When Paul wrote the Colossian letter, the inland city of Colossae[ 1 ] was just another dwindling valley town. The general area where it[ 2 ] was situated was called "Phrygia," a part of Asia Minor (see Ac 2:10). The town occupied both sides (mostly to the south) of the Lycus[ 3 ] river, a tributary to the Meander.[ 4 ] The region, about 100 miles east of Ephesus, was volcanic and susceptible to tremors. In fact, Colossae, together with nearby cities were destroyed by an earthquake in 65 AD[ 5 ] but were later rebuilt. The tri-cities[ 6 ] (Laodicea,[ 7 ] Hierapolis[ 8 ] and Colossae) were famous for their brilliant dyes. The region was known for fabulous travertine deposits and rich pastures full of sheep.
THE CHURCH IN COLOSSAE
Paul had visited Colossae on his first evangelistic journey (Ac 13:13; 14:24), his second journey (Ac 16:1-6) and his third journey (Ac 18:23) but it is not known that he ever proclaimed the gospel there. He had preached three years in Ephesus from about AD 53-56 but did not start the work at Colossae (see Ac 19:10; compare Phm 19). It was probably launched by Epaphras whom some think was converted by Paul while away from home[ 9 ] (see Col 1:7; 4:12). No doubt, Epaphras preached in other cities including Laodicea and Hierapolis some twelve miles down river to the west on the same caravan route (Col 4:13). The church in Colossae is considered by some to have been the smallest congregation to which Paul ever wrote. All its members had heard the gospel and believed it (Col 1:4), been buried in baptism (Col 2:12) and had been delivered from the power of darkness (Col 1:13).
WHEN AND WHERE WRITTEN
Paul wrote the letter to Colossae during his first Roman imprisonment[ 10 ] between AD 61-63 (see Col 1:24; 4:10). The mail was carried over 1,000 miles to Colossae by Tychicus and Onesimus (Col 4:7, 9). The latter was a converted slave being sent back to his master, Philemon, at Colossae (Phm 10-20). The young Christian, Onesimus, with Paul's letter, may have been re-introduced to his master at the assembly before heading for the estate of Philemon. At the time of writing, both Aristarchus and Epaphras were still Paul's fellow-prisoners (Col 4:10; Phm 23).
PROBLEMS AT COLOSSAE
- Human philosophy and wisdom (Col 2:8, 23).
- Sabbath and Jewish feast-day observances (Col 2:16).
- Angel worship (Col 2:18).
As the epistle to the Colossians was being penned, some members at Colossae were faced with troublesome issues. One or more false teachers had come to them with a "belief" in Christ but it was colored with a mixture of Jewish and Gnostic ideas (see chart PROBLEMS AT COLOSSAE). Paul set an example for preachers today by attacking these errors head-on. Moral compromises, Humanism, Satanism, Eastern religions, and New-age-ism pose monumental problems today. Buddhism and Mohammedism are rapidly growing in America. Who today is leading the fight against error? Are some, like the proverbial ostrich with its head under the sand, just waiting to see what happens?
TO THE SAINTS AND FAITHFUL BRETHREN
1:1, 2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. Paul was an apostle whom God willed to appoint (Ga 1:15-17). He writes as an official ambassador of Christ (2Co 5:20).
And Timothy our brother[and Timotheus our brother] (see note on Ac 16:1). This statement is supportive of Paul's location in Rome when writing the letter. Timothy was with him there (see Php 1:1). Consider also the mention of "saints in Caesar's household" who were most likely in Rome (Php 4:22).
[1:2] To the saints.[ 11 ] All Christians everywhere are saints. Except for the false teachers, Paul did not single out any if his readers who were not (see paragraph below).
And faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae[that are, which are, at Colossae]. At least some of Paul's readers at Colossae had never seen his face (see Col 2:1). They were all faithful brethren. They were baptized believers (compare Ac 8:12; 10:45; 18:8; Col 2:12). They were "in Christ" (see Ro 6:3; Ga 3:27; Eph 1:3). They had been translated into the kingdom (verse 13). They looked forward to eternal life (see Joh 20:30, 31; Ro 6:22, 23; Eph 4:4; Tit 1:2).
Grace to you.Paul did not use the customary Greek salutation, CHAIRE Hail! (see Lu 1:28) but, more appropriate to Christians, CHARIS Grace!
And peace from God our Father.[ 12 ] The Hebrew SHALOM peace[ 13 ] is equivalent to the Greek EIREENEE peace but in Paul's greeting "peace" has the special meaning that Christ gave to it. He said to His disciples, "Peace I leave with you," adding that His peace is "not as the world gives" (Joh 14:27; compare Col 3:15).
[And the Lord Jesus Christ].This phrase is carried in the KJV and NKJV but, because of textual variation, is omitted from several other versions (but compare Ga 1:3).
FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE
1:3-8 We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying for you always, 4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope that is laid up for you in heaven, which you heard about beforehand in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you; just as it is also bearing fruit and increasing in all the world, as it does in you also, since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you learned from Epaphras our beloved fellow-slave, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.
We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ[to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ].[ 14 ] The rich Lycus Valley where Colossae was located was known for rich minerals, fine pastures and many, many sheep. However, it was not material prosperity for which Paul and Timothy were thankful (compare Php 1:1, 3;[ 15 ] see charts PAUL GIVES THANKS at Col 1:12).
Praying for you always[praying always for you, when we pray for you].[ 16 ] Paul, Timothy and others prayed regularly for the Colossians. They thanked God for their faith, love and hope (compare Php 1:3; 1Th 1:3).
[1:4] Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus[because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus]. Paul had heard of the faith and love of the Colossians. Although some passages suggest that he knew a few of them (see Col 1:21-25; 4:14-17; Phm 1, 2, 19), he had not preached in person to most of them. Since they "knew the grace of God in truth" (Col 1:6; see also 2:6, 7), we infer they had been properly taught by someone else (see note on verse 7).
And of the love which you have for all the saints[which ye have toward all, to all the saints].[ 17 ] Paul was aware of the unifying effect of the love of the Colossians. They loved all the saints as Christians are expected to do (1Pe 1:17). They esteemed the weak and strong, the old and young just the same. They had loving care for poor and rich, Gentile and Jew, bond and free. They even had regard for those who were being swayed by Judaizing teachers and those considering Gnostic ideas (verse 8). Faithful Christians realized that, in order to love someone, they did not have to "go along" with their false teaching. After they read Paul's corrective letter, they were all greatly encouraged to stand for the truth. For more on faith, hope and love, see notes on 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 5:1-5; Galatians 5:5, 6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8; Hebrews 10:22-24; 1 Peter 1:21, 22.
Some modern teachers seem to think feelings are more important than following truth. They are emphasizing emotions over logic and plain Scripture. They claim it is necessary to "loosen up" in order to reach "boomers" and "busters." Where "love" is stressed so much that gospel obedience is disregarded, disastrous results are soon observed.
FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE
(Col 1:4, 5)
- A working faith (Ga 5:6).
- A purifying hope (1Jo 3:3).
- A love expressed in deeds (1Jo 3:8).
HOPE OF HEAVEN
[1:5] Because of the hope[for the hope].[ 18 ] Anyone may desire a home in heaven, but only faithful Christians truly hope for it. That is because hope includes expectation as well as desire. Faithful Christians await their reward with both confidence and joy.
Paul understood that being a Christian includes "faith in Jesus Christ" and "love toward all the saints" (verse 4; see chart FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE). R. C. H. Lenski wrote this beautiful sentence. "Faith is the soil from which the fruit of love springs, and hope is the sunshine which ripens the fruit of love." On the same page, he observed that faith, hope and love are active, working and motivating.[ 19 ] Love for the saints is connected with hope (verse 4). For this reason and others, Paul and Timothy were thankful and prayed for the Colossians.
[1:6] That is laid up for you in heaven[in the heavens].[ 20 ] Translations vary with "heaven" being either in the singular or plural. The Greek is plural but the singular rendering is acceptable. This may be seen by the usage of the word. For instance, Christ sat down on His throne "in the heavens" (Heb 8:1) after He had gone "into heaven" (1Pe 3:22). The hope of Paul's readers was in the heavens as well as in heaven (compare Joh 14:2). The hope of Christians is not some earthly hope. It is "the hope of glory" (Col 1:27; compare 3:1, 2). Hope is significant because of what awaits the Christian. It is also important because of the effect that it has upon one's life. For one thing, treasure in heaven takes the mind away from concentration on earthly treasures and pleasures. Looking forward to being with Him who is perfect gives motivation to live a purer life on earth (see 1Jo 3:3).
We read of a place that's called heaven,
It's made for the pure and the free;
These truths in God's word He has given,
How beautiful heaven must be.
(Mrs. A. S. Bridgewater 476).[ 21 ]
Which you heard about beforehand[whereof ye, of this you have, heard before].[ 22 ] When the gospel was initially preached to the Colossians, they were told about the promise of heaven. They heard about their "eternal inheritance" (see verse 14). Unlike premillennialists, they did not set their mind "on the things that are on the earth" (Col 3:2). Their inheritance was "reserved in heaven" (1Pe 1:4). A crown of righteousness awaited them there (2Ti 4:8).
In the word of the truth of the gospel[the word of truth, the gospel]. It was not just sincerity or a belief in "just anything" that brought the Colossians hope. Their hope was based solidly upon "the word of the truth of the gospel." Did it really matter what they believed? It certainly did. Was it imperative that they believed the truth? Yes it was. If it did not matter, why did Paul waste time writing in order to correct doctrinal errors?
The gospel of truth is from the Source of truth. It is from the God of truth, from Him who is the truth (Joh 14:6) and from the Spirit of truth (1Jo 4:6).
Which has come to you[which is come unto you]. The word of Christ is the word of truth (compare Joh 8:31, 32). The name of the preacher is unimportant compared to the fact that the true gospel came to them. How thankful Christians should be that the gospel has come their way! Because they are grateful for that, they are motivated to serve God. They live pure, worshipful lives. They work, give and pray. They take the gospel to others.
THE FRUIT-BEARING GOSPEL
Just as it is also bearing fruit and increasing[and bringeth forth fruit, constantly, as indeed it is, bearing fruit, and growing, and increasing].[ 23 ] When John the Baptist preached, he urged the people to "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Mt. 3:8). Jesus also insisted that people apply His message. He said, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them" (Joh 13:17).
The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Ro 1:16). It is powerful in itself to bear fruit. By working through Christians, it "increases." The more fruit borne, the greater the increase.
The gospel increases when converts baptize others. It increases as it changes lives. It keeps on causing the lives of converts to improve. The increase is illustrated by generous giving that results in various fruits of righteousness, including good works in general. "And he that supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness" (2Co 9:10).
God gives the increase. Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (1Co 3:6). God's powerful word never returns to Him void (Isa 55:11). The church itself "grows with the growth of God" (Col 2:19). In cooperation with the working of God, growing churches maintain enthusiastic evangelizing and teaching programs.
In all the world[as it is in all the world, in the whole world]. The age-lasting gospel is for all the world (Mt 28:19; Mk 13:10; 16:15; Ac 1:8). When Paul wrote, it was being preached "in all creation under heaven" (Col 1:23; compare Ro 10:18). It has been estimated that in the first century there were 100,000 Christians in Antioch of Syria and an equal number in Ephesus. In Jerusalem, the number reached approximately 15,000. In Rome, there must have been at least 250,000.[ 24 ] Archaeology of Corinth suggests that Christians there numbered in the thousands.
As it does in you also[as it doth also in you, so among yourselves]. No doubt, numerous Jews had lived for some time in Phrygia where Colossae was located[ 25 ] but the church at Colossae was made up mostly of Gentiles (Col 1:21, 25-27; 2:11-13; compare Eph 2:11, 12). It is generally thought that the congregation there was quite a bit smaller than the church in Ephesus.
Since the day you heard[since the day ye heard of it, from the day you heard].[ 26 ] Only those who heard and understood the grace of God are addressed by Paul. He looks back to the time of their conversion (see verse 5). They were all hearers. Their salvation involved not only hearing the gospel but understanding it as well. Baptism of babies was unknown then. Although in a safe spiritual condition, infants too young to hear and understand are not designated as Christians in the NT.
And knew the grace of God in truth[and understood the grace of God in truth].[ 27 ] Paul uses a word for "knew" that implies the Colossians "fully knew." They understood the grace of God quite well. Knowing "the grace of God in truth" is a figure of speech called synecdoche.[ 28 ] It stands for all that is involved in the process of salvation (compare Tit 2:11, 12).
[1:7] As you learned from Epaphras our beloved fellow-slave[as ye also learned, even as ye learned, as you learned it, from, of, Epaphras our dear fellow-servant].[ 29 ] In all his writings, Paul uses the specific term "fellow-servant" only twice -- here of Epaphras and, in Colossians 4:7, of Tychicus.
The gospel treasure was in "earthen vessels."[ 30 ] It was always spread by human beings. Angels brought people together to be taught but they never preached the gospel themselves. That was done by human beings. The Colossians learned the truth from Epaphras or other teachers. None of the Christians there were so young or so feeble-minded they could not understand it. Every true convert to Christ was a learner (see Joh 6:44, 45). The ability to learn the truth is an essential factor of accountability (compare Ro 7:9).
(Col 1:5, 6)
- The word of the truth (Col 1:5).
- Presents a heavenly hope (Col 1:5; compare Ac 4:12).
- For all the world (Col 1:6).
- Bears fruit and increases (Col 1:6).
- The grace of God in truth (Col 1:6; Tit 2:11, 12).
Who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf[who is for you a faithful minister of Christ, he is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf]. Epaphras was not only a SUNDOULOU fellow-slave, he was a faithful DIAKONOS servant or minister.[ 31 ]
Who also declared to us your love in the Spirit[who also declared unto us, and has made known to us, your love in the Spirit].[ 32 ] It is commendable to say good things about brothers in Christ. This Epaphras did.
Almost without exception, translators capitalize "spirit" in this verse. If they are right, Paul speaks of love awakened by the Holy Spirit (compare Ga 5:22).
There is some question, however, as to whether it should be "in the Spirit" or "in spirit." In New Testament times, Greek was written with capital letters only. Thus, whether a word is capitalized or not in our Greek texts and versions depends on the insight of the one printing the text or making the translation. Usually the context makes it clear whether the Holy Spirit is intended or, for example, the spirit of man. In this passage, the context is not conclusive and the question is made more difficult by the fact that there are slight variations among better manuscripts. Some omit "in" shifting the meaning to "by the (Holy) Spirit". Some include "Holy" with or without "in".
The word "spirit" does not always refer to the Holy Spirit or even to the spirit of man that returns to God, but sometimes means "attitude" or "innermost being" (although the latter is getting very close to "the spirit that returns to God").
In Colossians 1:8, the meaning is either "your spirit of love" (your loving attitude), "love in (your) spirit" (love in your innermost being) or "your love in / by the (Holy) Spirit". In the final analysis, it is not an important difference, since each possibility describes the love of a Christian, but a translator must select one of the three. Because of the lack of clarity, there is much variation in the translations.[ 33 ]
Macknight[ 34 ] believes that "spirit" in this passage denotes the greatest degree of any mental quality, either good or bad. For him, "Love in the spirit" describes an exalted degree of love.
Few, if any, of the Colossians had ever seen Paul "in the flesh" but they loved him anyway (Col 2:1). It was Epaphras who had declared their love for him "in the spirit." Even though they had not seen him, they had a high degree of love for him.
A common love for each other,
A common gift to the Savior,
A common bond holding us to the Lord;
A common strength when we're weary,
A common hope for tomorrow,
A common joy in the truth of God's Word.
(Charles F. Brown 745).
PRAYER FOR KNOWLEDGE
1:9-15 For this reason, since the day we heard, we also do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 in order to walk in a way worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in everything, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all endurance and patience with joy 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has prepared us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, 13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For this reason, since the day we heard[for this cause we also, and so, from the day we heard of it]. Paul, the prisoner, along with Timothy, took immediate action when they heard the wonderful news about the faith and love of the Colossians. Although they were a thousand miles away, they realized they were just as near heaven's throne as if they were in Asia Minor. Without delay, they added the Christians in that far-away town to their prayer list.
We also do not cease praying for you[do not cease, we have not ceased, to pray for you]. These men of God (Paul and Timothy) did not skip their times of prayer. When they prayed, they always made request for the Colossians. Since they did not cease to pray, were they praying twenty-four hours a day? Not necessarily. They prayed regularly. They mentioned the same people day after day. Since Jesus Himself "ceased praying" (Lu 11:1), surely the instruction to "pray without ceasing" (1Th 5:17) does not mean that Christians are to pray constantly without interruption.
The Jews offered "a continual burnt offering" (Ex 29:42). In the four preceding verses, we learn that this amounted to one lamb in the morning and one in the evening. The Jews prayed without ceasing when they did so twice each day when the incense was burning (Ex 30:7; Lu 1:10). The disciples "were continually in the temple, blessing God" (Lu 24:53) but they were not there all through the night. The implication is that they faithfully observed the morning and evening prayer times.
Christians speak of praying without ceasing and always having a prayerful attitude. Yet some of these same people cannot find the time for daily Bible study and prayer. They may even voluntarily skip Sunday night and midweek services. How they can still claim to "pray without ceasing" is beyond my comprehension!
And asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will[and to desire that ye might, that ye may, be filled with the knowledge of his will]. The "things that are revealed" supply the total knowledge of God's will (see De 29:29). Christians ought to be always learning more of the truth. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe 3:18). Paul prayed that his readers might be filled with the knowledge of God's will. Every Christian should desire that for himself, his family and others. It may be fine to understand religious theories and theological words but it is always good to know the will of God. It is both practical and beneficial.
In all spiritual wisdom and understanding[in all wisdom and spiritual understanding]. In addition to knowledge, spiritual wisdom and understanding are needed. Is God willing to give His people understanding? Yes, but He gives it in His own way. He always gives me understanding in connection with the revealed word and never apart from it. It is a pity that, due to neglect, some Christians today do not have even a workable knowledge of the Bible. Paul noted that "some have no knowledge of God" (1Co 15:34). Spiritual wisdom is applied when a person who understands the will of God puts it into practice. Wisdom affects how he lives and how he speaks.
The word of God is the only true source of spiritual enlightenment. David wrote, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and light to my path" (Ps 119:105). Each Christian is encouraged to "let the word of Christ" dwell richly in his heart (Col 3:16). Paul urged Timothy to "Consider what I say" (2Ti 2:7). The Greek verb is present imperative. It is a direct command. It means "Continue to be understanding what I am saying." Continual study is required in order to adequately understand the Bible.
Christians are to love God with the mind (see Mk 12:30; compare 1Pe 1:13). Several people today are beginning to seriously study the Bible. I am impressed with younger men and women. I predict that these scholars will surpass their elders in both knowledge and wisdom. Not only that, but parents and grandparents who believe and study the Scriptures are inspiring their children and grandchildren to learn much more of the truth than the liberal theologians ever thought about knowing.
[1:10] To walk in a way worthy of the Lord[that ye might walk, to lead a life, worthy of the Lord]. [ 35 ] As Paul continues his prayer, he implies that knowledge in itself is not enough. He entreats his readers to use the information they have in their daily lives. Faithful Christians are to "walk in a way worthy of the Lord," "even as He walked" (1Jo 2:5).
Walking in sunlight, all of my journey;
Over the mountains, thru the deep vale;
Jesus has said, "I'll never forsake thee,"
Promise divine that never can fail.
(H. J. Zelley 303).
Pleasing him in everything[unto all pleasing, fully pleasing to him].[ 36 ] Paul begins this section with a powerful statement about pleasing the Lord. A correct and full knowledge of His will enables one to know how to please Him (see verse 9).
PLEASING GOD IN EVERYTHING
- Walk worthily of the calling (Eph 4:1).
- Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel [behave as citizens worthily] (Php 1:27).
- Walk worthily of the Lord (Col 1:10).
- You ought to walk and to please God . . . abound more and more (1Th 4:1).
- In understanding (Col 1:9; compare Eph 5:17).
- In thinking (Col 2:8; 3:2; compare 2Co 10:5).
- In morality (Col 3:5-8).
- In worship (Col 3:16).
- In daily life (Col 3:17-4:5).
- In speech (Col 4:6).
- In work (Col 4:17).
Bearing fruit in every good work.The expressions "walk worthily" and "every good work" are synonymous. The result of walking worthily and doing good works is fruit-bearing (compare verses 6-8). The gospel itself bears fruit as it works within the hearts of men and women.
When a Christian takes advantage of the first opportunity to serve God, another opportunity generally arises. Then another, and another. Those who complain about having nothing to do should accept the first opportunity to serve, no matter how humble. Soon they will have more work to do than they can take care of (compare the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30).
And increasing in the knowledge of God.Dedicated Christians are faithful and regular in church attendance. They are always increasing in the knowledge of God. Those who neglect these things tend to fall away because they generally are not sufficiently strengthened. They fail to resist temptation and are overcome by evil.
HOW ONE IS STRENGTHENED
[1:11] Strengthened with all power[may you be strengthened with all power, with all might]. Strength is the ability to resist temptation, endure suffering and hard labor. The inner man is strengthened exceedingly "according to the might of His glory" (compare Eph 3:16). To be strengthened with all power" does not mean that every Christian will be equal in power to Christ. Each will be strengthened to meet the challenges he is permitted to experience (see note on 1Co 10:13). Renewed strength comes to those who "wait on the Lord" (Isa 40:31) but the Lord does not send it by thin air. It comes as one uses the armor of God (Eph 6:10-18). It comes by increasing in the knowledge of God (compare Da 11:32). It comes by "reason of use" (Heb 5:14). It comes by supplying the Christian graces which strengthen so that one will never stumble (2Pe 1:5-10). In time of severe persecution, special strength [grace] is given (1Pe 4:14; see chart STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER).
According to the might of His glory[his glorious might]. A blessing was promised to faithful OT Jews of the northern kingdom because they were not involved in idolatry and drunkenness. "In that day will the Lord of hosts become a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the residue of His people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to them that turn back the battle at the gate" (Isa 28:5, 6). In the same way, He gives strength to His faithful ones today.
Unto all endurance[steadfastness, patience, for all endurance]. Strength manifests itself in "patience and longsuffering with joy" but it is for a purpose. It is "unto all endurance." Endurance waits in hope (Ro 8:25). It keeps running the race toward heaven regardless of criticism or suffering (Heb 12:1-7). It persists like the prophets who continued in spite of bonds and imprisonment. It perseveres, knowing that the Blessed Christ who endured is "full of pity and merciful" (see Jas 5:10, 11).
And patience.[ 37 ] When patience has its perfect work, Christians can endure without anger, without revenge (see Jas 1:4). Not only do they accept persecution as a gift of God (Php 1:29; Col 1:24) but, regardless of pain, continue serving Him steadfastly and faithfully.
With joy[with joyfulness, joyously]. The strength of God comes with joy. Nehemiah taught the people that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Ne 8:10). There is rich joy in persecution (Lu 6:23). There is quiet joy in knowing one's children are walking in the truth (3Jo 4). There is unrestrained joy in steadfast endurance. There is glad rejoicing when sinners repent (Lu 15:7, 10). For the joy that was set before Him,[ 38 ] Jesus endured the cross (Heb 12:2). Mature Christians joyously endure, knowing their pain is momentary.
For some, exhilaration comes later only when sorrow turns to joy. "Weeping may tarry for the night but joy comes in the morning" (Ps 30:5). "He who goes forth and weeps, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him (Ps 126:5). Chastening brings joy but it is not at all delightful until afterward when it yields its "peaceable fruit" (Heb 12:11). The warm sun of love and the gentle rain of longsuffering produce blossoms of unfeigned joy.
PAUL GIVES THANKS
- For joy in the strength to patiently endure (Col 1:11).
- That God has qualified sharers in the inheritance of the saints in light (Col 1:12).
- For the privilege of suffering for others (Col 1:24).
[1:12] Giving thanks to the Father[unto the Father]. Paul thanks God for joys, promises and privileges (see chart PAUL GIVES THANKS).
Who has prepared us[who made, which hath made, us meet, who has qualified us].[ 39 ] By the merits of Christ, in accordance with the gospel, God qualifies His saints for heaven. The inheritance has been prepared (Joh 14:2, 3). Not only that, but the saved are prepared for it (Heb 12:23). It belongs to them because they are God's children (see Ro 8:17).
To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light[to share in the inheritance of the saints in light].[ 40 ] The inheritance of the saints in light is the upper and better kingdom (Php 1:23; Heb 10:34). It is an inheritance of perfection, holiness and joy. It affords eternal fellowship with God who is light (1Jo 1:5) and the Father of lights (Jas 1:17).
In the kingdom of the Lord,
Dwell the good, dwell the blest,
In the kingdom of the Lord,
There is peace, there is rest.
(Palmer Hartsough 508).
TRANSLATED INTO THE KINGDOM
[1:13] Who delivered us[who hath delivered us, he has delivered us]. By the new birth, sinners have been delivered out of the authority of darkness. They are no longer of the world. They have ceased serving under the dominion of Satan (Joh 3:3-5; 15:19).
Out of the power of darkness[from the domain, the dominion, of darkness]. Those outside of Christ, as well as unfaithful Christians, are walking in darkness (1Jo 1:6). They serve the prince of darkness (Eph. 6:12). If they persist in that course, they will end up in the land of utter darkness (Mt. 25:30).
Each person who has sincerely believed the gospel, repented of sins, confessed his faith in Christ and been buried in baptism for the remission of sins is no longer under the power of darkness. He has been called out of darkness (1 Pet. 2:9). He has been translated into the kingdom of God's precious Son, Jesus Christ (see Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:3, 4; 10:9, 10).
And translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love[and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son]. In the present context, being in the kingdom and being in the church is the same. Christians in the first century were translated or transferred into the kingdom of Christ when they were added to the church of Christ. Matthew Henry wrote, "He hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, brought us into the gospel-state, and made us members of the church of Christ, which is a state of light and purity."
Here is an exceptionally good translation of Colossians 1:13 from the New World Translation, [ 41 ] 1961 revision: "He delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transplanted us into the kingdom of the Son of his love."
Note the word "transplanted." It clearly implies that the kingdom of Christ was already in existence when Paul wrote the Colossian letter about AD 62. Otherwise, he and the Colossians could not have been transplanted into it. It is quite impossible to transplant tomato plants into a garden that does not exist. Just so, it would have been impossible for early Christians to be "transplanted" into a kingdom not established until many years later.[ 42 ]
MIGHTY EFFECTS OF THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS
[1:14] In whom we have redemption[our redemption]. Since the church has been purchased by the blood of Christ, it follows that all its members are redeemed by the blood (see Ac 20:28; Re 5:9, 10). Redemption becomes a reality when one obeys the "form of teaching." It is then that he is made free from sin. The "form of teaching" described in Romans 6 includes water baptism (see Ro 6:3, 4). Notice:
"But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were servants of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were delivered, and having been made free from sin, you became servants of righteousness" (Ro 6:17, 18).
[Through his blood]."Through His blood" carried by the KJV and NKJV, is omitted from several modern versions because of textual variations. However, there is no question as to its truth (see Eph 1:7). It is in baptism that the blood washes sins away (see Ac 22:16).
The forgiveness of sins[even the forgiveness of sins]. The blood of Christ provides the means of forgiveness. The only way one can be pardoned is to comply with the terms of the One who dispenses forgiveness. It is foolhardy to negate the plain meaning of such passages as Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38 and 1 Peter 3:21.
Redeemed how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed thru His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
(Fanny J. Crosby 620).
GLORIOUS THINGS OF CHRIST ARE SPOKEN
He is the image of the invisible God.[ 43 ] The greatness of Christ is breath-taking! He is (not just was) the image of the invisible God. In the present context, the meaning of the word "image" is essence or substance. "We have borne the image of the earthy" (1Co 15:49 ASV; compare Heb 10:1). In other words, humans have an "earthy" essence or substance. Christ, on the other hand, is the manifestation of God (Joh 1:14; 14:9). In Him, the Whole Fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Col 2:9). He is "the very image [impress] of His substance" (Heb 1:3). He is "in the form of God." He possesses the eternal, essential essence and nature of God (see note on Php 2:6).
When man was made in God's image, he was holy and virtuous (see Ge 1:27). He had the capacity to think and love. He could choose to be disloyal or faithful. He had dominion over the animals. Many scholars think that the image is inclusive of spiritual attributes and invisible character traits. Is there any reason that Christ should bear a physical likeness to God?
The firstborn of all creation[of every creature].[ 44 ] Ethan the Ezrahite prophesied of Christ when he wrote, "I also shall make him My Firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth" (Ps 89:27). "Firstborn" is a title of honor or position. Ethan used it in apposition to "the highest of the kings of the earth." In the present context, it does not relate to chronological order at all. Because of the significance and usage of the word, we understand that "firstborn" does not imply that Jesus was born first in order of time nor that He was the first to be created. The point is He is greater than all creation. As a matter of fact, He pre-dates every created thing, "for in Him all things were created" (verse 16).
CHRIST THE CREATOR
1:16, 17 For in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created by Him, and for Him; 17 and He is before all things, and everything has its existence in Him.
For in Him all things were created[for by him were all things created].[ 45 ] The creative will and the creative energy are in the sphere of the person of Christ. It is in that sphere that creation took place. Thus creation was dependent on Him.[ 46 ] "All things were made through Him" (Joh 1:3). Two basic truths in verse 15 are: (1) He is the image of the invisible God and (2) He is the firstborn of all creation. These propositions are coordinate with, and certainly not contradictory of, the fact that "In Him all things were created" (verse 16).
John exclaimed, "We beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!" (Joh 1:14). The surpassing glory of the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" was portrayed in the "Psalm of the Suffering Servant" (Isa 53; compare Re 13:8 NKJV). Isaiah "saw His glory; and he spoke of Him" (see Joh 12:38-41). Paul also wrote of Christ's magnificent glory when he said, He is "the image of God" (2Co 4:4).
"He who was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the spirit,
Seen of angels,
Preached among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory" (1Ti 3:16).
In heaven and on earth[that are in heaven, and that are in earth, and upon the earth, in the heavens and on the earth]. Christ Himself created the entire universe. Through Him "also He [God] made the worlds" (Heb 1:2). "Through Him are all things" (Heb 2:10).
Things visible and things invisible[visible and invisible]. "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which appear" (Heb 11:3). Things visible include the tangible, perceptible creation. Things invisible include the atmosphere, cosmic rays, the ozone layer, energy, dominions, powers and our very spirits. All these were created through Christ and for Him. They are under His control (Eph 1:21, 22). He "disarmed the principalities and powers" (Col 2:15; compare Eph-6:10-12). Any doctrine is treacherous that does not glorify God's beloved Son as Paul does in verses 15-17 (see also note on verse 13).[ 47 ]
Whether thrones or dominions[whether they be thrones, or dominions].[ 48 ]
Or principalities or powers[or principalities or authorities].[ 49 ] Some of the false teachers regarded Christ as an angel and maybe not the highest one at that. In reality, He was over all of them. He created the principalities and powers (compare Ro 8:38; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 1Pe 3:22).
All things have been created by Him[were created by him, were created through him].[ 50 ] The Gnostics taught that the creation was accomplished by a sub-ordinate deity called a "Demiurge." The everlasting God, Jehovah, is creator of the ends of the earth (see Isa 40:28). "He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding has He stretched out the heavens" (Jer 40:12). Of course, He created through Christ.
And for Him.[ 51 ] Not only did God create through Christ but all things have been created EIS for or unto Him. All creation is to be used for the righteous purposes of Christ. Notice the similarity of language in the book of Romans that refers to God the Father. "For EX of Him, and DI' through Him, and EIS to Him, are all things" (Ro 11:36). This is suggestive of the shared Deity of God and Christ.
[1:17] And He is before all things[and he exists before everything].[ 52 ] Christ is before all things. He said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (Joh 8:58). This is the "language of Eternal Presence" that God employed at the burning bush, when He said to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex 3:14). The implication is that both Christ and the Father were (are) co-eternally pre-existent.
And everything has its existence in Him[and by him, in Him, all things consist, hold together].[ 53 ] Christ not only created everything in heaven and earth but He maintains it all. Nothing exists without a connection with Him. His unifying power brings together Jew and Gentile in the one body of Christ. That is no ordinary feat. Compare the difficulty in maintaining peace between modern Arabs and Jews.
Christ is "Mighty God" (Isa 9:6). Some object because He is not called "Almighty God." But Jehovah is also said to be the Mighty God. He is called "the great God, the mighty" (De 10:17), "our God, the great, the mighty" (Ne 9:32) and "mighty God" (Isa 10:21). In this terminology, Christ and the Father are equal.
CHRIST IS HEAD OF THE CHURCH
1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.
And He is the head of the body, the church[He is also head of the body, the church]. This verse makes it clear that the body of Christ is the church of Christ (see chart THE BODY THE CHURCH). The One who created all things is head of the church. Christ is reigning now (1Co 15:25). Christians are subject to Him as their Supreme Ruler. They are to adhere to Christ the Head (see chart CHRIST THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH; also chart CHRIST THE HEAD at Col 2:19). By submitting to Him, Christians avoid being subservient to modern apostles, human creeds, councils and popes. They reject all contradictory human doctrines that make void His teaching.
THE BODY THE CHURCH
- The church is His body (Eph 1:22, 23).
- The body the church (Col 1:18).
- Christ is Savior of the body (Eph 5:23).
- There is one body (Eph 4:4).
- But one body (1Co 12:20).
- Baptized into one body (1Co 12:13).
- Baptized into Christ (Ro 6:3; Ga 3:27).
CHRIST THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH
- All authority (Mt 28:18).
- Lord, ruler and king (Ac 2:30, 36).
- High priest at right hand of throne of Majesty in the heavens (Heb 8:1).
- Head over all things to the church (Eph 1:22, 23).
- Source of all treasures of wisdom (Col 2:3).
The relevance of the church is seen when one considers what is implied by Christ being the head of it. The church is His body! To be in the church of Christ is to be in the body of Christ. In the body, Christians are reconciled to God and have peace with Him (Eph 2:16, 17). These blessings come only through the blood of the cross that paid for the church (Ac 20:28; Col 2:13).
- I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Re 1:8).
- I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Re 21:6).
- He who comes quickly said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end . . . I Jesus" (Re 22:13, 16).
He is the beginning[who is, and He is, the beginning].[ 54 ] Jesus, the Father and the seven spirits (the Holy Spirit) agree that Christ is eternal (see chart CHRIST ETERNAL). He is the active cause "of the creation of God" (Re 3:14). He is the origin, source and foundation of the church (1Co 3:11; Heb 12:2). He built it (see Mt 16:18).
PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST
- Head of the church (Col 1:18).
- The beginning, origin, active cause (Col 1:18; Vine 113).
- Firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18).
The firstborn from the dead[from among the dead].[ 55 ] Christ is the "First-born, the highest of the kings of the earth" (Ps 89:27). He is "the Firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth" (Re 1:5). "Firstborn from the dead" designates Jesus as the most important one to rise from the dead.
Life does not actually begin at birth. In reality, at birth only a new phase of life is entered.[ 56 ] If one can understand that birth is not the beginning of life but the entering into a new life, then he can comprehend how Christ did not begin His life when God brought the "Firstborn into the world" (Heb 1:6; see note on Col 1:15). He was born by His resurrection to enter into a new phase of His life (see Ac 13:33-37).
The new birth of water and the Spirit provides an entrance into "newness of life" in Christ (Joh 3:3, 5; Ro 6:3, 4). Jesus was the firstborn from the dead as the Founder of the new community of saints. There is in the word "firstborn" a suggestion that the resurrection of Christians will be like the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of the saints will be a birth in the sense that they enter into a new life in heaven.
That in all things He might have the preeminence[that in everything he might be preeminent].[ 57 ] Emphasis is upon all things. In verse 15, Christ is described as preeminent in creation as well as in maintenance of the universe. In the present verse, the fact that He is head of the church and firstborn from the dead makes Him preeminent in every way.
Some women and men "love to have the preeminence" (see 3Jo 9). They crave the spotlight. Some even desire to theologically and doctrinally govern His church for Him. Perhaps they are sincere but, in assuming a role that belongs to Him alone, they go beyond the teaching of Christ and are condemned (see 1Co 4:6; Ga 1:8, 9; 2Jo 9).
PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS
1:19, 20 For in him the Whole Fullness was pleased to dwell; 20 and to reconcile all things to Himself through Him, having made peace through the blood of His cross; yes through Him, whether things on earth, or things in heaven.
IN CHRIST DWELLS THE FULLNESS
- The fullness of grace and truth (Joh 1:14).
- The fullness of the church (Eph 1:22, 23).
- The fullness of love that surpasses knowledge (Eph 3:19).
- All treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3).
- All the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9).
For in Him the Whole Fullness was pleased to dwell[for it pleased the Father, it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all fullness dwell, for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell].[ 58 ] The church is the fullness of Christ and the church is "in Christ." However, the emphasis here is far greater than that. The Godhead itself dwells in Jesus! It was pleasing to the Godhead for the "Fullness" to dwell in Him. Some versions supply "of the Father" making it seem that God was pleased that all the Fullness[ 59 ] dwell in His Beloved Son. "Fullness" is another term for Deity. The OPV appropriately translates the Greek, "For in Him the Whole Fullness was pleased to dwell" (see chart IN CHRIST DWELLS THE FULLNESS).
[1:20] And to reconcile all things to Himself through Him[by him, through him, to reconcile all things unto himself, to reconcile to himself all things].[ 60 ] The meaning of reconciliation is contained and clarified by the fact that He made peace through the blood of His cross. It was pleasing to "the Fullness" [the Godhead] to reconcile "all things" to Himself. "All things" is an accommodative and limited term. Obviously, it does not include the righteous angels, innocent children, Satan or things "under the earth" that are not reconciled (Php 2:10).
Thayer points out a possible meaning of reconciliation of human beings, namely, that it includes bringing them back again. Zodhiates[ 61 ] calls it "the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed." The English word "reconciliation" also carries this meaning. Restoration of lost fellowship fits the facts but notice that it does not support the doctrine of original sin. Babies are not born sinners (Mt 19:14). As they grow older they attain accountability[ 62 ] (see Ro 7:9). When accountable people commit sin they become separated from God (Isa 59:1, 2). They may even become His enemies (Ro 5:10). Through the gospel, they may be brought back into peaceful fellowship with Him. They are reconciled. That is, they "make friends again." The cleansing power of the blood of the cross accomplishes reconciliation in connection with the act of Scriptural, water baptism (see Ro 6:3, 4, 17; 2Co 3:11).
Having made peace through the blood of His cross[making peace by the blood of his cross].[ 63 ] Jesus made peace between Jew and Gentile in the church but, if that was all He did, His mission would compare only with that of a great statesman. As it is, He made it possible for man to be at peace with God.
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin:
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
(Edward H. Bickersteth 393).
Yes through Him[by him, I say, through him, I say].
Whether things on earth[whether they be things in earth, whether things upon the earth, whether on earth] (see notes on verses 21, 22).
Or things in heaven[or things in the heavens, or in the heavens].[ 64 ] Humans need not concern themselves as to whether sinful angels may be reconciled or whether alienated inhabitants of other planets may be saved. It may be God's will to reconcile them. If so, throughout the entire universe, the precious Son of God will provide the means. Certainly the "copies of the things in the heavens" were cleansed by Him (Heb 9:23). We stand amazed.
I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.
(Charles H. Gabriel 119).
ONCE ALIENATED, NOW RECONCILED
1:21-23 And you who formerly had been alienated and were hostile in mind through your evil works, 22 He has now reconciled in His body of flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and irreproachable before Him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which is preached in all creation under heaven, of which I Paul was made a minister.
- Alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12).
- Alienated from God Himself (Eph 2:12).
- Alienated from Christ (implied by Eph 2:12; Col 1:21,22).
- Alienated from the life of God (Eph 4:18).
And you who formerly had been alienated[you, and you, that were sometime alienated, being in time past alienated, who once were estranged].[ 65 ] The passive voice of "had been alienated" implies someone or some thing had alienated the unconverted Colossians. The wicked, especially liars, are estranged from Him. "The wicked are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they are born,[ 66 ] speaking lies" (Ps 58:3)." Specifically, idolaters are estranged from Him. "They are all estranged from Me through their idols" (Eze 14:5). Sins and nothing else separates men and women from God (Isa 59:1, 2).
And were hostile in mind[and enemies in your mind, and hostile in mind].[ 67 ] "Being hostile in mind" sounds like a Gentile trait. Yet, in another passage, Paul includes himself as hostile. His hostility to God was, of course, prior to his conversion. He later wrote, "For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God . . ." (Ro 5:10).
Through your evil works[by wicked works, in your evil works, doing evil deeds]. Because of His infinite purity and justice, it was impossible for God to continue to hold sinful man in His fellowship (Hab 1:13). The first example of this was when Adam and Eve were disobedient and were driven out of the garden. They were alienated from Him. The same thing happens when any accountable person sins. The Colossians had become hostile to God not because of Adam's sin but because of their own evil works. They were not predestined to live in a hostile condition. They had chosen to live in sin.
[1:22] He has now reconciled in His body of flesh through death[by his death, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death]. Some of the Gnostics taught that Christ was some kind of "an angelic emanation, who withdrew from the man Jesus before He suffered."[ 68 ] They denied that He came in the flesh (see notes on 1Jo 4:2; 2Jo 7). It was, however, in His fleshly body that the price for redemption was paid. "Wherefore, my brethren, you also were made dead to the Law through the body of Christ" (Ro 7:4). Did Christ depart from Jesus on the cross? Absolutely not. In fact, God Himself "was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2Co 5:18).
To present you holy[in order to present you holy].[ 69 ] "Holy" means to be set apart. Those set apart for God must be without blemish. The way God makes men holy is by forgiving their sins and transferring them into the kingdom of Christ.
And without blemish[and unblamable, blameless].[ 70 ] The church is cleansed by the washing of water with the word so that Christ "might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:27).
And irreproachable before Him[and unreproveable in his sight, beyond reproach].[ 71 ] It is essential that Christians "keep the commandment without stain or reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Ti 6:14). "The commandment" includes obtaining the forgiveness of sins in order to be "blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1:8).
CONTINUE IN THE FAITH
[1:23] If indeed you continue in the faith[if ye, if so be that ye, provided that you, continue in the faith].[ 72 ] In the present context, "the faith" is the gospel. Was not Paul concerned about his own personal faithfulness? Indeed, he was (see 1Co 9:27). Was he anxious in the faithfulness of others? Certainly. He pressed the question to the Corinthians as to their faithfulness (2Co 13:5). However, the question here is not whether Christians will continue to be faithful. Rather it is will they continue in the truth of the gospel. The opposite would be to turn from the truth to fables or to false doctrine (see 2Ti 4:3, 4). Of course, those who turn away from the truth cannot, at the same time, remain faithful (see Joh 8:31, 32).
Grounded and steadfast[grounded and settled, stable and steadfast].[ 73 ] The wise builder constructed his house on a rock. That is, he heard the sayings of Christ and obeyed them (see Mt 7:24-27). The only way people can be grounded and settled spiritually is to learn and obey God's truth.
CAN A CHRISTIAN FALL AWAY?
- Can fall (1Co 10:12).
- Can fall from grace (Ga 5:4).
- Can fall away from the faith (1Ti 4:1).
- Can fall away from the living God (Heb 3:12).
- Can fall from steadfastness (1Pe 3:17).
CAN A CHRISTIAN TURN BACK?
- Can go back (Joh 6:66).
- Can shrink back (Heb 10:38).
- Can turn back from the holy commandment (2Pe 2:21).
CAN A CHRISTIAN GO AWAY?
- Can thrust away faith and good conscience (1Ti 1:19).
- Can turn away ears from the truth (2Ti 4:4).
- Can drift away (Heb 2:1).
- Last state worse than the first (2Pe 2:20).
And are not moved away from the hope of the gospel[and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel].[ 74 ] Christians receive their hope from believing and obeying precious gospel truth. The Greek implies that it is possible for a Christian to move himself away from the hope of the gospel. If he does that, he loses his hope. The gentle warning here is not to be moved away from what is revealed in the sacred pages of the Bible.
Which you heard[which ye heard, have heard]. When Paul was writing, only part of the NT had been completed. Some of it was still being written (for example, the Colossian letter). Nevertheless, the inspired truth had been extensively taught by word of mouth. Truthfully, it had been "delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
The emphasis is upon truth. The truth that gives hope was being taught "everywhere in every church" (1Co 4:17). It is the "word of truth," the gospel of salvation (Eph 1:13). Paul's readers were troubled with false teachings (see the paragraphs on PROBLEMS in the Introduction to this letter). The Colossians had a choice. They could follow erroneous doctrines and be lost or, grounded and steadfast, they could continue in the truth and be saved at last.
Which is preached in all creation under heaven[which has been preached, and which was preached, to every creature under heaven, which is under heaven].[ 75 ] The Great Commission was being fulfilled at the very time Paul wrote. In obedience to it, the apostles were taking the gospel to every creature (see Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15, 16). Inspired men with the miraculous ability to speak foreign languages were preaching everywhere. "Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Ro 10:18). The gospel being universally proclaimed by inspired men was the same gospel Epaphras had preached to the Colossians.
Christians today do not have miraculous aids like the apostles had. However, they have better and faster means of transportation and communication. The wide-spread preaching to "all creation" in the first century puts modern man to shame. May we all be challenged to use every means, personal, printed, electronic or otherwise to preach the whole gospel to the whole world in our generation.
Of which I Paul was made a minister[whereof, and of which, I Paul am made a minister, became a minister].[ 76 ] Paul was made a minister or servant of the gospel. However, in the present context (verses 24, 25), he is said to be a minister of the church. His fervor in spreading the gospel to the Gentiles precipitated much of his persecution.
"FILLING UP" THE AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST
1:24-29 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church, 25 of which I was made a minister, according to the stewardship of God that was given me on your behalf, to fulfill the word of God. 26 This is the mystery that has been hidden for ages and generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God wanted to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ; 29 for which I also labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake[who now rejoice in my sufferings for you]. Paul was persecuted as a result of Christ's special appointment for him (see note on Ac 9:16). He was so zealous to preach to Gentiles that he suffered greatly and repeatedly (2Co 11:23-28). He wrote this very letter while chained to a guard (see note on Eph 6:20). When he said, "my sufferings for your sake," he meant he was suffering on behalf of the Gentiles.
And fill up what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ[that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions]. Do not think for a moment that Christ did not suffer enough to redeem mankind. Neither Paul or anyone else needed to make up any lack. On the contrary, the blood of Jesus was sufficient to take away the sins of the whole world (Joh 1:29). However, He allotted a certain amount of suffering to Paul the apostle for a totally different reason. Paul said, "The sufferings of Christ abound to us" (2Co 1:5). It was "for the furtherance of the gospel" (Php 1:12). Paul's assigned suffering had not yet been completed when he wrote the Colossian letter. One aspect of the suffering assigned to him was, surprisingly, for his own benefit (see Php 1:29, 30). His faithfulness in spite of pain inspired confidence in his hearers and readers. His suffering strengthened the churches against the onslaught of persecution soon to come upon them. Many Christians died faithfully because of his fine example. The record of his trials have inspired many throughout the ages to have a stronger faith (see chart PURPOSE OF PAUL'S SUFFERINGS at Col 2:1, 2).
In my flesh for his body's sake[and in my flesh for his body's sake, for the sake of his body]. Paul's suffering greatly benefitted the body of Christ, the church.[ 77 ] It did so by way of inspiring belief in Christ. Christians realized Paul had been an aggressive persecutor but had since become a dynamic evangelist. This had a profound effect on millions. His example of finishing the course as a faithful apostle reinforced the tottering faith of many as they underwent trials themselves.
[1:24b, 25] Which is the church, of which I was made a minister[that is, the church, whereof I am made, of which I became, a minister].[ 78 ] Before his conversion, when Paul persecuted the church, he persecuted Christ (Ac 9:4; Ga 1:13). After he became a Christian, as he served Christ, he served the church of Christ. In the present verses, he states he is a minister of the church, the body of Christ.
According to the stewardship of God[the dispensation of God, the divine office].[ 79 ] The NT does not use "dispensation" in the sense of an era or period of time. It is instead a stewardship, commission or administration. God was pleased to give Paul a commission to preach the gospel of grace and peace to the Gentiles. That work was of God's dispensation, stewardship or economy but it was committed to Paul.
That was given me on your behalf[which is given to me for you, which was given me to you-ward, to me for you].[ 80 ] Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Ro 11:13; compare Eph 3:8; 1Ti 2:7; 2Ti 1:11). The Gentiles in the church at Colossae were benefactors both of his stewardship of the gospel and his suffering for Christ.
To fulfill the word of God[to make the word of God fully known].[ 81 ] Paul fulfilled his commission by carrying out the will of God. He preached the whole counsel of God (Ac 20:27).
THE MYSTERY, CHRIST IN YOU
[1:26] This is the mystery[the mystery, even the mystery].[ 82 ] The word "mystery" refers to truth that had been given to Paul by inspiration. It is summarized in verse 27, as "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
That has been hidden for ages and generations[which hath been hid from ages and from generations].[ 83 ] The fact that Gentiles would be saved along with the Jews was predicted in "the prophetic Scriptures" (see note on Ro 16:25, 26; compare Tit 1:2; see charts "HIDDEN" PROMISES OF GENTILE SALVATION A and B). It was "hidden" in the sense that few, if any, understood it. Apparently, at the time, Peter himself did not comprehend the meaning of his own inspired statement. On Pentecost, he said the promise was "to all who are afar off" (Ac 2:39). At that time, he did not understand but it was explained later and confirmed by miracle (see Ac 10:9-16, 19, 20). In this sense, the OT prophecies of Gentile salvation had been hidden.
HIDDEN PROMISES OF GENTILE SALVATION (A)
- In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed (Ge 22:18).
- All the kindreds of the nations shall worship before You (Ps 22:27).
- All nations whom You have made will come and worship before You, O Lord (Ps 86:9).
- The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light (Isa 9:2; compare Mt 4:15,16).
- I have put My Spirit on Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles (Isa 42:1).
- I will also give You for a light to the Gentiles (Isa 49:6).
- Nations who did not know you will run to you (Isa 55:5).
HIDDEN PROMISES OF GENTILE SALVATION (B)
- Nations will come to your light (Isa 60:3).
- A kingdom that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him (Da 7:14).
- I will say to those who were not My people, "You are My people" (Ho 2:23).
- My name will be great among the Gentiles (Mal 1:11).
- The Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3:6).
But now has been revealed to His saints[made manifest, is made manifest, hath it been manifested, to his saints]. Notice that the "mystery" is still called a mystery after it was revealed. This is a common manner of speech. For example, we still refer to "President Lincoln" long after he ceased being our president.
[1:27] To them God wanted to make known[to whom God would make known, to them God chose to make known].
RICHES OF GLORY
- A hope laid up in heaven (Col 1:5).
- Spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col 1:9).
- Strength (Col 1:11).
- Partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col 1:12).
- Translated into the kingdom of the Son of God's love (Col 1:13).
- Redemption through His blood (Col 1:14).
- Reconciliation in Him (Col 1:20, 21).
The riches of the glory of this mystery[what is the riches, how great are the riches, of the glory of this mystery]. The riches of the glory of the mystery is multi-faceted. It includes redemption, wisdom and strength. Above all, it is the eternal hope (see chart RICHES OF GLORY).
Oh the depth of the riches of love,
The riches of love in Christ Jesus!
Far better than gold, or wealth untold,
Are the riches of love in Christ Jesus.
(H. B. Hartzler 625)
Among the Gentiles.[ 84 ] It was an enjoyment for God to reveal His will to the Gentile nations (see chart MYSTERY OF "CHRIST IN YOU" [GENTILES]).
Which is Christ in you.[ 85 ] Christ dwells in the hearts of all Christians but, in the present verse, "Christ in you" refers to His dwelling in Gentiles. He dwells in both Gentile and Jewish hearts by faith (Eph 3:17; compare Ro 8:10; 2Co 13:5; Ga 4:19).
MYSTERY OF "CHRIST IN YOU" [GENTILES]
- Now made known to all nations (Ro 16:25,26).
- The mystery of His will . . . that He might gather together in one all things in Christ (Eph 1:9).
- When you read, you may understand . . . that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs (Eph 3:4-6).
- To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (Eph 3:9).
- The glory of the mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27).
- That God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ (Col 4:3).
- And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness . . . preached among the Gentiles (1Ti 3:16).
The hope of glory.[ 86 ] Keeping the OT Law did not provide hope because man did not keep it. In spite of that, Judaizers urged literal circumcision and keeping portions of the Law, thinking that by these they had eternal life (see Joh 5:39; Ac 15:1, 2; Col 2:16, 17).
Paul says the mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." "Christ in you" (without the Gnostic angel worship) prepares one for glory.[ 87 ] The glory that "shall be revealed" (Ro 8:18) is "an eternal weight of glory" (2Co 4:17). The tried faith of Christians will "be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:7).
When all my labors and trials are o'er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore
Will thru the ages be glory for me.
(Charles H. Gabriel 487)
EVERY MAN PERFECT IN CHRIST
[1:28] Him we proclaim[whom we preach, whom we proclaim]. The pronoun "whom" refers to "Christ in you" (verse 27). He is the light of the world (Joh 8:12). He is the way, the truth and the life (Joh 14:6). He is the only hope of a glorious future. Did Paul simply proclaim "the Man and not the plan"? Never! The false teachers presented esteemed traditions and interesting ideologies about angels and spirits. When "Christ in you" was truly preached and correctly understood, the attractiveness of human philosophies, Jewish traditions and pagan rituals became as appealing as moldy bread.
PAUL'S ULTIMATE AND UNIVERSAL GOAL
- Admonishing every man.
- Teaching every man.
- Present every man perfect in Christ.
Admonishing every man[warning every man].[ 88 ] Paul admonished and warned everyone. Admonishing may be done by counseling, teaching, writing and even by singing. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Col 3:16).
And teaching every man[we instruct everyone].[ 89 ] Paul made no distinction between Jew and Gentile. By contrast, the false teachers were exclusive (Ga 4:17; compare 5:12; 6:13). True gospel preachers welcome everyone of all races who will learn and obey the truth (see Ga 3:28).
In all wisdom[with all wisdom, in all the ways of wisdom].[ 90 ] Paul admonished and taught the gospel with genuine wisdom. Gospel wisdom is for everyone. In contradistinction to the Gnostic philosophy, no special wisdom was reserved for the "inner circle" or "the initiated." Every Christian has access to all the insight anyone else has (see note on Col 2:2, 3).
Human creeds have one thing in common with the false teachings at Colossae. They tend to divide and exclude. Let those loyal to a church hierarchy or a human creed please recognize this gentle, but forceful, admonition.
That we may present every man perfect in Christ[perfect in Christ Jesus, complete, mature, in Christ].[ 91 ] Paul was a "perfectionist." His goal was perfection, completeness or maturity. It was his aim to present each one of his converts as a complete and mature Christian at the judgment day. Jesus also was a perfectionist. He said, "You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). Peter whetted the desire for perfection (maturity) when he wrote, "Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow to salvation" (1Pe 2:2). Most of the Jews would not have agreed that Gentiles could ever be perfect. Their traditional idea was that Jews would be saved but Gentiles would end up in Gehenna. When Jews learned the truth they had to give up that idea.
[1:29] For which I also labor[to this end, whereunto I labor also, for this I toil].[ 92 ] Paul's work for Christ was strenuous and tiring, as ours ought to be.
I will work, I will pray,
I will labor every day,
In the vineyard of the Lord.
(I. Baltzell 245).
Striving according to His working[with all the energy].[ 93 ] Paul had miraculous powers, but they did not enable him to float along without effort. He worked hard every day. He struggled together with all the energy that God supplied.
Which works in me mightily[which worketh in me mightily, which he mightily inspires within me].[ 94 ] Tremendous energy from the Holy Spirit worked through the apostle Paul. Miraculous power enabled him to speak foreign languages, heal the sick, speak by inspiration and even raise the dead.
[ 1 ] The basic text used here is the OPV (Old Paths Version), 1997, 1998. Quotations from Colossians are from the OPV unless otherwise noted. Alternate phrases are from the ASV, KJV and RSV. Several quotations are from an updated but unpublished ASV. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft system.
[ 2 ] According to Josephus (Antiquities 12.149), many Jews lived in Colossae.
[ 3 ] The Lycus River is the modern Curu Ksu. At Colossae, it plunges into a deep canyon and disappears for about 5/8 mile (Herodotus History 7.30).
[ 4 ] The Meander River is the modern Buyuk Menderes.
[ 5 ] Rome burned in AD 64. Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70.
[ 6 ] Heirapolis and Laodicea were about six miles apart. They were across the Lycus river from each other. Colossae was about twelve miles upstream on the same river.
[ 7 ] Laodicea was on the southern bank of the Lycus river (Josephus, Antiquities 14.241-43).
[ 8 ] Heirapolis means "the holy city."
[ 9 ] It has been suggested that Epaphras may have been a student in the School of Tyrannus (see Ac 19:9, 10).
[ 10 ] Some have conjectured that the Colossian letter was written while Paul was in prison at Caesarea. However, it is doubtful that Onesimus ran away from Colossae and became acquainted with Paul in the Caesarean prison. Presumably, neither Aristarchus (Col 4:10) nor Epaphras (Phm 23) were arrested there (see Ac 23:35; 24:23). Paul's statement about expecting soon to come for a visit (Phm 22), would not have been appropriate while he was in the Caesarean prison since he was then on his way to Rome (see Ac 19:21; 23:11; Ro 1:13).
[ 11 ] TOIS HAGIOIS, to the saints (Marshall 789); sanctified, holy or set-apart ones.
[ 12 ] KAI EIREENEE APO THEOU PATROS HEEMOON, and peace from God Father of us (Marshall 789).
[ 13 ] Jews used the greeting "SHALOM peace" or the fuller "Peace and mercy."
[ 14 ] EUCHARISTOUMEN TOO THEOO PATRI TOU KURIOU HEEMOON 'IEESOU [CHRISTOU], we give thanks to God Father of the Lord of us Jesus Christ (Marshall 789). "Always" most likely belongs with giving thanks (see following footnote).
[ 15 ] In the Philippian letter, both Paul and Timothy join in the writing but Paul says, "I gave thanks" (Php 1:3).
[ 16 ] PANTOTE PERI HUMOON PROSEUCHOMENOI, always concerning you praying (Marshall 789); we give thanks for you always, praying, or in our prayers (Vincent 3.462).
[ 17 ] KAI TEEN AGAPEEN HEEN ECHETE EIS PANTOS TOUS HAGIOUS, and the love which ye have toward all the saints (Marshall 789).
[ 18 ] DIA TEEN ELPIDA, because of the hope (Marshall 789); hope = to wait for salvation with joy and full of confidence (Thayer 205); the NIV is not true to the Greek, paraphrasing one single word meaning "because of" as "the faith and love that spring from."
[ 19 ] Lenski 23.
[ 20 ] TEEN APOKEIMENEEN HUMIN EN TOIS OURANOIS, being laid up for you in the heavens (Marshall 789).
[ 21 ] Numbers refer to pages in Songs of the Church, 21st Century Edition.
[ 22 ] HEEN PROEEKOUSATE, which ye previously heard (Marshall 789).
[ 23 ] KATHOOS KAI ESTIN KARPOPHOROUMENON KAI AUXANOMENON, as also it is bearing fruit and growing (Marshall 789); texts vary with some omitting and some joining ESTI is with the previous clause, as it is in all the world, and take bearing fruit as a parallel participle . . . others join is with the participle, "even as it is bearing fruit" (Vincent 3.464). The middle voice of KARPOPHOROUMENON suggests the gospel itself has the power of fruit-bearing. "And increasing" is not carried in older editions of the Textus Receptus but, according to modern scholarship, there is no doubt that it belongs in the NT.
[ 24 ] See Encyclopedia Britannica. The estimate of Christians in Rome is based upon the writer's October 1996 visit to the catacombs where it was estimated that 6,000,000 immersed Christians were buried during the first 300 years of the church of Christ.
[ 25 ] See Josephus Antiquities 12.3.4; 14.10.20. When Flaccus placed an embargo on exported currency, he seized 20 pounds of gold intended for the temple in Jerusalem. Extrapolation from the amount of the temple tax points to a Jewish population of some 50,000 (Barclay 93; compare Acts 19:10).
[ 26 ] APH' HEES HEEMERAS EEKOUSATE, from which day ye heard = the day on which ye heard (Marshall 790); EEKOUSATE is second person plural, first aorist active indicative of AKOUOO (Han 368); HEEMERAS is the basic word for the period of natural light but is often used figuratively to refer to a certain time such as the day of salvation (compare Vine 262).
[ 27 ] KAI EPEGNOOTE TEEN CHARIN TOU THEOU EN ALEETHEIA, and fully knew the grace of God in truth (Marshall 790); EPEGNOOTE is second person plural, second aorist active indicative of EPIGINOOSKOO (Han 369); observe, fully perceive, notice attentively, discern, recognize [EPI upon, and GINOOSKOO recognize, understand, understand completely] (Vine 627, 629); the NIV loosely paraphrases "in truth" by rendering it "in all its truth."
[ 28 ] Synecdoche [from SYNEKDOCHEE from SYN with and EKDOCHEE sense, interpretation] is a figure of speech in which a part is put for the whole or, in other instances, the whole for the part.
[ 29 ] KATHOOS EMATHETE APO 'EPAPHRA TOU AGAPEETOU SUNDOULOU HEEMOON, as ye learned from Epaphras the beloved fellow-slave of us (Marshall 790); EMATHETE is second person plural, second aorist active indicative of MANTHANOO (Han 369); SUNDOULOU is fellow-servant, used of servants of the same Divine Lord (Vine 1020).
[ 30 ] "Earthen vessels" in the context of 2 Corinthians 4:7, has reference to apostles and other inspired men and women.
[ 31 ] The word DIAKONOS may also be translated "deacon" but in the present context, "servant" or "minister" is the correct rendering.
[ 32 ] HO KAI DEELOOSAS HEMIN TEEN HUMOON AGAPEEN EN PNEUMATI, the [one] having shown to us the of you love in spirit (Marshall 790).
[ 33 ] Although certain variants are supportable, some have paraphrased or "played around" with the text. Here are some examples. Taylor's Living Bible Paraphrase version includes the word "Holy," while the Amplified Bible puts "Holy" in parentheses. The New English Bible has "God-given love." Today's English Version has "love that the Spirit has given you." Goodspeed interprets it with "love that the Spirit has awakened in you."
[ 34 ] Macknight 35.
[ 35 ] The NIV adds several words not in the Greek with the rendering, "and we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord."
[ 36 ] EIS PASAN ARESKEIAN, to all pleasing (Marshall 790).
[ 37 ] KAI MAKROTHUMIAN, and longsuffering (Marshall 790); a very strong passion, stronger than anger by which the whole inner man is controlled in long and protracted restraint from other passions [especially anger] or through persecution and suffering. The word does not just refer to restraint and endurance, but also to continued action (Vincent 1.760, 761); forbearance, patience, longsuffering [MAKROS long, THUMOS temper] (Vine 684).
[ 38 ] When Jesus died, the joy that was set before Him was the great rejoicing in heaven because of the salvation of many souls.
[ 39 ] TOO HIKANOOSANTI HUMAS EIS TEEN MERIDA, having made fit you for the part (Marshall 790); rendered fit, meet, made sufficient (Vine 729).
[ 40 ] The NIV enlarges upon the Greek "of the saints in light" with "of the saints in the kingdom of light."
[ 41 ] Normally, I do not like to quote from Bibles that have a large amount of sectarian doctrine built into them. From time to time, I make an exception due to a particularly splendid rendering.
[ 42 ] According to the Watchtower publication, Let God Be True, pages 51, 126, the kingdom was set up 1914-18!
[ 43 ] HOS ESTIN EIKOON TOU THEOU TOU AORATOU, who is an image of the God invisible (Marshall 791); ESTIN is third person singular, present active indicative of EIMI (Han 369); EIKOON, applied to Christ because of "his divine nature and absolute moral excellence" (Thayer 175); who is a visible image of the invisible God (Conybeare 753, 754); image, likeness, figuratively [of Christ] (Arndt 222); more than likeness which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype [God] (Vincent 3.468); strong term; so exact image (Williams).
[ 44 ] PROOTOTOKOS PASEES KTISEOOS, firstborn of all creation (Marshall 791); the firstborn before all objective creation and that he himself produced creation [the genitive case being objective, as verse 16 makes clear], points to eternal pre-existence (Vincent 3.444); [from PROOTOS first and TIKTOO to beget], used of Christ as born of the Virgin Mary, Luke 2:7; further, in His relationship to the Father, expressing His priority to, and pre-eminence over, creation, not in the sense of being the first to be born. . . . Colossians 1:15, where His eternal relationship with the Father is in view, and the clause means but that He was the Firstborn before all creation and that He Himself produced creation [the genitive case being objective, as verse 16 makes clear] (Vine 434); figuratively, of Christ, as the first-born of a new humanity which is to be glorified, as its exalted Lord is glorified. . . . The expression which is admirably suited to describe Jesus as the one coming forth from God to found the new community of saints, is also used in some instances where it is uncertain whether the force of the element -TOKOS is still felt at all (Arndt 726);
[ 45 ] HOTI EN AUTOO EKTISTHEE TA PANTA, because in him were created all things (Marshall 791); EKTISTHEE is third person singular, first aorist passive indicative of KTIZOO (Han 369); for it was through him that everything was created (Williams); because in connection with him all things (that exist, TA PANTA) were created (Lenski 54); "in" here must not be confounded with "through" or "by." The existence of Christ, the LOGOS, is the condition of all creation; IN Him the Godhead is manifested (Howson 754).
[ 46 ] Vincent 3.469.
[ 47 ] Any doctrine that fails to properly exalt Christ is wrong whether it comes from the Catholic Church, Humanists, New-Agers, Iglesia ni Cristo, Latter Day Saints, the Watchtower or any other source.
[ 48 ] EITE THRONOI EITE KURIOTEETES, whether thrones or lordships (Marshall 791); thrones, dominions (Williams); thrones, by metonymy for angelic powers; dominions, lordships [KURIOS a lord], power, dominion, whether angelic or human. . . . In Ephesians and Colossians it indicates a grade in the angelic orders, in which it stands second (Vine 325, 1146); bearers of the ruling power, dominions (Arndt 461); dominions, powers, lordships . . . in the NT those who possess dominion (Thayer 366).
[ 49 ] EITE ARCHAI EITE EXOUSIAI, or rulers or authorities (Marshall 791); principalities, authorities (Williams); principalities, governments, rulers . . . of holy angels; powers, angelic beings (Vine 869, 885); of rulers and functionaries of the spirit world (Arndt 278); the leading and more powerful among created beings superior to man, spiritual potentates; used in the plural of a certain class of angels (Thayer 225).
[ 50 ] TA PANTA DI' AUTOU EKTISTAI, all things through him have been created (Marshall 791); for it was through Him that everything was created (Williams); all of them have been created through him (Lenski 47).
[ 51 ] KAI EIS AUTON, and for him (Marshall 791); and for Him (Williams); "For him" is to be construed with the perfect tense and = for him to control, for him to achieve his ends in them (Lenski 58).
[ 52 ] KAI AUTOS ESTIN PRO PANTOON, and he is before all things (Marshall 791); ESTIN is third person singular, present active indicative of EIMI (Han 369); and he is before all things; prior to all created things (Thayer 536); and he is before all things [whatsoever] (Lenski 47).
[ 53 ] KAI TA PANTA EN AUTOO SUNESTEEKEN, and all things in him consisted (Marshall 791); SUNESTEEKEN is third person singular, perfect active indicative of SUNISTEEMI (Han 369); continue, endure, exist, hold together [with the meaning be composed or compounded, consist blended together] (Arndt 791); to cohere, hold together (Thayer 605); stand together upheld by the Lord (Vine 252); cohere in mutual dependence (Vincent 3.471); hold together in an orderly fashion (Weed 51); and through Him all things are held together (Williams); and all the things [that exist] have their permanence in connection with him (Lenski 47).
[ 54 ] HOS ESTIN ARCHEE, who is [the] beginning (Marshall 791); origin, active cause (Vine 113); figuratively of Christ (Arndt 112; Thayer 76).
[ 55 ] PROOTOTOKOS EK TON NEKROON, firstborn from the dead (Marshall 791); in reference to His resurrection (Vine 434); the first of the dead who was raised to life (Thayer 556); this expression, which is admirably suited to describe Jesus as the one coming forth from God to found the new community of saints, is also used in some instances where it is uncertain whether the force of the element -TOKOS [born] is still felt at all (Arndt 726).
[ 56 ] A fetus, before birth, is living (Ps 139:13, 15-17). "The babe" leaped in Elizabeth's womb (Lu 1:41, 44).
[ 57 ] HINA GENEETAI EN PASIN AUTOS PROOTEUOON, in order that may be in all things he holding the first place (Marshall 791); so that He alone should stand first in everything (Williams); so that in all respects he got to be pre-eminent (Lenski 61).
[ 58 ] HOTI EN AUTOO EUDOKEESEN PAN TO PLEEROOMA KATOIKEESAI, because in him was well pleased all the fullness to dwell (Marshall 791); KATOIKEESAI is the first aorist active infinitive of KATOIKEOO (Han 369); for He willed that in Himself all the Fullness of the universe should dwell (Conybeare 754); it is so because it was the divine choice that all the divine fullness should dwell in Him (Williams); because in him it well-pleased all the fullness to dwell [permanently, aorist] (Lenski 63); without the genitive, but in the same sense [as Colossians 2:9, sum total, fullness, even (super)abundance . . . the full measure of deity] (Arndt 672); fullness, abundance (Thayer 518); because in him was all the fullness well pleased to dwell (Rotherham).
[ 59 ] "Fullness" is capitalized because it is an alternate name for Deity (see Col 2:9).
[ 60 ] KAI DI' AUTOU APOKATALLAXAI TA PANTA EIS AUTON, and through him to reconcile all things to him[?self] (Marshall 791); complete reconciliation, on the ground of the work of Christ accomplished on the cross, to bring the whole universe, except rebellious and unbelieving man, into full accord with the mind of God (Vine 943); reconcile completely; others to reconcile back again (Thayer 63); reconcile everything in his own person, that is, the universe is to form a unity, which has its goal in Christ (Arndt 92); to reconcile, to set up a relationship of peace not existing before, in that APOKATALLASSOO is the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed (Zodhiates 226).
[ 61 ] Zodhiates, Word Study Dictionary 226.
[ 62 ] The fact that one was alive without the Law at one time suggests that during childhood he had not attained the "age of accountability." Many people think children reach the age of accountability at age eleven or twelve. Some may reach it at age nine or ten.
[ 63 ] The NIV loosely paraphrases "through the blood of His cross" with "through his blood, shed on the cross."
[ 64 ] EITE TA EN TOIS OURANOIS, or the things in the heavens (Marshall 791).
[ 65 ] KAI HUMAS TOTE ONTAS APEELLOTRIOOMENOUS, and you then being having been alienated (Marshall 791); APEELLOTRIOOMENOUS is the perfect passive participle, accusative plural masculine of APALLOTRIOOO (Han 369); the perfect tense denotes the present state resultant upon a past action (Machen 452); [APO from, ALLOTRIOS belonging to another], being rendered an alien, alienated (Vine 37).
[ 66 ] Note that the wicked are not born totally depraved. If so, they could not "go astray" since they would already be completely astray. The meaning is that the people under consideration learned wickedness while quite young and began telling lies at an early age.
[ 67 ] KAI ECHTHROUS TEE DIANOIA, and enemies in the mind (Marshall 791, 792); in a passive sense, a person(s) rejected as an enemy (Zodhiates 692); [akin to ECHTHOS hate], an adjective, primarily denoting hatred or hateful . . . denotes hating, hostile . . . of the unregenerate in their attitude toward God (Vine 360); and with your mind at war with him (Conybeare 754).
[ 68 ] Howson 755.
[ 69 ] PARASTEESAI HUMAS HAGIOUS, to present you holy (Marshall 792); consecrated (Williams); set apart from worldly defilement unto God.
[ 70 ] KAI AMOOMOUS, and blameless (Marshall 792); without blemish is to be preferred to the various renderings, "without blame," "unblamable, faultless, without fault (Vine 124); faultless (Williams).
[ 71 ] KAI ANENKLEETOUS KATENOOPION AUTOU, and irreproachable before him (Marshall 792); free from accusation, innocent, unreproveable before him, not only without blemish, but not held accountable on the day of judgment (compare Vincent 3.475); and blameless (Williams); and without reproach (Conybeare 755).
[ 72 ] EI GE EPIMENETE TEE PISTEI, if indeed ye continue in the faith (Marshall 792); if you continue in the faith; continue, persist, persevere (Arndt 296). The Greek has the feminine, singular article TEE the. The correct translation is "the faith" and not "your faith." The addition of "your" by certain translators drastically changes the sense. "Your faith" suggests a personal belief. That is not the meaning here. The NEB, NIV and a few others have "your faith." They are not justified in adding the word "your" that has no counterpart in the Greek.
[ 73 ] TETHEMELIOOMENOI KAI HEDRAIOI, having been founded and steadfast (Marshall 792); firmly established and steadfast, established and firm, firm on your foundations].
[ 74 ] KAI MEE METAKINOUMENOI APO TEES ELPIDOS TOU EUANGELIOU, and not being moved away from the hope of the gospel (Marshall 792); middle voice, remove oneself, shift (Vine 761); shift, remove, middle, figuratively, without shifting from the hope (Arndt 511); passive, present participle, tropically, from the hope which one holds, on which one rests (Thayer 405).
[ 75 ] KEERUCHTHENTOS EN PASEE KTISEI TEE HUPO TON OURANON, proclaimed in all creation under the heaven (Marshall 792); KEERUCHTHENTOS is the first aorist passive participle, genitive singular neuter of KEERUSSOO (Han 369); literally, throughout all the creation under the sky (Howson 755). The aorist does not indicate time: "(a) The aorist (AORISTOS) This tense has an excellent name which means undefined action. It is presented as punctiliar (point action) whether it is actually linear or a state of completion. It is the normal tense to use in Greek unless there is some special reason to use another. If one desires to emphasize the notion of linear action on the one hand or the state of completion on the other, it is not the tense to use" (A. T. Robertson 295). In this case it does not indicate that the preaching has already been completed (as is sometimes argued) but only that the gospel "is preached" in the whole world (Roy Davison via personal e-mail to the writer).
[ 76 ] HOU EGENOMEEN EGOO PAULOS DIAKONOS, of which became I Paul a minister (Marshall 792); have become a DIAKONOS minister, servant, deacon. Although the Greek DIAKONOS sometimes means "deacon," Paul was never ordained a deacon.
[ 77 ] On the road to Damascus, Jesus said to Paul, "Why are you persecuting Me?" (Ac 9:4). We infer that Christ suffered when His church was persecuted. Now, as a member of the church, Paul's sufferings are identified as Christ's.
[ 78 ] HO ESTIN HEE EKKLEESIA, HEES EGENOMEEN EGOO DIAKONOS, which is the church, of which became I a minister (Marshall 792); a servant, attendant, minister, deacon, translated "minister" (Vine 744); for more on DIAKONOS minister, see note on verse 23).
[ 79 ] KATA TEEN OIKONOMIAN TOU THEOU, according to the stewardship of God (Marshall 792); [OIKOS house, NEMO to dispense or manage], stewardship--the office of a steward or administrator in God's house (Vincent 3.478); only in the epistles of Paul who applies it to the stewardship committed to him "to fulfill the Word of God," the fulfillment being the unfolding of the completion of the Divinely arranged and imparted cycle of truths which are consummated in the truth relating to the Church as the Body of Christ, Colossians 1:25 . . . of the grace of God given him as a stewardship ("dispensation") in regard to the same "mystery" (Vine 312); a spiritual dispensation, management, or economy (Zodhiates 1031).
[ 80 ] TEEN DOTHEISAN MOI EIS HUMAS, given to me for you (Marshall 792).
[ 81 ] PLEEROOSAI TON LOGON TOU THEOU, to fulfill the word of God (Marshall 792); to fulfill the word of God (Lenski 73); literally, to fill out the message of God among you; that is, show it universal (Williams); instead of "to fulfill the word of God" as the Greek translates, the NIV has "to present . . . the word of God in its fullness.
[ 82 ] TO MUSTEERION, mystery (Marshall 792); that which being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known by Divine revelation (Vine 779); in the writings of Paul, the word MUSTEERION is sometimes applied in a peculiar sense to the calling of the Gentiles. In Ephesians 3:3-6, the fact that Gentiles could be fellow-heirs and of the same body and partakers of Christ by the gospel is called "the mystery" and "the mystery of Christ." In other generations, such a thing was not made known to the sons of man as it has been revealed to His Apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Zodhiates 1000).
[ 83 ] TO APOKEKRUMMENON APO TOON AIONOON KAI APO TOON GENEOON, having been hidden from the ages and from the generations (Marshall 792); literally, from [that is, since] the ages and the generations, meaning, from the remotest times, with special reference to the times of the Mosaic Dispensation (Howson 755).
[ 84 ] HOIS EETHELEESEN HO THEOS GNOORISAI EN TOIS ETHNESIN, to whom wished God to make known among the nations (Marshall 792, 793).
[ 85 ] Some manuscripts read HOS, masculine, which, referring to the riches: others HO, neuter, which, referring to mystery (Vincent 3.479).
[ 86 ] HEE ELPIS TEES DOXEES, THE hope of the glory (Marshall 793); literally, of the glory (Vincent 3.480).
[ 87 ] "Unless He [Christ] dwells in our heart through faith, reproducing in our lives the life of the Son of God, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins, we are without God and without hope in the world" (David Lipscomb 269).
[ 88 ] NOUTHETOUNTES PANTA ANTHROOPON, warning every man (Marshall 793); putting in mind, mainly in view the things that are wrong and which call for warning (Vine 33); warning, admonishing, exhorting (Zodhiates 1017).
[ 89 ] KAI DIDASKONTES PANTA ANTHROOPON, and teaching every man (Marshall 793).
[ 90 ] EN PASE SOPHIA, in all wisdom (Marshall 793); with ample wisdom (Williams); in every form of wisdom.
[ 91 ] HINA PARASTEESOOMEN PANTA ANTHROOPON TELEION EN CHRISTOO, in order that we may present every man mature in Christ (Marshall 793); PARASTEESOOMEN is first person plural, first aorist active subjunctive of PARISTEEMI (Han 370); having come to the end, finished; with ethical import, fully grown mature (Vine 846); fully initiated (Lightfoot); mature through union with Christ (Williams); that we may present every man complete in Christ (Lenski 80); finished, that which has reached its end, term, limit; hence, complete, full, wanting in nothing (Zodhiates 1372); grown to the ripeness of maturity (Howson 755).
[ 92 ] EIS HO KAI KOPIOO, for which also I labor (Marshall 793); for which I even am toiling (Lenski 80); unto weariness (Vincent 3.481).
[ 93 ] AGOONIZOMENOS KATA TEEN ENERGEIAN AUTOU, struggling according to the operation of him (Marshall 793); AGOONIZOMENOS is the present middle participle, nominative singular masculine of AGOONIZOMAI (Han 370); [AGOON an assembly, a place of assembly, especially for viewing the games]; hence, the contest itself . . . entering a contest, contending, struggling (Vincent 3.481); straining according to the working of him (Lenski 80); came to mean to take pains, to wrestle as in an award contest, straining every nerve to the uttermost towards the goal . . . special pains and toil. . . . Implies hindrances in the development of the Christian life (Zodhiates 78).
[ 94 ] TEEN ENERGOUMENEEN EN EMOI EN DUNAMEI, operating in me in power (Marshall 793); ENERGOUMENEEN is the present middle participle, accusative singular feminine of ENERGEOO (Han 370); middle voice, to show activity, that is, to work, be active, operate, spoken only of things (Zodhiates 589); literally, works in, is active, operative, used of God (Vine 1244).
Copyright ©1998, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington, U.S.A.
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