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It takes much time and effort to study the Bible. But it is always time and effort that is well spent. Every faithful approach to the Bible is profitable.This new publication aims to help in our study of the Bible. While it will be of much use to preachers it will also help everyone who desires to study Scripture.This book mines the wealth of commentators from years past to bring to your reading their insights and understanding.The Preacher's Bible Companion highlights the passage of Scripture that is being considered and then provides commentary on the passage from 5 theologians: John Calvin, Adam Clarke, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole and Charles H. Spurgeon.These comments are for you to read, think upon and make use of in understanding the verses before you.In this volume we bring you these commentaries on Paul's Epistle to the Colossians.
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The version of the Bible used in this publication is the World English Bible which is in the public domain and therefore free from all copyright restrictions.
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Copyright The Preacher’s Bible Companion 2018.
PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS
The Preacher’s Bible Companion exists to help anyone who studies the Bible. The Bible is God’s word. It is infallible. It is inerrant. It is worth everything to us.
This publication brings together the text of the Bible together with the wise counsel of many commentators. A commentary can provide a helpful window that looks in upon the word of God. It can help us understand, or deepen our understanding of what God communicates to us.
As you read God’s word and meditate upon it you will find helpful comments close at hand.
It is our hope that you will be blessed by these thoughts that were written many years ago but continue to help us in the present day.
For the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS
PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS CONTENTS
Colossians Chapter 1
Colossians Chapter 2
Colossians Chapter 3
Colossians Chapter 4
COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 1
COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 1 CONTENTS
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Verse 1: Paul an Apostle. I have already, in repeated instances, explained the design of such inscriptions. As, however, the Colossians had never seen him, and on that account his authority was not as yet so firmly established among them as to make his private name (278) by itself sufficient, he premises that he is an Apostle of Christ set apart by the will of God. From this it followed, that he did not act rashly in writing to persons that were not known by him, inasmuch as he was discharging an embassy with which God had intrusted him. For he was not bound to one Church merely, but his Apostleship extended to all. The term saints which he applies to them is more honorable, but in calling them faithful brethren, he allures them more willingly to listen to him. As for other things, they may be found explained in the foregoing Epistles.
Verse 1: Paul, an apostle - by the will of God - As the word αποστολος, apostle, signifies one sent, an envoy or messenger, any person or persons may be the senders: but the word is particularly restrained to the messengers of the everlasting Gospel, sent immediately from God himself; and this is what St. Paul particularly remarks here when he calls himself an apostle by the will of God; signifying that he had derived his commission from an express volition or purpose of the Almighty.
And Timotheus - Though Timothy is here joined in the salutation, yet he has never been understood as having any part in composing this epistle. He has been considered as the amanuensis or scribe of the apostle.
Verse 2: To the saints - Those who professed Christianity. See the note on Ephesians 1:1.
Which are at Colosse - Instead of εν Κολοσσαις, at Colosse, or among the Colossians, ABC, and many other excellent MSS., with both the Syriac, Coptic, Slavonic, Origen, Gregory Nyssen, Amphilochus, Theodoret, Damascenus, Theophylact, and others, read εν Κολασσαις in Colassa, or among the Colassians; and this is most probably the true reading. That this city perished by an earthquake, a short time after the date of this epistle, we have the testimony of Eusebius. That which at present is supposed to occupy the site of this ancient city is called Konos. For other particulars see the preface to this epistle.
Grace be unto you - See on Romans 1:7; (note).
And the Lord Jesus Christ - This clause is omitted by many MSS., several versions, and some of the fathers. Griesbach has left it out of the text, not, in my opinion, on sufficient evidence.
Verse 1-2: Inscription and Apostolical Benediction.A. D. 62.
1 Paul, 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.
I. The inscription of this epistle is much the same with the rest only it is observable that, 1. He calls himself an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. An apostle is a prime-minister in the kingdom of Christ, immediately called by Christ, and extraordinarily qualified his work was peculiarly to plant the Christian church, and confirm the Christian doctrine. He attributes this not to his own merit, strength, or sufficiency but to the free grace and good-will of God. He thought himself engaged to do his utmost, as an apostle, because he was made so by the will of God. 2. He joins Timothy in commission with himself, which is another instance of his humility and, though he elsewhere calls him his son (2 Timothy 2:1), yet here he calls him his brother, which is an example to the elder and more eminent ministers to look upon the younger and more obscure as their brethren, and to treat them accordingly with kindness and respect. 3. He calls the Christians at Colosse saints, and faithful brethren in Christ. As all good ministers, so all good Christians, are brethren one to another, who stand in a near relation and owe a mutual love. Towards God they must be saints, consecrated to his honour and sanctified by his grace, bearing his image and aiming at his glory. And in both these, as saints to God and as brethren to one another, they must be faithful. Faithfulness runs through every character and relation of the Christian life, and is the crown and glory of them all.
II. The apostolical benediction is the same as usual: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. He wishes them grace and peace, the free favour of God and all the blessed fruits of it every kind of spiritual blessings, and that from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ jointly from both, and distinctly from each as in the former epistle.
Verse 1: Paul; he who of a persecutor was become a preacher, and that amongst the Gentiles laid aside his Hebrew name Saul and made use of this, which was more familiar amongst the Gentiles, viz. Paul, Acts 13:2,3,9.
An apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God; one of those extraordinary persons immediately deputed by the special command of our Lord himself, with sovereign authority to preach the gospel, and establish his church, which is the highest charge God ever gave to men, Matthew 10:2 Luke 6:13 1 Corinthians 12:28 Galatians 1:12: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:1". See Poole on "Ephesians 4:11".
And Timotheus our brother; he joins Timothy, as elsewhere Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1, by the title of
brother, as being of the same faith, labouring in one and the same work, which might be more for their satisfaction.
Verse 2: To the saints: See Poole on "Philippians 1:1".
And faithful brethren in Christ: See Poole on "Philippians 4:21".
Which are at Colosse: see the Argument: (See Poole on "Colossians 1:1".)
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:2", and See Poole on "Philippians 1:2".
Charles H. Spurgeon
Colossians 1:1-2. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, 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.
Kindness is the very breath of Christianity, so the apostle will not begin the subject matter of his letter until first of all he has breathed out a benediction upon those to whom he writes.
“3 We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have toward all the saints, 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the Good News, 6 which has come to you; even as it is in all the world and is bearing fruit and growing, as it does in you also, since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 even as you learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.”
Verse 3: We give thanks to God. He praises the faith and love of the Colossians, that it may encourage them the more to alacrity and constancy of perseverance. Farther, by shewing that he has a persuasion of this kind respecting them, he procures their friendly regards, that they may be the more favourably inclined and teachable for receiving his doctrine. We must always take notice that he makes use of thanksgiving in place of congratulation, by which he teaches us, that in all our joys we must readily call to remembrance the goodness of God, inasmuch as everything that is pleasant and agreeable to us is a kindness conferred by him. Besides, he admonishes us, by his example, to acknowledge with gratitude not merely those things which the Lord confers upon us, but also those things which he confers upon others.
But for what things does he give thanks to the Lord? For the faith and love of the Colossians. He acknowledges, therefore, that both are conferred by God: otherwise the gratitude were pretended. And what have we otherwise than through his liberality? If, however, even the smallest favors come to us from that source, how much more ought this same acknowledgment to be made in reference to those two gifts, in which the entire sum of our excellence consists?
To the God and Father. (279) Understand the expression thus — To God who is the Father of Christ. For it is not lawful for us to acknowledge any other God than him who has manifested himself to us in his Son. And this is the only key for opening the door to us, if we are desirous to have access to the true God. For on this account, also, is he a Father to us, because he has embraced us in his only begotten Son, and in him also sets forth his paternal favor for our contemplation.
Always for you, Some explain it thus — We give thanks to God always for you, that is, continually. Others explain it to mean — Praying always for you. It may also be interpreted in this way, “Whenever we pray for you, we at the same time give thanks to God;” and this is the simple meaning, “We give thanks to God, and we at the same time pray.” By this he intimates, that the condition of believers is never in this world perfect, so as not to have, invariably, something wanting. For even the man who has begun admirably well, may fall short in a hundred instances every day; and we must ever be making progress while we are as yet on the way. Let us therefore bear in mind that we must rejoice in the favors that we have already received, and give thanks to God for them in such a manner, as to seek at the same time from him perseverance and advancement.
Verse 4: Having heard of your faith. This was a means of stirring up his love towards them, and his concern for their welfare, when he heard it that they were distinguished by faith and love. And, unquestionably, gifts of God that are so excellent ought to have such an effect upon us as to stir us up to love them wherever they appear. He uses the expression, faith in Christ, that we may always bear in mind that Christ is the proper object of faith.
He employs the expression, love towards the saints, not with the view of excluding others, but because, in proportion as any one is joined to us in God, we ought to embrace him the more closely with special affection. True love, therefore, will extend to mankind universally, because they all are our flesh, and created in the image of God, (Genesis 9:6;) but in respect of degrees, it will begin with those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10).
Verse 5: For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven. For the hope of eternal life will never be inactive in us, so as not to produce love in us. For it is of necessity, that the man who is fully persuaded that a treasure of life is laid up for him in heaven will aspire thither, looking down upon this world. Meditation, however, upon the heavenly life stirs up our affections both to the worship of God, and to exercises of love. The Sophists pervert this passage for the purpose of extolling the merits of works, as if the hope of salvation depended on works. The reasoning, however, is futile. For it does not follow, that because hope stimulates us to aim at upright living, it is therefore founded upon works, inasmuch as nothing is more efficacious for this purpose than God’s unmerited goodness, which utterly overthrows all confidence in works.
There is, however, an instance of metonymy in the use of the term hope, as it is taken for the thing hoped for. For the hope that is in our hearts is the glory which we hope for in heaven. At the same time, when he says, that there is a hope that is laid up for us in heaven, he means, that believers ought to feel assured as to the promise of eternal felicity, equally as though they had already a treasure laid up (280) in a particular place.
Of which ye heard before. As eternal salvation is a thing that surpasses the comprehension of our understanding, he therefore adds, that the assurance of it had been brought to the Colossians by means of the gospel; and at the same time he says in the outset, (281) that he is not to bring forward anything new, but that he has merely in view to confirm them in the doctrine which they had previously received. Erasmus has rendered — it the true word of the gospel. I am also well aware that, according to the Hebrew idiom, the genitive is often made use of by Paul in place of an epithet; but the words of Paul here are more emphatic. (282) For he calls the gospel, καψ ἐξοχήν, (by way of eminence,) the word of truth, with the view of putting honor upon it, that they may more steadfastly and firmly adhere to the revelation which they have derived from that source. Thus the term gospel is introduced by way of apposition.
Verse 6: As also in all the world it brings forth fruit. This has a tendency both to confirm and to comfort the pious — to see the effect of the gospel far and wide in gathering many to Christ. The faith of it does not, it is true, depend on its success, as though we should believe it on the ground that many believe it. Though the whole world should fail, though heaven itself should fall, the conscience of a pious man must not waver, because God, on whom it is founded, does nevertheless remain true. This, however, does not hinder our faith from being confirmed, whenever it perceives God’s excellence, which undoubtedly shews itself with more power in proportion to the number of persons that are gained over to Christ.
In addition to this, in the multitude of the believers at that time there was beheld an accomplishment of the many predictions which extend the reign of Christ from the East to the West. Is it a trivial or common aid to faith, to see accomplished before our eyes what the Prophets long since predicted as to the extending of the kingdom of Christ through all countries of the world? What I speak of, there is no believer that does not experience in himself. Paul accordingly had it in view to encourage the Colossians the more by this statement, that, by seeing in various places the fruit and progress of the gospel, they might embrace it with more eager zeal. Αὐξανόμενον, which I have rendered propagatur , (is propagated,) does not occur in some copies; but, from its suiting better with the context, I did not choose to omit it. It also appears front the commentaries of the ancients that this reading was always the more generally received. (284)
Since the day ye heard it, and knew the grace. Here he praises them on account of their docility, inasmuch as they immediately embraced sound doctrine; and he praises them on account of their constancy, inasmuch as they persevered in it. It is also with propriety that the faith of the gospel is called the knowledge of God’s grace; for no one has ever tasted of the gospel but the man that knew himself to be reconciled to God, and took hold of the salvation that is held forth in Christ.
In truth means truly and without pretense; for as he had previously declared that the gospel is undoubted truth, so he now adds, that it had been purely administered by them, and that by Epaphras. For while all boast that they preach the gospel, and yet at the same time there are many evil workers, (Philippians 3:2,) through whose ignorance, or ambition, or avarice, its purity is adulterated, it is of great importance that faithful ministers should be distinguished from the less upright. For it is not enough to hold the term gospel, unless we know that this is the true gospel — what was preached by Paul and Epaphras. Hence Paul confirms the doctrine of Epaphras by giving it his approbation, that he may induce the Colossians to adhere to it, and may, by the same means, call them back from those profligates who endeavored to introduce strange doctrines. He at the same time dignifies Epaphras with a special distinction, that he may have more authority among them; and lastly, he presents him to the Colossians in an amiable aspect, by saying that he had borne testimony to him of their love. Paul everywhere makes it his particular aim, that he may, by his recommendation, render those who he knows serve Christ faithfully, very dear to the Churches; as, on the other hand, the ministers of Satan are wholly intent on alienating, by unfavourable representations, (285) the minds of the simple from faithful pastors.
Verse 8: Love in the Spirit I take to mean, spiritual love, according to the view of Chrysostom, with whom, however, I do not agree in the interpretation of the preceding words. Now, spiritual love is of such a nature as has no view to the world, but is consecrated to the service of piety, (286) and has, as it were, an internal root, while carnal friendships depend on external causes.
Verse 3: We give thanks to God - Who is the author of all good; and from whom the grace, which has produced your conversion, has sprung by his mission of Christ Jesus. See the note on Ephesians 1:15, Ephesians 1:16.
Verse 4: Since we heard of your faith - This is very similar to Ephesians 1:15. And it is certain that the apostle seems to have considered the Church at Ephesus, and that at Colassa to have been nearly in the same state, as the two epistles are very similar in their doctrine and phraseology.
Verse 6: Which is come unto you - The doctrine of the Gospel is represented as a traveler, whose object it is to visit the whole habitable earth; and, having commenced his journey in Judea, had proceeded through Syria and through different parts of Asia Minor, and had lately arrived at their city, every where proclaiming glad tidings of great joy to all people.
As it is in all the world - So rapid is this traveler in his course, that he had already gone nearly through the whole of the countries under the Roman dominion; and will travel on till he has proclaimed his message to every people, and kindred, and nation, and tongue.
In the beginning of the apostolic age, the word of the Lord had certainly free course, did run and was glorified. Since that time the population of the earth has increased greatly; and, to follow the metaphor, the traveler still continues in his great journey. It is, the glory of the present day that, by means of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Bibles are multiplied in all the languages of Europe; and by means of the Christian missionaries, Carey, Marshman, and Ward, whose zeal, constancy, and ability, have been rarely equalled, and perhaps never surpassed, the sacred writings have been, in the compass of a few years, translated into most of the written languages of India, in which they were not previously extant. In this labor they have been ably seconded by the Rev. Henry Martyn, one of the East India Company's chaplains, who was taken to his great reward just when he had completed a pure and accurate version of the New Testament into Persian. The Rev. R. Morrison, at Canton, has had the honor to present the whole of the New Testament, in Chinese, to the immense population of that greatest empire of the earth. May that dark people receive it, and walk in the light of the Lord! And, by means of the Wesleyan missionaries, the sacred writings have been printed and widely circulated in the Singhalese and Indo- Portuguese, through the whole of the island of Ceylon, and the pure word of the Gospel has been preached there, and also on the whole continent of India, to the conversion of multitudes. Let every reader pray that all these noble attempts may be crowned with unlimited success, till the earth is filled both with the knowledge and glory of the Lord. Talia secla currite! Amen.
And bringeth forth fruit - Wherever the pure Gospel of Christ is preached, it is the seed of the kingdom, and must be fruitful in all those who receive it by faith, in simplicity of heart.
After καρποφορουμενον, bringeth forth fruit, many others, both the Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, the Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, and Itala, together with many of the fathers, add και αυξανομενον, and increaseth. It had not only brought forth fruit, but was multiplying its own kind; every fruit containing seed, and every seed producing thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold. This reading is very important, and is undoubtedly genuine.
The grace of God in truth - Ye were fruitful, and went on increasing in the salvation of God, from the time that ye heard and acknowledged this doctrine to be of God, to spring from the grace or benevolence of God; and received it in truth, sincerely and uprightly, as his greatest gift to man.
Verse 7: As ye also learned of Epaphras - who is for you - Who this Epaphras was we cannot tell; only it is likely that he was a Colossian, and became, by the call and grace of Christ, a deacon of this Church, faithfully labouring with the apostle, to promote its best interests. Some think that he is the same with Epaphroditus, Epaphras being a contraction of that name, as Demas is of Demetrius; and it is remarkable that one of the Slavonic versions has Epaphroditus in this place. That he was a Colossian is evident from Colossians 4:12; : Epaphras, who is one of you, ὁ εξ ὑμων· some think that he was the first who preached the Gospel among this people, and hence called an apostle. He was raised up among themselves to be their minister in the absence of the apostle, and he showed himself to be worthy of this calling by a faithful discharge of his ministry, and by labouring fervently for them all, and pressing them forward, that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Verse 8: Your love in the Spirit - So we preached, and so ye believed. The heavenly flame in the heart of this minister communicated itself to those who heard him; it was like priest like people. They enjoyed a spiritual, energetic ministry, and they were a spiritual people; they had a loving spirit, and love through the Spirit of God which dwelt in them. And of this love of theirs in the Spirit, and particularly towards the apostle, Epaphras gave full proof, not only by describing to the apostle the affection they felt for him, but in presenting to him those supplies which their love to him caused them to furnish.
Verses 3-8: Paul's Thanksgiving for the Colossians.A. D. 62.
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: 7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ 8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Here he proceeds to the body of the epistle, and begins with thanksgiving to God for what he had heard concerning them, though he had no personal acquaintance with them, and knew their state and character only by the reports of others.
I. He gave thanks to God for them, that they had embraced the gospel of Christ, and given proofs of their fidelity to him. Observe, In his prayers for them he gave thanks for them. Thanksgiving ought to be a part of every prayer and whatever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. Observe, 1. Whom he gives thanks to: To God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our thanksgiving we must have an eye to God as God (he is the object of thanksgiving as well as prayer), and is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and through whom all good comes to us. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as our Father and it is a matter of encouragement, in all our addresses to God, that we can look to him as Christ's Father and our Father, as his God and our God, John 20:17. Observe, 2. What he gives thanks to God for--for the graces of God in them, which were evidences of the grace of God towards them: Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love you have to all the saints for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, Colossians 1:4,5. Faith, hope, and love, are the three principal graces in the Christian life, and proper matter of our prayer and thanksgiving. (1.) He gives thanks for their faith in Christ Jesus, that they were brought to believe in him, and take upon them the profession of his religion, and venture their souls upon his undertaking. (2.) For their love. Besides the general love which is due to all men, there is a particular love owing to the saints, or those who are of the Christian brotherhood, 1 Peter 2:17. We must love all the saints, bear an extensive kindness and good-will to good men, notwithstanding smaller points of difference, and many real weaknesses. Some understand it of their charity to the saints in necessity, which is one branch and evidence of Christian love. (3.) For their hope: The hope which is laid up for you in heaven, Colossians 1:5. The happiness of heaven is called their hope, because it is the thing hoped for, looking for the blessed hope, Titus 2:13. What is laid out upon believers in this world is much but what is laid up for them in heaven is much more. And we have reason to give thanks to God for the hope of heaven which good Christians have, or their well-grounded expectation of the future glory. Their faith in Christ, and love to the saints, had an eye to the hope laid up for them in heaven. The more we fix our hopes on the recompence of reward in the other world, the more free and liberal shall we be of our earthly treasure upon all occasions of doing good.
II. Having blessed God for these graces, he blesses God for the means of grace which they enjoyed: Wherein you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. They had heard in the word of the truth of the gospel concerning this hope laid up for them in heaven. Observe, 1. The gospel is the word of truth, and what we may safely venture our immortal souls upon: it proceeds from the God of truth and the Spirit of truth, and is a faithful saying. He calls it the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:6. 2. It is a great mercy to hear this word of truth for the great thing we learn from it is the happiness of heaven. Eternal life is brought to light by the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10. They heard of the hope laid up in heaven in the word of the truth of the gospel. "Which has come unto you, as it hath to all the world, and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, Colossians 1:6. This gospel is preached and brings forth fruit in other nations it has come to you, as it hath to all the world, according to the commission, Go preach the gospel in all the nations, and to every creature." Observe, (1.) All who hear the word of the gospel ought to bring forth the fruit of the gospel, that is, be obedient to it, and have their principles and lives formed according to it. This was the doctrine first preached: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, Matthew 3:8. And our Lord says, If you know these things, happy are you if you do them, John 13:17. Observe, (2.) Wherever the gospel comes, it will bring forth fruit to the honour and glory of God: It bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you. We mistake, if we think to monopolize the comforts and benefits of the gospel to ourselves. Does the gospel bring forth fruit in us? So it does in others.
III. He takes this occasion to mention the minister by whom they believed (Colossians 1:7,8): As you also learned of Epaphras, our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ. He mentions him with great respect, to engage their love to him. 1. He calls him his fellow-servant, to signify not only that they served the same Master, but that they were engaged in the same work. They were fellow-labourers in the work of the Lord, though one was an apostle and the other an ordinary minister. 2. He calls him his dear fellow-servant: all the servants of Christ ought to love one another, and it is an endearing consideration that they are engaged in the same service. 3. He represents him as one who was a faithful minister of Christ to them, who discharged his trust and fulfilled his ministry among them. Observe, Christ is our proper Master, and we are his ministers. He does not say who is your minister but who is the minister of Christ for you. It is by his authority and appointment, though for the people's service. 4. He represents him as one who gave them a good word: Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit, Colossians 1:8. He recommends him to their affection, from the good report he made of their sincere love to Christ and all his members, which was wrought in them by the Spirit, and is agreeable to the spirit of the gospel. Faithful ministers are glad to be able to speak well of their people.
Verse 3: We give thanks to God: See Poole on "Philippians 1:3". He doth here take in Timothy and others, in acknowledging of God’s grace to them, which might express his great good-will to them.
And the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; describing God, to whom they render thanks both absolutely and relatively, as the Father of Jesus Christ, according to both natures: See Poole on "2 Corinthians 1:3", and See Poole on "Ephesians 1:3".
Praying always for you; always when they did address themselves to God by prayer making mention of them, as he also wrote to the Philippians: See Poole on "Philippians 1:3,4".
Verse 4: He instanceth in principal graces, as the matter of his thanksgiving, beginning with faith, described and differenced from the special object of it, Christ Jesus, implying not a bare knowledge or assent, but a trust in him alone for salvation; so Romans 1:8. Understanding this saving grace with the consequent was wrought in them, as he heard it was in the Ephesians, and Philemon, it, was a cogent motive to engage them in solemn thankfulness to God: see on Ephesians 1:15, compared with Philemon 1:5. He joins love, or charity, to all the saints, with faith to our Saviour, because they are in effect inseparable, there being no real embracing of Christ without loving of him, and all his members for his sake, Galatians 5:6 2 Timothy 1:13: not as if believers were not to show love or charity to others, who are of the same nature, and so bear the image of God, for this Christ requires of them, Matthew 5:44,45; but by how much the nearer any are brought to God by sanctification, by so much the more a special love is to be showed to them, as fellow citizens, of the household of God, and the household of faith, Romans 15:26, with Galatians 6:10 Ephesians 2:19.
Verse 5: For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven: hope here, in this description of it, seems chiefly by a metonymy to be put for the glorious eternal salvation hoped for, Romans 8:24 Ephesians 1:18 which may also include that lively grace whereby we lay hold of eternal life contained in the promise, Titus 1:2. This indeed is set before believers here to encourage them to fly unto Christ for refuge, Hebrews 6:18, and reserved in heaven for them, 1 Peter 1:4; which may well quicken in Christian love all the members of Christ in every condition; yet not with a mercenary of affection, 2 Corinthians 5:14, as if any by offices of Christian love to brethren could merit what is laid up for those who exercise faith, love, and hope, but that God of his mere grace and undeserved love is pleased to reward such as diligently seek him, and thereby gives an exact evidence of his admirable liberality, Hebrews 11:6, which will abundantly weigh down those light afflictions they sustain here, 2 Corinthians 4:17.
Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; hereupon he puts them in mind of the means whereby they attained to this good hope when they first embraced the gospel, viz. by hearing, Romans 10:14, the word of truth, eminently, 2 Corinthians 6:7 Ephesians 1:13; not only because it is the word of Jesus Christ, who is the truth, and the life, John 14:6, but because the gospel (which is here put appositively) is the most excellent of all truths, surpassing all in philosophy, and the law, John 1:17.
Verse 6: Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and passing the narrow bounds of Judea, unto all or most of the regions of the world, Colossians 1:23 Matthew 24:14 Acts 2:5 Romans 1:8 10:18. So admirable was the progress of it east, west, north, and south, well nigh over the world as it was then known to the Greeks and Romans; whereupon the apostle might well write, Christ was
believed on in the world, 1 Timothy 3:16: as Christ had said he was the light of the world, and, by a figure of part for the whole, would upon his death draw all men to him, John 12:32,46. Yet let not the Rhemists, or any other Romanist, think that the promulgation of the mysteries of the gospel then is any proof of the verity of the Romish religion in these latter ages, when by tyranny they impose for doctrines the traditions of men: they do not bring forth that genuine fruit which the Colossians did.
And bringeth forth fruit; viz. becoming the gospel, (as the Philipplans did, Philippians 1:27), and true repentance, Matthew 3:8 13:23 John 15:16; and real holiness, abiding in the hearts and lives of men, and effectually working in them that believe it, Isaiah 55:10 Acts 5:14 Acts 6:7 12:24,16,17,20 1 Thessalonians 2:13; which the practical religion of the papists generally bears no proportion to, being contrary to that.
As it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it; which from the first receiving of the gospel, was found growing amongst the true converts at Colosse, though it should seem false teachers crept in to choke the good fruit with their tares.
And knew the grace of God in truth; however, they who had real experience of the grace of God and the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Psalms 3:8, did hold, bringing forth fruit in old age, Psalms 92:14.
Verse 7: As ye also learned of Epaphras: to maintain the truth, it did much concern them to have a good opinion of him, who was an eminent instrument in communicating it to them, and therefore Paul doth here very opportunely commend Epaphras, in opposition to those false teachers, who likely might insinuate somewhat to his disparagement.
Our dear fellow servant; the respect they bare, and relation he stood in to them, being dearly beloved of him for his sincerity in promulgating the gospel; and being engaged with them in the service of the same Master, Colossians 4:7 Revelation 6:11.
Who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; his office, which he discharged with fidelity and affection unto them. He did with all honesty and integrity, as became one intrusted by his Master Christ, discharge what was incumbent on him for their good, Colossians 4:13 John 12:26 1 Corinthians 4:1,2 Eph 4:12 1 Timothy 4:6 Hebrews 13:17.
Verse 8: Having with kindness and delight reported to Paul and Timothy, &c., what a spiritually fervent affection, not moved by carnal considerations, but inwrought by the Spirit, Galatians 5:6,22, arising from a renewed heart, 1 Timothy 1:5 2 Timothy 1:7, they had for Christ, for the gospel, the apostle, and all that did love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, Galatians 6:10 1 Peter 1:22,23.
Charles H. Spurgeon
Colossians 1:3. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Paul very graciously blends his giving of thanks and his constant prayer for these Christians at Colosse, and therein sets us an example that we may well imitate.
Colossians 1:4-6. Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
If there is a way of knowing the grace of God which is of no value, it is when it is not known in truth, that is to say, when it is only head-knowledge, not heart-knowledge. But, oh, when in truth the grace of God sinks into the soul, and changes the whole nature, then it is an experience for which we may well give thanks to God.
Colossians 1:7-8. As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Epaphras told them of Paul’s prayers for them; and when he came back from Colosse, he told Paul of their great love in the Spirit.
“9 For this cause, we also, since the day we heard this, don’t cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects, 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, for all endurance and perseverance with joy.”
Verse 9: For this cause we also. As he has previously shewn his affection for them in his thanksgivings, so he now shews it still farther in the earnestness of his prayers in their behalf. (288) And, assuredly, the more that the grace of God is conspicuous in any, we ought in that proportion specially to love and esteem them, and to be concerned as to their welfare. But what does he pray for in their behalf? That they may know God more fully; by which he indirectly intimates, that something is still wanting in them, that he may prepare the way for imparting instruction to them, and may secure their attention to a fuller statement of doctrine. For those who think that they have already attained everything that is worthy of being known, despise and disdain everything farther that is presented to them. Hence he removes from the Colossians an impression of this nature, lest it should be a hinderance in the way of their cheerfully making progress, and allowing what had been begun in them to receive an additional polish. But what knowledge does he desire in their behalf? The knowledge of the divine will, by which expression he sets aside all inventions of men, and all speculations that are at variance with the word of God. For his will is not to be sought anywhere else than in his word.
He adds — in all wisdom; by which he intimates that the will of God, of which he had made mention, was the only rule of right knowledge. For if any one is desirous simply to know those things which it has pleased God to reveal, that is the man who accurately knows what it is to be truly wise. If we desire anything beyond that, this will be nothing else than to be foolish, by not keeping within due bounds. By the word συνέσεως which we render prudentiam , (prudence,) I understand — that discrimination which proceeds from intelligence. Both are called spiritual by Paul, because they are not attained in any other way than by the guidance of the Spirit.
For the animal man does not perceive the things that are of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).
So long as men are regulated by their own carnal perceptions, they have also their own wisdom, but it is of such a nature as is mere vanity, however much they may delight themselves in it. We see what sort of theology there is under the Papacy, what is contained in the books of philosophers, and what wisdom profane men hold in estimation. Let us, however, bear in mind, that the wisdom which is alone commended by Paul is comprehended in the will of God.
Verse 10: That ye may walk worthy of God. In the first place he teaches, what is the end of spiritual understanding, and for what purpose we ought to make proficiency in God’s school — that we may walk worthy of God, that is, that it may be manifest in our life, that we have not in vain been taught by God. Whoever they may be that do not direct their endeavors towards this object, may possibly toil and labor much, but they do nothing better than wander about in endless windings, without making any progress. (289) Farther, he admonishes us, that if we would walk worthy of God, we must above all things take heed that we regulate our whole course of life according to the will of God, renouncing our own understanding, and bidding farewell to all the inclinations of our flesh.
This also he again confirms by saying — unto all obedience, or, as they commonly say, well-pleasing. Hence if it is asked, what kind of life is worthy of God, let us always keep in view this definition of Paul — that it is such a life as, leaving the opinions of men, and leaving, in short, all carnal inclination, is regulated so as to be in subjection to God alone. From this follow good works, which are the fruits that God requires from us.
Increasing, in the knowledge of God. He again repeats, that they have not arrived at such perfection as not to stand in need of farther increase; by which admonition he prepares them, and as it were leads them by the hand, to an eagerness for proficiency, that they may shew themselves ready to listen, and teachable. What is here said to the Colossians, let all believers take as said to themselves, and draw from this a common exhortation that we must always make progress in the doctrine of piety until death.
Verse 11: Strengthened with all might. As he has previously prayed that they might have both a sound understanding and the right use of it, so also now he prays that they may have courage and constancy. In this manner he puts them in mind of their own weakness, for he says, that they will not be strong otherwise than by the Lord’s help; and not only so, but with the view of magnifying this exercise of grace the more, he adds, according to his glorious power. “So far from any one being able to stand, through dependence on his own strength, the power of God shews itself illustriously in helping our infirmity.” Lastly, he shews in what it is that the strength of believers ought to display itself — in all patience and long-suffering. For they are constantly, while in this world, exercised with the cross, and a thousand temptations daily present themselves, so as to weigh them down, and they see nothing of what God has promised. They must, therefore, arm themselves with an admirable patience, that what Isaiah says may be accomplished,
In hope and in silence shall be your strength (Isaiah 30:15).
It is preferable to connect with this sentence the clause, with joy. For although the other reading is more commonly to be met with in the Latin versions, this is more in accordance with the Greek manuscripts, and, unquestionably, patience is not sustained otherwise than by alacrity of mind, and will never be maintained with fortitude by any one that is not satisfied with his condition.
Verse 9: For this cause - See on Ephesians 1:15-16; (note), where the same sentiment occurs.
That ye might be filled - Nothing could satisfy the apostle, either for himself or his hearers, but the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of peace. The Colossians had knowledge, but they must have more; it is their privilege to be filled with it. As the bright shining of the sun in the firmament of heaven fills the whole world with light and heat, so the light of the Sun of righteousness is to illuminate their whole souls, and fill them with Divine splendor, so that they might know the will of God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; in a word, that they might have such a knowledge of Divine things as the Spirit of truth can teach to the soul of man.
Verse 10: That ye might walk worthy of the Lord - Suitably to your Christian profession, exemplifying its holy doctrines by a holy and useful life. See the notes on Ephesians 4:1; and on Philemon 1:27; (note).
Unto all pleasing - Doing every thing in the best manner, in the most proper time, and in a becoming spirit. Even a good work may be marred and rendered fruitless by being done improperly, out of season, or in a temper of mind that grieves the Holy Spirit.
Being fruitful in every good work - See on Colossians 1:6; (note). St. Paul exhorts the Christians at Colosse,
To walk - to be active in their Christian calling.
To walk worthily - suitably to the dignity of that calling, and to the purity of that God who had called them into this state of salvation.
To do every thing unto all pleasing; that God might be pleased with the manner, the time, the motive, disposition, design, and object of every act.
That they should be fruitful; mere harmlessness would not be sufficient; as God had sown good seed, he expected good fruit.
That every work should be good; they must not be fruitful in some works and fruitless in others. That they should increase in religious knowledge as time rolled on, knowing, by genuine Christian experience, more of God, of his love, and of his peace, day by day.
Verse 11: Strengthened with all might - That they might be able to walk worthy of the Lord, bring forth fruit, etc. See the notes on Ephesians 3:13, etc.
According to his glorious power - According to that sufficiency of strength which may be expected from him who has all power both in the heavens and in the earth.
Unto all patience - Relieving, hoping, and enduring all things.
With joyfulness - Feeling the continual testimony that ye please God, which will be a spring of perpetual comfort. See the notes on Ephesians 4:2.
Verses 9-11: Paul's Prayer for the Colossians.A. D. 62.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with 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 long suffering with joyfulness
The apostle proceeds in these verses to pray for them. He heard that they were good, and he prayed that they might be better. He was constant in this prayer: We do not cease to pray for you. It may be he could hear of them but seldom, but he constantly prayed for them.--And desire that you may be filled with the knowledge, &c. Observe what it is that he begs of God for them,
I. That they might be knowing intelligent Christians: filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Observe, 1. The knowledge of our duty is the best knowledge. A mere empty notion of the greatest truths is insignificant. Our knowledge of the will of God must be always practical: we must know it, in order to do it. 2. Our knowledge is then a blessing indeed when it is in wisdom, when we know how to apply our general knowledge to our particular occasions, and to suit it to all emergencies. 3. Christians should endeavour to be filled with knowledge not only to know the will of God, but to know more of it, and to increase in the knowledge of God (as it is Colossians 1:10), and to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, 2 Peter 3:18.
II. That their conversation might be good. Good knowledge without a good life will not profit. Our understanding is then a spiritual understanding when we exemplify it in our way of living: That you may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing (Colossians 1:10), that is, as becomes the relation we stand in to him and the profession we make of him. The agreeableness of our conversation to our religion is pleasing to God as well as to good men. We walk unto all well-pleasing when we walk in all things according to the will of God. Being fruitful in every good work. This is what we should aim at. Good words will not do without good works. We must abound in good works, and in every good work: not in some only, which are more easy, and suitable, and safe, but in all, and every instance of them. There must be a regular uniform regard to all the will of God. And the more fruitful we are in good works the more we shall increase in the knowledge of God. He who doeth his will shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, John 7:17.
III. That they might be strengthened: Strengthened with all might according to his glorious power (Colossians 1:11), fortified against the temptations of Satan and furnished for all their duty. It is a great comfort to us that he who undertakes to give strength to his people is a God of power and of glorious power. Where there is spiritual life there is still need of spiritual strength, strength for all the actions of the spiritual life. To be strengthened is to be furnished by the grace of God for every good work, and fortified by that grace against every evil one: it is to be enabled to do our duty, and still to hold fast our integrity. The blessed Spirit is the author of this strength for we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inward man, Ephesians 3:16. The word of God is the means of it, by which he conveys it and it must be fetched in by prayer. It was in answer to earnest prayer that the apostle obtained sufficient grace. In praying for spiritual strength we are not straitened in the promises, and therefore should not be straitened in our own hopes and desires. Observe, 1. He prayed that they might be strengthened with might: this seems a tautology but he means, that they might be mightily strengthened, or strengthened with might derived from another. 2. It is with all might. It seems unreasonable that a creature should be strengthened with all might, for that is to make him almighty but he means, with all that might which we have occasion for, to enable us to discharge our duty or preserve our innocence, that grace which is sufficient for us in all the trials of life and able to help us in time of need. 3. It is according to his glorious power. He means, according to the grace of God: but the grace of God in the hearts of believers is the power of God and there is a glory in this power it is an excellent and sufficient power. And the communications of strength are not according to our weakness, to whom the strength is communicated, but according to his power, from whom it is received. When God gives he gives like himself, and when he strengthens he strengthens like himself. 4. The special use of this strength was for suffering work: That you may be strengthened unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness. He prays not only that they may be supported under their troubles, but strengthened for them: the reason is there is work to be done even when we are suffering. And those who are strengthened according to his glorious power are strengthened, (1.) To all patience. When patience hath its perfect work (James 1:4) then we are strengthened to all patience--when we not only bear our troubles patiently, but receive them as gifts from God, and are thankful for them. To you it is given to suffer, Philippians 1:29. When we bear our troubles well, though ever so many, and the circumstances of them ever so aggravating, then we bear them with all patience. And the same reason for bearing one trouble will hold for bearing another, if it be a good reason. All patience includes all the kinds of it not only bearing patience, but waiting patience. (2.) This is even unto long-suffering, that is, drawn out to a great length: not only to bear trouble awhile, but to bear it as long as God pleases to continue it. (3.) It is with joyfulness, to rejoice in tribulation, to take joyfully the spoiling of our goods, and rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for his name, to have joy as well as patience in the troubles of life. This we could never do by any strength of our own, but as we are strengthened by the grace of God.
Verse 9: For this cause we also; he doth here suggest the motive mentioned in the precedent verses, viz. their faith and love, Colossians 1:4,5, and their special love to him, Colossians 1:8, why he and his brethren had them so much upon their hearts: See Poole on "Ephesians 1:15-17".
Since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you: it seems, from the time they were refreshed with these things they did (as he exhorts the Colossians here, Colossians 4:2) always upon all solemn occasions wait upon God for the Colossians’ spiritual prosperity, as Paul himself did for the Philippians: See Poole on "Luke 18:1". See Poole on "Romans 12:12". See Poole on "Philippians 1:4". See Poole on "Philippians 1:9". See Poole on "1 Thessalonians 5:17".
And to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will; and the subject matter of their instant prayer was, that they might attain to a more distinct, clear, and practical knowledge of the mind of God in Christ, and a greater measure of conformity to what he requires in the gospel, Colossians 1:6 Ephesians 5:15-17.
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