Address: Introduction: Confirming
Epaphras' Teaching: The Glories of
Christ: Thanksgiving and Prayer for the
Colossians: His Own Ministry of the
1. by the will of God—Greek,
"through," &c. (compare Note, see on 1Co
Timothy—(Compare Notes, see on
2Co 1:1 and Php 1:1). He
was with Paul at the time of writing in Rome. He had been companion of
Paul in his first tour through Phrygia, in which Colosse was. Hence the
Colossians seem to have associated him with Paul in their affections,
and the apostle joins him with himself in the address. Neither,
probably, had seen the Colossian Church (compare Col 2:1); but had seen, during their tour
through Phrygia, individual Colossians, as Epaphras, Philemon,
Archippus, and Apphia (Phm 2), who
when converted brought the Gospel to their native city.
2. Colosse—written in the oldest
manuscripts, "Colasse." As "saints" implies union with God, so "the
faithful brethren" union with Christian men [Bengel].
and the Lord Jesus Christ—supported by
some oldest manuscripts omitted by others of equal antiquity.
3. Thanksgiving for the "faith, hope, and
love" of the Colossians. So in the twin Epistle sent at the same time
and by the same bearer, Tychicus (Eph 1:15, 16).
We—I and Timothy.
and the Father—So some of the oldest
manuscripts read. But others better omit the "and," which probably
crept in from Eph 1:3.
praying always for you—with
thanksgiving (Php 4:6). See
4. Since we heard—literally, "Having
heard." The language implies that he had only heard of, and not
seen, them (Col 2:1).
1:8, where like language is
used of a Church which he had not at the time visited.
love … to all—the absent, as
well as those present [Bengel].
5. For—to be joined with the words
immediately preceding: "The love which ye have to all the saints
because of (literally, 'on account of') the hope,"
&c. The hope of eternal life will never be in us an inactive
principle but will always produce "love." This passage is abused by
Romanists, as if the hope of salvation depended upon works. A false
argument. It does not follow that our hope is founded on our works
because we are strongly stimulated to live well; since nothing is more
effectual for this purpose than the sense of God's free grace [Calvin].
laid up—a treasure laid up so
as to be out of danger of being lost (2Ti 4:8). Faith, love, and hope
5), comprise the sum of
Christianity. Compare Col 1:23,
"the hope of the Gospel."
in heaven—Greek, "in the
whereof ye heard before—namely, at the
time when it was preached to you.
in the word, &c.—That "hope"
formed part of "the word of the truth of the Gospel" (compare Eph 1:13), that is, part of the Gospel
truth preached unto you.
6. Which is come unto you—Greek,
"Which is present among you," that is, which has come to, and remains
with, you. He speaks of the word as a living person present
as it is in all the
world—virtually, as it was by this time preached in
the leading parts of the then known world; potentially, as
Christ's command was that the Gospel should be preached to all nations,
and not be limited, as the law was, to the Jews (Mt 13:38;
24:14; 28:19). However, the
true reading, and that of the oldest manuscripts, is that which omits
the following "and," thus (the "it is" of English Version
is not in the original Greek): "As in all the world it is
bringing forth fruit and growing (so the oldest manuscripts
read; English Version omits 'and growing,' without good
authority), even as it doth in you also." Then what is asserted is not
that the Gospel has been preached in all the world, but that it is
bearing fruits of righteousness, and (like a tree growing
at the same time that it is bearing fruit) growing in
numbers of its converts in, or throughout, all the world.
heard of it—rather, "heard
and knew—rather, "came to know";
became fully experimentally acquainted with.
the grace of God in truth—that is, in
its truth, and with true knowledge [Alford].
7. As ye also learned—"Also" is omitted
in the oldest manuscripts. The insertion implied that those inserting
it thought that Paul had preached the Gospel to the Colossians
as well as Epaphras, Whereas the omission in the oldest manuscripts
implies that Epaphras alone was the founder of the Church at
fellow servant—namely, of Christ. In
23 he calls him "my fellow
prisoner." It is possible that Epaphras may have been apprehended for
his zealous labors in Asia Minor; but more probable that Paul gave him
the title; as his faithful companion in his imprisonment (compare
Note, see on Col 4:10, as to Meyer's conjecture).
who is for you, &c.—Translate,
"who is faithful in your behalf as a minister of Christ"; hinting that
he is one not to be set aside for the new and erroneous teachers (Col 2:1-23). Most of the oldest manuscripts
read, "for (or 'in behalf of') US." Vulgate, however, with one of the oldest
manuscripts, supports English Version.
8. your love—(Col 1:4); "to all the saints."
in the Spirit—the sphere or element
IN which alone true love is found; as
distinguished from the state of those "in the flesh" (Ro 8:9). Yet even they needed to be stirred up
to greater love (Col 3:12-14). Love is the first and chief fruit of
the Spirit (Ga 5:22).
9. we also—on our part.
heard it—(Col 1:4).
pray—Here he states what in
particular he prays for; as in Col 1:3 he stated generally the fact of
his praying for them.
to desire—"to make request."
might be filled—rather, "may be
filled"; a verb, often found in this Epistle (Col 4:12, 17).
knowledge—Greek, "full and
accurate knowledge." Akin to the Greek for "knew" (see on Col 1:6).
of his will—as to how ye ought to walk
5:17); as well as chiefly
that "mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He
purposed in Himself; that in the fulness of times He might gather
together in one all things in Christ" (Eph 1:9, 10); God's "will," whereby He eternally
purposed to reconcile to Himself, and save men by Christ, not by
angels, as the false teachers in some degree taught (Col 2:18) [Estius]. There seems to have been a want of
knowledge among the Colossians; notwithstanding their general
excellencies; hence he so often dwells on this subject (Col 1:28; Col 2:2, 3; 3:10, 13; 4:5,
6). On the contrary he less
extols wisdom to the Corinthians, who were puffed up with the
conceit of knowledge.
wisdom—often mentioned in this
Epistle, as opposed to the (false) "philosophy" and "show of wisdom"
23; compare Eph 1:8).
understanding—sagacity to discern what
on each occasion is suited to the place and the time; its seat is "the
understanding" or intellect; wisdom is more general and has its seat in
the whole compass of the faculties of the soul [Bengel]. "Wouldst thou know that the matters in the
word of Christ are real things? Then never read them for mere knowledge
sake" [Quoted by Gaussen.] Knowledge is
desirable only when seasoned by "spiritual understanding."
10. Greek, "So as to walk"; so that ye
may walk. True knowledge of God's will is inseparable from walking
conformably to it.
worthy of the Lord—(Eph 4:1).
unto—so as in every way to be
well-pleasing to God.
pleasing—literally, "desire of
being fruitful—Greek, "bearing
fruit." This is the first manifestation of their "walking worthy of the
Lord." The second is, "increasing (growing) in the knowledge of God (or
as the oldest manuscripts read, 'growing BY the full knowledge of God')"; thus, as the
Gospel word (Col 1:6) was
said to "bring forth fruit," and to "grow" in all the world, even as it
did in the Colossians, ever since the day they knew the grace of
God, so here it is Paul's prayer that they might continue to
"bring forth fruit," and "grow" more and more by the full
knowledge of God, the more that "knowledge" (Col 1:9) was imparted to them. The full
knowledge of God is the real instrument of enlargement in soul
and life of the believer [Alford]. The
third manifestation of their walk is (Col 1:11), "Being strengthened with all might,"
&c. The fourth is (Col 1:12),
"Giving thanks unto the Father," &c.
11. Greek, "Being made mighty with
(literally, 'in') all might."
according to his glorious
power—rather, "according to the power (the characteristic of
'His glory,' here appropriate to Paul's argument, Eph 1:19;
6:10; as its exuberant
'riches,' in Eph 3:16) of
His glory." His power is inseparable from His glory (Ro 6:4).
unto all patience—so as to attain to
all patient endurance; persevering, enduring continuance in the
faith, in spite of trials of persecutors, and seductions of false
long-suffering—towards those whom one
could repel. "Patience," or "endurance," is exercised in respect to
those whom one cannot repel [Chrysostom].
with joyfulness—joyful endurance
(Ac 16:25; Ro 5:3, 11).
12. You "giving thanks unto the
Father." See on Col 1:10; this clause is
connected with "that ye may be filled" (Col 1:9), and "that ye may walk" (Col 1:10). The connection is not,
"We do not cease to pray for you (Col 1:9) giving thanks."
unto the Father—of Jesus Christ, and
so our Father by adoption (Ga 3:26; 4:4-6).
which hath made us meet—Greek,
"who made us meet." Not "is making us meet" by
progressive growth in holiness; but once for all made us meet.
It is not primarily the Spirit's work that is meant here,
as the text is often used; but the Father's work in putting us
by adoption, once for all, in a new standing, namely, that of
children. The believers meant here were in different stages of
progressive sanctification; but in respect to the meetness specified
here, they all alike had it from the Father, in Christ His Son, being
"complete in Him" (Col 2:10).
Compare Joh 17:17; Jude 1, "sanctified by God the Father";
secondarily, this once-for-all meetness contains in it the germ
of sanctification, afterwards developed progressively in the life by
the Father's Spirit in the believer. The Christian life of heavenliness
is the first stage of heaven itself. There must, and will be, a
personal meetness for heaven, where there is a judicial
to be partakers, &c.—Greek,
"for the (or 'our') portion of the inheritance (Ac
20:32; 26:18; Eph 1:11) of
the saints in light." "Light" begins in the believer here, descending
from "the Father of lights" by Jesus, "the true light," and is
perfected in the kingdom of light, which includes knowledge, purity,
love, and joy. It is contrasted here with the "darkness" of the
unconverted state (Col 1:13;
13. from—Greek, "out of
the power," out of the sphere in which his power is exercised.
darkness—blindness, hatred, misery
translated—Those thus translated as to
state, are also transformed as to character. Satan has an organized
dominion with various orders of powers of evil (Eph 2:2; 6:12). But the term "kingdom" is rarely
applied to his usurped rule (Mt 12:26);
it is generally restricted to the kingdom of God.
his dear Son—rather as Greek,
"the Son of His love": the Son on whom His love rests (Joh 17:26; Eph
1:6): contrasted with the
"darkness" where all is hatred and hateful.
14. (Eph 1:7.)
redemption—rather as Greek,
through his blood—omitted in the
oldest manuscripts; probably inserted from Eph 1:7.
sins—Translate as Greek,
"our sins." The more general term: for which Eph 1:7, Greek, has, "our
transgressions," the more special term.
15. They who have experienced in themselves
"redemption" (Col 1:14),
know Christ in the glorious character here described, as above the
highest angels to whom the false teachers (Col 2:18) taught worship was to be paid. Paul
describes Him: (1) in relation to God and creation (Col 1:15-17); (2) in relation to the Church
1:18-20). As the former
regards Him as the Creator (Col 1:15, 16) and the Sustainer (Col 1:17) of the natural world; so the latter, as
the source and stay of the new moral creation.
image—exact likeness and perfect
Representative. Adam was made "in the image of God" (Ge 1:27). But Christ, the second Adam, perfectly
reflected visibly "the invisible God" (1Ti 1:17), whose glories the first Adam only in
part represented. "Image" (eicon) involves "likeness"
(homoiosis); but "likeness" does not involve "image." "Image"
always supposes a prototype, which it not merely resembles, but from
which it is drawn: the exact counterpart, as the reflection of the sun
in the water: the child the living image of the parent. "Likeness"
implies mere resemblance, not the exact counterpart and
derivation as "image" expresses; hence it is nowhere applied to
the Son, while "image" is here, compare 1Co 11:7 [Trench].
(Joh 1:18; 14:9; 2Co 4:4; 1Ti 3:16; Heb 1:3). Even before His incarnation He
was the image of the invisible God, as the Word (Joh 1:1-3) by whom God created the worlds, and by
whom God appeared to the patriarchs. Thus His essential
character as always "the image of God," (1) before the
incarnation, (2) in the days of His flesh, and (3) now in His glorified
state, is, I think, contemplated here by the verb "is."
first-born of every creature—(Heb 1:6), "the first-begotten": "begotten
of His Father before all worlds" [Nicene Creed]. Priority and
superlative dignity is implied (Ps 89:27). English Version might seem to
favor Arianism, as if Christ were a creature. Translate, "Begotten
(literally, 'born') before every creature," as the context
shows, which gives the reason why He is so designated. "For," &c.
1:16, 17) [Trench]. This expression is understood by Origen (so far is the Greek from
favoring Socinian or Arian views) as declaring the Godhead of
Christ, and is used by Him as a phrase to mark that Godhead, in
contrast with His manhood [Book 2, sec. Against Celsus].
The Greek does not strictly admit Alford's translation, "the first-born of all
16. For—Greek, "Because." This
gives the proof that He is not included in the things created, but is
the "first-begotten" before "every creature" (Col 1:15), begotten as "the Son of God's love"
1:13), antecedently to all
other emanations: "for" all these other emanations came from Him, and
whatever was created, was created by Him.
by him—rather as Greek,
"in Him": as the conditional element, pre-existent and
all-including: the creation of all things BY Him is expressed afterwards, and is a
different fact from the present one, though implied in it [Alford]. God revealed Himself in the Son, the Word
of the Father, before all created existence (Col 1:15). That Divine Word carries IN Himself the archetypes of all existences,
so that "IN Him all things that
are in heaven and earth have been created." The "in Him" indicates that
the Word is the ideal ground of all existence; the "by Him,"
below, that He is the instrument of actually realizing the
divine idea [Neander]. His essential
nature as the Word of the Father is not a mere appendage of His
incarnation, but is the ground of it. The original relation of the
Eternal Word to men "made in His image" (Ge 1:27), is the source of the new relation to
them by redemption, formed in His incarnation, whereby He restores them
to His lost image. "In Him" implies something prior to "by" and
"for Him" presently after: the three prepositions mark in succession
the beginning, the progress, and the end [Bengel].
all things—Greek, "the
universe of things." That the new creation is not meant in this
verse (as Socinians interpret), is plain; for angels, who are
included in the catalogue, were not new created by Christ; and
he does not speak of the new creation till Col 1:18. The creation "of the things that are in
the heavens" (so Greek) includes the creation of the
heavens themselves: the former are rather named, since the
inhabitants are more noble than their dwellings. Heaven and earth and
all that is m them (1Ch 29:11; Ne 9:6; Re 10:6).
invisible—the world of spirits.
dominions—lordships: the thrones are the greater of
principalities, or powers—rather,
"rules, or authorities": the former are stronger than the
latter (compare Note, see on Eph 1:21).
The latter pair refer to offices in respect to God's creatures:
"thrones and dominions" express exalted relation to God, they
being the chariots on which He rides displaying His glory (Ps 68:17). The existence of various orders
of angels is established by this passage.
all things—Greek, "the whole
universe of things."
were—rather, to distinguish the
Greek aorist, which precedes from the perfect tense here,
"have been created." In the former case the creation was viewed
as a past act at a point of time, or as done once for all; here
it is viewed, not merely as one historic act of creation in the past,
but as the permanent result now and eternally continuing.
by him—as the instrumental Agent
for him—as the grand End of
creation; containing in Himself the reason why creation is at all, and
why it is as it is [Alford]. He is the
final cause as well as the efficient cause. Lachmann's punctuation of Col 1:15-18 is best, whereby "the first-born
of every creature" (Col 1:15)
answers to "the first-born from the dead" (Col 1:18), the whole forming one sentence with
the words ("All things were created by Him and for Him, and He is
before all things, and by Him all things consist, and He is the Head of
the body, the Church") intervening as a parenthesis. Thus Paul puts
first, the origination by Him of the natural creation; secondly,
of the new creation. The parenthesis falls into four clauses,
two and two: the former two support the first assertion, "the
first-born of every creature"; the latter two prepare us for "the
first-born from the dead"'; the former two correspond to the latter two
in their form—"All things by Him … and He is," and "By Him
all things … and He is."
17. (Joh 8:58.) Translate as Greek, "And He
Himself (the great He) is (implying
divine essential being) before all things," in time, as
well as in dignity. Since He is before all things, He is before even
time, that is, from eternity. Compare "the first-born of
every creature" (Col 1:15).
by him—Greek, "IN Him" (as the conditional element of existence,
consist—"subsist." Not only are called
into being from nothing, but are maintained in their present
state. The Son of God is the Conserver, as well as the
Creator of all things [Pearson].
Bengel less probably explains, "All
things in Him come together into one system: the universe found
its completion in Him" (Isa 41:4; Re 22:13). Compare as to God, Ro 11:36:
similar language; therefore Christ must be God.
18. Revelation of Christ to the Church and the
new creation, as the Originator of both.
he—emphatical. Not angels in
opposition to the false teachers' doctrine concerning angel-worship,
and the power of Oeons or (imaginary) spirit emanations from God (Col 2:10,
head of the body, the church—The
Church is His body by virtue of His entering into communion corporeally
with human nature [Neander], (Eph 1:22). The same One who is the Head of
all things and beings by creation, is also, by virtue of being "the
first-born from the dead," and so "the first-fruits" of the new
creation among men, the Head of the Church.
who is—that is, in that He is the
Beginning [Alford]. Rather, this is
the beginning of a new paragraph. As the former paragraph, which
related to His originating the physical creation, began with
"Who is" (Col 1:15); so
this, which treats of His originating the new creation, begins with
"who is"; a parenthesis preceding, which closes the former paragraph,
that parenthesis (see on Col 1:16), including
from "all things were created by Him," to "Head of the body, the
Church." The head of kings and high priests was anointed, as the
seat of the faculties, the fountain of dignity, and original of
all the members (according to Hebrew etymology). So Jesus by His
unction was designated as the Head of the body, the Church.
the beginning—namely, of the new
creation, as of the old (Pr 8:22; Joh 1:1; compare Re 1:8): the beginning of the Church of the
first-born (Heb 12:23),
as being Himself the "first-born from the dead" (Ac 26:23;
1Co 15:20, 23). Christ's
primogeniture is threefold: (1) From eternity the "first-begotten" of
the Father (Col 1:15);
(2) As the first-born of His mother (Mt 1:25); (3) As the Head of the Church,
mystically begotten of the Father, as it were to a new life, on the day
of His resurrection, which is His "regeneration," even as His people's
coming resurrection will be their "regeneration" (that is, the
resurrection which was begun in the soul, extended to the body and to
the whole creation, Ro 8:21, 22) (Mt 19:28; Ac 13:33; Re
1:5). Sonship and
resurrection are similarly connected (Lu 20:36; Ro 1:4;
8:23; 1Jo 3:2). Christ by
rising from the dead is the efficient cause (1Co 15:22), as having obtained the power, and the
exemplary cause, as being the pattern (Mic 2:13; Ro 6:5; Php
3:21), of our resurrection:
the resurrection of "the Head" involves consequentially that of the
that in all things—He resumes the "all
things" (Col 1:20).
he might have the
pre-eminence—Greek, "He Himself may (thus) become the One holding the
first place," or, "take the precedency." Both ideas are included,
priority in time and priority in dignity: now in the
regenerated world, as before in the world of creation (Col 1:15). "Begotten before every creature, or
"first-born of every creature" (Ps 89:27; Joh 3:13).
19. Greek, "(God) was well
in him—that is, in the Son (Mt 3:17).
all fulness—rather as Greek,
"all the fulness," namely, of God, whatever divine
excellence is in God the Father (Col 2:9; Eph 3:19; compare Joh 1:16; 3:34). The Gnostics used the term "fulness,"
for the assemblage of emanations, or angelic powers, coming from God.
The Spirit presciently by Paul warns the Church, that the true
"fulness" dwells in Christ alone. This assigns the reason why Christ
takes precedence of every creature (Col 1:15). For two reasons Christ is Lord of the
Church: (1) Because the fulness of the divine attributes (Col 1:19) dwells in Him, and so He has the
power to govern the universe; (2) Because (Col 1:20) what He has done for the Church gives
Him the right to preside over it.
should … dwell—as in a temple
2:21). This indwelling of
the Godhead in Christ is the foundation of the
reconciliation by Him [Bengel].
Hence the "and" (Col 1:20)
connects as cause and effect the two things, the Godhead in Christ,
and the reconciliation by Christ.
20. The Greek order is, "And through
Him (Christ) to reconcile again completely (see on Eph 2:16) all things (Greek, 'the whole universe
of things') unto Himself (unto God the Father, 2Co 5:19), having made peace (God the Father
having made peace) through the blood of His (Christ's) cross," that is,
shed by Christ on the cross: the price and pledge of our
reconciliation with God. The Scripture phrase, "God reconciles man to
Himself," implies that He takes away by the blood of Jesus the barrier
which God's justice interposes against man's being in union with God
(compare Note, see on Ro 5:10; 2Co 5:18). So the Septuagint, 1Sa 29:4, "Wherewith should he reconcile
himself unto his master," that is, reconcile his master unto him
by appeasing his wrath. So Mt 5:23, 24.
by him—"through Him" (the instrumental
agent in the new creation, as in the original creation): emphatically
repeated, to bring the person of Christ, as the Head of both creations
alike, into prominence.
things in earth … in heaven—Good
angels, in one sense, do not need reconciliation to God; fallen angels
are excluded from it (Jude 6). But
probably redemption has effects on the world of spirits unknown to us.
Of course, His reconciling us, and His reconciling them,
must be by a different process, as He took not on Him the nature of
angels, so as to offer a propitiation for them. But the effect
of redemption on them, as He is their Head as well as
ours, is that they are thereby brought nearer God, and so
gain an increase of blessedness [Alford], and larger views of the love and wisdom
of God (Eph 3:10).
All creation subsists in Christ, all creation is therefore affected by
His propitiation: sinful creation is strictly "reconciled" from its
enmity; sinless creation, comparatively distant from His unapproachable
purity (Job 4:18; 15:15; 25:5), is lifted into nearer participation of
Him, and in this wider sense is reconciled. Doubtless, too, man's fall,
following on Satan's fall, is a segment of a larger circle of evil, so
that the remedy of the former affects the standing of angels, from
among whom Satan and his host fell. Angels thereby having seen the
magnitude of sin, and the infinite cost of redemption, and the
exclusion of the fallen angels from it, and the inability of any
creature to stand morally in his own strength, are now put
beyond the reach of falling. Thus Bacon's definition of Christ's Headship holds good:
"The Head of redemption to man; the Head of preservation
to angels." Some conjecture that Satan, when unfallen, ruled this earth
and the pre-Adamic animal kingdom: hence his malice against man who
succeeded to the lordship of this earth and its animals, and hence,
too, his assumption of the form of a serpent, the subtlest of the
animal tribes. Lu 19:38
states expressly "peace in heaven" as the result of finished
redemption, as "peace on earth" was the result of its beginning at
Jesus' birth (Lu 2:14).
Bengel explains the reconciliation to be
that of not only God, but also angels, estranged from men
because of man's enmity against God. Eph 1:10 accords with this: This is true, but
only part of the truth: so Alford's view
also is but part of the truth. An actual reconciliation or
restoration of peace in heaven, as well as on earth, is
expressed by Paul. As long as that blood of reconciliation was not
actually shed, which is opposed (Zec 3:8, 9) to the accusations of Satan, but was
only in promise, Satan could plead his right against men before God day
and night (Job 1:6; Re 12:10); hence he was in heaven till the ban on
man was broken (compare Lu 10:18).
So here; the world of earth and heaven owe to Christ alone the
restoration of harmony after the conflict and the subjugation of all
things under one Head (compare Heb 11:23). Sin introduced discord not only on
earth, but also in heaven, by the fall of demons; it brought into the
abodes of holy angels, though not positive, yet privative loss, a
retardation of their highest and most perfect development, harmonious
gradation, and perfect consummation. Angels were no more able than men
by themselves to overcome the peace disturbers, and cast out the
devils; it is only "by," or "through Him," and "the blood of His cross," that peace was restored even in
heaven; it is only after Christ has obtained the victory fully and
legally, that Michael (Re 12:7-10) and his angels can cast out of heaven
Satan and his demons (compare Col 2:15). Thus the point of Paul's argument
against angel-worship is, that angels themselves, like men, wholly
depend on Christ, the sole and true object of worship [Auberlen].
21. The Colossians are included in this
general reconciliation (compare Eph 2:1, 12).
alienated—from God and salvation:
objectively banished from God, through the barrier which God's
justice interposed against your sin: subjectively estranged
through the alienation of your own wills from God. The former is the
prominent thought (compare Ro 5:10), as
the second follows, "enemies in your mind." "Actual alienation
makes habitual 'enemies'" [Bengel].
in your mind—Greek, "in your
understanding" or "thought" (Eph 2:3; 4:18).
by wicked works—rather as
Greek, "in your wicked works" (wicked works were the
element in which your enmity subsisted).
yet now—Notwithstanding the
former alienation, now that Christ has come, God hath
completely reconciled, or restored to His friendship
again (so the Greek, compare Note, see on Col 1:20).
22. In the body of his flesh—the element
in which His reconciling sufferings had place. Compare Col 1:24, "afflictions of Christ in my
flesh" (1Pe 2:24).
Angels who have not a "body of flesh" are not in any way our
reconciling mediators, as your false teachers assert, but He, the Lord
of angels, who has taken our flesh, that in it He might
atone for our fallen manhood.
through death—rather as Greek,
"through His death" (which could only take place in a body like
ours, of flesh, Heb 2:14).
This implies He took on Him our true and entire manhood. Flesh
is the sphere in which His human sufferings could have place (compare
Col 1:24; Eph 2:15).
to present you—(Eph 5:27). The end of His reconciling atonement
holy—positively; and in relation to
unreprovable—negatively. "Without blemish" (as the former
Greek word is translated as to Jesus, our Head, 1Pe 1:19) in one's self. Irreproachable
(the Greek for the second word, one who gives no
occasion for his being brought to a law court) is in relation to
the world without. Sanctification, as the fruit, is here treated
of; justification, by Christ's reconciliation, as the tree,
having preceded (Eph 1:4; 5:26, 27; Tit 2:14). At the same time, our sanctification
is regarded here as perfect in Christ, into whom we are grafted
at regeneration or conversion, and who is "made of God unto us
(perfect) sanctification" (1Co 1:30; 1Pe 1:2; Jude 1): not merely progressive
sanctification, which is the gradual development of the
sanctification which Christ is made to the believer from the first.
in his sight—in God's sight, at
23. If—"Assuming that," &c.: not
otherwise shall ye be so presented at His appearing (Col 1:22).
"fixed on the foundation" (compare Note, see on Eph 3:17; Lu 6:48, 49).
respects the foundation on which believers rest; "settled,"
their own steadfastness (1Pe 5:10). 1Co 15:58 has the same Greek.
not moved away—by the false
the hope of the gospel—(Eph 1:18).
which ye have heard … which was preached
to every creature … whereof I … am … a
minister—Three arguments against their being "moved away from
the Gospel": (1) Their having heard it; (2) The universality of the
preaching of it; (3) Paul's ministry in it. For "to (Greek,
'in') every creature," the oldest manuscripts read, "in all
creation." Compare "in all the world," Col 1:6; "all things … in earth," Col 1:20 (Mr 16:15): thus he implies that the Gospel from
which he urges them not to be moved, has this mark of truth,
namely, the universality of its announcement, which accords with the
command and prophecy of Christ Himself (Mt 24:14). By "was preached," he means not
merely "is being preached," but has been actually, as an
accomplished fact, preached. Pliny,
not many years subsequently, in his famous letter to the Emperor Trajan
[Epistles, Book X., Epistle 97], writes, "Many of every age,
rank, and sex, are being brought to trial. For the contagion of that
superstition [Christianity] has spread over not only cities, but
villages and the country."
whereof I Paul am—rather as
Greek, "was made a minister." Respect for me, the
minister of this world-wide Gospel, should lead you not to be moved
from it. Moreover (he implies), the Gospel which ye heard from
Epaphras, your "minister" (Col 1:7), is
the same of which "I was made a minister" (Col 1:25; Eph
3:7): if you be moved from
it, ye will desert the teaching of the recognized ministers of the
Gospel for unauthorized false teachers.
24. Who—The oldest manuscripts omit
"who"; then translate, "Now I rejoice." Some very old manuscripts, and
the best of the Latin versions, and Vulgate, read as
English Version. To enhance the glory of Christ as paramount to
all, he mentions his own sufferings for the Church of Christ. "Now"
stands in contrast to "I was made," in the past time (Col 1:23).
for you—"on your behalf," that ye may
be confirmed in resting solely on Christ (to the exclusion of
angel-worship) by the glorification of Christ in my sufferings (Eph 3:1).
fill up that which is
behind—literally, "the deficiencies"—all that are
lacking of the afflictions of Christ (compare Note, see on 2Co 1:5). Christ is "afflicted in all His people's
afflictions" (Isa 63:9).
"The Church is His body in which He is, dwells, lives, and therefore
also suffers" [Vitringa]. Christ was
destined to endure certain afflictions in this figurative body, as well
as in His literal; these were "that which is behind of the afflictions
of Christ," which Paul "filled up." His own meritorious
sufferings in expiation for sin were once for all completely filled up
on the Cross. But His Church (His second Self) has her whole measure of
afflictions fixed. The more Paul, a member, endured, the less remain
for the rest of the Church to endure; the communion of saints thus
giving them an interest in his sufferings. It is in reference to the
Church's afflictions, which are "Christ's afflictions, that Paul here
saith, "I fill up the deficiencies," or "what remain behind of the
afflictions of Christ." She is afflicted to promote her growth in
holiness, and her completeness in Christ. Not one suffering is lost
56:8). All her members have
thus a mutual interest in one another's sufferings (1Co 12:26). But Rome's inference hence, is utterly
false that the Church has a stock treasury of the merits and
satisfactions of Christ and His apostles, out of which she may dispense
indulgences; the context has no reference to sufferings in expiation
of sin and productive of merit. Believers should regard
their sufferings less in relation to themselves as individuals, and
more as parts of a grand whole, carrying out God's perfect plan.
25. am—Greek, "I was made
a minister": resuming Col 1:23,
"whereof I Paul was made a minister."
committed to me to dispense in the house of God, the Church, to the
whole family of believers, the goods of my Master (Lu 12:42; 1Co 4:1, 2; 9:17; Eph 3:2).
which is given—Greek, "which
for you—with a view to you, Gentiles
(Col 1:27; Ro 15:16).
to fulfil—to bring it fully to all:
the end of his stewardship: "fully preached" (Ro 15:19). "The fulness of Christ (Col 1:19), and of the times (Eph 1:10) required him so to do" [Bengel].
26. the mystery—(See on Eph 1:9, 10; Eph 3:5-9).
The mystery, once hidden, now revealed, is redemption for the
whole Gentile world, as well as for the Jews, "Christ in you
(Gentiles) the hope of glory" (Col 1:27).
from ages—"from," according to Alford, refers to time, not "hidden from":
from the time of the ages; still what is meant is that the mystery was
hidden from the beings living in those "ages." The "ages"
are the vast successive periods marked by successive orders of beings
and stages of creation. Greek, "Æons," a word used by the
Gnostics for angelic beings emanating from God. The Spirit by Paul
presciently, in opposition to Gnostic error already beginning (Col 2:18), teaches, that the mystery of
redemption was hidden in God's purposes in Christ, alike from the
angelic beings (compare Eph 3:10) of the pre-Adamic "ages," and from the
subsequent human "generations." Translate as Greek,
"the ages … the generations."
made manifest to his saints—to His
apostles and prophets primarily (Eph 3:5), and through them to all His
27. would—rather as Greek,
"willed," or "was pleased to make known." He resolves all
into God's good pleasure and will, that man should not
glory save in God's grace.
what—How full and inexhaustible!
the riches of the glory of this
mystery—He accumulates phrase on phrase to enhance the
greatness of the blessing in Christ bestowed by God on the Gentiles.
2:3, "all the
treasures" of wisdom; Eph 3:8, "the unsearchable riches of
Christ"; Eph 1:7,
"riches of His grace." "The glory of this mystery"
must be the glory which this once hidden, and now revealed, truth makes
you Gentiles partakers of, partly now, but mainly when Christ shall
come (Col 3:4; Ro 5:2; 8:17, 18; Eph
1:18). This sense is proved
by the following: "Christ in you the hope of the (so
Greek) glory." The lower was the degradation of you
Gentiles, the higher is the richness of the glory to which the mystery
revealed now raises you. You were "without Christ, and having
no hope" (Eph 2:12).
Now you have "Christ in you the hope of the glory"
just mentioned. Alford translates,
"Christ among you," to answer to "this mystery among the
Gentiles." But the whole clause, "Christ IN you (Eph 3:17) the
hope of glory," answers to "this mystery," and not to the whole
sentence, "this mystery among the Gentiles." What is made
known "among you Gentiles" is, "Christ in you (now by faith
as your hidden life, Col 3:3; Ga 2:20) the hope of glory" (your manifested
life). The contrast (antithesis) between "Christ in you" now as your hidden life, and
"the hope of glory" hereafter to be manifested, requires this
28. preach—rather as Greek,
"announce" or "proclaim."
warning … teaching—"Warning" is
connected with repentance, refers to one's conduct, and
is addressed primarily to the heart. "Teaching" is connected
with faith, refers to doctrines, and is addressed
primarily to the intellect. These are the two heads of
every … every man—without
distinction of Jew or Gentile, great or small (Ro 10:12, 13).
in all wisdom—with all the wisdom
in our method of teaching that we possess: so Alford. But Col 1:9; Col 3:16, favor Estius' view, which refers it to the wisdom
communicated to those being taught: keeping back nothing, but
instructing all in the perfect knowledge of the mysteries of faith
which is the true wisdom (compare 1Co 2:6, 7; 12:8; Eph
present—(See on Col
1:22); at Christ's coming.
every man—Paul is zealous lest the
false teachers should seduce one single soul of Christ's people
at Colosse. So each individual among them should be zealous for himself
and his neighbor. Even one soul is of incalculable value.
perfect in Christ—who is the
element in living union with whom alone each believer can find
perfection: perfectly instructed (Eph 4:13) in doctrine, and full grown or
matured in faith and practice. "Jesus" is omitted in all the
29. Whereunto—namely, "to present every
man perfect in Christ."
I also labour—rather, "I labor also."
I not only "proclaim" (English Version, "preach") Christ, but I
striving—in "conflict" (Col 2:1) of spirit (compare Ro 8:26). The same Greek word is used of
Epaphras (Col 4:12),
"laboring fervently for you in prayers": literally, "agonizing,"
"striving as in the agony of a contest." So Jesus in Gethsemane when
22:44): so "strive" (the same
Greek word, "agonize"), Lu 13:24. So Jacob "wrestled" in prayer
"contention," Greek, "agony," or "striving earnestness," 1Th 2:2.
according to his working—Paul avows
that he has power to "strive" in spirit for his converts, so far only
as Christ works in him and by him (Eph 3:20; Php
mightily—literally, "in power."