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Bible Commentaries

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians
Colossians 4

 

 

Verse 1

Chapter 4

THE apostle now passes to more general admonitions. But he places prayer in front, and he delights to contemplate it as the “ladder” which connects earth with heaven, by which the soul rises to highest communion, and spiritual blessings, like descending angels, come down to our world.


Verse 2

(Colossians 4:2.) τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτερεῖτε—“Continue in prayer.” The apostle knew the benefit of prayer from his own experience, and he is therefore anxious that they should pray with persevering energy, and give himself a prominent place in their intercessions. [Ephesians 6:18.] Romans 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. They prayed, and the apostle was well aware of it, but he exhorts them to “continue in prayer.” They were never to suppose that prayer was needless, either because their desires had been gratified, or God had bestowed upon them all His gifts. But as they were still needing, and God was still promising, they were still to persist in asking. This perseverance was a prime element of successful prayer, as it proved their sincerity, and evinced the power of their faith. They were to pray and wait, not to be discouraged, but still to hold on-wrestling in the spirit of him who said, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.”

γρηγοροῦντες ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ. The phrase ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ is not connected with the preceding τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτερεῖτε, but with the words last quoted—“watching in it with thanksgiving.” The present form belongs only to the later Greek. Phrynichus, ed. Lobeck, pp. 118, 119- ἐγρήγορα perfect of ἐγείρω being employed. Eustathius, ad Odyss. 1880; Sturz, p. 157; Buttmann, § 343. It would be an unworthy view to refer this language to the practice of ancient Christianity, which was compelled by persecution to spend so many hours of the night in devotional exercises. Such tame formality is not involved, but it still clings to humanity, and is found not only “in the confusion of Paternoster and Ave Marias among the Catholics,” but also “in the no less pious babbling of many a pietist keeper of the hours.” The apostle enjoins, not physical, but spiritual wakefulness, as in Ephesians 6:18, where he employs ἀγρυπνοῦντες. They were to be ever on their guard against remissness. If a man refuses to sleep that his attention may not be interrupted, his watching argues the value he places on the end desired. To prayer, Christians are to give themselves with sleepless anxiety, and are ever to watch against all slackness or supineness in it, and against all formality and unbelief. 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8. They were not to become torpid or careless, but were to beware of spiritual sleepiness in their devotions. And along with prayer, they were to be wakeful “in thanksgiving.” Olshausen lays too great stress upon the phrase when he says that by ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ the more general προσευχή is more accurately defined. He adds, “that the prayer of a Christian, in the consciousness of his experienced grace, ca n never be anything else than a thanksgiving.” But the apostle in no sense nor form identifies prayer with thanksgiving, he only classes thanksgiving along with prayer. See under Colossians 2:7. Still there are so many grounds for thanksgiving that it cannot be omitted in any approach to the throne of grace. While we ask for so much, there is also much for which we ought to give thanks. We must give Him credit for what He has done already, while we ask Him to do more. There are many reasons of thanksgiving, and not the least of them is the privilege of prayer itself. Prayer and thanksgiving co-exist only on earth. They shall be separated in the other world, for in the region of woe there is only wailing, and in that of glory there is only melody.


Verse 3

(Colossians 4:3.) The apostle wished himself to be specially included in their supplications.

προσευχόμενοι ἅμα καὶ περὶ ἡμῶν—“Praying at the same time also for us.” We cannot suppose, with some critics, that Paul means only himself when he uses ἡμῶν. True, indeed, he immediately uses the singular, still he seems first to include others with himself. But we cannot say that Timothy is the only person meant besides himself. These others may have been persons circumstanced like the apostle, and probably comprised at least those whose names are mentioned in the concluding salutations. The Greek expositors dwell on the apostle's humility in asking the prayers of the Colossian church, Theophylact adding that the circumstance also shows- τὴν δύναμιν τῆς φιλαδέλφου εὐχῆς. Yes, and it also shows that the apostle was no Stoic, that he felt the need of those prayers, and set a high value on them. For the circumstances in which he was placed had a depressing tendency, and he seems, not indeed to have lost confidence in himself, but to have had some apprehension that from age and infirmity he might yield, or appear to yield before them. But he knew the power of prayer. “Human entreaty has shut up heaven, and has again opened it. At the voice of a man the sun stood still. Prayer has sweetened the bitter fountain, divided the sea, and stilled its waves. It has disbanded armies, and prevented conflict; it has shortened battle, and given victory to right. It has conferred temporal abundance, as in the case of Jabez; and given effect to medical appliances, as in the case of Hezekiah. It has quenched the mouths of lions, and opened the gates of the prison-house. As Jesus prayed by the river, the dove alighted on Him; and as He prayed on the hill, He was transfigured. The glory of God was manifested to Moses when he asked it, and the grace of Christ to Paul when he besought it. Not a moment elapsed between the petition of the crucified thief and its glorious answer. Ere Daniel concluded his devotion, the celestial messenger stood at his side. The praying church brought down upon itself the Pentecostal effusion.” The prayer which he wished to be offered for them was this-

῞ινα ὁ θεὸς ἀνοίξῃ ἡμῖν θύραν τοῦ λόγου—“That God would open to us a door of discourse”-that is, an opportunity of preaching. Mr. Ellicott, on Ephesians 1:17, assigns to ἵνα three meanings in the New Testament-a telic, hypotelic, and ecbatic meaning, and he adds, that “our criticism, admitting the third and denying the second after verbs of entreaty, is somewhat illogical.” He prefers the second, or covert telic sense. But surely our admission of an ecbatic sense of ἵνα in the New Testament, does not compel us to admit in such a construction as the one before us, a hypotelic sense. Nor do we feel the harshness which Winer alleges to be in the telic sense of ἵνα after verbs of entreating. In short, the hypotelic sense is more ingenious than sound. The result, as future, and as the effect of conscious instrumentality, is subjectively regarded under the aspect of design. The subject of a prayer is rarely so blended with its design as to obscure it when it is prefaced by ἵνα, for that subject still assumes to the writer's mind the idea of purpose, and therefore there is no need to drop or modify the proper telic sense of the conjunction. Here the opening of the door of utterance was to be the subject of prayer, and they were to pray in order that it might be granted. While the theme was on their tongue, the prompting of a final purpose was felt in their hearts. The suppliants naturally looked at the end, while they repeated the theme, and thus the apostle proposes this theme to them under the aspect of an end which they were to keep steadily before them at a throne of grace.

We cannot agree with those who think that by θύραν τοῦ λόγου is meant simply “the mouth,” as the medium of speech. Yet a great number hold this view, such as Thomas Aquinas and Anselm, Calvin and Beza, Cajetan and Estius, a-Lapide, Zanchius, and Bengel. In the New Testament we find θύρα used in the secondary sense of occasion, or opportunity. Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Revelation 3:8. The figure is so natural and apparent, that it occurs frequently among classical writers, both Greek and Latin. While the exegesis referred to does not come up to the meaning of the words, that of Chrysostom and his followers goes beyond it, when they thus explain θύραν as- εἴσοδον καὶ παῤῥησίαν, an idea borrowed from Ephesians 6:19. The apostle longed for liberty, not for itself, but for the opportunity which it gave him of preaching the gospel. He might, indeed, in his captivity, find some opportunity of preaching, but he longed for uninterrupted licence. Nay, his own personal liberty was nothing to him but in so far as it gave him an unhampered sphere of evangelical labour. The opening of the door of his prison would be the opening of a door of discourse to them, and specially to him, for his design was-

λαλῆσαι τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ χριστοῦ—“To speak the mystery of Christ.” The infinitive is that of result. Winer, § 44. On the meaning of μυστήριον, see under Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:4, and especially Ephesians 6:19. Christ is the subject of that mystery, it has Him for its theme. See also under Colossians 1:26. It was the apostle's special function to act as a hierophant, or to make it known. It was by the proclamation of it that its blessings were to be enjoyed, and the apostle longed to speak it. His attachment to the mystery was in no way weakened by the persecution which for his disclosure of it had come upon him.

δἰ ὃ καὶ δέδεμαι—“For which yea I am bound.” Winer, § 58, 4, 2. The form is preferred to ὅν, as being the reading of A, C, D, E, J, K, etc. See under Colossians 1:24. These chains lay upon him because he unveiled the mystery in its full extent. He had been imprisoned for preaching it, but still, if liberated, would he preach it again. Thus, at length, the apostle converges those prayers upon himself. In praying for the others, as he requested them, particular reference was to be made to himself, and his inability, through his bonds, to proclaim the mystery of Christ. These bonds had not deadened his love to it, and he longed to proclaim it in this aspect of it as a mystery, viz. its adaptation to the Gentile races. Ephesians 3:8. The special cause of his imprisonment was his proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles, and his admission of converted heathens into the church without respect to the Mosaic law. They had, therefore, special reason to remember him in their prayers. Hallet says well, “that we Gentiles are indebted inconceivably more to the Apostle Paul than we are to any man that ever lived in the world. He was the apostle of the Gentiles, and gloried in that character. While Peter went too far toward betraying our privileges, our Apostle Paul stood up with a courage and zeal becoming himself. For us in particular, as for the Gentiles in general, our invaluable friend laboured more abundantly than all the apostles. For us he suffered. He was persecuted for this very reason, because he laboured to turn us from darkness to light, and to give to us the knowledge of salvation upon our repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. How dear, then, should his memory ever be to us!”


Verse 4

(Colossians 4:4.) ῞ινα φανερώσω αὐτὸ, ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι—“That I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.” Quite peculiar is the connection invented by Bengel—“ δέδεμαι, ἵνα φανερώσω, vinctus sum ut patefaciam. Paradoxon.” We do not agree with Beza, Bähr, and De Wette, that the two conjunctions ( ἵνα) are parallel, and both depending on προσευχόμενοι, for the last one appears simply to develop the order of thought. They were to pray in order that God would open a door of utterance for him, and this in order that he might preach the gospel with all his original boldness and freedom. The one ἵνα, therefore, depends upon the other—“praying in order that God would open a door of utterance for me to speak the mystery of Christ, in order that this being granted I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.” Some understand by the phrase, “as I ought to speak,” the moral qualities of preaching-but Meyer thinks that the apostle refers simply to freedom of speech, to absence of physical restraint, or to unlimited power of travel from land to land. But the comprehensive phrase, “as I ought to speak,” may comprehend both sets of ideas, and certainly the context does not limit it to the latter. It is true that imprisonment deprived the apostle of the power of preaching at all, but when he says, “as I ought,” the pregnant phrase refers not simply to his commission, as the world's apostle, and to the licence of travel which it involved, but also to the spirit in which such duty should be discharged. For it might be surmised that what Paul had suffered for the gospel had lessened his love for it, or modified his views of the office which he held. And may we not suppose that the apostle wished the world to understand, that if he were liberated, there would be no abatement of his zeal, no subduedness of tone in his speech, no mutilation of his message, and no accommodation of it so as to avoid a recurrence of the penalty, but all his old fervour and power, all his former breadth of view, and all his uncompromising hostility to Jewish narrowness and bigotry—“that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.” The form of request presented to the Ephesians is more pointed. He twice asks them to pray for him, that he may speak with boldness, and he graphically depicts himself as an ambassador in chains.

The exhortations of the two following verses refer to the outer aspects of Christian conduct, or such aspects of it as present themselves to the world. While they were to set their affections on things above, and mortify their “members which are upon the earth;” while they were to put off certain vices, and assume certain virtues, culminating in love; while they were to be exemplary in every social relation-as husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants; and while they were to be instant in prayer for themselves and for the apostle, all this ethical code referred to personal and mutual spiritual duties within the church. They must, however, in ordinary circumstances, come in contact with unbelieving heathenism around them. If they shrank entirely from such company, the inference of the apostle would be realized—“for then must ye needs go out of the world.” But they were not to go out of the world because it was bad, they were to remain in it for the purpose of making it better. And that their conduct might exercise such a beneficial influence they were thus enjoined-


Verse 5

(Colossians 4:5.) ᾿εν σοφίᾳ περιπατεῖτε πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω—“Walk in wisdom towards them which are without.” The verb περιπατεῖν, when, as here, it has an ethical sense, is sometimes followed by κατά, as in Romans 8:4; Romans 14:15, 1 Corinthians 3:3, but more usually by ἐν; the shade of difference being, that in the former case, the ideas of source and similarity are implied, and in the latter the character or sphere of walk is principally indicated. The phrase οἱ ἔξω—“those who are without,” is found in 1 Corinthians 5:12, and in 1 Thessalonians 4:12, and points to persons beyond the pale of the church, and not simply or prominently the false teachers, as Junker supposes. Those without should be surrounded with every inducement to come in. No barrier should be thrown in their way, but the attractive nature of Christianity should be wisely exhibited to them. And as the life and practice of those within the church is what they especially look at and learn from, so the apostle says, “walk in wisdom- πρός,” in reference to them. The admonition, as contained in Ephesians 5:15, is more general, and wants the pointed application which it bears here.

The “wisdom” here enforced is more than mere prudence. [Ephesians 5:15.] It means that while Christians are to abstain from such sins as disgrace their profession, and are to preserve a holy consistency, adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour; they are also to exhibit, at the same time, not only the purity of the gospel, but its amiability, its strictness of principle in union with its loveliness of temper, its generosity as well as its rectitude, and its charity no less than its devoutness and zeal. Let “those without” not be told of Christian self-possession in a tone of irritation, or of Christian happiness while uneasiness sits on the brow of the speaker. Let no one wrangle about the duty of peacemaking, or bow his face to the earth as he tries to expatiate on the hope of the gospel. The world's Bible is the daily life of the church, every page of which its quick eye minutely scans, and every blot on which it detects with gleeful and malicious exactness. The same wisdom will assume the form of discretion in reference to time and place. Unwise efforts at proselytism defeat their own purpose; zeal without knowledge is as the thunder shower that drenches and injures, not the rain that with noiseless and gentle descent softens and fertilizes. The great Teacher Himself has said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Matthew 7:6.

τὸν καιρὸν ἐξαγοραζόμενοι—“Redeeming the time.” Conybeare renders—“and forestall opportunity.” The clause has been explained under Ephesians 5:16. The general meaning is “purchasing, or seizing on the opportunity.” The preposition ἐκ, in composition, according to Ellicott, directs the thought to the undefined times or circumstances out of which, in each particular case, the καιρός was to be bought; a notion different only in aspect from our view given under Ephesians 5:16, which takes ἐκ to represent “out of another's possession,” a view which appears to us to be more in harmony with the spirit of the figure. The immediate reference is to the injunction of the preceding clause. Every season for exercising such wisdom is to be eagerly improved, or no opportunity for its display is to be trifled with or lost. The idea of the Greek expositors is foreign to the purpose—“the time is not yours, but belongs to those who are without, for whose good you must employ it.” So Theodoret- οὐκ ἔστιν ὑμέτερος ὁ παρὼν αἰὼν, χρήσασθε αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ δέον. Not less away from the point is the definition of Augustine-Quid est redimere tempus, nisi cum opus est, etiam detrimento temporalium commodorum, ad aeterna quaerenda et capessenda spatia temporis comparare. The reason annexed in the Epistle to the Ephesians, “because the days are evil,” is not found in the passage before us.

The next verse, though it contains a sentiment which is of great moment by itself, is yet closely connected with this which goes before it.


Verse 6

(Colossians 4:6.) ῾ο λόγος ὑμῶν πάντοτε ἐν χάριτι, ἅλατι ἠρτυμένος—“Let your conversation be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” The phrase λόγος ἐν χάριτι is, according to Robinson, equivalent to λόγος χαρίεις. But the noun χάρις signifies, perhaps, that gracious spirit which rules the tongue, and prompts it both to select the fittest themes, and to clothe them in the most agreeable and impressive form. Sirach 21:16; Luke 4:22; Sept. Psalms 45:3. It is not that χάρις τοῦ λόγου which Plutarch ascribes to the courtly Alcibiades, or that graciousness or blandness of tongue which is but mere politeness. It is vastly higher than what Bloomfield understands by it—“terseness of thought and smartness of expression.” Chrysostom says well, “it is possible to be simply agreeable- χαριεντίζεσθαι-but we are to beware that this agreeableness fall not into indifference.” In Ephesians 4:29, the apostle gives a different and negative form of advice, but adds as the needed characteristic of Christian conversation—“that which is good to the use of edifying.”

To show his meaning yet more fully, the apostle employs a strong metaphor—“seasoned with salt.” The participle employed is the ordinary culinary term. The figure represents speech as liable to become insipid, or to lose spiritual piquancy unless it be seasoned with salt. The form ἅλατι, from ἅλας, seems to have belonged to the popular speech. Salt has various applications in Scripture, such as the salt of the covenant and the salt of the sacrifice, and appears to be the symbol of what is quickening and conservative in its nature. We therefore demur to the notion of many commentators, that the term here refers principally, if not wholly, to wisdom. The Attic salt, indeed, was that wit which gave zest and sparkle to Athenian conversation. But it was not wisdom in any special sense. Nor can we agree with Meyer and Böhmer, that salt is, in Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:49-50, or Luke 14:34, the symbol of wisdom. It is rather the symbol of that spiritual conservative power which Christianity exerts on society and the world. Here it stands in explanation of χάρις, not specifically of σοφία. True, indeed, χάρις involves σοφία, gracious words must be always wise words, but wisdom is here employed to characterize the walk, and grace to describe the “fruit of the lips.” The conversation which λόγος denotes is to be seasoned with this condiment, that it may be in itself free from every pernicious taint and quality, that it may be relished by those who hear it, and that on them it may exercise a beneficial influence. In Ephesians 4:29 the apostle says, “let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth.” Christian speech is not to be insipid, far less to be corrupt, but it is to possess that hallowed pungency which shall excite interest in the inquirer, and that preservative flavour which may influence for good the mind and heart of those who, being without, are disposed to put questions to the members of the church. For the apostle subjoins as a reason-

εἰδέναι πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ ἀποκρίνεσθαι—“That ye may know how it becomes you to answer each one.” Though in certain cases the infinitive may stand for the imperative among the classical writers, there is no reason to adopt such a supposition here. Winer, § 43, 5, d. Tremellius and Storr, however, translate by scitote, while Grotius, Bengel, and Huther regard the verb as a kind of ablative gerund, sciendo. But the infinitive, as in other places, denotes the object, Matthiae, § 532. The Greek expositors commit a blunder, we think, in giving the phrase “every one” too extensive a meaning, and including in it the members of the church. Thus Theodoret, ἄλλως γὰρ τῷ ἀπίστῳ καὶ ἄλλως τῷ πιστῷ, etc. Chrysostom lays too much stress on external condition, for he says “a prince must be answered in one way, and a subject in another, a rich man in one way, and a poor man in another,” and he adds a sarcastic reason, that the minds of rich and powerful men are feebler, more inflammable, and undecided - ἀσθενέστεραι, μᾶλλον φλεγμαίνουσαι, μᾶλλον διαῤῥέουσαι. Ambrosiaster has a similar train of illustration. That of Primasius is better-aliter paganis, aliter Judaeis, aliter haereticis, aliter astrologis, et caeteris est respondendum.

For it is of those without that the apostle speaks, and each, as he puts his question, is to have a gracious and effective answer. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21. One kind of answer will not suffice for all, but each one is to be answered as he should be. Therefore the necessity of the “grace” and of the “salt.” The question might refer to various things. It might refer to evidence or to doctrine, to ritual or to ethics. It might embody an objection, suggest a difficulty, or contain a peculiar solution. It might be a query, in which lurked a satire, or one that argued a humble and inquiring mind. It might be as aimless as Pilate's interrogation, “what is truth?” or it might be the result of such an idle curiosity as that which moved the Athenian gossips on Mars' hill to say, “we would know therefore what those things mean.” Or it might indicate a state of mind in which mingled feelings were in operation, as when the Jews at Rome came to the apostle's lodging to hear of him what he thought. The tone of one querist might be that of scorn, of another that of earnest inquiry. One, as he asked information, might show that conviction had made some progress; another, that his previous thoughts had been gross misconceptions. But each was to be answered as was becoming-according to the contents, the spirit, and the object of his question-answered so that he might at once receive enlightenment and impression, be charmed out of his hostility, reasoned out of his misunderstanding, guided out of his difficulty, awakened out of his indifference, and won over to the new religion under the solemn persuasion that it was foolish to trifle any longer with Christianity, and dangerous any more to oppose the claims of a Divine revelation, enriched with such materials, fortified with such proofs, and commended by such results to universal reason and reception. 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:25-26. According to those passages, meekness is one special element of the Christian answer.

In fine, wholly out of place is the notion of Pierce, that the answer here referred to is that which Christians were often obliged to make to heathen rulers when summoned to appear before them. Elton, in his exposition of this epistle (1620, London), makes the following pithy application:—“Wouldest thou then be able to speak fitly, and to good purpose on euery occasion, as in one particular case, in time of distresse, in time of trouble, and vexation of body or minde, wouldest thou be able to speake a word of comfort, and as the Prophet saith, Isaiah 1:4, know to minister a word in time to him that is weary? Oh then let thy tong be euer poudred with the salt of grace, haue in thy mouth at all other times gracious speeches, and certainly then thou shalt not be to seeke of sweete and comfortable words in time of neede. Many come to their friends whom they loue well, and wish well vnto, in time of their trouble, haply lying on their sicke beds, and are not able to affoord them one word of spirituall comfort, onely they can vse a common forme of speech, aske them how they doe, and say, they are sorry to see them so, and then they haue done: here is one speciall cause of it, their mouthes are not seasoned with gracious speaches at other times; they vse not to season their speech with grace at other times, and so it comes to passe that when they should, and (it may bee) would vse gracious and comfortable words, they cannot frame themselues to them, but euen then also, they are out of season with them; learne thou therefore to acquaint thy selfe with holy and religious speeches, let thy mouth at other times be exercised in speaking graciously, and then (doubtlesse) though thou canst not speake so eloquently, as some that foame out nothing but goodly speaches, yet thou shalt be able to speake to better purpose, because (indeede) it is not mans wit, but Gods grace, that seasons speach, and makes it profitable and comfortable.”

The apostle did not wish to burden the epistle with any lengthened or minute account of his private affairs. There was much which all interested in him would naturally wish to know-his health, his means, his prospects and plans. But the bearer of the epistle would make all necessary communications, and one so recommended as Tychicus was, would be eagerly listened to as he spoke to them of the aged prisoner at Rome.


Verse 7

(Colossians 4:7.) τὰ κατ᾿ ἐμὲ πάντα γνωρίσει ὑμῖν τυχικὸς ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἀδελφὸς, καὶ πιστὸς διάκονος, καὶ σύνδουλος ἐν κυρίῳ—“Of all that concerns me Tychicus shall inform you-the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord.” The phrase τὰ κατ᾿ ἐμέ is a common one in Greek, as Elsner and Wetstein have abundantly shown. Tychicus is honoured with three appellations. First, he is called “the beloved brother,” one of the sacred brotherhood, bound together by the tie of a common fatherhood in God. His apostolic dignity did not fill Paul with reserve toward any fellow-believer, but he owned and loved as a brother every one who was with himself in Christ. Besides this common spiritual relationship, Tychicus must have endeared himself to the apostle, and therefore possessed his entire confidence. See under Ephesians 6:21. He was, secondly, “a trusty servant,” and as such carried this epistle, and was charged with these oral messages to Colosse and to Ephesus. The term διάκονος may mean, generally, one who has spent his time and energies in connection with the church and that apostle who was one of its ornaments and bulwarks. In Ephesians 6:21 he is called, as here, “the beloved brother and trusty servant,” but the apostle adds in this place a third epithet- καὶ σύνδουλος—“and fellow-servant.” Official service of a general nature is implied in διάκονος, but under this term the apostle speaks of him as a colleague. See under Colossians 1:7. The words ἐν κυρίῳ are referred by De Wette to all the three epithets, and by Meyer to the last two of them. The meaning is not different whichever view be adopted. But as the first two names have distinct and characteristic epithets attached to them, and the last has none, perhaps ἐν κυρίῳ is to be specially joined to it, for the fellowship in service is marked by the common object and sphere of it—“the Lord.”


Verse 8

(Colossians 4:8.) There are in this verse two marked differences of reading. The Textus Receptus, followed by Tischendorf, reads ἵνα γνῷ τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν—“That he might know your affairs;” but the other reading is ἵνα γνῶτε τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν—“That ye might know our affairs.” The last appears to be the most natural. The apostle had just said, “All about me shall Tychicus tell you, whom I have sent for this purpose, that ye might know how it fares with us,” and then he adds of him and Onesimus, “they will inform you of all things here.” Whereas, if the reading of the Received Text be adopted, a new idea is introduced—“that he might know your affairs”-and one out of harmony with the twice expressed design of the mission. The common reading has the support of C, D3, E, J, K, the Syriac and Vulgate Versions, and many of the Fathers. The other reading has, however, A, B, D1, F, G, the text of Theodoret and Jerome. The phrase, εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο, refers to what has been said, viz. “all my state shall Tychicus declare unto you;” and he adds, “I have sent him for this very purpose.” Is it conceivable that now the apostle should introduce another and very different purpose after this strong assertion? It is objected to this reading that it is copied from Ephesians 6:22. But surely, in two epistles written at the same time, and carried by the same bearer, might not the same commission be given to him for both churches, and in the same words? If the other clauses of the commission are the same, why should this clause vary? The declared result is the same in both places, and for both churches—“that he might comfort your hearts”-and there is no reason to suppose any difference in the process, for their hearts were to be comforted by a direct and full knowledge of the apostle's condition. The various lect ions may have arisen from omitting the syllable τε before τά, from their resemblance. One ancient Father has γνῷ τε τά. Bengel takes γνῶ for the first person. The new reading is adopted by Scholz and Lachmann as editors, recommended by Griesbach, vindicated by Rinck, and followed by Meyer, Baumgarten-Crusius, Olshausen, and Huther. The reading then is-

῝ον ἔπεμψα πρὸς ὑμᾶς εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἵνα γνῶτε τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν—“Whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye might know our affairs.” In the verb ἔπεμψα is a common idiom. Tychicus could not be sent off till the letter was finished, and yet he says, forestalling the act, “I have sent him.” The Colossians were in distress at the apostle's condition, and in sorrow for his imprisonment; but when Tychicus should tell them how he was circumstanced, and what his views and feelings were, how his mind was unruffled and his courage unsubdued, he would comfort their hearts- καὶ παρακαλέσῃ τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν.

Tychicus was not to be despatched on this errand by himself. He had a companion whose history and change had been striking and peculiar in their nature.


Verse 9

(Colossians 4:9.) σὺν ᾿ονησίμῳ τῷ πιστῷ καὶ ἀγαπητῷ ἀδελφῷ—“Along with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother.” Onesimus carried with him another and more special testimonial and introduction to his master, Philemon. Onesimus had been a slave-had fled from his owner, and had, during his exile, been converted by the apostle. He was sent back in his new character, “not now as a servant, but above a servant-a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” On being converted he had become, and is now eulogized as, “a brother;” and whatever may have been his delinquencies as a slave of Philemon, he is now commended as a faithful brother-one the genuineness of whose Christianity might be safely trusted. He was also “one of themselves”- ᾿εξ ὑμῶν, Colosse being either the place of his birth or his ordinary abode.

πάντα ὑμῖν γνωριοῦσι τὰ ὧδε—“They shall inform you of all matters here.” The phrase is of much the same meaning as τὰ κατ᾿ ἐμὲ πάντα in Colossians 4:7, only the last is more personal, and the one before us more general in its nature. The apostle knew well the anxiety of the Colossians about him, and he wished them to be amply gratified.

The epistle is now brought to a conclusion by the introduction of a few salutations. Those who send their greetings to Colosse, were either personally, or at least by name, known to the church. The Syriac translator, in rendering the Greek term “salute,” reverts to the old Hebrew form, and makes it—“ask for the peace of.”


Verse 10

(Colossians 4:10.) ᾿ασπάζεται ὑμᾶς ᾿αρίσταρχος ὁ συναιχμάλωτός μου—“Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner saluteth you.” Aristarchus was a Macedonian, and a native of Thessalonica. Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; Philemon 1:24. He had been much in Paul's society-was with him during the riot at Ephesus, and several of his journeys in Syria and Greece-was with him too when he sailed for Italy, in order to follow out his appeal to Caesar, and seems to have remained with him in Rome. He is here termed a “fellow-prisoner,” but in Philemon only a fellow-labourer; whereas in this epistle Epaphras is named a fellow-servant, but in Philemon a fellow-prisoner. From such an exchange of those epithets, it has been inferred that the imprisonment of Aristarchus was not compelled but voluntary. There was no charge against him, and no prosecution. He seems to have attached himself to Paul, and he willingly shared his imprisonment, that the apostle might enjoy his service and sympathy. Probably, as Meyer suggests, his friends shared in his confinement by turns. It was Aristarchus who was with him when he wrote to the Colossians; but Epaphras had taken his place when, about the same period, he wrote to Philemon.

καὶ ΄άρκος ὁ ἀνεψιὸς βαρνάβα. By ἀνεψιός, allied to nepos-nephew-is to be understood not nephew but cousin-geschwisterkind—“sister's son,” by which term our translators themselves probably meant cousin. Numbers 36:11. Hesychius defines it thus- ἀνεψιοί, ἀδελφῶν υἱοί. There seems no good reason to doubt that Mark is the John Mark referred to in Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37-39. He was the occasion of the well-known dispute and separation between Paul and Barnabas. On a former missionary tour, he had left them, and “went not with them to the work.” Paul, therefore, thought it not good to take him,—“and the contention was so sharp between them, that they parted asunder the one from the other.” Whether Paul or Barnabas was right in his opinion about Mark we know not. His desertion of a former enterprise seemed to justify Paul's opinion, and perhaps Barnabas thought too kindly of a near relation. Yet his subsequent conduct seems to warrant the substantial soundness of the judgment of Barnabas. Mark was apparently reconciled to Paul afterwards, and may have given the apostle ample reason to retract his censure. It may be, too, that the very dispute about him awakened within him renewed energy and perseverance. Again does Paul Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians (Eadie), Pradis CD-ROM:Commentary/Chapter 4, Book Version: 5.1.50

mention him with high commendation, 2 Timothy 4:11,—“Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”

The name of Barnabas seems to be presented by Paul as a kind of passport to Mark. Barnabas must have been a name familiar to the Colossian church. His character must have endeared him to all who knew him, or had heard of his hearty evangelical labours. By birth a Levite, of the island of Cyprus, he was at a very early stage of its history converted to Christianity. At once he disencumbered himself of his worldly possessions, and devoted himself to the spread of the gospel. It was he who introduced Paul to the church in Jerusalem, and such was the confidence reposed in him, that he was sent as the deputy of the mother-church to Antioch, to bring back a faithful report of the progress of the gospel in that city. On his visit to the Syrian capital, the sacred historian says of him, Acts 11:23-24, “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” Barnabas, finding the field so ample and so inviting, went at once to Tarsus, and brought Saul with him to Antioch, and such was the great success of their joint labours in preaching Christ, that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Barnabas next went up to Jerusalem with funds to relieve the poor saints, and then Paul and he visited many places in company. He is found soon again at Antioch, and he was delegated to go up to Jerusalem to secure a settlement of the angry controversy as to the observance by Christians of the Mosaic law. Returning to Antioch with the apostolic finding, he continued some time there “teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.” It was after this period that Paul and he had the sharp contention about the fitness of Mark for the missionary tour which they had sketched for themselves. The last account of him is in these words-& l dquo;and so Barnabas took Mark and sailed unto Cyprus.” There seems every reason to believe that the society of Barnabas had a salutary effect on the mind of Paul, and at a period, too, when he might not be fully conscious of his powers and qualifications, nor be able to realize the high destiny which lay before him. Barnabas thus stood on the confines of the apostolic college, though he was not within it, and next to its members, he occupies a distinguished place in the early church. Such, in fine, was the zeal and success of this “Son of Consolation,” such his prominence among the brethren, and so identified was he with the apostles, that he seems to be classed among them. Acts 14:4. So that we are disposed to infer that the mention of him here was not simply to point out Mark from others bearing the same name, but also to secure for him, through his relationship to Barnabas, a cordial welcome and reception at Colosse.

περὶ οὗ ἐλάβετε ἐντολάς—“Concerning whom ye received instructions.” The antecedent is not Barnabas, as Theophylact supposes, but Mark. What these commands were, or by whom enjoined, what they contained, or when they were delivered, we know not. Some suppose that they were sent at this period by Tychicus-a supposition which the tense of the verb will not warrant. Vain is all conjecture, such as that of Anselm and Schrader, who think that the apostle alludes to previous advices of an opposite nature, which are here recalled; or that of Grotius, who refers the missive to Barnabas; or Huther, who ascribes it to some Christian community-von irgend einer Gemeinde; or Estius, who so naturally assigns its origin to the Church of Rome. Not a few imagine that the following clause contains the instructions-

᾿εὰν ἔλθῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς, δέξασθε αὐτόν—“If he come to you, receive him.” But against this view is to be noticed the plural form ἐντολάς, implying that there was a variety of commands; and the omission of the article shows that it has no reference to what follows. This view, adopted by Calvin and Baumgarten-Crusius, seems, however, to have originated a various reading- δέξασθαι, found in D1, F, G, and in the Syriac Version and Ambrosiaster—“concerning whom ye have received commandment to receive him, should he come to you.” Such a reading at once betrays its exegetical origin. The present reading cannot be disturbed. We are therefore ignorant of these ἐντολαί, in their origin and purpose. But the apostle adds, parenthetically, for himself, concerning Mark, “if he come to you, receive him.” Mark evidently purposed a journey which might lead him to Colosse, and the Colossians were to give him, should he come among them, a kind reception. The verb δέχομαι is used, both in the classics and New Testament, to denote the welcome which one gives to an honoured guest-a guest-friend, as the Germans translate the Greek ξένος. Matthew 10:14; Matthew 10:40-41; Luke 9:5; Luke 9:48. The apostle continues the list of salutations-


Verse 11

(Colossians 4:11.) καὶ ᾿ιησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος ᾿ιοῦστος—“And Jesus, who is named Justus.” Of this Jesus Justus we know nothing. Chrysostom and others would identify him with the Justus mentioned in Acts 18:7. That appears to have been a proselyte-this was a born Jew.

The proper punctuation of the remaining clause is matter of doubt. It has been commonly read- οἱ ὄντες ἐκ περιτομῆς, with a stop, “who were of the circumcision,” namely, Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus Justus. And then the apostle adds—“these only are my fellow-workers to the kingdom of God.” But it is plain that the apostle had many other fellow-workers, and that he means, that among the believing Jews these only had co-operated with him. Such a necessary limitation of meaning has suggested another form of punctuation, which puts a stop after ᾿ιοῦστος, and commences with οἱ ὄντες ἐκ περιτομῆς a new sentence—“these being of the circumcision, they alone were my fellow-workers;” or, “of them of the circumcision, these alone were my fellow-workers.” This construction is adopted by Lachmann, Steiger, Huther, and Meyer. In such a case the phrase οἱ ὄντες ἐκ περιτομῆς, is a species of anacoluthon. Such a construction, however, seems awkward. Indeed, by the first form of construction, the same result is obtained; for it is plain that in οὗτοι μόνοι, the writer limits himself to the circumcision. By “the kingdom of God,” the apostle means the church-as a divine institute; and they were his colleagues not in the kingdom, but “unto the kingdom,” that is, unto its furtherance and consolidation, The preposition εἰς has often such a signification. To consolidate and extend this kingdom was the end of his apostolical mission. These three Jews were the only parties of their race who lent him any assistance for this purpose at Rome, and of whom therefore he adds-

οἵτινες ἐγενήθησαν μοι παρηγορία—“Who indeed have been an encouragement to me.” The Syriac renders—“and these only,” והִנוּןכָלחוּד. The noun occurs only here. It signifies originally an address or exhortation, then it came to denote the result of such exhortation-comfort. Still we apprehend it is comfort in the form of encouragement. The other believing Jews plagued the apostle, and he complains of them in the epistle to the Philippians, that they preached Christ “even of envy and strife-of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds.” Philippians 1:15-16. As the apostle of the Gentiles, and the zealous maintainer of the free and unconditioned admission of men to the church, without any reference to the law, Paul was an object of bitter prejudice to many Christian Hebrews. The names which follow are, therefore, those of persons of heathen birth.


Verse 12

(Colossians 4:12.) ᾿ασπάζεται ὑμᾶς ᾿επαφρᾶς ὁ ἐξ ὑμῶν—“There salutes you Epaphras, one of you.” Colossians 1:7. As a Colossian himself, Epaphras had a deep interest in them, and sends them his affectionate greeting. The apostle further characterizes Epaphras as a servant of Christ- δοῦλος χριστοῦ. Some insist on putting no comma between ὑμῶν and δοῦλος. The reading of highest authority seems to be χριστοῦ ᾿ιησοῦ—“a servant of Christ Jesus.” This good man, probably the founder of the Colossian church, could not forget them-for he was one of them by birth; and, as a servant of Christ Jesus, and one of their pastors, he had also a deep spiritual affinity with them. And not only so, but the apostle describes him further-as

πάντοτε ἀγωνιζόμενος ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐν ταῖς προσευχαῖς—“Always striving for you in his prayers.” Though he was absent, he did not forget them. The best scene of memory is at the throne of grace. In proportion to the fervour of one's affection will be the importunity of his petition. Love so pure and spiritual as that of Epaphras will produce an agony of earnestness. There will be no listless or fitful asking-but a mighty and continual wrestling of heart. And the apostle witnesses that for this end Epaphras supplicated-

῞ινα στῆτε τέλειοι καὶ πεπληροφορημένοι ἐν παντὶ θελήματι τοῦ θεοῦ—“That ye may stand perfect and full-assured in all the will of God.” The Stephanic reading πεπληρωμένοι is not based on sufficient authority. The language of the clause is very expressive. Epaphras prayed that they might stand, and neither wander nor fall-stand perfect and full assured-every grace of the Spirit within them, and their minds possessing an undoubting and imperturbable persuasion on every point of Divine instruction, or of “the whole will of God.” It is a needless refinement on the part of Meyer to connect ἐν παντὶ θελήματι so closely with στῆτε, as the Local-bestimmung; and to take τελ. καὶ πεπλ. as the Modal-bestimmung. For the words ἐν θελήματι are, in our view, closely allied to τέλειοι καὶ πεπλη.-that they might be perfect and fully assured in the whole will of God. And we are the more confirmed in our view when we turn to Colossians 2:2, where the noun πληροφορία occurs in the phrase—“full assurance of understanding.” And the allusion is plainly to the dangers which beset the Colossian church, and against which they are warned in the second chapter,-dangers in the form of seductive spiritualism and false philosophy, and against which the grand preservative was a perfect and full assured knowledge of the whole will of God. An imperfect or dubious acquaintanceship with that will would at once lay them open to the stratagems of the false teachers, who headed their errors with the title and varnished them with the semblance, of the “Divine will,” and claimed for their theosophic dreams and ascetic statutes Divine authority. See under Colossians 2:2. The preposition ἐν is not to be taken as εἰς, with Grotius; nor secundum, with Storr; nor yet durch-through, with Bähr. The apostle subjoins a further testimony to Epaphras in the following verse. But there is no little variety of reading as to the quality or virtue ascribed to him. The Received Text reads-


Verse 13

(Colossians 4:13.) ΄αρτυρῶ γὰρ αὐτῷ ὅτι ἔχει ζῆλον πολὺν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν—“For I certify, in his favour, that he has great zeal for you.” This verse is confirmatory ( γάρ) of the preceding. Instead of ζῆλον πολύν, A, B, C, etc., have πολὺν πόνον; while D1, F, G have πολὺν κόπον. Some, again, read πόθον, and some ἀγῶνα. The best reading appears to be πόνον-the Vulgate rendering it multum laborem. The other readings- ζῆλον, πόθον, and ἀγῶνα-may have been so many glosses on the more difficult term πόνον, which occurs only elsewhere in the Apocalypse. πόνος is toil or travail-such as that which attends a combat. Hesychius defines it by σπουδή, ἐπίτασις. It occurs several times in the Septuagint. This πόνος led to the previous prayerful ἀγών. This stress of spirit begat the anxious solicitude in prayer which the apostle has described in the former verse. But the pains and prayers of Epaphras were not confined to Colosse, for the apostle adds-

καὶ τῶν ἐν λαοδικείᾳ καὶ τῶν ἐν ῾ιεραπόλει—“And for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis.” Laodicea and Hierapolis were cities of the same region as Colosse. See Introduction, chap. i. All the three towns were in Phrygia, and Epaphras was well known to the churches in them. He bore their names on his heart before the Lord in fervent and uninterrupted intercession.


Verse 14

(Colossians 4:14.) ᾿ασπάζεται ὑμᾶς λουκᾶς ὁ ἰατρὸς ὁ ἀγαπητὸς, καὶ δημᾶς—“There salutes you Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas.” That this Luke was Paul's companion does not appear to admit of any doubt; nor is there any reason for denying the old opinion, that he was the author of the third Gospel. He is styled “the beloved physician,” either to distinguish him from others of the same name, or to specify the peculiar office in which he had endeared himself to the apostle. The health of the apostle, as they might know, had been signally benefited by his medical skill, and that this might be at all times available to his patient, Luke attached himself to his person, accompanied him in several of his missionary tours, was with him in his voyage to Rome, and remained with him in the Italian metropolis. Luke is mentioned in Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11. It is said in Sirach 38:1-2, “Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him, for the Lord hath created him, for of the Most High cometh healing.” Sir Thomas Browne, however, in the first chapter of his Religio Medici, says, that “several circumstances might persuade the world he had no religion,” and among them he mentions—“the general scandal of my profession.” It was, indeed, a common saying,-ubi tres medici, duo athei. Luke might have been an example to the profession. His physicospiritual character is happily delineated in the following epigram:

“Pandit evangelii et medicinae munera Lucas

Artibus hinc, illinc religione valens.

Utilis ille labor, per quem vixere tot aegri

Utilior per quem tot didicere mori.”

Who Demas was, we know not. He seems to have been the person who afterwards left the apostle on account of his love of the world; and the name has no distinctive or eulogistic epithet added to it, as if the apostle had suspected this future estrangement-an estrangement which we are perhaps not warranted to identify with absolute apostasy. 2 Timothy 4:10. The word itself, as has been remarked, is Greek, and not Hebrew, as Schoettgen thought; for he supposes it to be a Greek form of דימי, ending in ας, and not ιος-as δήμιος would mean carnifex. It is probably a contraction of δημήτριος.


Verse 15

(Colossians 4:15.) ᾿ασπάσασθε τοὺς ἐν λαοδικείᾳ ἀδελφοὺς, καὶ νυμφᾶν, καὶ τὴν κατ᾿ οἶκον αὐτοῦ ἐκκλησίαν. The various readings in the verse are not very important. Some read νύμφαν as a female name, and write αὐτῆς, like B, in agreement of gender. Others, for the opposite reason, support the form αὐτοῦ; while A, C, and others, read αὐτῶν, but αὐτοῦ seems to have highest authority. “Salute the brethren in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church in his house.” The Colossian church was, in the apostle's name, to salute the sister church in Laodicea, especially not forgetting in such a greeting Nymphas, and the church in his house. The first καί points out Nymphas as worthy of distinction, and probably the last καί introduces the explanation. The church in his house could not, as Bähr supposes, be the whole Laodicean church; nor can the words, as some of the Greek Fathers opine, mean simply the family of Nymphas, all of whom were Christians. Some portion of the Laodicean believers, for what reason we know not, statedly met for worship in the house of Nymphas; and Meyer has shown that if αὐτῶν were the right reading, as he thinks it is, such a use of the plural is not against Greek usage.


Verse 16

(Colossians 4:16.) καὶ ὅταν ἀναγνωσθῇ παῤ ὑμῖν ἡ ἐπιστολὴ, ποιήσατε ἵνα καὶ ἐν τῇ λαοδικέων ἐκκλησίᾳ ἀναγνωσθῇ, καὶ τὴν ἐκ λαοδικείας ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀναγνῶτε—“And when this epistle has been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye too read that from Laodicea.” The construction ποιήσατε ἵνα belongs to the later Greek. Matthiae, § 531, 1. Nor should we say that in such a case ἵνα is ecbatic, for though result be described in the clause which follows it, design is clearly expressed by the verb which precedes it. The apostle alludes to the public reading of his letter in the churches, and recommends an exchange of epistles. The epistle sent to Colosse and read there was to be sent to Laodicea, and read there too. The words παῤ ὑμ/ ῖν signify “among you,” not by you; and ἡ ἐπιστολή is the one which the apostle was at that moment writing. But the difficulty lies in determining what the Colossians were to read in turn, or what document is meant by the phrase τὴν ἐκ λαοδικείας—“that from Laodicea.” The apostle's language is not explicit, inasmuch as the Colossians would understand at once the reference made by him. But the question is, does ἐκ point to the origin or authorship of the epistle, or only to its present locality? Was it an epistle which had come to Paul from Laodicea, or would it need only to be brought out of Laodicea in order to be read at Colosse?

The expression is pregnant and idiomatic.

1. Many have taken it to mean a letter which Paul himself had received from the church in Laodicea. Theodoret, Photius, Calvin, Estius, Erasmus, Beza, van Til, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others, hold this view, though they can only conjecture as to the nature and contents of such a document. But the principal support of such a view is the assumed meaning of ἐκ, in the phrase ἐκ λαοδικείας. It is argued that ἐκ denotes origin. True, but the texture of the verse shows that the epistle is supposed to be in Laodicea, when they were to try and get it out of that city. It was to be brought from Laodicea to them, and by their own endeavour. Besides, as Dr. Davidson remarks, “It is difficult to conceive of the mode in which the apostle's injunction could have been carried into effect. It is very unlikely that the Laodiceans kept a copy, or that Paul knew of it. Or if it be conjectured that Tychicus and Onesimus, the bearers of the Colossian letter, carried that which the apostle had received from the Laodiceans, the idea is inconsistent with ποιήσατε ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀναγνῶτε τὴν ἐκ λαοδικείας; implying endeavour to get the Laodicean epistle.” Nor is there any hint in the epistle to the Colossians, that it is a reply to any queries or communications, the reading of which might cast light on those of its statements which served the purpose of an answer.

2. Others take it for some epistle written at Laodicea, either supposing it, like Theophylact, to be the First Epistle to Timothy, according to the common subscription; or like Lightfoot, the First Epistle of John; or as Jablonsky opined, an epistle written to the Colossian pastors generally; or as Storr and Flatt would think, one specially addressed to Epaphras. Such suppositions are as easily refuted as they are made. Philastrius of Brescia, Schultess, Stein, in his appendix to his commentary on Luke, and Schneckenburger, suppose the Epistle to the Hebrews to be intended. It cannot be the early uncanonical production now known by the title of the Epistle of Laodicea, a document which Hutter translated out of Latin into Greek, and of which Jerome said-ab omnibus exploditur. Marcion, in his canon, according to Tertullian, gave the Epistle to the Ephesians the title of the Epistle to the Laodiceans. [Commentary on Ephesians, Introduction, p. xxv.]

3. The more probable opinion is, that it is an epistle sent by Paul to Laodicea at this very period. The epistles were to be interchanged. And the interchange is naturally this-that the Laodiceans read the epistle which had been sent to Colosse, and the Colossians the epistle which had been sent to Laodicea. Wieseler argues that the epistle meant is that to Philemon. But it is hard to prove that either Archippus or Philemon was a Laodicean. It would certainly be strange for the Colossian church to send Paul's charge to the minister of another church, when, according to Wieseler, there was an epistle destined for individuals in the same community. Then, again, as has been observed, what is there in the private letter to Philemon to make it of general use at Colosse? Again, many, as Bähr, Steiger, Böhmer, and Anger, who hold that the Epistle to the Ephesians is a circular letter, believe it to be here meant, while some maintain that its original destination was Laodicea. But how, it might be asked, how did the apostle know that the encyclical epistle should have reached Laodicea just at the time when his letter should arrive at Colosse? The spirit of the injunction in Colossians 4:16, seems plainly to imply that both letters were despatched at once, and the same might be inferred from the apostle's desire expressed in Colossians 2:1, that the Laodiceans as well as the Colossians should be aware of his intense solicitude for them. Tychicus, as Meyer suggests, would travel through Laodicea to Colosse, and he would there impart the oral confirmation that the letter referred to by the apostle was lying at Laodicea. This arrangement being known to the apostle gave precision to his language. One difficulty in our way is the fact that Paul bids the Colossian church salute the brethren in Laodicea. Why do so, it is asked, if he himself despatched a letter at the same time to Laodicea? But the salutation sent through the Colossians would manifest the apostle's desire that both churches should cherish a sisterly attachment, and the transmission of the apostle's salutation to Laodicea would be a fitting occasion for the interchange of epistles.

But will the phrase τὴν ἐκ λαοδικείας bear such a meaning? There is no doubt that it may, the preposition showing that the letter was there, and to be brought out of that city. The idiom means that the letter was there, or would be found there, and was to be carried thence. Thus, Bähr refers to Luke 11:13 - ὁ πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει πνεῦμα ἅγιον-where the particle ἐξ characterizes the descent of a gift out of heaven, and from One who is in heaven. Matthew 24:17 has also been referred to- ἆραι τὰ ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας αὐτοῦ-but the similarity of construction is not so close. The case of ἀπό, in Hebrews 13:24, and the reverse one of εἰς in Luke 9:61, come under a similar law. Compare 2 Corinthians 9:2; Philippians 4:22. The law is based on what is called the attraction of prepositions, when, for example, instead of a preposition denoting rest being used, the idea of motion is attracted from the verb, which either expresses it or implies it, and a preposition signifying such motion is employed. Kühner, § 623; Winer, § 66, 6. The idea of fetching the epistle out of the city of Colosse was present to the writer's mind, and so he says ἐκ-the epistle to be gotten out, and not ἐν-the epistle now lying in Laodicea. This ascertained usage puts an end to the objections of the Greek expositors, who affirm that this view would necessitate such a phrase as τὴν πρὸς λαοδικέας.

The inference, of course, is that this epistle is lost, like many others of the apostle's writings. Probably it was wholly of a temporary and local nature, and therefore has not been preserved.

1. Paulus apostolus, non ab hominibus, neque per hominem, sed per Jesum Christum, fratribus qui estis Laodiceae. 1. Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, to the brethren which are at Laodicea. 2. Gratia vobis, et pax a Deo Patre et Domino nostro Jesu Christo. 2. Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 3. Gratias ago Christo per omnem orationem meam, quod permanentes estis et perseverantes in operibus bonis, promissionem expectantes in die judicii. 3. I thank Christ in every prayer of mine, because ye continue and persevere in good works, looking for that which is promised in the day of judgment. 4. Neque disturbent vos quorundam vaniloquia insimulantium veritatem, ut vos avertant a veritate Evangelii, quod a me praedicatur. 4. Let not the vain speeches of any trouble you, who pervert the truth, that they seduce you from the truth of the gospel which is preached by me. 5. Et nunc faciet Deus, ut qui sunt ex me, perveniant ad perfectum veritatis Evangelii, sint deservientes, et benignitatem operum facientes, quae sunt salutis vitae aeternae. 5. And now may God effect it, that my converts may attain to a perfect knowledge of the truth of the gospel, be beneficent, and doing good works which are connected with the salvation of eternal life. 6. Et nunc palam sunt vincula mea, quae patior in Christo, in quibus laetor et gaudeo. 6. And now my bonds which I suffer in Christ, are manifest, in which I rejoice and am glad. 7. Scio enim quod hoc mihi est ad salutem perpetuam, quod factum est orationibus vestris, administrante Spiritu Sancto. 7. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation for ever, which is secured through your prayer, and the supply of the Holy Spirit. 8. Sive per vitam, sive per mortem, est mihi vivere vita in Christo, et mori gaudium. 8. Whether by life or by death; [for] to me shall be a life in Christ, to die will be joy. 9. Et ipse Dominus noster in nobis faciet misericordiam suam, ut eandem dilectionem habeatis et sitis unanimes. 9. And our Lord Himself will grant us His mercy, that ye may have the same love and be like-minded. 10. Ergo, dilectissimi, ut audistis praesentiam Domini, ita sentite, et facite in timore; et erit vobis vita in aeternum. 10. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have heard of the coming of the Lord, so think and act in fear, and it shall be to you life eternal; 11. Est enim Deus, qui operatur in vobis; 11. For it is God, who worketh in you; 12. Et facite sine peccato quaecunque facitis. 12. And do without sin whatever things ye do. 13. Et quod optimum est, dilectissimi, gaudete in Domino Jesu Christo, et cavete omnes sordes in omni lucro. 13. And what is best, my beloved, rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, and avoid all filthy lucre. 14. Omnes petitiones vestrae sint palam apud Deum; estote firmi in sensu Christi. 14. Let all your requests be made known before God, and be firm in the doctrine of Christ. 15. Et quae integra, et vera, et pudica, et casta, et justa, et amabilia sunt, facite. 15. And whatsoever things are sound, and true, and of good report, and chaste, and just, and lovely, these things do. 16. Et quae audiistis et accepistis, in corde retinete, et erit vobis pax. 16. And those things which ye have heard, and received, keep in your hearts, and peace shall be with you. 17. Salutant vos omnes sanct. 17. All the saints salute you. 18. Gratia Domini nostri Jesu Christi cum spiritu vestro. Amen. 18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. 19. Hanc facite legi Colossensibus, et eam, quae est Colossensium, vobis. 19. Cause that this Epistle be read among the Colossians, and the Epistle of the Colossians to be read among you.

This interchange of epistles was a salutary custom; it made an epistle sent to one church to become, in reality, the common property of all the churches, and it led in no very long period to the formation of the canon of the New Testament.


Verse 17

(Colossians 4:17.) καὶ εἴπατε ᾿αρχίππῳ. βλέπε τὴν διακονίαν ἣν παρέλαβες ἐν κυρίῳ, ἵνα αὐτὴν πληροῖς—“And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” Archippus is mentioned also in Philemon. There is no ground for the opinion of Michaelis, Storr, Wieseler, and Theodoret, based on the Apostolic Constitutions, 7:46, that Archippus was a Laodicean. Philemon 1:2. What the motive of the apostle in sending him this exhortation was, we do not know. It would be an unwarranted suspicion, on the one hand, to suppose that Archippus was in danger of proving unfaithful; and it is no less a baseless notion of Bengel, on the other hand, that he was either in sickness or old age, and not far from the end of his career. The form εἴπατε is peculiar. Winer, § 15. In construing the exhortation, it serves no purpose to take back ἵνα from its place, and read βλέπε ἵνα, for what then should come of αὐτήν? 2 John 1:8. The phrase “in the Lord” has not the same meaning as “from the Lord,” with which some would identify it. It points out the source of the ministry, not simply, but by describing the sphere in which it was given and received. It was “in the Lord”-the recipient was in union with the Lord himself, and the ministerial function was conferred upon him, and accepted by him under no foreign influence, obligation, or motive. Whatever this ministry was, and we cannot determine its nature, whether it be the diaconate specially or the pastorate generally, it was therefore a divine office which Archippus held. He had “received it in the Lord,” and the charge was, that he was to see to it “that he fulfilled it.” Acts 12:25. This was to be his solicitude, to discharge all the duties which such an office laid upon him, and to fill up with holy activity that sphere which the Lord had marked out for him. There is no occasion to adopt the idea of Grotius, that the verb πληροῖς is any imitation of the Hebrew מָלֵא, H4848, as applied to the consecration of a priest, for the word is found with a similar sense in the classics and in Philo. Some suppose that Archippus was holding office in the absence of Epaphras, others that he was a son of Philemon, and deacon under his father as pastor. It has been said, that it marks the free intercourse of the early churches, when such an address should be made by a church to one of its ministers. Only it should be borne in mind, that the church was simply the vehicle of communication. It was an admonition of Paul to Archippus through the church. The idea of Theophylact is, that Paul sends him the admonition so openly, for this purpose, that when he had occasion to rebuke any members of the church, they might not deem him bitter or censorious, for they would recall the apostle's charge to him, and esteem him for so faithfully obeying it.


Verse 18

(Colossians 4:18.) ῾ο ἀσπασμὸς τῇ ἐμῇ χειρὶ παύλου—“The salutation of Paul with mine own hand.” Having employed an amanuensis in writing the previous portion of the epistle, the apostle authenticates it by adding his salutation in his own hand. 1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17. What associations and feelings that handwriting would excite! Many an eye would be moistened as it gazed upon it. Not only does he write the salutation himself, but he adds, with his own hand too, the remaining clauses.

΄νημονεύετέ μου τῶν δεσμῶν—“Remember my bonds,” a brief but pathetic request. The alternative view of Heinrichs is a very miserable one-stipendio mihi mittendo. Nor can we, with Olshausen and others, confine the mode of remembrance craved by the apostle simply to supplication for him. As Meyer says-jede Beschränkung ist unbefugt—“every limitation is unwarranted.” Every possible form of remembrance they were besought to cherish. With every mention of his name, or allusion to his work, his chain was to be associated. Every picture which their mind's eye formed of him was to be that of a prisoner. When they felt their obligations to him as an apostle, they were to think of his captivity. Their freedom of religious observance was to suggest to them, by the contrast, his incarceration. When they asked a blessing on their spiritual benefactors, they were not to forget the fetters of him-the apostle of the Gentiles. “Remember my bonds.” When his right hand penned the salutation of the previous clause, no wonder he felt his bonds so keenly, and spoke of them, for at the same moment his left hand was chained to the right arm of the Roman soldier who kept him. And now he bids them farewell-

῾η χάρις μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν—“Grace be with you.” The adieu is brief, but expressive. The apostle concludes as he began, with an earnest benediction, a prayer for fulness of blessing, alike for their present and eternal welfare. The ᾿αμήν of the Received Text is not well authenticated, and the subscription, though correct, is necessarily spurious.

 


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Bibliography Information
Eadie, John. "Commentary on Colossians 4:4". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jec/colossians-4.html.

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Thursday, July 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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