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1. Supremacy of Christ

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ that are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have toward all the saints, 5because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also, since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7even as ye learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow-servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. 9For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; 13who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; 14in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins: 15who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; 17and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; 20and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens. 21And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, 22yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him: 23if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister. 24Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church; 25whereof I was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given me to you-ward, to fulfil the word of God, 26even the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints, 27to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ; 29whereunto I labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

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9. For this cause we also. As he has previously shewn his affection for them in his thanksgivings, so he now shews it still farther in the earnestness of his prayers in their behalf. 288288     “Comme il a ci dessus demonstré l’amour qu’il auoit enuers eux, en protestant qu’il s’esiouit de leurs auancemens, et en rend graces a Dieu, aussi le fait — il maintenant en son affection vehemente, et continuation de prier;” — “As he has already shewn the love which he cherished towards them, by declaring that he rejoices in their proficiency, and gives thanks to God for it, so he does the same now by his intense eagerness and perseverance in prayer.” And, assuredly, the more that the grace of God is conspicuous in any, we ought in that proportion specially to love and esteem them, and to be concerned as to their welfare. But what does he pray for in their behalf? That they may know God more fully; by which he indirectly intimates, that something is still wanting in them, that he may prepare the way for imparting instruction to them, and may secure their attention to a fuller statement of doctrine. For those who think that they have already attained everything that is worthy of being known, despise and disdain everything farther that is presented to them. Hence he removes from the Colossians an impression of this nature, lest it should be a hinderance in the way of their cheerfully making progress, and allowing what had been begun in them to receive an additional polish. But what knowledge does he desire in their behalf? The knowledge of the divine will, by which expression he sets aside all inventions of men, and all speculations that are at variance with the word of God. For his will is not to be sought anywhere else than in his word.

He adds — in all wisdom; by which he intimates that the will of God, of which he had made mention, was the only rule of right knowledge. For if any one is desirous simply to know those things which it has pleased God to reveal, that is the man who accurately knows what it is to be truly wise. If we desire anything beyond that, this will be nothing else than to be foolish, by not keeping within due bounds. By the word συνέσεως which we render prudentiam, (prudence,) I understand — that discrimination which proceeds from intelligence. Both are called spiritual by Paul, because they are not attained in any other way than by the guidance of the Spirit.

For the animal man does not perceive the things that are of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:14.)

So long as men are regulated by their own carnal perceptions, they have also their own wisdom, but it is of such a nature as is mere vanity, however much they may delight themselves in it. We see what sort of theology there is under the Papacy, what is contained in the books of philosophers, and what wisdom profane men hold in estimation. Let us, however, bear in mind, that the wisdom which is alone commended by Paul is comprehended in the will of God.

10. That ye may walk worthy of God. In the first place he teaches, what is the end of spiritual understanding, and for what purpose we ought to make proficiency in God’s school — that we may walk worthy of God, that is, that it may be manifest in our life, that we have not in vain been taught by God. Whoever they may be that do not direct their endeavors towards this object, may possibly toil and labor much, but they do nothing better than wander about in endless windings, without making any progress. 289289     “Mais ils ne feront que tracasser çà et là, et tourner a l’entour du pot (comme on dit) sans s’auancer;” — “But they will do nothing else than hurry hither and thither, and go about the bush (as they say) without making progress.” Farther, he admonishes us, that if we would walk worthy of God, we must above all things take heed that we regulate our whole course of life according to the will of God, renouncing our own understanding, and bidding farewell to all the inclinations of our flesh.

This also he again confirms by saying — unto all obedience, or, as they commonly say, well-pleasing. Hence if it is asked, what kind of life is worthy of God, let us always keep in view this definition of Paul — that it is such a life as, leaving the opinions of men, and leaving, in short, all carnal inclination, is regulated so as to be in subjection to God alone. From this follow good works, which are the fruits that God requires from us.

Increasing, in the knowledge of God. He again repeats, that they have not arrived at such perfection as not to stand in need of farther increase; by which admonition he prepares them, and as it were leads them by the hand, to an eagerness for proficiency, that they may shew themselves ready to listen, and teachable. What is here said to the Colossians, let all believers take as said to themselves, and draw from this a common exhortation that we must always make progress in the doctrine of piety until death.




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