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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Colossians 1



Verse 1

Of Christ Jesus (Χριστου ΙησουChristou Iēsou). This order in the later epistles shows that ΧριστοςChristos is now regarded as a proper name and not just a verbal adjective (Anointed One, Messiah). Paul describes himself because he is unknown to the Colossians, not because of attack as in Galatians 1:1.

Timothy (ΤιμοτεοςTimotheos). Mentioned as in I and II Thess. when in Corinth, II Cor. when in Macedonia, Phil. and Philemon when in Rome as here.

Verse 2

At Colossae (εν Κολοσσαιςen Kolossais). The spelling is uncertain, the MSS. differing in the title (ΚολασσαειςKolassaeis) and here (ΚολοσσαιςKolossais). Colossae was a city of Phrygia on the Lycus, the tributaries of which brought a calcareous deposit of a peculiar kind that choked up the streams and made arches and fantastic grottoes. In spite of this there was much fertility in the valley with two other prosperous cities some ten or twelve miles away (Hierapolis and Laodicea). “The church at Colossae was the least important of any to which Paul‘s epistles were addressed” (Vincent). But he had no greater message for any church than he here gives concerning the Person of Christ. There is no more important message today for modern men.

Verse 3

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (τωι τεωι πατρι του κυριου ημων Ιησου Χριστουtōi theōi patri tou kuriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou). Correct text without καιkai (and) as in Colossians 3:17, though usually “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Romans 15:6; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 1:6). In Colossians 1:2 we have the only instance in the opening benediction of an epistle when the name of “Jesus Christ” is not joined with “God our Father.”

Always (παντοτεpantote). Amphibolous position between ευχαριστουμενeucharistoumen (we give thanks) and προσευχομενοιproseuchomenoi (praying). Can go with either.

Verse 4

Having heard of (ακουσαντεςakousantes). Literary plural unless Timothy is included. Aorist active participle of ακουωakouō of antecedent action to ευχαριστουμενeucharistoumen Epaphras (Colossians 1:8) had told Paul.

Your faith in Jesus Christ (την πιστιν υμων εν Ιησου Χριστωιtēn pistin humōn en Iēsou Christōi). See Ephesians 1:15 for similar phrase. No article is needed before ενen as it is a closely knit phrase and bears the same sense as the objective genitive in Galatians 2:16 (δια πιστεως Χριστου Ιησουdia pisteōs Christou Iēsou by faith in Christ Jesus).

Which ye have (ην εχετεhēn echete). Probably genuine (Aleph A C D), though B omits it and others have the article (τηνtēn). There is a real distinction here between ενen (sphere or basis) and ειςeis (direction towards), though they are often identical in idea.

Verse 5

Because of the hope (δια την ελπιδαdia tēn elpida). See note on Romans 8:24. It is not clear whether this phrase is to be linked with ευχα ιστουμενeucha istoumen at the beginning of Colossians 1:3 or (more likely) with την αγαπηνtēn agapēn just before. Note also here πιστιςpistis (faith), αγαπηagapē (love), ελπιςelpis (hope), though not grouped together so sharply as in 1 Corinthians 13:13. Here hope is objective, the goal ahead.

Laid up (αποκειμεινηνapokeimeinēn). Literally, “laid away or by.” Old word used in Luke 19:20 of the pound laid away in a napkin. See also αποτησαυριζωapothēsaurizō to store away for future use (1 Timothy 6:19). The same idea occurs in Matthew 6:20 (treasure in heaven) and 1 Peter 1:4 and it is involved in Philemon 3:20.

Ye heard before (προηκουσατεproēkousate). First aorist indicative active of this old compound προακουωproakouō though only here in the N.T. Before what? Before Paul wrote? Before the realization? Before the error of the Gnostics crept in? Each view is possible and has advocates. Lightfoot argues for the last and it is probably correct as is indicated by the next clause.

In the word of the truth of the gospel (εν τωι λογωι της αλητειας του ευαγγελιουen tōi logōi tēs alētheias tou euaggeliou). “In the preaching of the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:5, Galatians 2:14) which is come (παροντοςparontos present active participle agreeing with ευαγγελιουeuaggeliou being present, a classical use of παρειμιpareimi as in Acts 12:20). They heard the pure gospel from Epaphras before the Gnostics came.

Verse 6

In all the world (εν παντι τωι κοσμωιen panti tōi kosmōi). A legitimate hyperbole, for the gospel was spreading all over the Roman Empire.

Is bearing fruit (εστιν καρποπορουμενονestin karpophoroumenon). Periphrastic present middle indicative of the old compound καρποπορεωkarpophoreō from καρποποροςkarpophoros (Acts 14:17) and that from καρποςkarpos and περωpherō The periphrastic present emphasizes the continuity of the process. See the active participle καρποπορουντεςkarpophorountes in Colossians 1:10.

Increasing (αυχανομενονauxanomenon). Periphrastic present middle of αυχανωauxanō Repeated in Colossians 1:10. The growing and the fruit-bearing go on simultaneously as always with Christians (inward growth and outward expression).

Ye heard and knew (ηκουσατε και επεγνωτεēkousate kai epegnōte). Definite aorist indicative. They heard the gospel from Epaphras and at once recognized and accepted (ingressive second aorist active of επιγινωσκωepiginōskō to know fully or in addition). They fully apprehended the grace of God and should be immune to the shallow vagaries of the Gnostics.

Verse 7

Of Epaphras (απο Επαπραapo Epaphrā). “From Epaphras” who is the source of their knowledge of Christ.

On our behalf (υπερ ημωνhuper hēmōn). Clearly correct (Aleph A B D) and not υπερ υμωνhuper humōn (on your behalf). In a true sense Epaphras was Paul‘s messenger to Colossae.

Verse 8

Who also declared (ο και δηλωσαςho kai dēlōsas). Articular first aorist active participle of δηλοωdēloō old verb, to make manifest. Epaphras told Paul about their “love in the Spirit,” grounded in the Holy Spirit.

Verse 9

That ye may be filled with (ινα πληρωτητεhina plērōthēte). First aorist (effective) passive subjunctive of πληροωplēroō to fill full.

The knowledge of his will (την επιγνωσιν του τεληματος αυτουtēn epignōsin tou thelēmatos autou). The accusative case is retained with this passive verb. ΕπιγνωσιςEpignōsis is a Koiné{[28928]}š word (Polybius, Plutarch, etc.) for additional (επιepi) or full knowledge. The word is the keynote of Paul‘s reply to the conceit of Gnosticism. The cure for these intellectual upstarts is not ignorance, not obscurantism, but more knowledge of the will of God.

In all spiritual wisdom and understanding (εν πασηι σοπιαι και συνεσει πνευματικηιen pasēi sophiāi kai sunesei pneumatikēi). Both πασειpasei (all) and πνευματικηιpneumatikēi (spiritual) are to be taken with both σοπιαιsophiāi and συνεσειsunesei In Ephesians 1:8 Paul uses προνησειphronēsei (from πρηνphrēn intellect) rather than συνεσειsunesei (grasp, from συνιημιsuniēmi to send together). ΣυνεσιςSunesis is the faculty of deciding in particular cases while σοπιαsophia gives the general principles (Abbott). Paul faces Gnosticism with full front and wishes the freest use of all one‘s intellectual powers in interpreting Christianity. The preacher ought to be the greatest man in the world for he has to deal with the greatest problems of life and death.

Verse 10

To walk worthily of the Lord (περιπατησαι αχιως του Κυριουperipatēsai axiōs tou Kuriou). This aorist active infinitive may express purpose or result. Certainly this result is the aim of the right knowledge of God. “The end of all knowledge is conduct” (Lightfoot). See note on 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Philemon 1:27; Ephesians 4:1 for a like use of αχιωςaxiōs (adverb) with the genitive.

In the knowledge of God (τηι επιγνωσει του τεουtēi epignōsei tou theou). Instrumental case, “by means of the full knowledge of God.” This is the way for fruit-bearing and growth to come. Note both participles (καρποπορουντες και αυχανομενοιkarpophorountes kai auxanomenoi) together as in Colossians 1:6.

Unto all pleasing (εις πασαν αρεσκιανeis pāsan areskian). In order to please God in all things (1 Thessalonians 4:1). ΑρεσκιαAreskia is late word from αρεσκευωareskeuō to be complaisant (Polybius, Plutarch) and usually in bad sense (obsequiousness). Only here in N.T., but in good sense. It occurs in the good sense in the papyri and inscriptions.

Verse 11

Strengthened (δυναμουμενοιdunamoumenoi). Present passive participle of late verb δυναμοωdunamoō (from δυναμιςdunamis), to empower, “empowered with all power.” In lxx and papyri and modern Greek. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 11:34 and MSS. in Ephesians 6:10 (W H in margin).

According to the might of his glory (κατα το κρατος της δοχης αυτουkata to kratos tēs doxēs autou). ΚρατοςKratos is old word for perfect strength (cf. κρατεω κρατιλοςkrateōεις πασαν υπομονην και μακροτυμιανkratilos). In N.T. it is applied only to God. Here his might is accompanied by glory (Shekinah).

Unto all patience and longsuffering (υπομονηeis pāsan hupomonēn kai makrothumian). See both together also in James 5:10.; 2 Corinthians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Timothy 3:10. υπομενωHupomonē is remaining under (μακροτυμιαhupomenō) difficulties without succumbing, while makrothumia is the long endurance that does not retaliate (Trench).

Verse 12

Who made us meet (τωι ικανωσαντι ημαςtōi hikanōsanti hēmās). Or “you” (υμαςhumās). Dative case of the articular participle of ικανοωhikanoō late verb from ικανοςhikanos and in N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 3:6 (which see), “who made us fit or adequate for.”

To be partakers (εις μεριδαeis merida). “For a share in.” Old word for share or portion (from μεροςmeros) as in Acts 8:21; Acts 16:12; 2 Corinthians 6:15 (the only other N.T. examples).

Of the inheritance (του κληρουtou klērou). “Of the lot,” “for a share of the lot.” Old word. First a pebble or piece of wood used in casting lots (Acts 1:26), then the allotted portion or inheritance as here (Acts 8:21). Cf. Heb 3:7-4:11.

In light (εν τωι πωτιen tōi phōti). Taken with μεριδαmerida (portion) “situated in the kingdom of light” (Lightfoot).

Verse 13

Delivered (ερυσατοerusato). First aorist middle indicative of ρυομαιruomai old verb, to rescue. This appositional relative clause further describes God the Father‘s redemptive work and marks the transition to the wonderful picture of the person and work of Christ in nature and grace in Colossians 1:14-20, a full and final answer to the Gnostic depreciation of Jesus Christ by speculative philosophy and to all modern efforts after a “reduced” picture of Christ. God rescued us out from (εκek) the power (εχουσιαςexousias) of the kingdom of darkness (σκοτουςskotous) in which we were held as slaves.

Translated (μετεστησενmetestēsen). First aorist active indicative of μετιστημιmethistēmi and transitive (not intransitive like second aorist μετεστηmetestē). Old word. See note on 1 Corinthians 13:2. Changed us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

Of the Son of his love (του υιου της αγαπης αυτουtou huiou tēs agapēs autou). Probably objective genitive (αγαπηςagapēs), the Son who is the object of the Father‘s love like αγαπητοςagapētos (beloved) in Matthew 3:17. Others would take it as describing love as the origin of the Son which is true, but hardly pertinent here. But Paul here rules out the whole system of aeons and angels that the Gnostics placed above Christ. It is Christ‘s Kingdom in which he is King. He has moral and spiritual sovereignty.

Verse 14

In whom (εν ωιen hōi). In Christ as in Ephesians 1:7. This great sentence about Christ carries on by means of three relatives (εν ωιen hōi Colossians 1:14, οςhos Colossians 1:15, οςhos Colossians 1:18) and repeated personal pronoun (αυτοςautos), twice with οτιhoti (Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:19), thrice with καιkai (Colossians 1:17, Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:20), twice alone (Colossians 1:16, Colossians 1:20).

Our redemption (την απολυτρωσινtēn apolutrōsin). See note on Romans 3:24 for this great word (Koiné{[28928]}š), a release on payment of a ransom for slave or debtor (Hebrews 9:15) as the inscriptions show (Deissmann, Light, etc., p. 327).

The forgiveness of our sins (tēn aphesin tōn hamartiōn). Accusative case in apposition with apolutrōsin as in Ephesians 1:7 (remission, sending away, την απεσιν των αμαρτιωνaphesis after the redemption απολυτρωσινapolutrōsis buying back). Only here we have απεσιςhamartiōn (sins, from απολυτρωσιςhamartanō to miss) while in Ephesians 1:7 we find αμαρτιωνparaptōmatōn (slips, fallings aside, from αμαρτανωparapiptō).

Verse 15

The image (εικωνeikōn). In predicate and no article. On εικωνeikōn see 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:10. Jesus is the very stamp of God the Father as he was before the Incarnation (John 17:5) and is now (Philemon 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:3).

Of the invisible God (του τεου του αορατουtou theou tou aoratou). But the one who sees Jesus has seen God (John 14:9). See this verbal adjective (αa privative and οραωhoraō) in Romans 1:20.

The first born (πρωτοτοκοςprōtotokos). Predicate adjective again and anarthrous. This passage is parallel to the ΛογοςLogos passage in John 1:1-18 and to Hebrews 1:1-4 as well as Philemon 2:5-11 in which these three writers (John, author of Hebrews, Paul) give the high conception of the Person of Christ (both Son of God and Son of Man) found also in the Synoptic Gospels and even in Q (the Father, the Son). This word (lxx and N.T.) can no longer be considered purely “Biblical” (Thayer), since it is found In inscriptions (Deissmann, Light, etc., p. 91) and in the papyri (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, etc.). See it already in Luke 2:7 and Aleph for Matthew 1:25; Romans 8:29. The use of this word does not show what Arius argued that Paul regarded Christ as a creature like “all creation” (πασης κτισεωςpāsēs ktiseōs by metonomy the act regarded as result). It is rather the comparative (superlative) force of πρωτοςprōtos that is used (first-born of all creation) as in Colossians 1:18; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 1:5. Paul is here refuting the Gnostics who pictured Christ as one of the aeons by placing him before “all creation” (angels and men). Like εικωνeikōn we find πρωτοτοκοςprōtotokos in the Alexandrian vocabulary of the ΛογοςLogos teaching (Philo) as well as in the lxx. Paul takes both words to help express the deity of Jesus Christ in his relation to the Father as εικωνeikōn (Image) and to the universe as πρωτοτοκοςprōtotokos (First-born).

Verse 16

All things (τα πανταta panta). The universe as in Romans 11:35, a well-known philosophical phrase. It is repeated at the end of the verse.

In him were created (εν αυτωι εκτιστηen autōi ektisthē). Paul now gives the reason (οτιhoti for) for the primacy of Christ in the work of creation (Colossians 1:16 f.). It is the constative aorist passive indicative εκτιστηektisthē (from κτιζωktizō old verb, to found, to create (Romans 1:25). This central activity of Christ in the work of creation is presented also in John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2 and is a complete denial of the Gnostic philosophy. The whole of creative activity is summed up in Christ including the angels in heaven and everything on earth. God wrought through “the Son of his love.” All earthly dignities are included.

Have been created (εκτισταιektistai). Perfect passive indicative of κτιζωktizō “stand created,” “remain created.” The permanence of the universe rests, then, on Christ far more than on gravity. It is a Christo-centric universe.

Through him (δι αυτουdi' autou). As the intermediate and sustaining agent. He had already used εν αυτωιen autōi (in him) as the sphere of activity.

And unto him (και εις αυτονkai eis auton). This is the only remaining step to take and Paul takes it (1 Corinthians 15:28) See note on Ephesians 1:10 for similar use of εν αυτωιen autōi of Christ and in Colossians 1:19, Colossians 1:20 again we have εν αυτωι δι αυτου εις αυτονen autōiclass="normal greek">δι ον di' autouclass="normal greek">δι ου eis auton used of Christ. See note on Hebrews 2:10 for τα πανταdi' hon (because of whom) and εχ αυτου και δι αυτου και εις αυτον τα πανταdi' hou (by means of whom) applied to God concerning the universe (εχta panta). In Romans 11:35 we find ενex autou kai di' autou kai eis auton ta panta referring to God. But Paul does not use διαex in this connection of Christ, but only ειςen εχdia and διαeis See the same distinction preserved in 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ex of God, dia of Christ).

Verse 17

Before all things (προ παντωνpro pantōn). ΠροPro with the ablative case. This phrase makes Paul‘s meaning plain. The precedence of Christ in time and the preeminence as Creator are both stated sharply. See the claim of Jesus to eternal timeless existence in John 8:58; John 17:5. See also Revelation 22:13 where Christ calls himself the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning (αρχηarchē) and the End (τελοςtelos). Paul states it also in 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philemon 2:6.

Consist (συνεστηκενsunestēken). Perfect active indicative (intransitive) of συνιστημιsunistēmi old verb, to place together and here to cohere, to hold together. The word repeats the statements in Colossians 1:16, especially that in the form εκτισταιektistai Christ is the controlling and unifying force in nature. The Gnostic philosophy that matter is evil and was created by a remote aeon is thus swept away. The Son of God‘s love is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe which is not evil.

Verse 18

The head of the body (η κεπαλη του σωματοςhē kephalē tou sōmatos). Jesus is first also in the spiritual realm as he is in nature (Colossians 1:18-20). Paul is fond of the metaphor of the body (σωμαsōma) for believers of which body Christ is the head (κεπαληkephalē) as seen already in 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 1 Corinthians 12:27; Romans 12:5. See further Colossians 1:24: Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 1:22.; Ephesians 4:2, Ephesians 4:15; Ephesians 5:30.

The church (της εκκλησιαςtēs ekklēsias) Genitive case in explanatory apposition with του σωματοςtou sōmatos This is the general sense of εκκλησιαekklēsia not of a local body, assembly, or organization. Here the contrast is between the realm of nature (τα πανταta panta) in Colossians 1:15-17 and the realm of spirit or grace in Colossians 1:18-20. A like general sense of εκκλησιαekklēsia occurs in Ephesians 1:22.; Ephesians 5:24-32; Hebrews 12:23. In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul uses various figures for the kingdom of Christ (commonwealth πολιτειαpoliteia Colossians 1:12, one new man εις ενα καινον αντρωπονeis hena kainon anthrōpon Colossians 1:15, one body εν ενι σωματιen heni sōmati Colossians 1:16, family of God οικειοι του τεουoikeioi tou theou Colossians 1:19, building or temple οικοδομηoikodomē and ναοςnaos Colossians 1:20-22).

Who (οςhos). Causal use of the relative, “in that he is.”

The beginning (η αρχηhē archē). It is uncertain if the article (ηhē) is genuine. It is absolute without it. Christ has priority in time and in power. See note on Revelation 3:14 for his relation as αρχηarchē to creation and 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:23 for απαρχηaparchē used of Christ and the resurrection and Acts 3:14 for αρχηγοςarchēgos used of him as the author of life and Hebrews 2:10 of Jesus and salvation and Hebrews 12:2 of Jesus as the pioneer of faith.

That in all things he might have the preeminence (ινα γενηται εν πασιν αυτος πρωτευωνhina genētai en pāsin autos prōteuōn). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομαιginomai “that he himself in all things (material and spiritual) may come to (γενηταιgenētai not ηιēi be) hold the first place” (πρωτευωνprōteuōn present active participle of πρωτευωprōteuō old verb, to hold the first place, here only in the N.T.). Christ is first with Paul in time and in rank. See note on Revelation 1:5 for this same use of πρωτοτοκοςprōtotokos with των νεκρωνtōn nekrōn (the dead).

Verse 19

For it was the good pleasure of the Father (οτι ευδοκησενhoti eudokēsen). No word in the Greek for “the Father,” though the verb calls for either ο τεοςho theos or ο πατηρho patēr as the subject. This verb ευδοκεωeudokeō is common in the N.T. for God‘s will and pleasure (Matthew 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:5).

All the fulness (παν το πληρωμαpān to plērōma). The same idea as in Colossians 2:9 παν το πληρωμα της τεοτητοςpān to plērōma tēs theotētos (all the fulness of the Godhead). “A recognized technical term in theology, denoting the totality of the Divine powers and attributes” (Lightfoot). It is an old word from πληροωplēroō to fill full, used in various senses as in Mark 8:20 of the baskets, Galatians 4:10 of time, etc. The Gnostics distributed the divine powers among various aeons. Paul gathers them all up in Christ, a full and flat statement of the deity of Christ.

Should dwell (κατοικησαιkatoikēsai). First aorist active infinitive of κατοικεωkatoikeō to make abode or home. All the divine attributes are at home in Christ (εν αυτωιen autōi).

Verse 20

Through him (δι αυτουdi' autou). As the sufficient and chosen agent in the work of reconciliation (αποκαταλλαχαιapokatallaxai first aorist active infinitive of αποκαταλλασσωapokatallassō further addition to ευδοκησενeudokēsen was pleased). This double compound (απο καταapoαλλασσωkata with καταλλασσωallassō) occurs only here, Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 2:16, and nowhere else so far as known. Paul‘s usual word for “reconcile” is διαλλασσωkatallassō (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Romans 5:10), though αποdiallassō (Matthew 5:24) is more common in Attic. The addition of καταλλασσωapo here is clearly for the idea of complete reconciliation. See note on 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 for discussion of τα πανταkatallassō Paul‘s great word. The use of εις αυτονta panta (the all things, the universe) as if the universe were somehow out of harmony reminds us of the mystical passage in Romans 8:19-23 which see for discussion. Sin somehow has put the universe out of joint. Christ will set it right.

Unto himself (αυτονeis auton). Unto God, though αυτονauton is not reflexive unless written ειρηνοποιησαςhauton

Having made peace (ειρηνοποιοςeirēnopoiēsas). Late and rare compound (Proverbs 10:10 and here only in N.T.) from ποιων ειρηνηνeirēnopoios peacemaker (Matthew 5:9; here only in N.T.). In Ephesians 2:15 we have πληρωμαpoiōn eirēnēn (separate words) making peace. Not the masculine gender, though agreeing with the idea of Christ involved even if ευδοκησενplērōma be taken as the subject of τεοςeudokēsen a participial anacoluthon (construction according to sense as in Colossians 2:19). If ευδοκησενtheos be taken as the subject of ειρηνοποιησαςeudokēsen the participle τεοςeirēnopoiēsas refers to Christ, not to δια του αιματος του σταυρου αυτουtheos (God).

Through the blood of his cross (ειτε τα εν τοις ουρανοιςdia tou haimatos tou staurou autou). This for the benefit of the Docetic Gnostics who denied the real humanity of Jesus and as clearly stating the causa medians (Ellicott) of the work of reconciliation to be the Cross of Christ, a doctrine needed today.

Or things in the heavens (eite ta en tois ouranois). Much needless trouble has been made over this phrase as if things in heaven were not exactly right. It is rather a hypothetical statement like Colossians 1:16 not put in categorical form (Abbott), universitas rerum (Ellicott).

Verse 21

And you (και υμαςkai humās). Accusative case in a rather loose sentence, to be explained as the object of the infinitive παραστησαιparastēsai in Colossians 1:22 (note repeated υμαςhumās there) or as the anticipated object of αποκατηλλαχενapokatēllaxen if that be the genuine form in Colossians 1:22. It can be the accusative of general reference followed by anacoluthon. See similar idiom in Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:12.

Being in time past alienated (ποτε οντας απηλλοτριωμενουςpote ontas apēllotriōmenous). Periphrastic perfect passive participle (continuing state of alienation) of απαλλοτριοωapallotrioō old word from Plato on, to estrange, to render αλλοτριοςallotrios (belonging to another), alienated from God, a vivid picture of heathenism as in Romans 1:20-23. Only other N.T. examples in Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 4:18. ΕνεμιεςEnemies (εχτρουςexthrous). Old word from εχτοςechthos (hatred). Active sense here, hostile as in Matthew 13:28; Romans 8:7, not passive hateful (Romans 11:28).

In your mind (τηι διανοιαιtēi dianoiāi). Locative case. ΔιανοιαDianoia (δια νουςdiaεν τοις εργοις τοις πονηροιςnous), mind, intent, purpose. Old word. It is always a tragedy to see men use their minds actively against God.

In your evil works (en tois ergois tois ponērois). Hostile purpose finds natural expression in evil deeds.

Verse 22

Yet now (νυνι δεnuni de). Sharpened contrast with emphatic form of νυνnun “now” being not at the present moment, but in the present order of things in the new dispensation of grace in Christ.

Hath he reconciled (αποκατηλλαχενapokatēllaxen). First aorist (effective, timeless) active indicative (a sort of parenthetical anacoluthon). Here B reads αποκαταλλαγητεapokatallagēte be ye reconciled like καταλλαγητεkatallagēte in 2 Corinthians 5:20 while D has αποκαταλλαγεντεςapokatallagentes Lightfoot prefers to follow B here (the hard reading), though Westcott and Hort only put it in the margin. On the word see Colossians 1:20.

In the body of his flesh (εν τωι σωματι της σαρκος αυτουen tōi sōmati tēs sarkos autou). See the same combination in Colossians 2:11 though in Ephesians 2:14 only σαρκιsarki (flesh). Apparently Paul combines both σωμαsōma and σαρχsarx to make plain the actual humanity of Jesus against incipient Docetic Gnostics who denied it.

Through death (δια του τανατουdia tou thanatou). The reconciliation was accomplished by means of Christ‘s death on the cross (Colossians 1:20) and not just by the Incarnation (the body of his flesh) in which the death took place.

To present (παραστησαιparastēsai). First aorist active (transitive) infinitive (of purpose) of παριστημιparistēmi old verb, to place beside in many connections. See it used of presenting Paul and the letter from Lysias to Felix (Acts 23:33). Repeated in Colossians 1:28. See also 2 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Corinthians 4:14. Paul has the same idea of his responsibility in rendering an account for those under his influence seen in Hebrews 13:17. See note on Romans 12:1 for use of living sacrifice.

Holy (αγιουςhagious). Positively consecrated, separated unto God. Common in N.T. for believers. Haupt holds that all these terms have a religious and forensic sense here.

Without blemish (αμωμουςamōmous). Without spot (Philemon 2:15). Old word αa privative and μωμοςmōmos (blemish). Common in the lxx for ceremonial purifications.

Unreproveable (ανεγκλητουςanegklētous). Old verbal adjective from αa privative and εγκαλεωegkaleō to call to account, to pick flaws in. These three adjectives give a marvellous picture of complete purity (positive and negative, internal and external). This is Paul‘s ideal when he presents the Colossians “before him” (κατενωπιον αυτουkatenōpion autou), right down in the eye of Christ the Judge of all.

Verse 23

If so be that ye continue in the faith (ει γε επιμενετε τηι πιστειei ge epimenete tēi pistei). Condition of the first class (determined as fulfilled), with a touch of eagerness in the use of γεge (at least). ΕπιEpi adds to the force of the linear action of the present tense (continue and then some).

Pistei is in the locative case (in faith).

Grounded (τετεμελιωμενοιtethemeliōmenoi). Perfect passive participle of τεμελιοωthemelioō old verb from τεμελιοςthemelios (adjective, from τεμαthema from τιτημιtithēmi laid down as a foundation, substantive, 1 Corinthians 3:11.). Picture of the saint as a building like Ephesians 2:20.

Steadfast (εδραιοιhedraioi). Old adjective from εδραhedra (seat). In N.T. only here, 1 Corinthians 7:37; 1 Corinthians 15:58. Metaphor of seated in a chair.

Not moved away (μη μετακινουμενοιmē metakinoumenoi). Present passive participle (with negative μηmē) of μετακινεωmetakineō old verb, to move away, to change location, only here in N.T. Negative statement covering the same ground.

From the hope of the gospel (απο της ελπιδος του ευαγγελιουapo tēs elpidos tou euaggeliou). Ablative case with αποapo The hope given by or in the gospel and there alone.

Which ye heard (ου ηκουσατεhou ēkousate). Genitive case of relative either by attraction or after ηκουσατεēkousate The Colossians had in reality heard the gospel from Epaphras.

Preached (κηρυχτεντοςkēruchthentos). First aorist passive participle of κηρυσσωkērussō to herald, to proclaim.

In all creation (εν πασηι κτισειen pasēi ktisei). ΚτισιςKtisis is the act of founding (Romans 1:20) from κτιζωktizō (Colossians 1:16), then a created thing (Romans 1:25), then the sum of created things as here and Revelation 3:14. It is hyperbole, to be sure, but Paul does not say that all men are converted, but only that the message has been heralded abroad over the Roman Empire in a wider fashion than most people imagine.

A minister (διακονοςdiakonos). General term for service (δια κονιςdiaδιακονησαιkonis raising a dust by speed) and used often as here of preachers like our “minister” today, one who serves. Jesus used the verb diakonēsai of himself (Mark 10:45). Our “deacon” is this word transliterated and given a technical meaning as in Philemon 1:1.

Verse 24

Now I rejoice (νυν χαιρομενnun chairomen). This is not a new note for Paul. See him in jail in Philippi (Acts 16:25) and in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33; Romans 5:3; Philemon 2:18.

Fill up on my part (ανταναπληρωantanaplērō). Very rare double compound verb (here only in N.T.) to fill (πληροωplēroō) up (αναana), in turn (αντιanti). It is now Paul‘s “turn” at the bat, to use a baseball figure. Christ had his “turn,” the grandest of all and suffered for us all in a sense not true of any one else. It is the idea of balance or correspondence in αντιanti as seen in Demosthenes‘s use of this verb (De Symm., p. 282), “the poor balancing the rich.” And yet Christ did not cause suffering to cease. There is plenty left for Paul and for each of us in his time.

That which is lacking (τα υστερηματαta husterēmata). “The left-overs,” so to speak. Late word from υστερεωhustereō to come behind, to be left, to fail. See Luke 21:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 8:14; 2 Corinthians 9:12.

For his body‘s sake (υπερ του σωματος αυτουhuper tou sōmatos autou). As Paul showed in his exultation in suffering in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, though not in the same sense in which Christ suffered and died for us as Redeemer. Paul attaches no atoning value whatever to his own sufferings for the church (see also Colossians 1:18).

Verse 25

According to the dispensation of God (κατα την οικονομιαν του τεουkata tēn oikonomian tou theou). “According to the economy of God.” An old word from οικονομεωoikonomeō to be a house steward (οικοσ νεμωoikosπληρωσαι τον λογον του τεουnemō) as in Luke 16:2-4; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:9. It was by God‘s stewardship that Paul was made a minister of Christ.

To fulfil the word of God (πληροωplērōsai ton logon tou theou). First aorist active infinitive of purpose (plēroō), a fine phrase for a God-called preacher, to fill full or to give full scope to the Word of God. The preacher is an expert on the word of God by profession. See Paul‘s ideal about preaching in 2 Thessalonians 3:1.

Verse 26

The mystery (το μυστηριονto mustērion). See note on 1 Corinthians 2:7 for this interesting word from μυστηςmustēs (initiate), from μυεωmueō to wink, to blink. The Gnostics talked much of “mysteries.” Paul takes their very word (already in common use, Matthew 13:11) and uses it for the gospel.

Which hath been hid (το αποκεκρυμμενονto apokekrummenon). Perfect passive articular participle from αποκρυπτωapokruptō old verb, to hide, to conceal from (1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:9).

But now it hath been manifested (νυν δε επανερωτηnun de ephanerōthē). First aorist passive indicative of πανεροωphaneroō to make manifest (πανεροςphaneros). The construction is suddenly changed (anacoluthon) from the participle to the finite verb.

Verse 27

God was pleased (ητελησεν ο τεοςēthelēsen ho theos). First aorist active indicative of τελωthelō to will, to wish. “God willed” this change from hidden mystery to manifestation.

To make known (γνωρισαιgnōrisai). First aorist active infinitive of γνωριζωgnōrizō (from γινωσκωginōskō). Among the Gentiles (εν τοις ετνεσινen tois ethnesin). This is the crowning wonder to Paul that God had included the Gentiles in his redemptive grace, “the riches of the glory of this mystery” (το πλουτος της δοχης του μυστηριου τουτουto ploutos tēs doxēs tou mustēriou toutou) and that Paul himself has been made the minister of this grace among the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-2). He feels the high honour keenly and meets the responsibility humbly.

Which (οho). Grammatical gender (neuter) agreeing with μυστηριουmustēriou (mystery), supported by A B P Vulg., though οςhos (who) agreeing with ΧριστοςChristos in the predicate is read by Aleph C D L. At any rate the idea is simply that the personal aspect of “this mystery” is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Χριστος εν υμιν η ελπις της δοχηςChristos en humin hē elpis tēs doxēs). He is addressing Gentiles, but the idea of ενen here is in, not among. It is the personal experience and presence of Christ in the individual life of all believers that Paul has in mind, the indwelling Christ in the heart as in Ephesians 3:17. He constitutes also the hope of glory for he is the ΣεκιναShekinah of God. Christ is our hope now (1 Timothy 1:1) and the consummation will come (Romans 8:18).

Verse 28

Whom (ονhon). That is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

We proclaim (καταγγελλομενkataggellomen). Paul, Timothy and all like-minded preachers against the Gnostic depreciation of Christ. This verb originally (Xenophon) meant to denounce, but in N.T. it means to announce (αγγελλωaggellō) throughout (καταkata), to proclaim far and wide (Acts 13:5).

Admonishing (νουτετουντεςnouthetountes). Old verb from νουτετηςnouthetēs admonisher (from νουσ τιτημιnousδιδασκοντεςtithēmi). See already Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15, etc. Warning about practice and teaching (παντα αντρωπονdidaskontes) about doctrine. Such teaching calls for “all wisdom”

Every man (ινα παραστησωμενpanta anthrōpon). Repeated three times. “In opposition to the doctrine of an intellectual exclusiveness taught by the false teachers” (Abbott).

That we may present (ιναhina parastēsōmen). Final use of παριστημιhina and first aorist active subjunctive of τελειονparistēmi for which see note on Colossians 1:22, the final presentation to Christ.

Perfect (τελειοςteleion). Spiritual adults in Christ, no longer babes in Christ (Hebrews 5:14), mature and ripened Christians (Colossians 4:12), the full-grown man in Christ (Ephesians 4:13). The relatively perfect (Philemon 3:15) will on that day of the presentation be fully developed as here (Colossians 4:12; Ephesians 4:13). The Gnostics used teleios of the one fully initiated into their mysteries and it is quite possible that Paul here has also a sidewise reference to their use of the term.

Verse 29

Whereunto (εις οeis ho). That is “to present every man perfect in Christ.”

I labour also (και κοπιωkai kopiō). Late verb κοπιαωkopiaō from κοποςkopos (toil), to grow weary from toil (Matthew 11:28), to toil on (Philemon 2:16), sometimes for athletic training. In papyri.

Striving (αγωνιζομενοςagōnizomenos). Present middle participle of common verb αγωνιζομαιagōnizomai (from αγωνagōn contest, as in Colossians 2:1), to contend in athletic games, to agonize, a favourite metaphor with Paul who is now a prisoner.

Working (ενεργειανenergeian). Our word “energy.” Late word from ενεργηςenergēs (εν εργονenενεργεω ενεργουμενηνergon), efficiency (at work). Play on the word here with the present passive participle of εν δυναμειenergeōenergoumenēn (energy energized) as in Ephesians 1:19. Paul was conscious of God‘s “energy” at work in him “mightily” (en dunamei), “in power” like dynamite.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Colossians 1:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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