Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.Ch. 4:1.] Meyer contends for the strict meaning of ‘equality’ for ἰσότητα, and that it never has the signification of ‘fairness.’ But (see examples in Wetst.) the common conjunction of ἴσον κ. δίκαιον would naturally lead to assigning to ἴσον the same transferred meaning which ‘æquus’ has in Latin, and to ἰσότης the same which ‘æquitas’ has. I would render then, equity,—fairness: understanding by that, an extension of τὸ δίκαιον to matters not admitting of the application of strict rules—a large and liberal interpretation of justice in ordinary matters. In every place cited by Meyer where the word is used ethically and not materially, this rendering is better than his. In Polyb. ii. 38. 8, the case is different: it there imports absolute political equality. Erasm., Corn.-a-lap., al., understand impartiality. not preferring one above another: but this does not seem to be in question here. Calv. says: ‘Non dubito quin Paulus ἰσότητα hic posuerit pro jure analogo aut distributivo: quemadmodum ad Ephesios τὰ αὐτά. Neque enim sic habent domini obnoxios sibi servos, quin vicissim aliquid ipsis debeant: quemadmodum jus analogum valere debet inter omnes ordines.’ Thdrt.: ἰσότητα οὐ τὴν ἰσοτιμίαν ἐκάλεσεν, ἀλλὰ τὴν προσήκουσαν ἐπιμέλειαν, ἧς παρὰ τῶν δεσποτῶν ἀπολαύειν χρὴ τοὺς οἰκέτας. Chrys.: τί δέ ἐστιν ἰσότης; πάντων ἐν ἀφθονίᾳ καθιστᾷν, κ. μὴ ἐᾷν ἑτέρων δεῖσθαι, ἀλλʼ ἀμείβεσθαι αὐτοὺς τῶν πόνων. Cf. Philemon 1:16.
παρέχεσθε] ‘supply on your side:’ see Krüger, Grieehische Sprachlehre, § 52. 8, who gives several examples of the dynamic middle in this very verb. Ellic. well insists on and explains its force, as referring rather to the powers put forth by the subject, whereas the active simply and objectively states the action.
εἰδότες] See ch. 3:24.
καὶ ὑμεῖς] as well as they: as you are masters to them, so the Lord to you.
2.] γρηγ. watching in it, i.e. not remiss and indolent in your occupation of prayer (τῇ πρ.), but active and watchful, cheerful also, ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ, which defines and characterizes the watchfulness. ἐπειδή γὰρ τὸ καρτερεῖν ἐν ταῖς εὐχαῖς ῥᾳθυμεῖν πολλάκις ποιεῖ, διὰ τοῦτό φησι γρηγοροῦντες, τουτέστι νήφοντες, μὴ ῥεμβόμενοι. οἶδε γάρ, οἶδεν ὁ διάβολος ὅσον ἀγαθὸν εὐχή· διὸ βαρὺς ἔγκειται. οἶδε δὲ καὶ Παῦλος πῶς ἀκηδιῶσι πολλοὶ εὐχόμενοι. διό φησι γρ. ἐν αὐτ. ἐν εὐχαρ.—τοῦτο γάρ φησιν ἔργον ὑμῶν ἔστω, ἐν ταῖς εὐχαῖς εὐχαριστεῖν, κ. ὑπὲρ τῶν φανερῶν κ. ὑπ. τῶν ἀφανῶν, κ. ὑπὲρ ὧν ἑκόντας, κ. ὑπὲρ ὧν ἄκοντας ἐποίησεν εὖ, κ. ὑπὲρ βασιλείας, κ. ὑπὲρ γεέννης, κ. ὑπὲρ θλίψεως, κ. ὑπὲρ ἀνέσεως. οὕτω γὰρ ἔθος τοῖς ἁγίοις εὔχεσθαι, κ. ὑπὲρ τῶν κοινῶν εὐεργεσιῶν εὐχαριστεῖν. Chrys.
3.] ἡμῶν, not ‘me,’—see ch. 1:1, 3. This is plainly shewn here by the singular following after.
ἵνα] see on 1Corinthians 14:13. Here, the idea of final result is prominent: but the purport is also included.
θύραν τ. λόγου] not as Calv., al., oris apertionem, Ephesians 6:19; but as in reff., objective, an opening of opportunity for the extension of the Gospel by the word. This would, seeing that the Apostle was a prisoner, naturally be given first and most chiefly, as far as he was concerned, by his liberation: cf. Philemon 1:22.
λαλῆσαι] inf. of purpose—so that we may speak.
διʼ ὃ κ. δ.] for (on account of) which (mystery) I am (not only a minister but) also bound.
4.] The second ἵνα gives the purpose of the previous verse, not the purpose of δέδεμαι, as Chrys. (τὰ δεσμὰ φανεροῖ αὐτόν, οὐ συσκιάζει), Bengel (‘vinctus sum ut patefaciam: paradoxon’), nor to be joined with προσευχόμενοι, as Beza, De W., al. If that might be so, the door opened, &c.,—then he would make it known as he ought to do—then he would be fulfilling the requirements of that apostolic calling, from which now in his imprisonment he was laid aside. Certainly this is the meaning,—and not, as ordinarily understood, cf. Chrys., al., that he might boldly declare the Gospel in his imprisonment.
5, 6.] Exhortations as to their behaviour in the world.
5. ἐν σοφίᾳ] in (as an element) wisdom (the practical wisdom of Christian prudence and sound sense).
πρός, as in οὐδὲν πρὸς Διόνυσον,—εἴ του δέοιτο πρὸς Τιμόθεον πρᾶξαι, Demosth. p. 1185, signifying simply in relation to, in the intercourse of life. Ellic. refers to a good discussion of this preposition in Rost and Palm’s Lex. vol. ii. p. 1157. On οἱ ἔξω, see reff. They are those outside the Christian brotherhood. πρὸς τὰ μέλη τὰ οἰκεῖα οὐ τοσαύτης ἡμῖν δεῖ ἀσφαλείας, ὅσης πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω· ἔνθα γὰρ ἀδελφοί, εἰσὶ κ. συγγνῶμαι πολλαὶ κ. ἀγάπαι. Chrys.
τ. καιρ. ἐξαγορ.] see on Ephesians 5:16. The opportunity for what, will be understood in each case from the circumstances, and our acknowledged Christian position as watching for the cause of the Lord. The thought in Eph., ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσι, lies in the background of the word ἐξαγοραζάμενοι.
6.] Let your speech (πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω still) be always in (as its characteristic element) grace (i.e. gracious, and winning favour: cf. Luke 4:22), seasoned with salt (not insipid and void of point, which can do no man any good: we must not forget that both these words have their spiritual meaning: χάρις, so common an one as to have almost passed out of its ordinary acceptation into that other,—the grace which is conferred on us from above, and which our words and actions should reflect:—and ἅλας, as used by our Saviour in reff. (see note on Mark), as symbolizing the unction, freshness, and vital briskness which characterizes the Spirit’s presence and work in a man. So that we must beware here of supposing that mere Attic ‘sales’ are meant, or any vivacity of outward expression only, and keep in mind the Christian import. Of the Commentators, Thdrt. comes the nearest,—πνευματικῇ συνέσει κοσμεῖσθε. There seems to be no allusion here to the conservative power of salt: the matter in hand at present is not avoiding corrupt conversation. Still less does the meaning of wit belong to this place. A local allusion is just possible: Herod. vii. 30 says of Xerxes, Ἄναυα δὲ καλεομένην Φρυγῶν πόλιν παραμειβόμενος, καὶ λίμνην ἐκ τῆς ἅλες γίνονται, ἀπίκετο ἐς Κολοσσάς, πόλιν μεγάλην Φρυγίης).
εἰδέναι] to know—i.e. so that you may know: see ref., “loosely appended infin., expressive of consequence,” as Ellicott. See Winer, edn. 6, § 41. 1. Cf. 1Peter 3:15, which however is but one side of that readiness which is here recommended.
7-18.] Close of the Epistle.
7-9.] Of the bearers of the Epistle, Tychicus and Onesimus.
7.] On Tychicus, see Ephesians 4:21.
ὁ ἀγ. ἀδελφός, as dear to his heart: πιστ. διάκ., as his tried companion in the ministry,—σύνδ. ἐν κυρίῳ, as one with him in the motives and objects of his active work: ὥστε, as Chrys., αὐτῷ πάντοθεν τὸ ἀξιόπιστον ξυνήγαγεν. There is a delicate touch of affection in ἵνα γνῷ τὰ περὶ ὑμ., which can hardly, in the doubtfulness of the reading, be the work of a corrector. It implies that there were painful circumstances of trial, to which the subsequent παρακαλέσῃ also has reference. δείκνυσιν αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς πειρασμοῖς ὄντας, Chrys. The objection (Eadie), that thus the εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο will announce another purpose from that enounced above in τὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ π. γνωρ., will apply just as much to the other reading;—for any how the αὐτὸ τοῦτο must iuclude the καὶ παρακαλέσῃ κ.τ.λ. But the fact is, that αὐτὸ τοῦτο may apply exclusively to the following, without any reference to what has preceded: see Romans 9:17; the parallel place, Ephesians 6:22; Philippians 1:6.
9. σὺν Ὀνησ.] There can hardly be a doubt (compare ver. 17 with Philemon 1:2, Philemon 1:10 ff.) that this is the Onesimus of the Epistle to Philemon. When Calv. wrote “vix est credibile hunc esse servum illum Philemonis, quia furis et fugitivi nomen dedecori subjectum fuisset,” he forgot that this very term, ἀδελφὸς ἀγαπητός, is applied to him, Philemon 1:16.
ἐξ ὑμῶν] most probably, a native of your town.
πάντ. ὑμ. γν. τὰ ὧδε] A formal restatement of τὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ π. γν. above. Is it likely, with this restatement, that the same should be again stated in the middle of the sentence, as would be the case with the reading ἵνα γνῶτε τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν?
10-14.] Various greetings from brethren.
10.] Aristarchus was a Thessalonian (Acts 20:4), first mentioned Acts 19:29, as dragged into the theatre at Ephesus during the tumult, together with Gaius, both being συνέκδημοι Παύλου. He accompanied Paul to Asia (ib. 22:4), and was with him in the voyage to Rome (27:2). In Philemon 1:24, he sends greeting, with Marcus, Demas, and Lucas, as here. On συναιχμάλωτος, Meyer (after Fritzsche, Rom. vol. i. prolegg. p. xxi) suggests an idea, which may without any straining of probability be adopted, and which would explain why Aristarchus is here συναιχμ., and in Philemon 1:24, συνεργός, whereas Epaphras is here, ch. 1:7, merely a σύνδουλος, and in Philemon 1:23 a συναιχμάλωτος. His view is, that the Apostle’s friends may have voluntarily shared his imprisonment by turns: and that Aristarchus may have been his fellow-prisoner when he wrote this Epistle, Epaphras when he wrote that to Philemon. συναιχμάλωτος belongs to the same image of warfare as συνστρατιώτης, Philippians 2:25; Philemon 1:2.
Μάρκος] can hardly be other than John Mark, cf. Acts 12:12, Acts 12:25, who accompanied Paul and Barnabas in part of their first missionary journey, and because he turned back from their at Perga (ib.13:13; 15:38), was the subject of dispute between them on their second journey. That he was also the Evangelist, is matter of pure tradition, but not therefore to be rejected.
ἀνεψιός] not ‘sister’s son:’ this rendering has arisen from mistaking the definition given by Hesych., ἀνεψιοί, ἀδελφῶν υἱοί,—meaning that ἀνεψιοί are sons of brothers, i.e. cousins. (Ellic. in notes on his translation of the Epistle, suggests that ‘sister’s-son’ may after all be no mistake, but an archaism to express, as the German Geschwisterkind, a cousin.) “Pollux dicit, filios filiasque fratrum et sororum, dici ἀνεψιούς, ex his prognatos ἀνεψιαδοῦς, ἀνεψιαδάς,—tertio gradu ἐξανεψιούς, ἐξανεψιάς a Menandro dici.” Lobeck on Phrynichus, p. 306. This is decisively shewn in Herod. vii. 5, Μαρδόνιος … ὃς ἦν Ξέρξῃ μὲν ἀνεψιός, Δαρείου δὲ ἀδελφεῆς πάϊς. It is also used in a wider sense (see Hom. Il. α. 464): but there is no need to depart here from the strict meaning.
περὶ οὗ …] What these commands were, must be left in entire uncertainty. They had been sent previous to the writing of our Epistle (ἐλάβετε): but from, or by whom, we know not. They concerned Marcus, not Barnabas (as Thl., al.): and one can hardly help connecting them, associated as they are with ἐὰν ἔλθῃ, δέξασθε αὐτόυ, with the dispute of Acts 15:38. It is very possible, that in consequence of the rejection of John Mark on that occasion by St. Paul, the Pauline portion of the churches may have looked upon him with suspicion.
11. Ἰησοῦς … Ἰοῦστος] Entirely unknown to us. A Justus is mentioned Acts 18:7, as an inhabitant of Corinth, and a proselyte: but there is no further reason to identify the two. The surname Justus (צדוק) was common among the Jews: cf. Acts 1:23, and Jos. Vit. 9, 65, 76.
These alone who are of the circumcision (the construction is of the nature of an anacoluthon, οἱ ὄντες ἐκ π. being equivalent to ‘of those of the circumcision.’
We have a similar construction frequently in the classics: e.g. ἄμφω δʼ ἑζομένω γεραρώτερος ἦεν Ὀδυσσεύς, Il. γ. 211: ὅρκια πιστὰ ταμόντες ὁ μὲν βασιλευέτωαἰεί, Od. ω. 483. See many more examples in Kühner, ii. § 678. 2. This seems far better, with Meyer and Lachmann, than with rec. Ellic. al. to place the stop at περιτομῆς and attach the clause to the three preceding names. For thus we lose (in spite of the assertion by Ellic. that the μόνοι naturally refers the thought to the category last mentioned) the fact that there were other συνεργοί not of the circumcision who had been a comfort to him. The judaistic teachers were for the most part in opposition to St. Paul: cf. his complaint, Philippians 1:15, Philippians 1:17) are my fellow-workers towards the kingdom of God (the rest would not be called by this name—so that De W.’s objection to the construction does not apply, that the opponents would not be called συνεργοί; for they are not so called), man that proved (the passive meaning of ἐγενήθησαν is not safely to be pressed: see notes on Ephesians 3:7; 1Thessalonians 1:5, 1Thessalonians 1:6; 1Peter 1:15. The aor. alludes to some event recently passed: to what precisely, we cannot say) a comfort to me (they are my συνεργοί ‘quippe qui.…’ Hierocles, de nuptiis, apud Stob. (Kypke), has the same phrase: ἡ γυνὴ δὲ παροῦσα μεγάλη γίνεται κ. πρὸς ταῦτα παρηγορία: so Plutarch, de auditione, p. 43 (id.), νόσημα παρηγορίας … δεόμενον).
12.] On Epaphras, see ch. 1:7 note. The sentence is better without a comma at ὑμῶν, both as giving more spirit to the δοῦλος χ. Ἰ., and setting the ἐξ ὑμ. in antithesis to the ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν below. On ἀγων. besides reff., see Romans 15:30. By mentioning Epaphras’s anxious prayers for them, he works further on their affections, giving them an additional motive for stedfastness, in that one of themselves was thus striving in prayer for them, ἵνα here gives the direct aim of ἀγωνιζ. See above on ver. 3—that ye may stand,—perfect and fully persuaded (see reff.),—in (be firmly settled in, without danger of vacillating or falling) all the (lit. ‘in every:’ but we cannot thus express it in English) will of God. This connexion, of στῆτε with ἐν, as Mey., seems better than, as ordinarily (so also De W. and Ellic.), to join ἐν with the participles. Eadie characterizes it as needless refinement in Mey. to assert that thus not only a modal-beftimmung but a local-beftimmung is attached to στῆτε: but the use of στῆναι ἐν in the reff. seems to justify it.
13.] πόνος,—an unusual word in the N. T., hence the var. readd.,—is usual in the toil of conflict in war, thus answering to ἀγωνιζόμ. above: so Herod. vi. 114, ἐν τούτῳ τῷ πόνῳ ὁ πολέμαρχος Καλλίμαχος διαφθείρεται: similarly viii. 89. Plato, Phædr. 247 b, ἔνθα δὴ πόνος τε κ. ἀγὼν ἔσχατος ψυχῇ πρόκειται: Demosth. 637. 18, εἰ δʼ ἐκεῖνος ἀσθενέστερος ἦν τὸν ὑπὲρ τῆς νίκης ἐνεγκεῖν πόνον.
On account of this mention of Laodicea and Hierapolis, some have thought that Epaphras was the founder of the three churches. See Prolegg. § ii. 2, 7.
Λαοδικείᾳ] Laodicea was a city of Phrygia Magna (Strabo xii. 8, Plin. v. 29: according to the subscription (rec.) of 1 Tim., the chief city of Phrygia Pacatiana), large (ἡ τῆς χώρας ἀρετὴ κ. τῶν πολιτῶν τινες εὐτυχήσαντες, μεγάλην ἐποιήσαντο αὐτήν, Strabo) and rich (Revelation 3:17; and Prolegg. to Rev. § iii. 13. Tac. Ann. xiv. 27: ‘Laodicea, tremore terræ prolapsa, nullo a nobis remedio, propriis opibus revaluit:’ δυνατωτέρα τῶν ἐπὶ θαλάττῃ, Philostr. Soph. i. 25), on the river Lycus (hence called Λ. ἡ ἐπὶ Λύκῳ or πρὸς τῷ Λύκῳ, see Strabo, ib.), formerly called Diospolis, and afterwards Rhoas; its subsequent name was from Laodice queen of Antiochus II. (Steph. Byz.) In a.d. 62, Laodicea, with Hierapolis and Colossæ, was destroyed by an earthquake (Tacit. l. c.), to which visitations the neighbourhood was very subject (εἰ γάρ τις ἄλλη κ. ἡ Λαοδίκεια εὔσειστος, κ. τῆς πλησιοχώρου πλέον, Plin. ib.). There is now on the spot a desolate village called Eski-hissar, with some ancient ruins (Arundel, Seven Churches). Winer, Realw.
Ἱεραπόλει] Six Roman miles north from Laodicea: famed for many mineral springs (Strabo, xiii. 4, describes them at length, also the caverns which exhale noxious vapour. See also Plin. ii. 95), which are still flowing (Schubert, i. 283). Winer, Realw.
14.] This Λουκᾶς has ever been taken for the Evangelist: see Iren. iii. 14.1, p. 201, and Prolegg. to St. Luke, § i. In ὁ ἰατρὸς ὁ ἀγαπητός there may be a trace of what has been supposed, that it was in a professional capacity that he first became attached to St. Paul, who evidently laboured under grievous sickness during the earlier part of the journey where Luke first appears in his company. Compare Galatians 4:13 note, with Acts 16:6, Acts 16:10. But this is too uncertain to be more than an interesting conjecture.
Δημᾶς] one of Paul’s συνεργοί, Philemon 1:24, who however afterwards deserted him, from love to the world, 2Timothy 4:10. The absence of any honourable or endearing mention here may be owing to the commencement of this apostasy, or some unfavourable indication in his character.
15-17.] Salutations to friends.
15.] καί, before Νυμφᾶν, as so often, selects one out of a numbe Laodicean brethren. The var. readings, αὐτοῦ, αὐτῆς, appear to have arisen from the construction (see below) not being understood, and the alteration thus having been made to the singular, but in various genders, αὐτῶν refers to τῶν περὶ Νυμφᾶν: cf. Xen. Mem. i. 2. 62, ἐάν τις φανερὸς γένηται κλέπτων—τούτοις θάνατός ἐστιν ἡ ζημία: and see Bernhardy, p. 288; Kühner ii. § 419 b. On the ἐκκλησία spoken of, see note, Romans 16:5.
16.] ἡ ἐπιστ., the present letter, reff.
ποιήσ. ἵνα] as ποίει, ὅκως … Herod. i. 8. 209,—ὡς σαφέστατά γἂν εἰδείην … ἐποίουν, Xen. Cyr. vi. 3. 18.
τὴν ἐκ Λαοδ.] On this Epistle, see Prolegg. to Eph. § ii. 17, 19; and Philem. § iii. 2, 3 [and note on the subscription to 1 Tim.]. I will only indicate here the right rendering of the words. They cannot well be taken, as τινές in Chrys., to mean οὐχὶ τὴν Π. πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἀπεσταλμένην, ἀλλὰ τὴν παρʼ αὐτῶν Παύλῳ (so also Syr., Thdrt., Phot. in Œc., Erasm., Beza, Calv., Wolf, Est., Corn.-a-lap., al.), both on account of the awkwardness of the sense commanding them to read an Epistle sent from Laodicea, and not found there, and on account of the phrase τὴν ἐκ so commonly having the pregnant meaning of ‘which is there and must be sought from there;’ cf. Kühner, ii. § 623 α. Herod. iii. 6. Thucyd. ii. 34; iii. 22; vi. 32; vii. 70, and other examples there. We may safely say that a letter not from, but to the Laodiceans is meant. For the construction of this latter sentence, ποιήσατε again is of course to be supplied.
17.] Archippus is mentioned Philemon 1:2, and called the Apostle’s συνστρατιώτης. I have treated on the inference to be drawn from this passage as to his abode, in the Prolegg. to Philemon, § iii.1. He was evidently some officer of the church, but what, in the wideness of διακονία, we cannot say: and conjectures are profitless (see such in Est. and Corn.-a-lap.). Meyer well remarks, that the authority hereby implied on the part of the congregation to exercise reproof and discipline over their teachers is remarkable: and that the hierarchical turn given to the passage by Thl. and Œc. (ἵνα ὅταν ἐπιτιμᾷ Ἀρχ. αὐτοῖς, μὴ ἔχωσιν ἐγκαλεῖν ἐκείνῳ ὡς πικρῷ, … ἐπεὶ ἄλλως ἄτοπον τοῖς μαθηταῖς περὶ τοῦ διδασκάλου διαλέγεσθαι, Thl.) belongs to a later age. As to the words themselves,—Take heed to the ministry which thou receivedst in the Lord (the sphere of the reception of the ministry; in which the recipient lived and moved and promised at his ordination: not, of the ministry itself (τὴν ἐν κυρ.),—nor is ἐν to be diverted from its simple local meaning), that (aim and end of the βλέπε,—in order that) thou fulfil it (reff.).
18.] Autograph salutation.
ὁ … Παύλου] See ref. 1 Cor., where the same words occur.
μνημ.… δεσμ.] These words extend further than to mere pecuniary support, or even mere prayers: they were ever to keep before them the fact that one who so deeply cared for them, and loved them, and to whom their perils of false doctrine occasioned such anxiety, was a prisoner in chains: and that remembrance was to work and produce its various fruits—of prayer for him, of affectionate remembrance of his wants, of deep regard for his words. When we read of ‘his chains,’ we should not forget that they moved over the paper as he wrote. His right hand was chained to the soldier that kept him. See Smith’s Dict, of Antiq. under ‘Catena.’
ἡ χάρις—cf. reff. and ch. 3:16. ‘The grace’ in which we stand (Romans 5:2): it seems (reff.) to be a form of valediction belonging to the later period of the Epistles of St. Paul.