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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE
1 After salutation he thanketh God for their faith, 7 confirmeth the doctrine of Epaphras, 9 prayeth further for their increase in grace, 14 describeth the true Christ, 21 encourageth them to receive Jesus Christ, and commendeth his own ministry.
AUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving tnanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of 'his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For "by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him :
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
41 Cor. 8. 6. John 1. 3. 51 Cor. 15. 20. Revel, 1. 5.
6 Or, among all.
25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, 'to fulfil the word of God;
26 Eren the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ "in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
11 Or, amongst you.
Or, fully to preach the word of God, Rom. 15. 19. COLOSSIANS. This town lay in the southern part of Phrygia, near to Laodicea and Hieropolis, which are mentioned together in ch. iv. 13. The Acts of the Apostles record two journeys of St. Paul into Phrygia; but it is not on either occasion mentioned that he visited any of these places. Indeed, from considering the route taken by him on those occasions, it appears that both times he travelled through the northern part of the extensive country of Phrygia; whereas Colossæ, and the other cities named, lay in the south. This therefore shows the probability that the church to which St. Paul now writes was not founded by himself; and this probability seems rendered a certainty by ch. ii. 1, where-although the passage has been sometimes differently interpreted-he seems to say as clearly as possible that the churches of Colossa and Laodicea had never seen his face in the flesh." It therefore appears probable that the Colossians became acquainted with Christianity through persons who had been converted by St. Paul, and with himself only from verbal accounts. It is not improbable that Epaphras, mentioned in ch. i. 7, and iv. 12, 13, was one of the earliest teachers of this church; although there appears no satisfactory reason for supposing, with Rosenmüller, that he was its founder. It appears, from Acts xix. 10, that during Paul's residence at Ephesus, many, both Jews and Greeks, came from various parts of Asia to hear the Gospel; and Michaelis supposes that several Colossians, and especially Philemon, may have been of this number. He adds in a note. " As St. Paul subjoins the name of Timothy to his own (ch. i. 1), it is not improbable that Timothy had taught Christianity at Colossæ. Throughout the whole of the first chapter St. Paul speaks in their joint names, and uses the plural number 'we,' except where the subject relates to his own imprisonment, and where Timothy therefore could not be included. From ch. i. 1, he proceeds in the first person singular. Here again, therefore, he distinguishes what concerned only himself from that in which Timothy was concerned."
There is a very remarkable similarity between this Epistle and that to the Ephesians; so much so, indeed, that, says Michaelis, Whoever would understand these Epistles must read them together; for the one is in most places a commentary on the other, the meaning of single passages in one Epistle, which alone might be variously interpreted, being determined by the parallel passages in the other Epistle."
This circumstance would alone suggest the probability that the two Epistles were written at nearly the same time. But this is further confirmed when we read that this, as well as the Epistle to the Ephesians, were sent from Rome to Asia Minor, by the hand of Tychicus: from the present Epistle we also learn that Onesimus was with him; and, consequently, that the Epistle to Philemon was despatched on the same occasion. We do not see any thing, against the strong evidence of these circumstances, which requires us to assent to the opinion of Michaelis, that the present Epistle was written towards the end of St. Paul's confinement; which makes it necessary to suppose that Tychicus was sent twice into Asia Minor, first with the Epistle to the Ephesians, and subsequently with that to the Colossians, accompanied by the one for Philemon, of which Onesimus was the bearer.
1 He still exhorteth them to be constant in Christ, 8 to beware of philosophy, and vain traditions, 18 worshipping of angels, 20 and legal ceremonies, which are ended in Christ.
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
10 Rom. 16. 25. Eph. 3.9.
Verse 12. "Partakers of the inheritance."-There seems here to be a figure derived from the distribution of the territory of the earthly Canaan, by lot, to the families of Israel; for the full force of the terms employed Angs, "an allotted portion"), suggests the idea of a state in which each citizen has a portion or possession assigned to him by lot.
13. "From the power of darkness.”—One of the names which the Jews gave to Satan was, “Darkness.”
riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
As ye have therefore received Christ. us the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stahed in the faith, as ye have been taught, Founding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through osophy and vain deceit, after the tradiof men, after the rudiments of the d, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of Godhead bodily.
1) And ye are complete in him, which is t... head of all principality and power:
il In whom also ye are circumcised with circumcision made without hands, in tting off the body of the sins of the flesh he circumcision of Christ :
'Buried with him in baptism, wherein ye are risen with him through the faith he operation of God, who hath raised from the dead.
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no man therefore judge you 'in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 18 Let no man 'beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the "rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and "neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
ements. 4 Rom. 6. 4. 3 Ephes. 2. 1. Or, in himself. 7 Or, for eating and drinking. 8 Or, in part. 9 Or, judge against you. 10 Gr. being a voluntary in humility. 11 Or, elements. Or, punishing, or, not sparing.
se 8. "Spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit.”—It appears very plainly that in the church of Colossæ, as in thers to which Paul writes, the pure and simple truths of the Christian faith had already been corrupted by an on of erroneous and superstitious notions and practices. What these were, we can only collect from the apostle's dversions upon them, and from our knowledge of the kinds of error which were in those times prevalent. It will ar that most of the mistakes and unseemly practices of the early Christian churches arose from an imperfect forness, on the part of the converts, of the old things in which they had been brought up; from which proceeded a ition to relinquish as little as possible of the old leaven; which, however applied, could only serve, not to quicken, adulterate the bread of life. This applies both to the Jews and the heathen, but is with peculiar emphasis able to the former. In some instances, the principle of amalgamation produced new and distinct forms and is of error, which are doubtless sometimes alluded to in the apostolical writings, although we are not ourselves by eans disposed to see references to them so frequently as Hammond and some other commentators. he present Epistle, St. Paul, in mentioning the errors which endangered the Colossian church, has been thought ne to allude to the doctrines or practices of the Essenes; while others determine the references to the Gnostics. are many who suppose, however, that the apostle alludes to the tenets of the Jewish doctors who at this time , to some extent, the philosophy of the heathen with their own ceremonial worship, which they learned to rize but others conclude that he means to censure the heathen philosophy in general, seeing that it was altogeostile to the Gospel, and could not be mixed with it without serious detriment to the latter. Lastly, some the matter between Jews and Gentiles; and in this we are inclined to concur; considering it most probable that aets condemned by the apostle are in part those of superstitious Judaizing teachers, who zealously inculcated not ae Law of Moses, but with it the stupid traditionary lore and the dogmas of the Rabbins; and partly those were retained by partial converts from heathenism, who blended Platonic notions with the doctrines of the
"Nailing it to his cross."-This is generally supposed to contain an allusion to an ancient method of cancelling decrees, and writings in general, by striking a nail through them.
"Made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them."-Here is another allusion to the custom of the Roman phs, in which the picked captives were paraded before the chariot of the conqueror-the kings and queens wearing rowns, and all with their hands bound behind them. From this grand pageant the unhappy captives were, ally, led away to slaughter.
"Worshipping of angels.”—This may be explained under almost any of the alternatives suggested in the note on se 8, since there was scarcely any system at this time which was not, more or less, infected with an undue reverence ... gels. In this there was, as the apostle intimates, an unsound semblance of humility, since it proceeded on the a, that God was too high and holy for man to appear worthily before Him; and, hence, that angels acted as meand intercessors, to present the prayers of men before Him, and to procure them favourable acceptance with
Him. Nearly such as these were the opinions of the Platonists concerning demons, whom they represent as empleyed in carrying the prayers of men to God, and returning with the desired blessings. The opinions of the Jews differed little from this. After their return from the Babylonish captivity they talked and thought very much about anges and held them in high veneration. They alleged that the Law was promulgated and delivered by angels; and trat. in their history, the affairs between God and them had been, for the most part, transacted by the agency of angels. Hence they began to worship and invoke them as intercessors and mediators. They indeed named an angel, called Sandalphon, whom they regarded as more immediately set over the prayers of the righteous; and their ideas in this matter are sufficiently intimated in their still existing liturgies, as in this :-" O ye angels of mercies, ministers of the most High, entreat now the face of God for good."
21. "Touch not; taste not; handle not."-In the time of Christ and his apostles there was a sect among the Jews. called Essenes, which is not mentioned by name in the New Testament, but the principles of which are considered by some commentators to be not very obscurely alluded to in this and the following verses. There seems some ground for this conclusion; nor is in itself by any means unlikely that some of the leading Jews in the church at Colossa should be members of this sect, and disposed to inculcate its tenets. Of these we have some account in Josephus and Philo; and they have not been altogether overlooked by Pliny. From these sources we learn that the Essenes were divided into two classes: 1. The practical, who lived in society, and some of whom were married. They lived in towa and their neighbourhoods, and applied themselves to husbandry and other occupations which they deemed innocent. Thus far they were distinguished from, 2. The contemplative Essenes, who led an ascetic life in caves and wildernesses, and abstained from the society of women, in the hope of acquiring a high degree of purity, and of rendering themselves more meet for the kingdom of God. These are supposed to be those whom our Lord describes as eunuchs who had made themselves such for the kingdom of heaven's sake. (Matt. xix. 12.) They pretended that their contemplative life brought them into such a state of elevation and abstraction, as made them peculiarly acquainted with the things of the invisible world, and particularly with the nature and qualities of angels, and enabled them to unveil futurity an predict coming events. Hence what the apostle says in the preceding verses has been thought to apply to them, and certainly might do so. Further, the Essenes were more strict in the observance of the Sabbath than even the Jews in general. They wore no clothes but of undyed wool. They abstained from animal food, confining themselves to ve getables, and, indeed, living chiefly on coarse bread, and drinking nothing but water. They were so strict that they considered themselves polluted by the touch of any person not of their own sect, and were careful to cleanse themselves by ablutions from the impurity they had contracted. Now, certainly, some of the expressions of the apostle cuizce remarkably enough with these particulars, to afford ample justification to those who have concluded that "there might be a sodality of Essenes at Colossæ, as there were in many other places out of Judæa; and that some of the Christians. being too much inclined to Judaism, might also affect the peculiarities of this sect, which may be the reason of the apostle's so particularly cautioning the Colossians against them." See Jennings' Jewish Antiquities,' b. i. ch. 12; Prideaux's Connection,' sub anno 107 B.c. To ourselves it appears that whether the apostle alludes to the Essenes of not, he does allude to some such notions as the Essenes entertained, and to such practices as they observed."
1 He sheweth where we should seek Christ. 5 He exhorteth to mortification, 10 to put off the old man, and to put on Christ, 12 exhorting to charity, humility, and other several duties.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your 'affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience :
7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
9 Lie not one to another, seeing that re have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiv ing one another, if any man have a 'quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
1 Or, mind. 24 Ephes. 5. 3. 8 Or, complaint.
He exhorteth them to be fervent in prayer, 5 to walk wisely toward them that are not yet come to the true knowledge of Christ. 10 He saluteth them, and wisheth them all prosperity.
Verse 3. "Your life is hid with Christ in God."-This is very possibly a figure, derived from the custom of hiding valuable property in times of danger and alarm.
MASTERS, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
22 'Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
2 'Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;,
3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
19. "And be not bitter against them."-" Hence, they who sacrificed to Juno Nuptialis, saith Plutarch (Præcepta Conjugalia,' p. 141), did separate the gall from the sacrifice, and throw it away; signifying, that there should be no bitterness or wrath betwixt those that were married."-Whitby.
4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and 1othere is no respect of persons.
9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done
10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments if he come unto you, receive him ;)
11 And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always 'labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and 'complete in all the will of God.
13 For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
18 The salutation by the hand of me. Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
¶ Written from Rome to the Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus.
1 Luke 18. 1. 1 Thess. 5. 17. Ephes. 6. 19. 2 Thess. 3. 1.
Verse 7. "Tychicus."-This verse, as compared with Eph. vi. 21, 22, in connection with the remarkable similarity between this epistle and that to the Ephesians, suggests that, as intimated in the introductory note, the two epistles were written nearly at the same time, and sent together by the hand of Tychicus.
* Ephes. 5. 15. 4 Or, striving. "Or, filled.