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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Colossians 1

 

 

Verse 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God , [ dia (Greek #1223)] - 'through,' etc. (note, 1 Corinthians 1:1.) The same designation of himself as in 1 Cor., 2 Cor., Ephes., 2 Tim. The fuller titular distinction is in Gal., where he wished to enforce his authority. The shortest is in 1 Thes and 2 Thess., to whom he writes in familiarity: simply "Paul."

Timotheus (notes, 2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1). He was with Paul when writing in Rome. He had been Paul's companion in his first tour through Phrygia, where Colosse was. Hence, the Colossians associated him with Paul in their affections, and the apostle joins him with himself in the address. In 1 Corinthians, Philippians, and Philemon, Paul passes to the singular; but here 2 Corinthians 1:3 Thessalonians and 2 Thessonians, continues the plural. Timothy may have transcribed the letter. Neither, probably, had seen the Colossian church (cf. Colossians 2:1); but had seen, during their tour through Phrygia, individual Colossians-as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia (Philem 2) - who, when converted, brought the Gospel to their native city.


Verse 2

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colosse. So 'Aleph (') Delta G f g, Vulgate. But in B, 'Colasse.' As "saints" implies union with God, so "faithful brethren" union with Christians (Bengel). Here (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1), Paul does not write to the 'church' expressly, but to the Christians constituting it. Where he wishes specially to recommend or praise them for church unity, he perhaps addresses 'the church.'

And the Lord Jesus Christ. Supported by 'Aleph (') A C G g. Omitted by B Delta f, Vulgate.


Verse 3

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Thanksgiving for their 'faith, hope, and love.' So in the twin letter sent by the same bearer, Tychicus (Ephesians 1:15-16).

We - I and Timothy.

And the Father. So 'Aleph (') A, Vulgate. But B Delta O omit "and," which possibly crept in from Ephesians 1:3,

Praying always for you - with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).


Verse 4

Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Since we heard - literally, 'Having heard,' etc.: implying that he had only heard of, and not seen them (Colossians 2:1). Compare Romans 1:8, where like language is used of a church which he had not at the time visited.

Faith in Christ , [ pistin (Greek #4102) en (Greek #1722) Christoo (Greek #5547)] - 'Christ-centered faith.'

Love which ye have to all - the absent as well as those present (Ellicott).


Verse 5

For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

For. To be joined with the words preceding: 'the love which ye have (continue having) to all the salute because of [ dia (Greek #1223): on account of] the hope' (here, the thing hoped for), etc. Hope of eternal life will never be inactive, but will always produce "love." This passage is abused by Romanists, as if the hope of salvation depended upon works. It does not follow that our hope is founded on works of love because we are stimulated by hope to live well; since nothing is more effectual for this than the sense of God's free grace (Calvin). Our hope resting on grace, being confident of the heavenly inheritance with the saints (Acts 26:18), leads us instinctively to love them.

Laid up - a treasure laid up, set apart, out of danger of being lost (2 Timothy 4:8): faith, love, and hope (Colossians 1:4-5), the sum of Christianity (cf. Colossians 1:23).

In heaven - Greek, 'in the heavens.'

Whereof ye heard before - namely, when preached to you. In the word ... That "hope" formed part of "the word of the truth of (announced in) the Gospel" (cf. Ephesians 1:13); i:e., part of the Gospel truth preached unto you.


Verse 6

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

Which is come unto you , [ tou (Greek #3588) parontos (Greek #3918) eis (Greek #1519) humas (Greek #5209)] - 'Which is present (having come) unto you:' which living Gospel word has come to, and remains with you.

As [ kathoos (G2531)] it is in all the world - virtually, as it was by this time preached in the leading parts of the world (Romans 1:8; Romans 10:18); potentially, as Christ's command was that the Gospel should be preached to all nations-not limited, as the law was, to the Jews (Matthew 13:38; Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19). So G f g, Vulgate. However, the reading of 'Aleph (') A B C Delta omits the following "and" ("it is," of the English version, is not in the original): 'As in all the world it is bringing forth fruit and growing [so 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f g, Vulgate, read: kai (Greek #2532) auxanomenon (Greek #837)], even as it doth in you also.' Not that the Gospel has been preached in all the world, but that it is bearing fruits of righteousness, and (like a tree growing at the same time that it bears fruit) growing in numbers of its converts in all the world. Intensively within, as well as extensively progressing without (Isaiah 54:2, end; Acts 6:7; Acts 12:24; Acts 19:20).

Heard of it - rather, 'heard it.'

And knew , [ epegnoote (Greek #1921)] - 'came to know fully,' experimentally.

The grace of God (of which the Gospel is the offer, Titus 2:11; Titus 3:4-6)

In truth - i:e., in its truth, free from Judaistic and Gnostic error.


Verse 7

As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

As ye also learned. "Also" is omitted in 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f g, Vulgate. Those inserting it thought that Paul had preached the Gospel to the Colossians as well as Epaphras; whereas the omission in the oldest manuscripts implies that Epaphras alone founded the church at Colosse. A Colossian (Colossians 4:12), identified by Grotius with Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25).

Of `from Epaphras ' Of - `from Epaphras.'

Dear - `beloved.'

Fellow-servant - namely, of Christ. In Philem 23 he calls him "my fellow-prisoner." Epaphras may have been apprehended for his zealous labours in Asia Minor; but more probably Paul gave him the title as his faithful companion in imprisonment (cf. note, Colossians 4:10).

Who is for you ... [ pistos (Greek #4103) huper (Greek #5228) humoon (Greek #5216) diakonos (Greek #1249)] - 'who is faithful in your behalf (in behalf of your spiritual good) as a minister of Christ:' hinting that he is one not to be set aside for the new and erroneous teachers (Colossians 2:1-23.) 'Aleph (') A B Delta G g read 'for us.' Compare Vulgate, support the English version.


Verse 8

Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Your love (Colossians 1:4) - "to all the saints."

In the Spirit - the element IN which alone true love is found (Romans 14:17; Romans 15:30), as distinguished from that of those "in the flesh" (Romans 8:9). Even they needed to be stirred up to greater love (Colossians 3:12-14). Love is the first-fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).


Verse 9

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

For this cause (Colossians 1:8) - as in the games we most urge on those near the victory (Chrysostom) (Ephesians 1:15). Their progress was the impelling cause to Paul's prayer. Unceasing earnestness was its characteristic (Ephesians 1:16): its object was 'that they might be filled,' etc.

We also - on our part.

Heard it (Colossians 1:4).

Pray. He states what in particular he prays for; as in Colossians 1:3, generally the fact of his praying for them.

To desire , [ aitoumenoi (Greek #154): more special than proseuchomenoi (Greek #4336): Mark 11:24] - Greek, 'to make request.'

Might (may) be filled - a verb often in this letter (Colossians 4:12; Colossians 4:17).

Knowledge , [ epignoosin (Greek #1922)] - 'full (experimental) knowledge.' Akin to 'knew (note Colossians 1:6).

Of his will - how ye ought to walk (Ephesians 5:17): chiefly that 'mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which he purposed in Himself: that in the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ' (Ephesians 1:9-10): God's eternal "will" to reconcile to Himself men by Christ, not by angels, as the false teachers taught (Colossians 2:18) (Estius). Knowledge was the want among the Colossians, notwithstanding their general excellencies; hence, he so often dwells on this (Colossians 1:28; Colossians 2:2-3; Colossians 3:10; Colossians 3:16; Colossians 4:5-6). He less exile wisdom to the Corinthians, as "puffed up" with the conceit of knowledge.

Wisdom - frequent in this letter, as opposed to the (false) "philosophy" and "show of wisdom' (Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:23 : cf. Ephesians 1:8).

Understanding , [ sunesei (Greek #4907)] - sagacity to discern what on each occasion is suited to the place and time: its seat is 'the understanding;' wisdom is more general, and has its seat in the whole of the faculties of the soul. Bengel, 'Wouldst thou know that the matters in the Word of Christ are real? Then never read them for mere knowledge sake.' Knowledge is to be seasoned with 'spiritual understanding.' Ellicott joins 'spiritual (spirit-derived and spirit-characterized) wisdom and understanding' (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 1:12).


Verse 10

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

'So as to walk,' etc. True knowledge of God's will is inseparable from walking conformably to it.

Worthy of the Lord - Jesus in Paul's letters (Ephesians 4:1).

Unto - so as in every way to be.

Pleasing (God) [ areskeia (Greek #699)] - 'desire of pleasing.'

Being fruitful - `bearing fruit,' as Colossians 1:6 : the first manifestation of their walking "worthy of the Lord." The second is, "increasing (growing) in the knowledge [ eis (Greek #1519) teen (Greek #3588) epignoosin (Greek #1922)] of God" (or as 'Aleph (') A B Delta G read [ tee (Greek #3588) epignoosei (Greek #1922)] 'growing BY the full knowledge of God'). As the Gospel Word (Colossians 1:6) was said to 'bring forth fruit,' and 'grow in all the world, even as it did in the Colossians, since the day they knew the grace of God, so here Paul prays that they might continue to 'bring forth fruit,' and 'grow' more and more by the full knowledge of God (the true means of spiritual growth), the more of that "knowledge" (Colossians 1:9) was imparted to them. The third manifestation of their walk is (Colossians 1:11), 'Being strengthened,' etc. The fourth is (Colossians 1:12), "Giving thanks," etc.


Verse 11

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

[ En (Greek #1722) pasee (Greek #3956) dunamei (Greek #1411) dunamoumenoi (Greek #1412)] 'Being made mighty with (literally, in) all (every kind of) might.'

According to his glorious power - `according to the power (the characteristic) of His glory:' here appropriate to Paul's argument (Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 6:10): as its exuberant 'riches' in Ephesians 3:16. The power which characterizes His glory is the measure of the strength to be imparted to the Colossians (Romans 6:4).

Unto all patience - so as to attain to all [ hupomoneen (Greek #5281)] brave, patient constancy, perseverance in the faith, in spite of trials of persecutors and seductions of false teachers.

Long-suffering , [ makrothumian (Greek #3115)] - toward those whom one could repel. Long forbearance before giving room to passion. "Patience" toward those whom one cannot repel (Chrysostom). [ Makrothumia (Greek #3115), toward persons: hupomoneen (Greek #5281), as to things.] Both are ascribed to saints: only makrothumia (Greek #3115) to God (Trench).

With joyfulness - Paul's own practice in trial (Acts 16:25; Romans 5:3; Romans 5:11). Joined by Ellicott with "giving thanks."


Verse 12

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

You (not "we," from Colossians 1:9) "giving thanks unto the Father." Note, Colossians 1:10 : this clause is connected with 'That ye may walk' (Colossians 1:10).

Unto the Father - of Jesus, and so our Father by adoption (Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:4-6).

Which hath made us meet , [ hikanoosanti (Greek #2427)] - 'who made us meet, fit, once for all' (2 Corinthians 3:6). Not 'is making us meet' by progressive growth in holiness. The Spirit's work is not primarily meant here; but the Father's work in putting us by adoption, once for all, in a new standing-namely, that of children. The believers meant here were in different stages of progressive sanctification; but in respect to the meetness specified, they all alike had it from the Father, in Christ, His Son, being "complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10 : cf. John 17:17; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Jude 1:1). Secondarily, this once-for-all meetness contains the germ of sanctification, developed progressively in the life by the Father's Spirit in the believer. The life of heavenliness is the first stage of heaven itself. There will follow a personal meetness for heaven where there is a judicial meetness. B prefixes 'Who called and' before 'made us meet' [ kalesanti (Greek #2564) kai (Greek #2532)]. A C, Vulgate, omit.

To be partakers ... [ eis (Greek #1519) teen (Greek #3588) merida (Greek #3310)] - 'for the (our) portion of the inheritance (Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:11) of the saints in light.' The inheritance is a joint one, of which each saint has his 'portion.' 'Light' (including knowledge, purity, love, and joy) begins in the believer here, descending from "the Father of lights" by Jesus, "the true light," and is perfected in the kingdom of light: in antithesis to "darkness" (Colossians 1:13). It contrasts with the "darkness" of the unconverted state (Colossians 1:13 : cf. 1 Peter 2:9).


Verse 13

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Delivered us - implying that we were captives.

From , [ ek (Greek #1537)] - 'out of the power;' out of the sphere in which the power of the prince of darkness is exercised.

Darkness - blindness, hatred, misery (Bengel).

Translated - even already (Matthew 5:3): those translated in state are also transformed in character. Satan has an organized dominion, with various orders of evil powers (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12). But "kingdom" is rarely applied to his usurped rule (Matthew 12:26): it is generally restricted to the kingdom of God.

His dear Son , [ tou (Greek #3588) huiou (Greek #5207) tees (Greek #3588) agapees (Greek #26) autou (Greek #846)] - 'the Son of His love:' on whom it rests (John 17:26; Ephesians 1:6): contrast the "darkness," where all is hatred and hateful.


Verse 14

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

We have - `we are having.'

Redemption , [ teen (Greek #3588)] - 'the redemption.'

Through his blood. So Irenaeus. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A B C G g, Vulgate. Probably inserted from Ephesians 1:7. Sins , [ ton (Greek #3588) hamartioon (Greek #266)] - 'our sins.' The more general term; for which Ephesians 1:7 has the special, 'our transgressions' [ ton (Greek #3588) paraptoomatoon (Greek #3900)].


Verse 15

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

They who have experienced "redemption" (Colossians 1:14) know Christ in the glorious character here, as above the highest angels for whom the false teachers (Colossians 2:18) claimed worship. Compare the two other passages as to Christ's person (Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:6-11). Paul describes Him-

(1) in relation to God and creation (Colossians 1:15-17);

(2) in relation to the Church (Colossians 1:18-20).

The former regards Him as the Creator (Colossians 1:15-16) and Sustainer (Colossians 1:17) of the natural world; the latter, as the source and stay of the new moral creation.

Image - exact likeness and perfect Representative. Adam was made "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27). The second Adam perfectly reflected visibly 'the invisible God' (1 Timothy 1:17), whose glories the first Adam only in part represented. "Image" [eicon] always supposes a prototype, from which it is drawn: the exact counterpart, as the reflection of the sun in the water: the child the living image of the parent. "Likeness" [homoiosis] implies mere resemblance, not the exact counterpart and derivation; hence, it is nowhere applied to the Son, while "image" is (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:7 (Trench); John 1:18; John 14:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 6:16; Hebrews 1:3). Before His incarnation He was the image of the invisible God, as the Word (John 1:1-3) by whom God created the worlds, and by whom God appeared to the patriarchs. His essential character as always "the image of God" --

(1) before the incarnation,

(2) in the days of His flesh, and

(3) now in His glorified state-is, I think, contemplated by "is."

First-born of every creature (Hebrews 1:6) - "the first-begotten:" 'begotten of His Father before all worlds' ('Nicene Creed'). 'God, of the substance of His Father, begotten before the worlds; and man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world' ('Athanasian Creed'). Priority and superlative dignity is implied (Psalms 89:27). The English version seems to make Christ a creature. Translate [ proototokos (Greek #4416) pasees (Greek #3956) ktiseoos (Greek #2937)], 'Begotten before every creature,' as the context gives the reason why He is so designated: 'For,' etc. (Trench), Colossians 1:16-17, "He is before all things." Thus, pasa (Greek #3956) ktisis (Greek #2937) has not to be taken 'the first-begotten of all creatures,' but in its strict sense, 'before every creature.' "First-begotten" marks at once His eternal priority and His condescending to brotherhood with us (Romans 8:29). "Only-begotten" marks His relation to the Father by generation from everlasting. This expression is used by Origen (so far is the Greek from favouring Arian views) to mark Christ's Godhead, in contrast with His manhood, (B. 2:, contra Cels.) Since He was before "every creature" [the genitive of the point of view, 'in comparison to' far or long before: John 1:15; John 1:30, protosmou; John 15:18, etc.], He cannot be a creature Himself, but the Creator. The Greek is against Alford's translation, 'the first-born of all creation.'


Verse 16

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

For , [ hoti (Greek #3754)] - 'because:' the proof that He is not included in the things created, but is the "first-begotten" before "every creature" (Colossians 1:15); begotten as 'the Son of God's love' (Colossians 1:13) antecedently to every other emanation; 'because' all other emanations came from Him: whatever was created, was created by Him.

By him , [ en (Greek #1722)] - 'in Him:' as the creative center, the conditional, all-including cause, in and on whom creation rests for its realization: the creation of all things BY Him [ di' (Greek #1223) autou (Greek #846)], as the mediating cause, follows. God revealed Himself in the Son, the Word, before all created existence (Colossians 1:15). The Divine Word carries IN Himself the archetypes of all existences, so that 'IN Him all things in heaven and earth were created.' 'In Him' indicates that the Word is the ideal ground of all existence; "by Him," that He is the instrument of actually realizing the divine idea (Neander). His essential nature as the Word of the Father is not a mere appendage of His incarnation, but the ground of it. The original relation of the Eternal Word to men 'made in His image' (Genesis 1:27), is the source of His forming, in His incarnation, the new relation whereby He restores them to His lost image. 'In Him' implies something prior to "by" and "for Him" presently after: the three propositions mark in succession the beginning, the progress, and the end (Bengel). The conditional, the mediating, and the final cause.

All things , [ ta (Greek #3588) panta (Greek #3956)] - 'the universe of things.' The new creation is not meant (as Socinians interpret); for angels, who are included in the catalogue, were not new created by Christ: he does not speak of the new creation until Colossians 1:18. The creation of 'the things in the heavens' (so Greek) includes that of the heavens themselves: the former are named, since the inhabitants are more noble than their dwellings. Heaven and earth, and all that is in them (1 Chronicles 29:11; Nehemiah 9:6; Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 10:6).

Invisible - the world of spirits.

Thrones, or dominions - lordships; the spirits round the throne: "thrones" are the greatest; lordships the lowest.

Principalities, or powers , [ archai (Greek #746), exousiai (Greek #1849)] - 'rules or authorities:' the former are stronger than the latter (cf. Ephesians 1:21, where the order of angelic ranks is probably descensive, lordship being lowest). The latter pair refer to offices in respect to God's creatures: 'thrones and dominions,' exalted relation to God, they being the chariots on which He rides, displaying His glory (Psalms 68:17).

Were - [distinguish the Greek aorist, ektisthee (Greek #2936), which precedes, from the perfect, ektistai (Greek #2936), here] - 'have been created.' In the former the creation was viewed as a past act at a point of time; here it is viewed as the permanent result eternally continuing. By him - the instrumental Agent (John 1:3).

For him - the grand End of creation: the final as well as the efficient cause (Proverbs 16:4; Revelation 4:11). Christ in this has God's prerogative (Romans 11:36). Lachmann's punctuation of Colossians 1:15-18 is best, whereby "Who is the image," etc., the "first-born of every creature," (Colossians 1:15) answers to "who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead" (Colossians 1:18), the whole forming one sentence with ("All things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist: and He is the Head of the body, the Church") intervening as a parenthesis. Thus Paul puts first the origination by Him of the natural creation; secondly, of the new creation. The parenthesis falls into four clauses, two and two: the former two support the first assertion, "the first-born of every creature;" the latter two prepare us for "the first-born from the dead:" the former two correspond to the latter two in their form - "All things by Him ... and He is," and "by Him all things ... and He is."


Verse 17

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

(John 8:58) 'And He Himself [ Autos (Greek #846): the great HE] is (implying essential being) before all things,' in time, as well as dignity. Therefore He is before even time - i:e., from eternity (cf. Colossians 1:15, note). The contrast is between the things created in time and the Creator Himself, before all time.

By him - Greek, 'IN HIM,' as the causal element of their continuing existence (persistence), besides being the conditional element of their creation (Colossians 1:16) (Ellicott). Hebrews 1:3, "Upholding all things by the word of His power."

Consist , [ sunesteeken (Greek #4921)] - 'subsist" as one integral harmonized system or whole (Acts 17:28). The Son of God is the Conserver, as well as the Creator, of all things. Bengel, 'All things in Him come together into (and continue in) one system: the universe found (and retains) its completion in Him.'


Verse 18

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Relation of Christ to the Church, the new creation, as its Originator.

He - emphatic [ Autos (Greek #846)], HIMSELF. Not angels: in opposition to the false doctrine concerning angel-worship, and the power of OEons, imaginary spirit-emanations from God (Colossians 2:10; Colossians 2:18). Head of the body, the church. The church is His body by virtue of His entering into communion corporeally with human nature (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:15-16). The One who is Head of all things and beings by creation is also, by being "the first-born from the dead," and so the "first-fruits" of the new creation among men, Head of the Church.

Who is - i:e., seeing that He is: this begins a new paragraph. As the former paragraph, relating to His originating the physical creation, began with "Who is" (Colossians 1:15), so this, relating to His originating the new creation, begins with "Who is:" a parenthesis (note, Colossians 1:16), including from "all things were created by Him" to "Head of the body, the Church:" the last clause prepares the transition to "Who is the beginning," etc. The head of kings and high priests was anointed, as the seat of the faculties, the fountain of dignity, and original of all the members (according to Hebrew etymology,`Abarbanel,' in Pearson, 'Creed,' Article 2:, p. 175, note). So Jesus by His unction was designated as the Head of the body, the Church.

The beginning - namely, of the new creation, as of the old (Proverbs 8:22; John 1:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17 : cf. Revelation 1:8): the beginning of the Church of the first-born (Hebrews 12:23), being Himself "the first-born from [ ek (Greek #1537): not merely of] the dead;" He is not called the first that rose, but 'the first-begotten out of the dead,' rising with a new birth into life (Romans 6:9; Acts 26:23; Acts 3:15, 'Prince-leader of life' [ archeegos (Greek #747), akin to archee (Greek #746) here]. Christ's primogeniture is threefold:

(1) From eternity the "first-begotten" of the Father (Colossians 1:15);

(2) The first-born of His mother (Matthew 1:25);

(3) The Head of the Church, mystically begotten of the Father, to a new life, at His resurrection, which is His "regeneration," even as His people's coming resurrection will be their "regeneration" (i:e., the resurrection which, begun in the soul, shall extend to the body and to the whole creation (Matthew 19:28; Acts 13:33; Romans 8:11; Romans 8:21-23; Revelation 1:5).

Sonship and resurrection are similarly connected (Luke 20:36; Romans 1:4; 1 John 3:2). Christ by rising from the dead, is the efficient cause (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), as having obtained the power; the exemplary cause, as being the pattern (Micah 2:13; Romans 6:5; Philippians 3:21) of our resurrection: the resurrection of "the Head" involves consequentially that of the members.

That in all things. He resumes the "all things," Colossians 1:20.

He might have the pre-eminence , [ geneetai (Greek #1096) en (Greek #1722) pasin (Greek #3956) autos (Greek #846) prooteuoon (Greek #4409)] - 'He HIMSELF (and none other) may become the One holding the first place.' Both ideas are included-priority in time and priority in dignity: now in the regenerated world, as before in the world of creation (Colossians 1:15; Psalms 89:27; John 3:13).


Verse 19

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

The ellipsis is least by translating (as Colossians 2:9 confirms) 'In Him (Christ) the whole fullness (of the Godhead) The ellipsis is least by translating (as Colossians 2:9 confirms), 'In Him (Christ) the whole fullness (of the Godhead) was pleased to dwell.' "All the [ to (Greek #3588)] fullness:" whatever divine excellence is in the Father (Ephesians 3:19 : cf. John 1:16; John 3:34). The Gnostics used "fullness" for the assemblage of angelic emanations from God. The Spirit presciently by Paul warns the Church that the true "fullness" dwells in Christ alone. This is why Christ takes precedence of every creature (Colossians 1:15). For two reasons Christ is Lord of the Church:

(1) Because the fullness of the divine attributes (Colossians 1:19) dwells in Him according to the divine "good pleasure," so He has the power to govern the universe;

(2) Because (Colossians 1:20) what He has done for the Church gives Him the right to preside over it.

Should all fullness dwell - as in a temple (John 1:14 [eskeenosen]; John 2:21). This indwelling Godhead in Christ is the foundation of the reconciliation by Him (Bengel). Hence, the "and" (Colossians 1:20) connects as cause and effect the two things.


Verse 20

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

The order is, 'And through Him (Christ) God (implied in "the fullness") was pleased to reconcile again completely [ apokatallaxai (Greek #604)]; to their original unity (note, Ephesians 2:16) the whole universe of things [ ta (Greek #3588) panta (Greek #3956)] unto Himself (God the Father) [ eis (Greek #1519) auton (Greek #846)], so as to have reconciled access to Himself (Ephesians 2:16-18), "having made peace through the blood of His (Christ's) cross" -

i.e., shed by Christ on the cross-the mean of our reconciliation with God. 'God reconciling man to Himself' implies that He takes away by the blood of Jesus the barrier which God's justice interposes against man's being in union with God (cf. note, Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19). So the Septuagint, 1 Samuel 29:4 [en tini diallageesetai houtos too kurioo], "Wherewith should He reconcile himself unto his master?" - i:e., reconcile his master unto him by appeasing his wrath [Hebrew, yitratseh (Hebrew #7521): 'be reconciled to his master']. So Matthew 5:23-24.

By him - through Him (the mediating cause): emphatically repeated, to bring the person of Christ, as Head of both the first and the new creations alike, into prominence.

Things in earth, or things in heaven. Good angels do not need reconciliation to God; fallen angels are excluded from it (Jude 1:6). But redemption has effects on the world of spirits unknown to us. His reconciling us, and His reconciling them, must be of a different kind, as He took not on Him the nature of angels (Hebrews 2:16), to offer a propitiation for them. He being their Head as well as ours, they are perhaps thereby brought nearer God, and put beyond the possibility of sinning, and gain larger views of God's love and wisdom (Ephesians 3:10). All creation subsists in Christ, and is therefore affected by His propitiation: sinful creation is strictly "reconciled" from its enmity; sinless creation, comparatively distant from His unapproachable purity (Job 4:18; Job 15:15; Job 25:5), is lifted into nearer communion with Him, and in this wider sense is reconciled. Man's fall, following on Satan's, is part of a larger circle of evil; so that the remedy of the former affects the standing of angels, from among whom Satan's host fell.

Angels having seen the magnitude of sin the infinite cost of redemption the exclusion of the fallen angels Angels having seen the magnitude of sin, the infinite cost of redemption, the exclusion of the fallen angels from it, and the inability of any creature to stand in his own strength, are now put beyond the reach of falling. 'Christ is the Head of redemption to man; the Head of preservation to angels' (Bacon). Satan, when unfallen, may have ruled this earth and the pre-Adamite animal kingdom; hence, his malice against man, who succeeded to the lordship of this earth and its animals: hence, too, his assumption of the serpent's form, the subtlest of animals. Luke 19:38 states "peace in heaven" as the result of finished redemption, as "peace on earth" was the result of its beginning at Jesus' birth (Luke 2:14; Ephesians 1:10, accords). An actual reconciliation, or restoration of peace in heaven, as well as on earth, is expressed. As long as that blood of reconciliation was not shed, which is opposed (Zechariah 3:8-9) to Satan's accusations, but was only in promise, Satan could plead his right against men before God day and night (Job 1:6; Revelation 12:10); hence, he was in heaven until the ban on man was broken (cf. Luke 10:18).

So here, the world of earth and heaven owe to Christ alone the restoration of harmony after the conflict, and the subjugation of all things under one Head (cf. Hebrews 12:23-24). Sin introduced discord, not only on earth, but also in heaven, by the fall of demons; it brought into the abodes of holy angels, not positive, yet privative loss, a retardation of their highest development, harmonious gradation, and perfect consummation. Angels were no more able than men, by themselves, to overcome the peace-disturbers, and cast out the devils: it is only "by," or 'through HIM,' and "the blood of HIS cross," that peace was restored even in heaven: it is only after Christ has obtained the victory legally that Michael (Revelation 12:7-10) and his angels can cast out of heaven Satan and his demons (cf. Colossians 2:15). Thus, Paul's argument against angel-worship is, that angels themselves wholly depend on Christ, the sole object of worship (Auberlen).


Verse 21

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

The Colossians are included in this general reconciliation (Colossians 2:13).

Sometime - `once.'

That were ... alienated - a double participle [ ontas (Greek #5607) apeellotrioomenous (Greek #526)]: 'being in a state of continued alienation;' objectively banished from God, through the barrier which God's justice interposed against your sin; subjectively estranged through the alienation of your own wills from God. The former is prominent (cf. Romans 5:10), the second follows, "enemies in your mind." 'Actual alienation makes habitual "enemies"' (Romans 5:10) (Bengel).

In your mind , [ tee (Greek #3588) dianoia (Greek #1271)] - 'in your understanding' (Ephesians 2:1-3; Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 4:18).

By wicked works , [ en (Greek #1722) tois (Greek #3588) ergois (Greek #2041) tois (Greek #3588) poneerois (Greek #4190)] - 'in your works that were wicked:' the clement in which your enmity subsisted.

Yet now. Notwithstanding the former alienation, now that Christ has come, God (the subject, as in Colossians 1:13) hath completely reconciled again (note, Colossians 1:20).


Verse 22

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

In the body of his flesh - the element in which His reconciling sufferings had place. Compare Colossians 1:24, "afflictions of Christ in my flesh" (1 Peter 2:24). Angels, who have not a 'body of flesh,' are not in any way our reconciling mediators, as your false teachers assert, but He, the Lord of angels, who has taken our flesh, that in it He might atone for our fallen manhood. False spiritualism and ascetic contempt of the body led some to doubt as to even Christ's "flesh" (Colossians 2:23) being the sphere of His atoning work.

Through death - `through His [ tou (Greek #3588)] death' (which could only take place in a body of flesh like ours, Hebrews 2:14). Flesh is the sphere in which His human sufferings could have place (cf. Ephesians 2:15).

To present you (Ephesians 5:27) - the end of His reconciling atonement by death; not that you might present yourselves. The regenerate derive all their sanctity-imputed, inherent, and actual-from Christ. When we have one of these, we have all.

Holy - positively: in relation to God.

Unblameable and unreproveable - negatively: 'without blemish [as amomous is translated as to Jesus our Head, 1 Peter 1:19] in one's self.' Irreproachable [ anengkleetous (Greek #410): one who gives no ground for prosecution] in relation to the world without. Sanctification, the fruit, is here treated of; justification by Christ's reconciliation, the tree, having preceded (Ephesians 1:4; Titus 2:14). Our 'sanctification' is regarded here as perfect in Christ, into whom we are grafted at regeneration (1 Peter 1:2; Jude 1:1): not merely progressive, which is the gradual development of the sanctification which Christ is made to the believer from the first (1 Corinthians 1:30).

In his sight - in God's sight, at Christ's appearing.


Verse 23

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

If - `If at least' [ eige (Greek #1489)]: not otherwise shall ye be so presented at His appearing (Colossians 1:22).

Grounded , [ tethemelioomenoi (Greek #2311)] - 'fixed on the (right) foundation' (cf. note, Ephesians 3:17; Luke Grounded , [ tethemelioomenoi (Greek #2311)] - 'fixed on the (right) foundation' (cf. note, Ephesians 3:17; Luke 6:48-49).

Settled , [ hedraioi (Greek #1476)] - 'stedfast.' "Grounded" respects the foundation; "settled," the believer's internal stedfastness (1 Peter 5:10). [1 Corinthians 15:58, the same, hedraioi.]

Not moved away - by the false teachers.

The hope of (given by) the Gospel (Ephesians 1:18), which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister. Three arguments against their being 'moved away from the Gospel:'

(1) Their having heard it when preached;

(2) The universal preaching of it;

(3) Paul's ministry in it.

For [ en (Greek #1722) pasee (Greek #3956) tee (Greek #3588) ktisei (Greek #2937)] 'in all the creation,' 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G read [ en (Greek #1722) pasee (Greek #3956) ktisei (Greek #2937)] 'in (the hearing of) every creature.' Compare Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:20; Mark 16:15 : he implies that the Gospel from which he urges them not to be moved has this mark of truth-namely, the universality of its announcement, which accords with Christ's own prophetic command (Matthew 24:14). Not merely 'is being preached,' but has been actually preached. Pliny, not many years subsequently, in his famous letter to the emperor Trajan (B. X., Ep. 9:7 ), writes, 'Many of every age, rank, and sex are being brought to trial; for the contagion of that superstition (Christianity) has spread over not only cities, but villages and the country.' "I Paul am" [ egenomeen (Greek #1096)] - 'was made a minister.' The Gospel which ye heard from Epaphras, your "minister" (Colossians 1:7), is the same of which 'I was made a minister' (Colossians 1:25; Ephesians 3:7): if you be moved from it, ye will desert the teaching of Gospel ministers for false teachers.


Verse 24

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

Who. So Delta G f g, Vulgate. But A B C omit "who:" 'Now I rejoice.' To enhance Christ's glory as paramount, he mentions his own sufferings for Christ's church. "Now" stands in contrast to 'I was made,' in the past (Colossians 1:23).

For [ huper (G5228)] you - `on your behalf,' that ye may be confirmed in resting solely on Christ (not on angels) by His glorification in my sufferings (Ephesians 3:1).

Fill up , [ autanapleeroo (Greek #466): am filling up with a corresponding supply]

That which is behind [ ta (Greek #3588) hustereemata (Greek #5303)] - 'the deficiencies'-all that are lacking of the That which is behind , [ ta (Greek #3588) hustereemata (Greek #5303)] - 'the deficiencies'-all that are lacking of the afflictions of Christ (note, 2 Corinthians 1:5). Christ is 'afflicted in all His people's afflictions' (Isaiah 63:9). 'The Church is His body, in which He is, dwells, lives, and therefore also suffers' (Vitringa). Christ was destined to endure certain afflictions in this figurative body, as well as in His literal; 'that which was behind of these afflictions of Christ,' Paul 'filled up.' Christ's meritorious sufferings in expiation for sin were once for all completely filled up on the cross, and need not supplementing; but His Church (His second Self) has her complete measure of afflictions fixed, which He regards as His. The more Paul, a member, endured, the less remain for the rest of the Church, the communion of saints giving them an interest in His sufferings (1 Corinthians 12:26). She is afflicted, to promote her completeness in Christ. Not one suffering is lost (Psalms 56:8). Rome's inference is utterly false, that the Church has a stock treasury of the merits and satisfactions of Christ and His apostles, out of which she dispenses indulgences: the context has no reference to sufferings in expiation of sin and productive of merit. Believers should regard their sufferings less in relation to themselves as individuals, and more as parts of a grand whole, carrying out God's perfect plan. "In my flesh" forms a beautiful contrast to 'His body the Church,' and answers to "in the body of His flesh" (Colossians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 4:11).


Verse 25

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

Am - Greek, 'I was made a minister:' resuming Colossians 1:23, end. There it was of the Gospel; here, of the Church: to be a minister of the Church is to be a minister of the Gospel.

Dispensation , [ teen (Greek #3588) oikonomian (Greek #3622)] - the stewardship committed to me to dispense in the house of God, the Church, to the whole family of believers: my Master's goods (Luke 12:42; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 3:2).

Which is given , [ teen (Greek #3588) dotheisan (Greek #1325)] - 'which was given.'

For you , [ eis (Greek #1519) humas (Greek #5209)] - with a view to you, Gentiles (Colossians 1:27; Romans 15:16; Romans 15:19).

To fulfil - to bring it fully to all: 'to fill up the measures of its foreordained universality' (Ellicott): the end of his stewardship. 'The fullness of Christ (Colossians 1:19) and that of the times (Ephesians 1:10) required him so to do' (Bengel).


Verse 26

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

The mystery (notes, Ephesians 1:9-10; Ephesians 3:5-9) - once hidden, now revealed: redemption for the whole Gentile world The mystery (notes, Ephesians 1:9-10; Ephesians 3:5-9) - once hidden, now revealed: redemption for the whole Gentile world as well as for the Jews (Colossians 1:27).

From ages. The mystery was hidden ever since the beginning of the "ages." The "ages" are the vast temporal periods which have elapsed from the beginning. [Greek, 'OEons:' used by the Gnostics for angelic beings emanating from God. The germs of Gnosticism already existed.] The Spirit, by Paul, presciently, in opposition (Colossians 2:18), teaches that the mystery of redemption was hidden in God's purposes in Christ, alike from the angelic beings (cf. Ephesians 3:9-10) of the pre-Adamic "ages," and from the subsequent human "generations." [Greek, 'the ages ... the generations.' The "from" [ apo (Greek #575)], repeated before 'the generations,' shows that these are distinct from 'the ages,' and do not make them up, as Ellicott thinks.]

Now , [ nuni (Greek #3570)] - the present only; [ nun (Greek #3568), also the past and future].

Made manifest to his saints - to His apostles and prophets primarily (Ephesians 3:5), and through them to all His saints.


Verse 27

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Would , [ etheleesen (Greek #2309)] - 'willed to make known.' He resolves all into God's will, that man should not glory except in God's grace.

What - how inexhaustible!

The riches of the glory of this mystery. He accumulates phrase on phrase to enhance the greatness of the blessing in Christ bestowed by God on the Gentiles (cf. Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 3:8; Colossians 2:3). "The glory of this mystery" is the glory which this once hidden and now revealed truth makes you Gentiles partakers of; partly now, mainly when Christ shall come (Romans 5:2; Romans 8:17-18; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 3:4): for there follows 'Christ in you, the hope of the (so Greek) glory.' The lower was the degradation of you Gentiles, the higher is the richness of the glory to which the mystery revealed now raises you. You were 'without Christ, and having no hope' (Ephesians 2:12). Now you have 'Christ in you, the hope of the glory' just mentioned. Alford translates 'Christ among you,' to answer to "this mystery among the Gentiles." But the whole clause, "Christ IN you (Ephesians 3:17), the hope of glory," answers to "the riches of the glory of this mystery," and not to the whole sentence, "this mystery among the Gentiles." The mystery made known 'among you Gentiles' is "Christ in you (now, by faith, as your hidden life, Colossians 3:3; Galatians 2:20), the hope of glory" (your hereafter to be manifested life). This last antithesis proves it (Romans 5:2; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 4:17).


Verse 28

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Preach , [ katangellomen (Greek #2605)] - 'announce.'

Warning ... teaching. "Warning" leads to repentance, refers to conduct, and is addressed to the heart. "Teaching" leads to faith, refers to doctrines, and is addressed to the intellect: the two heads of evangelical teaching.

Every ... every man - without distinction of Jew or Gentile, great or small (Romans 10:12-13). The repeated "every man" teaches ministers to deal with individual consciences.

In all wisdom - with all the wisdom in our method of teaching that we possess (Alford). But Colossians 1:9, and Colossians 3:16, favour Estius-the wisdom communicated to those being taught: keeping back nothing, but instructing all in the perfect knowledge of the mysteries of faith, the true wisdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6-7; 1 Corinthians 12:8; Ephesians 1:17).

Present - what Christ does, Paul does (note, Colossians 1:22): at Christ's coming.

Every man. Paul is zealous lest the false teachers should seduce one single soul at Colosse. Each should be zealous for himself and his neighbour. Even one soul is of incalculable value.

Perfect in Christ - the element in living union with whom alone each can find perfection; perfectly instructed (Ephesians 4:13) in doctrine, and full grown in faith and practice. "Jesus" is omitted in 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g. C, Vulgate, have it.


Verse 29

Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

Whereunto - namely, 'to present every man perfect in Christ.'

I also labour - rather, 'I labour also' (2 Cor. . I not only 'announce' (Colossians 1:28) Christ, but I labour also.

Striving , [ agoonizomenos (Greek #75)] - as in the agony of a "conflict" (Colossians 2:1) of spirit (cf. Romans 8:26). The same Greek is used of Epaphras (Colossians 4:12). So Jesus in Gethsemane when praying (Luke 22:44): so "strive" ('agonize') (Luke 13:24). So Jacob "wrestled" in prayer (Genesis 32:24-29). Compare Greek, 'agony,' 'striving earnestness' (1 Thessalonians 2:2).

According to his working , [ energeian (Greek #1753)]. Paul avows that he has energy to 'strive' in spirit for his converts, so far only as Christ energizes in him and by him (Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:13).

Mi htil [ (Greek #1722) di (Greek #1411)] 'i ' Mightily , [ en (Greek #1722) dunamei (Greek #1411)] - 'in power.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Colossians 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/colossians-1.html. 1871-8.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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