; the former as dative of the cause: on account of their disposition of mind they were once alienated from God and hateful to Him; the latter as specification of the overt, actual sphere of life, in which they had been so ( in the wicked works , in which their godless and God-hated behaviour had exhibited itself). Thus information is given, as to ἀπηλλ . and ἘΧΘΡΟΎς , of an internal and of an external kind. The view which takes Τῇ ΔΙΑΝΟΊᾼ as dative of the respect (comp. Ephesians 4:18 ): as respects disposition (so, following older expositors, Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald), would no doubt suit the erroneous active explanation of ἐχθρ ., but would furnish only a superfluous definition to it, as it is self-evident that the enmity towards God resides in the disposition . Luther incorrectly renders: “through the reason; ” for the διάν . is not the reason itself, but its immanent activity (see especially, Plato, Soph . p. 263 E), and that here viewed under its moral aspect; comp. on Ephesians 4:18 . Beza (“mente operibus malis intenta”), Michaelis, Storr, and Bähr attach ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις κ . τ . λ . to Τῇ ΔΙΑΝΟΊᾼ . This is grammatically admissible, since we may say ΔΙΑΝΟΕῖΣΘΑΙ ἘΝ , animo versari in (Psalms 73:8 ; Sir 6:37 ; Plato, Prot . p. 341 E), and therefore the repetition of the article was not necessary. But the badness of the disposition was so entirely self-evident from the context, that the assumed more precise definition by ἐν τοῖς ἔργ . τ . πονηρ . would appear tediously circumstantial.

The articles Τῇ and ΤΟῖς denote the disposition which they have had , and the works which they have done . In the latter case the subjoined attributive furnished with the article ( τοῖς πονηροῖς ) is not causal (“ because they were bad,” Hofmann), but emphatically brings into prominence the quality, as at Ephesians 6:13 ; 1 Corinthians 7:14 , and often (Winer, p. 126 [E. T. 167]).

νυνὶ δὲ ἀποκατηλλάγητε ] as if previously ὙΜΕῖς Κ . Τ . Λ . were used (see above): Ye also … have nevertheless now become reconciled . On δέ after participles which supply the place of the protasis, as here, where the thought is: although ye formerly, etc., see Klotz, ad Devar . p. 374 ff.; Maetzner, ad Antiph . p. 136; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem . iii. 7. 8, Anab . vi. 6. 16. On νυνί , with the aorist following, comp. Colossians 1:26 ; Romans 7:6 ; Ephesians 2:13 ; Plat. Symp . p. 193 A: πρὸ τοῦ … ἓν ἦμεν , νυνὶ δὲ διὰ τὴν ἀδικίαν διῳκίσθημεν ὑπὸ τ . θεοῦ . Ellendt, Lex Soph . II. p. 176; Kühner, II. 2, p. 672. It denotes the present time, which has set in with the ἀποκατηλλ . (comp. Buttmann, Neut. Gr . p. 171 [E. T. 197]); and the latter has taken place objectively through the death of Christ, Colossians 1:22 , although realized subjectively in the readers only when they became believers whereby the reconciliation became appropriated to them, and there existed now for them a decisive contrast of their νυνί with their ΠΟΤΈ . [57] The reconciling subject is, according to the context (Colossians 1:19-20 ), not Christ (as at Ephesians 2:16 ), through whom (comp. Romans 5:10 ; 2 Corinthians 5:18 ) the reconciliation has taken place (see Colossians 1:20 ), but, as at 2 Corinthians 5:19 , God (in opposition to Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Calovius, Heinrichs, and others, including de Wette and Ewald). For the reference to Christ even the reading ἀποκατήλλαξεν would by no means furnish a reason, far less a necessity, since, on the contrary, even this active would have, according to the correct explanation of εὐδόκησε in Colossians 1:19 , to be taken as referring to God (in opposition to Hofmann).

[55] Compare the phrase very current in the classical writers, from Homer onward, ἐχθρὸς θεοῖς , quem Dii oderunt.

[56] See Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 276 ff., who aptly explains καταλλάσσεσθαί τινι : in alicujus favorem venire, qui antea succensuerit. Comp. Philippi, Glaubensl. IV. 2, p. 265 ff., Exodus 2:0 . The reconciliation of men takes place, when God, instead of being further angry at them, has become gracious towards them, when, consequently, He Himself is reconciled. Comp. Luke 18:13 ; 2 Corinthians 5:19 . So long as His wrath is not changed, and consequently He is not reconciled, men remain unreconciled. 2Ma 7:33 : ὁ ζῶν κύριος … βραχέως ἑπώργισται καὶ πάλιν καταλλαγήσεται τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ δούλοις , comp. 2Ma 8:29 , Malachi 1:5; Malachi 1:5 , 2Ma 5:20 ; Clem. Cor. I. 48: ἱκετεύοντες αὐτόν (God), ὅπως ἵλεως γενόμενος ἐπικαταλλαγῇ ἡμῖν . In Constt. Apost. viii. 12. 14, it is said of Christ that He τῷ κόσμῳ κατήλλαξε God, and § 17, of God: σοῦ καταλλαγέντος αὐτοῖς (with believers).

[57] Comp. Luthardt, vom freien Willen, p. 403.

Verse 22

Colossians 1:22 . Ἐν τῷ σώματι κ . τ . λ .] that, by means of which they have been reconciled; corresponding to the διʼ αὐτοῦ and διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ of Colossians 1:20 : in the body of His flesh by means of death . Since God is the reconciling subject, we are not at liberty, with Elzevir, Scholz, and others, to read αὑτοῦ (with the spiritus asper ), which would not be justified, even though Christ were the subject. We have further to note: (1) διὰ τ . θανάτου informs us whereby the being reconciled ἐν τῷ σώματι τ . σ . αὐ . was brought about , namely, by the death occurring, without which the reconciliation would not have taken place in the body of Christ. (2) Looking to the concrete presentation of the matter, and because the procuring element is subsequently brought forward specially and on its own account by διά , the ἐν is not, with Erasmus and many others, to be taken as instrumental , but is to be left as local; not, however, in the sense that Christ accomplished the ἀποκαταλλάσσειν in His body, which was fashioned materially like ours (Hofmann, comp. Calvin and others, including Bleek) which, in fact, would amount to the perfectly self-evident point, that it took place in His corporeally-human form of being, but, doubtless, especially as διὰ τοῦ θανάτου follows, in the sense, that in the body of Christ, by means of the death therein accomplished, our reconciliation was objectively realized, which fact of salvation, therefore, inseparably associated itself with His body; comp. ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου , Colossians 1:24 , see also 1 Peter 2:24 and Huther in loc . The conception of substitution, however, though involved in the thing (in the ἱλαστήριον ), is not to be sought in ἐν (in opposition to Böhmer and Baumgarten-Crusius). (3) The reason for the intentional use of the material description: “in the body which consisted of His flesh ” (comp. Colossians 2:11 ; Sir 23:16 ), is to be sought in the apologetic interest of antagonism to the false teachers , against whom, however, the charge of Docetism , possibly on the ground of Colossians 2:23 , can the less be proved (in opposition to Beza, Balduin, Böhmer, Steiger, Huther, and Dalmer), as Paul nowhere in the epistle expressly treats of the material Incarnation , which he would hardly have omitted to do in contrast to Docetism (comp. 1 John). In fact, the apostle found sufficient occasion for writing about the reconciliation as he has done here and in Colossians 1:20 , in the faith in angels on the part of his opponents, by which they ascribed the reconciling mediation with God in part to those higher spiritual beings (who are without σῶμα τῆς σαρκός ). Other writers have adopted the view, without any ground whatever in the connection, that Paul has thus written in order to distinguish the real body of Christ from the spiritual σῶμα of the church (Bengel, Michaelis, Storr, Olshausen). The other σῶμα of Christ, which contrasts with His earthly body of flesh (Romans 1:3 ; Romans 8:3 ), is His glorified heavenly body, Php 3:21 ; 1 Corinthians 15:47 ff. References, however, such as Calvin, e.g ., has discovered (“humile, terrenum et infirmitatibus multis obnoxium corpus”), or Grotius (“tantas res perfecit instrumento adeo tenui;” comp. also Estius and others), are forced upon the words, in which the form of expression is selected simply in opposition to spiritualistic erroneous doctrines. Just as little may we import into the simple historical statement of the means διὰ τοῦ θανάτου , with Hofmann, the ignominy of shedding His blood on the cross , since no modal definition to that effect is subjoined or indicated.

παραστῆσαι ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ .] Ethical definition of the object aimed at in the ἀποκατηλλ .: ye have been reconciled … in order to present you , etc. The presenting subject is therefore the subject of ἀποκατηλλ ., so that it is to be explained: ἵνα παραστήσητε ὑμᾶς , ut sisteretis vos , and therefore this continuation of the discourse is by no means awkward in its relation to the reading ἀποκατηλλάγητε (in opposition to de Wette). We should be only justified in expecting ἑαυτούς (as Huther suggests) instead of ὑμᾶς (comp. Romans 12:1 ) if (comp. Romans 6:13 ; 2 Timothy 2:15 ) the connection required a reflexive emphasis. According to the reading ἀποκατήλλαξεν the sense is ut sisteret vos , in which case, however, the subject would not be Christ (Hofmann), but, as in every case since εὐδόκησε in Colossians 1:19 , God .

The point of time at which the παραστ . is to take place (observe the aorist ) is that of the judgment , in which they shall come forth holy, etc., before the Judge . Comp. Colossians 1:28 , and on Ephesians 5:27 . This reference (comp. Bähr, Olshausen, Bleek) is required by the context in Colossians 1:23 , where the παραστῆσαι κ . τ . λ . is made dependent on continuance in the faith as its condition; consequently there cannot be meant the result already accomplished by the reconciliation itself , namely, the state of δικαιοσύνη entered upon through it (so usually, including Hofmann). The state of justification sets in at any rate, and unconditionally, through the reconciliation; but it may be lost again, and at the Parousia will be found subsisting only in the event of the reconciled remaining constant to the faith, by means of which they have appropriated the reconciliation, Colossians 1:23 .

ἁγίους κ . τ . λ .] does not represent the subjects as sacrifices (Romans 12:1 ), which would not consist with the fact that Christ is the sacrifice, and also would not be in harmony with ἀνεγκλ .; it rather describes without figure the moral holiness which, after the justification attained by means of faith, is wrought by the Holy Spirit (Romans 7:6 ; Romans 8:2 ; Romans 8:9 , et al .), and which, on the part of man, is preserved and maintained by continuance in the faith (Colossians 1:23 ). The three predicates are not intended to represent the relation “erga Deum , respectu vestri , and respectu proximi ” (Bengel, Bähr), since, in point of fact, ἀμώμους ( blameless , Ephesians 1:4 ; Ephesians 5:27 ; Herod, ii. 177; Plat. Rep . p. 487 A: οὐδʼ ἂν ὁ Μῶμος τό γε τοιοῦτον μέμψαιτο ) no less than ἀνεγκλ . ( reproachless , 1 Corinthians 1:8 ) points to an external judgment: but the moral condition is intended to be described with exhaustive emphasis positively ( ἁγίους ) and negatively ( ἀμώμ . and ἀνεγκλ .). The idea of the moral holiness of the righteous through faith is thoroughly Pauline; comp. not only Ephesians 2:10 , Titus 2:14 ; Titus 3:8 , but also such passages as Romans 6:1-23 ; Romans 8:4 ff.; Gal 5:22-25 ; 1 Corinthians 9:24 ff.; 2 Corinthians 11:2 , et al .

κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ] refers to Christ , [58] to His judicial appearance at the Parousia, just as by the previous αὐτοῦ after ΣΑΡΚΌς Christ also was meant. The usual reference to God (so Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Bleek) is connected with the reading ἀποκατήλλαξεν taken as so referring; comp. Jude 1:24 ; Ephesians 1:4 . The objection that ΚΑΤΕΝΏΠΙΟΝ elsewhere occurs only in reference to God , is without force; for that this is the case in the few passages where the word is used, seems to be purely accidental, since ἐνώπιον is also applied to Christ (2 Timothy 2:14 ), and since in the notion itself there is nothing opposed to this reference. The frequent use of the expression “before God ” is traceable to the theocratically national currency of this conception, which by no means excludes the expression “before Christ .” So ἔμπροσθεν is also used of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 . Comp. 2 Corinthians 5:10 : ἜΜΠΡΟΣΘΕΝ ΤΟῦ ΒΉΜΑΤΟς ΤΟῦ ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ , which is a commentary on our κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ; see also Matthew 25:32 .

[58] So also Holtzmann, p. 47, though holding in favour of the priority of Ephesians 1:4 , that the sense requires a reference to God, although syntactically the reference is made to Christ. But, in fact, the one is just as consistent with the sense as the other.


The proper reference of παραστῆσαι κ . τ . λ . to the judgment , as also the condition appended in Colossians 1:23 , place it beyond doubt that what is meant here (it is otherwise in Ephesians 1:4 ) is the holiness and blamelessness, which is entered upon through justification by faith actu judiciali and is positively wrought by the Holy Spirit, but which, on the other hand, is preserved and maintained up to the judgment by the self-active perseverance of faith in virtue of the new life of the reconciled (Romans 6:0 ); so that the justitia inhaerens is therefore neither meant alone (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, and others), nor excluded (Theodoret, Erasmus, Beza, and others), but is included. Comp. Calovius.

Verse 23

Colossians 1:23 . Requirement, with which is associated not, indeed, the being included in the work of reconciliation (Hofmann), but the attainment of its blessed final aim, which would otherwise be forfeited, namely the παραστῆσαι κ . τ . λ . above described: so far at any rate as ye , i. e. assuming, namely, that ye, etc. A confidence that the readers will fulfil this condition is not conveyed by the εἴγε in itself (see on 2 Corinthians 5:3 ; Galatians 3:4 ; Ephesians 3:2 ), and is not implied here by the context; but Paul sets forth the relation purely as a condition certainly taking place , which they have to fulfil , in order to attain the παραστῆσαι κ . τ . λ . that “fructus in posterum laetissimus” of their reconciliation (Bengel).

τῇ πίστει ] belonging to ἐπιμέν .: abide by the faith , do not cease from it. [59] See on Romans 6:1 . The mode of this abiding is indicated by what follows positively ( τεθεμ . κ . ἐδραῖοι ), and negatively ( Κ . ΜῊ ΜΕΤΑΚΙΝ . Κ . Τ . Λ . ), under the figurative conception of a building , in which, and that with reference to the Parousia pointed at by παραστῆσαι κ . τ . λ ., the hope of the gospel is conceived as the foundation , in so far as continuance in the faith is based on this, and is in fact not possible without it (Colossians 1:27 ). “Spe amissa perseverantia concidit,” Grotius. On τεθεμελ ., which is not interjected (Holtzmann), comp. Eph 3:17 ; 1 Peter 5:10 ; and on ἙΔΡΑῖΟΙ , 1 Corinthians 15:58 . The opposite of ΤΕΘΕΜΕΛ . is ΧΩΡῚς ΘΕΜΕΛΊΟΥ , Luke 6:49 ; but it would be a contrast to the ΤΕΘΕΜΕΛ . ΚΑῚ ἙΔΡΑῖΟΙ , if they were ΜΕΤΑΚΙΝΟΎΜΕΝΟΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . ; concerning ΜΉ , see Winer, p. 443 [E. T. 596]; Baeumlein, Part . p. 295.

μετακινούμ .] passively , through the influence of false doctrines and other seductive forces.

ἀπό ] away … from , so as to stand no longer on hope as the foundation of perseverance in the faith. Comp. Galatians 1:6 .

The ἐλπὶς τοῦ εὐαγγ . (which is proclaimed through the gospel by means of its promises, comp. Colossians 1:5 , and on Ephesians 1:18 ) is the hope of eternal life in the Messianic kingdom, which has been imparted to the believer in the gospel. Comp. Colossians 1:4-5 ; Colossians 1:27 ; Romans 5:2 ; Romans 8:24 ; Titus 1:2 f., Colossians 3:7 .

ΟὟ ἨΚΟΎΣΑΤΕ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] three definitions rendering the ΜῊ ΜΕΤΑΚΙΝΕῖΣΘΑΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . in its universal obligation palpably apparent to the readers; for such a μετακινεῖσθαι would, in the case of the Colossians, be inexcusable ( ΟὟ ἨΚΟΎΣΑΤΕ , comp. Romans 10:18 ), would set at naught the universal proclamation of the gospel ( ΤΟῦ ΚΗΡΥΧΘ . Κ . Τ . Λ . ), and would stand in contrast to the personal weight of the apostle’s position as its servant ( ΟὟ ἘΓΕΝ . Κ . Τ . Λ . ). If, with Hofmann, we join ΤΟῦ ΚΗΡΥΧΘΈΝΤΟς as an adjective to ΤΟῦ ΕὐΑΓΓΕΛΊΟΥ , ΟὟ ἨΚΟΎΣΑΤΕ , we withdraw from the ΟὟ ἨΚΟΎΣΑΤΕ that element of practical significance, which it must have, if it is not to be superfluous. Nor is justice done to the third point, ΟὟ ἘΓΕΝΌΜΗΝ Κ . Τ . Λ . , if the words (so Hofmann, comp. de Wette) are meant to help the apostle, by enforcing what he is thenceforth to write with the weight of his name, to come to his condition at that time . According to this, they would be merely destined as a transition. In accordance with the context, however, and without arbitrary tampering, they can only have the same aim with the two preceding attributives which are annexed to the gospel; and, with this aim, how appropriately and forcibly do they stand at the close! [60] λοιπὸν γὰρ μέγα ἦν τὸ Παύλου ὄνομα , Oecumenius, comp. Chrysostom. Comp. on ἘΓῺ ΠΑῦΛΟς , with a view to urge his personal authority, 2 Corinthians 10:1 ; Galatians 5:2 ; Ephesians 3:1 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:18 ; Philemon 1:19 . It is to be observed, moreover, that if Paul himself had been the teacher of the Colossians, this relation would certainly not have been passed over here in silence.

ἘΝ ΠΆΣῌ ΚΤΊΣΕΙ (without Τῇ , see the critical remarks) is to be taken as: in presence of (coram , see Ast, Lex. Plat . I. p. 701; Winer, p. 360 [E. T. 481]) every creature , before everything that is created ( κτίσις , as in Colossians 1:15 ). There is nothing created under the heaven, in whose sphere and environment (comp. Kühner, II. 1, p. 401) the gospel had not been proclaimed. The sense of the word must be left in this entire generality, and not limited to the heathen (Bähr). It is true that the popular expression of universality may just as little be pressed here as in Colossians 1:6 . Comp. Herm. Past . sim. viii. 3; Ignatius, Romans 2:0 . But as in Colossians 1:15 , so also here πᾶσα κτίσις is not all creation , according to which the sense is assumed to be: “ on a stage embracing the whole world ” (Hofmann). This Paul would properly have expressed by ἐν πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει , or ἘΝ ΠΑΝΤῚ Τῷ ΚΌΣΜῼ , or ἘΝ ὍΛῼ Τῷ Κ . ; comp. Colossians 1:6 . The expression is more lofty and poetic than in Colossians 1:6 , appropriate to the close of the section, not a fanciful reproduction betraying an imitator and a later age (Holtzmann). Omitting even ΟὟ ἨΚΟΎΣΑΤΕ (because it is not continued by ΟὟ ΚΑῚ ἘΓΏ ), Holtzmann arrives merely at the connection between Colossians 1:23 and Colossians 1:25 : ΜΗ ̀ ΜΕΤΑΚΙΝ . ἈΠΟ ̀ ΤΟῦ ΕὐΑΓΓ . ΟὟ ἘΓΕΝ . ἘΓῺ Π . ΔΙΆΚ . ΚΑΤᾺ ΤῊΝ ΟἸΚΟΝ . Τ . ΘΕΟῦ ΤῊΝ ΔΟΘΕῖΣΆΝ ΜΟΙ ΕἸς ὙΜᾶς , just as he then would read further thus: ΠΛΗΡῶΣΑΙ Τ . ΛΌΓ . Τ . ΘΕΟῦ , ΕἸς ΚΑῚ ΚΟΠΙῶ ἈΓΩΝΙΖΌΜ . ΚΑΤᾺ Τ . ἘΝΈΡΓ . ΑὐΤΟῦ ΤῊΝ ἘΝΕΡΓΟΥΜ . ἘΝ ἘΜΟΊ .

ΔΙΆΚΟΝΟς ] See on Ephesians 3:7 . Paul has become such through his calling, Galatians 1:15 f.; Ephesians 3:7 . Observe the aorist .

[59] In our Epistle faith is by no means postponed to knowing and perceiving (comp. Colossians 2:5 ; Colossians 2:7 ; Colossians 2:12 ), as Baur asserts in his Neut. Theol. p. 272. The frequent emphasis laid upon knowledge, insight, comprehension, and the like, is not to be put to the account of an intellectualism, which forms a fundamental peculiarity betokening the author and age of this Epistle (and especially of that to the Ephesians), as Holtzmann conceives, p. 216 ff.; on the contrary, it was owing to the attitude of the apostle towards the antagonistic philosophical speculations. Comp. also Grau, Entwickelungsgesch. d. N. T. II. p. 153 ff. It was owing to the necessary relations, in which the apostle, with his peculiarity of being all things to all men, found himself placed towards the interests of the time and place.

[60] According to Baur, indeed, such passages as the present are among those which betray the double personality of the author.

Verse 24

Colossians 1:24 . [61] A more precise description of this relation of service, and that, in the first place, with respect to the sufferings which the apostle is now enduring, Colossians 1:24 , and then with respect to his important calling generally, Colossians 1:25-29 .

ὃς (see the critical remarks) ΝῦΝ ΧΑΊΡΩ Κ . Τ . Λ . : I who now rejoice , etc. How touchingly, so as to win the hearts of the readers, does this join itself with the last element of encouragement in Colossians 1:23 !

νῦν ] places in contrast with the great element of his past , expressed by οὗ ἐγεν . κ . τ . λ ., which has imposed on the apostle so many sorrows (comp. Acts 9:16 ), the situation as it now exists with him in that relation of service on his part to the gospel. This present condition, however, he characterizes, in full magnanimous appreciation of the sufferings under which he writes, as joyfulness over them, and as a becoming perfect in the fellowship of tribulation with Christ, which is accomplished through them. It is plain, therefore, that the emphatic νῦν is not transitional (Bähr) or inferential (Lücke: “quae cum ita sint”); nor yet is it to be defined, with Olshausen, by arbitrary importation of the thought: now, after that I look upon the church as firmly established (comp. Dalmer), or, with Hofmann, to be taken as standing in contrast to the apostolic activity .

ἐν τοῖς παθήμ .] over the sufferings; see on Philippians 1:18 ; Romans 5:3 . This joy in suffering is so entirely in harmony with the Pauline spirit, that its source is not to be sought (in opposition to Holtzmann) in 2 Corinthians 7:4 , either for the present passage or for Ephesians 3:13 ; comp. also Philippians 2:17 .

ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ] joins itself to ΠΑΘΉΜΑΣΙΝ so as to form one conception, without connecting article. Comp. on Colossians 1:1 ; Colossians 1:4 ; 2 Corinthians 7:7 ; Ephesians 3:13 ; Galatians 4:14 . Since ὙΠΈΡ , according to the context, is not to be taken otherwise than as in ὙΠῈΡ ΤΟῦ ΣΏΜ . ΑὐΤΟῦ , it can neither mean instead of (Steiger, Catholic expositors, but not Cornelius a Lapide or Estius), nor on account of (Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Flatt; comp. Ephesians 3:1 ; Philippians 1:29 ), but simply: in commodum , [62] namely, ἵνα ὑμᾶς ὠφελῆσαι δυνηθῶ , Oecumenius, and that, indeed, by that honourable attestation and glorifying of your Christian state, which is actually contained in my tribulations; for the latter show forth the faith of the readers, for the sake of which the apostle has undertaken and borne the suffering, as the holy divine thing which is worthy of such a sacrifice. Comp. Philippians 1:12 ff.; Ephesians 3:13 . The reference to the example , which confirms the readers’ faith (Grotius, Wolf, Bähr, and others), introduces inappropriately a reflection, the indirect and tame character of which is not at all in keeping with the emotion of the discourse.

The ὑμῶν , meaning the readers , though the relation in question concerns Pauline Christians generally , is to be explained by the tendency of affectionate sympathy to individualize (comp. Philippians 1:25 ; Philippians 2:17 , et al. ). It is arbitrary, doubtless, to supply τῶν ἐθνῶν here from Ephesians 3:1 (Flatt, Huther); but that Paul, nevertheless, has his readers in view as Gentile Christians , and as standing in a special relation to himself as apostle of the Gentiles , is shown by Colossians 1:25-27 .

καί ] not equivalent to ΚΑῚ ΓΆΡ (Heinrichs, Bähr), but the simple and , subjoining to the subjective state of feeling the objective relation of suffering, which the apostle sees accomplishing itself in his destiny. It therefore carries on , but not from the special ( ὑμῶν ) “ad totam omnino ecclesiam” (Lücke), since the new point to be introduced is contained in the specific ἈΝΤΑΝΑΠΛΗΡῶ ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ , and not in ὙΠῈΡ Τ . ΣΏΜ . ΑὐΤΟῦ . The connection of ideas is rather: “I rejoice over my sufferings, and what a holy position is theirs! through them I fulfil, ” etc. Hence the notion of χαίρω is not, with Huther, to be carried over also to ἈΝΤΑΝΑΠΛΗΡῶ : and I supplement with joy , etc. At the same time, however, the statement introduced by καί stands related to ΧΑΊΡΩ as elucidating and giving information regarding it.

ἀνταναπληρῶ ] The double compound is more graphic than the simple ἀναπληρῶ , Philippians 2:30 ; 1 Corinthians 16:17 ( I fill up ), since ἀντί ( to fill up over against ) indicates what is brought in for the making complete over against the still existing ὑστερήματα . The reference of the ἀντί lies therefore in the notion of what is lacking; inasmuch, namely, as the incomplete is rendered complete by the very fact, that the supplement corresponding to what is lacking is introduced in its stead. It is the reference of the corresponding adjustment , [63] of the supplying of what is still wanting. Comp. Dem. 182. 22: ἀνταναπληροῦντες πρὸς τὸν εὐπορώτατον ἀεὶ τοὺς ἀπορωτάτους (where the idea is, that the poverty of the latter is compensated for by the wealth of the former); so also ἀνταναπλήρωσις , Epicur. ap. Diog. L . x. 48; Dio Cass, xliv. 48: ὅσον … ἐνέδει , τοῦτο ἐκ τῆς παρὰ τῶν ἄλλων συντελείας ἀνταναπληρωθῇ . Comp. ἀντεμπίπλημι , Xen. Anab . iv. 5. 28; ἀνταναπλήθειν , Xen. Hell . ii. 4. 12; and ἀντιπληροῦν , Xen. Cyr . ii. 2. 26. The distinction of the word from the simple ἀναπληροῦν does not consist in this, that the latter is said of him , who “ ὑστέρημα a se relictum ipse explet,” and ἀνταναπλ . of him , who “alterius ὑστέρημα de suo explet” (so Winer, de verbor. c. praepos. in N. T. usu , 1838, III. p. 22); nor yet in the endurance vieing with Christ, the author of the afflictions (Fritzsche, ad Rom . III. p. 275); but in the circumstance, that in ἀνταναπλ . the filling up is conceived and described as defectui respondens , in ἀναπλ ., on the other hand, only in general as completio . See 1 Corinthians 16:17 ; Philippians 2:30 ; Plat. Legg . xii. p. 957 A, Tim . p. 78 D, et al . Comp. also Tittmann, Synon . p. 230.

τὰ ὑστερήματα ] The plural indicates those elements yet wanting in the sufferings of Christ in order to completeness. Comp. 1Th 3:10 ; 2 Corinthians 9:12 .

τῶν θλίψ . τοῦ Χριστοῦ ] τοῦ Χ . is the genitive of the subject . Paul describes, namely, his own sufferings , in accordance with the idea of the κοινωνεῖν τοῖς τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθήμασι (1 Peter 4:13 ; comp. Matthew 20:22 ; Hebrews 13:13 ), as afflictions of Christ , in so far as the apostolic suffering in essential character was the same as Christ endured (the same cup which Christ drank, the same baptism with which Christ was baptized). Comp. on Romans 8:17 ; 2 Corinthians 1:5 ; Philippians 3:10 . The collective mass of these afflictions is conceived in the form of a definite measure , just as the phrases ἀναπιμπλάναι κακά , ἀναπλῆσαι κακὸν οἶτον , and the like, are current in classic authors, according to a similar figurative conception (Hom. Il . viii. 34. 354, 15:132), Schweigh. Lex. Herod . I. p. 42. He only who has suffered all , has filled up the measure. That Paul is now, in his captivity fraught with danger to life, on the point (the present ἀνταναπλ . indicating the being in the act, see Bernhardy, p. 370) of filling up all that still remains behind of this measure of affliction, that he is therefore engaged in the final full solution of his task of suffering, without leaving a single ὑστέρημα in it, this he regards as something grand and glorious, and therefore utters the ἀνταναπληρῶ , which bears the emphasis at the head of this declaration, with all the sense of triumph which the approaching completion of such a work involves. “ I rejoice on account of the sufferings which I endure for you, and so highly have I to esteem this situation of affliction

I am in the course of furnishing the complete fulfilment of what in my case still remains in arrear of fellowship of affliction with Christ .” This lofty consciousness, this feeling of the grandeur of the case, very naturally involved not only the selection of the most graphic expression possible, ἀνταναπληρῶ , to be emphatically prefixed, but also the description, in the most honourable and sublime manner possible, of the apostolic afflictions themselves as the θλίψεις τοῦ Χριστοῦ , [64] since in their kind and nature they are no other than those which Christ Himself has suffered. These sufferings are , indeed, sufferings for Christ’s sake (so Vatablus, Schoettgen, Zachariae, Storr, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Böhmer, and others; comp. Wetstein), but they are not so designated by the genitive; on the contrary, the designation follows the idea of ethical identity , which is conveyed in the ἰσόμοιρον εἷναι τῷ Χριστῷ , as in Philippians 3:10 . Nor are they to be taken, with Lücke (comp. Fritzsche, l.c. ), as: “afflictiones, quae Paulo apostolo Christo auctore et auspice Christo perferendae erant,” since there is no ground to depart from the primary and most natural designation of the suffering subject ( θλῖψις , with the genitive of the person, is always so used in the N. T., e. g . in 2 Corinthians 1:4 ; 2 Corinthians 1:8 ; 2 Corinthians 4:17 ; Ephesians 3:12 ; James 1:27 ), considering how current is the idea of the κοινωνία of the sufferings of Christ. Theodoret’s comment is substantially correct, though not exhibiting precisely the relation expressed by the genitive: ΧΡΙΣΤῸς ΤῸΝ ὙΠῈΡ Τῆς ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑς ΚΑΤΕΔΈΞΑΤΟ ΘΆΝΑΤΟΝ ΚΑῚ ΤᾺ ἌΛΛΑ ὍΣΑ ὙΠΈΜΕΙΝΕ , ΚΑῚ ΘΕῖΟς ἈΠΌΣΤΟΛΟς ὩΣΑΎΤΩς ὙΠῈΡ ΑὐΤῆς ὙΠΈΣΤΗ ΤᾺ ΠΟΙΚΊΛΑ ΠΑΘΉΜΑΤΑ . Ewald imports more, when he says that Paul designates his sufferings from the point of view of the continuation and further accomplishment of the divine aim in the sufferings of Christ. Quite erroneous, however, because at variance with the idea that Christ has exhausted the suffering appointed to Him in the decree of God for the redemption of the world (comp. also John 11:52 ; John 19:30 ; Luke 22:37 ; Luke 18:31 ; Romans 3:25 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 , et al .), is not only the view of Heinrichs: “ qualia et Christus passurus fuisset, si diutius vixisset ” (so substantially also Phot. Amphil . 143), but also that of Hofmann, who explains it to mean: the supplementary continuation of the afflictions which Christ suffered in His earthly life a continuation which belonged to the apostle as apostle of the Gentiles , and consisted in a suffering which could not have affected Christ, because He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel . As if Christ’s suffering were not, throughout the N. T., the one perfect and completely valid suffering for all mankind , but were rather to be viewed under the aspect of two quantitative halves , one of which He bore Himself as διάκονος περιτομῆς (Romans 15:8 ), leaving the other behind to be borne by Paul as the ΔΙΔΆΣΚΑΛΟς ἘΘΝῶΝ ; so that the first , namely, that which Jesus suffered, consisted in the fact that Israel brought Him to the cross , because they would not allow Him to be their Saviour; whilst the other , as the complement of the first, consisted in this, that Paul lay in captivity with his life at stake , because Israel would not permit him to proclaim that Saviour to the Gentiles. Every explanation, which involves the idea of the suffering endured by Christ in the days of His flesh having been incomplete and needing supplement, is an anomaly which offends against the analogy of faith of the N. T. And how incompatible with the deep humility of the apostle (Ephesians 3:8 ; 1 Corinthians 15:9 ) would be the thought of being supposed to supplement that, which the highly exalted One (Colossians 1:15 ff.) had suffered for the reconciliation of the universe (Colossians 1:20 ff.)! Only when misinterpreted in this fashion can the utterance be regarded as one perfectly foreign to Paul (as is asserted by Holtzmann, pp. 21 f., 152, 226); even Ephesians 1:22 affords no basis for such a view. As head of the Church, which is His body, and which He fills, He is in statu gloriae in virtue of His kingly office. Others, likewise, holding the genitive to be that of the subject , have discovered here the conception of the suffering of Christ in the Church , His body , [65] so that when the members suffer, the head suffers also . So Chrysostom and Theophylact (who compare the apostle with a lieutenant, who, when the general-in-chief is removed, takes the latter’s place and receives his wounds), Theodore of Mopsuestia, Augustine, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Melanchthon, Clarius, Cornelius a Lapide, Vitringa, Bengel, Michaelis, and others, including Steiger, Bähr, Olshausen, de Wette, Schenkel, Dalmer; comp. Grotius and Calovius, and even Bleek. But the idea of Christ suffering in the sufferings of His people (Olshausen: “Christ is the suffering God in the world’s history!”) is nowhere found in the N. T., not even in Acts 9:4 , where Christ, indeed, appears as the One against whom the persecution of Christians is directed , but not as affected by it in the sense of suffering . He lives in His people (Galatians 2:20 ), speaks in them (2 Corinthians 13:3 ); His heart beats in them (Philippians 1:8 ); He is mighty in them (Colossians 1:29 ), when they are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9 ), their hope, their life, their victory; but nowhere is it said that He suffers in them. This idea, moreover which, consistently carried out, would involve even the conception of the dying of Christ in the martyrs would be entirely opposed to the victoriously reigning life of the Lord in glory, with whose death all His sufferings are at an end, Acts 2:34 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:24 ; Philippians 2:9 ff.; Luke 24:26 ; John 19:30 . Crucified ἐξ ἀσθενείας , He lives ἘΚ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς ΘΕΟῦ , 2 Corinthians 13:4 , at the right hand of God exalted above all the heavens and filling the universe (Ephesians 1:22 f., Colossians 4:10 ), ruling, conquering, and beyond the reach of further suffering (Hebrews 3:18 ff.). The application made by Cajetanus, Bellarmine, Salmeron, and others, of this explanation for the purpose of establishing the treasury of indulgences , which consists of the merits not merely of Christ but also of the apostles and saints , is a Jewish error ( 4Ma 6:26 , and Grimm in loc. ), historically hardly worthy of being noticed, though still defended, poorly enough, by Bisping.

ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου ] belongs to ἈΝΤΑΝΑΠΛ . , as to which it specifies the more precise mode; not to τῶν θλίψ . τ . Χ . (so Storr, Flatt, Bähr, Steiger, Böhmer, Huther), with which it might be combined so as to form one idea, but it would convey a more precise description of the Christ-sufferings experienced by the apostle, for which there was no motive, and which was evident of itself. Belonging to ἀνταναπλ ., it contains with ὙΠῈΡ ΤΟῦ ΣΏΜ . . a pointed definition ( σάρξ … σῶμα ) of the mode and of the aim. [66] Paul accomplishes that ἈΝΤΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΟῦΝ in his flesh , [67] which in its natural weakness, exposed to suffering and death, receives the affliction from without and feels it psychically (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:11 ; Galatians 4:14 ; 1 Peter 4:1 ), for the benefit of the body of Christ, which is the church (comp. Colossians 1:18 ), for the confirmation, advancement, and glory of which (comp. above on ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ) he endures the Christ-sufferings. Comp. Ephesians 3:13 . The significant purpose of the addition of ἘΝ Τῇ ΣΑΡΚῚ Κ . Τ . Λ . is to bring out more clearly and render palpable, in connection with the ἈΝΤΑΝΑΠΛΗΡῶ Κ . Τ . Λ . , what lofty happiness he experiences in this very ἀνταναπληροῦν . He is therein privileged to step in with his mortal ΣΆΡΞ for the benefit of the holy and eternal body of Christ, which is the church.

[61] See upon ver. 24, Lücke, Progr. 1833; Huther in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 189 ff.

[62] So also Bisping, who, however, explains it of the meritoriousness of good works availing for others.

[63] Many ideas are arbitrarily introduced by commentators, in order to bring out of the ἀντί in ἀνταναπλ . a reciprocal relation. See e.g. Clericus: “Ille ego, qui olim ecclesiam Christi vexaveram, nunc vicissim in ejus utilitatem pergo multa mala perpeti.” Others (see already Oecumenius) have found in it the meaning: for requital of that which Christ suffered for us; comp. also Grimm in his Lexicon. Wetstein remarks shortly and rightly: “ ἁντὶ ὑστερήματος succedit πλήρωμα ,” or rather ἀναπλήρωμα .

[64] When de Wette describes our view of θλίψ . τ . Χ . as tame, and Schenkel as tautological, the incorrectness of this criticism arises from their not observing that the stress of the expression lies on ἀνταναπληρῶ , and not on τ . θλ . τ . Χ .

[65] Comp. also Sabatier, l’apôtre Paul, p. 213.

[66] Steiger rightly perceived that ἐν τ . σαρκί μ . and ὑπὲρ τ . σ . ἀ . belong together; but he erroneously coupled both with τῶν θλ . τ . Χ . (“the sufferings which Christ endures in my flesh for His body”), owing to his incorrect view of the θλίψεις τ . Χ

[67] Hofmann thinks, without reason, that, according to our explanation of ἀνταναπληρῶ κ . τ . λ ., we ought to join ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου with τῶν θλίψ . τ . Χ ., as the latter would otherwise be without any reference to the person of the apostle. It has, in fact, this reference through the very statement, that the ἀνταναπληροῦν κ . τ . λ . takes places in the flesh of the apostle.

Verse 25

Colossians 1:25 . That He suffers thus, as is stated in Colossians 1:24 , for the good of the church , is implied in his special relation of service to the latter; hence the epexegetical relative clause ἧς ἐγενόμην κ . τ . λ . (comp. on Colossians 1:18 ): whose servant I have become in conformity with my divine appointment as preacher to the Gentiles ( κατὰ τ . οἰκον . κ . τ . λ .). In this way Paul now brings this his specific and distinctive calling into prominence after the general description of himself as servant of the gospel in Colossians 1:23 , and here again he gives expression to the consciousness of his individual authority by the emphasized ἐγώ . The relation of the testimony regarding himself in Colossians 1:25 to that of Colossians 1:23 is climactic , not that of a clumsy duplicate (Holtzmann).

κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομ . κ . τ . λ .] in accordance with the stewardship of God, which is given to me with reference to you . The οἰκονομία τ . Θεοῦ is in itself nothing else than a characteristic designation of the apostolic office, in so far as its holder is appointed as administrator of the household of God (the οἰκοδεσπότης ), by which, in the theocratic figurative conception, is denoted the church (comp. 1 Timothy 3:15 ). Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:17 ; 1 Corinthians 4:1 ; Titus 1:7 . Hence such an one is, in consequence of this office conferred upon him, in his relation to the church the servant of the latter (2 Corinthians 4:5 ), to which function God has appointed him, just because he is His steward. This sacred stewardship then receives its more precise distinguishing definition, so far as it is entrusted to Paul , by the addition of εἰς ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ . It is purely arbitrary, and at variance with the context ( τὴν δοθ . μοι ), to depart from the proper signification, and to take it as institution, arrangement (see on Ephesians 1:10 ; Ephesians 3:2 ). So Chrysostom and his successors (with much wavering), Beza, Calvin, Estius, Rosenmüller, and others. It is well said by Cornelius a Lapide: “in domo Dei, quae est ecclesia, sum oeconomus, ut dispensem … bona et dona Dei domini mei.” Comp. on 1 Corinthians 4:1 .

εἰς ὑμᾶς ] although the office concerned Gentile Christians generally; a concrete appropriation, as in Colossians 1:24 . Comp. on Philippians 1:24 . It is to be joined with τ . δοθεῖσάν μοι , as in Ephesians 3:2 ; not with πληρῶσαι κ . τ . λ . (Hofmann), with the comprehensive tenor of which the individualizing “ for you ” is not in harmony, when it is properly explained (see below).

πληρῶσαι κ . τ . λ .] telic infinitive, depending on τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς , beside which it stands (Romans 15:15 f.); not on ἧς ἐγεν . διάκ . (Huther). Paul, namely, has received the office of Apostle to the Gentiles , in order through the discharge of it to bring to completion the gospel ( τὸν λόγον τ . Θεοῦ , 1Co 14:36 ; 2 Corinthians 2:17 ; 2 Corinthians 4:2 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:13 ; Acts 4:29 ; Acts 4:31 ; Acts 6:2 , and frequently), obviously not as regards its contents, but as regards its universal destination, according to which the knowledge of salvation had not yet reached its fulness, so long as it was only communicated to the Jews and not to the Gentiles also. The latter was accomplished through Paul , who thereby made full the gospel conceived, in respect of its proclamation in accordance with its destiny, as a measure to be filled just because the divine stewardship for the Gentiles had been committed to him. The same conception of πλήρωσις occurs in Romans 15:19 . Comp. Erasmus, Paraphr.; also Calovius. [68] Similarly Bengel: “ad omnes perducere; P. ubique ad summa tendit.” Partly from not attending to the contextual reference to the element, contained in τ . δοθ . μοι εἰς ὙΜᾶς , of the ΠΛΉΡΩΣΙς of the gospel which was implied in the Gentile-apostolic ministry, and partly from not doing justice to the verbal sense of the selected expression πληρῶσαι , or attributing an arbitrary meaning to it, commentators have taken very arbitrary views of the passage, such as, for example, Luther: to preach copiously; Olshausen, whom Dalmer follows: “to proclaim it completely as respects its whole tenor and compass;” Cornelius a Lapide: “ut compleam praedicationem ev., quam cocpit Christus; ” Vitringa, Storr, Flatt, Bähr: πληροῦν has after גמר the signification of the simple docere; Huther: it means either to diffuse , or (as Steiger also takes it) to “realize, ” to introduce into the life, inasmuch as a doctrine not preached is empty; [69] de Wette: to “execute, ” the word of God being regarded either as a commission or (comp. Heinrichs) as a decree; Estius and others, following Theodoret: “ut omnia loca impleam verbo Dei ” (quite at variance with the words here, comp. Acts 5:28 ); Fritzsche, ad Rom . III. p. 275: to supplement , namely, by continuing the instruction of your teacher Epaphras . Others, inconsistently with what follows, have explained the λόγος τ . Θεοῦ to mean the divine promise (“partim de Christo in genere, partim de vocatione gentium,” Beza, comp. Vatablus), in accordance with which πληρ . would mean exsequi . Chrysostom has rightly understood τ . λόγ . τ . Θεοῦ of the gospel , but takes πληρῶσαι , to which he attaches ΕἸς ὙΜᾶς , as meaning: to bring to full, firm faith (similarly Calvin) a view justified neither by the word in itself nor by the context.

[68] Who rightly says: “Nimirum impletur ita verbum non ratione sui ceu imperfectum, sed ratione hominum, cum ad plures sese diffundit.”

[69] In a similarly artificial fashion, emptying the purposely chosen expression of its meaning, Hofmann comes ultimately to the bare sense: “to proclaim God’s word,” asserting that the word is a fact, and so he who proclaims the fact fulfils it.

Verse 26

Colossians 1:26 . Appositional more precise definition of the λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , and that as regards its great contents .

As to τὸ μυστήριον κ . τ . λ ., the decree of redemption , hidden from eternity in God, fulfilled through Christ, and made known through the gospel, see on Ephesians 1:9 . It embraces the Gentiles also; and this is a special part of its nature that had been veiled (see Ephesians 3:5 ), which, however, is not brought into prominence till Colossians 1:27 . Considering the so frequent treatment of this idea in Paul’s writings, and its natural correlation with that of the γνῶσις , an acquaintance with the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 13:11 ) is not to be inferred here (Holtzmann). [70]

ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων κ . ἀπὸ τῶν γενεῶν ] This twofold description, as also the repetition of ἀπό , has solemn emphasis: from the ages and from the generations . The article indicates the ages that had existed (since the beginning), and the generations that have lived. As to ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων , comp. on Ephesians 3:9 . Paul could not write πρὸ τῶν αἰών ., because while the divine decree was formed prior to all time (1 Corinthians 2:7 ; 2 Timothy 1:9 ), its concealment is not conceivable before the beginning of the times and generations of mankind, to whom it remained unknown. Expressions such as Romans 16:25 , χρόνοις αἰωνίοις , [71] and Titus 1:2 (see Huther in loc .), do not conflict with this view. ἀπὸ τ . γενεῶν does not occur elsewhere in the N. T.; but comp. Acts 15:21 . The two ideas are not to be regarded as synonymous (in opposition to Huther and others), but are to be kept separate ( times men ).

νυνὶ δὲ ἐφανερώθη ] A transition to the finite tense, occasioned by the importance of the contrast. Comp. on Colossians 1:6 . Respecting ΝΥΝΊ , see on Colossians 1:21 . The ΦΑΝΈΡΩΣΙς has taken place differently according to the different subjects; partly by ἀποκάλυψις (Ephesians 3:5 ; 1 Corinthians 2:10 ), as in the case of Paul himself (Galatians 1:12 ; Galatians 1:15 ; Ephesians 3:3 ); partly by preaching (Colossians 4:4 ; Titus 1:3 ; Romans 16:26 ); partly by both. The historical realization (de Wette; comp. 2 Timothy 1:10 ) was the antecedent of the φανέρωσις , but is not here this latter itself, which is, on the contrary, indicated by ΤΟῖς ἉΓΊΟΙς ΑὐΤΟῦ as a special act of clearly manifesting communication .

τοῖς ἉΓΊΟΙς ΑὐΤΟῦ ] i.e . not: to the apostles and prophets of the N. T . (Flatt, Bähr, Böhmer, Steiger, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, following Estius and. older expositors, and even Theodoret, who, however, includes other Christians also), a view which is quite unjustifiably imported from Ephesians 3:5 , [72] whence also the reading ἀποστόλοις (instead of ἉΓΊΟΙς ) in F G has arisen. It refers to the Christians generally . The mystery was indeed announced to all (Colossians 1:23 ), but was made manifest only to the believers, who as such are the κλητοὶ ἅγιοι belonging to God, Romans 1:7 ; Romans 8:30 ; Romans 9:23 f. Huther wrongly desires to leave ΤΟῖς ἉΓΊΟΙς indefinite , because the μυστήριον , so far as it embraced the Gentiles also, had not come to be known to many Jewish-Christians. But, apart from the fact that the Judaists did not misapprehend the destination of redemption for the Gentiles in itself and generally, but only the direct character of that destination (without a transition through Judaism, Acts 15:1 , et al .), the ἐφανερώθη τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ is in fact a summary assertion, which is to be construed a potiori , and does not cease to be true on account of exceptional cases, in which the result was not actually realized.

[70] Just as little ground is there for tracing κατὰ τὰ ἐντάλματα κ . τ . λ ., in Colossians 2:22 , to Matthew 15:9 ; οὐ κρατῶν , in Colossians 2:19 , to Matthew 7:3-4 ; ἀπάτη , in Colossians 2:8 , to Matthew 13:22 ; and in other instances. The author, who manifests so much lively copiousness of language, was certainly not thus confined and dependent in thought and expression.

[71] According to Holtzmann, indeed, p. 309 ff., the close of the Epistle to the Romans is to be held as proceeding from the post-apostolic auctor ad Ephesios , a position which is attempted to be proved by the tones (quite Pauline, however) which Romans 16:15-27 has in common with Colossians 1:26 f.; Ephesians 3:20 ; Ephesians 3:9-10 ; Ephesians 5:21 ; and in support of it an erroneous interpretation of διὰ γραφῶν προφητικῶν , in Romans 16:26 , is invoked.

[72] Holtzmann also, p. 49, would have the apostles thought of “first of all.” The resemblances to Ephesians 3:3 ; Ephesians 3:5 do not postulate the similarity of the conception throughout. This would assume a mechanical process of thought, which could not be proved.

Verse 27

Colossians 1:27 . Not exposition of the ἐφανερ . τοῖς ἁγ . αὐτοῦ , since the γνωρίσαι has for its object not the μυστήριον itself, but the glory of the latter among the Gentiles . In reality, οἷς subjoins an onward movement of the discourse, so that to the general τὸ μυστήριον ἐφανερώθη τοῖς ἁγ . αὐτοῦ a particular element is added: “The mystery was made manifest to His saints, to them, to whom ( quippe quibus ) God withal desired especially to make known that , which is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” Along with the general ἐφανερώθη τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ God had this special definite direction of His will. From this the reason is plain why Paul has written, not simply οἷς ἐγνώρισεν ὁ Θεός , but οἷς ἠθέλεσεν ὁ Θεὸς γνωρίσαι . The meaning that is usually discovered in ἠθέλησεν , free grace , and the like (so Chrysostom, Theodoret, Calvin, Beza, and many others, including Bähr, Böhmer, de Wette; Huther is, with reason, doubtful), is therefore not the aim of the word, which is also not intended to express the joyfulness of the announcement (Hofmann), but simply and solely the idea: “He had a mind.”

γνωρίσαι ] to make known , like ἐφανερώθη from which it differs in meaning not essentially, but only to this extent, that by ἐφανερ . the thing formerly hidden is designated as openly displayed (Romans 1:19 ; Romans 3:21 ; Romans 16:26 ; Ephesians 5:13 , et al .), and by γνωρίσαι that which was formerly unknown as brought to knowledge . Comp. Romans 16:26 ; Romans 9:22 ; Ephesians 1:9 ; Ephesians 3:3 ; Ephesians 3:5 ; Ephesians 3:10 ; Ephesians 6:19 ; Luke 2:15 , et al . The latter is not related to ἐφανερ . either as a something more (Bähr: the making fully acquainted with the nature); or as its result (de Wette); or as entering more into detail (Baumgarten-Crusius); or as making aware, namely by experience (Hofmann).

τί τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης κ . τ . λ .] what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles , i.e. what rich fulness of the glory contained in this mystery exists among the Gentiles , since, indeed, this riches consists in the fact ( ὅς ἐστι ), that Christ is among you, in whom ye have the hope of glory. In order to a proper interpretation, let it be observed: (1) τί occupies with emphasis the place of the indirect ὅ τι (see Poppo, ad Xen. Cyrop . i. 2. 10; Kühner, ad Mem . i. 1. 1; Winer, p. 158 f. [E. T. 210]), and denotes “ quae sint divitiae” as regards degree : how great and unspeakable the riches, etc. Comp. on Ephesians 1:18 ; Ephesians 3:18 . The text yields this definition of the sense from the very connection with the quantitative idea τὸ πλοῦτος . (2) All the substantives are to be left in their full solemn force, without being resolved into adjectives (Erasmus, Luther, and many others: the glorious riches; Beza: “divitiae gloriosi hujus mysterii”). Chrysostom aptly remarks: σεμνῶς εἶπε καὶ ὄγκον ἐπέθηκεν ἀπὸ πολλῆς διαθέσεως , ἐπιτάσεις ζητῶς ἐπιτάσεων . Comp. Calvin: “ magniloquus est in extollenda evangelii dignitate.” (3) As τῆς δόξης is governed by τὸ πλοῦτος , so also is τοῦ μυστηρίου governed by τῆς δόξης , and ἐν τοῖς ἔθν . belongs to the ἐστί which is to be supplied, comp. Ephesians 1:18 . (4) According to the context, the δόξα cannot be anything else (see immediately below, ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς δόξης ) than the Messianic glory, the glory of the kingdom (Romans 8:18 ; Rom 8:21 ; 2 Corinthians 4:17 , et al .), the glorious blessing of the κληρονομία (comp. Colossians 1:12 ), which before the Parousia (Romans 8:30 ; Colossians 3:3 f.) is the ideal ( ἐλπίς ), but after it is the realized, possession of believers. Hence it is neither to be taken in the sense of the glorious effects generally , which the gospel produces among the Gentiles (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and many others, including Huther, comp. Dalmer), nor in that specially of their conversion from death to life (Hofmann), whereby its glory is unfolded. Just as little, however, is the δόξα of God meant, in particular His wisdom and grace, which manifest themselves objectively in the making known of the mystery, and realize themselves subjectively by moral glorification and by the hope of eternal glory (de Wette), or the splendor internus of true Christians, or the bliss of the latter combined with their moral dignity (Böhmer). (5) The genitive of the subject, τοῦ μυστηρίου τούτου , defines the δόξα as that contained in the μυατήριον , previously unknown, but now become manifest with the mystery that has been made known, as the blessed contents of the latter. Comp. Colossians 1:23 : ἐλπίς τοῦ εὐαγγελίου . To take the δόξα as attribute of the mystery , is forbidden by what immediately follows, according to which the idea can be none other than the familiar one of that glory, which is the proposed aim of the saving revelation and calling, the object of faith and hope (in opposition to Hofmann and many others); Colossians 3:4 . Comp. on Romans 5:2 .

ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ] φαίνεται δὲ ἐν ἑτέροις , πολλῷ δὲ πλέον ἐν τούτοις ἡ πολλὴ τοῦ μυστηρίου δόξα , Chrysostom. “Qui tot saeculis demersi fuerant in morte, ut viderentur penitus desperati,” Calvin.

ὅς ἐστι Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν ] “ Christus in gentibus , summum illis temporibus paradoxon,” Bengel. According to a familiar attraction (Winer, p. 157 [E. T. 207]), this ὅς applies to the previous subject τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης τοῦ μυστ . τ ., and introduces that, in which this riches consists . Namely: Christ among you , in this it consists , and by this information is given at the same time how great it is ( τί ἐστιν ). Formerly they were χωρὶς Χριστοῦ (Ephesians 2:12 ); now Christ, who by His Spirit reigns in the hearts of believers (Romans 8:10 ; Ephesians 3:17 ; Gal 2:20 ; 2 Corinthians 3:17 , et al. ), is present and active among them . The proper reference of the relative to τὸ πλοῦτος κ . τ . λ ., and also the correct connection of ἐν ὑμῖν with Χριστός (not with ἡ ἐλπίς , as Storr and Flatt think), are already given by Theodoret and Oecumenius (comp. also Theophylact), Valla, Luther, Calovius, and others, including Böhmer and Bleek, whereas Hofmann, instead of closely connecting Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν , makes this ἐν ὑμῖν depend on ἐστί , whereby the thoughtful and striking presentation of the fact “ Christ among the Gentiles ” is without reason put in the background, and ἐν ὑμῖν becomes superfluous. Following the Vulgate and Chrysostom, ὅς is frequently referred to τοῦ μυστηρ . τούτον : “this mystery consists in Christ’s being among you, the Gentiles,” Huther, comp. Ewald. The context, however, is fatal to this view; partly in general, because it is not the mystery itself, but the riches of its glory, that forms the main idea in the foregoing; and partly, in particular, because the way has been significantly prepared for ὅς ἐστι through τί , while ἐν ὑμῖν corresponds [73] to the ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν referring to the ΠΛΟῦΤΟς , and the following ἘΛΠῚς Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς glances back to the ΠΛΟῦΤΟς Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς .

ΧΡΙΣΤΌς ] Christ Himself, see above. Neither ΤΟῦ Χ . ΓΝῶΣΙς (Theophylact) is meant, nor the doctrine , either of Christ (Grotius, Rosenmüller, and others), or about Christ (Flatt). On the individualizing ὑμῖν , although the relation concerns the Gentiles generally, comp. ὙΜᾶς in Colossians 1:25 . “Accommodat ipsis Colossensibus, ut efficacius in se agnoscant,” Calvin.

ἘΛΠῚς Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς ] characteristic apposition (comp. Colossians 3:4 ) to ΧΡΙΣΤΌς , giving information how the ΧΡΙΣΤῸς ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ forms the great riches of the glory, etc. among the Gentiles, since Christ is the hope of the Messianic δόξα , in Him is given the possession in hope of the future glory. The emphasis is on ἡ ἐλπίς , in which the probative element lies. Compare on the subject-matter, Romans 8:24 : τῇ γὰρ ἐλπίδι ἐσώθημεν , and the contrast ἘΛΠΊΔΑ ΜῊ ἜΧΟΝΤΕς in Ephesians 2:12 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ; and on the concrete expression, 1 Timothy 1:1 ; Ignat. Eph . 21; Magnes . 11; Sir 31:14 ; Thuc. iii. 57. 4; Aesch. Ch . 236. 776.

[73] Hence also to be rendered not in vobis (Luther, Böhmer, Olshausen), but inter vos. The older writers combated the rendering in vobis from opposition to the Fanatics.

Verse 28

Colossians 1:28 . Christ was not proclaimed by all in the definite character just expressed, namely, as “ Christ among the Gentiles, the hope of glory;” other teachers preached Him in a Judaistic form, as Saviour of the Jews, amidst legal demands and with theosophic speculation. Hence the emphasis with which not the simply epexegetic ὅν (Erasmus and others), but the ἡμεῖς , which is otherwise superfluous, is brought forward; [74] by which Paul has meant himself along with Timothy and other like-minded preachers to the Gentiles ( we, on our part ). This emphasizing of ἡμεῖς , however, requires the ὅν to be referred to Christ regarded in the Gentile-Messianic character, precisely as the ἡμεῖς make Him known (comp. Philippians 1:17 f.), thereby distinguishing themselves from others; not to Christ generally (Hofmann), in which case the emphasizing of ἡμεῖς is held to obtain its explanation only from the subsequent clause of purpose, ἵνα παραστ . κ . τ . λ .

The specification of the mode of announcement νουθετοῦντες and διδάσκοντες , admonishing and teaching , corresponds to the two main elements of the evangelical preaching μετανοεῖτε and πιστεύετε (Acts 20:21 ; Acts 26:18 ; Romans 3:3 ff.; Mark 1:15 ). Respecting the idea of νουθετεῖν , see on Ephesians 6:4 . It occurs also joined with διδάσκ . [75] in Plato, Legg . viii. p. 845 B, Prot . p. 323 D, Apol . p. 26 A; Dem. 130. 2.

ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ ] belongs to ΝΟΥΘΕΤ . and ΔΙΔΆΣΚ . :by means of every wisdom (comp. Colossians 3:16 ) which we bring to bear thereon. It is the πῶς of the process of warning and teaching, comp. 1 Corinthians 3:10 , in which no sort of wisdom remains unemployed. The fact that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:17 , comp. Colossians 2:1 ; Colossians 2:4 , repudiates the ΣΟΦΊΑ ΛΌΓΟΥ in his method of teaching, is not taking into consideration the sense in which ΣΟΦΊΑ there occurs at variance, but rather in keeping, with the present assertion, which applies, not to the wisdom of the world , but to Christian wisdom in its manifold forms.

The thrice repeated. πάντα ἄνθρωπον (in opposition to the Judaizing tendency of the false teachers) “maximam habet ΔΕΙΝΌΤΗΤΑ ac vim,” Bengel. The proud feeling of the apostle of the world expresses itself. [76]

ἵνα παραστήσ . κ . τ . λ .] The purpose of the ὃ ἡμεῖς καταγγέλλομεν down to σοφίᾳ . This purpose is not in general, that man may so appear (Bleek), or come to stand so (Hofmann), but it refers, as in Colossians 1:22 , and without mixing up the conception of sacrifice (in opposition to Bähr and Baumgarten-Crusius), to the judgment (comp. on 2 Corinthians 4:14 ), at which it is the highest aim and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:19 f.) of the apostolic teachers to make every man come forward τέλειον ἐν Χ . Ἐν Χριστῷ contains the distinguishing specialty of the τελειότης , as Christian , which is not based on anything outside of Christ, or on any other element than just on Him. It is perfection in respect of the whole Christian nature; not merely of knowledge (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others, including Böhmer), but also of life. Moreover, this ἐν Χ . is so essential to the matter, and so current with the apostle, that there is no ground for finding in it an opposition to a doctrine of the law and of angels (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others). Theophylact, however (comp. Chrysostom), rightly observes regarding the entire clause of purpose: τί λέγεις ; πάντα ἄνθρωπον ; ναί , φησι , τοῦτο σπουδάζομεν · εἰ δὲ μὴ γένηται , οὐδὲν πρὸς ἡμᾶς .

[74] Without due reason, Holtzmann, p. 153, finds the use of the plural disturbing, and the whole verse tautological as coming after ver. 25. It is difficult, however, to mistake the full and solemn style of the passage, to which also the thrice repeated πάντα ἄνθρωπον belongs.

[75] In Colossians 3:16 the two words stand in the inverse order, because there it is not the μετανοεῖν preceding the πίστις which is the aim of the νουθεσία , but mutual improvement on the part of believers.

[76] Which Hofmann groundlessly calls in question, finding in πάντα ἄνθρωπον the idea: “every one singly and severally.” This is gratuitously introduced, and would have been significantly expressed by Paul through ἕνα ἕκαστον (Acts 20:31 ), or through the addition of καθʼ ἕνα , or otherwise; comp. also 1 Thessalonians 2:11 . Calvin hits the thought properly: “ut sine exceptione totus mundus ex me discat.”

Verse 29

Colossians 1:29 . On the point of now urging upon the readers their obligation to fidelity in the faith (Colossians 2:4 ), and that from the platform of the personal relation in which he stood towards them as one unknown to them by face (Colossians 2:1 ), Paul now turns from the form of expression embracing others in common with himself , into which he had glided at Colossians 1:28 in harmony with its contents, back to the individual form (the first person singular ), and asserts, first of all, in connection with Colossians 1:28 , that for the purpose of the παραστῆσαι κ . τ . λ . ( εἰς ὅ , comp. 1 Timothy 4:10 ) he also gives himself even toil ( κοπιῶ , comp. Romans 16:6 ; Romans 16:12 ; 1 Corinthians 4:12 ), striving, etc.

καί ] also , subjoins the κοπιᾶν to the καταγγέλλειν κ . τ . λ ., in which he subjects himself also to the former; it is therefore augmentative , in harmony with the climactic progress of the discourse; not a mere equalization of the aim and the striving (de Wette). Neither this καί , nor even the transition to the singular of the verb, especially since the latter is not emphasized by the addition of an ἐγώ , can justify the interpretation of Hofmann, according to which εἰς ὅ is, contrary to its position, to be attached to ἀγωνιζόμενος , and κοπιῷ is to mean: “ I become weary and faint ” (comp. John 4:6 ; Revelation 2:3 , and Düsterdieck in loc .). Paul, who has often impressed upon others the μὴ ἐκκακεῖν , and for himself is certain of being more than conqueror in all things (Romans 8:37 ; 2 Corinthians 4:8 , et al. ), can hardly have borne testimony about himself in this sense, with which, moreover, the ἀγωνίζεσθαι in the strength of Christ is not consistent. In his case, as much as in that of any one, the οὐκ ἐκοπίασας of Revelation 2:3 holds good.

ἀγωνιζόμενος ] Compare 1 Timothy 4:10 . Here, however, according to the context, Colossians 2:1 ff., the inward striving (comp. Luke 13:24 ) against difficulties and hostile forces, the striving of solicitude, of watching, of mental and emotional exertion, of prayer, etc., is meant; as respects which Paul, like every regenerate person (Galatians 5:17 ), could not be raised above the resistance of the σάρξ to the πνεῦμα ruling in him. Comp. Chrysostom: καὶ οὐχ ἁπλῶς σπουδάζω , φησιν , οὐδὲ ὡς ἔτυχεν , ἀλλὰ κοπιῶ ἀγωνιζόμενος μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς σπουδῆς , μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς ἀγρυπνίας . It is not: “tot me periculis ac malis objicere” (Erasmus, comp. Grotius, Estius, Heinrichs, Bähr, and others), which outward struggling, according to Flatt, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others, should be understood along with that inward striving; Colossians 2:1 only points to the latter; comp. Colossians 4:12 .

κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν κ . τ . λ .] for Paul does not contend, amid the labours of his office, according to the measure of his own strength, but according to the effectual working of Christ ( αὐτοῦ is not to be referred to God , as is done by Chrysostom, Grotius, Flatt, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others), which worketh in him . Comp. Philippians 4:13 . How must this consciousness, at once so humble and confident of victory, have operated upon the readers to stir them up and strengthen them for stedfastness in the faith!

τὴν ἐνεργουμ .] is middle; see on 2 Corinthians 1:6 ; Galatians 5:6 ; Ephesians 3:20 . The modal definition to it, ἐν δυνάμει , mightily (comp. on Romans 1:4 ), is placed at the end significantly, as in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ; it is groundlessly regarded by Holtzmann as probably due to the interpolator.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Colossians 1". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/colossians-1.html. 1832.
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