Click here to learn more!
THE apostle leaves his scornful flagellation of the false teachers, and comes to a more congenial occupation. For though it is needful to refute error, it is more pleasant to inculcate truth. If the Colossian believers should act in accordance with their privileges-if they understood how the charge preferred against them by the law had been met with a discharge on the cross of Calvary-if the process of sanctification beginning in their hearts should work outward, and hallow and adorn their lives-if they felt that whatever blessings they enjoyed in part, or anticipated in fulness, sprang from union with Christ, then should they be fortified against every effort to induce them to sever themselves from the Head, and against every attempt to substitute reveries for truth, or human inventions for Divine enactments. Then, too, should they learn that worship does not consist of superstitious invocations, and that sanctification is not identical with fanatical austerities. Let them move in a spiritual region lifted far above those earthly vanities, and let them look down on them as the offspring of a morbid and self-deceived imagination, or the craving and the nutriment of a self-satisfied pride.
(Colossians 3:1.) Εἰ οὖν συνηγέρθητε τῷ Χριστῷ “If, then, ye have been raised together with Christ,” or are in a risen state. The particle οὖν is illative, and εἰ does not mean “if,” as if it betokened uncertainty, but it introduces a premiss on which a conclusion is to be based. It is somewhat of a syllogistic form, as Fritzsche, Kühner, and Meyer suppose, but the notion appears to be a needless refinement. There are few forms of reasoning or inference based upon fact or hypothesis, which cannot be moulded into a syllogism. There is no doubtfulness in the statement, it asserts an actual condition, as in many parts of the New Testament too numerous to quote. Hartung, ii. p. 202. The same meaning must be given to it as in Colossians 2:20. They had been dead in sins, but they had been quickened together with Christ. There may be a reference, as many suppose, to the phrase, “buried in baptism,” though there the allusion is to death to sin, not death in it. Now, the restoration of life implies resurrection, for the dead on being quickened do not lie in their sepulchres. The power that reanimated Lazarus immediately cried to him, “Come forth.” The nature and results of this spiritual resurrection are detailed under Ephesians 2:6. Union with Christ enjoys a peculiar and merited prominence “risen with Christ.” Their new position laid them under a special obligation, and they are thus enjoined “seek those things which are above”-
Τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖτε . The reference in ἄνω is here, as is proved by the concluding clause, to heaven “seek things in heaven.” There is no occasion to supply ἀγαθά , for it is implied. The expression is used in contrast with κάτω , and with τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς in the following verse. The same idea is often expressed, as in Philippians 3:14; Philippians 3:20; Matthew 6:20; Matthew 6:33; Galatians 4:26. The region of spiritual death is a nether-world, that of life is an elevated realm-the living not only rise, but they sit with Christ “in the heavenly places.” The precise locality is now indicated-
Οὗ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Θεοῦ καθήμενος “Where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” The ideas of honour, power, and felicity, implied in the declaration will be found under Ephesians 1:20. Illustrations or allusions occur in 1 Kings 2:19; 1 Samuel 20:25; Psalms 110:1; Revelation 3:21; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; Philippians 2:9.
The clause presents inducements to obey the injunction, “Seek those things which are above.” And these inducements lie in the statement of two facts. First, they have been raised up with Christ, and therefore they ought to seek things above. Any other search or desire would be very inconsistent. The image seems to be-the region of the dead is beneath; they are let down to their final resting-place. Should, then, a man rise from this dark and deep receptacle, and ascend to the living world, would he set his desires on the gloom, and chill, and rottenness, he had left behind him? Would he place the objects of his search among the coffins, and the mean and creeping things that live on putrefaction? Would he still seek for things below? At the very idea and memory of that locality would not his spirit shudder? And if the Christians at Colosse had been raised from a yet lower condition, and by a still nobler resurrection, should not similar feelings and associations rule their minds? Why should they be gazing downwards from their position, and groping amidst things so far beneath them? Their past state, with its sin and guilt, its degradation and misery, could surely have no attractions for them. Having been brought up, they must still look up; and what they seek must be in harmony with their own pure and elevated position- Sursum corda. And, secondly, Christ is above in a station of glory. Their union with Him will lead their thoughts to Him. Whatever the character of the things to be sought may be, they are to be found with Christ. Truth and blessing are from Him-promise and hope centre in Him. Whether the “things above” be a fuller glimpse of heaven, a higher preparation for it, or a sweeter foretaste of it; whether it be to learn its songs, reach a deeper sympathy with its enjoyments, or realize a living unity with its population; still, Christ at God's right hand enjoys a special pre-eminen ce, as those attainments are from Him, and the song, the service, and the inhabitants of heaven have Him as object, or as Lord. As the salvation which they experience comes from that blood by the shedding of which He rose to His glorious position-as there He intercedes so effectually, and governs so graciously, by word, providence, and Spirit-as there He holds heaven in their name, and prepares them for it-as their present life and peace originate in union with Him-a union to be realized yet more vividly when He shall bid them “come up hither;” therefore should their desire stretch away upward and onward towards Him and the scene he occupies “on the right hand of the glorious majesty.” “An high look,” though it be sin in ordinary things, and be the index of a proud heart, is yet the true aspect of a humble believer.
The form of expression, “things above,” while it has a distinctive meaning in Christianity, and is not a mere image, is one that is also based on our moral nature. Local elevation is the instinctive symbol of spiritual aspiration and refinement. Hence the origin of the phrases collected by some commentators from the classics.
(Colossians 3:2.) Τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖτε , μὴ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” The verb in this verse differs so far from that employed in the preceding, that it refers more to inner disposition, while the former is rather practical pursuit. The sure safeguard against seeking things below, is not to set the mind upon them. The “things above” have been already glanced at. The things “on the earth” are not, as Huther and Schrader suppose, the meat and drinks and other elements of the ascetic system which the apostle condemns, but such things as are the objects of usual and intense search among men. Philippians 3:19. The apostle does not urge any transcendental contempt of things below, but simply asks that the heart be not set upon them in the same way, and to the same extent, in which it is set upon things above. The pilgrim is not to despise the comforts which he may meet with by the way, but he is not to tarry among them, or leave them with regret. “Things on earth” are only subordinate and instrumental “things above” are supreme and final. Attachment to things on the earth is unworthy of one who has risen with Christ, for they are beneath him, and the love of them is not at all in harmony with his position and prospects. What can wealth achieve for him who has treasure laid up in heaven? Or honour for him who is already enthroned in the heavenly places? Or pleasure for him who revels in “newness of life”? Or power for him who is endowed with a moral omnipotence? Or fame for him who enjoys the approval of God? Nay, too often, when the “things on earth” are possessed, they concentrate the heart upon them, and the “look and thoughts are downward bent.” Bishop Wilson on this place observes “for things on earth too naturally draw us down, attract us, fix us. Esau's red pottage prevails over the bir thright. The guests in the parable turn away to their land, or oxen, or families. The Gadarene mind wishes Christ to depart from its coasts.” The things on earth are seen, therefore they are temporal; the things in heaven are unseen, and therefore they are eternal. If the mind be fully occupied with things above, things on earth will be barred out. The apostle adduces another reason, not indeed essentially different, but exhibiting another phasis of the argument-
(Colossians 3:3.) ᾿Απεθάνετε γάρ “For ye died.” The expression is general, and the apostle does not simply say, ye died to the world- τοῖς κάτω , or mundo -and should have no more concern with it, but he says, ye died, that is, with Christ, and all that is out of Christ, or hostile to Him, should cease to excite your attention or engross your industry. The apostle had said in the first verse that they had risen with Christ, here he resorts to a previous point in their spiritual career, and says they had already died. Colossians 2:20. Neither “seek nor savour” the things of earth; for having died, and having been even buried with Christ, your sphere of being, action, and enjoyment, is totally different from your former state. As Luther says- Wir leben nicht im Fleisch, sondern wir wohnen im Fleisch “we live not in the flesh, but we dwell in the flesh.” When they did die, their death was but a birth into a new life, for he adds-
Καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν κέκρυπται σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ ἐν τῷ Θεῷ “And your life has been hidden with Christ in God.” The death is past and over, but the life has been hid, and still is in that hidden state- κέκρυπται . The peculiar phraseology of the clause has suggested a variety of interpretations. There are many who regard this life as future or eternal life, laid up for Christians with Christ in God. So the Greek Fathers, and many who partly follow them, such as Erasmus, Rosenmüller, Barnes, and Meyer. We apprehend that the apostle speaks not of the resurrection, as Theodoret supposes, but of a spiritual life enjoyed now, though not in the meantime fully developed. That life which we now live in the flesh has a hidden source with Christ in God-its infinite fountain. The idea of Olshausen is somewhat different, for he places the notion of concealment in the nature of the life more than in its source. He says “the life of believers is called hidden, inasmuch as it is inward, and the outward does not correspond with it.” Von Gerlach says “his life is not in him, but it is in Christ.” The exegesis of De Wette is similar. This life, he says, is hidden, being inner as opposed to being visible- innerlich nicht auf das sichtbare gerichtet ist -and as being ideal, not- real oder offenbar. Barnes, again, lays too much stress on the idea of security: eternal life is “safely deposited” with Christ in God. a-Lapide finds his choicest illustration of the phrase in the seclusion of monastic life. We cannot agree with such as hold that the apostle calls this a hidden life, as being concealed from the world, inasmuch as he counsels them to make the results of it more apparent, and to show their vitality in their modes of action. The mortification of the members which is enjoined in the following verse, is but the fruit and expansion of this life. As it diffuses itself, it carries death with it to all sinful propensities. Now, of this life God is the source, and Christ the channel; and when it is said to be hid “with Christ in God,” the meaning is not only that channel and fountain are both supersensuous and invisible, but that our connection with them is also a matter of inner experience-not as yet of full and open manifestation.
This life is hidden σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ “with Christ,” for He is its medium, and our union with Him gives us life; and it is hidden with Him ἐν τῷ Θεῷ “in God,” not merely as He is now removed from view and exalted to God's right hand, but as He enjoys supreme repose and fellowship in the bosom of His Father. Böhmer's connection of ζωή at once with σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ is forbidden by the position of the words; and the eccentric and baseless interpretation of Calixtus and Heinrichs needs not be mentioned. The idea of concealment, and not that of security, seems to be principally contained in the verb, for it is placed in contrast with open manifestation at Christ's appearance. If the apostle had meant our future life, then the idea of security might naturally be found in this concealment. But he speaks of present life-life really, though partially enjoyed, life giving a palpable, though feeble, demonstration of its health and vigour. The prepositions σύν and ἐν express, as Meyer remarks, the first coherence, and the second inherence.
This life is at once divine and mediatorial-God's gift to believers through Christ; and the gift, along with its medium and its destiny, are hidden in the Giver, as the infinite source. But this concealment is no argument against present and partial enjoyment; for one may drink of the stream and be unable either to detect its source, which hides itself far away and high among the mountains, or conjecture at what distant point its deepening current pours itself into the ocean. The life is not said, by the apostle, to be hidden in itself, either from the world or from believers themselves, as so many commentators suppose. True, indeed, it is mysterious. It is not among things of vulgar gaze. It is a strange experience; none can know it save he who has it. For Christians die and yet live; nay, the moment of death is that of life-the instant of expiry is that of birth. Yet this life is now enjoyed-is therefore now a matter of secret consciousness, though much about it is beyond inquiry and analysis. No one can lay bare the principle of physical life; the knife of the anatomist cannot uncover the cord which binds the conscious thinking essence to its material organ and habitation. But the special thought of the apostle is, that the ethereal nature of spiritual life eludes research, alike in its origin and destiny. Its source is too high for us to climb to it, and its destiny is too noble to be written in human language. As to the former, it is hidden with Christ in God; and as to the latter, it shall not be fully revealed till Christ come the second time in glory. But it shall be ultimately disclosed. For Christ, with whom our life is hidden, shall reveal Himself, and we whose life is so hidden with Him shall also appear with Him in glory. When its medium is revealed, its character and destiny shall also be laid bare.
(Colossians 3:4.) ῞Οταν ὁ Χριστὸς φανερωθῇ ἡ ζωὴ ἡμῶν , τότε καὶ ὑμεῖς σὺν αὐτῷ φανερωθήσεσθε ἐν δόξῃ “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then, too, shall ye with Him be revealed in glory.” The form ὑμῶν appears, on good authority, to be preferable to the ἡμῶν of the Received Text. The verb φανερωθῇ is opposed to the κέκρυπται of the previous verse. There is concealment now, but there shall be ultimate and glorious disclosure. 1 John 1:2; 1 John 3:2; 1 John 3:5; Rom 8:18 ; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 5:4. Christ is termed “our life;” and in the former verse our life is said to be hid with Him. He is our life, not simply because he reveals it, and He alone has “the words of eternal life;” nor yet because coming that we “might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly,” He “died that we might live,” and has given us this blessed pledge “as I live, ye shall live also;” but specially, because by His Spirit, as His representative, He enters into the heart and gives it life-fans and fosters it by his continuous abode-gratifies all its instincts, and evokes all its susceptibilities by His word and His presence. “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.”
When it is said “Christ our life shall appear,” the meaning is, that He shall appear in the character of our life. In this peculiar aspect of His operation shall He make Himself manifest. To appear as our life, implies our relation to Him as His living ones; and the unveiling of the Fountain shall allow the eye to discover the myriads of rivulets which issue out of it; or, as our life is hid with Christ, so, when Christ comes out of His hiding-place, our life shall accompany Him into openness and light. Nay more, as our life, He appears to perfect it, and to give it fulness and finality of development. At present it is checked by a variety of causes. It exists in a body “dead because of sin,” and it feels the chill of a mortality that so closely envelops it. The distance, too, implied in the fact-that it is hidden with Christ in God-keeps it from its perfect strength, and induces occasional debility and lassitude; but the revelation of Christ brings it into nearness and vigour. Nay more, at that period, the body is to be brought into harmony with it, and “mortality shall be swallowed up of life.” For He who is our life shall diffuse life through us “change our vile body, and fashion it like unto His own glorious body.” The physical frame then to be raised, spiritualized, and imbued with life, shall be a fit receptacle for the living soul within it, which shall then indulge its tastes without hindrance, feeling no barrier to activity in any of its occupations-no stint to capacity in any of its enjoyments. Hiems nostra, says Augustine, Christi occultatio, aestas nostra, Christi revelatio. Suicer remarks- gloria capitis est gloria corporis et membrorum. For the apostle describes, as the consequence of the appearance of Christ our life, that “we, too, shall appear with Him in glory.” Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:2. Since He appears as our life, so to a ppear with Him is, on our part, to appear as partakers of His life. The source, progress, and maturity of our life shall then be fully apparent-how it originated, and how it was sustained-what course it took, and what obstacles it encountered-how it was still supported, and still maintained its hold-how it was felt in our own consciousness, and yet had its hidden spring “with Christ in God”-and what shall be now its high crown and its magnificent destiny-all shall be seen in the living and life-filling brightness of “Christ our life.” The followers of Christ shall surround Him in triumph, a dense and glorious retinue “ye, too, shall appear with Him,” and that- ἐν δόξῃ .
It would be wrong to restrict this “glory” to any special aspect of final perfection. It consists, as Davenant, after the schoolmen, says, of the “robe of the soul and the robe of the body.” It is here the result of life- vita gloriosa, of life in its highest form and fullest manifestation - life diffused through “spirit, soul, and body.” Nor is our appearance in glory with Christ a momentary gleam; it is rather the first burst of unending splendour. And it has, or shall have, for its elements-final freedom from the sins and sorrows of earth; perfect holiness beyond the possibility of loss, with unmingled felicity beyond the reach of forfeit; an endless abode in heaven, and in the brightest province of it; the rapturous adoration of God, and unbroken fellowship with Christ; the exalted companionship of angels and genial spirits of human kindred; and the successful pursuit of Divine knowledge in a realm where no shadow ever falls, but where is chanted the high halleluiah, welling out of the consciousness that all this ecstasy is of sovereign grace, ay, all of it sealed to us for eternity, in connection with “Christ our life.”
The apostle now descends to particularize certain forms of sins which were very prevalent in heathendom-in which they themselves had revelled during their prior state of gloom and degradation, but which they must now and for ever abandon.
(Colossians 3:5.) Νεκρώσατε οὖν τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς “Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth.” “Therefore,” since such are the peculiarities and prospects of your spiritual state, act in harmony with them; and since you have died, diffuse the process of death through all your members. If the heart is dead, let all the organs which it once vivified and moved die too-nay, put them to death. Let them be killed from want of nutriment and exercise. Similar language is found in Romans 8:13, where θανατοῦτε is employed; and in Galatians 5:24, where occurs the modal verb σταυρώσατε . In τὰ μέλη , the allusion is to members of the body, taken not in a physical, but in a spiritual sense. Hilary, Grotius, Bengel, and others, destroy the point of the allusion in regarding sin itself as a body, and its special parts as members. The apostle had strongly condemned asceticism, and declared it in the conclusion of the preceding chapter to be an absolute failure, and he now shows how the end it contemplated is to be secured. There is no reason for Meyer to deny that the apostle regards “the old man” as the body to which such members belong. It is not, indeed, the eye, foot, and hand, as these are in themselves, or as they belong to the physical frame, but as they belong to, and are in subjection to the “old man.” The phrase is to be understood in the same spirit as our Lord's emphatic declaration about the plucking out of the right eye, and the cutting off of the right arm. Matthew 5:29. The lust that uses and debases these organs or members as its instruments, is to be extirpated.
And the “members” are characterized as being τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς “upon the earth.” The allusion is to the previous phraseology “set your affections not on things on the earth.” That is to say, earth is the sphere of their existence and operation; and as they belong to it, they are to be killed, for they are in utter antagonism with that higher life which is hid with Christ in God. They are “of the earth, earthy”-their essence is earthy, and so are their temptations, sources, and forms of enjoyment. The man who possesses a life that has its spring in heaven, and seeks and relishes things above, will not stoop to gratifications which are so far beneath him in nature, so utterly opposed to that new and spiritual existence which he cherishes within him, and which grows in power and health in proportion to the thoroughness and universality of the death which is executed on the “members which are on the earth.” The apostle then enumerates some of these forms of sensuality.
Πορνείαν , ἀκαθαρσίαν , πάθος , ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν “Fornication, impurity, lust, and evil concupiscence.” These accusatives are in apposition to τὰ μέλη . The first two terms are found in Ephesians 5:3, and denote fornication and lewdness. 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19. See especially under Ephesians 4:19, where the second occurs, and is described. But, in fact, the shapes and kinds of lewdness, to be found not only in the pagan worship, and in the symbols carried in religious processions, but also in common life, as depicted on tables and furniture, are beyond description. The term πάθος is too lightly understood by Grotius and Chrysostom, as signifying- motus vitiosi, such as anger and hatred; and perhaps too darkly by such as refer it wholly to unnatural lust. The noun does not seem of itself to have this last sense, but it occurs with a special adjunct in Romans 1:26; and the adjective, παθικός , has an indescribable baseness. It seems here to denote the state of mind that urges and excites to impurity- τὸ ἐρωτικὸν πάθος , that condition in which man is mastered by unchastity, and the imagination being defiled, is wholly at the mercy of obscene associations. It is morbus libidinis, as Bengel says. The next term, ἐπιθυμία κακή , refers to the same circle of vices, and is more general in its nature. The four words may be regarded as in two pairs. The prior pair refers to act, the first term more particular, and the second more comprehensive; the second pair to impulse, the first again more special, and the second more sweeping in its nature. They were no longer to be guilty of fornication, or any similar deed of lewdness; they were no longer to be filled with libidinous thoughts, or any other prurient feelings, having their i ssue in lecherous indulgences.
Καὶ τὴν πλεονεξίαν ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρεία “And that covetousness which is idolatry.” The form ἥτις may correspond to the Latin quippe quae -since indeed. The reader may turn for the meaning of πλεονεξία , and its occurrence in this connection, to our comment on Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3-5. The noun πλεον . has the article, which none of the preceding substantives have, and it alone is the antecedent to ἥτις . Winer, § 24, 3. We believe that it does not characterize any form of sensuality, or quaestum meretricium, as the Greek expositors, and others after them, suppose, though it denotes a vice that has its origin in the same selfish or self-seeking depravity. Trench, in his New Testament Synonyms, § 24, has some excellent observations on this word, remarking that the πλεονέκτης is as free in scattering and squandering as he was eager and unscrupulous in getting; that monsters of covetousness have been also monsters of lust; and that πλεονεξία is a far deeper passion than mere miserliness or avarice, as being “the fierce and ever fiercer longing of the creature which has turned from God to fill itself with the inferior objects of sense.” This desire of having more, and yet more, is idolatry. What it craves it worships, what it worships it makes its portion. To such a god there is given the first thought of the morning, the last wish of the evening, and the action of every waking hour.
(Colossians 3:6.) Δἰ ἃ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ “On account of which sins cometh the wrath of God.” The reading δἰ ὅ has also several authorities in its favour. On the meaning of the clause see our exposition of Ephesians 5:5. This special wrath is often suffered on earth, and it is not wholly reserved for the other world. Meyer, as in the correspondent place in the Epistle to the Ephesians, denies that the ὀργή is manifested here, and justifies his opinion by pointing to Paul's certain conviction of the near approach of the day of judgment. The sins mentioned in the previous verse are, as we have shown on Ephesians 5:6, often visited by penalty on earth. The next clause of the Textus Receptus- ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας -is excluded by Tischendorf, but without sufficient authority. It is wanting in B, certainly, but this is a solitary MS. witness. The clause occurs in Ephesians 5:6, and is there explained, as also under Ephesians 2:2-3. They who indulge in such vices, not only disobey the Divine statute, but also violate the laws of their own constitution. This ὀργή is more than chastisement, or κόλασις , it is direct and punitive indignation frequently inflicted here in the form of physical debility and disease, remorse and stupefaction.
(Colossians 3:7.) ᾿Εν οἷς καὶ ὑμεῖς περιεπατήσατέ ποτε ὅτε ἐζῆτε ἐν τούτοις . The relative οἷς may be either masculine or neuter, as it is referred to υἱούς , or to the ἅ of the previous verse. Each construction has been vindicated. With Olshausen and Bähr, we prefer the neuter, not only because περιπατεῖν is usually employed in connection with things, and not persons, but because the believers in Colosse are said, in the next clause, to have lived in them, and in the 8th verse, to have thrown them all off. Calvin says- male Erasmus vertit, inter quos. Meyer prefers the masculine in this first clause, but is obliged to change the gender in reference to τούτοις in the second clause. “In which lusts ye too once walked;” “walked” having, of course, its common tropical meaning. But that period was now over-a new era had dawned; and their walk was in a widely different sphere, one in which, by the assistance of the Spirit, they copied the example of Jesus, and sought, and were acquiring a growing preparation for the purity and bliss of heaven.
῞Οτε ἐζῆτε ἐν τούτοις . Τούτοις , and not αὐτοῖς , on the evidence of A, B, C, D 1 , E 1 , though αὐτοῖς has in its favour D, E 2 , F, G, J, K. Flatt, Böhmer, Huther, and others, take τούτοις to be masculine; an exegesis which does not give any tolerable meaning. In ἐζῆτε there is an allusion by contrast to the ἀπεθάνετε . They once lived in such sins. Life is here used in a spiritual, and not in its physical sense, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:8. Other instances may be found in the classics- possemne vivere, says Cicero, nisi in litteris viverem? Libanius describes Alexander as ἐν ᾿Οδυσσειᾷ ζῶν ; Aelian ( Hist. Var. 3.13) speaks of a people so fond of wine- ὥστε ζῆς αὐτοὺς ἐν οἴνῳ ; and we have the phrase οἱ ζῶντες -they who enjoy life. They had felt supreme enjoyment in such indulgences. So much had they been engrossed with them, and such fancied gratification did they find in them, that they might be said to “live in them.” The difference of meaning between the two verbs has been variously understood, but there needs no special definition. They once walked in such lusts, when they lived in them; that is, they were utterly addicted to them, for they believed that life or happiness was to be found in them. Calvin says the verbs differ, as do potentia et actus.
(Colossians 3:8.) Νυνὶ δὲ ἀπόθεσθε καὶ ὑμεῖς τὰ πάντα “But now do ye also put off the whole.” The words καὶ ὑμεῖς here correspond to καὶ ὑμεῖς in the preceding verse, and νυνί stands out in contrast with ποτέ . The verb is found in Ephesians 4:25. Wolf is wrong in referring πάντα to μέλη , which is so far distant from it. The phrase τὰ πάντα is the entire circle of vices; not, as Winer says, this or that all (intensive), but “the all which is immediately adduced,” § 18, 1. A radical and extensive change had taken place; but ( δέ adversative) they were to “cast off” that slough in which were lodged all degrading sins. The catalogue or class of sins is subjoined.
᾿Οργὴν , θυμὸν , κακίαν , βλασφημίαν , αἰσχρολογίαν ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν - “Anger, indignation, malice, calumny, abusive discourse out of your mouth.” The apostle observes a different order, and uses some other terms in Ephesians 4:31. Under that place the first four terms repeated here have been explained. Bähr and Trench take ὀργή in distinction from θυμός , as denoting settled indignation bordering on revenge. This is the Stoical definition- ἐπιθυμία τιμωρίας ; and it is also the opinion of Origen, as brought out in his exposition of the second Psalm. Still, we think that though ὀργή characterizes a habit or state, the idea of visible display is usually associated with it, as indeed the phrase ὀργὴ θυμοῦ often found in the Septuagint plainly implies; and, as is manifest from the diction of the previous verse, “the wrath of God cometh. ” ᾿Οργή is the outburst, or the vice in a palpable form; θυμός is the violent emotion that boils within; while κακία points to the state of heart in which malice originates, and βλασφημία is that calumnious denunciation to which anger so often prompts. As regards αἰσχρολογία , which occurs only here, we agree with De Wette and Trench, that its meaning is not to be confined to obscene speech. That it has this express meaning is beyond any doubt, but it also often denotes generally foul or abusive language, and as it is so closely connected with the passion of anger, such may be its meaning here. It is therefore a more comprehensive term than βλασφημία , as the first refers to what especially injures character, and the second to what offends in any sense, not only to what hurts the ear of modesty, but to whatever in any form is scurrilous and indecent- that mixture of ribaldry and profanity which too often escapes from the burning lips of passion. The addition, ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν , may belong to both βλασφ . and αἰσχρ . with the verb ἀπόθεσθε mentally repeated. Nor can we give the words the emphasis which Theophylact attaches to them. “See,” says he, “how he recounts the members of the old man,” that is, shows how each sins, as “the mind by falsehood, the heart by anger, the mouth by blasphemy, eyes and hidden members by fornication, the liver by evil concupiscence, the hands by covetousness.”
From sins of malignity, the apostle passes to sins of falsehood.
(Colossians 3:9.) Μὴ ψεύδεσθε εἰς ἀλλήλους “Do not lie to one another.” As one of the Greek Fathers says, falsehood ill became them who avowed themselves disciples of Him who said, “I am the truth.” The apostle, in writing to the Ephesians, adds as a reason why they should adhere to the truth “we are members one of another.” He does not here say, as some suppose, lie not against or about one another, that is, to the damage of one another; but his meaning is, in all your communications among yourselves, never depart from the truth.
The connection of the following clause is best ascertained by adherence to the literal meaning of the participle, ἀπεκδυσάμενοι “having put off the old man with his deeds.” The Vulgate gives exuentes in the present time, and is followed by Luther, Bengel, Storr, De Wette, and Huther. The putting off of the old man, as described by the aorist, cannot be contemporary with the foregoing imperatives, but it precedes them. It is a process consummated, and so Calvin, Bähr, Böhmer, and Meyer rightly understand it. Beza says correctly, that the participles are used αἰτιολογικῶς . These participles are not to be taken in the sense of imperatives, as the first class of expositors virtually regards them, but they unfold a reason why the sins condemned should be uniformly abstained from. Lie not one to another, as being persons who have put off the old man; or, as the participle has often a causal sense-since ye have put off the old man with his deeds. De Wette says that such an argument is superfluous, but surely the paragraph may conclude as it began, with an argument. The first argument is, ye are dead; and the second contains one of the results of that spiritual death with Christ.
᾿Απεκδυσάμενοι τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον σὺν ταῖς πράξεσιν αὐτοῦ “Since ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” The expressive personality “old man”-has been explained under Ephesians 4:22. It is a bold personification of our first nature as derived from Adam, the source and seat of original and actual transgression, and called “old,” as existing prior to our converted state. This ethical person is to be put off from us as one puts off clothes, and with all his deeds-all the practices which characterized him, and the sins to which he excited. This was a change deeper by far than asceticism could ever reach. For it was a total revolution. Self-denial in meats and drinks, while it prunes the excrescence, really helps the growth of the plant, but this uproots it.
(Colossians 3:10.) Καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν νέον , τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον . As the old man is thrown off the new man is assumed. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle inserts between the off-putting and the on-putting a clause in reference to renewal “in the spirit of the mind,” and there using a different adjective he calls the new man τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον , but he had previously used the verb ἀνανεοῦσθαι . Here, he says τὸν νέον [ ἄνθρωπον b, but he adds τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον . So that though it be in different forms, both terms are employed in both places. If the verbal term from νέος be followed by the epithet καινός in Ephesians, and if in Colossians the epithet νέος be followed by the verbal term from καινός , it is plain that the same general meaning is intended by the apostle. Though νέος and καινός may be distingu shed, their meaning is thus blended. If νέος be “recent,” and in this sense be opposed to παλαιός , then this recency springs from renewal. The one man is old, for he belonged to a past and former state; and the other is new, for his assumption was to them but a novelty, a matter of yesterday in their spiritual experience.
This man is new not only in point of time, but of quality or character, for he is renewed- εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν . It is not the idea of Paul in this expression, that the new man, still renewing, never grows old, ἥτις οὐ παλαιοῦται -as the Greek expositors imagine. Rather would we say, with Calovius, that he is called “ re-novatus, because he was once novus at his first creation,” and as the preposition ἀνα would fairly seem to imply. Man must be brought back to his original purity, but the process of renovation is continuous, as the use of the present participle indicates. Bähr quotes Augustine as saying- in ipso animo renati non est perfecta novitas. We cannot take the participle to be simply a predicate of ἄνθρωπον , for the construction points out its connection with νέον . The new man (the present participle being used) is renewing, as the apostle affirms- ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ -in 2 Corinthians 4:6; or, as Theophylact says, ἀεὶ καὶ ἀεί .
In the phrase εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν , the preposition cannot signify the instrumental cause of the renewal, but it denotes the final purpose. The new man is renewed “unto knowledge.” The meaning of ἐπίγνωσις may be seen under Ephesians 1:17; and in this epistle, Colossians 1:9; Colossians 2:2. And that perfect knowledge has a close connection with God, for it is characterized as being-
Κατ᾿ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν “After the image of Him who created him.” A large number of expositors connect the clause directly with the participle ἀνακαινούμενον , the image of God being the pattern after which the believer is renewed. Meyer joins it more closely to εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν , but the meaning is not materially different. The likeness is renewed after the image of God, and the special feature of that image selected by the apostle is knowledge. The knowledge of the renewed man corresponds in certain elements to that of God. Other features of resemblance of a moral nature are referred to in the parallel passage, Ephesians 4:24. That image is said to belong to God the creator, not Christ, as was supposed in the early church, and as is understood by Müller. A peculiar exegesis is adopted by a-Lapide and Schleiermacher, the former making τοῦ κτίσαντος the object of the knowledge; and the latter thus explaining the image- so erneuet, dass man an ihm das Ebenbild Gottes erkennen kann.
But what creation is referred to? Is it the first or the second creation? Many incline to the first view, as if the apostle meant that man is brought back to that likeness which God gave him on the day of creation. So Calovius, Heinsius, Estius, Schoettgen, and De Wette. But though this be a truth, it is not that precise form of truth conveyed by the apostle's language. It is not of man generally, but of the new man that he speaks-the new man renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him who created him, to wit, the new man. The apostle does not say-who created you. The new man is the converted spiritual nature, not the man himself in proper person. It is this creation of the new man, not that of the man himself, which is ascribed to God. Thus, the parallel passage in Ephesians 4:24 says expressly “the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” This new nature is of God, and not of self-development. All creation is indeed from God, and this new creation is no exception. The new man is not the ethical symbol of a mere reformation which a strong will may achieve; nor is it any change of creed, party, or opinions, which is the result of personal examination and conviction. These are but as statuary, compared with living humanity; for however close the resemblance, there is always, in spite of highest art, the still eye and the motionless lip. Yes, God's work is a living power, something so compact and richly endowed, so fitted to our nature, and so much a part of us as to be called a man, but at the same time so foreign to all previous powers and enjoyments as to be called the new man.
As the first man was made by God, and in His image, so is this new man. The special point of resemblance stated is knowledge. This may have been selected, as an allusion to the boasted knowledge and proud philosophy of the false teachers in Colosse. Colossians 2:2. There are, it is true, many points in which our relative knowledge shall never, and can never, resemble the absolute Divine omniscience. But as the Spirit is the source of our knowledge, no one can predict what amount of it, or what forms of it, He may communicate when the mind is freed from every shadow and bias, and is surrounded with an atmosphere of universal truth. Human language is necessarily an imperfect vehicle of thought, and it may then be dispensed with. “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face,”-our conceptions shall resemble God's in fulness and truth; for no dim medium of intellectual vision shall shade or disturb our views. Immediate cognition shall also be our privilege “now we know in part, but then shall we know, even as we are known.”
In accordance with that strange theory by which Müller would account for the origin of sin-a theory at once above the domain of consciousness and beyond the limits of Scripture, he denies that there is any biblical warrant for the idea that man, having lost the image of God by the fall, has it restored to him under the gospel by the renovating influence of the Spirit of God. His notion of a pre-temporal state, in which man fell, when, how, or where, he does not say, necessitates him to the conclusion, that when Adam fell, man lost nothing, but that there was only awakened in him the consciousness of a previous want and deficiency, so that sinful principles already within him acquired universal dominion over the human race. A transition, on the part of Adam, from an absolutely pure state into one of sin, is not, he holds, necessarily contained in the inspired record. “The narrative of the first sin, as well as the description of that condition which preceded it, does not of necessity lead us to any further idea than that of an initial state in which sin has not yet made its appearance,” and does not imply, “that Adam through his fall implanted in human nature a principle previously foreign to it.” Müller's inference, of course, is, that it cannot be properly said that the Divine image is restored to man, seeing that on earth, at least, he never possessed it. The passage before us, and the parallel passage in Ephesians 4:24, certainly affirm that the new man is the reflection of the Divine image in some of its features. They do not indeed affirm, in as many words, that he becomes possessed of the same Divine image which he once enjoyed. But the statement is virtually implied. Had man never this Divine image, and does he enjoy it for the first time through faith in Christ? “The new man,” Müller says, & ldq uo;is the holy form of human life which results from redemption.” Now, not to say that the very idea of redemption, reconciliation, or renewal, implies a restoration to some previous state in which none of them was needed, there being in that state no penalty to be ransomed from, no enmity to be subdued, and no impurity to be cleansed away-let us see what revelation teaches as to man's primeval condition and his possession of the Divine image.
The idea of “non-temporal sinfulness” we must discard as a speculation about which Scripture is completely silent, and which, putting the lapse of ideal humanity beyond the period of paradise, only shifts back the difficulty in proportion, but does not explain it. In Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 5:1, we are told that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but no formal explanation of the phraseology is attached. Opinions have varied as to the meaning of the peculiar phrase; some, like Pott, Rosenmüller, and von Bohlen, placing it almost in physical form, rising scarcely as high as the heathen Ovid; some regarding it as a general expression of the dignity of the race, like Herder, Schumann, Delitzsch, and Knobel; others finding in it the idea of dominion over the lower creatures-like Ephrem, Grotius, and Tuch; and others, as Calvin, and the majority of the Reformers and Theologians, regarding it too exclusively as the symbol of spiritual capacities and powers.
But what do we gather from Scripture? In the edict against murder, Genesis 9:6, the atrocity of the crime is taught by the doctrine, that “in the image of God made He man.” On this express account the life of animals formally delivered into man's hand for meat, has not the sacredness of human life. Further, the Apostle James (Colossians 3:9) exposes the rashness and inconsistency of sins of the tongue, blessing God in one breath, and in another cursing man “made after the similitude of God.” If man did not still retain this image of God, there would be no sin either in killing or cursing him. Therefore this image referred to is something altogether independent of the fact or development of sin in man's nature, for it is still possessed, and ought to shield him from violence and anathema.
This image, so unaffected by the fall, plainly results from man's position as a creature. His physical formation is not only noble and supreme, but as a rational and immortal creature, and as God's representative to the lower creation, he bears the image of God. These endowments yet remain to him. He has not been degraded from the erectness of his mien, nor have reason and immortality been penally wrested from him. And thus through himself he still learns what God is, or rather, is enabled to comprehend lessons on the nature and attributes of God by the analogies of his own mental and spiritual constitution. For, when he is told that God knows or loves, he naturally and necessarily forms his ideas of the Divine knowledge or affection, by feeling what these properties are within himself, and by inferring what they must be when resident in an infinite and unchanging essence. Or if he be informed that God is a person, his own conscious and unmerging individuality leads him at once to attach a correct and definite meaning to the term, and he is in himself a living witness against Pantheistic folly and delusion.
But is this all that is meant by the Divine image? Müller says, that it simply consists in “personal essence,” and that man is thereby distinguished from other classes of existences. But we apprehend that the expression reaches deeper than this. There are certain properties or privileges which man has forfeited by the fall, and which are affirmed to have been originally possessed or enjoyed by him. Ignorance and spiritual death now characterize him. But is not spiritual intelligence a portion of the Divine image-the reflection of God's own light? There is also what the apostle, Ephesians 4:18, calls “the life of God,” and from that we are now alienated; but would that mere personal essence on which Müller insists, bear any resemblance to God at all, if such vitality did not fill it? A personal essence with the gloom of ignorance within it, and the eclipse of death upon it, could not be recognized as bearing the Divine image. Therefore a mere personality devoid of such intelligence and life, could scarcely be called the image of God, or regarded as constituting the whole of it. And yet, though they formed a portion of that image, they have been lost by the fall, and are reconferred only in Christ. Besides, can any one bear the moral image of God and not be happy-not be a partaker of His immortal blessedness? But dissatisfaction and misery are the doom of fallen humanity, everywhere, and at all times.
That man was once filled with wisdom, purity, life, and happiness, appears to be the repeated statement of Scripture. The theory of Müller consistently says, man never had these on earth, and therefore could not lose them. But the narrative of Genesis, though it do not treat the subject dogmatically, presents the picture of an innocent creature, tempted by the serpent, and doomed for his apostasy to toil and death. Does Prof. Müller believe that the sin of man in an ideal ante-creational state was followed by no penalty? Or was the penalty of this kind, that the sinner was only subjected to another trial in another sphere, with the sad certainty that the germs of evil would ripen into fatal action? The narrative in Genesis must be interpreted in the light of the other and subsequent Scriptures, and they plainly teach that Adam's transgression is the primary source of prodigious spiritual loss.
Our belief therefore is, that the Divine image, in which man was made, consists of more than personal essence, or dominion over the inferior creatures. These, indeed, belong to it, and are still retained by man. The gospel, therefore, has no effect upon them save to hallow them. Man did not forfeit manhood by his fall, and of necessity, what is essential to his manhood and his position still belongs to him. For his creational relationship to the God above him and the existences beneath him, could not be impaired, or his annihilation or metamorphosis would have been the result. But while manhood has not been lost, its nobler characteristics, without which the original image would have been imperfect, have been obliterated. What belongs to constitution, fallen man has retained; what belongs to quality and character has gone from him. The latter is a portion of the image as much as the former; the image, not of a Divine essence, but of an intelligent, holy, and blessed Divine person. And those features of the image which have been lost through the fall, are given back to the disciples of Christ.
We do not base any argument on the statement that the fallen Adam begat a son in his own image, whereas the Creator made man in His image. Nor do we imagine that any such notion of a double image of God, one essential and incapable of loss, and another moral and liable to be erased, can be found at all in the use of the two terms ֶצלֶם , H7512 and דַּמוּת , H1952, as they are both separated and interchanged in the sacred record. Nor have we begged the question by arguing back from the verse before us, and assuming from the image of the new man created by God, what the image of the first man created by Him must have been. For the apostle does not say that the new man is renewed in knowledge after Him who originally created humanity, but after the image of Him who creates himself-the new man. Indeed, the image conferred in renovation, though generically the same, cannot be in all points identical with that given in creation. It is fuller and lovelier, a richer intelligence with nobler objects of cognition; a higher form of life, having its type in the normal man-the second Adam; both reaching forward to a development to which neither means nor scope could have been found in Eden, or in simple connection with the first man, who is “of the earth, earthy.” In fine, we are not sure if Müller's theory does not contain, by implication, what we have advanced. In illustrating the declaration of Paul, that ‘in God we live, move, and have our being,” he says “God has willed man to be like Himself, in order that there might be a being which should be capable of fellowship with Him.” But surely mere personality could not of itself constitute such a likeness, or lead inherently to such a communion. It must possess other qualities than simple consciousness to give it this resemblance, and fit it for this enjoyment of Him. Therefore these qualities, as we have contended, did and must belong to thi s first image, and being lost in the fall, are and must be restored to the second image, which characterizes and beautifies the “new man.”
(Colossians 3:11.) ῞Οπου οὐκ ἔνι ῞Ελλην καὶ ᾿Ιουδαῖος “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew.” The first adverb refers to the preceding clause, “in which sphere of renewal,” or simply, the idea of locality being so far sunk, “in which thing;” as in 2 Peter 2:11; Proverbs 26:20. The peculiar term ἔνι is supposed by many to be the contracted form of ἔνεστι . Phavorinus defines it by ἐστίν , ὑπάρχει . Others regard it as the simple preposition in the Ionic form; “the notion of the verb,” as Kühner says, “being so subordinate that it is dropt.” Such is the view of Robinson, Buttmann, and Winer, etc. But in this place the idea of the preposition is already expressed by ὅπου . There is also the analogy of other prepositions similarly used, such as ἔπι and πάρα . Perhaps the supposition of the Etymologicum Magnum is correct, that ἔνι is elliptical, leaving the reader to supply what part of the verb the syntax requires. In all the places of the New Testament where it is used it is preceded by οὐκ , and expresses a strong negation. Galatians 3:28; James 1:17. There is probably in the phrase the idea also of inner existence-where there does exist any inner distinction of Greek or Jew.
The apostle now specifies various mundane distinctions.
῞Ελλην καὶ ᾿Ιουδαῖος , περιτομὴ καὶ ἀκροβυστία , βάρβαρος , Σκύθης , δοῦλος , ἐλεύθερος . The first pair is the natural distinction of “Greek and Jew.” The noun ἕλλην , as opposed to βάρβαρος , means a Greek proper, and as opposed to ᾿Ιουδαῖος , signifies one belonging to the Greek world, and perhaps viewing that world as the representative of that civilized heathenism which was brought into close and extensive correspondence with Palestine. Romans 1:14; Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9; Galatians 3:28. The noun ᾿Ιουδαῖος means a Jew, originally and merely one of the tribe of Judah; but latterly, as that tribe on its return from Babylon was so ascendant, it came to denote any one of the Hebrew race. There is no ground for the idea of the Greek expositors that ἕλλην means a proselyte, and ᾿Ιουδαῖος a native Jew- ἐκ προγόνων , as Chrysostom has it. The second couple of epithets points out a religious distinction- περιτομὴ καὶ ἀκροβυστία , “circumcision and uncircumcision.” The “circumcision” is the Jewish world, as Abraham's progeny, with the seal of the covenant in its flesh, and distinguished by its theocratic privileges, while the “uncircumcision” is non-Israel, or all the world beyond the chosen seed, and destitute of religious blessing. It has been said that the apostle uses four pairs of terms, but he drops the use of the καί , and there is no contrast between βάρβαρος - Σκύθης “barbarian-Scythian.” While the epithet ἀκροβυστία applied to the whole world beyond Israel, there were various distinctions in that world itself. The Hellenic section was elevated by refinement and culture, but other portions were debased and wretched. The two terms now under review appear to differ only in intensity. The Scythian is one at the lowest point of barbarism, as we might say-a negro, or even a Hottentot-a savage, or even a Bushman. The Scythian races, represented by the modern Tartar or Cossack races of Asia and Eastern Europe, were regarded as at the bottom of the scale. Scythians, according to Josephus, were βραχὺ τῶν θηρίων διαφέροντες -while Herodotus calls them cannibals- ἀνθρωποφάγοι . Cicero against Piso uses a similar climax- quod nullus in Barbaria. Quis hoc facit ulla in Scythia tyrannus? The next two terms represent a social distinction, δοῦλος , ἐλεύθερος “bond, free,” a distinction very common in those countries and times. Some manuscripts, and those of high authority, insert a καί before ἐλεύθερος , such as A, D 1 , E, F, G. It might be used as in the two first couples, for there is a contrast. There are thus three forms of distinction expressed, and one implied-national distinction, religious distinction, and social distinction; and there is also implied the secular distinction between civilization and savagism. The apostle completes his thoughts by adding-
᾿Αλλὰ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν Χριστός “But Christ is all and in all.” The phrase is idiomatic. Christ is everything to all of them having the new man. To one and all of them He is everything, so far as the sufficiency, offer, and enjoyment of salvation are concerned, or as the apostle says in the similar passage in Galatians, “ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Now, the meaning of the apostle is not that a man loses nationality on becoming a Christian; or that social rank is obliterated by admission into the church. The blood of Javan was not changed in a Greek, nor the blood of Abraham in a Jew, when both met in a spiritual kingdom. The rude manners of the Scythian might be refined by his faith, but he did not lose his peculiarity of colour or configuration. The chain of the slave was not broken by his religion, any more than the circumcision of the Jew was erased. But the meaning of the apostle is-
First, That such distinctions do not prevent the on-putting of the new man. In other words, such differences of nation, religion, culture, and social position, do not interfere with the adaptation, the offer, or the reception and the results of the gospel. It is fettered by no geographical limits, by no local or lineal peculiarities. The Greek is not nearer Christ for his philosophy, nor the Scythian more distant for his want of it. The incision of the ceremonial knife gave no preference to the Jew, nor was the absence of it any drawback to the Gentile. The slave was as welcome as the freeman-the wandering nomade as the polished citizen. Whatever a man's descent or race, his creed or rites; whatever his language or pursuits, his colour or climate, his dwelling or usages, his position or character-the gospel comes to him with special offer, and adaptation, and completeness, and having embraced it he will feel its renewing power. It does not insist on the Gentile submitting to the Abrahamic rite, nor require the Jew to be initiated into the wisdom of the Greek; it does not stand aloof from the slave till he burst his chain, nor does it command the barbarian to master an alphabet or win the civic franchise ere it can save and change him. No; it comes alike to the synagogue and to the temple, with equal fitness to freedom and to servitude; with equal fulness, freeness, and tenderness to the citizen in the forum and to the wanderer on the wide and solitary steppe. All adventitious distinctions are levelled at its just and loving glance.
Secondly, It is taught by the apostle, that in the church, the sphere of the new man's activity and enjoyments, prior and external distinctions, do not modify the possession of spiritual privilege and blessing. In the spiritual commonwealth, no partition is erected between Jew and Greek; the barbarian is not degraded to a lower seat, nor is any outer court appropriated for the Scythian. The slave does not obtrude though he mingle his voice in the same song of spiritual freedom with his master, and drink out of the same sacramental cup. The Tartar in his sheepskin may kneel with the citizen in his mantle, and each break with the other that bread which is “the communion of the body of Christ.” Nay, the faith of the untutored savage may be more earnest, childlike, and fearless in its reliance; may be a fuller source of gladness and triumph than the faith of him whose philosophy may have prompted him to ask other reasons than Scripture may have given, and to fortify his belief with arguments which the simple disciple did not want, and could not understand.
Oh, it needs not that one enjoy the erudition of the schools in order to be taught of God! The graces of civilization are not the necessary soil for the graces of the Spirit. Secular enfranchisement is not indispensable to fellow-citizenship with the saints. In the sphere of the new man, those distinctions which obtain in the world exercise no disturbing or preventive influence. That new man has broken all the ties of the old man, and is not more akin to one race than to another, has no affinities of blood, is not circumscribed by national boundaries, or forbidden by the inequalities of social rank, and by whomsoever assumed, he may be fully possessed. This is the glory of Christianity, that as it is developed in the church, it has none of the barriers or predilections which the epithets of this verse indicate as obtaining in the world, and dividing it into jealous and exclusive ranks and castes, but is at once and fully enjoyed by all the believing possessors of our common humanity. The idea of Theophylact, that the verse refers to the absence of distinctions in the other world, is wholly opposed to the scope and context.
The apostle now particularizes certain graces which they were to assume. He had specified the sins which marked the old man, and now he signalizes those virtues which are connected with the new man. Ye have put on the new man, and ye enjoy the all-sufficiency of Christ-therefore, οὖν , ye must manifest your possession of the following elements of Christian character-
(Colossians 3:12.) ᾿Ενδύσασθε οὖν , ὡς ἐκλεκτοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ , ἅγιοι καὶ ἠγαπημένοι “Put on, therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and beloved.” While οὖν refers back to one argument, ὡς carries the mind forward to another. In the epithet ἐκλεκτοί we recognize the fact of their separation from the world, or the realization in their present state of God's eternal and gracious choice. We incline, with Meyer and Lachmann, to regard ἐκλεκτοί as the substantive, and the other two epithets as its predicates. Others, as Luther, Calvin, Bähr, Huther, and De Wette, reverse this exegesis, and take the two following words as co-ordinate substantives. But it is better to take ἐκλεκτοί as describing their present position, and ἅγιοι and ἠγαπημένοι as specifying its character, for election is not determined by character, but determines it. [Ephesians 1:4-5.] The meaning of ἅγιοι is consecrated, set apart to God, this consecration necessarily producing holiness of life. This is an appeal to their character, and not simply to their position in the visible church. [Ephesians 1:1.] They were also the objects of God's special complacency “beloved.” His eternal and sovereign love did elect them, and now, that election having taken effect, He has special complacency in them. Their assumption of these graces would certify to themselves their election, would be a happy development of their consecration, as well as a proof of its genuineness, and would also endear them yet more to Him, who in love had predestinated them to the adoption of children. These thoughts formed a convincing appeal to them, and could not but induce them to feel and act as the apostle recommends. And so they are enjoined to put on-
Σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ . The singular of the last word is preferred to the plural on the authority of A, C, D 3 , E, F, G. The singular is also found in several places of the Septuagint. Daniel 9:18; Zechariah 1:16. The phrase is a Hebraism, corresponding to the Hebrew- רַחֲמִים , H8171. Gesen. Lehrg. p. 671. The following genitive, οἰκτιρμοῦ , gives a specific intensity to the clause; it makes it ἐμφατικότερον , as Chrysostom says; since the first word of itself might denote kind or merciful emotion. Luke 1:78. The Colossians were not to cherish a hard and unrelenting disposition, that was slow to remit punishment, but forward ever to inflict it.
Οἰκτιρμός , from οἴ - οἶκτος has more reference to feeling, or commiseration; while the second term, χρηστότητα , kindness, is, as the word really implies, that form of kindness which is serviceable to others. Jerome describes it as- invitans ad familiaritatem sui, dulcis alloquio, moribus temperata. “To do good” is the injunction, and disciples are to cherish the habit, and to create opportunities for it. Christians are to be obliging in their general demeanour. The last three terms are found in the same order in Ephesians 4:2. Ταπεινοφροσύνη is lowliness of mind, opposed to haughtiness and conceit. The adjective, ταπεινός , is used often in the classics to denote “mean-spirited.” Trench has the excellent remark, that “Chrysostom is bringing in pride under the disguise of humility, when he characterizes humility as the making of ourselves small when we are great, for it is the esteeming of ourselves small because we are so.” As the same writer well remarks, “the idea of such a grace is wholly Christian, for the gospel leads man to a feeling of entire and unalterable dependence upon God.” Augustine eulogizes this grace by saying, that if asked quae via sit ad obtinendam veritatem? he will reply, primum est humilitas, quid secundum, humilitas, quid tertium, humilitas, etc. Calvin remarks on the connection, that the graces previously mentioned cannot be cherished without it.
The next term is πρᾳότης , meekness. We cannot fully acquiesce in Mr. Trench's idea, that this word describes “exercises of mind which are first and chiefly toward God, or is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us without disputing or resisting.” Neither he, nor Ellicott, who follows him, has produced any direct scriptural instance of such a sense, though certainly he who is truly meek will always bow to God in serene resignation. He who, under the influence of Divine grace, does not resent a human injury, will not quarrel with any Divine allotment. But πρᾳότης is here ranked among graces which have specially human relations, such as mercy and long-suffering. Even in ταπεινοφροσύνη , the idea is man-ward fully as much as God-ward. In the place it here occupies in the range of virtues, it denotes that want of arrogance or insolence in reference to our fellow-men, which lowliness before God ever tends to produce and increase. Μακροθυμία is literally “long-mindedness,” and is opposed to what we often call shortness of temper. All the terms of the text receive further illustration in the subsequent clauses.
Now, these virtues certainly suit- ὡς “the elect of God, holy and beloved.” They are in source and essence an imitation on the part of the saint of what God has felt towards him, and they indicate a consciousness of the relation which he sustains to the Divine benefactor. For he has experienced the Divine mercy in its sweep and fulness-there was no frown on the Divine countenance, when he so abject, insignificant, and withal so provoking and guilty, drew near. God has crowned him “with loving-kindness and tender mercy;” and though he be daily sinning, daily coming short of duty, nay, ever committing positive faults, he is borne with, and he has been long borne with, as “sentence against an evil work has not been speedily executed.” Must he not therefore act toward his fellows on the same level with himself, as God from the heights of His glory has acted towards him? And there is need for the exercise of such virtues, for “offences must come;” or, as the apostle intimates in the next clause-
(Colossians 3:13.) ᾿Ανεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων , καὶ χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς , ἐάν τις πρός τινα ἔχῃ μομφήν “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any one have a complaint against any other.” The meaning of the first participle has been illustrated under Ephesians 4:2, and we need not in this place repeat the illustration. The sense is, having patience with one another-waiting with composure under injury or provocation, till those who so offend may come to a better mind. The other participle, χαριζόμενοι , carries forward the sense-not only are we to forbear, but we are also to forgive. Not only are we to show humility, meekness, and long-suffering as we forbear, but we are also to manifest bowels of mercy and goodness in forgiving. The second participle, χαριζόμενοι , is found in a passage almost parallel, in Ephesians 4:32, and it also occurs in the same sense in Colossians 2:13 of this epistle. The pronoun ἑαυτοῖς is simply for ἀλλήλοις ; and the noun μομφή denotes “ground of offence or complaint,” explained in some of the Codices by the substitution of ὀργή . There may be just ground of offence, but it is not to excite to resentment or retaliation. And the apostle proposes for imitation the highest of examples.
Καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἐχαρίσατο ὑμῖν , οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς . Χαριζόμενοι is to be supplied, and not the imperative, χαρίζεσθε , with some, nor yet ποιεῖτε , as is found in some MSS., such as D 1 , E 1 , F, G. The conjunction occurs twice, for the sake of intensity (Klotz, ad Devar. 635), and καθὼς καί introduces an argumentative illustration. In a corresponding passage in the Epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle makes reference to God “forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32. This difference of person in the two places seems to have suggested the various readings which occur in the old copies. Not a few of them have κύριος , such as A, B, D 1 , F, G, and those appear to be almost equal in authority to C, D 3 , E, J, K, which have Χριστός , a reading supported, however, by many of the Versions and Fathers. But here forgiveness is specially ascribed to Christ. If Christ forgive sin, the inference is, that He is Divine. Pardon is a Divine prerogative, yet Christ exercises it. And it is not on His part a venturesome act, nor one which is provisional, and cannot take effect till it receive the sanction of the Father, but it is at once full, decided, and final. The Saviour gave the paralytic patient a complex benefit in a single act, when He said to him as he lay helpless on a couch at His feet, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” And if Christ forgive sin, He is entitled to do so, for He has made provision for it in His sufferings and death. May He not Himself dispense the fruits of His atonement, and pardon those for whom He died? The general idea is the same as that of Ephesians 4:32. Christians are to forgive one another because Christ has forgiven them, for His example has all the force of a formal command. They are also to forgive one another as He has forgiven them-fully and freely, at once and for ever; not pardoning seven times, but demurring to the seventy times seven; not insulting him who has injured them by the rigid exaction of a humiliating apology, or stinging him by a sharp and unexpected allusion to his fault; not harbouring antipathy, but forgetting as well as forgiving; not indulging a secret feeling of offence, and waiting for a moment of quiet retaliation; but expelling every grudge from their hearts by an honest and thorough reconciliation. Meyer expressly condemns the reference, found by Chrysostom and Theophylact, to the medium by which Christ forgives, to wit, His own death, their inference being, that we ought to lay down our lives for others. We should also demur to this full form of expression on the part of these Fathers as being a necessary deduction here. The doctrine is found, however, in other parts of Scripture, as in 1 John 3:16. But perhaps we may be warranted to say, that as in the case of Christ's pardoning us, there was a self-denial even unto death-so with us, there should be self-denial too. There may be a painful effort, but it should be made-the forgiveness may cost us no little sacrifice, but we must not shrink from it. Such a doctrine seems to be implied, though we cannot say as firmly as Chrysostom, that the proper interpretation of καθώς demands it- τὸ γὰρ , Καθὼς , ταῦτα ἀπαιτεῖ .
(Colossians 3:14.) ᾿Επὶ πᾶσι δὲ τούτοις τὴν ἀγάπην . The construction still depends on ἐνδύσασθε of the 12th verse. Looking at the figure implied in the verb, some, such as Gataker and Meyer, give to ἐπί the sense of “over,” as if the meaning were-on those other parts of spiritual raiment throw this, as an over-dress. But such an exegesis appears to press the figure. Nor can the preposition bear the sense which Calvin puts upon it of propter, that is, ye cannot exhibit these graces unless ye have love. ᾿Επί means “in addition to,” with the idea implied, that what follows is chief or best. Luke 16:26. In addition to all these, as last and best, “put on love.” ᾿Αγάπη is the grace of love, on the beauty, propriety, and excellence of which the apostle so often insists. [Ephesians 1:1; Ephesians 1:4.] We take the next clause in its plain sense-
῞Ο ἐστι σύνδεσμος τῆς τελειότητος “Which is the bond of perfectness,” that bond which unites all the graces into completeness and symmetry. ῞Ητις is the reading of the Received Text, but ὅ is found in such high authorities as A, B, C, F, G. It weakens the sense to regard the clause as a species of Hebraism, as if it meant “a perfect bond;” or as Erasmus renders it in his paraphrase- perfectum et indissolubile vinculum. Such is the view of Melancthon, Vatablus, Balduin, Michaelis, Calovius, Estius, Grotius, Wolf, Rosenmüller, and Flatt. The apostle here calls love, not perfection, but its bond, or that which holds together all the graces which constitute it. Some, indeed, as Bretschneider, Bengel, Usteri, Böhmer, De Wette, and Olshausen, take the term in the sense of fasciculus, Inbegriff -not that which binds, but that which is bound up. In a similar sense, Calvin and Böhmer take it for summa. The two interpretations differ, as do the German words Band and Bund ( Bündel), or the English bond and bundle. There is one passage of Herodian appealed to, where the word has such a meaning- πάντα τὸν σύνδεσμον τῶν ἐπιστολῶν , the whole package or bundle of letters. But that is not the common meaning of the term, either in the classics or the New Testament. The noun τελειότης , as an abstract term with the article, describes moral perfection as a whole. Perfection consists of many graces, each in its own place and relations, each in its own circle and sphere-but they are held together by love. Did they exist singly, or in separate clusters, perfection would not be enjoyed; were they fragmentary, and not coalescent, symmetry of character would be lost.
For love is the product of the other graces, the fruit of their ripe development, so that in their perfect state they should throw around them this preserving cincture. Love itself is, at the same time, the highest element of this perfection, and forms the nearest resemblance to Him of whom it is said “God is love.” It creates perfection, but here it is specially represented as a bond which sustains it. No grace is complete without it. Without it, knowledge is but a selfish acquisition, purity an attempted personal gain, and zeal a defective struggle; uninspired by it, faith is but an abortive and monopolizing grasp, and hope an exclusive anticipation. Sin is essentially selfishness in a variety of forms, and not till such selfishness be fully put down, can the semblance of perfection be enjoyed. Love to God and to every one that bears His image, as the fulfilment of the law, imparting fervour and breadth to every grace, giving odour to the blossom, and being itself the fruit, is the bond of perfectness. A heart replete with this love maintains all its spiritual acquirements in health and vigour. Bound up in this zone, every Christian excellence fills its own place, and keeps it, and the whole character is sound, does not distort itself by excess, nor enfeeble itself by defect. [Ephesians 4:15; Ephesians 5:2.]
Love is thus regarded here, not as a congeries of graces, which make up perfection-as Bengel says- amor complectitur virtutum universitatem. It is more its office than itself which the apostle regards. It is not looked upon here as containing perfection within itself, but as so uniting the other graces that it gives them perfection and keeps them in it. Meyer shrewdly says, that if love, as a bundle, contained all the other graces in it already, how could the apostle bid them assume love in addition to them?- ἐπὶ πᾶσι τούτοις . If they were to put on all its parts, how could they assume it as something still distinct? Huther takes the neuter ὅ as referring to the preceding clause,-love, the putting on of which is the bond of perfection. But the apostle's idea is, not that the putting on of the love, but that the love, when put on, is the bond of perfectness. Our view is not unlike that of Chrysostom and Theodoret. Some of the older interpreters labour to reconcile the statement of the apostle with his doctrine of justification by faith, and Romish writers pressed them hard on the subject. Crocius and Schmid refer this perfection simply to the unity or integrity of the church, which love creates and preserves. But though this be not the precise meaning of the apostle, it is certainly included under his statement, and this idea, coupled with the phraseology of Ephesians 4:3, may have led one of the copyists to insert ἑνότητος . What is the bond of perfectness to an individual is also the bond of perfectness to a church. [Ephesians 4:3; Ephesians 4:14-15; Ephesians 5:2 ]; 1 Peter 3:8.
The apostle still continues his exhortation-
(Colossians 3:15.) Καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” The reading Χριστοῦ is preferred to the common one of Θεοῦ , on good authority, such as A, B, C 1 , D 1 , F, G, and various Versions and Fathers. Some regard this peace as the result of the preceding admonitions-the peace of mutual concord. Such is the view of no less distinguished critics than the Greek expositors, and of Calvin, Grotius, Vatablus, Calovius, and Meyer. Chrysostom's illustration is as follows: “Suppose a man to have been unjustly insulted, two thoughts are born of the insult, the one urging him to vengeance, and the other to patience, and these wrestle with one another. If the peace of God stand as umpire, it bestows the prize on that which calls to endurance, and puts the other to shame.” We cannot embrace this exegesis, for we regard it as narrow and unusual. “Peace” is commonly with the apostle a far higher blessing than mere harmony with others, or the study of Christian union. It is with him synonymous with happiness, that calm of mind which is not ruffled by adversity, overclouded by sin or a remorseful conscience, or disturbed by the fear and the approach of death. Isaiah 26:3. This view is, generally, that of Luther, Bengel, De Wette, Bähr, Olshausen, and Huther. Nor is it out of harmony with the context. For nothing is more fatal to such “peace” than the indulgence of those foul and angry passions which the apostle warns them to abandon in the preceding verses (5 to 9), and there is nothing so conducive to its purity and permanence as the cultivation of those serene and genial graces which are enjoined in Colossians 3:12-14. It is almost as if he had said-those vices being dropt, and those virtues being assumed, the peace of Christ shall therefore reign within you, and its happy sensation s you will be led naturally to express “in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”
It is called “the peace of Christ,” a phrase not essentially different in meaning from the common one, “peace of God.” It is given by Christ, or produced and perpetuated by His Spirit. It is the Redeemer's own legacy-John 14:27, “My peace I give unto you; let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be dismayed.” Christ has secured this peace in His blood as Mediator, and He has the right to dispense it as the result of the reconciliation or atonement.
And such tranquillity, which in its highest aspect is Christian felicity, was not simply to be in their hearts, but it was to “rule” in them; it was not merely to have existence, but it was to exercise supreme command. For such is the meaning of βραβευέτω , as it naturally comes from its original and literal signification of presiding at the games, and then of distributing the rewards of victory. Both senses have, however, been separately maintained by critics; Chrysostom adhering to the idea of adjudication- κριτὴς καὶ ἀγωνοθέτης ; and OEcumenius employing in explanation the verb μεσιτεύειν . Calvin, Erasmus, and Vatablus look upon it as the figure of a wrestler who himself wins the prize-let this peace obtain the prize and keep it; but the view is against sound philology, for the word is never used of the combatant, but only of the umpire. Nor can we accept the view of Huther, Wahl, and Bretschneider, who refer generally to the idea of βραβεῖον implied in Colossians 2:18, and understand the apostle to say, “let the peace of God confer its rewards upon you.” Nor is there more foundation for the opposite idea of Kypke, who supposes it to mean specially, “let the peace of God distribute the prize of love in your hearts.” The general and very frequent sense we have already assigned to the verb is preferable, and such is the opinion of many commentators, supported by numerous examples. Diodorus Sic. 13, 53, etc.; Wis 10:12 . Loesner has collected many examples from Philo. This peace was to possess undisputed supremacy-was to be uncontrolled president in their hearts.
᾿Εν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν . Let it not be a state of mind admired or envied, but one actually possessed; let it not be hovering as a hoped-for blessing on the outskirts of your spirits, but let it be within you; let it not be an occasional visitant, often scared away by dominant and usurping passion, but a central power, exercising a full and unlimited administration. Let it so govern, and happiness will be the result, every source of disquietude and element of turbulence being destroyed. The apostle thus wished the Colossians highest spiritual welfare, that their souls might enjoy unbroken quiet. A peace, which is not the peace of Christ, is often rudely disturbed, for it is but a dream and a slumber in the midst of volcanic powers, which are employing the time in gathering up their energies for a more awful conflict. There is no question, if a man possessed and cherished the ripe consciousness of his interest in Christ, if he had full assurance, and felt that God was for him-if the elements of sinful passion, either in its fouler forms of sensuality, or its darker aspects of malignity, were subdued; and if “the gentleness of Christ” were at home within him, and all the graces which possess a kindred character were around him, bound and held together by that “love which is the bond of perfectness,” that then he would enjoy a peace or a bliss second only to the elevation and felicity of heaven. Philippians 4:7. And it was no audacity in them to seek or cultivate that peace, for to it they had been called.
Εἰς ἣν καὶ ἐκλήθητε “To which ye were also, or indeed were, called.” This verb is often used by the apostle. Ephesians 4:1. The possession of this peace was a prime end of their Christianity. The gospel summons a man, not to misery, but to happiness-not to internal discord, but to ultimate peace. And they were called to the possession of it-
᾿Εν ἑνὶ σώματι “In one body;” not εἰς ἓν σῶμα “into one body,” that is, so as to form one body. But the meaning is, that they already formed one body, or that unitedly they had been called to the possession of peace. And the apostle adds-
Καὶ εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε “And be ye thankful.” [Ephesians 5:4; Ephesians 5:20.] Not a few take the adjective in the sense of friendly, as if the apostle bade them cherish amicable feelings to one another. This is the view of Jerome, of Calvin, Suicer, a-Lapide, Bähr, Steiger, and Olshausen, who give εὐχάριστοι the sense of χρηστοί in Ephesians 4:32. Calvin renders amabiles sitis; and Conybeare “be thankful one to another.” With Huther, Olshausen, De Wette, and Meyer, we prefer the meaning “thankful”-that is, towards God. The former sense abounds in the classics, and though the latter is found there too, yet it seems to be wholly contrary to the usage of the kindred terms in the New Testament. For there is every cause of thankfulness to Him who had called them to the possession of such peace. If that peace dwelt within them, and reigned within them-if Christ had at once provided it for them, and summoned them unitedly to its enjoyment, surely profound gratitude was due to such a benefactor.
(Colossians 3:16.) ῾Ο λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Lachmann and Steiger propose to read this clause parenthetically, and to join the previous γίνεσθε to the following participles- διδάσκοντες , etc. But nothing is gained by such a distribution. For Χριστοῦ , a few authorities and Fathers read Θεοῦ ; and the Coptic and Clement read κυρίου . “The word of Christ” is the gospel, the doctrine of Christ, or the truth which has Christ for its subject. In fact, Christ is both the giver of the oracle and its theme. By ἐν ὑμῖν is meant, not simply among you- unter euch, as Luther translates, or as De Wette contends. Let the Christian truth have its enduring abode “within you”-let it be no stranger or occasional guest in your hearts. Let it not be without you, as a lesson to be learned, but within you, as the source of cherished and permanent illumination. Let it stay within you- πλουσίως , abundantly. That is, let it be completely understood, or let the soul be fully under its influence. Let it dwell not with a scanty foothold, but with a large and liberal occupancy.
Different ideas have been formed of the best mode of dividing the following clauses of the verse. Our translators, following the Peschito, Chrysostom, and Luther, Calvin, and Beza, add the words “in all wisdom” to the clause which we have already considered. But the idea of wisdom is better joined to the following clause, which refers to mutual teaching “in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another.” Our translators, too, so point the verse as to make psalms and hymns the material of instruction, whereas it seems better, and more appropriate, to keep the clause distinct, thus “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another: in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord.”
The words ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ are thus connected as they are in Colossians 1:28, and such is the view, among others, of Bengel, Storr, Bähr, Steiger, Olshausen, and Baumgarten-Crusius. See under Colossians 1:28, where the participles- διδάσκοντες , καὶ νουθετοῦντες -occur, though in reverse order, and where they are also explained. The anakoluthon which occurs in the construction is almost necessary, and gives special prominence to the ideas expressed by the participles. The duty enjoined in this clause has a very close connection with that enjoined in the preceding one. Unless the word of Christ dwelt richly within them, they could not fulfil this duty; for they could not teach and admonish unless they knew what lessons to impart, and in what spirit to communicate them; but the lessons and the spirit alike were to be found in the gospel. Mutual exhortation must depend for its fitness and utility on mutual knowledge of the Christian doctrine. Sparing acquaintance with Divine revelation would lead to scanty counsel and ineffective tuition.
Ψαλμοῖς , ὕμνοις , ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς , ἐν τῇ χάριτι ᾄδοντες ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν τῷ Θεῷ . Both the conjunctions ( καί ) which appear in the Received Text seem, on good authority, to be mere euphonistic insertions. Some take the words down to χάριτι , as connected with the preceding participles “admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Our objection is, that while metrical or musical compositions are not the common vehicle of instruction or admonition, they are specially connected with sacred song. The datives, without the preposition, denote the materials of song. The phrase ἐν τῇ χάριτι , according to Huther and De Wette, means “with a grateful spirit.” 1 Corinthians 10:30. It appears to us wholly out of the question on the part of Calvin, Beza, a-Lapide, Bähr, and many others, to take the words as denoting εὐσχημόνως , “gracefully”- sine confusione. We prefer, with Estius, Steiger, and Meyer, to regard the phrase as meaning by the influence of grace, given, as Chrysostom remarks, by the Spirit. Luther joins the phrase erroneously to the preceding term. The following dative, τῷ Θεῷ , indicates Him in honour of whom this sacred minstrelsy is raised, and the formula ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις describes the sincerity of the service,-the silent symphony of the heart. Tischendorf appears to us to have forsaken his own critical principles in retaining the singular form τῇ καρδίᾳ , for he has confessedly against him A, B, C 1 , D 1 , F, G, the Syriac which reads בלֶבָוֹתכֵוָן , and the Vulgate, which has- in cordibus vestris. For remarks on the different terms, and their distinction, the reader is referred to what has been said by us under Ephesians 5:19. We have there said that probably by Psalms may be understood the Hebrew book of that name, so com monly used in the synagogues; that the hymns might be other compositions divested of Jewish imagery and theocratic allusions, and more adapted to the heathen mind; while the spiritual odes were freer forms of song, the effusion of personal experience and piety, and do not simply point out the genus to which the entire class of such compositions belonged.
Still the sentiment hangs on the first clause “let the word of Christ dwell within you nobly.” These sacred songs, whether in the language of Scripture, or based upon it, could be sung in the right spirit only when the indwelling “word” pressed for grateful utterance. When the gospel so possessed the heart as to fill it with a sense of blessing, then the lips might be tuned to song. Experimental acquaintance with Christianity could only warrant the chanting of the sacred ode.
(Colossians 3:17.) Καὶ πᾶν ὅ τι ἂν ποιῆτε , ἐν λόγῳ ἢ ἐν ἔργῳ , πάντα ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου ᾿Ιησοῦ “And whatever ye do in word or in deed, do all of it in the name of the Lord Jesus,” or “Whatever ye are in the custom of doing,” etc. On the use of ἄν with the present, see Winer, § 42, 3, b, ( β ). This concluding precept is general in its nature. Some take πᾶν , with Flatt and Bähr, in an absolute case, others think it better to regard it as repeated in the plural form πάντα . Meyer takes the whole clause, as far as ἔργῳ , as an absolute nominative. There is an earnest rapidity in the composition which may easily excuse any rhetorical anomaly. The rule laid down by Kühner is, that a word of special importance is placed at the beginning of a sentence in the nominative, to represent it emphatically as the fundamental subject of the whole sentence, § 508. No doubt, special emphasis is laid on πᾶν , for the apostle's idea is, that while some things are done formally in the name of the Lord Jesus, everything should be done really in it. The imperative ποιεῖτε is to be supplied. The plural πάντα individualizes what has been put collectively under the singular πᾶν . As for the whole of what you do in word or in act, let every part or separate element of it be done in the name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle has just spoken of formal religious service, and surely it is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus. But not it alone-all speech and action must be imbued with the same spirit.
But what is meant by the phrase “in the name of”? [Ephesians 5:20.] The Greek Fathers explain it widely- αὐτὸν καλεῖν βοηθόν . Jerome is farther in error when he renders it- ad honorem, for that would represent εἰς with the accusative. Vitringa, Observat. Sac. p. 327, says that the phrase corresponds to לְשֵׁם . It rather corresponds to בְּשֵׁם , and strictly means-by his authority, or generally, in recognition of it. To speak in His name, or to act in His name, is to speak and act not to His honour, but under His sanction and with the conviction of His approval. This is the highest Christian morality, a vivid and practical recognition of Christ in everything said or done. Not simply in religious service, but in the business of daily life; not merely in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, but in the language of friendship and of bargain, of the forum and the fireside; not simply in deeds which, in their very aspect, are a Christian compliance, such as almsgiving, or sacramental communion, but in every act, in solitude and in society, in daily toil, in the occupations of trade, or negotiations of commerce. This is a high test. It is comparatively easy to engage in religious discourse, but far more difficult to discourse on everything in a religious spirit; comparatively easy to do a professedly Christian act, but far more difficult to do every act in a Christian spirit. In the one case the mind sets a watch upon itself, and speaks and acts under the immediate consciousness of its theme and purpose, but in the other, the heart is so influenced by religious feeling, that without an effort it acknowledges the name of Christ. Men may for the occasion solemnize themselves, and word and act may be in direct homage to Christ, but the season of such necessity passes away, and the sensations it had created lose their hold. Thus the associations of the Sabbath fade during the week, and the emotions of the sanctuary lose themselves in the market-place.
Still, the apostle does not inculcate any familiar or fanatical use of Christ's name, it is not to be mixed up with the phrases of colloquial life. A man is not to say, in Christ's name I salute thee, or in Christ's name I buy this article or sell that one, charter this vessel, or engage in that speculation. But the apostle means, that such ought to be the habitual respect to Christ's authority, such the constant and practical influence of His word within us, that even without reference to Him, or express consultation of Him, all we say and do should be said and done in His spirit, and with the persuasion that He approves. Christianity should ever guard and regulate amidst all secular engagements, and its influence should hallow all the relations and engagements of life. This is the grand desideratum, the universal reign of the Christian spirit. The senator may not discuss Christian dogmas in the midst of national interests, but his whole procedure must be regulated, not by faction or ambition, but by that enlightened patriotism, which, based on justice, is wise enough to know that true policy can never contravene morality, and is benignant enough to admit that other states are interlinked with our progress, and that the world is one vast brotherhood. The merchant is not to digress into a polemical dispute while he is concluding a sale, but love of profit is not to supersede rectitude, nor is the maxim, that there is no friendship in trade, ever to lead him to take undue advantage, or accomplish by dexterity what equity would scarcely permit. The tradesman, as he lifts his tool, is not to say, in Christ's name I strike; but in the spirit of Him who was among His disciples, “as one that serveth” is he faithfully to finish the labour assigned him, ever feeling himself to be under the “great taskmaster's eye.” Art, science, literature, politics and business, should be all baptized into the spirit of Christ.
Εὐχαριστοῦντες τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ δἰ αὐτοῦ “Giving thanks to God even the Father by Him.” The sentiment is found in Ephesians 5:20, more pointedly and fully expressed, and in almost the same connection. As ye give thanks to God by Christ, so think all and speak all in Christ's name, who is the medium of thanksgiving. Blessings come through Him, and through Him thanks are to be rendered. With this clause, Kypke wrongly connects the previous one, thus “always in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God.”
The apostle now comes to the inculcation of some special duties belonging to social and domestic life. Steiger, after Chrysostom and Theophylact, has remarked, that only in Epistles addressed to Asiatic churches do such formal exhortations occur, and he endeavours to account for it by the supposition that the liberty proclaimed by the false teachers had developed a dangerous licentiousness and taught a kind of Antinomian exemption from the rules and obligations of morality. It is true, as Meyer replies, that no direct polemical tendency is discernible in this section: still there must have been some reason why, in his letters to Asiatic communities, Paul dwells so strongly on this important branch of ethics. We may have little more than conjecture, yet we know that the apostle penned no paragraph in vain, and that there must have been more than accident in the fact that conjugal duty is not mentioned in the Epistles to Rome, Philippi, and Thessalonica, but is specially dwelt upon in those to Ephesus and Colosse, as also in the Apostle Peter's epistles to churches in the same region. The exhortations tendered by Paul to Titus as a Cretan pastor, when he touches on the same subject, have more of a general character, and those found in the epistle to the church in Corinth were called forth by peculiar queries. But here, and in the twin epistle, the apostle places special stress on the conjugal relationship, and its reciprocal obligations; as also on the relative duties of parents and children, of masters and slaves. Chrysostom gives, as the reason, that in such respects these churches were deficient, though he does not specify the source of such deficiency. His own homilies supply one form of illustration, for they abound in severest reproofs against the indecencies, luxuries, and immoralities of wedded life, and the picture is evidently taken from the state of manners that prevailed in the Byzantine capital, in which the discourses seem to have been delivered. It would thus appear that in the Asiatic cities there was great need to enforce the duties originated by the marriage tie, and it may be, that forms of false doctrine had a tendency to excite spurious notions of so-called Christian liberty. It is easy to conceive how a creed of boastful freedom would speedily work its way among slaves. The reader will not forget how, at the period of the Reformation, the principles of a licentious liberty were not only received, but to a great extent acted out by the Anabaptists of Munster.
(Colossians 3:18.) Αἱ γυναῖκες , ὑποτάσσεσθε τοῖς ἀνδράσιν “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands.” The ἰδίοις of the Received Text has no good authority, and some manuscripts, such as D 1 , E 1 , F, G, add ὑμῶν , an evident gloss. The injunction has been fully considered under Ephesians 5:25-33, where it is enforced by a special argument, and a tender analogy derived from the conjugal relation of Christ and His church. The submission which is inculcated on the part of the wife is wholly different in source and form from that slavery which is found in heathen lands, for it is the willing acquiescence which springs out of social position and wedded love, and is dictated at once by a wife's affection, and by her instinctive tendency to lean on her husband for support. The very satire which is heaped upon a wife who governs, or who attempts it, is a proof that society expects that fitting harmony of the hearth which the gospel recommends. The early and biblical idea of a wife as that of a “help meet,” implies that she was to be auxiliary-second, and not principal in the household. Thus unity of domestic administration was to be secured by oneness of headship.
The apostle subjoins as a reason- ὡς ἀνῆκεν ἐν Κυρίῳ . Adopting a different punctuation, many, from Chrysostom to Winer and Schrader, join ἐν κυρίῳ to the verb ὑποτάσσεσθε , as if the meaning were “be submissive in the Lord.” The order of the words seems to forbid such an exegesis, and ἐν κυρίῳ is united by its position to ἀνῆκευ “as is fitting in the Lord.” In the imperfect form or time of the verb is implied, according to Winer, an appropriate hint that it had not been so with them at all times. § 40, 3; Bernhardy, 373. The translation then is “as it should be in the Lord.” This obligation of submission commenced with their union to the Lord, sprang out of it, and had not yet been fully discharged. It is therefore not a duty which had only newly devolved upon them, but its propriety reached back to the point of their conversion. Their union with the Lord not only expounded the obligation, but also enforced it. Though the general strain of these exhortations be the same as in the Epistle to the Ephesians, there is usually some specific difference. In the other epistle he says, “wives, be obedient to your own husbands as to the Lord,” where ὡς points out the nature, and not simply, as Ellicott thinks, the aspect of the obedience enjoined. The spirit of the obedience is referred to in Ephesians, and the becomingness of that spirit in the clause before us. How different from heathen principles, either that of Aristotle- mores viri lex vitae; or that of Cato, as repeated by Livy, that wives are simply in manu virorum.
(Colossians 3:19.) Οἱ ἄνδρες , ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας , καὶ μὴ πικραίνεσθε πρὸς αὐτάς - “Ye husbands, love your wives.” The duty is touchingly illustrated in Ephesians 5:25-26. The implication is, that the submission of the wife is gained by the love of the husband. Though the husband is to govern, he must govern in kindness. This duty is so plain that it needs no enforcement. The apostle then specifies one form in which the want of this love must have often shown itself “and be not bitter against them.” The tropical use of the verb is as obvious as is that of the noun in Ephesians 4:31. The verb, which is sometimes followed by ἐπί in the Septuagint, is here followed by πρός . There is no doubt that the inconsistency here condemned was a common occurrence in heathen life, where a wife was but a legal concubine, and matrimony was not hallowed and ennobled by the Spirit of Him who wrought His first miracle to supply the means of enjoyment at a marriage feast. The apostle forbids that sour and surly objurgation which want of love will necessarily create; all that hard treatment in look and word, that unkind and churlish temper which defective attachment so often leads to. Wives are to submit, not indeed to guard against a frown or a chiding, but to ensure a deeper love. So that if this love is absent, such obedience will not be secured by perpetual irritation and fault-finding, followed by the free use of opprobrious and degrading epithets.
In Ephesians, the apostle proposes as the example Christ's love to the church in its fervour, self-sacrifice, and holy purpose, and also enjoins the husband to love his wife as himself, as being in truth a portion of himself ( ὡς containing in it a species of argumentative comparison), but here the injunction is curt and unillustrated, followed only by the prohibition of a sin which a husband's indifference will most certainly induce. It would almost seem, however, as if the phrase, “as is fitting in the Lord,” enforced both the duty recorded before it, and that which stands after it. Tertullian, in his address to his wife, written before he became a Montanist, describes the happiness of a marriage in the Lord in the following glowing terms: “How can we find words to express the happiness of that marriage which the church effects, and the oblation confirms, and the blessing seals, and angels report, and the Father ratifies? What a union of two believers, with one hope, one discipline, one service, one spirit, and one flesh! Together they pray, together they prostrate themselves, and together keep their fasts, teaching and exhorting one another, and sustaining one another. They are together at the church and at the Lord's supper; they are together in straits, in persecutions, and refreshments. Neither conceals anything from the other; neither avoids the other; neither is a burden to the other; freely the sick are visited, and the needy relieved; alms without torture; sacrifices without scruple; daily diligence without hindrance; no using of the sign by stealth; no hurried salutation; no silent benediction; psalms and hymns resound between the two, and they vie with each other which shall sing best to their God. Christ rejoices on hearing and beholding such things; to such persons He sends His peace. Where the two are, He is Himself; and where He is, there the Evil One is not.”
From conjugal the apostle naturally passes to parental duty.
(Colossians 3:20.) Τὰ τέκνα , ὑπακούετε τοῖς γονεῦσι κατὰ πάντα “Children, obey your parents in all things.” The wife is generally to be submissive, but children are to be obedient, to listen and execute parental commands, and to exemplify a special form of submission for which the filial relation affords so many opportunities. [Ephesians 6:1-3.] The love of the child's heart naturally leads it to obedience. Only an unnatural child can be a domestic rebel. Where the parents are Christians, and govern their children in a Christian spirit, obedience should be without exception, or- κατὰ πάντα . The apostle, speaking in reference to Christian parents, for his epistle could reach none but children of that class, takes no heed of any exception. The principle involved in his admonition is, that children are not the judges of what they should or should not obey in parental precepts.
The best reading of the following clause is τοῦτο γὰρ εὐάρεστόν ἐστιν ἐν Κυρίῳ “For this is well-pleasing in the Lord,” not as the older form had it, “well-pleasing to the Lord.” The construction is similar to that of the 19th verse, the specific difference of thought being, that in the former case submission is an appropriate thing in the Lord; while in this case filial obedience is marked with special approbation, as being well-pleasing in the Lord. Resting on Christian principle and motive, it meets Divine approbation. In Ephesians 6:1, the apostle calls it- δίκαιον , a thing right in itself, and then he quotes the fifth commandment to show that such a duty is also inculcated in Scripture, but here he regards it simply in a religious aspect, and awards to it Christ's approval.
(Colossians 3:21.) Οἱ πατέρες μὴ ἐρεθίζετε τὰ τέκνα ὑμῶν “Ye fathers, do not provoke your children.” [Ephesians 6:4.] Authorities of no mean note give us παροργίζετε , a reading adopted by Griesbach, Scholz, and Lachmann, but which might slip into the text from Ephesians 6:4, though, certainly, it is found in A, C, D 1 , E 1 , F, G. The verb, as in 1Ma 15:40 , Deuteronomy 21:20, is to irritate, to fret, to rouse to anger, and not, as in 2 Corinthians 9:2, to stir up to emulation. Fathers are spoken to since training is their duty, and because this peculiar sin which the apostle condemns is one to which they, and not mothers, are peculiarly liable. The paternal government must be one of kindness, without caprice; and of equity, without favouritism. The term includes greatly more than what Burton understands by it “do not carry their punishment too far.” The child, when chastised, should feel that the punishment is not the result of fretful anger; and when it obeys, its obedience should not be prompted, or rather forced, by menaced infliction. If children, let them do what they can, never please their father, if they are teazed and irritated by perpetual censure, if they are kept apart by uniform sternness, if other children around them are continually held up as immeasurably their superiors, if their best efforts can only moderate the parental frown, but never are greeted with the parental smile, then their spirit is broken, and they are discouraged.
Against this sad result the apostle warns-
῞Ινα μὴ ἀθυμῶσιν “Lest they be disheartened.” The composition of the verb shows its strong signification. Children teazed and irritated lose heart, renounce every endeavour to please, or render at best but a soulless obedience. The verb occurs only here in the New Testament, but is found in the Septuagint, 1 Kings 1:16, etc., and in several of the classical authors. What the apostle guards against has been often witnessed, with its deplorable consequences. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, he speaks more fully, and enjoins the positive mode of tuition “but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The young spirit is to be carefully and tenderly developed, and not crushed by harsh and ungenerous treatment. Too much is neither to be demanded nor expected. The twig is to be bent with caution, not broken in the efforts of a rude and hasty zeal. Approbation is as necessary to the child as counsel, and promise as indispensable as warning and reproof. Gisborne on this place well says “To train up children as servants of God, as soldiers of Jesus Christ, for a future existence in preference to the present life; to instruct and habituate them, in conformity with their baptismal vow, to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to live not unto themselves but to that Redeemer who died for them; this is universally the grand duty of a parent. This well-known duty the apostle, though he does not name it, presupposes as acknowledged and felt by the Colossians. In the discharge of this duty, and in every step of their proceedings, he directs them to beware, as parents, of provoking their children to anger; that is to say, as the original term evidently implies, of exercising their own authority with irritating unkindness, with needless and vexatious severity; of harassing their children by capricious commands and restrictions; of showing groundless dissatisfaction, and scattering unme rited reproof. To act thus, the apostle declares, would be so far from advancing the religious improvement of children, that it would discourage them. It would not only deaden their affections towards their parents, but would dispirit their exertions, and check their desires after holiness.”
Following the same order of thought as in the Epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle next turns him to the other members of the household, the slaves. It is probable that the false philosophy inculcated, with regard to them, certain notions of freedom which were not merely unattainable, but the belief of which might only aggravate the essential hardness of their lot. Steiger has referred to the fact that the Pharisees gave a special prominence to political freedom (John 8:33), and he says, drawing his authority from Philo, that the Essenes held a doctrine which would, if carried out to practice, lead to a philanthropic revolution. At all events, they condemned slave-masters as not only unjust, but impious, and destroyers of a law of nature- θεσμὸν φύσεως ἀναιρούντων . The false teachers, if they held similar views, might inculcate this abstract doctrine, which, whatever its inherent truth, could not in those days lead to anything but discord and bloodshed. The apostle, on the other hand, applied himself to things as they were, and while he attempted to moderate an evil which he could not subvert, he laid down those principles, by the spread of which social bondage first was shorn of its grievances, and then lost its very existence. We have already stated, under Ephesians 6:5-8, the relation in which the gospel stood to the slaves, how it raised them to spiritual brotherhood, and gave them a conscious freedom which chains and oppression could not subvert. It so trained them, and so tutored their Christian masters, that slavery in a Christian household must have existed only in name, and the name itself was ready to disappear as soon as society was leavened with the spirit of Christianity.
The injunctions here delivered are much the same as those in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The reader is invited to turn to the prefatory remarks to our comment on Ephesians 6:5. The apostle does not speak vaguely, but hits upon those vices which slavery is so apt to engender-indolence, eye-service, and reluctance in labour.
(Colossians 3:22.) Οἱ δοῦλοι ὑπακούετε κατὰ πάντα τοῖς κατὰ σάρκά κυρίοις . [Ephesians 6:5.] The master of the slave is only so- κατὰ σάρκα , the relationship is but corporeal and external, the contrast being-the real master is the Lord Christ. No distinction can be established between κύριος and δεσπότης in the New Testament, either in their Divine or human application. The principle of the obedience is κατὰ πάντα , as in Colossians 3:20. Refractoriness on the part of the slave would at once have embittered his life, and brought discredit on the new religion which he professed, but active and cheerful discharge of all duty would both benefit himself, promote his comfort, and recommend Christianity.
Μὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοδουλείᾳ ὡς ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι “Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers.” [Ephesians 6:6.] The plural form of the first noun is preferred by some, as being the more difficult reading, but the singular has A, B, D, E, F, G, in its favour. Yet Tischendorf has rejected it in spite of all this testimony. The Codices D, E, F, G, have another, and perhaps more correct spelling- ὀφθαλμοδουλίᾳ . In Ephesians 6:6, the apostle uses κατά , but here ἐν . In the former place they are enjoined to obey in singleness of heart, as unto Christ “not according to eye-service”-that is, not in the style of eye-service; here they are asked not to serve in eye-service, that is, in the spirit of it. Slaves have usually but the one motive, and that is, to avoid punishment, and therefore they only labour to please the master when his eye is on them. They are disposed to trifle when he is absent, in the hope that their indolence may not be detected. But Christian slaves were to work on principle, were to do their duty at all times, and from a higher motive, conscious that another eye was upon them, and that their service was really rendered to another master. Such a conviction would prevent them being ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι . See under Ephesians 6:6, where we have noticed the necessary connection of this vice with slavery.
᾿Αλλ᾿ ἐν ἁπλότητι καρδίας φοβούμενοι τὸν κύριον “But in singleness of heart fearing the Lord” (Christ). Κύριον is preferred to Θέον on undoubted authority. [Ephesians 6:5.] Singleness of heart (1 Chronicles 29:17) is that sincerity which the heathen slave could scarcely possess, for he would often seem to work, and yet contrive to enjoy his ease under the semblance of activity. Duplicity is the vice which the slave uses as his shield. He professes anxiety when he feels none, and he exhibits a show of industry without the reality. For this singleness of heart could only be secured by such a motive as the gospel presents “fearing the Lord”-standing in awe of His authority over them. They would not be men-pleasers if they bowed to Christ's authority, for then their aim would be to please Him; nor would there be eye-service, if they wrought in singleness of heart, for such a feeling would lead them to conclude the task in hand, irrespectively of every minor and personal consideration.
(Colossians 3:23.) In this verse the common reading is καὶ πᾶν ὅ , τι ἐὰν ποιῆτε , but the better reading is ὃ ἐὰν ποιῆτε , ἐκ ψυχῆς ἐργάζεσθε , ὡς τῷ Κυρίῳ καὶ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις “Whatever ye are in the way of doing, work it heartily as to the Lord, and not to men.” They were, in any task that might be assigned them, to labour at it, to work it out, and that without grumbling or reluctance, not only doing it honestly but cheerfully, as Chrysostom says- μὴ μετὰ δουλικῆς ἀνάγκης . [Ephesians 6:6.] The heathen slave might do everything with a grudge, for he had no interest in his labour, but the believing slave was to act with cordiality, plying his toil with alacrity, for he was serving in all this industry no human master, but the Lord, who had bought him with His precious blood. Let this be the feeling, and there would be no temptation to fall into eye-service, men-pleasing, and duplicity of heart or conduct. The apostle says without reservation “as to the Lord, and not to men.” There is no necessity to take οὐκ as meaning οὐ μόνον . The immediate object of the service must be man, but the ultimate object is the Lord; the negative, though absolute in form, being relative in sense. Winer, § 55, 1. The service, whatever its nature, or its relation to man, was ever to be felt and viewed as an act of obedience done to Christ. See under Colossians 3:17. In doing it to others, they did it to Him; and to Him, with such claims upon their love and fealty, they could not but give suit and service heartily. As usual, in the parallel place in Ephesians, the thought is given more fully, and the relationship of the slave's labour to Christ is twice noted. Besides, not only was the servant to work as here- ἐκ ψυχῆς “from the heart,” pointing out his relation to his work, but he is enjoined also to labou r- μετ᾿ εὐνοίας -that is, “with good will” to his master. The apostle adds yet further-
(Colossians 3:24.) Εἰδότες ὅτι ἀπὸ Κυρίου ἀπολήψεσθε τὴν ἀνταπόδοσιν τῆς κληρονομίας “Knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance.” With this persuasion within them, they should be able to follow out the inspired admonition, and such knowledge would form a motive of sufficient energy and life. Serving the Lord in serving man, they would receive their reward from Him. Winer, § 47, represents ἀπό as denoting that the recompense comes immediately from Christ, its possessor. Their masters are in no sense to be the dispensers of that reward. Christ Himself shall bestow it. The compound noun, ἀνταπόδοσις , is found only here in the New Testament. That remuneration is the “inheritance.” [Ephesians 1:11-14.] Also Colossians 1:12. The genitive is that of apposition, such as is found in Ephesians 4:9; Ephesians 2:0 Cor. 5:25. See our Commentary on Ephesians, Ephesians 4:9. The inheritance is heavenly glory, 1 Peter 1:4, and that is their prospective blessing. They had no inheritance on earth, nothing which they could call their own; they could not even realize property in themselves-but an inheritance rich and glorious awaited them. In the hope of it-and the enjoyment of it could not be very distant-they were to work, and suffer and wait, and in the possession of it they would find immediate and ample compensation. [Ephesians 6:8.] There is no room here for the Popish doctrine of merit. Nota hoc, says a-Lapide, pro meritis bonorum operum, contra Novantes; but Bähr adduces the terse reply of Calovius- filiis haereditas non confertur ex obedientiae merito, sed jure filiationis.
The γάρ of the next clause, as found in the Textus Receptus, cannot be received, as it is only an interpolated gloss- τῷ Κυρίῳ Χριστῷ δουλεύετε -which the Vulgate renders, Domino Christo servite, “serve ye the Lord Christ.” Perhaps, as Meyer says, the imperative is preferable, γάρ being spurious. It is thus a summation of the whole “the master, Christ, serve ye.” The use of the indicative is foreign to the passage, which is injunctive. Since the Lord gives such a reward so rich and blessed, serve ye Him. Look above and beyond human service, and with such a bright prospect in view, serve the Lord Christ. Your masters on earth have no absolute right over you: the shekels they may have paid for you can only give them power over your bodies, your time and your labour; but the Lord has bought you with His blood, and has therefore an indefeasible claim to your homage and service.
(Colossians 3:25.) ῾Ο γὰρ ἀδικῶν κομίσεται ὃ ἠδίκησεν . The δέ of the Stephanic is rightly replaced by γάρ , on the evidence of A, B, C, D 1 , F, G, and many of the Versions. The construction of the clause is idiomatic “the wrong-doer shall receive what he has wronged.” Winer, § 66, b, says it can scarcely be called a brachylogy, for it is somewhat, as is said in German,- er wird das Unrecht erndten -that is, he does not receive the wrong itself, but the fruit of it, or the wrong, in the form of punishment. He shall be paid, as we say, in his own coin. The wrong-doer shall bear the penalty of the wrong.
The question is, to whom does the apostle refer? 1. Some suppose him to mean the slave, as if to warn him, that if he failed in his duty he must expect to be punished. This is the notion of Theophylact, Bengel, Storr, Flatt, Heinrichs, and De Wette. This exegesis may have the support of the mere words, but it does not tally with the concluding clause “there is no respect of persons with Him.” Is the fact that the Judge has no respect of persons an argument that an unjust slave shall not escape punishment? The phrase, “respect of persons,” usually implies that an offender, simply for his rank and station, escapes the penalty-a mode of partiality not at all applicable to slaves. The argument of Bengel is only ingenious- tenues saepe putant, sibi propter tenuitatem ipsorum esse parcendum.
2. Others regard the verse as indicating a great general principle, applicable alike to the master and his slave. Such is the view of Jerome and Pelagius, Bähr, Huther, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Trollope. Jerome says, quicumque injuriam intulerit, sive dominus sive servus, uterque. . . . But the same objection applies to this view as to the former. So that we incline to the third opinion, which is, that the words refer to the master, the view of Theodoret, Anselm, Aquinas, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Estius, and Meyer, while De Wette allows its possibility. The connection of the thought seems to be “you are Christ's servants, and you shall receive the reward from Him. Injustice you may in the meantime receive from your earthly masters, but they shall be judged for it, not at a human tribunal, where their rank may protect them, but before Him who in His decisions has no respect of persons. Therefore, ye masters, give your slaves what is just and equal.” There is, besides, a strong tendency in any one who owns slaves, and exercises irresponsible power over them, to treat them with capricious and heedless tyranny. The statement of the apostle, then, contains a general truth, with a special application to the proprietors of slaves, and is therefore the basis of the following admonition. Meyer rests another argument on the current meaning of the participle ἀδικῶν in the New Testament, which, he says, with the exception of Revelation 22:11, denotes Unrecht zufügen, not Unrecht thun. In fact, our translators have given the word at least eight different renderings. Ten times have they rendered it “hurt,” eight times have they rendered by “do wrong,” as in the case before us, twice simply by “wrong,” twice by “suffer wrong,” once by “injure,” once by “take wrong,” once by “offender,” and once by “unjust.” The p redominant idea is not, to act unjustly, but to injure, and refers therefore more probably not to the slave forgetting his duty, but to his master, tempted by his station and power to do an act of injury towards his servile and helpless dependants.
Καὶ οὐκ ἔστι προσωποληψία “And there is no respect of persons.” [Ephesians 6:9.] Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34; James 2:1; James 2:9.
(Colossians 4:1.) The division of chapters is here very unfortunate. The apostle, while he stooped to counsel the slave, was not afraid to speak to his master.
Οἱ κύριοι , τὸ δίκαιον καὶ τὴν ἰσότητα τοῖς δούλοις παρέχεσθε “Ye masters, afford for your part to your servants what is just and equal,” or rather “reciprocal.” [Ephesians 6:9.] The verb in the middle voice, has in it the idea, “as far as you are concerned.” Acts 19:24. The principal term, and the one about which there is any dispute, is ἰσότητα . What does the apostle mean precisely by it? Not a few understand by it equity in general. Such is the view of Robinson, Wahl, Bretschneider, and Wilke, in their respective lexicons, and also of Steiger, Huther, and De Wette, in their respective commentaries. Others, again, like Erasmus, a-Lapide, and Böhmer, look on the words as denoting impartiality-do not in your treatment of your slaves prefer one to another, give them the like usage. In the only other passage of the New Testament where the word occurs, it denotes not equity, but equality. 2 Corinthians 8:14: “But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want; that there may be equality.” In this verse equality is the idea-your abundance and their want, their abundance and your want, being in reciprocal adjustment. In the passage before us, we incline to follow the older expositors, Calvin, Zanchius, Crocius, as also Meyer, who give it such a sense.
The meaning is not very different from that of the corresponding passage in Ephesians 6:9 “ye masters, do the same things unto them,” which we have explained as meaning what Calvin has called the jus analogum. While we agree with the general view of Meyer, we think him wrong in his special application of it. He regards the ἰσότητα as involving that spiritual parity which Christian brotherhood creates. Slaves are your equals, and they should be treated with such equality. This exegesis is based on the supposition that Christian slaves only are meant, a supposition which, we think, cannot be admitted. The slaves are told how to behave toward their masters, whether these masters are Christians or not; and the master is admonished how to conduct himself toward his slaves, whether these slaves be Christians or not. The apostle speaks to Christian slaves and Christian masters; but such slaves might have heathen masters, and such masters might have unconverted slaves. There is no warrant, then, for saying, that the apostle only teaches the duty of masters towards Christian servants. Whatever the religious creeds of their serfs, they were to give them what is just and equal. The equality lay in reciprocal duty; if the slave is bound to serve the master, the master is bound equally to certain duties to the slave. The elements of service have a claim on equal elements of mastership. Equality demands this, that he shall give the slave all to which he is entitled, not with a view to please men, but to please God “doing it heartily as unto the Lord.” Such property had its duties as well as its rights, and the equality lay between the exercise of such duties and the enforcement of such rights. The phrase τὸ δίκαιον means what is right, irrespective of all considerations, that is, what the position of the slave as a man and a servant plainly involves. Right and duty should be of equal measurement. The apostle did not bid the masters demit their mastership, for he does not mean by ἰσότης , equality of rank with themselves, for such an elevation would imply greatly more than the bestowal of personal freedom. Masters are still called so, as they still stood in that relationship, but Christianity was to regulate all their transactions with those placed under them and owned by them. And with regard to their Christian slaves-the equality which Meyer contends for was certainly to guide them-the equality so well explained in the Epistle to Philemon.
One powerful reason the apostle adds-
Εἰδότες , ὅτι καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔχετε Κύριον ἐν οὐρανοῖς “Knowing that ye too have a master in heaven.” The participle has its common causal sense. It is not material to our purpose whether the reading be οὐρανῷ or οὐρανοῖς . The sense is-ye are under law yourselves to the highest of masters-you are in the position of servants to the heavenly Lord. As ye would that your Master should treat you, so do you as masters treat them. Let the great Master's treatment of you be the model of your treatment of them. If the masters realized this fact, that in this higher service their slaves, if Christians, and themselves were colleagues, ransomed by the same price, the same service appointed to them, and the same prospect set before them, a tribunal before which they should stand on the same level, and an inheritance in which they should equally share, irrespective of difference in social rank upon earth, then would they be kept from all temptations to harshness and injury towards their dependants. Who does not recollect the touching language of Job? “If I did despise the cause of my man-servant, or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when He visiteth, what shall I answer Him? Did not He that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” Job 31:13-15.
That the apostle in such admonitions pursued the wisest course, the Servile wars of Rome are abundant evidence. The principles inculcated by him lightened the burden, and their practical development in course of time removed it. So numerous were the slaves, that in very many cases they far outnumbered the freemen-as in Attica, where the proportion was at least four to one. Probably very many of them were to be found in all the early churches.
The apostle lays down three positions fatal to slavery. First, he denies a common theory of the times, which seems to have regarded slaves as an inferior caste, either born so, as Aristotle affirms, or brought into servitude, as Homer sings, from mental imbecility. For he pleads for reciprocity, and thereby admits no distinction but the one of accidental rank. And, secondly, he declares that certain duties to slaves spring from natural right, an idea the admission of which would not only at once have put an end to the incredible cruelties of Spartan and Roman slave-owners, but which did also, by and by, as it leavened society, prompt Christian men to give liberty to their servants, made like themselves in God's image, and as entitled as themselves to a free personality. Thirdly, he avows that in the Christian church there is neither “bond nor free,” and thus provides and opens a spiritual asylum, within which equality of the highest kind was enjoyed, and master and slave were not in such a relationship recognized. For master and slave were alike the free servants of a common Lord in heaven. In the meantime, as Chrysostom says, Christianity gave freedom in slavery, and this was its special distinction. The same Father tells what spiritual benefit Christian servants had often imparted to their masters' households, and Neander states that a Christian female slave was the means of bringing the province of ancient Georgia to the knowledge of Christ.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Eadie, John. "Commentary on Colossians 3". Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34