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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Colossians 4

 

 

Verses 1-11

ARGUMENT 17

TREATMENT OF THE WORLD

1,2. Persevere in prayer, watching in the same with thanksgiving.Constancy in the spirit of prayer is an infallible fortification against all surprises and sudden assaults of the enemy.

3,4. We do not pray enough. We should pray for the Lord’s true people, pressing his war against Satan in all the earth, incessantly and importunately.

5. Walk about in wisdom toward outsiders, buying in the opportunity.

6. Let your word be always in grace, seasoned with salt, to know how it behooveth us to answer each one.The salt in the ocean is the savor of the physical world. It the oceanic waters were fresh, they would stagnate, generate malaria in so vast quantities as to inundate the continents with pestilential atmosphere, so fraught with malarial poison as to kill every human being and every air-breathing animal on the face of the whole earth, and literally depopulate the globe, speedily bringing an end to the world, whitening all lands with the bones of dead animals, and turning the world into a graveyard. O how powerful the metaphor, “Ye are the salt of the earth!” From these statements of Paul and Jesus we see the wholesale putrefaction of the spiritual world. Since the saints are the spiritual salt and the hope of earth’s dying millions, we should do our best to salt as many souls as possible,” “buying in the opportunity;” i.e., seizing every fleeting moment to scatter the salt to the ends of the earth, not wasting it in the mud, but bringing it in contact with never dying souls.

7-9. This letter, along with that to the Ephesians and Philemon, was carried by Tychicus and Onesimus, who enjoyed the honor of visiting those Churches, bearing the news from Paul, and comforting their hearts.

10. Aristarchus, Paul’s Asiatic comrade, sticks to him during his Roman imprisonment, a faithful helper in his gospel work. Here Paul also commends to them Mark, a nephew of Barnabas, exhorting them to receive him all right when he comes to them. This is a confirmation that Paul’s controversy with Barnabas over Mark, when they started out on their second great evangelistic tour among the Gentiles, the latter desiring to take his nephew with them, and the former dissenting, because he had not persevered with them to the end of the first tour, but gotten tired and returned to Jerusalem, was purely for the glory of God, and in perfect harmony with the sanctified experience. As here, we see Paul is all right toward Mark, and highly recommending him to the Churches.

11. Jesus called Justus.Jesus being the Greek for Joshua, a familiar patriarchal name among the Jews, was in common use till the days of our Savior, when it was discontinued in view of its sanctity.


Verses 12-18

ARGUMENT 18

EPAPHRAS DEFINES PERFECTION

12. Epaphras, who is from you, salutes you.Epaphras was one of Paul’s juvenile evangelists, who had in his peregrination visited the Colossian saints, and preached for them. He avails himself of this opportunity to salute them through the pen of Paul’s amanuensis. “Slave of Jesus Christ.” Doulos means slave, and oiketes, hired servant. They are both translated servant in E. V., Doulos, slave, being invariably used for the apostles and saints, who thus constantly subscribe themselves the slaves of God; tacitly referring to the Old Testament institution, in which all went free at jubilee, except those who preferred to abide as love slaves forever, who must have their ears bored and be nailed to the doorpost. All sinners are Satan’s slaves. All sanctified people are God’s love slaves, delighted in perfect submission and joyful obedience for pure love alone; while the unsanctified Christians are hired servants in the kingdom of God; e.g., preachers and others working for salary. The holiness evangelist blows the jubilee trumpet, proclaiming a new departure. The slaves must either go free; i.e., go back to the devil, who will allow them the full freedom of a sinful life— i.e., they backslide under the preaching of entire sanctification, because they reject the call of the Holy Ghost, their sanctifier—or they must come up to the doorpost, have their ears bored, and abide with their Master forever; i.e., old Adam must be nailed to the cross, bleed and die, thus consummating the experience of entire sanctification, which makes you God’s love slave for time and eternity; perfectly free from every care, as the slave has not the slightest concern as to food, clothing, lodging, medical attention when sick, nor anything else. All this and a thousand more interests, of which he has never dreamed, devolve on his master. Hence, if the master is sufficiently able and appreciative, the slave is the happiest being in the world. Glory to God! My Master owns the universe, and loves me enough to die for me. Hence, I would rather be his slave than the incumbent of Alexander’s throne.

Always agonizing for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect, truly having been fully carried away in all the will of God, and more so now than ever.It is a signal blessing to have a clear lexical definition given to the great, salient words of God’s revealed will. Here it is our privilege, in the ministry of Paul’s boy preacher, Epaphras, to have a straight, clear, and infallible definition of that wonderful word, “perfection,” so climacteric in the Scriptures, and utterly invisible in the plan of salvation. Now, what is that definition, as the E.V. is deficient in this passage? Truly having been fully carried away in the whole will of God, and more so now than ever.What a wonderful, copious, glorious, beautiful, sublime, and charming definition of Christian perfection! Be sure you verify it. The last clause of this definition, “more so now than ever,” is a circumlocution to bring the full meaning of the Greek idiom, expository of the perfect tense. This tense is defined in your grammars as revealing an action complete in past time, developing a state which continues down to the present. While this definition appertains both to the Greek and English, in the latter the emphasis is laid on the past, whereas in the former it is on the present. This idiomatic truth peculiar to the Greek grammar, justifies and authenticates the subjoined circumlocution, “Better now than ever.” Now, I hope you will commit to memory, and never forget this inspired definition of Christian perfection, “Truly having been fully carried away in all the will of God, and more so now than ever.” This love-inspired definition will personally fortify you against wreckage, simultaneously making you a tower of strength in the leadership and establishment of others. God help you to utilize this fortunate definition!

13,14. Luke, the amanuensis, along with Epaphras and others, sends fraternal greetings. Demas is here catalogued with the prominent salutatory saints; though sad to say he afterward backslid, and goes out under a cloud.


Verse 15

15. Nymphas and other brethren in Laodicea and the Church in their house (as the Christian in the apostolic age had no church edifice) also received Christian greetings.


Verse 16

16. This verse enjoins the reading of this epistle in the Church of the Laodiceans, which was near; also that the Loadicean epistle should be read in the Church at Colosse. We are sorry the epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans was lost. It may yet be found, as the explorations in the Bible lands are this day moving vigorously. When I was at Jerusalem in 1895, Dr. Bliss was excavating in Mt. Zion without the walls, down toward the Valley of Hinnom. The great manuscript of Tischendorf, which I hold in my hand, containing the whole New Testament, flooding the world with light on the inspired text, lay hidden in the convent of St. Catharine, on Mt. Sinai, until 1859. So it is not too late for the Laodicean epistle yet to come to light.


Verse 17

17. Say to Archippus: See to the ministry which you received in the Lord, that you fill it.Lord, send this admonition, with sledgehammer conviction, to every one whom the Lord has commissioned to preach the living Word!


Verse 18

18. The feebleness of Paul’s eyes disqualified him for his own writing. So, as in case of Luke’s Gospel, Acts of the Apostles, and the Pauline epistles, he dictated them to Luke, his faithful companion and noble amanuensis. But we see he gives his autograph with his own hand. After Paul’s decapitation, Luke was hung on an olive-tree in Greece, thus, like his apostolical comrades, receiving a martyr’s crown.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Colossians 4:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/colossians-4.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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