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Colossians 4:5-9

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

5. Sapienter ambulate erga extraneos, tempus redimentes.

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

6. Sermo vester semper in gratia sit sale conditus: ut sciatis quomodo oporteat vos unicuique respondere.

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

7. Res meas omnes patefaciet vobis Tychicus dilectus frater et fidelis minister ac conservus in Domino.

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

8. Quem misi ad vos hac de causa, ut sciretis statum meum, et consolaretur corda vestra:

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

9. Cum Onesimo fideli et dilecto fratre, qui est ex vobis. Omnia patefacient vobis quae hic sunt.

 

5. Walk wisely. He makes mention of those that are without, in contrast with those that are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10.) For the Church is like a city of which all believers are the inhabitants, connected with each other by a mutual relationship, while unbelievers are strangers. But why would he have regard to be had to them, rather than to believers? There are three reasons: first,

lest any stumblingblock be put in,
the way of the blind, (Leviticus 19:14,)

for nothing is more ready to occur, than that unbelievers are driven from bad to worse through our imprudence, and their minds are wounded, so that they hold religion more and more in abhorrence. Secondly, it is lest any occasion may be given for detracting from the honor of the gospel, and thus the name of Christ be exposed to derision, persons be rendered more hostile, and disturbances and persecutions be stirred up. Lastly, it is, lest, while we are mingled together, in partaking of food, and on other occasions, we be defiled by their pollutions, and by little and little become profane.

To the same effect, also, is what follows, redeeming the time, that is, because intercourse with them is dangerous. For in Ephesians 5:16, he assigns the reason, because the days are evil. “Amidst so great a corruption as prevails in the world we must seize opportunities of doing good, and we must struggle against impediments.” The more, therefore, that our path is blocked up with occasions of offense, so much the more carefully must we take heed lest our feet should stumble, or we should stop short through indolence.

6. Your speech. He requires suavity of speech, such as may allure the hearers by its profitableness, for he does not merely condemn communications that are openly wicked or impious, but also such as are worthless and idle. Hence he would have them seasoned with salt. Profane men have their seasonings of discourse, 472472     Sales. The term is frequently employed by classical writers to denote witticisms. See Cic. Fam. 9:15; Juv. 9:11; Hor. Ep. 2:2, 60. — Ed. but he does not speak of them; nay more, as witticisms are insinuating, and for the most part procure favor, 473473     “Et que par ce moyen il seroit a craindre que les fideles ne s’y addonassent;” — “And as on this account it was to be feared that believers would addict themselves to this.” he indirectly prohibits believers from the practice and familiar use of them. For he reckons as tasteless everything that does not edify. The term grace is employed in the same sense, so as to be opposed to talkativeness, taunts, and all sorts of trifles which are either injurious or vain. 474474     “Ou s’en vont en fumee;” — “Or vanish into smoke.”

That ye may know how. The man who has accustomed himself to caution in his communications will not fall into many absurdities, into which talkative and prating persons fall into from time to time, but, by constant practice, will acquire for himself expertness in making proper and suitable replies; as, on the other hand, it must necessarily happen, that silly talkers expose themselves to derision whenever they are interrogated as to anything; and in this they pay the just punishment of their silly talkativeness. Nor does he merely say what, but also how, and not to all indiscriminately, but to every one. For this is not the least important part of prudence — to have due regard to individuals. 475475     “Car c’est des principales parties de vraye prudence, de scauoir discerner les personnes pour parler aux vns et aux autres comme il est de besoin;” — “For it is one of the chief departments of true prudence, to know how to discriminate as to individuals, in speaking to one and to another, as there may be occasion.”

7 My things. That the Colossians may know what concern he has for them, he confirms them, by giving them, in a manner, a pledge. For although he was in prison, and was in danger of his life, making care for himself a secondary matter, he consults for their interests by sending Tychicus to them. In this the singular zeal, no less than prudence of the holy Apostle, shines forth; for it is no small matter that, while he is held prisoner, and is in the most imminent danger on account of the gospel, he, nevertheless, does not cease to employ himself in advancing the gospel, and takes care of all the Churches. Thus, the body, indeed, is under confinement, but the mind, anxious to employ itself in everything good, roams far and wide. His prudence shews itself in his sending a fit and prudent person to confirm them, as far as was necessary, and withstand the craftiness of the false apostles; and, farther, in his retaining Epaphras beside himself, until they should come to learn what and how great an agreement there was in doctrine among all true teachers, and might hear from Tychicus the same thing that they had previously learned from Epaphras. Let us carefully meditate on these examples, that they may stir us up to all imitation of the like pursuit.

He adds, Onesimus, that the embassy may have the more weight. It is, however, uncertain who this Onesimus was. For it can scarcely be believed that this is the slave of Philemon, inasmuch as the name of a thief and a fugitive would have been liable to reproach. 476476     Paley, in his Horae Paulinae, finds the statement here made respecting Onesimus, “who is one of you,” one of the many undesigned coincidences which he adduces in that admirable treatise, in evidence of the credibility of the New Testament. The train of his reasoning in this instance may be briefly stated thus — that while it appears from the Epistle to Philemon, that Onesimus was the servant or slave of Philemon, it is not stated in that Epistle to what city Philemon belonged; but that it appears from the Epistle, (Philem. 1, 2,) that he was of the same place, whatever that place was, with an eminent Christian, named Archippus, whom we find saluted by name amongst the Colossian Christians; while the expression made use of by Paul here respecting Onesimus, “who is one of you,” clearly marks him out as being of the same city, viz., Colosse. — Ed. He distinguishes both of them by honorable titles, that they may do the more good, and especially Tychicus, who was to exercise the office of an instructor.


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