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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 4

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4068. A.D. 64.

The apostle

(1,) Exhorts masters to do their duty to servants, Colossians 4:1 .

(2,) Urges all to perseverance in prayer, and to Christian prudence in their behaviour and speech, Colossians 4:2-6 .

(3,) Refers the Colossians to Tychicus and Onesimus, for an account of the state of his affairs, Colossians 4:7-9 .

(4,) Transmits several particular salutations, together with a charge to Archippus, and a solemn benediction, Colossians 4:10-18 .

Verse 1

Colossians 4:1. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just Namely, competent food, Proverbs 31:15; wages, James 5:4; and suitable work, neither too much, Proverbs 12:10, nor too little, Proverbs 29:21; and equal Or equitable, distinguishing the most faithful among them by particular rewards. See on Ephesians 6:9.

Verses 2-3

Colossians 4:2-3. Continue in prayer As a means to enable you to perform the fore-mentioned duties. This direction being given here, and Ephesians 6:18, (where see the note,) immediately after the apostle’s exhortation to relative duties, teaches us that they who live in one family should often join in social prayer for God’s assistance to enable them to perform their duties to each other. And watch in the same Against negligence and indolence. See on Ephesians 6:18; 1 Peter 4:7; with thanksgiving For those mercies which you have already received, in answer to former petitions, or in which God hath prevented you with the blessings of his goodness. Praying also for us Observe, reader, Christians in the highest state of grace need the prayers of others. “This passage affords instruction both to ministers and to their people: to ministers, not to despise an assistance which even an inspired apostle thought useful to him: and to the people, to be careful to assist their ministers with a help which in the end will greatly redound to their own benefit.” That God would open unto us a door of utterance That is, give us utterance, that we may open our mouth boldly, (Ephesians 6:19,)

and give us an opportunity of speaking, so that none may be able to hinder. For which I am also in bonds Then most grievous to me when they prove an obstruction to that great business of my life, the propagation of the gospel, in which the glory of God and the happiness of men are so highly concerned.

Verses 5-6

Colossians 4:5-6. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without Your heathen neighbours; doing nothing to disgrace religion in their eyes, or unnecessarily to exasperate them against you; redeeming the time Embracing and improving every opportunity of doing good, and particularly of gaining souls to Christ. Let your speech be alway with grace Such as may manifest that the grace of God is in you, and may be calculated to win upon, instruct, and edify others; seasoned with salt With wisdom and grace, as flesh is with salt, so that it may be savoury and useful to the hearers, tending to prevent or cure their corrupt principles or practices; that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man May be able to speak pertinently and wisely upon all occasions, and especially when questioned about the grounds of your religion.

Verses 7-9

Colossians 4:7-9. All my state The things which relate to myself; shall Tychicus declare unto you See on Ephesians 6:21. With Onesimus, who is one of you Or, rather, who is from you, as εξ υμων seems to mean; or, who is your countryman; for it does not appear that he could be a member of the church at Colosse before he left his master Philemon, since, it is certain he was converted after that period by the apostle at Rome. See Philemon 1:10.

Verses 10-11

Colossians 4:10-11. Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner Such was Epaphras likewise for a time, Philemon 1:23; saluteth you “This excellent person was a Jew, (Colossians 4:11,) though born in Thessalonica, Acts 20:4. He, with his countryman Caius, was hurried into the theatre at Ephesus, by Demetrius and the craftsmen, Acts 19:29. Also he was one of those who accompanied Paul from Greece, when he carried the collections for the saints to Jerusalem, (Acts 20:4,) being appointed to that service by the church at Thessalonica, agreeably to the apostle’s direction, 1 Corinthians 16:3. Aristarchus, therefore, was a person of great note, and highly respected by the church of the Thessalonians, of which he was a member. And his whole conduct showed that he merited the good opinion they entertained of him. For when Paul was imprisoned in Judea, that good man abode with him, and ministered to him all the time of his imprisonment, both at Jerusalem and Cesarea, attended him at his trials, and comforted him with his company and conversation. And when it was determined to send Paul into Italy, he went along with him, (Acts 27:2,) and remained with him during his confinement there, and zealously assisted him in preaching the gospel, as the apostle informs us in Col 4:11 of this chapter, till at length, becoming obnoxious to the magistrates, he was imprisoned, Colossians 4:10.” Macknight. And Marcus, touching whom ye received commandments Or directions, by Tychicus bringing this letter. It is not improbable they might have scrupled to receive him without this fresh direction, after he had left Paul and departed from the work. And Jesus, who is called Justus Justus being a Latin surname, we may suppose it was given to this person by the Roman brethren, on account of his known integrity, and that it was adopted by the Greeks when they had occasion to mention him: for the Greeks had now adopted many Latin words. These three (Aristarchus, Marcus, and Justus) are the only persons, who, being of the circumcision, are, or have been, my fellow-labourers unto the kingdom of God That is, in preaching the gospel; and who have been a comfort to me What then can we expect? That all our fellow- workers should be a comfort to us? The apostle, therefore, having in this passage mentioned the names of all the Jews who sincerely preached Christ in Rome at that time, it is certain Peter was not there then; otherwise his name would have been in the list of those labourers who had been a consolation to St. Paul. For we cannot suppose that Peter was one of those, mentioned Philippians 1:14-15, who preached the gospel from strife, to add affliction to Paul’s bonds. Yet the Papists contend that Peter presided over the church at Rome twenty-five years successively.

Verses 12-15

Colossians 4:12-15. Epaphras, always labouring Αγωνιζομενος , striving, or agonizing; for you in prayers The word properly denotes contending, or combating in the games; here it signifies the greatest fervency of desire and affection in prayer: that ye may stand perfect Perfectly instructed in all Christian graces, and performing all Christian duties. See 1 John 4:17; Hebrews 13:21. And complete Πεπληρωμενοι , filled with; all the will of God As being no longer babes, but grown up to the measure of the stature of Christ, being filled with light and wisdom, grace and holiness. See on Colossians 2:10. He hath great zeal for you A great concern for your growth in grace and holiness, and your eternal salvation. And them that are in Laodicea and Hierapolis Neighbouring cities in the Greater Phrygia, in which were Christian churches. The latter “was named Hierapolis, that is, the holy city, from the multitude of its temples. But it is not known what particular deity was its tutelary god. Its coins bear the images of Apollo, of the Ephesian Diana, of Esculapius, and of Hygeia. The two last-mentioned idols were worshipped in Hierapolis, on account of the medicinal springs with which it abounded. There was likewise a Mephitis, or opening in the earth, here, from which a pestilential vapour issued, which killed any animals which happened to breathe in it.” Macknight. Luke, the beloved physician Luke was deservedly beloved by St. Paul. He was not only an intelligent and sincere disciple of Christ, but the apostle’s affectionate and faithful friend, as appears from his attending him in several of his journeys through the Lesser Asia and Greece. (See the preface to St. Luke’s gospel, and the note on Acts 27:1.) And when the apostle was sent a prisoner to Italy, Luke accompanied him in the voyage, and remained with him till he was released. He was also with the apostle during his second imprisonment in the same city; on which occasion, when his other assistants deserted him, through fear, Luke abode with him, and ministered to him, 2 Timothy 4:11. Salute the brethren in Laodicea and Nymphas It seems Nymphas was an eminent Christian at Laodicea; and the church which is in his house The society or congregation which assembled there for social or public worship.

Verse 16

Colossians 4:16. When this epistle is read among you It appears by this, that the apostolic epistles were read publicly in the churches to which they were addressed; and probably not once, but often: copies of them were likewise taken, and translations of them made very early into different languages, and sent to different countries, where Christian churches were formed, that they might be read in them: a great proof this of the genuineness of these epistles: for they could not have been corrupted but the corruption must have been detected, by comparing different copies with each other. Cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans “The members of the church at Laodicea having, before their conversion, entertained the same principles, and followed the same practices with the Colossians, and the dangers to both churches, from the attempts of false teachers, being nearly the same, it was proper that the same spiritual remedies should be applied to both. And therefore the apostle ordered this letter, which was designed for the instruction of the Colossians, to be read in the church of the Laodiceans also: and no doubt it was read there, agreeably to the apostle’s injunction; by which means, in that church, as well as in the church at Colosse, the false teachers and their idolatrous practices were for a while repressed.” And that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea Some think the letter here referred to was one which the apostle wrote to the Laodiceans, but which is now lost. But as the ancients mention no such letter, nor indeed any letter written by St. Paul which is not still remaining, others judge it more probable that the letter to the Ephesians is intended, and that the apostle directed the Ephesians, by Tychicus, who carried their letter to them, to send a copy of it to the Laodiceans, with an order to them to communicate it to the Colossians.

Verses 17-18

Colossians 4:17-18. Say to Archippus It is generally supposed that the person here mentioned was the Archippus spoken of Philemon 1:2, where he is called Paul’s fellow-labourer and fellow-soldier. It seems he was one of the pastors of the church at Colosse; and many think that he had failed in the duties of his office, and that the apostle, in what he here says, ordered the Colossians to rebuke him publicly for his negligence: but others, perhaps with more truth, and certainly with more charity, as Macknight observes, “are of opinion that the apostle, in this direction, meant that the Colossians should encourage Archippus to diligence, because the false teachers at Colosse were very active in spreading their errors. And their opinion derives probability from the respectful manner in which Archippus is addressed in the epistle to Philemon, which was written about this time, and sent with the epistle to the Colossians.” Take heed It is the duty of the flock to try them that say they are apostles; to reject the false; and to warn, as well as to receive, the true; to the ministry Not a lordship, but

διακονια , a service, a laborious and painful work; an obligation to do and suffer all things; to be the least, and the servant of all; which thou hast received in the Lord Christ, by his appointment; by whom, and for whose sake, his servants receive the various gifts of the Holy Spirit; that thou fulfil it Properly; that thou faithfully discharge all the duties of it with diligence and care; for the consequence of neglecting any of them. after having solemnly undertaken to fulfil them, will be infinitely dangerous and fatal. A necessary and important caution this to all ministers of the gospel! The salutation by the hand of me Paul Which I add as a token of the genuineness of this epistle. Remember my bonds See an account of the manner of the apostle’s confinement at Rome, in the notes on Acts 28:16; Ephesians 6:20. The apostle’s having suffered now almost four years’ imprisonment for the gospel, and in the course of that time many hardships and dangers, was such a demonstration of his certain knowledge of the truth and importance, yea, and necessity of the gospel to the salvation of mankind, as could not fail to confirm the faith of the Colossians, and of all the Gentiles who were informed of these his sufferings. This probably is the reason that, notwithstanding he had mentioned his bonds twice before in this letter, he brings the subject in a third time here at the conclusion.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Colossians 4". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/colossians-4.html. 1857.
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