|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-8 All true Christians are brethren one to another. Faithfulness runs through every character and relation of the Christian life. Faith, hope, and love, are the three principal graces in the Christian life, and proper matter for prayer and thanksgiving. The more we fix our hopes on the reward in the other world, the more free shall we be in doing good with our earthly treasure. It was treasured up for them, no enemy could deprive them of it. The gospel is the word of truth, and we may safely venture our souls upon it. And all who hear the word of the gospel, ought to bring forth the fruit of the gospel, obey it, and have their principles and lives formed according to it. Worldly love arises, either from views of interest or from likeness in manners; carnal love, from the appetite for pleasure. To these, something corrupt, selfish, and base always cleaves. But Christian love arises from the Holy Spirit, and is full of holiness.
Verse 8. - Who also showed us your love in (the) Spirit (2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; Philippians 4:10); i.e. your love to us. Timothy and myself, especially if we read "in our behalf" in ver. 7: so, many interprefers, from Chrysostom to Klopper. Epaphras had conveyed the blessings of the gospel from St. Paul to the Colossians, and they now send back the grateful assurance of their love by the same channel (comp, note on "having heard," ver. 4, and parallel passages). This was a choice fruit of the gospel in them (comp. Philippians 4:10, 15-18), and such a reference to it gives a kindly conclusion to the thanksgiving. Ellicott and others understand here brotherly love in general - a somewhat pointless repetition of ver. 4. Meyer, reading "on your behalf" in ver. 7. more suitably suggests the Colossians' love to Epaphras in return for his services to them. The Spirit is the ruling element of the Colossians' love (Galatians 5:22) Love-in-the-Sprat forms a single compound phrase, like "faith-in-Christ-Jesus" (ver. 4). The one Spirit dwells alike in all the members of Christ's body, however sundered by place or circumstance (Ephesians 4:1-4), and makes them one in love to each other as to him (John 13:34, 35; 1 John 3:23, 24). "Spirit" occurs besides in this Epistle only in Colossians 2:5 (but see "spiritual," ver. 9), and some find in Colossians 2:1, 5 the explanation of this phrase (sc. "a love formed in absence, without personal intercourse:" but this is forced, and doubtful in point of grammar). Verses 9-14. - The opening prayer rises out of the foregoing thanksgiving, and leads up to the chief doctrinal statement of the Epistle (vers. 15-20: compare, for the connection, Ephesians 1:15-23; Romans 1:8-17). The burden of this prayer, as in other letters of this period, is the Church's need of knowledge (comp. Ephesians 1:17, 18; Philippians 1:9, 10). Here this desire has its fullest expression, as the necessity of the Colossians in this. respect was the more urgent and their situation, therefore, the more fully representative of the stage in the history of the Pauline Churches now commencing. He asks for his readers
(1) a fuller knowledge of the Divine will (ver. 9); to result in
(2) greater pleasingness to God (ver. 10 a), due
(3) to increased moral fruitfulness and spiritual growth (ver. 10 b), to
(4) patience under suffering (ver. 11), and to
(5) thankfulness for the blessings of redemption (vers. 12-14).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. Not only their love to God, and Christ, and to all the saints, which is before mentioned, but their love to the apostle; though they had only heard of him, and of his great capacity for, and faithfulness and usefulness in preaching of the Gospel, which had greatly endeared him to them. This, he says, was in the Spirit; it was spiritual love, to distinguish it from a carnal and worldly one; they loved him for the spiritual grace that was in him, the spiritual gifts bestowed on him, the spiritual service he was engaged in, and the spiritual usefulness he was of: or they loved him in, and with their spirits, with all their hearts, sincerely, and without dissimulation; and though they had never seen him in the flesh, yet being, as it were, present with him in spirit, their affections were knit unto him: or this their love was "in the Holy Spirit", as the Ethiopic version reads it; it was a fruit of the Spirit of God, which he had implanted in their hearts in regeneration, as is also love to God, and likewise to Christ.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. your love—(Col 1:4); "to all the saints."
in the Spirit—the sphere or element IN which alone true love is found; as distinguished from the state of those "in the flesh" (Ro 8:9). Yet even they needed to be stirred up to greater love (Col 3:12-14). Love is the first and chief fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22).
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