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21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— 23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

Paul’s Interest in the Colossians

24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.

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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 mindGreek, "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 nowNotwithstanding 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 by death.

holy—positively; and in relation to God.

unblamable … 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 Christ's appearing.

23. If—"Assuming that," &c.: not otherwise shall ye be so presented at His appearing (Col 1:22).

groundedGreek, "founded," "fixed on the foundation" (compare Note, see on Eph 3:17; Lu 6:48, 49).

settled—"steadfast." "Grounded" 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 teachers.

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 (Ps 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. amGreek, "I was made a minister": resuming Col 1:23, "whereof I Paul was made a minister."

dispensation—the stewardship 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 givenGreek, "which was given."

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 saints.

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. Compare Col 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 translation.

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 evangelical teaching.

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 1:17).

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 oldest manuscripts.

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 labor also.

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 praying (Lu 22:44): so "strive" (the same Greek word, "agonize"), Lu 13:24. So Jacob "wrestled" in prayer (Ge 32:24-29). Compare "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 4:13).

mightily—literally, "in power."