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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Colossians 4

Verse 1

That which is just and equal (το δικαιον κα την ισοτητα). Paul changes from το ισον (like το δικαιον, neuter singular adjective with article for abstract idea) to the abstract substantive ισοτης, old word, in N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 8:13. If employers always did this, there would be no labour problem.

A Master in heaven (Κυριον εν ουρανω). A wholesome reminder to the effect that he keeps his eye on the conduct of masters of men here towards their employees.

Verse 2

Continue steadfastly (προσκαρτερειτε). See Mark 3:9; Acts 2:42; Acts 2:46 for this interesting word from προς and καρτερος (strong), common in the Koine.

Watching (γρηγορουντες). Present active participle of γρηγορεω, late present made on perfect active stem εγρηγορα with loss of ε-, found first in Aristotle.

Verse 3

Withal (αμα). At the same time.

That God may open (ινα ο θεος ανοιξη). Common use of ινα and the subjunctive (aorist), the sub-final use so common in the N.T. as in the Koine.

A door for the word (θυραν του λογου). Objective genitive, a door for preaching. It is comforting to other preachers to see the greatest of all preachers here asking prayer that he may be set free again to preach. He uses this figure elsewhere, once of a great and open door with many adversaries in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:9), once of an open door that he could not enter in Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12).

The mystery of Christ (το μυστηριον του Χριστου). The genitive of apposition, the mystery which is Christ (Colossians 2:2), one that puts out of comparison the foolish "mysteries" of the Gnostics.

For which I am also in bonds (δι' ο κα δεδεμα). Perfect passive indicative of δεω. Paul is always conscious of this limitation, this chain. At bottom he is a prisoner because of his preaching to the Gentiles.

Verse 4

As I ought to speak (ως δε με λαλησα). Wonderful as Paul's preaching was to his hearers and seems to us, he was never satisfied with it. What preacher can be?

Verse 5

Toward them that are without (προς τους εξω). A Pauline phrase for those outside the churches (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Corinthians 5:12). It takes wise walking to win them to Christ.

Redeeming the time (τον καιρον εξαγοραζομενο). We all have the same time. Paul goes into the open market and buys it up by using it rightly. See the same metaphor in Ephesians 5:16.

Verse 6

Seasoned with salt (αλατ ηρτυμενος). The same verb αρτυω (old verb from αιρω, to fit, to arrange) about salt in Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34. Nowhere else in the N.T. Not too much salt, not too little. Plutarch uses salt of speech, the wit which flavours speech (cf. Attic salt). Our word salacious is this same word degenerated into vulgarity. Grace and salt (wit, sense) make an ideal combination. Every teacher will sympathize with Paul's desire "that ye know how ye must answer each one" (ειδενα πως δε υμας εν εκαστω αποκρινεσθα). Who does know?

Verse 7

All my affairs (τα κατ' εμε παντα). "All the things relating to me." The accusative case the object of γνωρισε. The same idiom in Acts 25:14; Philippians 1:2.

Tychicus (Τυχικος). Mentioned also in Ephesians 6:21 as the bearer of that Epistle and with the same verb γνωρισε (future active of γνωριζω) and with the same descriptive epithet as here (ο αγαπητος αδελφος κα πιστος διακονος εν Κυριω, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord) except that here we have also κα συνδουλος (and fellow-servant). Abbott suggests that Paul adds συνδουλος because he had used it of Epaphras in Colossians 1:7. Perhaps πιστος goes with both substantives and means faithful to Paul as well as to Christ.

Verse 8

I have sent (επεμψα). Epistolary aorist active indicative of πεμπω as in Ephesians 6:22.

That ye may know (ινα γνωτε). Second aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of γινωσκω, "that ye may come to know." This the correct text, not γνω (third singular).

Our estate (τα περ ημων). "The things concerning us."

May comfort (παρακαλεση). First aorist active subjunctive. Proper rendering here and not "may exhort."

Verse 9

Together with Onesimus (συν Ονησιμω). Co-bearer of the letter with Tychicus and praised on a par with him, runaway slave though he is.

Who is one of you (ος εστιν εξ υμων). Said not as a reproach to Colossae for having such a man, but as a privilege to the church in Colossae to give a proper welcome to this returning converted slave and to treat him as a brother as Paul argues to Philemon.

Verse 10

Aristarchus (Αρισταρχος). He was from Thessalonica and accompanied Paul to Jerusalem with the collection (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4) and started with Paul to Rome (Acts 27:2; Philemon 1:24). Whether he has been with Paul all the time in Rome we do not know, but he is here now.

My fellow-prisoner (ο συναιχμαλωτος μου). One of Paul's compounds, found elsewhere only in Lucian. Paul uses it of Epaphras in Philemon 1:23, but whether of actual voluntary imprisonment or of spiritual imprisonment like συνστρατιωτες (fellow-soldier) in Philippians 2:25; Philemon 1:2 we do not know. Abbott argues for a literal imprisonment and it is possible that some of Paul's co-workers (συν εργο) voluntarily shared imprisonment with him by turns.

Mark (Μαρκος). Once rejected by Paul for his defection in the work (Acts 15:36-39), but now cordially commended because he had made good again.

The cousin of Barnabas (ο ανεψιος Βαρναβα). It was used for "nephew" very late, clearly "cousin" here and common so in the papyri. This kinship explains the interest of Barnabas in Mark (Acts 12:25; Acts 13:5; Acts 15:36-39).

If he come unto you, receive him (εαν ελθη προς υμας δεξασθε αυτον). This third class conditional sentence (εαν and second aorist active subjunctive of ερχομα) gives the substance of the commands (εντολας) about Mark already sent, how we do not know. But Paul's commendation of Mark is hearty and unreserved as he does later in 2 Timothy 4:11. The verb δεχομα is the usual one for hospitable reception (Matthew 10:14; John 4:45) like προσδεχομα (Philippians 2:29) and υποδεχομα (Luke 10:38).

Verse 11

Jesus which is called Justus (Ιησους ο λεγομενος Ιουστος). Another illustration of the frequency of the name Jesus (Joshua). The surname Justus is the Latin Justus for the Greek Δικαιος and the Hebrew Zadok and very common as a surname among the Jews. The name appears for two others in the N.T. (Acts 1:23; Acts 18:7).

Who are of the circumcision (ο οντες εκ περιτομης). Jewish Christians certainly, but not necessarily Judaizers like those so termed in Acts 11:3 (ο εκ περιτομης. Cf. Acts 35:1; Acts 35:5).

These only (ουτο μονο). "Of the circumcision" (Jews) he means.

A comfort unto me (μο παρηγορια). Ethical dative of personal interest. Παρηγορια is an old word (here only in N.T.) from παρηγορεω, to make an address) and means solace, relief. A medical term. Curiously enough our word paregoric comes from it (παρηγορικος).

Verse 12

Epaphras who is one of you (Επαφρας ο εξ υμων). See Colossians 1:7 for previous mention of this brother who had brought Paul news from Colossae.

Always striving for you (παντοτε αγωνιζομενος υπερ ημων). See Colossians 1:29 of Paul.

That ye may stand (ινα σταθητε). Final clause, first aorist passive subjunctive (according to Aleph B) rather than the usual second aorist active subjunctives (στητε) of ιστημ (according to A C D).

Fully assured (πεπληροφορημενο). Perfect passive participle of πληροφορεω, late compound, for which see Luke 1:1; Romans 14:5.

Verse 13

And for them in Hierapolis (κα των εν Hιερα Πολε). The third of the three cities in the Lycus Valley which had not seen Paul's face (Colossians 2:1). It was across the valley from Laodicea. Probably Epaphras had evangelized all three cities and all were in peril from the Gnostics.

Verse 14

Luke, the beloved physician (Λουκας ο ιατρος ο αγαπητος). Mentioned also in Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11. The author of the Gospel and the Acts. Both Mark and Luke are with Paul at this time, possibly also with copies of their Gospels with them. The article here (repeated) may mean "my beloved physician." It would seem certain that Luke looked after Paul's health and that Paul loved him. Paul was Luke's hero, but it was not a one-sided affection. It is beautiful to see preacher and physician warm friends in the community.

Demas (Δημας). Just his name here (a contraction of Demetrius), but in 2 Timothy 4:10 he is mentioned as one who deserted Paul.

Verse 15

Nymphas (Νυμφαν). That is masculine, if αυτου (his) is genuine (D E K L) after κατ' οικον, but Νυμφα (feminine) if αυτης (her) is read (B 67). Aleph A C P read αυτων (their), perhaps including αδελφους (brethren) and so locating this church (εκκλησια) in Laodicea. It was not till the third century that separate buildings were used for church worship. See Romans 16:5 for Prisca and Aquila. It is not possible to tell whether it is "her" or "his" house here.

Verse 16

When this epistle hath been read among you (οταν αναγνωσθη παρ' υμιν η επιστολη). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν (οτε αν) and the first aorist passive subjunctive of αναγινωσκω. The epistle was read in public to the church (Revelation 1:3).

Cause that (ποιησατε ινα). Same idiom in John 11:37; Revelation 13:15. Old Greek preferred οπως for this idiom. See 1 Thessalonians 5:27 for injunction for public reading of the Epistle.

That ye also read (κα υμεις αναγνωτε). Second aorist active subjunctive of αναγινωσκω, to read.

And the epistle from Laodicea (κα την εκ Λαοδικιας). The most likely meaning is that the so-called Epistle to the Ephesians was a circular letter to various churches in the province of Asia, one copy going to Laodicea and to be passed on to Colossae as the Colossian letter was to be sent on to Laodicea. This was done usually by copying and keeping the original. See Ephesians 1:1 for further discussion of this matter.

Verse 17

Take heed (βλεπε). Keep an eye on.

Thou hast received in the Lord (παρελαβες εν Κυριω). Second aorist active indicative of παραλαμβανω, the verb used by Paul of getting his message from the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:3). Clearly Archippus had a call "in the Lord" as every preacher should have.

That thou fulfil it (ινα αυτην πληροις). Present active subjunctive of πληροω, "that thou keep on filling it full." It is a life-time job.

Verse 18

Of me Paul with mine own hand (τη εμη χειρ Παυλου). More precisely, "with the hand of me Paul." The genitive Παυλου is in apposition with the idea in the possessive pronoun εμη, which is itself in the instrumental case agreeing with χειρ. So also 2 Thessalonians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 16:21.

My bonds (μου των δεσμων). Genitive case with μνεμονευετε (remember). The chain (εν αλυσε Ephesians 6:20) clanked afresh as Paul took the pen to sign the salutation. He was not likely to forget it himself

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Colossians 4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.