Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,Colossians 1:1-2. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ — To convince the Colossians that all the things contained in this epistle were dictated by the Spirit of God, and therefore were at once infallibly true, and deeply important, the apostle begins with assuring them both that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, and that he was made such by the will of God the Father, an honour which none of the false teachers could claim. And Timothy our brother — “Timothy’s early piety, his excellent endowments, his approved faithfulness, and his affectionate labours in the gospel with the apostle, well known to most, if not to all, the Gentile churches, rendering him highly worthy of their regard, Paul allowed him to join in writing several of the letters which he addressed to these churches: not, however, to add any thing to his own authority, but rather to add to Timothy’s influence; for which purpose also he calls him here his brother, rather than his son.” — Macknight. To the saints and faithful brethren — The word saints expresses their union with God, and brethren, their union with their fellow-Christians.
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.
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,Colossians 1:3-8. We give thanks, &c. — See on Romans 1:8; to God and the Father — Or, even the Father of our Lord, &c.; or, as the original expression is still more literally rendered, To the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: praying always for you — Making express mention of you in all our addresses to the throne of grace; since we heard — Ακουσαντες, having heard; of your faith, &c. — See on Ephesians 1:15; for the hope which is laid up for you — Namely, the hope of eternal life. The apostle’s meaning seems to be, that he gave thanks for this their hope, the fourth verse coming in as a parenthesis; whereof — Of which blessedness in heaven; ye heard before I wrote to you, in the word of the truth of the gospel — The true gospel preached to you; which — Through the singular goodness of God to the Gentiles, whom he seemed so long to have neglected; is come to you — At Colosse; as it is in all the world — In all parts of the Roman empire. So the phrase often signifies; and bringeth forth fruit — Is instrumental in turning men from idolatry, and all vicious practices, and of producing in them faith and holiness. At the time this epistle was written, probably A.D. 64, the gospel had been preached and received in most of the countries within the Roman empire, and had produced a great change in the manners of those who received it. The apostle made this observation to confirm the Colossians in the faith of the gospel, which, by its rapid progress, and happy influence in reforming mankind, was plainly declared to be from God. As also in you — Among whom it hath produced a great reformation; since the day ye heard it, and knew, or acknowledged, the grace of God in truth — Truly experienced its efficacy in your hearts. As ye learned of Epaphras — From the epistle to Philemon, (Colossians 1:23,) which was sent at the same time with this to the Colossians, it appears that Epaphras was in prison at Rome when the apostle wrote. But it is probable he did not choose to mention that circumstance in a letter directed to the whole church of the Colossians, lest it might have grieved them too much. Our dear fellow-servant — Of Paul and Timotheus; who is for you a faithful minister of Christ — Appointed by him to labour among you and to watch over you: the apostle bore this honourable testimony to Epaphras, that the Colossians might not suffer themselves to be drawn away from the doctrine which they had received from him; who declared your love in the Spirit — That is, the love wrought in you by the Spirit of God.
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:
As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
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;Colossians 1:9-11. For this cause — The report of your faith and love; we do not cease to pray for you — We fail not to remember you in all our prayers. This was mentioned in general, Colossians 1:3, but now more particularly; that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will — That is, his revealed will concerning the salvation of mankind by faith, (Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11,) or the gospel of Christ, — the truths declared, the blessings offered, and the duties enjoined in it; in all wisdom — That ye may have just, clear, and full views of every part of it; and spiritual understanding — That understanding which proceeds from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, spoken of Ephesians 1:17, (where see the notes,) and is a spiritual and experimental, and therefore a practical knowledge of divine things, very different from that mere speculative and notional knowledge of them with which many rest satisfied, though it neither changes their hearts nor governs their lives. That — Knowing his will, and complying with it; you may walk worthy of the Lord — May conduct yourselves in a manner suitable to his nature and attributes, the relation in which you stand to him, the benefits you have received from him, and the profession you make of believing in, loving, and serving him; unto all pleasing — So as actually to please him in all things. The apostle mentions next four particulars included in this walking worthy of the Lord. 1st, The being fruitful in every good work — Or embracing all opportunities of doing good to the bodies and souls of men, according to our ability, and thus showing our faith continually by our works, and our love by our obedience, James 2:14-18; 1 John 3:17. And, 2d, Increasing in the knowledge — The experimental practical knowledge; of God — That is, while we are diligent in performing good works outwardly, taking care that we increase in vital religion inwardly, even in a participation of the divine nature, and a conformity to the divine image. 3d, Receiving and bearing with patience, long-suffering, and joyfulness — All the sufferings which come upon us in the course of divine providence: in other words, that we sustain, with entire resignation to, and acquiescence in, the divine will, and with a calm and tranquil mind, all the chastisements of our heavenly Father, knowing they are for our profit; and all the trials by which it is his will our faith and other graces should be exercised, and all the purifying fires through which he is pleased to lead us; that we patiently bear with the infirmities, failings, and faults of our fellow-creatures, saints or sinners, and receive even their injuries and provocations without resentment; and that in the midst of all these apparent evils, we rejoice on account of the present blessings we possess, and especially in the knowledge we have that all these, and such like things, however afflictive to flesh and blood, shall infallibly work together for our good, while we love God. Well might the apostle signify, that, in order to all this, we need to be strengthened with all might, or very mightily strengthened, according to God’s glorious power, always ready to be exerted in behalf of his suffering people. The fourth particular mentioned by the apostle, as included in walking worthy of the Lord, is continual gratitude for the blessings enumerated in the three next verses; blessings which whosoever enjoys, has unspeakable reason for thankfulness, whatever his state or condition may be as to the present world.
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:Colossians 1:12-14. Giving thanks unto the Father — Of all mercy and grace, who, by justifying and sanctifying us through faith in his Son, and the influence of his Spirit, hath not only entitled us to, but wrought in us, a meetness, that is, an increasing meetness, for the inheritance of the saints in light — For, being in Christ, we are, in a measure at least, new creatures, old things being passed away, and all things, in a great degree, become new, 2 Corinthians 5:17; where see the note. Who — In order to this meetness for the heavenly inheritance; hath delivered us from the power of darkness — That is, the power of the prince of darkness, and all his infernal legions, called, (Ephesians 6:12,) the rulers of the darkness of this world; and we are delivered from their power when, being rescued from that state of ignorance and error, of impenitence and unbelief, in which we naturally lie involved, we are brought to know the truth, and the truth makes us free from the guilt and power of sin, John 8:32; Romans 8:2. Some commentators have supposed, that by the power of darkness here, the apostle principally, if not only, intended that power which Satan had over the heathen world, to keep them in their various idolatries and other vicious practices, and that the apostle speaks of himself as if he had been one of the Gentile converts. But we have great reason to believe that when divine grace opened the eyes of his understanding, and made him sensible what he had been in his Pharisaical state, he saw himself to have been under the power of darkness, as Christ represents those of the Jews to have been, who, influenced by the spirit of darkness, were combined against him, Luke 22:53; as indeed all, even the professors of Christianity are, while under the power of known sin, John 8:34; John 8:44; 1 John 3:8. None can doubt, however, that, as Dr. Doddridge observes, “the ignorance and sin, confusion and misery, which reigned in the Gentile world, were also in the apostle’s thoughts when he used this expression.” And hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son — The kingdom of grace, preparatory to that of glory. Of the Father’s dear or beloved Son, the apostle proceeds to speak in the 15th and following verses. In whom we have redemption through his blood — See on Ephesians 1:7, where the contents of this verse are fully explained. The subject is treated of also from the middle of the 18th verse of this chapter. The reader will observe, that the work of redemption and salvation is here spoken of in an inverted order. The natural order is this: 1st, We have redemption through the blood of Christ; 2d, In consequence of this, and by repentance and faith therein, we have the forgiveness of sins; 3d, Being forgiven, and taken into favour with God, we are delivered, by the influence of his word and Spirit, from the power of Satan and of sin, and made the loyal subjects of Christ’s kingdom. 4th, Being thus justified and adopted into God’s family, we are also renewed in the spirit of our minds, and, in a measure at least, sanctified, and made meet for the heavenly inheritance, as is observed in Colossians 1:12.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:Colossians 1:15. Who — That is, the Son of God, in whose blood we have redemption; is the image of the invisible God — By the description here given of the glory of Christ, and his pre-eminence over the highest angels, the apostle lays a foundation for the reproof of all worshippers of angels. The Socinians contend that Christ is here styled the image of the invisible God, merely because he made known to men the will of God; and that in this sense only Christ said to Philip, (John 14:9,) He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. But it should be considered, that in other passages in Scripture, the word image denotes likeness, if not sameness of nature and properties, as 1 Corinthians 15:49 : As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Certainly, as Dr. Whitby observes, the more natural import of the phrase is, that Christ is therefore called the image of God, because he made him, who is invisible in his essence, conspicuous to us by the divine works he wrought, they being such as plainly showed that in him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily; for the invisible God can only be seen by the effects of his power, wisdom, and goodness, and of his other attributes. He who, by the works both of the old and new creation, hath given such clear demonstrations of the divine power, wisdom, and goodness, is, upon this account, as much the image of God as it is possible any person or thing should be; and to this sense the expression seems here necessarily restrained by the connective particle οτι, for. He is the image of God, for by him all things were created. Moreover, this passage in exactly parallel to that in the beginning of the epistle to the Hebrews, as will evidently appear on a comparison of the two. Here he is said to be the image of God; there, the brightness (απαυγασμα, effulgence) of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, or substance, as υποστασεως more properly signifies: here he is called the firstborn, or Lord, of every creature; there, the heir of all things: here it is said that all things were created by him; there, that he made the worlds: here, that by him all things do consist; and there, that he upholdeth all things by the word of his power. Now, that he is there styled the image of God’s glory, and the express image or character of his person, or substance, by reason of that divine power, wisdom, and majesty, which shone forth in his actions, some Socinians are forced to confess. It is not, therefore, to be doubted that he is here styled the image of God in the same sense. And it is highly probable that he is called the image of the invisible God, as appearing to the patriarchs, and representing to them the Father, who dwells in light inaccessible; (1 Timothy 6:16;) according to what is frequently observed by the ante-Nicene fathers, that God the Father being invisible, and one whom no man hath seen or can see, appeared to the patriarchs by his Son. Add to this, that the Son is likewise called the image of God, because he manifested the divine perfections in the flesh visibly, by that fulness of grace and truth which shone in him during his abode on earth. This St. John’s words evidently imply: No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. See the notes on John 1:14; John 1:18. In which sense Christ’s words to Philip also (John 14:9) are to be understood: He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, as our Lord manifestly shows, when he adds, I am in the Father, and the Father in me: the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. And 2 Corinthians 4:4, he is plainly styled the image of God, for the like reason, because (Colossians 1:6) the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is reflected from his face, or person, as προσωπω signifies. See the notes there.
The firstborn — Or first-begotten, (πρωτοτοκος,) of every creature — Or rather, of the whole creation, as πασα κτισις is translated Romans 8:22, existing before it, and the heir and Lord of it. “According to the Arians, the firstborn of the whole creation is the first-made creature. But the reason advanced to prove the Son the firstborn of the whole creation overturns that sense of this passage; for surely the Son’s creating all things doth not prove him to be the first-made creature; unless his power of creating all things originated from his being the first-made creature; which no one will affirm. As little does the Son’s creating all things prove that he created himself. Yet these absurdities will be established by the apostle’s reasoning, if the firstborn of the whole creation signifies the first-made creature. But it is proper to observe, that πρωτοτοκος, the firstborn, or first-begotten, in this passage, may signify the heir, or Lord: of the whole creation. For, anciently, the firstborn was entitled to possess his father’s estate, 2 Chronicles 21:3. The firstborn was likewise lord of his brethren, who were all his servants. This appears from what Isaac said to Esau, after he had bestowed the rights of primogeniture on Jacob, Genesis 27:37. Hence, among the Hebrews and other nations, firstborn, heir, and lord, were synonymous terms. See Galatians 4:1. According to this interpretation of the terms firstborn and heir, the apostle’s reasoning is perfectly just: for the creation of all things, (Colossians 1:16,) and the making of the world, (Hebrews 1:3,) through the Son, is a direct proof that he is the firstborn, heir, or Lord of the whole.” See Whitby and Macknight.
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:Colossians 1:16-17. For by him were all things created, &c. — The casual particle οτι, for, or because, with which this verse begins, refers to both parts of the preceding verse. The Son is the image of the invisible God, as well as the firstborn of the whole creation, because by him were all things created. See the note on John 1:3, where the creation of all things by Christ, God’s eternal Word and Son, is explained at large. That are in heaven — And heaven itself; but the inhabitants are named, because more noble than the house; and earth; visible — The material fabric of this world, with all its inhabitants, called, (Hebrews 11:3,) τα βλεπομενα, the things which are seen, including the visible splendour of the celestial luminaries, the sun, moon, and stars, even all the hosts of these lower heavens; and invisible — The different orders of angels, both those that stood and those that afterward fell; called, in the following part of the verse, thrones, dominions, &c. Because, in after times, false teachers would arise and affirm, some, that the world was made by angels; others, that it was made by an evil principle; the apostle may have been directed by the Spirit to declare, in the most express manner, that all things were created by God’s beloved Son, that the sincere might be preserved from these pernicious errors. All things were created by him and for him — They are the productions of his unsearchable wisdom and almighty power, and were made by him, that he might possess and govern them, and be glorified in and by them. To interpret this, as the Socinians do, of the new creation in a spiritual sense, is so unnatural, that one could hardly believe, if the evidence were not so undeniably strong, that any set of learned commentators could have imbibed such an opinion. And he is before all things — In the duration, as well as in the dignity of his nature; or, as Micah expresses it, (Micah 5:2,) he is from everlasting; and by him all things consist — Or subsist in that harmonious order of being which renders this universal system one beautiful whole. For the original expression, συνεστηκε, not only implies that he sustains all things in being, or, as it is expressed Hebrews 1:3, upholdeth all things by the word of his power, but that all things were, and are, compacted in him into one system, and preserved therein; and that he is the cement, as well as support, of the universe. This description of the Son, as the first Maker and continual Preserver of all creatures in earth and heaven, even of the various orders of angelic beings, was most pertinent to his purpose of showing the Colossians the folly of the false teachers who were endeavouring to seduce them from their reliance on Christ for salvation, and to persuade them to confide in and worship angels, as more powerful mediators with God than his own beloved Son, by whom these angels were all created.
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
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.Colossians 1:18-19. And he is the head of the body, the church — The apostle having displayed the greatness of the Son, as Creator of all things, visible and invisible, in the heavens and upon the earth, proceeds, in this clause, to display his glory as head of the church, which is called the body, and his body, to intimate, that as the human body is influenced, directed, and governed by the head, so the church universal, including the whole body of believers, is influenced, directed, and governed by Christ its head. Who is — The repetition of the expression (see Colossians 1:15) points out the entrance on a new paragraph; the beginning — Αρχη, the principle, or cause of all things; absolutely the Eternal. The Greek philosophers expressed the first cause, or efficient principle of things, by this word αρχη, beginning. In this sense Christ called himself (Revelation 3:14) αρχη της κτισεως του Θεου, the first cause of the creation of God. But though it be a high honour to the church that he is its head who is the first cause of all things, yet, as the apostle in this verse is speaking of Christ as the head of the church, it is probable that he is here called the first cause, or beginning, in respect of it, which began immediately after the fall, in the view of Christ’s coming into the world to perform that one great act of obedience, by which the evil consequences of Adam’s one act of disobedience were to be remedied. The firstborn, or first-begotten, from the dead — From whose resurrection flows all the life, spiritual and eternal, of all his brethren. Christ is called the firstborn, from, or of, (as εκ may be here rendered,) the dead, both because he was the first who ever rose to an immortal life, and because he is the Lord of all the dead, (as well as the living, Romans 14:9,) and will raise them at the last day. That in all things — Whether of nature or grace; he might have the pre-eminence — Suitable to the infinitely superior dignity of his nature above all created beings. For it pleased the Father — “The words, the Father, are not in the original; but they are very properly supplied by our translators. For, as the expression is elliptical, it must be completed, either as our translators have done, or as others propose, by adding the word him: It hath pleased him; namely, Christ. But, not to mention the confusion which this method of supplying the ellipsis occasions in the apostle’s discourse, it represents the Son as taking the fulness of perfection and government to himself, independently of the will of the Father; contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture, in which the Son is said, in the affair of our salvation, to act in subordination to the will of his Father.” — Macknight. That in him should all fulness dwell — All fulness of truth and grace, of wisdom, power, and love, and all divine perfections; or, as the expression may chiefly mean, all fulness of gifts and graces, to supply the wants of his church. That this fulness should reside in him constantly, and be always ready to supply the wants of those that in faith and prayer apply to him.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.Colossians 1:20. And having made peace through the blood of the cross — The blood shed thereon, by which the design of the ceremonial law having been answered, the obligations of it were abolished, and the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles broken down, in order to their being united in one church; by which blood of the cross also, the sins of men being expiated, peace is made between God and man; by him to reconcile all things unto himself, whether things in earth — Here the enmity began, therefore this is mentioned first; or things in heaven — Those who are now in paradise; the saints who died before Christ came. See notes on Ephesians 2:15-16. Some commentators, under the expression things in heaven, suppose that the angels are included; therefore, instead of to reconcile all things to himself, Dr. Whitby reads, By him to make all things friendly in him, making peace between them by the blood of the cross; an interpretation which Doddridge thinks expresses “the true sense, and the only sense in which angels could be said to be reconciled; for if it were granted,” according to what some have maintained, “that the angels received confirming grace in Christ, they could not be said, upon that account, to be reconciled: but when a breach commenced between man and the blessed God, the angels, as faithful subjects, must join with him against the rebellious creature, and be ready to act as enemies to him, while he continued the enemy of God.” Macknight, who also thinks that the expression, things in heaven, includes angels, reads and paraphrases the clause, “By him to unite all things to him, whether they be men upon earth, or angels in heaven; that, being joined together in one body for the worship of God, they may be happy through all eternity by that union.”
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciledColossians 1:21-23. And you — Colossians, in particular, with all other Gentiles; that were sometime — Greek, ποτε, once, formerly; alienated — Estranged from the knowledge, love, and life of the one living and true God, (see note on Ephesians 4:18,) being destitute not only of all conformity to him, and union with him, but of all fear of him, and acquaintance with his nature and attributes; yea, and enemies — To him and to his worship and service; in your mind — Your understanding, judgment, will, and affections; by wicked works — Which at once manifested your inward enmity, and continually fed and increased it. Observe, reader, every violation of the divine law, every instance of disobedience to his commands, is an undeniable proof of enmity to him. This, however, is not the only evidence thereof: for, as he manifests his will by the dispensations of his providence, as well as by the precepts of his word, so far as we do not receive these dispensations, however afflictive, with resignation and patience, we manifest our enmity to him; as we do likewise, according to Romans 8:6-7, (where see the note,) so far as we are carnally minded; that is, esteem, desire, and delight in visible and temporal, in preference to spiritual and eternal things; or set our affection on things beneath, instead of setting it on things above, and seek that happiness in the creature which ought to be sought, and certainly can only be found, in the Creator. Yet now hath he reconciled — To himself and to the society of his people. That is, he is both reconciled to you, having forgiven you all your trespasses, and also hath reconciled you, or removed your enmity, by shedding his love abroad in your hearts; in the body of his flesh — (Thus distinguished from his body the church,) namely, his entire manhood, offered up upon the cross for you; through death — Endured to expiate your guilt, and thereby both to render a holy and just God reconcileable, on the terms of repentance toward him, and faith in his Son, and to procure for you the Holy Spirit to work that repentance and faith in you, and give you such a display of God’s love to you as should win and engage your affections to him. See on Romans 5:10; to present you holy — Toward God, dedicated to him in heart and life, conformed to his image, and employed in his service; and unblameable — Αμωμους, spotless in yourselves; cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit; and unreproveable — With respect to your neighbour, cultivating truth in your words, and justice and mercy in your actions toward all men. If ye continue — That is, you will assuredly be so presented, if you continue in the faith, exercising living faith in Christ and his gospel; grounded and settled — Τεθεμελιωμενοι και εδραιοι, placed on a good foundation, and firmly fixed upon it; and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel — Namely, that lively hope of eternal life, felicity, and glory, (Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:3,) to which you were begotten again when made children of God by adoption and grace, Romans 8:17. This is termed the hope of the gospel, because the gospel reveals that future and immortal state which is the great object of this hope, and shows us how we may secure a title to that state. Faith and hope are the principal means of our salvation, from first to last. By the former, we are not only justified, and made the children of God, (Romans 3:28; Galatians 3:26,) but sanctified and saved eternally; (Acts 26:18;) and by the latter, we have patience, gratitude, joy, purity, with a disposition to be zealous and diligent in the work of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 5:2; 1 John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 15:58. It is therefore of absolute necessity, in order to our eternal salvation, that we should continue in the lively exercise of these graces. Which ye have heard — Even ye Gentiles; and which was preached — Or is already begun to be preached, by a special commission from God; to every creature which is under heaven — Being no longer confined to the Jews, but extended to all the different nations and languages of men; whereof — Of which gospel; I, Paul, am made a minister — By the singular mercy and grace of God.
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:Colossians 1:24-29. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you — Endured for your benefit, having been exposed to them in consequence of my preaching the gospel to you and other Gentiles; and fill up — That is, whereby I fill up; that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ — That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ, 1st, Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole, and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all. 2d, Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth. And these also are necessary for his body’s sake, which is the church — Not to reconcile it to God, which has been done by Christ’s sufferings, but for an example of patience to it, and for its further edification and establishment in grace. Whereof — Of which church; I am made a minister — Appointed to serve its best interests, and daily employed in doing so; according to the dispensation of God — Or the stewardship with which I am intrusted. See the same expression Ephesians 3:2. Hence the apostle calls himself and his brethren apostles, (1 Corinthians 4:1,) οικονομους μυστηριων Θεου, stewards of the mysteries of God; which is given to me for you — On your account, or for your benefit; to fulfil — Or, fully to preach, as πληρωσαι seems here to signify. Thus, Romans 15:19, πεπληρωκεναι το ευαγγελιον is translated, I have fully preached the gospel; the mystery which hath been hid from ages — Namely, that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and that they should be called into the church of God without being subjected to the bondage of the Jewish law, or the ceremony of circumcision. For by the word mystery is frequently meant, not a matter hard to be understood, but a matter long concealed, and, when revealed, difficult to be believed, through the prejudices of men. Which hath been, comparatively, hid from former ages, and past generations of men, but now is made manifest to his saints — That is, to true believers in Christ, even to Gentiles as well as Jews. Though it was promised in the covenant with Abraham, and predicted that mankind should be saved by faith, this was not understood by the Jews, and therefore it is here called a mystery, or a thing kept secret, in allusion to the heathen mysteries. To whom God would make known — By revelation, confirmed by miracles, and the accomplishment of prophecies; what is the riches of the glory of this mystery — This hitherto concealed doctrine. Here the apostle proceeds to show what was the chief matter of their preaching, as also what was the manner and the end of it. Which is Christ in you — Not only among you, but in you. See on 2 Corinthians 13:5; living in you, Galatians 2:20; dwelling and reigning in your hearts by faith, Ephesians 3:17; through the influence of his Spirit, Romans 8:9-10; John 14:20 : the hope of glory — The ground and source of that hope. For Christ in us as our wisdom, enlightens our minds in the knowledge of that glory; as our righteousness, he entitles us to it; as our sanctification, he makes us meet for it; and as our redemption, brings us to the enjoyment of it. Whom we preach — Who, in believers, as their hope of glory, is the subject of our preaching.
The apostle mentions next the manner of their preaching: warning every man — Namely, of the necessity, excellence, and attainableness of this blessing; and teaching, or instructing, every man — Respecting the way of attaining it; or warning every man of his duty, and teaching him how to fulfil it; and of his danger, and teaching him how to avoid it; in all wisdom — In a rational, Scriptural, and consistent manner; using solid and convincing arguments, and placing them in a clear and lucid order, and adapting the matter, manner, language, and time of our preaching, reproof, or exhortation, to the state, character, and circumstances of our hearers. That we may present, &c. — This was the end of their preaching; what they had in view in the exercise of their ministry; namely, that at the bar of God, in the day of final accounts, they might present every man perfect — Namely, having been made so while on earth; 1st, In an acquaintance with Christian doctrines, 1 Corinthians 2:6; Hebrews 5:12-14; Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 2:2 d, In the possession of Christian graces, faith, hope, love to God and man, humility, resignation, patience, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, &c., Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22; 1 John 4:17; Colossians 3:12-14. 3d, In the enjoyment of Christian privileges, peace with God, a sense of his favour, adoption into his family, the Spirit of adoption, communion with God, an earnest of their future inheritance in their hearts. 4th, In the performance of all Christian duties, perfect in every good work to do his will, Hebrews 13:21; omitting no good work which there is an opportunity and ability to perform, and doing them all from a proper principle, namely, a principle of love to God and mankind; to a proper end, the glory of God; and in a proper spirit, a spirit of lowliness, meekness, and patience. Observe, reader, the same ought still to be the matter, manner, and end of the preaching of all God’s ministers. Whereunto — In order to which important purpose; I also labour — In the sphere appointed me, striving — With zeal and diligence; Greek, αγωνιζομενος, contending, combating, agonizing with an earnestness like that of those who contend in the Grecian games. To these the apostle fitly compared himself; because everywhere he met with the greatest opposition from evil spirits and wicked men; and in preaching the gospel he sustained toils and sufferings much greater than those which the athletes endured in their combats. According to his working — Την ενεργειαν αυτου, his energy; which worketh in, or by, me mightily — Supports me in the glorious contest, wherein otherwise I should sink, and renders my efforts effectual to accomplish the purposes intended.
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;
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
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:
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.