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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Colossians 4

 

 

Verse 1

Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

Give , [ parechesthe (Greek #3930)] - 'afford on your side.'

Equal , [ teen (Greek #3588) isoteeta (Greek #2471)]. As the slaves owe duties to you, so you equally owe to them duties as masters. Compare note, Ephesians 6:9, where the master's duty negatively is added. Ellicott, 'equity,' which gives a liberal interpretation of justice in common matters (Philippians 1:6).

Knowing (Colossians 3:24) that ye also - as well as they.


Verse 2

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Continue , [ proskartereite (Greek #4342)] - 'Continue perseveringly' (Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18).

In (your: tee (G3588)) prayer (1 Peter 4:7).

Watch in the same - in prayer: watching against our natural indolence as to, and in, prayer.

With (literally, IN) thanksgiving - for everything, whether joyful or sorrowful, mercies temporal, spiritual, national, family, and individual (1 Corinthians 14:17; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).


Verse 3

Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

For us - myself and Timothy (Colossians 1:1).

A door of utterance - `a door for the Word.' Not as in Ephesians 6:19, where "utterance" is his request. Here an opportunity for preaching the Word, by removal of hindrances (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Philem 22; Revelation 3:8).

The mystery of Christ (Colossians 1:27), for which I am also - on account of which I am (not only "an ambassador," Ephesians 6:20, but) ALSO (even) in bonds (2 Timothy 2:9). Paul asks their prayers for a door for the Word being opened to him, that he might "make it (the Gospel) manifest, as he ought. His release from prison might seem the best means for this. But Philippians 1:12-13, written somewhat later, shows that it could be, and was opened, even while he remained imprisoned.


Verse 4

That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 5

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

In wisdom - practical, Christian. (Notes, Ephesians 5:15-16)

Them that are without - those not in the Christian brotherhood (1 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:12). The brethren, through love, will make allowance for indiscretion in a brother; the world will make none. Be the more on your guard in contact with the latter. Give no pretext for unbelief. Contrive all means for their salvation.

Redeeming the time (note, Ephesians 5:16) - buying up for yourselves, and buying off from worldly vanities, the opportunity, whenever afforded you, of good to yourselves and others. 'Forestall the opportunity - i:e., buy up an article out of the market, to make the largest profit from it' (Conybeare).


Verse 6

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

With grace - `IN grace' as its clement, investiture (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:16). Contrast those "of the world" who "therefore speak of the world" (1 John 4:5). Even the smallest leaf of the believer should be full of the sap of the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 17:7-8): his conversation cheerful without levity, serious without gloom. Compare Luke 4:22; John 7:46, Jesus' speech.

Seasoned with salt - i:e., the savour of fresh spiritual wisdom and earnestness, excluding all "corrupt communication," also tasteless insipidity (Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:50; Ephesians 4:29). Compare all the sacrifices seasoned with salt (Leviticus 2:13). Not far from Colosse there was a salt lake: so the image here is appropriate.

How ye ought to answer (1 Peter 3:15). This shows the "salt" means mainly 'wholesome point and pertinency' (Ellicott), commending itself to the hearers, to their edification.

Every man. EACH is to be answered appropriately to his question, and to the spirit in which he asks, whether his question be put sincerely or insincerely, in ignorance or ill will (Proverbs 26:5). So Jesus, Matthew 16:1-4; Matthew 21:24-27; Paul, Acts 17:22, etc.; Acys 24:25; 26.


Verse 7

All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

Thi ( Eh621) Tychicus (note, Ephesians 6:21).

A beloved brother - the beloved brother; the article remarks him as well-known to them. Three titles - "beloved brother," in relation to the Christian community; "a faithful minister," in his missionary services; "fellow-servant" with the apostle in serving the same Master.


Verse 8

Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;

That he might [may: gnoo (G1097)] know your estate - answering to Colossians 4:7. So C and Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B 'Aleph (') G f g, 'that YE may know ( gnoote (Greek #1097)) OUR state.' Perhaps a confirmation to Ephesians 6:22. Paul was the more anxious to know the state of the Colossians, on account of the seductions to which they were exposed from false teachers; owing to which he had "great conflict" for them (Colossians 2:1).

Comfort your hearts - distressed by my imprisonment, as well as by your own trials.


Verse 9

With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.

Onesimus - the slave mentioned in Philem 10,16, "a brother beloved:" Paul's son in the faith; therefore sent with Tychicus as his safeguard, and put under the spiritual protection of the whole Colossian Church, as well as of Philemon his master.

A faithful and beloved brother - `the faithful brother,' he being known to the Colossians as slave of Philemon, their fellow-townsman and fellow-Christian.

One of you - belonging to your city.

They shall make known unto you all (the) things. This repetition of "all my state shall Tychicus declare unto you," favours the reading in Colossians 4:8, "that he might (may) know your estate." It is unlikely the same thing should be stated thrice.


Verse 10

Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

Aristarchus - a Macedonian of Thessalonica, dragged into the theater at Ephesus during the tumult with Gaius, they being "Paul's companions in travel." He accompanied Paul to Asia (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2), and subsequently to Rome. He was now at Rome with Paul, as he is here spoken of as Paul's "fellow-prisoner," but in Philem 24, as Paul's "fellow-labourer;" and vice versa, Epaphras in Philem 23, as his "fellow-prisoner," but here (Colossians 1:7) "fellow-servant." Meyer conjectures that Paul's friends voluntarily shared his imprisonment by turns, Aristarchus being his fellow-prisoner when he wrote to the Colossians, Epaphras when he wrote to Philemon. [ Sunaichmalootos (Greek #4869)] "Fellow-prisoner" is, literally, fellow-captive; one taken in warfare, Christians being "fellow-soldiers" (Philippians 2:25; Philem 2) whose warfare is "the good fight of faith;" variously represented by tradition as Bishop of Apamea, Thessalonica, or one of the seventy disciples.

Marcus - John Mark (Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25), the evangelist, according to tradition.

Sister's son - rather, 'cousin' or kinsman to Barnabas:' who [ anepsios (Greek #431)], being the better known, is introduced to designate Mark. The relationship accounts for Barnabas' selection of Mark as his companion; also for Mark's mother's house at Jerusalem being the place of resort of Christians there. The family belonged to Cyprus (Acts 4:36; Acts 13:4; Acts 13:13); this accounts for Barnabas' choice of Cyprus as the first station on their journey, and for Mark's accompanying them readily so far, it being the country of his family; and for Paul's rejecting him at the second journey for having not gone further than Perga, in Pamphylia, but thence home to his mother, Mary, at Jerusalem (Matthew 10:37), on the first journey.

Touching whom - namely, Mark.

Ye received commandments - possibly before this letter; or the "commandments" were verbal by Tychicus accompanying this letter, since the past tense was used by the ancients in relation to the time which it would be when the letter was read by the Colossians. Thus (Philem 19), "I have written," for 'I write.' Paul's rejection of him on his second missionary journey, because he had turned back at Perga on the first journey (Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37-39), caused an alienation between himself and Barnabas. Christian love healed the breach: for here he implies his restored confidence in Mark, makes honourable allusion to Barnabas, and desires that those at Colosse, who regarded Mark in consequence of that past error with suspicion should now "receive" him with kindness. Tradition represents him as first Bishop of Alexandria, and martyred there. Colosse is only about 110 miles from Perga, and less than 20 from Pisidia, through which province Paul and Barnabas preached on their return during the same journey. Hence, though Paul had not personally visited the Colossians, they knew of Mark's past unfaithfulness, and needed this recommendation after the temporary cloud on him, so as to receive him as an evangelist. Again, in Paul's last imprisonment, he speaks highly of Mark (2 Timothy 4:11).


Verse 11

And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.

Justus - i:e., righteous; a common Jewish name [Hebrew, tsadiyq (Hebrew #6662)] (Acts 1:23).

Of the circumcision - Aristarchus, Marcus, and Jesus; therefore Epaphras, Luke, and Demas (Colossians 4:12; Colossians 4:14), were not of the circumcision. This agrees with Luke's Gentile name (the same as Lucanus), and the Gentile aspect of his gospel.

These only ... - namely, of the Jews. For the Jewish teachers were generally opposed to the apostle of the Gentiles. Epaphras, etc., were also fellow-labourers, but Gentiles.

Unto - i:e., in promoting the Gospel kingdom.

Which have been , [ hoitines (Greek #3748) egeneetheesan (Greek #1096)] - 'which were made' men who proved a comfort to me. [ Pareegoria (Greek #3931), comfort in forensic dangers; paramuthia (Greek #3889), proved in domestic affliction (Bengel).]


Verse 12

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Christ. So Delta G f g. But 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, add 'Jesus.'

Labouring fervently , [ agoonizomenos (Greek #75)] - 'striving earnestly' (as in Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:1), as in the agony of a contest.

In [his: tais (G3588)] prayers ... complete. 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G, read 'fully assured' [ pepleeroforeemenoi (Greek #4137) (for pepleeromenoi), without doubting; 'fully persuaded' (Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5).] In 'perfect," he refers to what he has already said, Colossians 1:28; Colossians 2:2; Colossians 3:14. Having attained the full maturity of a Christian (Ephesians 4:13).


Verse 13

For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

A great zeal. 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, have 'much labour' [ ponon (Greek #4192) for zeelon (Greek #2205)]. For you - lest you should be seduced (Colossians 2:4). How anxious then you should be for yourselves!

Them ... in Laodicea ... Hierapolis - churches probably founded by Epaphras, as the church in Colosse was. Hierapolis, 20 miles north west of Colosse, famed for mineral springs and a mephitic cavern, 'Plutonium,' connected with the worship of Cybele.


Verse 14

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

Luke, the beloved physician (the evangelist) - may have first become connected with Paul in professionally attending on him in the sickness under which he laboured in Phrygia and Galatia (where he was detained by sickness), in the early part of that journey wherein Luke first is found in his company (Acts 16:10 : cf. note, Galatians 4:13). Thus, the allusion to his medical profession is appropriate in writing to men of Phrygia. Luke ministered to Paul in his last imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11).

Demas - included among his "fellow-labourers" (Philem 24); afterward a deserter from him through love of this world (2 Timothy 4:10). He is last, and alone has no honourable or descriptive epithet. Perhaps, already, his real character was betraying itself.


Verse 15

Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.

Nymphas - of Laodicea, specified as a person of importance: contracted from Nymphodorus.

Church which is in his house. So Delta G f g, Vulgate, read. 'Aleph (') A C, 'THEIR house.' B, 'HER house,' which makes Nymphas a woman.


Verse 16

And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

The letter from Laodicea - my letter to the Laodiceans, which you will get from them on applying to them. Not that to the Ephesians; for it is very unlikely Paul should know that his letter to the Ephesians would have reached Laodicea at or near the time of the arrival of his letter to the Colossians. Compare 1 Corinthians 5:9, another letter not preserved, as not designed by the Holy Spirit for further use than the local and temporary wants of a particular church. See 'Introductions' to the letters to Ephesians and Colossians. The letters from the apostles were publicly read in the church assemblies (Ignatius, 'ad Ephesum,' 12:; Polycarp 'ad Philippenses,' 3: 11, 12; Clement, 'ad Corinthios,' 1: 47; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; Revelation 1:3). Thus, they and the gospels were put on a level with the Old Testament, which were similarly read (Deuteronomy 31:11). It is possible that as the letter to the Colossians was read to other churches besides Colosse, so the letter to the Ephesians was read in various churches besides Ephesus; and that Laodicea, being the last of such churches before Colosse, he might designate the letter to the Ephesians here as "the letter from Laodicea." But then the letter to the Ephesians would precede that to the Colossians; whereas the expansion in the former of the precepts in the latter favour the priority of the latter.


Verse 17

And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

Say to Archippus. The Colossians (not merely, the clergy) are directed-`Speak ye to Archippus.' Scripture belongs to the laity as well as the clergy: laymen may profitably admonish the clergy in particular cases when they do so in meekness. Archippus was perhaps prevented from going to the church assembly by weak health or age (Bengel). "Fulfil" accords with his ministry, being near its close (Colossians 1:25 : cf. 'Introduction' and note, Philem 2). However, "fulfil" may mean, as in 2 Timothy 4:5, "make full proof of thy ministry" - a monition perhaps needed by Archippus.

In the Lord - the element in which every work of the Christian, and especially the minister, is to be done (Colossians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 7:39; Philippians 4:2).


Verse 18

The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with

Paul's autograph salutation (so 1 Corinthians 16:21; note, Galatians 6:11 : cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:17, with 2 Thessalonians 2:2), attesting that this letter, through written by an amanuensis, is from himself.

Remember my bonds - already mentioned, Colossians 4:3, and Colossians 4:10 - an incentive to them to love and pray for him: still more, that they should, in reverential obedience to his monitions, shrink from the false teaching stigmatized, remembering what a conflict (Colossians 2:1) he had in their behalf amidst his bonds. 'His bonds moved over the paper as he wrote; his (right) hand was chained to the (left hand of the) soldier who kept him' (Alford).

Grace be with you - Greek, 'THE grace' which every Christian enjoys in some degree, flowing from God in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:15; Hebrews 13:25).

 


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

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