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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 3

International Critical Commentary NTInternational Critical

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Verses 1-99

3:1-4. Ye must have a loftier aim; ye have risen with Christ and your life is hid with Christ in God. Seek therefore those things that are above, where He is, seated at God’s right hand

1. εἰ οὖν συνηγέρθητε τῷ Χριστῷ. Not “if ye be risen,” AV., but “if ye were raised,” viz. at the definite point of time when they became Christians, and were in baptism symbolically buried and raised again with Him, ch. 2:12. The death as a death from τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου is mentioned in ii. 20. εἰ does not express a doubt, but, as in ii. 20, the ground of an inference.

τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖτε, κ.τ.λ. There is no longer any direct reference to the precepts of the false teachers (as if τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ver. 2, were τὰ περὶ βρωμάτων καὶ ἡμέρων, Theoph.). These have been cast aside as concerning only those living in the world, and the apostle rises into a higher region. Your thoughts should be on things above, on spiritual things, and the precepts you have to follow concern moral conduct. Compare “treasure in heaven,” Matthew 6:20; τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως, Philippians 3:14.

οὗ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ. ἐστιν is not the copula: “where Christ is, seated,” etc. “Par enim illuc tendere studia curasque membrorum, ubi jam versator caput,” Erasm.

2. τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖτε. “Set your mind on the things above,” RV., an advance on ζητεῖτε. In the AV. “set your affection,” etc. The word “affection” was doubtless intended to bear the sense of “affectus,” “tendency or bias of the mind.” The bishops’ Bible had “affections.” The Vulgate has “sapite,” “savour,” as Wyclif renders. We have the opposite state of mind in Philippians 3:19, οἱ τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες. Compare Romans 8:5.


Here “are dead” would contradict συνηγέρθητε. They died, indeed, but at the same time rose again, and that to a life spiritual and heavenly. They were, indeed, νεκροὶ τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, but ζῶντες τῷ Θεῷ, Romans 6:11.

ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν, your true life, not merely your resurrection life. They are seated ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, Ephesians 2:4-6.

κέκρυπται. “Neque Christum neque Christianos novit mundus; ac ne Christiani quidem plane seipsos,” Bengel. Compare Romans 2:29, ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος.

4. ὅταν ὁ Χριστὸς φανερωθῇ, ἡ ζωὴ ἡμῶν. “When Christ shall be manifested, who is our life,” not “shall be manifested in the character of our life,” as Bengel and Eadie. Compare ὁ ἔχων τὸν υἱὸν ἔχει ζωήν, 1 John 5:12. He is Himself the essence of the life; cf. Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21. The absence of δέ or καί makes the expression more striking and vivid. Bengel observes on this: “Sermo absolutus lectorem totum … repentina luce percellit.” For the transition to the first person cf. 2:13.

φανεροῦσθαι is used here with propriety instead of�

τότε καὶ ὑμεῖς σὺν αὐτῷ φανερωθήσεσθε ἐν δόξῃ. Compare 1 John 3:2, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἐὰν φανερωθῇ ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα, and Romans 8:19, τὴν�Romans 8:17, ἵνα καὶ συνδοξασθῶμεν, and 18, τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν�

For the reading; ἡμῶν is read in B Dbe K L most MSS., Syr. (both), Boh., Origen.

ὑμῶν in א C D* G P 17 47, Vulg., Goth., Arm., Eth.

ὑμῶν was very likely to be substituted for ἡμῶν on account of the preceeding ὑμῶν and the following ὑμεῖς. Tischendorf and Tregelles prefer ὑμῶν; WH. and Lightfoot ἡμῶν; and so Weiss.

5-11. Sins to be destroyed, as well the more subtle sins of temper as the grosser ones of appetite

5. Νεκρώσατε οὖν. “Make dead, therefore.” As ye died, and your true life is hidden, carry out this death to the world, and kill whatever is carnal in you.

τὰ μέλη τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Meyer understands by μέλη the literal members, hand, foot, eye, etc. (Matthew 5:29), of course, taking the verb in an ethical sense. But this would be too strong a figure, and is not sufficiently supported by the passage in St. Matt., where the precept is not, as here, unqualified and absolute, and the verbs, moreover, are used in as literal a sense as the substantives. The whole precept there is symbolical, but the words have their natural sense. Besides, this interpretation of μέλη makes the connexion with the following more difficult. It is more natural to explain the word by the idea of the “old man,” “In the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός.” And this is suggested by the added qualification τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. The members spoken of are those which belong to the body as the instrument of the carnal mind.

With the whole precept compare θανατοῦτε: Romans 8:13, εἰ δὲ πνεύματι τὰς πράξεις τοῦ σώματος θανατοῦτε ζήσετε: and Galatians 5:24, οἱ τοῦ Χριστοῦ τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν σὺν τοῖς παθήμασι καὶ ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις.

πορνείαν, κ.τ.λ. Usually taken in apposition with μέλη, either directly, as if πορνεία, etc., were themselves called μέλη, “membra quibus vetus homo, i. e. ratio ac voluntas hominis depravata perinde utitur ac corpus membris,” Beza; “naturam nostram quasi massam ex diversis vitiis conflatam imaginatur,” Calvin; or indirectly, i.e. “when I say νεκρώσατε τὰ μέλη, I mean νεκρώσατε πορνείαν, κ.τ.λ., of which τὰ μέλη are instruments.” On either view the apposition of the instruments and the activities is extremely harsh. Severianus (followed by many moderns) regards sin as the body of which the special sins enumerated are the members: σῶμα καλεῖ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, ἧς καὶ τὰ μέλη καταριθμεῖ; but this only evades the difficulty. Alford regards the construction as an instance of that form of the double accusative where the first denotes the whole, the second a part of it, as in ποῖόν σε ἔπος φύγεν ἕρκος ὀδόντων,—an explanation which does not touch the difficulty. Braune thinks the body in question is the body of the Church.

Lightfoot proposes to meet the difficulty by placing a colon after γῆς. Then πορνείαν, κ.τ.λ., will be viewed as prospective accusatives, which should be governed directly by some such word as�Ephesians 2:1-5, καὶ ὑμᾶς … ἐν αἷς ποτέ … ἐν οἷς καί. … ποτε … ὁ δὲ Θεός … καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς … συνεζωοποίησεν. This construction has been characterised as “extremely difficult”; but the difficulty is only of the same kind as that in the passages cited.

After ὑμῶν the Rec. Text adds ὑμῶν, with א* A C3 D G H K L P most MSS., Vulg., Goth., other versions, Chrys., al.

It is omitted by א B C* 17 672 71, Clem. al.

πάθος is used by classical writers of any passive emotion. Thus, Aristotle distinguishes these three ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ γινόμενα: πάθη, ἕξεις, δυνάμεις. πάθη he defines as οἷς ἕπεται ἡδονὴ ἢ λύπη, including ἐπιθυμία, ὀργή, etc. But it is specially used of a violent emotion or “passion.”

In the other two places in which the word occurs in St. Paul it is defined by a genitive (πάθη�Romans 1:26; ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας, 1 Thessalonians 4:5). Here the enumeration appears to proceed from the more special to the more general, so that πάθος probably means not specially “lustfulness.” Still less the πάθη�Romans 1:26,—an interpretation which has no linguistic justification,—but generally “passion,” as RV.

ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν. This includes all evil longings, and so is wider than πάθος. ἰδού, γενικῶς τὸ πᾶν εἶπε· πάντα γὰρ ἐπιθυμία κακὴ, βασκανία, ὀργή, λύπη, Chrys. ἐπιθυμία in the N.T. has a wide sense; cf. John 8:44; hence the necessity for κακήν.

καὶ τὴν πλεονεξίαν, κ.τ.λ. See on Ephesians 4:19, Ephesians 5:5.

ἥτις ἐστιν. “Seeing it is.”

6. διʼ ἅ. This is undoubtedly the correct reading, but a few authorities (C* D* G) read διʼ ὅ.

ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ. After Θεοῦ, Rec. adds: ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς�

With these exceptions the addition is supported by all MSS., Versions, and Fathers. Its genuineness would be certain were it not that the same words occur in the parallel passage Ephesians 5:6. It is very credible that they were added from that place at a very early period. On the other hand, they seem required to complete the sense; certainly without them the thought is not the same as in the parallel in Eph. In the one case the words are a general warning as to the consequence of these sins; in the other a lesson is drawn from the example of others. The καὶ ὑμεῖς, ver. 7, seems to assume a previous mention of the unbelieving Gentiles.

The evidence in favour of the omission being so slight, it may be considered equally probable that the omission was accidental. The words are omitted by Tischndorf, Tregelles, WH., Alford, Weiss, and bracketed by Lachm. They are retained by Ellicott, Meyer, RV. (om. marg.).

7. ἐν οἷς καὶ ὑμεῖς περιεπατήσατέ ποτε, ὅτε ἐζῆτε ἐν τούτοις. The reading τούτοις is certain, being that of א A B C D* al. αὐτοῖς is read in Dc G K L, most MSS., Chrys., Theodoret, al.

If the doubtful words in ver. 6 are omitted, οἷς and τούτοις are of necessity both neuter, and refer to the vices mentioned. If the words are retained, the pronouns may be both neuter, or the first masculine and the second neuter, or the first neuter, and the second masculine. To the last view, which is that of Huther and others, it may be objected, that ζῆν ἐν is never used in the N.T. of living amongst persons, while it is frequently used with things, ἐν ἁμαρτίᾳ, Romans 6:2; ἐν κόσμῳ, 2:20; ἐν σαρκί, Philippians 1:22. So in classical writers, ἐν�Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 2:3, εἰ τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς�Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 2:4:17, Ephesians 2:5:2. In 2 Thessalonians 3:11, indeed, we have τινας περιπατοῦντας ἐν ὑμῖν�Ephesians 2:3 Lightfoot regards as not parallel on account of the addition ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν. But this addition does not affect the connexion of ἐν οἷς�

ὅτε ἐζῆτε ἐν τούτοις, i.e. before ye died to the world; ἐζῆτε being in contrast with�Galatians 5:25, εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι, πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν. “Vivere et ambulare inter se differunt, quemadmodum potentia et actus; vivere praecedit, ambulare sequitur,” Calvin.

8. νυνὶ δέ, in contrast to the ποτε above. καὶ ὑμεῖς, “ye also,” as well as other Christians. As in the former verse they were compared with the heathen society from which they had separated, so here with the Christian society which they had joined. Holtzmann strangely supposes the Καί to refer to the Christians addressed in Ephesians 2:22.

τὰ πάντα, “all of them,” everything that belongs to the old man. The asyndeton is thus less harsh than if τὰ πάντα be understood to be only retrospective (as Meyer, al.).

ἀπόθεσθε, “put ye away.”

ὀργήν, κ.τ.λ. See on Ephesians 4:31.

αἰσχρολογία occurs in the N.T. here only. The connexion here shows that it means “abusive” rather than “filthy” language. It denotes the form in which the injurious βλασφημία finds expression. Chrysostom takes it in the sense of “obscene talk” (which he calls ὄχημα πορνείας), and so many moderns; but the sins of uncleanness have been dealt within ver. 5, and the other substantives here regard want of charity. The word is used by Polybius, viii, 13. 8, in this sense of “abusive language,” ἡ κατὰ τῶν φίλων αἰσχρολογία: cf. xxxi. 10, 4. The verb has a similar meaning in Plato, Rep. iii. p. 395 E, κακηγοροῦντάς τε καὶ κωμῳδοῦντας�

ἀπεκδυσάμενοι, κ.τ.λ. This may be understood either as “putting off,” “exuentes,” Vulg., so as to form part of the exhortation, or “seeing that ye have put off” The former view is adopted by Olshausen, De Wetter, etc. Lightfoot also defends it, observing (1) that though both ideas are found in St. Paul, the imperative is the more usual; cf. Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6:2, with ver. 14; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, νήφωμεν ἐνδυσάμενοι, κ.τ.λ.; (2) that in the parallel, Ephesians 4:24, the “putting on” is imperative; and (3) that the participles here are followed by an imperative, ver. 12. Grammatically, there is no difficulty in thus understanding the aorist participle as synchronous with the present imperative. The aorist would, in fact, express a thing done once for all, and would be better represented in Latin by an ablative absolute than by a present participle. Nevertheless, the other view (adopted by Theodoret, and amongst moderns by Meyer, Alford, Ellicott), according to which the participles contain the motive for the preceding exhortation (from�

τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον. See Ephesians 4:22.

10. καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν νέον. In the parallel, Ephesians 4:24, it is ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρ. νέος, unlike καινός only expresses newness in point of time, but the idea of καινότης is supplied by the participle.

As the result of ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν νέον ἄνθ. is that Christ is τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν, and as the apostle speaks elsewhere of Χριστὸν ἐνδύσασθαι, Galatians 3:27, Romans 13:14, some commentators infer that the νέος ἄνθρ. here is Christ; and hence, again, that ὁ παλαιὸς ἄνθρ. is Adam, whose image men bear, 1 Corinthians 15:49. Ignatius, Eph. 20, has the expression εἰς τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν. If this had been the thought in St. Paul’s mind here, he would probably have expressed it more distinctly. It seems better, then, to rest satisfied with the interpretation of the “new man” as “the regenerate man formed after Christ.” The ultimate meaning is the same.

ἀνακαινούμενον, present participle, because although “created” once for all (κτισθέντα, Ephesians 4:24), its growth and development are continually going on. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:16, ὁ ἔσω ἡμῶν [ἄνθρωπος]�Ephesians 4:22. The�

ἀνακαινόω is not used by Greek authors, nor by the Sept., but�Romans 12:2; Titus 3:5) is also peculiar to the N.T.

εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν. “Unto thorough knowledge.” Meyer connects this with the following words: “unto a knowledge which accords with the image of God,” i.e. which is in accordance with the Divine knowledge. But the Divine knowledge would hardly be set forth in this general way as an ideal to be attained; we should expect some limitation to moral or spiritual knowledge. It is more natural to connect κατʼ εἰκόνα with�

κατʼ εἰκόνα, κ.τ.λ. To be connected with�Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:28.

τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν. ὁ κτίσας according to Chrysostom, al. is Christ; but ὁ κτίσας is always God, and so here especially, where the passage in Genesis is alluded to. αὐτόν is the new man, not τὸν ἄνθρωπον generally. Compare κτισθέντα in Ephesians 4:24, and καινὴ κτίσις, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Soden, who interprets the “new man” of Christ, refers αὐτόν to τὸν�2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15, so Christians, when Christ is formed in them, become renewed after the image of God.

Olshausen presses the designation of Christ as the εἰκών of God, and accordingly interprets, “after the pattern of Him who is the Image of God.” But this does not agree with the allusion to Genesis. It is true the Alexandrian school interpreted the expression in Genesis of the Logos, but only in a sense borrowed from the Platonic doctrine of ideas as τὸ�Ephesians 4:24, as = “after the likeness of,” of course understand the expression here as only a more precise definition.

11. ὅπου οὐκ ἔνι. Compare Galatians 3:28. This ἔνι is not, as formerly used to be stated, a contraction of ἔνεστι, although it is often used in that sense; it is simply the longer form of the preposition ἐν, with ἐστι understood, as in πάρα, ἄνα. The fact that ἐν is used with it in 1 Corinthians 6:5 is not inconsistent with this, since the word came to be looked upon as equivalent to ἔνεστι. That passage, however, shows that we are not to press here the idea of “impossibility,” οὐκ ἔνι ἐν ὑμῖν οὐδεὶς σοφός. The word here simply states the objective fact.

The distinctions enumerated as abolished are first those of birth, involving national privileges; secondly, of legal or ceremonial standing (which might be gained by adoption); thirdly, those of culture; and fourthly, of social caste.

Ἕλλην καὶ Ἰουδαῖος. In contrast with Ἰουδαῖος, Ἕλλην means simply “Gentile”; and, indeed, even to the present day the Jews sometimes speak of other nations as Greeks.

περιτομὴ καὶ�

Σκύθης. The natural antithesis to βάρβαρος would be ῞ελλην (cf. Romans 1:14); but as that has already been used the apostle substitutes for an antithesis a climax, for the Scythians were regarded as “barbaris barbariores,” Bengel. The earlier Greek writers, indeed, on the principle “omne ignotum pro magnifico,” described them as εὔνομοι (Aesch. Frag. 189); but Josephus says they are βραχὺ τῶν θηρίων διαφέροντες (contra Ap. ii. 37). Cicero uses a climax similar to that before us, “quod nullus in barbaria, Quis hoc facit ulla in Scythia tyrannus?” (In Pisonem, viii.). The word Σκύθης was used of any rough person, like our “Goth.” This clause has reference, perhaps, to the stress laid by the Gnostic teachers on their γνῶσις.

δοῦλος, ἐλεύθερος. There was a special reason for St. Paul’s thoughts being directed to the relation of master and slave, in the incident of Onesimus’ conversion and return to his master.

πάντα and τὰ πάντα are very frequently used by classical writers as predicates of persons. Wetstein on 1 Corinthians 15:28 quotes many examples. One or two may suffice here. Dem. De Cor. p. 240, πάντʼ ἐκεῖνος ἦν αὐτοῖς: cont. Ariston, p. 66o, πάντα ἦν Ἀλέξανδρος; Lucian, De Morte Peregr. 11, προφήτης καὶ ξυναγωγεύς, καὶ τὰ πάντα μόνος αὐτὸς ὤν.

12-17. Virtues to be cultivated, kindness, love, forgiveness, in Which God’s forgiveness of us is to be the pattern; mutual teaching and admonition, and in everything thankfulness, everything being done in the name of Jesus Christ

12. ἐνδύσαθε οὖν, having put on the new man, put on also these virtues.

ὡς ἐκλεκτοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ. cf. Romans 8:33; Titus 1:1. In St. Paul κλητοί and ἐκλεκτοί, κλῆσις and ἐκλογή (Romans 9:28, Romans 9:29), are coextensive, as indeed they seem to be in other N.T. writers (cf. Revelation 17:14) except the Gospels, where κλητοί and ἐκλεκτοι are distinguished (Matthew 24:22, Matthew 24:24, Matthew 24:31 al.). ὡς ἐκλεκτοί has a significant connexion with what precedes, since the ἐκλογή is presupposed in what is said in vv. 10, 11.

ἅγιοι καὶ ἠγαπημένοι are best taken as predicates of ἐκλέκτοι which with and without τοῦ Θεοῦ is used in several places as a substantive.

καί is om. by B 17 Sah., and Lightfoot brackets it, thinking that the sentence gains in force by the omission; cf. 1 Peter 2:6.

σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ. “A heart of compassion.” σπλάγχνα, like “viscera,” denoted especially the nobler inward parts, heart, liver, and lungs, and figuratively the seat of the emotion, as we use the word “heart.”

The singular οἰκτιρμοῦ is supported by very preponderant authority.

χρηστότητα, cf. Ephesians 2:7.

ταπεινοφροσύνη. Ephesians 4:2, πραύτητα μακροθυμίαν, ibid.


καὶ χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς. For the variation from�Ephesians 4:32. The latter word marks more strikingly than�

μομφή, not found elsewhere in the N.T. nor in Sept. or Apocr. In classical writers ἔχειν μομφήν is frequent. “Quarrel” of the AV. is an archaism.

καθὼς καὶ ὁ Κύριος ἐχαρίσατο ὑμῖν. To be connected with the following words, οὕτω καὶ ὑμεῖς (as RV.), supplying, therefore, not χαριζόμενοι, but χαρίζεσθε (ἑαυτοῖς). Assuming, as is probable, that ὁ Κύριος = ὁ Χριστός, this is the only place where Christ is directly said to forgive (see on 2:13). In the parallel in Ephesians 4:32, the subject is ὁ Θεὸς ἐν Χριστῷ. Meyer remarks that the very frequent ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν corresponds with the present expression. It is perhaps pressing the technical sense of Κύριος too much to suppose, with Lightfoot, that it suggests the duty of fellow-servant to fellow-servant, recalling the lesson of the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Matthew 18:27; compare below, 4:1. It must be observed that the καθώς has reference only to the fact of forgiveness, not to the manner of its exhibition in the death. of Christ (as Chrys., Theoph. al.).

The reading cannot be regarded as certain. For ὁ κύριος are A B D* G 213 d e f g Vulg. Pelag.

For ὁ Χριστός, אac C Dbe K L P almost all MSS. Syr. (both), Sah., Boh., Eth., Arab. (Bedwell), Clem., Chrys., Euthal., (cod. Tisch.), Theodoret, al. א* has ὁ Θεός, while 17 Arm. have ὁ Θεὸς ἐν Χριστῷ. Augustine also has the latter reading in one place (Ep. 148), but in another ὁ Κύριος.

It is suggested, on the one hand, that Χριστός has been substituted (as in other places) as an interpretation of Κύριος, especially as it occurs in Ephesians 5:32 (but not in the same connexion); and, on the other side, it has been suggested that Κύριος originated in an attempt at conformation with the passage in Eph.

Lachmann, Treg., WH., Afford, Meyer, Lightfoot, RV. Weiss read Κύριος. Tisch., Ellicott read Χριστός, to which RV and WH. give a place in the margin.

14. ἐπὶ πᾶσι δὲ τούτοις. “And over all these,” the figure of clothing being retained, as the verb ἐνδύσασθε has still to be carried on.

ὅ ἐστιν. The pronoun is not without difficulty. The illustrations cited by Lightfoot from Ignatius are hardly parallel, Rom_7, ἄρτον Θεοῦ θέλω, ὅ ἐστιν σὰρξ Χριστοῦ: Magn. 10, νέαν ζύμην ὅ ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. In these cases the words following ὅ ἐστιν are an explanation of the words preceding, and ὅ ἐστιν = “idest,” or “by which is to be understood.” So in Mark 12:42, λεπτὰ δύο, ὅ ἐστι κοδράντης; 15:42, παρασκευή, ὅ ἐστι προσάββατον. In none of these cases does ὅ ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ. predicate a property or character of the antecedent. In order that the present instance should be parallel, τ.�Ephesians 5:5 is nearer, πλεονέκτης, ὅ ἐστιν εἰδωλολάτρης, and Ign. Trall. 7,�

σύνδεσμος τῆς τελειότητος. Love binds the virtues into a harmonious whole, not as if they could exist without it, for It might be called by a different figure—the root of all; but the figure of clothing here adopted required that its relation to the other virtues should be put in a different aspect. πάντα ἐκεῖνα, says Chrysostom, αὕτη συσφίλλει· ὅπερ ἂν εἴπῃς�

Grotius, Erasmus, Estius and many others take the genitive to be one of quality, “the perfect bond,” which is not only feeble, but leaves σύνδεσμος undefined. Bengel, De Wette, Olshausen, al. understand by σύνδεσμος the “totality,” as in Herodian, iv. 12, 11, πάντα τὸν ς. τῶν ἐπιστολῶν, “the whole bundle of letters.” But there is no instance of σύνδεσμος being used figuratively in this sense; nor does it agree with the context, in which�Ephesians 4:3 the gen. after σύνδεσμος is one of apposition.

For τελειότητος D* G d e g and Ambrosiaster have ἐνότητος.

15. καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ. The peace of Christ is the peace which He gives and has left to His Church, εἰρήνην τὴν ἐμὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν, John 14:27. But it is Christ’s peace in another sense, as the peace which belongs to His kingdom by virtue of His sovereignty; compare the expression, “the King’s peace.” The immediate reference here is not to the inward peace of the soul, but to peace one with another, as the context shows. But it cannot be limited to this, the moment the words are uttered or heard they suggest the other reference.

βραβεύτω, only here in N.T.; see on καταβραβευέτω, 2:18. As there observed, βραβεύω had dropped, for the most part, the reference to a contest, and was used of deciding or governing in general. Josephus, Ant. iv. 3. 2, uses it as synonymous with διοικεῖν; Moses, in his prayer, says: πάντα σῇ προνοίᾳ διοικεῖται, καὶ μηδὲν αὐτομάτως,�

Θεοῦ is in אc C2 Dc K L 17, Goth. As ἡ εἰρηνη τοῦ Θεοῦ occurs in Philippians 4:7, the substitution of Θεοῦ for Χριστοῦ is readily accounted for. The latter is clearly more suitable to the present context, since εἰρήνη τοῦ Θεοῦ could not well be understood of anything but our peace with God. In Philippians 4:7, A has Χριστοῦ. Bengel and others who defend the reading Θεοῦ here, suppose Χριστοῦ to have come in from 13 or 16.

εἰς ἡ καὶ ἐκλήθητε. This is nearly equivalent to “for to that we were also called.” Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:15, ἐν εἰρήνῃ κέκληκεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Θεός.

ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι. Not = εἰς ἓν σῶμα, but expressing the result of their calling; they are so called that they are in one body. It is on the fact that this is their present condition that the stress is placed. As there is one body, there should be one spirit; cf. Ephesians 4:3, Ephesians 4:4, τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρηνης, Ἕν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα, κ.τ.λ.

καὶ εὐΧάριστοι γίνεσθε. “And become thankful.” Thankfulness for this calling is the strongest motive for the preservation of the peace to which they were called. The mention of this leads on to what follows. γίεσθε is used because the ideal is not yet reached. εὐχάριστος does not occur elsewhere in N.T. It is not uncommon in classical writers, both in the sense “thankful” and “pleasant” (so usually of things). It occurs once in Sept., and then in the latter sense, Proverbs 11:16, γυνὴ εὐχάριστος. Some commentators take it here in the latter sense (cf. Ephesians 4:32, χρηστοί). So Jerome, Beza, a Lapide, Olshausen, Reiche; “in mutuo vestro commercio estote gratiosi, amabiles, comes … qua virtute pax et concordia saepe servantur,” Reiche. This sense is certainly not inappropriate; and in favour of it it may be observed that the duty of thankfulness is brought in as the final exhortation in ver. 17.

16. ὁ λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ. In 1 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:15 St. Paul has ὁ λόγος τοῦ Κυρίου, but more usually ὁ λ. τοῦ Θεοῦ. The change here is probably owing to the apostle’s purpose of exalting the position of Christ, which is characteristic of this Epistle. The gen. may be either objective, as in εὐαγγέλιον Χριστοῦ, or subjective (as most comm.), “the word delivered by Christ.” It is generally understood as = the gospel, but Lightfoot interprets it as denoting “the presence of Christ in the heart as an inward monitor. Comp. 1 John 2:14, ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν ὑρῖν μένει, with ib. 1:10, ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ὑμῖν: and so perhaps Acts 18:5, συνείχετο τῷ λόγῳ (the correct reading).” Probably the “teaching of Christ” generally is meant; and so apparently Chrysostom, τούτεστιν, ἡ διδασκαλία, τὰ δόγματα, ἡ παραίνεσις. See on Luke 8:11.

ἐν ὑμῖν. Not “among you,” which would not agree with the idea of “indwelling”. Yet it cannot well be understood of each in dividual, as if referring to the faith and knowledge of each. Since the context speaks of oral communication one with another, ἐν ὑμῖν then means, probably, “in you as a collective body.” This is not the same as “among you.”

πλουσίως. The fulness of this indwelling exhibits itself in the following words.

ἐν πάσῃ σοφία. Lightfoot joins these words with the foregoing, comparing for their position ch. 1:9 and Ephesians 1:8, which, however, determine nothing. He thinks this connexion is favoured by the parallel in Ephesians 5:18, Ephesians 5:19; but this only decides that ψαλμοῖς, κ.τ.λ., are to be connected with the preceding words. On the other hand, it may be observed that ἐνοικείτω is already qualified by πλουσίως, which emphatically stands at the end. Ch. 1:28 is strongly in favour of the connexion with the following, νουθετοῦντες πάντα ἄνθρωπον καὶ διδάσκοντες πάντα ἄνθρωπον ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ.Here the correspondence in meaning is surely of more weight than the position of the words, which precede in the one case as appropriately as they follow in the other.

On διδάσκοντες and νουθετοῦντες comp. 1:28; and on ψαλμοῖς, κ.τ.λ, Ephesians 5:18. Here as there the reference does not appear to be exclusively or chiefly to public worship, for mutual instruction is what is prescribed.

καί both before and after ὕμνοις is omitted by א A B C*D*F G, d e f g Vulg. (best MSS.) Syr-Pesh, Goth., al.

It was much more likely to be added than omitted erroneously, and the omission is quite Pauline.

ἐν[τῇ] χάριτι.

τῇ is inserted in אc B D G 672, Chrys. comm.

Omitted in א A K L (to which we may perhaps add C, in which εν χαρι is written but expunged by dots above and below), Chrys. text.

The reading with the article is adopted by critical editors generally, but Reiche argues strongly in favour of the omission. If it is read there are two interpretations possible, for χάρις may mean either the Divine grace, or thanksgiving. The former meaning is adopted by Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, etc. For ἡ χάρις = the grace of God, compare ch. 4:18, ἡ χάρις μεθʼ ὑμῶν: Acts 18:27, τοῖς πεπιστευκόσι διὰ τῆς χάριτος: 2 Corinthians 4:15; Galatians 5:4; Ephesians 4:7; Philippians 1:7, συγκοινωνούς μου τῆς χάριτος. It must, however, be admitted that none of these passages is parallel to the present. In all of them ἡ χάρις is spoken of as something conferred, and therefore can only be ἡ χ. τοῦ Θεοῦ. It is different here, where the readers are directed to do something ἐν τῇ χάριτι.

Hence the other interpretation, “with thankfulness,” which is that of Anselm, De Wette, Bleek (omitting τῇ), Soden, seems preferable. For χάρις in this sense see 1 Corinthians 10:30, εἰ δὲ ἐγὼ χάριτι μετέχω, where the apostle himself interprets χάριτι in the following clause: ὑπὲρ οὗ ἐγὼ εὐχαριστῶ. The article is sufficiently accounted for by the reference to the previous εὐχαριστοί. Meyer, on the supposition that χάρις is understood as “thanksgiving,” would interpret the article as meaning “that which is due.”

It is not a valid objection to this view of χάρις that the idea of thanksgiving is introduced in the next verse; on the contrary, the precept there is an extension of this one; what is here said of singing is there said of everything.

Theophylact’s interpretation is different; he takes χαρις in the sense “venustas,” “pleasingness,” μετὰ χάριτος καὶ ἡδονῆς πνευ ματικῆς ὥσπερ γὰρ τὰ�Psalms 45:3, ἐξεχύθη χάρις ἐν χείλεσί σου; Ecclesiastes 10:12, λόγοι στόματος σοφοῦ χάρις; Luke 4:22, ἐθαύμαζον ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις τῆς χάριτος; also ch. 4:6, ὁ λόγος ὑμῶν πάντοτε ἐν χάριτι. Compare also Demosth. p. 51 (Phil. i. 38), ἡ τῶν λόγων χάρις, and so in classical writers frequently. Reiche, adopting this interpretation, remarks: “recte et perspicue ἐν χάριτι ᾄδοντες ii dicuntur, qui carmina sacra cantant et modulantur venuste, decore, suaviter, ita ut etiam cultioribus et pulchri sensu praeditis placeant.” To the objection that the following words show that the apostle is speaking of silent singing in the heart, he replies by defending the reading ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ and interpreting it as =“ex animo, i.e. non ore tantum sed etiam cum animi assensu,” a questionable sense of ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν. See on Luke 4:22 and Romans 1:5.

In conformity with the connexion assigned to ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ, ἐν τῇ χάριτι is to be joined to what follows. Lightfoot naturally takes it with the preceding.

ᾄδοντες ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. These words may either specify another effect of the ἐνοικεῖν,κ.τ.λ. (Alford, al.), or they may denote the inward disposition which was to accompany the διδάσκοντες, κ.τ.λ. If τῇ χάριτι is understood as above, the latter view would be the more suitable (Soden). It is preferred apart from that by Lightfoot.

ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις is supported by preponderant authority, א A B C D* G, d e f g Vulg., Goth., Syr. ( both), Sah., Boh., Arm., Chrys.

ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ is supported by Dc k L most MSS., Eth., Clem., Ephr., Theodoret. Compare Ephesians 5:19, where the singular appears to be the genuine reading. The singular here, as the plural there, is probably due to an attempt to harmonise Eph. and Col.

τῷ Θεῷ is the reading of אABC*D*G 17 47 672 al., d f g Vulg., Sah., Syr. (both), Arm., Clem., al.

τῷ Κυρίῳ is that of C2 Dc K L most MSS., Goth., Boh., Ephr., Theodoret, al. (Chrys. varies). This, again, is harmonistic, the parallel in Eph. having τῷ Κυρίῳ without variation.

17. καὶ πᾶν ὅ τι ἐὰν ποιῆτε ἐν λόγῳ ἢ ἐν ἔργῳ. A nominative absolute. Comp. Matthew 10:32, πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ὁμόλογήσει … ὁμο λογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ Luke 12:10. As πᾶν would become the object in the following clause, it is replaced by πάντα.

πάντα. We might supply to this ποιοῦντες, parallel to the other participles; but it is much better to supply ποιεῖτε, especially as εὐχαριστοῦντες is subordinate.

ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ. Comp. Ephesians 5:20. “In the name of” here means, not “calling on for aid,” as Chrys. etc., nor “in honorem,” as Jerome, but in the spirit which regards Christ as all and in all, the spirit which belongs to those who bear His name. “Utperinde sit, ac si Christus faciat, ver. 11 (this is too strong) vel certe, ut Christo omnia pobetis. Qui potest dicere; Hoi in tuo, Jesu Christe, nomine feci, is certe actionem suam Christo probat,” Bengel.

There is here another difference of reading.

Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ is the reading of B Dc K 17 37 most MSS., f. Amiat., Tol, Goth., Syr-Pesh, Arm., Chrys.

Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ A C D* G g.

Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριτοῦ א d e Vulg. (Clem.), Field, al. Syr. (Harcl), Sah., Boh., Eth.

Before πατρί,καί is added in D G K L and nearly all MSS., d e f g Vulg., Syr-Pesh, Arm., Chrys. (cf. Ephesians 5:20). It is absent from א A B C, Sah., Boh., Syr., (Harcl), Eth., Goth.

18-4:1. Special precepts for the several relations of life, the motive being in each, that what is done is done “in the Lord.”

18. αἱ γυναῖκες,κ.τ.λ. Comp. Ephesians 5:22.

ἰδίοις, prefixed in Rec. Text to�Ephesians 5:22.

ὡς�Ephesians 5:4, ἃ οὐκ�Acts 22:22, οὐ γὰρ καθῆκεν αὐτὸν ζῇν. It is not implied here that the duty has not hitherto been rightly performed, but only that the obligation existed previously.

The use of the past tense in the English “ought” is not quite parallel, since the present “owe” cannot be used in this sense.

ἐν Κυρίῳ is to be joined with�

19. οἱ ἄνδρες,κ.τ.λ. = Ephesians 5:25.

μὴ πικραίνεσθε. “Become not embittered,” or rather, as this would seem to imply a lasting temper, “show no bitterness.” The word occurs frequently in classical writers. Plato has (Legg. 731 D), τὸν θυμὸν πραΰνειν κ.μὴ�

20. τὰ τέκνα, κ.τ.λ. See Ephesians 6:1. Disobedience to parents is mentioned as a vice of the heathen, Romans 1:30, κατὰ πάντα.There would be no propriety in suggesting the possibility in a Christian family of a conflict between duty to parents and duty to God.

εὐάρεστον There is no need to supply τῷ Θεῷ the adjective is taken absolutely, like προσφιλῆ in Philippians 4:8, and is sufficiently defined by ἐν Κυρίῳ. In Romans 12:2 εὐάρεστου seems also to be absolute, τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸ�

The Rec. Text has, instead of ἐν Κυρίῳ,τῷ Κυρίῳ, with many cursives, Boh., Eth., Clem., al.

ἐν Κυρίῳ is the reading of all the uncials, most cursives, and versions.

The Rec. arose from a desire to give a dative to εὐάρεστον.

21. μὴ ἐρεθίζετε. “Do not irritate.” The verb means to “excite, provoke,” not necessarily to anger, or in a bad sense; and in 2 Corinthians 9:2 it is used in a good sense.

There is another reading, παροργίζετε, very strongly supported, being read in אACD*GKL al. Euthal. (Tisch. cod.), Theodoret (cod.), Theoph.

ἐρεθίζετε is read in B DboK, most MSS., Syr. (both, but Harcl marg. has the other reading), Clem., Chrys.

παροργίζετε occurs in the parallel Ephesians 4:4 (with no variety), and to this is obviously due its introduction here.

ἵνα μὴ�

22. οἱ δοῦλοι,κ.τ.λ Comp. Ephesians 6:5 ff. Here it is observable that the duties of masters and slaves occupy nearly twice as much space as those of husbands and wives, parents and children, together. The circumstance is perhaps explained by the incident of Onesimus, a Colossian, who was now returning to his master, Philemon, in company with the bearer of the Epistle.

φοβούμενοι τὸν Κύριον, i.e. the one Lord and Master, contrasted with τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα Κυρίοις. Observe that these words are not preceded by ὡς, whereas�

ἐκ ψυχῆς. Ephesians 6:6. μετὰ εὐνοίας. Μὴ μετὰ δουλικῆς�

ἐργάζεσθε. “Do the work.” Not used as particularly appropriate to slaves, but because the things done are ἔργα.

ὡς τῷ Κυρίῳ, κ.τ.λ. Ephesians 6:7, Ephesians 6:24,�Galatians 1:12.

24. τὴν�

τῆς κληρονομίας. Genitive of apposition, the reward which consists in the inheritance. There is a special point in the word, inasmuch as slaves could not be inheritors of an earthly possession. Comp. Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:1-7.

τῷ Κυρίῳ Χριστῷ δουλεύετε.γάρ,which in the Rec. Text is inserted after τῷ, must be rejected.

In favour of the insertion are Dbc K L most MSS., Syr., (both), Arm., Goth.

For the omission, אABCD* 17 al., Vulg., Copt., Euthal. (Tisch. cod.).

It was clearly added to make the connexion easy. G d and Ambrosiaster have τοῦ κυρίου(ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ) Χριστοῦ ᾧ δουλεύετε,but d and Ambr. omit the words in brackets.

γάρ being omitted, the verb is best taken as imperative, “To the Master Christ do service.” The combination Κύριος χριστός is not to be taken in the technical sense as = the Lord Jesus Christ, a use to which there is no parallel. In Romans 16:18, where we have τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν Χριστῷ, some MSS. omit ἡμῶν: but its genuineness is beyond question. In 1 Peter 3:15 Κύριον is predicate of τὸν Χριστόν. This suggests that we should take Κυρίῳ here as relative to δουλεύετε. The sentence is not so much a summary of what precedes as an introduction to the fresh point added in ver. 25; Lightfoot.

Lightfoot takes δουλεύετε as indicative, on the grounds, first, that the indicative is wanted to explain the previous�Ephesians 6:7. On the other hand, however, he adds, see Romans 12:11, τῷ Κυρίῳ δουλεύοντες. If the interpretation above given is correct, ὡς is rightly absent, and in any case the indicative would be very abrupt and unconnected. Moreover, with this view the connexion of ver. 25 (γάρ) would be hardly intelligible. Lightfoot passes it over in silence.

25. ὁ γὰρ�Leviticus 19:15. It must be observed, however, that some of those who adopt this view have had before them the reading ὁ δὲ�

Erasmus, Lightfoot, and many others (following Jerome) suppose both masters and slaves to be referred to, as in Ephesians 6:8. On the other hand, ib. ver. 9, προσωποληψία οὐκ ἔστι παρʼ αὐτῷ, is said with respect to the masters only.

κομιεῖται. “Shall be requited for”; cf. Ephesians 6:8, and for προσωποληψία, ib. 9.

ἠδίκησεν. The tense is past, from the point of view of the time referred to in κομιεῖται.

For the reading the authorities are:

For γάρ, א B C D* G 17 al., Old Lat., Vulg., Goth., Boh., Clem. al.

For δέ, Dc K L, most MSS., Syr. (both), Chrys., Theodoret, al.

Boh Bohairic. Cited by Tisch. as “Coptic,” by Tregelles as “Memphitic,” by WH. as “me.”

Arm Armenian.

Eth Ethiopic.

WH Westcott and Hort.

Sah The Sahidic or Thebaic (“the.” WH).

Tisch. Tischendorf.

Treg. Tregelles.

Syr-Pesh The Peshitto Syriac.

Tol Cod. Toletanus.

Harcl The Harclean Syriac.

Fuld. Cod. Fuldensis

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Colossians 3". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/colossians-3.html. 1896-1924.
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