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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Colossians 1

Verses 1-2

Colossians 1:1-2 . Ἐν Κολοσσαῖς , at Colosse ) a city of Phrygia. ἁγίοις , to the saints ) This has the force of a substantive. It implies union with God: to the faithful brethren , implies union with Christian men. The word brethren suggests union. These were believers .

Verse 3

Colossians 1:3 . Εὐχαριστοῦμεν ἀκούσαντες , we give thanks since we heard ) Comp. Ephesians 1:15-16 . For the Epistle to the Colossians bears considerable resemblance to the two epistles to which it is subjoined: to the Epistle to the Ephesians, in its general subject (thesis) and mode of exhortation (paraclesis); to the Epistle to the Philippians, in its opposition to the false teachers, and in their refutation. More of these coincidences will be noticed in their proper places. The Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians were sent at the same time by Tychicus, Colossians 4:7 ; Ephesians 6:21 . πάντοτε , always ) Construed with praying: Romans 1:10 ; Philippians 1:4 .

Verse 4

Colossians 1:4 . Πάντας , all ) present and absent.

Verse 5

Colossians 1:5 . Διὰ , for ) From [the greatness of the object of] hope, it is evident how great a cause of thanksgiving there is for the gift of faith and love; for ( διά ) is construed with we give thanks , Colossians 1:3 . [ Faith, hope, love , Colossians 1:4-5 , the sum of Christianity. Comp . Colossians 1:9-11 . V. g.] ἀποκειμένην , laid up ) so as to be without danger [of its being lost]. ἣν , which ) hope , comp. Colossians 1:23 . προηκούσατε ) ye have heard of , before I wrote. ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῆς αληθείας , in the word of the truth ) Ephesians 1:13 . The truth of ‘knowledge,’ Colossians 1:6 [ye knew the grace of God], corresponds to the truth of preaching in this verse. Neither admits of artifice (being tricked out for show).

Verse 6

Colossians 1:6 . Εἰς ) εἰς and ἐν here are parallel. καὶ ἔστι , and is ) After the participle, the form of expression here takes again the indicative mood; see Colossians 1:26 , ch. Colossians 2:13-14 ; [of the Gospel] present, i.e. which is come to you, and (repeat which from the preceding clause) is producing fruit . καρποφορούμενον , producing fruit ) viz. [supply] in all the world . καθὼς , even as ) when travelling abroad they recognise with great joy the same fruits of the Gospel in every clime; and its fruits prove that it is the word of truth. Comp. presently after, even as , Colossians 1:7 . For there is an interchange, and at length a movement or tendency [of Gospel fructification] towards the Colossians for the propagation of the word. [An inclination arises on the part of the Colossians in their turn to propagate the truth]. ἈΦʼ Ἧς , from what ) construed with in you . ἐν ἀληθείᾳ , in truth ) i.e. in the truth of the Gospel testimony, and of faith flowing from the testimony and directed toward the testimony.

Verse 7

Colossians 1:7 . Καθὼς , even as ) Paul thus confirms and approves the doctrine of Epaphras, which perhaps some had despised. It was Paul’s duty to write rather than Epaphras. ἡμῶν , our ) Paul and Timothy. ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ) for you, on your account . ἀγάπην ἑν Πνεύματι , love in the Spirit ) Love, the fruit of the Spirit; spiritual love; comp. Colossians 1:9 , at the end.

Verse 9

Colossians 1:9 . Ἠκούσαμεν , we have heard ) Colossians 1:4 . προσευχόμενοι , praying ) He made mention of prayers for them generally, Colossians 1:3 : he now states what he prays for. πληρωθῆτε , ye may be filled ) This verb, with its derivatives (conjugates), often occurs in this epistle, as far as ch. Colossians 4:12 ; Colossians 4:17 . τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ , with the knowledge of His will ) There is a gradation in the following verse, in the knowledge of GOD. τοῦ θελήματος , will ) Ephesians 5:17 ; Ephesians 1:9 . σοφίᾳ , in wisdom ) a word often used in this epistle; that they may be led the more from false wisdom and philosophy, Ephesians 1:8 . [ There seems to have been a want of knowledge among the Colossians, who were otherwise of an excellent spirit; wherefore the apostle urges that point with so great earnestness throughout the whole epistle , Colossians 1:11 ; Colossians 1:28 ; Colossians 2:2-3 ; Colossians 3:10 ; Colossians 3:16 ; Colossians 4:5-6 . V. g.] Knowledge is less recommended to the Corinthians, who were more apt to be puffed up. Wisdom denotes taste: comp. Matthew 23:34 , note. συνέσει , understanding ) that you may discern what is consistent with, or opposed to the truth, and may not pass by what requires consideration. Wisdom ( σοφία ) is something more general; ΣΎΝΕΣΙς is a kind of sagacity. So that on every occasion, there may suggest itself something which is suited to the place and time. ΣΎΝΕΣΙς is in the understanding; wisdom is in the whole compass (complexu) of the faculties of the soul. πνευματικῇ , spiritual ) not natural .

Verse 10

Colossians 1:10 . Περιπατῆσαι ) that ye may walk . Such walking is derived from the knowledge of the will of God. αξίως τοῦ Κυριου ) as it is worthy of Christ the Lord , Ephesians 4:1 . ἀρέσκειαν , the desire of pleasing ) on your part; so far as (even to that degree that) in reality you may please the Lord. חן , LXX., αρέσκειαι , Proverbs 31:30 . καρποφοροῦντες , bearing fruit) The participles, bearing fruit, increasing, strengthened, depend on the verb πληρωθῆτε , Colossians 1:9 , that ye may be filled.

Verse 11

Colossians 1:11 . Δυνάμει , with might ) Ephesians 1:19 ; Ephesians 3:16 ; Ephesians 6:10 . δόξης , the power of His glory [Engl. Vers. His glorious power]) Romans 6:4 . μακροθυμίαν , long-suffering ) Ephesians 4:2 . μετὰ χαρᾶς , with joy ) Colossians 1:24 .

Verse 12

Colossians 1:12 . Εὐχαριστοῦντες , giving thanks ) i.e. and we give thanks . It depends on Colossians 1:9 [we do not cease, etc. giving thanks]: Us presently follows, and you , Colossians 1:21 . [ He gives thanks, namely, in behalf of the Israelites, Colossians 1:12-20 , on account of the Gentiles, Colossians 1:21 , etc. Comp. Ephesians 2:3 ; Ephesians 2:11 . V. g.] τῷ ἱκανώσαντι , who hath made us meet ) For we had been formerly not meet. The same word is found at 2 Corinthians 3:6 . εἰς , for ) i.e. that we might receive a part of the inheritance of the saints; comp. the following verse, and Ephesians 1:11 , or rather Acts 20:32 ; Acts 26:18 . μερίδα τοῦ κλήρου ) a part given by allotment , not for a price. ἐν , in ) construed with a part . Light is the kingdom of God , and believers enjoy a blessed share in this kingdom: ἐν , in , is, so to speak, a preposition of place. The opposite, Matthew 4:16 , should be compared, where in occurs twice. τῷ φωτὶ , in light ) an antithesis to of darkness , Colossians 1:13 . Comp. Ephesians 5:8 . It is the light of knowledge [recognition and perception] and joy.

Verse 13

Colossians 1:13 . Ὃς , who ) the Father . ἐξουσίας , from the power ) The antithesis is kingdom: power detains captives; a kingdom fosters willing citizens; comp. Ephesians 2:2 ; Ephesians 5:5 ; Ephesians 6:12 . σκότους , of darkness ) the darkness of blindness, of hatred, of misery. τοῦ Υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ , the Son of His love ) [ His dear Son , Engl. Vers.] John 17:26 ; Ephesians 1:6 . This is treated in the 15th and following verses.

Verse 14

Colossians 1:14 . Ἐν ᾧ , in Whom ) the Son , Ephesians 1:7 . τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν , the redemption ) This is treated of, Colossians 1:18 (from the middle) and in the following verse.

Verse 15

Colossians 1:15 . Ὅς ἐστιν , who is ) He describes the glory and excellence of Christ as even above the highest angels, and hereby scatters those seeds by which he will prove, next in order, the folly of the worshippers of angels. [ He teaches believers to make application to Christ Himself, as their Saviour, and at the same time the head of all . V. g.] Those, in short, obtain this full knowledge concerning Christ, who have experienced the mystery of redemption. εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ , the image of God ) 2 Corinthians 4:4 , note. τοῦ ἀοράτου , of the invisible ) A most glorious epithet of God, 1 Timothy 1:17 . The only begotten Son alone represents the invisible God, and is Himself His image, invisible , according to the Divine nature; visible , according to the human nature [ Joh 14:9 ], visible even before the incarnation, inasmuch as the invisible things of God [ Rom 1:20 ] began to be seen from the creation, which was accomplished through Him [by Him as the instrument]. To this refer Colossians 1:16 , things visible and invisible . πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως , the first-begotten of every creature ) He was begotten; and that, too, before the creation of all things. The πρὸ , which is contained in πρωτότοκος , governs the genitive κτίσεως . Time is an accident of the creature . Therefore the origin of the Son of God precedes all time.

Verse 16

Colossians 1:16 . Ὅτι , because ) The second part of the 15th verse is hereby explained. ἐν , in ) ἐν ᾧ denotes something prior to διὰ and εἰς , which presently occur. There is here noticed the beginning, the progress, the end. The same is summarily repeated in the following verse. αὐτῷ , by Him ) He Himself , often used here, signifies His great majesty, and excludes every creature. ἐκτίσθη , were created ) It is evident from the enumeration which immediately follows, that the discussion here relates to that creation which is described, Genesis 1:0 ; comp. Colossians 1:23 . τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς , those things that are in the heavens ) and the heavens themselves. But those things which are in the heavens are rather named, because the inhabitants are more noble than their dwellings. τὰ ὁρατὰ , the visible things ) There follows by gradation, and invisible , of which the species are subjoined. [ Since visible things, such as the sun, moon, stars, are named first , invisible things subsequently, in succession, it may not be unworthy of consideration, whether the visible things may not have been created during the period of the six days , and the invisible things on the seventh day? Genesis 2:1-2 ; Exodus 31:17 . V. g.] εἰτε θρόνοι εἰτε κυριότητες , whether thrones or dominions ) The former greater than the latter. The abstract for the concrete. εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι , whether principalities or powers ) The former stronger than the latter. Both of these two express an exercise of an office in respect of the creatures; but thrones and dominions seem rather to have their appellation in their exalted relation to God, in so far as they are ὀχήματα , the chariots , on which He displays His majesty, Ephesians 1:21 .

Verse 17

Colossians 1:17 . ἜΣΤΙ , He is ) He does not say, He was made; nor, He was , of which the latter might, however, have been used in a dignified sense, comp. John 1:1 ; but He is , in the present; comp. John 8:58 . πρὸ πάντων , before all things ) even before time, i.e. from eternity. καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῳ συνέστηκε ) and all things in Him came together into one system [Engl. Vers. By Him all things consist, i.e. are maintained.] The universe found its completion in Him. LXX. τὰ συστἡματα τῶν ὑδάτων , Genesis 1:10 . He is the first and the last , Revelation 22:13 . [Isaiah 41:4 , in regard to the origin: I the Lord am first, and I am with the last. V. g.]

Verse 18

Colossians 1:18 . Καὶ , and ) He now comes down from the whole to the principal part, the Church, comp. Ephesians 1:22 , note. ὅς ἔστι , who is ) The Anaphora [repetition of the same words in beginnings], comp. Colossians 1:15 , shows that there is here the beginning of a new paragraph, and its own ὅτι , because , is added to each member. ἀρχὴ , beginning ) This word corresponds to the Hebrew word ראש , especially concerning Christ, Hosea 2:2 , and ראשית , concerning a first-begotten in particular, Deuteronomy 21:17 , but chiefly of Christ, Proverbs 8:22 . ἀπαρχὴ , first fruits, is the term used, 1 Corinthians 15:23 , the word being rather restricted to the resurrection of the dead: ἀρχὴ , beginning, more expressly denotes distinguished excellence; comp. Colossians 2:10 ; Psalms 89:27 . ἀρχὴ in the singular is antithetic to ἀρχαὶ , principalities, in the plural, Colossians 1:16 . πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν , the first-begotten from the dead) Christ, even before His resurrection from the dead, nay, before the creation of the world, was the first-begotten, Colossians 1:15 ; but He is said to be first-begotten from the dead, because, for this reason, inasmuch as He was the Son of God, He could not but rise again, and because, in consequence of His resurrection, He is acknowledged [recognised] to be the Son of God; comp. Acts 13:33 , note; and especially since there flows from His resurrection the life of many brethren. πᾶσιν , in all things) In the neuter gender, Colossians 1:17 . αὐτὸς , He) by Himself, without deputies or substitute. πρωτεύων , holding the first place) for example, in His resurrection, ascension, etc., John 3:13 . Victorinus translates it, primarius, “the pre-eminent One.”

Verse 19

Colossians 1:19 . [1] Εὐδόκησε , He was well-pleased ) viz. God [Engl. Vers. the Father ]. This must be supplied, in accordance with the mind of Paul, who, while he mentions the benefit conferred by Christ, never fails to remember the Father. As to the Father’s being well-pleased in the Son, comp. Matthew 3:17 : For εὐδοκῶ with the accusative and infinitive following, see 2Ma 14:35 . Moreover, on ΕὐΔΌΚΗΣΕ , He has been well-pleased , depend to reconcile , and having made peace. πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα , all the fulness ) ch. Colossians 2:9-10 ; Colossians 2:2 , Colossians 4:12 ; Colossians 4:17 , Colossians 1:9 ; Colossians 1:25 ; Ephesians 1:23 , note. Who can fathom the depth of this subject? κατοικῆσαι , to dwell ) constantly, as in a temple, in which it [the fulness] is ready at hand for us. This indwelling is the foundation of the reconciliation.

[1] Ἐν αὐτῷ , in Him ) namely, the Son. The words regarding either the Father or the Son must be carefully distinguished both in this and in the following chapter. V. g.

Verse 20

Colossians 1:20 . Ἀποκαταλλάξαι , to reconcile ) Ephesians 2:16 . τὰ πάντα , all things ) Ephesians 1:10 . εἰς αὐτὸν , unto Himself ) i.e. unto God , Col 1:22 ; 2 Corinthians 5:19 . εἰρηνοποιήσας , having made peace ) Ephesians 2:14 ; Ephesians 2:17 . The nominative depends on He has been well-pleased . διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ ) by the blood shed on the cross , and therefore by His death on the cross; or there is an apposition with a Metonymy [see Append.]: by the blood , that is, His cross . The effect of the crucifixion (although not of the crucifixion alone) is the shedding of blood. διʼ αὐτοῦ , by Him ) This repetition both adds to the emphasis, and shows that the all things are straightway explained by it, whether the things which , etc. This phrase, all things , includes also the dead. ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς , on the earth ) It was on the earth that there had arisen the beginning of the enmities; therefore the earth is put first. τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς , the things which are in the heavens ) Luke 19:38 . It is certain that the angels, the friends of God, were the enemies of men, when they were in a state of hostility against God.

Verse 21

Colossians 1:21 . Καὶ ὑμᾶς , and you ) Ephesians 2:1 ; Ephesians 2:12 . ἀπηλλοτριωμένους καὶ ἐχθροὺς , alienated and enemies ) Actual alienation makes habitual enemies . τῇ διανοίᾳ ) in the original and inmost force [ bias , Vulg. ‘sensu,’ in feeling ] of the mind , which draws after it the other faculties. νυνὶ ) now , when you have received that faith, by which you have been brought to the reconciliation made on the cross; i.e. you were formerly alienated , but now He has reconciled you; although you were enemies, nevertheless He has reconciled you. The Apodosis is to be referred to the words immediately preceding, although they do not render the sentence complete. ἀποκατήλλαξεν , reconciled ) i.e. God hath.

Verse 22

Colossians 1:22 . Ἐν τῷ σώματι τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ , by the body of His flesh ) By this appellation, taken as a whole, He is distinguished from the Church, which is called the body of Christ: and at the same time the body denotes the true and entire humanity of Christ, Romans 7:4 . Flesh implies the capacity of suffering, and the suffering itself; Ephesians 2:15 . παραστῆσαι , to present ) Ephesians 5:27 . ἁγίους , holy ) towards God. ἀμώμους , spotless ) in respect of yourselves. ἀνεγκλήτους , unreproveable ) in respect of your neighbour.

Verse 23

Colossians 1:23 . Εἴ γε , if indeed ) This word depends on the finite verb, He hath reconciled , Colossians 1:21 , rather than on the infinitive παραστῆσαι [ Col 1:22 ]; and this παραστῆσαι , being the ultimate [final] object, is itself the most delightful fruit of reconciliation; whence it is not the truth of the reconciliation which has been accomplished, that is suspended [is made to depend] on the perseverance of the Colossians, but the most delightful fruit for the time to come, which is not to be obtained, unless the Colossians shall have persevered; comp. εἴ γε , Ephesians 4:21 ; ἐάνπερ , Hebrews 3:6 . τῇ πίστει ) in faith , viz. in confidence; to which hope is usually joined. τεθεμελιωμένοι ) secured to the foundation [ grounded ]: ἑδραῖοι , stable [ settled ], firm within. The former is metaphorical, the latter less figurative; the one implies greater respect to the foundation , by which believers are supported; but ἑδραῖοι , stable ( settled ), suggests the idea of internal strength, which believers themselves possess; just as a building ought to lean (rest) uprightly and solidly on the foundation first of all, but afterwards to cohere securely, and firmly to stand together, even by its own mass [compact solidity of structure]. καὶ ἑδραῖοι καὶ , and stable and ) 1 Corinthians 15:58 , note; Ephesians 3:18 . τοῦ εὐαγγελίου , of the Gospel ) by which reconciliation is declared. πάσῃ , to every ) Colossians 1:20 ; Mark 16:15 , note. διάκονος , minister ) Colossians 1:25 ; Ephesians 3:7 .

Verse 24

Colossians 1:24 . Νῦν , now ) This is in antithesis to from ( since ) the day that , Colossians 1:9 . καὶ , and ) This is to be explained thus: in my sufferings , in which I fill up in turn. And is used as but , [2] Ephesians 5:27 . ἀνταναπληρῶ , I fill up in turn ) The measure of sufferings was fixed, which the whole Church must endure. The more of them therefore that Paul endured (drained out), the less is left for himself and others; the communion of saints produces this effect. [ While the measure of sufferings destined for Paul was filling up , the Gentiles attained to the full communion (participation) of the Gospel . V. g.] Hence the Papists infer the doctrine of merit in behalf of others, as very many errors in their system have sprung from a subtle (nice and profound) truth, received without discrimination. ὑπὲρ , for ) Ephesians 3:1 , note.

[2] Not having spot , etc. BUT that it should be holy , for, but holy . ED.

Verse 25

Colossians 1:25 . Τὴν οἰκονομίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ , the dispensation of God ) Thence Paul (was) a steward [1 Corinthians 4:1 , one having dispensation ] of the grace of God , Ephesians 3:2 . εἰς ὑμᾶς , to you ) Gentiles, Colossians 1:27 . πληρῶσαι ) to fulfil , to bring it fully to all. Paul everywhere aims towards the farthest point; comp. Romans 15:19 , πεπληρωκέναι [round about unto Illyricum I have fully preached]. The fulness of Christ and of the times required that.

Verse 26

Colossians 1:26 . Τὸ μυστήριον , the mystery ) A Hendiadys: τὸν λόγον , τὸ μυστήριον , i.e. the word concerning the mystery . The mystery is declared in the following verse, Ephesians 1:9 ; Ephesians 3:9 . Glory is the object of the mystery. ἀποκεκρυμμένον , concealed ) So are concealed ( ἀπόκρυφοι ), ch. Colossians 2:3 . ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων , from the ages ) during which the silence had been greater. ἀπὸ τῶν γενεῶν , from the generations ) during which the revelation of other things was gradually made. The ‘Ages’ are to be referred to angels, the ‘generations’ to men. ἐφανερώθη , has been manifested ) the verb again after the participle. τοῖς ἁγίοις , to His saints ) Ephesians 3:8 , note.

Verse 27

Colossians 1:27 . Οἷς ) inasmuch as being persons, to whom . An explanation. ἠθέλησεν , it was the will of God ) most freely. ὁ πλοῦτος , the riches ) [descending] upon all men; see Ephesians 1:7 , note. ὅς , who ) for ὃ , which . Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν , Christ in you ) The parallel expressions are, ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν , and ἐν ὑμῖν , in the Gentiles , and in you. Christ in (among) the Gentiles was the greatest paradox at that time. Comp. in , Ephesians 3:8 , (17); 1 Timothy 3:16 . [3] ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς δόξης , the hope of glory ) Christ in us is a most delightful thing in itself, but much more delightful in respect of those things which shall be revealed, ch. Colossians 3:4 ; Ephesians 1:18 . So Romans 5:2 .

[3] Bengel, therefore, not attending to mere emphasis , also acknowledged here the same signification of the word ἐν , which Ernesti approves, in Attone Bibl. th. T. x. p. 130; but in the Germ. Vers., on the margin, he has not hesitated to intimate, that that maturer communion with Christ, which assuredly surpasses all human reason , is the delightful consequence of preaching among the Gentiles, by the quotation of Ephesians 3:17 . E. B.

Verse 28

Colossians 1:28 . Ἡμεῖς , we ) Colossians 1:1 [I and Timothy]. πάντα ἄνθρωπον , every man ) This expression, so often used, has the greatest δεινότης (vehemence) and force, and contains the reason why he writes even to them who are unknown to him, ch. Colossians 2:1 . The distribution of the all [“every man every man every man”] may be compared with ch. Colossians 3:11 . καὶ διδάσκοντες ) and teaching . νουθετοῦνται ( they are admonished ) is said of those who have been already taught, as the Colossians; διδάσκονται ( are taught ) is said of the ignorant and uninstructed. τέλειον ) See Ephesians 4:13 : perfect , without the elements of the world.

Verse 29

Colossians 1:29 . Ἀγωνιζόμενος , striving ) In ch. Colossians 2:1 , the conflict (comp. Col 4:12 ) refers to this word. κατὰ , according to ) Paul would not be able to strive in himself: he is only mighty, according as Christ works in him. αὐτοῦ , of Him ) of Christ .

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Colossians 1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.