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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Colossians 1

 

 

Verse 1-2

Colossians 1:1 f. Salutation.—Paul, Christ's apostle by the will of God, writes with Timothy to the consecrated people and loyal brethren in Christ who are at Colossæ.


Verses 3-8

Colossians 1:3-8. A Paragraph of Thanksgiving.—He always gives God thanks when he prays for them, for he has heard (from Epaphras) of their loyalty in Christ and the love which they exhibit towards all God's people: a love based upon that hope of a heavenly destiny which was included in the word of the truth—the Good News—as originally preached to them. They must remember that the Gospel which is in their midst is also in all the world; that it is bearing fruit and increasing, exactly as it did at Colossæ ever since they first heard it, and came to know God's grace as it truly is. Epaphras their teacher is a beloved sharer in Paul's own slavery to Christ, a loyal ministrant of Christ to them on Paul's behalf. It is he who has notified Paul of their love in the Spirit.

Colossians 1:6-8. By emphasizing the universal character of the original gospel Paul hints at the falsehood of the new teaching which has become prevalent at Coloss. It is a merely local fad. They should have listened to Epaphras, whose doctrine Paul approves, and who seems to have been their original evangelist.


Verses 9-14

Colossians 1:9-14. A Paragraph of Prayer.—Paul reciprocates their prayers for him. He constantly offers petition on their behalf since first he heard of them. He desires for them (a) fulness of knowledge to discern the Divine will, that so they may walk worthily of Christ and please Him, and by means of the knowledge of God may bear fruit and increase (cf. Colossians 1:6) in every good activity; and (b) strength proportioned to the power of the Divine glory, that so they may endure and be patient, and that with joy, giving thanks meanwhile to the Father, who has qualified them for a share in the inheritance of His holy people in (the realm of) Light: for God has rescued both Paul and his readers from the tyranny of Darkness, and transplanted them into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who is the source of their emancipation from slavery and of the forgiveness of their sins.

Colossians 1:13. Son of his love: "the Son who is the object of His love," i.e. His beloved Son. For another view see Lightfoot.


Verses 15-20

Colossians 1:15-20. A Paragraph of Christology (in tacit Opposition to the False Teaching at Colossæ).—Christ is the derivative and visible manifestation of God who is unseen. He is the heir-in-chief of the created universe, for in Him is the principle of the creation of all things—things in the heavens as well as things on the earth, things seen and things unseen also, the angelic orders not excluded. He is in fact the source and goal of every created thing, Himself supreme over them all. It is in Him that all things have their basis of existence. So likewise in respect of the Church He stands in the relation of head to body, being, as He is, the Beginning, the firstborn from among the dead. His supremacy, therefore, is universal: it was the Divine pleasure in Him to cause the entire Fulness to dwell, and through Him—having made peace by the blood shed on the cross—to reconcile completely all things to Himself: so that He is the source of reconciliation not only for the things on the earth but for the things in the heavens as well.

Colossians 1:15. image of the invisible God: cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4.—firstborn of all creation: Paul is not necessarily ranking Christ among created things: the thought is rather of the privileges of a firstborn son as heir and ruler, under his father, of a household: such, Paul would say, is Christ's relation, under God, to the created universe.

Colossians 1:16. in him . . . through him and unto him: in Christ is the clue to the creation—through His agency it came into being, He is the goal to which it tends (cf. Ephesians 1:10). This doctrine of the cosmical significance of the Christ is peculiar to late Paulinism, and seems to have been developed in conscious opposition to syncretistic tendencies such as were exhibited in the Colossian "heresy." Probably there was growing up, side by side with the worship of God in Christ, a cultus of angelic powers (cf. Colossians 2:18), and a tendency to ascribe to them a mediatorial rôle in the creation and redemption of the world, which to Paul's mind imperilled that supreme lordship of Christ which was his profoundest religious conviction. For the reference to celestial hierarchies cf. Ephesians 1:21.

Colossians 1:17. before all things: an assertion of pre-existence. But the words may be taken rather as an assertion of supremacy, and translated "over all things."

Colossians 1:18. firstborn from the dead: cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23.

Colossians 1:19. it was the good pleasure: the subject of the verb is suppressed in the Gr., but RV is probably right in supplying a reference to God the Father.—all the fulness: perhaps already a current catchword (Ephesians 3:19*); here either, as in Colossians 2:9, the plenitude of Deity, or, as others suggest, "the whole treasure of Divine grace."

Colossians 1:20. Angels were not in late Judaism regarded as necessarily sinless beings (1 Corinthians 6*), but the Book of Enoch represents them as interceding on behalf of men (En. 15:2), and it seems to have been taught at Coloss that they shared in Christ's work of reconciliation. For Paul they are not the authors, but the subjects, of reconciliation with God. [Cf. Exp., May and June 1918.]


Verses 21-23

Colossians 1:21-23. Application of the Foregoing to the Colossians.—Of this reconciliation the Colossians too are beneficiaries. At one time estranged from God, their works had been evil and their spiritual attitude hostile; as things now are, Christ reconciled them, by a reconciliation wrought out in a body of flesh and blood and at the cost of death, with a view to their presentation before God flawless, blameless, holy. Everything depends, however, on their continuance in true Christian loyalty, like a building firmly based and stable; they must not be continually allowing themselves to be detached from the hope involved in the gospel as they heard it; it is the same gospel which is proclaimed in the presence of every creature under heaven, the same which is ministered by Paul himself.

Colossians 1:22. holy . . . unreproveable: cf. Ephesians 5:27; semi-technical language such as would be applied to an unblemished sacrificial victim (cf. Romans 1:21).

Colossians 1:23. Colossians 1:6-8*.


Verses 24-29

Colossians 1:24 to Colossians 2:3. Paul's own Relation to them and to the Gospel.—At this very time, in the midst of his sufferings, Paul is rejoicing for their sakes, and in return for their loyalty he fills up the cup of whatever tribulation he must still endure in his own person as Christ's servant on behalf of His body, i.e. the Church, whose servant he was constituted in virtue of the Divine stewardship which was given him toward the Gentile world. This is the duty of fulfilling God's word—that secret purpose long hidden from ages and generations, but now disclosed to His holy people, to whom God desired to make known how rich was the glory of this purpose amongst the Gentiles; to wit, Christ in them, the hope of glory. Christ is the subject of the preaching at least of Paul and of his associates: and their admonitions and teachings, moreover, are addressed to all men equally; there is no reserve of wisdom held back for a favoured few; their object is the presentation of all men equally as complete initiates in Christ. To that end Paul labours even to weariness, striving, like an athlete in the arena, up to the full measure of the mightily-working energy of Christ that is in him. He is anxious that they should realise how great is the stress which he is undergoing on behalf of Colossians and Laodiceans and others not personally known to him. May they be comforted, knit together in love, unto all wealth of fulness of understanding and knowledge of the Divine "mystery," viz. Christ, in whom are all God's treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.

Colossians 1:24. fill up on my part: the word means "fill up in return."—afflictions of Christ: probably "afflictions which befall me as a follower of Christ" (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 4:10, Philippians 3:10). Perhaps, however, Paul regards Christ's own personal sufferings as incomplete, and holds that the tale of them is made up through the sufferings of himself and others in the Body mystical.

Colossians 1:26. Cf. Ephesians 3:9.

Colossians 1:27 b. The indwelling Christ is both a present glory and a pledge of glory to come. The sense of "in you" should not be watered down to "amongst you" or "in your midst."

Colossians 1:28. we proclaim: "we" is emphatic. A contrast is suggested between the teaching of the Pauline mission and that of the new Colossian pundits. The thrice-repeated "every man" has the same implication, and so also the phrase "all wisdom." The word "perfect" is such as would be used of complete initiation in a pagan "Mystery." Here this suggestion is combined with that of ethical "perfection" and spiritual maturity.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Colossians 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/colossians-1.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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