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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Colossians 1

 

 

Verse 1

COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 1

Colossians 1:1,2 After saluting the saints at Colosse,

Colossians 1:3-8 Paul testifieth his thankfulness to God for the good

account he had heard of their faith and love,

Colossians 1:9-14 and his continual prayers for their improvement in

spiritual knowledge, right practice, and thanksgiving

to God for the benefits of redemption by his Son.

Colossians 1:15-20 He showeth them the exalted nature and mediatorial

office of Christ,

Colossians 1:21,22 by whom they, who were once enemies, were now

reconciled, if they continued true to the gospel,

Colossians 1:23-29 whereof he Paul was made a minister to preach to the

Gentiles.

Paul; he who of a persecutor was become a preacher, and that amongst the Gentiles laid aside his Hebrew name Saul and made use of this, which was more familiar amongst the Gentiles, viz. Paul, Acts 13:2,3,9.

An apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God; one of those extraordinary persons immediately deputed by the special command of our Lord himself, with sovereign authority to preach the gospel, and establish his church, which is the highest charge God ever gave to men, Matthew 10:2 Luke 6:13 1 Corinthians 12:28 Galatians 1:12: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:1". See Poole on "Ephesians 4:11".

And Timotheus our brother; he joins Timothy, as elsewhere Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1, by the title of

brother, as being of the same faith, labouring in one and the same work, which might be more for their satisfaction.


Verse 2

To the saints: See Poole on "Philippians 1:1".

And faithful brethren in Christ: See Poole on "Philippians 4:21".

Which are at Colosse: see the Argument: (See Poole on "Colossians 1:1".)

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:2", and See Poole on "Philippians 1:2".


Verse 3

We give thanks to God: See Poole on "Philippians 1:3". He doth here take in Timothy and others, in acknowledging of God’s grace to them, which might express his great good-will to them.

And the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; describing God, to whom they render thanks both absolutely and relatively, as the Father of Jesus Christ, according to both natures: See Poole on "2 Corinthians 1:3", and See Poole on "Ephesians 1:3".

Praying always for you; always when they did address themselves to God by prayer making mention of them, as he also wrote to the Philippians: See Poole on "Philippians 1:3,4".


Verse 4

He instanceth in principal graces, as the matter of his thanksgiving, beginning with faith, described and differenced from the special object of it, Christ Jesus, implying not a bare knowledge or assent, but a trust in him alone for salvation; so Romans 1:8. Understanding this saving grace with the consequent was wrought in them, as he heard it was in the Ephesians, and Philemon, it, was a cogent motive to engage them in solemn thankfulness to God: see on Ephesians 1:15, compared with Philemon 1:5. He joins love, or charity, to all the saints, with faith to our Saviour, because they are in effect inseparable, there being no real embracing of Christ without loving of him, and all his members for his sake, Galatians 5:6 2 Timothy 1:13: not as if believers were not to show love or charity to others, who are of the same nature, and so bear the image of God, for this Christ requires of them, Matthew 5:44,45; but by how much the nearer any are brought to God by sanctification, by so much the more a special love is to be showed to them, as fellow citizens, of the household of God, and the hosehold of faith, Romans 15:26, with Galatians 6:10 Ephesians 2:19.


Verse 5

For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven: hope here, in this description of it, seems chiefly by a metonymy to be put for the glorious eternal salvation hoped for, Romans 8:24 Ephesians 1:18 which may also include that lively grace whereby we lay hold of eternal life contained in the promise, Titus 1:2. This indeed is set before believers here to encourage them to fly unto Christ for refuge, Hebrews 6:18, and reserved in heaven for them, 1 Peter 1:4; which may well quicken in Christian love all the members of Christ in every condition; yet not with a mercenary of affection, 2 Corinthians 5:14, as if any by offices of Christian love to brethren could merit what is laid up for those who exercise faith, love, and hope, but that God of his mere grace and undeserved love is pleased to reward such as diligently seek him, and thereby gives an exact evidence of his admirable liberality, Hebrews 11:6, which will abundantly weigh down those light afflictions they sustain here, 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; hereupon he puts them in mind of the means whereby they attained to this good hope when they first embraced the gospel, viz. by hearing, Romans 10:14, the word of truth, eminently, 2 Corinthians 6:7 Ephesians 1:13; not only because it is the word of Jesus Christ, who is the truth, and the life, John 14:6, but because the gospel (which is here put appositively) is the most excellent of all truths, surpassing all in philosophy, and the law, John 1:17.


Verse 6

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and passing the narrow bounds of Judea, unto all or most of the regions of the world, Colossians 1:23 Matthew 24:14 Acts 2:5 Romans 1:8 10:18. So admirable was the progress of it east, west, north, and south, well nigh over the world as it was then known to the Greeks and Romans; whereupon the apostle might well write, Christ was

believed on in the world, 1 Timothy 3:16: as Christ had said he was the light of the world, and, by a figure of part for the whole, would upon his death draw all men to him, John 12:32,46. Yet let not the Rhemists, or any other Romanist, think that the promulgation of the mysteries of the gospel then is any proof of the verity of the Romish religion in these latter ages, when by tyranny they impose for doctrines the traditions of men: they do not bring forth that genuine fruit which the Colossians did.

And bringeth forth fruit; viz. becoming the gospel, (as the Philipplans did, Philippians 1:27), and true repentance, Matthew 3:8 13:23 John 15:16; and real holiness, abiding in the hearts and lives of men, and effectually working in them that believe it, Isaiah 55:10 Acts 5:14 Acts 6:7 12:24,16,17,20 1 Thessalonians 2:13; which the practical religion of the papists generally bears no proportion to, being contrary to that.

As it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it; which from the first receiving of the gospel, was found growing amongst the true converts at Colosse, though it should seem false teachers crept in to choke the good fruit with their tares.

And knew the grace of God in truth; however, they who had real experience of the grace of God and the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Psalms 3:8, did hold, bringing forth fruit in old age, Psalms 92:14.


Verse 7

As ye also learned of Epaphras: to maintain the truth, it did much concern them to have a good opinion of him, who was an eminent instrument in communicating it to them, and therefore Paul doth here very opportunely commend Epaphras, in opposition to those false teachers, who likely might insinuate somewhat to his disparagement.

Our dear fellow servant; the respect they bare, and relation he stood in to them, being dearly beloved of him for his sincerity in promulgating the gospel; and being engaged with them in the service of the same Master, Colossians 4:7 Revelation 6:11.

Who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; his office, which he discharged with fidelity and affection unto them. He did with all honesty and integrity, as became one intrusted by his Master Christ, discharge what was incumbent on him for their good, Colossians 4:13 John 12:26 1 Corinthians 4:1,2 Eph 4:12 1 Timothy 4:6 Hebrews 13:17.


Verse 8

Having with kindness and delight reported to Paul and Timothy, &c., what a spiritually fervent affection, not moved by carnal considerations, but inwrought by the Spirit, Galatians 5:6,22, arising from a renewed heart, 1 Timothy 1:5 2 Timothy 1:7, they had for Christ, for the gospel, the apostle, and all that did love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, Galatians 6:10 1 Peter 1:22,23.


Verse 9

For this cause we also; he doth here suggest the motive mentioned in the precedent verses, viz. their faith and love, Colossians 1:4,5, and their special love to him, Colossians 1:8, why he and his brethren had them so much upon their hearts: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:15-17".

Since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you: it seems, from the time they were refreshed with these things they did (as he exhorts the Colossians here, Colossians 4:2) always upon all solemn occasions wait upon God for the Colossians’ spiritual prosperity, as Paul himself did for the Philippians: See Poole on "Luke 18:1". See Poole on "Romans 12:12". See Poole on "Philippians 1:4". See Poole on "Philippians 1:9". See Poole on "1 Thessalonians 5:17".

And to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will; and the subject matter of their instant prayer was, that they might attain to a more distinct, clear, and practical knowledge of the mind of God in Christ, and a greater measure of conformity to what he requires in the gospel, Colossians 1:6 Ephesians 5:15-17.

In all wisdom; in (rather than with) all necessary knowledge of the things of faith and manners, according to the prescript of the gospel: for sapience or wisdom doth properly respect the most excellent things, and such we learn most distinctly and satisfactorily from the revealed will of God, which we have in the Bible: this is that which Paul and other holy men spoke as taught of God amongst the perfect or grown Christians, in opposition both to the wisdom of man and of the world, 1 Corinthians 2:4,6, being agreeable to the will of God, Job 28:28 Proverbs 28:7 John 6:40 1 Thessalonians 4:3. And with this Christian wisdom some would render the following words, in

spiritual prudence, but if we render it understanding, or intelligence, it may be expounded to the same sense; for which there may be very good reason, for the philosopher doth sometimes by the Greek word mean that power or habit whereby men judge aright of things presented conducing to happiness, so as upon a due expense of circumstances to discern the good from the evil, the true from the false, and the real from the apparent: such a gift as Paul prays the Lord would give unto Timothy, 2 Timothy 2:7, compared with 1 Corinthians 1:5, that they might rightly distinguish between the simplicity and purity of the gospel, and those false glosses and colours that false teachers went about to sophisticate it with; not be without understanding his some who followed our Saviour, Matthew 15:16 what course they should take in the practice of piety, but be able to discern the times, 1 Chronicles 12:32, and other circumstances, Psalms 39:1 50:23 Ecclesiastes 5:1 Luke 8:18; for the ordering their actions aright, so as they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, as becomes the gospel, Ephesians 1:8, with Philippians 1:10,27 Col 4:5 Titus 2:10. Ignorance then can be no mother of true devotion, nor the inventions of men acceptable service to the living God, whose will alone is the rule of his worship.


Verse 10

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord: they prayed for the above mentioned gracious habits, that the Colossians might exercise them in a course of life as it becomes those who are effectually called by the gospel to be the sons of God, and the servants of Christ; suitable to the members of the body of Christ: See Poole on "Ephesians 4:1". See Poole on "Philippians 1:27"; compared with Romans 16:2 1 Thessalonians 2:12 2 Thessalonians 1:11. As the word God alone ordinary connotes the Father, so Lord doth Christ; answerable to whose wisdom, holiness, and example, Christians professing a relation to him, and expecting benefit by his purchase, should behave themselves; so that the papists cannot from this walking

worthy of the Lord justly infer a merit of condignity, behaving ourselves as Christians being so far from any merit or desert of ours, that it is a debt, we being indispensably obliged to do so, practice being the end of our knowledge. And this end we are to respect

unto all pleasing, i.e. designing and endeavouring not in one thing only, or in few things, but in all things whatsoever are incmnbent on us, we may find aceptance with our Lord and Master, Colossians 3:20 1 Corinthians 7:32 10:31 1 Thessalonians 2:4 Hebrews 12:28: all should be great and generous, such as may best like our Lord, keeping themselves from the defilements of the age, Revelation 3:4.

Being fruitful in every good work; particularly fructifying, which in the sense may be joined with being filled, Colossians 1:8: being fruitful is a metaphorical expression borrowed from fruit-bearing trees, unto which godly men and real Christians are compared, Psalms 1:3 John 15:8; and

every good work is the fruit which these plants of the Lord, having his Spirit as the seed remaining in them, 1 John 3:9, do bring forth of every sort from a right principle, 1 Timothy 1:5, according to rule warranted by God, Isaiah 29:13 Galatians 6:16; or having a call from him, for his glory: see 2 Corinthians 9:8 Philippians 1:11 2 Thessalonians 2:17 Hebrews 13:21.

And increasing in the knowledge of God: the Colossians were not yet perfect in knowledge, and therefore they prayed that they might go on, and grow in grace and knowledge of God and Christ, 2 Peter 3:18, the best here knowing but in part, 1 Corinthians 13:9; therefore they desired these Christians, as the Philippians, Philippians 3:10,12, and the Ephesians, Ephesians 4:13, might come to their stature: see on the texts.


Verse 11

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power: whereunto that they might be enabled, it was needful to pray for a power from above, for the best Christians here below are but infirm as well as imperfect, not able to perform what is required of them for doing and suffering the will of God till strengthened: See Poole on "Philippians 4:13", compared with Revelation 7:17. We have here great need of all might, special aids of God, to discharge difficult duties, to mortify strong corruptions, to contemn worldly allurements, to repulse frequent temptations, to bear manifold crosses, and to improve daily mercies, derived from exceeding great and mighty power; See Poole on "Ephesians 1:19". See Poole on "Ephesians 1:20". See Poole on "Ephesians 3:16"; an excellent glorious power, 2 Corinthians 4:7,13, needful to consummate and complete, as well as begin, the work of grace, 2 Thessalonians 1:11; a great reality (and not a metaphor) to sincere converts and sound believers.

Unto all patience; every way to bear the things which come hard upon them or continue long. Philosophy, with all its prescriptions, is ineffectual to form the soul to true patience and contentment under sufferings, it must be given on the behalf of Christ, Philippians 1:29, to a believer, to suffer patiently in tongue and heart, without a prevailing mixture of passion, so that evils do not make all impression upon him, but he doth possess his soul with patience to the end.

And long-suffering with joyfulness; which he could not do with a becoming Christian cheerfulness, when, surcharged with a weight of troubles, he finds himself sinking, if he were not supported with the hands of Heaven, which relieve with present comfort, and raise up to believe a future reward, Matthew 5:12 Acts 5:41 Romans 5:3 1 Corinthians 11:32 2 Corinthians 1:5 Hebrews 11:27 12:10,12 Jas 1:2,4.


Verse 12

Giving thanks unto the Father; he passeth from petitioning, Colossians 1:9, to thanksgiving to God the Father, upon the consideration of his grace manifested in his Son for our redemption. In the Ephesians, Ephesians 1:3,4, he began with election, here with effectual vocation; he acknowledgeth God the Father to be the object and author of what was wrought for us by his Son, and in us by his Spirit.

Which hath made us meet; who hath made us capable of communion with himself, or ready and fit, which implies that by nature we are unready and unfit; so that merit cannot be drawn hence, and the Rhemists have done ill, contrary to the translation of the Syriac, to translate it, made us worthy: one copy hath, who hath called us. The original word, in that we follow, seems to be an idiom of the apostle (as the learned think) borrowed from the Hebrew; we find it used only in one other text by the apostle, 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; and there he shows we are insufficient for, and incapable of, saying good things, till God do capacitate us by making us accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6; we cannot understand things of the Spirit of God, nor affect God, John 12:39 Romans 8:5 1 Corinthians 2:14, till God do draw and capacitate us, John 6:44,45 Phm 2:13, and form and work us by his Spirit unto this selfsame thing, Romans 4:17 2 Corinthians 5:5.

To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; to have a part in the lot of the purchased inheritance with them that are sanctified, Acts 26:18 Ephesians 1:14. The apostle seems to allude to the land of Canaan, wherein a portion was assigned to every one by lot for his inheritance, that being a type of the rest which remaineth to the people of God, Hebrews 4:9; and this is here said to be

of the saints in light, as allegorically connoting the joy and glory of that state and place, in opposition to the power of darkness.


Verse 13

The power of darkness, which signifies the sadness and despair of the damned, Ephesians 6:12 Jude 1:8, that they who are made meet to walk in the light as children of the light, Ephesians 5:8, are eternally freed from. The word which the apostle useth to express God’s delivering of believers from the power of sin and Satan is very emphatical, signifying a gratuitous freedom, where a stranger hath delivered him from slavery who did not deserve it, nor then desire it, Mark 3:27 Luke 1:74,79 Eph 2:2,5,6 Heb 2:14,15, though he was held fast as in fetters of iron. And which is more, he adds another word,

hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; intimating he did not leave us as Adam was before the fall, but transport us without any precedent will of ours, by the effectual call of his insuperable grace, John 6:44 1 Thessalonians 2:12 1 Peter 2:9, from the dominion of Satan, into that of his own Son, the Son of his love, Matthew 3:17 17:5 Ephesians 1:6, amongst his subjects and servants, where he reigns, in his kingdom of grace, Matthew 13:11, where Christ dwells in the heart by his Spirit, that is united to him by faith, Ephesians 3:17 Ephesians 4:12,13 Heb 12:22,23; and of glory indeed in our Head, Colossians 1:24, with Ephesians 2:6, by right of adoption, Romans 8:17, and hope of salvation through him promised by the omnipotent and true God, Romans 8:24 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24 Tit 1:2; who may well call it the kingdom of his dear Son, in that he admits none into it but by the mediation of his Son, who makes his subjects willing, Psalms 110:3, and received this government of his Father, Matthew 28:18 Luke 22:29 Ephesians 1:6,7; of whose dear Son Paul hath more to say, to the comfort of his faithful subjects at Colosse, and every where.


Verse 14

In whom; i.e. in the person of Christ alone God-man, deputed of his Father to die for our salvation, Acts 4:12 20:28.

We; as we are in him, made meet, Colossians 1:12.

Have redemption; we have eternal deliverance, Hebrews 9:12, effected by a full ransom paid, 1 Corinthians 6:20 7:23 1 Peter 1:18,19. For the freeing us indeed out of a state of sin and misery, John 8:36, or eternal death the wages of sin, Romans 6:23 16:20; so that by redemption here is not meant barely laying down the price, Luke 2:38, nor consummate redemption at the last, Ephesians 1:14 4:30, but efficacious redemption.

Through his blood; upon the account of Christ’s offering himself an expiatory sacrifice to God, without which is no remission, Hebrews 9:22 Revelation 5:9; effusion of his blood, by a synecdoche, takes in his humiliation to the death of the cross, and the pains of the second death he underwent for us, Isaiah 53:5,6 Ac 2:24 Galatians 3:13 Philippians 2:8.

Even the forgiveness of sins; plenary remission of offences is by apposition to, or follows, redemption as a necessary effect, Colossians 2:13 Luke 1:77 Acts 10:43, by a metonymy transferring the cause to the effect: to see more: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:7".


Verse 15

Having touched on the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice, which implies his human nature, he doth here rise higher, to set forth the dignity of his person, (which made it satisfactory), both with respect to his Father and the creature. As to the former, he styles him his image, which is not to be understood of an artificial, accidental, or imperfect image, as that of the king on his coin, or as man was the feeble image of God, Genesis 9:6 1 Corinthians 11:7 Colossians 3:10; for the apostle’s arguing Christ’s dignity to redeem, would have no force in it, if Christ were no more than a mere man; but of a natural, substantial, and perfect image: as Seth was the natural image of his father Adam, of the same substance with him, Genesis 5:3; so Christ, the eternal Word, the only begotten Son of God by nature, John 1:1,18, (See Poole on "Philippians 2:6"), very God of very God, John 17:3,5, doth exactly resemble, perfectly and adequately represent, his Father, of whose person he is the express character, or perfect image, Hebrews 1:3. Yet more distinctly Christ is the image of God, either:

1. As he is the Second Person in the blessed Trinity, from an intrinsical relation to the Father, in regard of the same essence with him by eternal generation before the world was made. He being eternally in the Father, and the Father in him, John 14:10; so he is in respect of his Father his essential image, and in regard to us as invisible as the Father himself; no creature could be the eternal image of the Creator, as that Son of the only true God, the living God, was, and is, Matthew 16:16 John 6:69, in respect of his Father.

2. As he is God-man, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, Colossians 2:9, whereby he doth infinitely exceed and surpass angels and men at first, Hebrews 1:5,6 2:5. The apostle in this place doth not say simply Christ the image of God, but of the invisible God, ( considered personally), i.e. the Father; because the Father cannot be known to us but in his Son, as in an image, in which he would represent or manifest himself to be seen or known, John 1:14,18 Joh 14:8,9 2 Corinthians 4:4. And in this latter respect (which imports the manifestative, not essential image) is Christ the image of his invisible Father unto us; unto whom, in all his offices and works of mediation, the attributes, affections, and excellencies of God clearly shine forth, they being otherwise incomprehensible and invisible by a creature: but Christ is the complete image of them, in a transcendent way; for as they are in him, they are incommunicable to any mere creature, and therefore he is the image of the invisible God, in that he makes him visible unto us. God is a pure Spirit, without body, or bodily parts, but yet was clearly manifested in Christ tabernacling amongst us, John 1:14 1 Timothy 3:16: he represents him to us in his understanding and wisdom, Proverbs 8:14,15; almightiness and eternity, Isaiah 9:6 John 1:1 8:58, permanency and unchangeableness, Hebrews 1:11,12 13:8, omnipresence and omnisciency, John 2:24,25 13:18 Revelation 2:13. Not (as the Lutherans strangely imagine) that Christ is omnipotent with the omnipotency of the Divine nature, or omniscient with that omnisciency, as if the manhood did instrumentally use the attributes of the Godhead; but such perfections are really inherent in and appertaining to the manhood, by virtue of its union with the Divine nature in the Second Person of the Trinity, that though they are vastly short of the attributes which are essential to the Godhead, yet they are the completest image of them, and such as no mere creature is capable of. Hence it is said, we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of God, who did further represent and manifest his Father to us, in the works of creation and preservation which he did, John 1:3 5:19 Hebrews 1:10. Hence the apostle in this verse considers the dignity of Christ, with respect to the creature, adding to the forementioned intrinsic, an extrinsic royalty, the first-born of every creature, which a learned man would render, begotten before all the creation, or born before every creature, which is a Hebrew phrase. The Greek scholiast and several of the Greek fathers go this way; not as if the ineffable generation of Christ had any beginning, as some falsely conceited Christ to be made in time, just in the beginning before the world, by whom as an instrument all the rest were created; but the apostle doth not say he was first made, or first created; but, Colossians 1:17, was, or did exist, before all things besides; (as John Baptist said, he was before me, John 1:15); and therefore none of the rank of all them, but of another, viz. equal with his Father, whose image he was, above all that was made or created: he was not created at all, though first-born, or first-begotten, yet not first-created, (being distinguished here from created, as the cause from the effect), as it refers to him that begets, so it may to only begotten, Christ being so begotten as no other was or could be, Proverbs 8:22 Micah 5:2 Hebrews 1:5,6, even from eternity. The word first may either respect what follows, and so notes order in the things spoken of, he who is first being one of them, 1 Corinthians 15:47; or things going before, in which sense it denies all order or series of things in the same kind: as God is first before whom none, Isaiah 41:4 43:11 Revelation 21:6; so Christ may be said to be first-born because the only begotten Son of his Father, John 1:14: so the apostle may consider him here in order to establish the consideration of him as Mediator and Head of his church, Colossians 1:18; he speaking before, Colossians 1:16, of those things more generally whose creation are assigned to him, in contradistinction to those of the church or new creation, Colossians 1:18. Agreeably to our translation, first-born of every creature, ( note, here is a difference in the Greek, between first-born of and for, Colossians 1:18), we may consider:

1. Negatively. It is not to be understood properly for the first in order, so as to be one of them, in reference to whom he is said to be the first-born. But:

2. Positively, yet figuratively in a borrowed speech: so primacy and primogeniture may be attributed to him in regard of the creatures:

a) By a metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent; he who hath the privileges of enjoying and disposing of his father’s goods and inheritance, is accounted the first-born, Genesis 27:29 Galatians 4:1; so is Christ, being Owner, Lord, and Prince of every creature, as he is God-man, or ordained to human nature, he hath the preeminence of the whole creation, and is the chief, Psalms 2:7,8

Hebrews 1:2,6. The heir amongst the Hebrews was reckoned the prince of the family, and so amongst the Romans the heir was taken for the lord: so God said he would make David his first-born, Psalms 89:27, compared with Job 18:13 Isaiah 14:30

Jeremiah 31:9. This sovereign empire which Christ hath over all the creation, and the parts of it, is by his primogeniture, or that he is first-born, since there is left nothing that is not under him, Hebrews 2:8, (as Adam in this lower world, in regard of his dominion, the state of innocency, might be first-born of them created for him), for the apostle brings in the next verse as the fundamental reason of this assertion.

b) By a consideration of Christ in God’s eternal decree and purpose, as the common womb of him who is God-man, and all creatures; being fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, 1 Peter 1:20, he may be looked upon as the first-born amongst those who are predestinated to be conformed to his image, Romans 8:29, with Ephesians 1:4,5; for upon this account he is the first-born of the first-born creatures or church, (but this, as hinted before, is considered more specially, Col 1:18), Hebrews 12:23, therefore the first-born of all others: and this may be one respect in which he is before them, Colossians 1:17, with Proverbs 8:22; yea, all of them of the old, as well as the new creation. The Socinians are so daringly bold as to restrain this extensive expression of

every creature, or all the creation, to the new creation of men or the faithtful only, by perverting some texts of Scripture to strain them that way; when it is plain by what follows, the Spirit of God means all created beings, either in the first or second world, Christ being the principal cause both of the one and the other; the apostle, by the general term every creature simply, without any additament, doth import all created things, viz. the heavens and the earth, with all that is made in them: neither angels, nor inanimate and irrational creatures, are excluded; as in the apostle’s reason immediately following this expression.


Verse 16

For by him were all things created: he proves Christ to be before and Lord over every creature, more excellent than them all, with a prerogative other princes want, for none of them is a creator of his subjects, who were not made by him or for him, as all creatures without exception were made by and for Christ. The apostle here is as cautious as may be, lest by speaking of Christ as

the firstborn of every creature, he should seem to put him in the order of creatures, which he shows do depend upon him for their creation and preservation, since he brought them out of nothing into being, and therein doth sustain them.

By him; in whom they have their beings, live and move, Acts 17:28. Some render the particle in, rather than by. But they disclaim the philosophical notions about Platonic ideas, only conceive all to be made in Christ, as the exemplary cause, whom God had in his eternal decree set up as the pattern of all perfections, being his image, according to which it was agreed, in the council of the Trinity, man should be made, Genesis 1:26. But the most do, according to our translation, render it (as a Hebrew phrase) by, ( being of the same import with that in the end of the verse), or through, which is expressive of the principal efficient, not the instrumental cause, for all the things made were produced out of nothing into being immediately by him, John 1:3,10 Heb 1:8,10: he might well be Lord over them all, who was the first founder of them, Acts 10:36 1 Corinthians 8:6; and whatever the adversaries allege, it is plain in Scripture that by is used of the principal cause, Colossians 1:1 Romans 11:31,36 1 Corinthians 1:1 1 Corinthians 12:8,9 2 Corinthians 1:1 Galatians 1:1 1 Thessalonians 4:2 2 Thessalonians 3:12.

Were all things created: creation is simply, universally, and absolutely attributed to him; for whatever subtilties some would suggest,

all things created by him is equivalent to he created all things; compare Psalms 96:5 102:25, with Isaiah 44:24 48:13 Jeremiah 10:12 Acts 17:24, with Romans 11:36: (like 1 Corinthians 1:9, with 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

That are in heaven, and that are in earth: the apostle speaks extensively of all proceeding from not being into being, both generally and distributively, agreeably to the common expression of

all things that were made at the beginning, Acts 4:24: though in Scripture, where mention is made of the creation, heaven and earth be not always expressed, Isaiah 40:26 Mark 10:6 13:19 Acts 17:24 Romans 1:20 2 Peter 3:4 Revelation 4:11; but here, where all things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, are expressed, it is evident that heaven and earth are together comprehended.

Visible and invisible: these two adjuncts of visible and invisible do divide all creatures whatsoever, there being nothing made that is not one or the other.

Whether they be; all enumeration is particularly made of the latter, which for their excellency (if any) might seem to be exempted (by those in danger of being beguiled to the worshipping of angels) from the state and condition of being created by Jesus Christ; particularly,

thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; those he here names, as elsewhere, Romans 8:38 Ephesians 1:20,21 3:10 6:12, in the abstracts for the concretes, the invisible inhabitants of the world. I know some would have dignities in human policy to be meant, as Titus 3:1 2 Peter 2:10 Jude 1:8; but it is more rational, with the generality of ancient and modern interpreters, as Colossians 2:15, to expound these titles of incorporeal and angelical creatures, whether by an emphatical synonyme, angels generally, by a metonymy, being ministers of the heavenly state; or more probably, as should seem from the scope of the place, by such a subdivision of invisibles as the apostle did conceive there was, according to the properties wherein they were eminent, and the offices whereunto they were delegated of God, which he expressed disjunctively by borrowed titles from the distinctions of men in dignities and offices here below, as dukes, earls, lords, and other magistrates; the Scriptures elsewhere initmating distinctions amongst the spiritual ministers attending the commands of the heavenly Majesty upon his throne, represented shadowed by the cherubims, Genesis 3:24 Exodus 25:18,22 1 Samuel 4:4 2 Samuel 6:2 1 Chronicles 28:18 Psalms 80:1 Isaiah 37:16 Ezekiel 1:13; denominated archangels and princes, Daniel 10:13,21 1 Thessalonians 4:16 Jude 1:9; which imply some distinctions and orders amongst angelical beings, but what that is we know not, (whatever is disputed in the Roman schools from the spurious Denys), and therefore having no ground from Scripture, account it no better than curiosity to inquire, and rashness to determine.

All things were created by him: after his enumeration and distribution of things created, the apostle doth, for further confirmation, repeat the universal proposition or assumption, with a preposition expressive of the same absolute efficiency of causality that is attributed to God the Father and the Holy Ghost; all created things being made by him, i.e. by Christ, whose works without are undivided from those of the other Persons in the Trinity; they were all brought out of nothing into being by him, not by angels.

And for him; which is more fully proved from his being the final (as well as efficient) cause of them; they all had their being in respect of him or for him, i.e. his glory, Romans 11:36, to manifest his Divine power and infinite goodness, John 5:17,23 John 17:5; he is their end as well as founder, Revelation 5:13; the apostle affirms the same of him that is affirmed of the Father, Job 9:8 Proverbs 16:4 Isaiah 44:24; he made them all for his own sake. The Socinians, in derogation to Christ’s Divinity, would restrain, limit, and narrow what Christ saith here in this verse to the new creation, or reparation, but against manifest reason. For:

1. The words creature and creation in the foregoing verse and this, are used absolutely, as was before suggested, and so created here repeated twice, and joined with the word all, and therefore to be understood, as elsewhere, absolutely of the old or first creation, Mark 10:6 13:19 16:15 Romans 1:20,25 1 Corinthians 11:9 1 Timothy 4:3 Hebrews 4:13 2 Peter 3:4 Revelation 10:6; for when it is used of the second creation, or restoration, the restrictive additament of new is joined with it, Isaiah 65:17,18 2 Corinthians 5:17 Galatians 6:15 Ephesians 2:15 4:24, not left indefinitely as here.

2. In parallel places, the making and founding of the old creation is ascribed to Christ, both negatively and positively, John 1:3 Hebrews 1:3,10; not one thing is excepted, and therefore should not be restrained to men.

3. It is most evident from the context the apostle doth in this verse discourse of creation, in contradistinction to what he speaks of afterwards in, {Colossians 1:18,20} when he comes to treat of Christ as Head of his church, and we have no reason to charge the apostle with a useless repetition further.

4. The apostle’s significant enumeration and distinction of things created, doth evidence that he understood the subject, the creation, in the most extensive and unlimited consideration of it. He reckons up material as well as immaterial things, and those in heaven, which needed no restoration, as well as those on earth, which did, being polluted with sin. Those angels who had not put off the honour of the first, did not belong to the new creation; having not divested themselves of their original integrity, they needed not to be reinvested with that they never lost: and devils cannot be ranked among new creatures, neither can wicked souls, Matthew 25:41 Revelation 22:15; neither are there new and old orders of angels; so that the dominion Christ is here (as elsewhere) asserted as founder of, is the whole, not only the new creation, Revelation 5:13.


Verse 17

And he is before all things: to obviate all exceptions to what he had said before, the apostle doth expressly assert (what was implied before) Christ’s pre-existence to all the things that were created, and therefore that he himself was not made, but eternally begotten, and so did exist, and was actually before all creatures in causality, dignity, and time; which proves his eternity, (consonant to other scriptures, Proverbs 8:22 Isaiah 44:6 Micah 5:2 John 1:1 17:5 Revelation 1:8,11,17 Re 22:13), because before all things there was nothing but proper eternity, Psalms 90:2.

And by him all things consist: then follows this further argument of Christ’s excellency and perfection, that he is not only the Creator or Founder, but likewise the Supporter or Upholder, of all things whatsoever are created, yea, even of the most excellent and useful of them, who in him do live and move, Acts 17:28 Hebrews 1:3: he being the conservant as well as procreant cause of the heavens and earth, with all things therein, because in respect of God it is the same action which is continued in conservation and providence whielt was in creation, not breaking off the same influence which was exerted in producing them out of nothing into being, Isaiah 46:4 John 5:19.


Verse 18

And he is the head of the body, the church: having spoken of Christ in reference to the creatures in general, or old creation, showing how he is the Creator, Preserver, and Governor thereof, the apostle doth here speak of him with a special reference to his church, or the new creation, whereof he shows here, (as elsewhere: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:22,23", with Ephesians 4:15, and Ephesians 5:23), that he is the Head and Governor, his chosen and called being the proper subjects of his special kingdom, the choice body, unto which he doth more peculiarly relate, Colossians 1:24, for the guiding and governing of it, he being that to it which the head is to the natural body, and more especially in the two former respects:

1. Of their union to God, which was chiefly designed and expressed in those words, who is the beginning, i.e. the first foundation or principle of their union to God, whereupon the first corner-stone of the church’s happiness is laid, he being the beginning of the second creation, as of the first, Revelation 3:14. And:

2. Of their restoration from sin and death, being brought into that first-designed happiness, which is the great intention of that union, as appears from the following expression, the firstborn from the dead, in a special distinction from the dead, here too of the creature, Colossians 1:15.

The apostle doth not tautologize, but what he spoke of Christ there with respect to the creature, he doth here speak of him with respect to his church, as 1 Corinthians 15:20,23 Re 1:5. By the particle from is implied not only that he was before the dead, but that he was numbered amongst the dead in respect of that nature wherein he was once dead; from which he was demonstrated to be first-born; his resurrection with a glorious body {Philippians 3:21} being a kind of new birth, whereby upon the reunion of his holy soul and body he was born from the womb of the grave, the Head in regard of the members: resurrection is called a regeneration, Matthew 19:28; and as there is a gracious resurrection of the soul upon effectual calling in conversion, so there is a glorious regeneration of the body in the resurrection, Luke 20:36, in contradistinction to Luke 20:34. Christ is the first-born of these, in reference to God, Acts 26:23 1 Corinthians 15:20,23; as the first-fruits, or first ear of this blessed harvest, that was carried up into the sanctuary, and offered in due season to the eternal Father, until the rest do become ripe: and in reference to the dead, i.e. in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:18 1 Thessalonians 4:14 Revelation 14:13; from whom he first rose in regard of time fully and perfectly; and of whom, in regard of dignity and dominion, Psalms 89:27 Galatians 4:1, he is chief, and Lord, (hath the pre-eminence, as it follows), and is first in regard of causality of those dead in him, standing in relation to him their Head, Romans 11:15, with 1 Corinthians 15:20, who shall be perfectly raised by virtue of his resurrection. And however it be said, both in the Old and New Testament, some were before raised; yet he was the cause of his own resurrection, as none others were, or can be. He properly rose, and that by his own power, Psalms 110:7 John 10:17,18; others were and will be raised by his. In regard of the sort and kind of resurrection, he it was first which was not imperfect, as others, or Lazarus, who was raised but to return to his former state of mortality; but perfect, Christ rose to die no more, Romans 6:9 Hebrews 9:28. He was the first that rose as a public person, Head of his Church, the Second Adam, representing all his members, 1 Corinthians 15:21,22, who are raised together with him spiritually, virtually, and representatively, Ephesians 2:6 1 Peter 3:21: those actually raised before in another sort were like singular ears of corn, by occasion more timely gathered for a special instance of Divine power, but Christ was the first that ever rose in the nature and quality of the first-fruits duly gathered, to sanctify and consecrate the whole harvest of the dead in him, who shall one day be raised to a conformity unto him, Philippians 3:21. The Socinians, from this metaphorical expression of Christ’s being the first-born from the dead, and fetching in that passage where it is said: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, Acts 13:33, do oppose Christ’s natural and eternal Sonship, but very inconsequently and absurdly; for:

1. Christ was properly the Son of God before his resurrection from the dead, he did not then receive that relation by it, as other texts clearly prove, Psalms 2:7 Proverbs 30:4 Micah 5:2 John 1:1 17:5.

2. If his resurrection had been a begetting of him, then would he have begotten himself, so been Father and Son to himself, because he raised himself.

As to that other text they allege, things are sometimes said to be done then, when only manifested and doclared to be done: then was Christ the first of all the dead that was born, and raised again in incorruption, declared to be the Son of God with power, Romans 1:4, according to the prophecy: q.d. This day I have manifested thee by raising of thyself to be my natural Son, whom I begat from everlasting. Be sure he hath the primacy and pre-eminence, as it follows. That in all things he might have the pre-eminence; which some expound as the end and intention of Christ the agent, that he might obtain the primacy, Romans 14:9 2 Corinthians 5:15, or hold the first place in all things; whether more generally, according with the common scope of the apostle in the precedent verses, compared with Colossians 2:10 John 5:25,29 Eph 1:22; or more specially, amongst his brethren and all the members of his mystical body, Romans 8:29, with 2 Corinthians 5:17,18; but this is not material, because all things are brought under his empire. Others, because the primacy doth belong to him by undoubted right, and that he, being Head of his church, did ultimalely design to save it, and so to glorify his Father, do expound it rather as the event, consequent, and conclusion from the antecedent, which is the end of the work, so as that, or in such a sort as, he actually is declared to be the first, or he holds the primacy in the old and new creation. According to the agreement with his Father, he is such a one as not only hath all manner of privileges, that any in this or the other world do, or may be supposed to, excel in; but also with a pre-eminence, a primacy in all, above what any one hath in any thing he may glory of.


Verse 19

A learned man reads it: For all fulness pleased to dwell in him. Others: He liked, or approved, that all fulness should dwell in him, bringing instances for that construction of the word

it pleased.

For it pleased the Father; it is true the word Father is not in the Greek text, nor in the oriental versions, but is well understood and supplied from the context, Colossians 1:12, where the apostle gives thanks to the Father, and then describes his dear Son in the following verses, and here in this adds a cogent reason why he should be the Head of his church, since the Son of his love, (in whom he is well pleased, Matthew 3:17), is he alone in whom he likes to dwell with all fulness or all fulness, doth will to abide.

That in him should all fulness; here is another all, and a fulness added to that all; an all for parts, a fulness for degrees; a transcendency in all, above all. It is of the Father’s good pleasure that Christ, not here considered simply, as the Son of God, but respectively, as Head of his church, and Mediator, should be the subject of this all fulness, which is not directly that of his body mystical, Ephesians 1:23. But:

1. Originally, the fulness of the Godhead, whereby he hath an all-sufficiency of perfections for his mediatory office upon the mystical union, which none other hath or can have, Colossians 2:9 John 1:14: of which more distinctly in the next chapter.

2. Derivatively, a fulness of the Spirit and habitual grace, Luke 1:80, with John 1:16,33 3:34; holiness, wisdom, power, perfectly to finish his work, John 17:4 19:30, and other excellencies for the reconciling (as it follows) and actual influencing of his body, Psalms 130:7,8 Mt 28:18 John 5:20 Romans 1:4 1 Corinthians 5:4; with 2 Corinthians 12:9 Ephesians 1:20-22 Hebrews 7:25,26 Re 5:6,12.

Dwell; and this all fulness doth not only lodge in him for a time, but resideth and abideth in him; it is not in him as the Divine glory was awhile in the tabernacle of Moses, and the temple of Solomon, but dwells constantly in him, not as a private person, but a universal principle; as Head of the body, (as well as reconciler), to fill up the emptiness of man with the abundant grace that perpetually resideth in him.


Verse 20

Some, from the Greek, would (not have that clause we read in a parenthesis to come next the copulative and, but) have it: And by himself he should reconcile unto himself (in or to himself) all things, (having made or obtained peace through the blood of his cross), I say, &c. But the reading of that sentence in the parenthesis after, or before the reconciliation of all things, as we do, because of the next following distribution, is not very material as to the sense of the thing, redemption, Colossians 1:14, or rather, the manner or means of reconciliation unto God by Christ, in whom the fulness of all Divine and human perfections was sealed for the bringing of heaven and earth together.

Having made peace through the blood of his cross: God the Father, for bringing enemies nigh unto himself in the kingdom of his dear Son, Colossians 1:13,19,21, was in him, 2 Corinthians 5:18,19, who having took on him the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16, and because without shedding of blood there could be no remission, or being brought nigh, Ephesians 2:13 Hebrews 9:12,22,23, according to his Father’s ordination and agreement with him for the expiation of sin, became obedient unto death, that cursed death of the cross, Isaiah 53:5 Galatians 3:13 Philippians 2:8; and by that bloody sacrifice of himself, there once perfected, Hebrews 9:14 10:10,14, obtained peace: that by a figure being put to express his most perfect merit, as being the finishing of his obedience and passion, Colossians 2:14 Romans 3:25 5:10 Ephesians 2:16 Hebrews 9:12.

By him; which alone could satisfy his offended Father’s demands: angels could not shed blood which was necessary to make peace and reconcile enemies; and though some false apostles might seduce to the worshipping of them, their obedience could not be meritorious.

To reconcile all things unto himself; God designing an atonement to himself. i.e. God the Father, (and, by consequence, to the whole Trinity), did it by Christ, in whom all fulness dwelling there was a proper fitness upon his Father’s call, Isaiah 42:1,4,6, with Hebrews 9:1-28, for so perfect a work as to take away the enmity of those alienated from God, and to bring them into favour again. The great inquiry is about the extent of this reconciliation, because the apostle mentions all things (rather than all persons); and then, having emphatically repeated by him, viz. Christ as God-man, and none other, Acts 4:12, he adds a distribution of all things, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. To answer which, all things may be understood, either:

1. Restrictively to the subject, the universal church of which Christ is the Head; so he doth not mean all things whatsoever, unlimitedly, but with respect to the subject matter, as, Colossians 1:21, all things which being alienated from God are reconciled to him; i.e. whatsoever things are reconciled are by him reconciled, all relating to the subject matter of reconciliation, (as all made to creation, Colossians 1:16), all the real subjects of his kingdom, whether gathered and gone to heaven before in hope of the Messiah to come, or now and hereafter shall be gathered, Acts 15:11 Romans 3:25 Ephesians 3:15 Hebrews 11:39,40 12:23: yet this doth not altogether satisfy some, by reason of the sublimity of the apostle’s word in the distribution; and ordinarily in Scripture, by things in heaven are meant the angels, whose natural seat it is, spirits of just men made perfect being advanced thither only by God’s gracious vouchsafement. Or:

2. Largely, as comprehending the good angels, especially if upon the foundation of reconciliation considered strictly, we take reconciliation here more generally, (as the apostle doth in his Epistle to the Ephesians, expatiating more upon this matter there than he doth here, writing more concisely and contractedly), for recapitulation, (or analogical reconciliation), bringing all under one head, the recomposing or reuniting of creatures terrestrial or celestial, upon the atonement for sinners by Christ; so that all his subjects, those that divide the state of his kingdom, are at an agreement amongst themselves and with each other; God did so by Christ conjoin miserable men with himself, that now also the holy angels are conjoined, they come under the same Head, Christ, Colossians 2:10 Ephesians 1:22, whom they worship as at his first, so second coming, Luke 2:13,14 Heb 1:6.

As men cleave to him by faith, so the angels by vision {1 Timothy 3:16} look upon him their Head; yet is he not their Redeemer, Colossians 1:14 Ephesians 1:3; not partaking of their nature, they are not his members as believers are (as God is the Head of Christ, yet is not he a member of God, 1 Corinthians 11:3); Christ beareth a more special relation to them, than he doth unto these principalities and powers, Ephesians 5:23,30,31; however, they, being under a hypothetical possibility of falling, should seem to have need of a preventive kind of reconciliation, upon that account, if their standing is otherwise secured to them, they abiding in their purity could not be friends to impure creatures, Genesis 3:24; but upon the satisfaction of their Lord, their distaste and dissatisfaction is removed, they being reduced into a corporation, under Christ, with those whom he hath reconciled, Ephesians 1:10. As they, to the glory of the supreme Majesty, rejoiced when Christ came to seek these lost ones, so they are ministers to them that he hath made willing, Hebrews 1:14; they delight in the ministry of reconciliation, Ephesians 3:10 1 Peter 1:12, attend the service with their brethren, (in doing their office), Revelation 19:10 22:9, further the work, Acts 8:26, rejoice when it takes effect, Luke 15:10, and carry those that are perfected to the place of their own residence, Luke 16:22, to their own innumerable assembly in the heavenly Jerusalem, Hebrews 12:22; waiting on Christ, (according to the typical representatives, Exodus 25:19 26:1 1 Kings 6:23,29), with those that are with him, and made like to him at his throne, Matthew 22:30 Mark 12:25, where he sits as the Son of man, and the holy angels (as he saith) are continually ascending and descending upon him, John 1:51: he fills them, as the rest of his subjects,

all in all, Ephesians 1:21,23; they have grace by way of participation, having it from him their Head, who hath it of himself, John 5:26. So that upon the matter, this reconciliation of things in heaven, seems most to accord with Ephesians 1:9,10, and is not much unlike that in Ephesians 2:13,16; that which is separately said there by his blood, Colossians 1:13, and by the cross, Colossians 1:16, is here conjoined by

the blood of his cross. There is making peace in one simple word; here, (in the Greek), in a compounded one. There, that he might reconcile both unto God; here, that he might

reconcile all things unto himself, i.e. God. There he speaks only of men on earth being reconciled amongst themselves, because they had also been reconciled to God; if we take in angles also under those all, we have an allowance from that forecited Ephesians 1:10; yea, and in favour of the larger acceptation of reconciliation here, it may be considered that the whole creation which was put into disorder and subjected unto vanity, is in earnest expectation of the fruits of this gracious reconciliation, in being brought to a perfect harmony, to the glory of him who is all in all, Romans 8:19-23, with 1 Corinthians 15:58.


Verse 21

And you, that were sometime alienated: the particle and, by a Hebraism, is put for therefore, or wherefore, leading the Colossians from the doctrines he had proposed, to consider their own estrangement from God and the things that please him, before they were effectually called by the gospel, being then in such a miserable condition as others were in a state of corrupted nature. See Psalms 5:9 Romans 6:19 1 Corinthians 6:11 Ephesians 2:1,3,11,12.

And enemies; not only in their outward deportment had they no communion with the true God, but inwardly they hated God as an enemy, and they were hated of him as his enemies; by their willing and nilling that which was contrary to him and his pleasure, in opposing his revealed will, John 15:18,21 Ro 1:29,30 5:10 8:7 James 4:4.

In your mind by wicked works; this enmity was predominant in their mind, or cogitation, or carnal reasoning, not receiving or comprehending the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:14; that leading power of their souls being darkened, Ephesians 4:18, there was an enmity against God, so that they neither could be subject to God’s law, Romans 8:7, under the prevaleney of that corrupt reasoning which was so intent upon their corrupt courses, Genesis 6:5, that then they thought not of peace with God.

Yet now hath he reconciled; yet such was the unconstrained compassion of God, that now while sinners, (in a divided sense), Romans 5:10, they were actually reconciled; now, not before, not from eternity in his decree, nor meritoriously when upon the cross, 2 Corinthians 5:19: he doth not mean simply the action, of such virtue, necessary and efficacious to make reconciliation, and the appeasing of God’s displeasure; but compriseth the efect of it also when it is wrought in time, 2 Corinthians 5:20, and the enmity in the subject is actually removed.


Verse 22

In the body of his flesh through death; the means whereby their reconciliation to God was purchased, (which they had particularly applied by faith, Colossians 1:4), was the sacrifice of that fleshy (not fantastical) body which Christ had assumed, subject to the condition of an animal life, being capable of suffering and mortal, (not refined and immortal, as after his resurrection, Romans 5:10 1 Corinthians 15:44, 53), 2 Corinthians 5:14 Philippians 2:16, with Hebrews 10:5,10 1 Peter 2:24 1 Peter 3:18. Christ’s death was not only for our good, but in our stead thereby offering himself to God, he satisfied Divine justice, and his sacrifice, giving himself for us, was a sacrifice of a sweet smell to God, Ephesians 5:2. To present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight; before whom believers cannot make themselves to stand holy, but Christ doth upon the account of his sacrifice for them; so that through the veil of his flesh, Hebrews 10:19,20, God doth look upon such as having neither spot nor wrinkle, without blame or blemish: see Ephesians 1:4 5:27. Unto whom Christ is made righteousness, he is also made sanctification, 1 Corinthians 1:30. Those who are washed are sanctified, 1 Corinthians 6:11. The end of reconciliation is restoration or sanctification, Luke 1:74,75 2 Corinthians 5:15 Titus 2:14 1 Peter 2:24; inchoatively here, with a perfection of parts, Hebrews 13:21, and consummatively hereafter, with a perfection of degrees, 1 Corinthians 13:10 Ephesians 4:13 Philippians 3:11,12.


Verse 23

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled: this if doth not import the believers’ continuance in faith to depend merely upon their own free-will, or a carnal doubting of being kept to salvation, 1 Peter 1:5, but infers that they are then reconciled to God when they do indeed persevere in the faith; implying that by reason of the seducers amongst them all and every one might not really have that sound faith they would be thought to have. Wherefore the apostle engageth them to prove their faith, whereby only they can have peace with God, Romans 5:1, to be real, by taking care it be well founded and firm, Matthew 13:23, as a house built on a sure foundation, a tree well rooted, Ephesians 3:17,18 Heb 13:9.

And be not moved away from the hope of the gospel; and be not as temporary believers which have no root, Luke 8:13, or as those who want anchorhold are tossed to and fro, Ephesians 4:14, and put off from that hope of eternal life, set before us in the gospel, which is sure and certain, Hebrews 6:18,19, built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Ephesians 2:20, the sweet promises of eternal life.

Which ye have heard; not the works of vain philosophy which leave the minds of men unsettled, but the plain and solid doctrines of Christ, wherein the believers at Colosse had been instructed, Colossians 1:7.

And which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; and which the faithful apostles, according to the commission of Christ, had promulgated to every creature beneath the heavens, i.e. every rational creature here below, i.e. to all men, collectively, or nations in the world, as Colossians 1:6 Matthew 28:19 Mark 16:15. Creature with the Hebrews doth eminently signify man, by an antonomasia, or a synecdeche, putting the general for a particular. In the original it is, in all the creature; and so it may be, in all the world, (creature being sometimes used for the system of the world, Romans 8:19-21), in opposition to Judea, i.e. in those other parts of the earth which the Greeks and Romans knew to be then inhabited: under heaven, which is a pleonasm, but of the greatest emphasis, as Acts 4:12.

Whereof I Paul am made a minister; and the more to confirm them in what he had said, he adds of this gospel of reconciliation so spread, he was immediately called, Galatians 1:1, and constituted to be a minister for the promulgation of it amongst the Gentiles, it being, with others, most notably committed to him, 2 Corinthians 5:19 1 Timothy 1:11.


Verse 24

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you; he confirms his call to the ministry of the gospel from his cheerfulness in his present sufferings, so that they should not be discenraged, being it highly contented him to witness and seal his doctrine by bearing his cross for them, Revelation 5:2,3 2 Corinthians 7:4: see Philippians 1:14,20 2:17. The Jews hated him and persecuted him because of his communion with the Greeks and other Gentiles, which occasioned his imprisonment at Rome, Colossians 2:1 4:3,18 Ac 21:28,29 26:17,18 Eph 3:1; yet this did not deter him from his office, but he took pleasure in doing his duty. Acts 5:41 2 Timothy 2:10, gladly spending himself and being spent for their souls, 2 Corinthians 12:15, for their edification and consolation, 2 Corinthians 1:6,7 Php 1:13,14.

And fill up; and, the copulative, is used as causal; fill up, not simply, but in one’s turn, implying a contradistinction between what Christ suffered for the apostle, and what the apostle suffered for Christ. Christ in his rank suffered what was necessary for my redemption; now I, in my turn, (by his gift, Philippians 1:29), undergo what afflictions are useful for his glory. He purchased salvation by his cross, I advance his kingdom and cause by my combats.

That which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh: one learned man renders this clause, what remains concerning the afflictions for Christ in my flesh; however, if we conceive of things distinctly, we may retain our own translation, considering Paul’s filling up is either:

1. With respect to Christ; so he doth not mean what Christ suffered in his own proper person during his tabernacling here; for neither Paul nor any other penman of the New Testament doth use the term affliction, to express the sufferings of Christ whereby he appeased God’s wrath and satisfied his justice: that he finished in his own person when he gave up the ghost, John 19:30, he perfected all completely, Colossians 1:14,22; nothing will be required from any believer upon that account, Romans 6:9,10 Heb 10:14; there be no remains upon that account, all was filled up by Christ himself. All can be imagined that Paul should mean in this respect, would be only from Christ’s leaving an example, 1 Peter 2:21: q.d. As Christ hath suffered for my salvation, so in like manner, following him, I bear his cross, suffering for his gospel and glory. Or:

2. With respect to Paul himself: the sense is, q.d. As I have borne a great part of afflictions for the name of Christ, and in his glorious communion, 2 Corinthians 1:5 Galatians 6:17 2 Timothy 1:8,10; so in like manner I fill up the remains of them assigned to me a member of the mystical body, in conformity to the image of him who is the Head, Romans 8:18 1 Peter 4:13. I do by little and little accomplish in my present sufferings (which make a part of it) the portion allotted to me in the same afflictions, which are accomplished and accomplishing in our brethren that are in the world, 1 Peter 5:9, in time and degree according to God’s counsel, (whereby the Head was preordained to suffer, Acts 4:28 1 Peter 1:20), which apportioned to every member what share it is to bear, till it be perfectly confirmed to Christ, Philippians 3:10,12,21. These sufferings as Christians, 1 Peter 4:13,14,16, (which the members undergo in their causes), may be said to be the afflictions of Christ:

(1.) Being for his cause and glory, the troubles they receive upon his account may be called his, the badges of his family and followers, Galatians 6:17 Hebrews 11:26.

(2.) Because of the union between Head and members, 1 Corinthians 12:12; they being give, to the whole body, the wounds of his members are his, Acts 9:4,16, he doth sympathize with them; but as he finished his work of proper sufferings while in the flesh, so the apostle’s expression intimates here, their sufferings shall not last longer than they are in the body, they need not fear any purgatory afterwards.

For his body’s sake, which is the church: and while Paul suffered here, he adds another reason for the supporting and cheering of him, viz. the usefulness of his sufferings for the whole church, the mystical body of Christ, as Colossians 1:18; which consideration might sweeten his bitterest afflictions, not only because it was in their service, to further their faith, that he was so persecuted, but for their edification and consolation; this was the scope of his patience, Philippians 1:12-14, to encourage those who knew his testimony to embrace the truth, 2 Timothy 2:10. What the Rhemists and other papists infer hence, that the apostle satisfied for the sins of other believers by his sufferings, contributing to the church’s treasury of satisfactions for temporary punishments, is altogether groundless. It is brutish to conclude, because he sustained afflictions for the edification of the church, that therefore he satisfied for the sins of the church; because he was spent for the Corinthians, that he answered for their faults, 2 Corinthians 12:15: he was not crucified for any, 1 Corinthians 1:13. To take Paul’s sufferings satisfactory is to derogate from Christ’s merit; none is without sin as Christ was, and as it is necessary for him that satisfieth, Proverbs 20:9. Christ’s sacrifice became expiatory, being offered by the eternal Spirit, Hebrews 9:14; he having borne the sins of believers in his own natural body upon the cross, and that by himself, there needs no supplements (could any be found) from others, John 1:29 Hebrews 1:3,8 1 Peter 2:24 1 John 2:2. To conceit there is any need of human satisfactions as supplies to Christ’s sufferings, is to cross the apostle’s main drift here, Colossians 1:12-14,20-22; he was far from satisfying for himself, Philippians 3:9,12, and shows that every man shall bear his own burden. Galatians 6:5, however he should endeavour to honour Christ, and edify his church, 2 Corinthians 12:10.


Verse 25

Whereof I am made a minister; see under what title he suffers for the church, because a minister, ( in the more general acceptation of the word), as Colossians 1:23, not (as one of the ancients saith) to give the price of redemption, but to preach. He looked not on his apostleship as a domination, but ministration, 2 Corinthians 5:18; and though in regard of his call he was an extraordinary apostle, yet he, (remembering his Master’s injunction, Matthew 20:26), no more than Peter did affect dominion or a lordship over Christ’s heritage 2 Corinthians 1:24 1 Peter 5:1-3, according to his singular and eminent call to be a minister and a witness, Acts 26:16. As he doth elsewhere make mention of the minister of God, 2 Corinthians 6:4 1 Thessalonians 3:2; of the New Testament, gospel, word, reconciliation, Acts 6:4 2 Corinthians 3:6 5:18,19 Eph 3:7; of Jesus Christ and of the Lord, Romans 15:8 1 Corinthians 4:1 Ephesians 6:20 1 Timothy 4:6; so he doth here, by reason of the union between the Head and the body, own himself to be constituted a minister of the church, which some, of a lower rank, like not now to be called.

According to the dispensation of God; and that by Divine vouchsafement and commandment, being called from persecution of the church to this ministry, Acts 9:15,16 1 Corinthians 4:1 2 Corinthians 5:19 Ephesians 1:1. Yea, and also for them at Colosse, who, being of the Gentiles, were in his commission, according to the gift of the grace of God given to him, Ephesians 3:7.

Which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; fully to preach the word of God amongst them, as well as to the Romans and others, Romans 15:19, and so to fulfil the prophecy, Zechariah 2:11, for the calling of the Gentiles by the promulgation of the gospel amongst them, Acts 22:21 Romans 1:5 11:13 1 Timothy 2:7; and so fulfilling God’s word, by fully expounding the whole doctrine of salvation amongst them, and promoting of it to the end of his life.


Verse 26

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations; viz. that holy secret of godliness, Colossians 2:2,3 4:3 Matthew 13:11 Romans 16:25,26 1 Corinthians 2:7 Ephesians 3:3,4,6,8,9,10; see 1 Timothy 3:16 Revelation 14:6; which doth not consist in beggarly elements, Galatians 4:9, or vain speculations, which these Colossians are cautioned to avoid, Colossians 2:8, however varnished; but is to them who are saved, the power of God, Romans 1:16 1 Corinthians 1:18,19, and the wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24, which lay hid in God before the world, 1 Corinthians 2:7 2 Timothy 1:9 Titus 1:2 1 Peter 1:20: yea, and after God had to our first parents, and so to his people the Jews, given some glimpse of this mystery, which yet the Gentiles of several ages were ignorant of, and many of the Jews, yea, the most knowing of them did not, for many generations, know that the Gentiles without circumcision, &c. were to be admitted into the church, Acts 10:28: the prophets were very inquisitive to know the meaning of it, but yet they also were much in the dark, 1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Peter 1:10,11; yea, the angels did not know this hidden mystery, till revealed by the church, Ephesians 1:10.

But now is made manifest to his saints; but now God that revealeth secrets, Daniel 2:28, hath opened his bosom counsel about this affair most clearly, so that his glory, by those that really fear him, may be seen with open face as in a glass through Christ, Matthew 13:11 Mark 4:11 John 8:47 15:15 Acts 16:14 1 Corinthians 2:10,16 2 Corinthians 3:18; all necessary to salvation being made conspicuous and clear to them, 1 Peter 2:9.


Verse 27

To whom God would make known; he refers the manifestation purely to God’s good will and pleasure, as Christ himself doth, Matthew 11:26,27 Lu 10:21; so in the like case, Revelation 9:18; that having mentioned saints, none might conceit it was for foreseen faith, but the Colossians might value their privilege, reverently receive that grace which was not given to all: in short, to restrain curiosity why God would not do it otherwise or sooner, he cuts the knots of all questions, only by signifying his sovereign pleasure, he would make it known to them; elsewhere, this mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, Ephesians 1:9, which was not to be touched till he thought meet to make it known.

What is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: some refer the glory to mystery, as glorious mystery, because it lets forth Divine glory, and promiseth it to believers, Luke 2:14; others, and the most, rather to riches, and that either as its epithet, {Colossians 1:11} the glorious riches of this mystery, or noting the subject, for salvation of the church amongst the Gentiles, Ephesians 1:18 3:7,8. It is usual with the apostle to use the word riches to set forth abundance, Romans 2:4,11:33 Ephesians 1:7: here, for the praise of the gospel, he would signify a very great and most abundant glory, far surpassing any former ministration, 2 Corinthians 3:8,18. In the law those riches {Ephesians 2:7} were not only imperfectly and obscurely discovered, but scatteredly with broken beams, as the sun in water when the water is disturbed; one attribute shining out in one work, another in another; but now the harmony of the Divine attributes in man’s redemption shines out most fully, clearly, and gloriously, contracted in Christ, who is the object and revealer of the mystery by his Spirit, the glory whereof breaks forth with much more splendour amongst the Gentiles, Romans 15:7-9 1 Corinthians 2:10 2 Corinthians 3:9,18; all glory before was but a shadow to this. Colossians 2:17 2 Corinthians 3:18 Galatians 3:1 Hebrews 10:1.

Which is Christ in you; which is Christ, amongst, for, or in them, i.e. who not only was preached amongst them, but whom they possessed, and who dwelt in them by faith, Ephesians 3:17; the revelation being accompanied with the power of the Spirit in the translating them by his glorious power from the kingdom of darkness into his kingdom, Colossians 1:13 Luke 17:21 Galatians 2:20 4:19 Ephesians 3:5,7.

The hope of glory; so is not only the object, 1 Timothy 1:1, but the ground of their expectation of glory, he in whom the mystery begins and ends, 1 Timothy 3:16; out of whom all are hopeless of being happy, Ephesians 2:12, and in whom all have strong consolation, Hebrews 6:18.


Verse 28

Whom we preach: here he shows that the subject of his and other ministers’ preaching was Christ, (as he had before described him), in whom alone hope of glory was to be had, Acts 4:12 1 Corinthians 2:2 Galatians 5:4 1 John 1:3.

Warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; the manner of it was by admonishing and instructing all, in all the Christian wisdom that Christ required, that they might avoid sin and do their duty. He means all collectively, not distributively; of the generals of each, not each one of those generals; excluding none from the communion of so great a benefit, having no acceptation of nations or persons, making no exception of any condition, but inviting all men to Christ, holding forth this light of the gospel to whosoever would receive it, while God did vouchsafe life and strength to them, in the most taking way, Acts 20:21,27,31 Ro 1:14-16 1 Timothy 3:2 2 Timothy 2:24 2 Timothy 3:16 4:2 Titus 1:9.

That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; and the end and aim he and others of his mind had in preaching of this matter in such a manner was the same with Christ’s, Colossians 1:22, to put them into such an estate by their labours that they might, through Christ, appear at a throne of grace without confusion, 2 Corinthians 11:2 Philippians 3:12,15 Heb 5:14.


Verse 29

To perform which, saith he, I earnestly endeavour and take pains to weariness, as a husbandman, 2 Timothy 2:6, contending as one in an agony, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, by his grace which was with me {1 Corinthians 15:10} in power; not by my own strength or wisdom to do or suffer, but by his effectual aids, enabling me for his service which might, Colossians 1:11 Romans 15:15-21 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 Ephesians 1:19,20 3:7 Philippians 4:13.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Colossians 1:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/colossians-1.html. 1685.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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