Colossians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
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(1) Timotheus our brother.—Except in the mention of Timotheus (as in the other Epistles of the captivity; see Philippians 1:1; Philemon 1:1), the salutation is almost verbally coincident with the opening of the Epistle to the Ephesians (where see Note). The mention of Timotheus here, and the omission of his name there, mark the difference in character between the two Epistles. In a special Epistle like this Timotheus would be joined with St. Paul as usual. In a general Epistle to the churches of Asia, the Apostle alone could rightly speak.



Colossians 1:2‘The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,’ says the Acts of the Apostles. It was a name given by outsiders, and like most of the instances where a sect, or school, or party is labelled with the name of its founder, it was given in scorn. It hit and yet missed its mark. The early believers were Christians, that is, Christ’s men, but they were not merely a group of followers of a man, like many other groups of whom the Empire at that time was full. So they never used that name themselves. It occurs twice only in Scripture, once when King Agrippa was immensely amused at the audacity of Paul in thinking that he would easily make ‘a Christian’ of him; and once when Peter speaks of ‘suffering as a Christian,’ where he is evidently quoting, as it were, the indictment on which the early believers were tried and punished. What did they call themselves then?

I have chosen this text not for the purpose of speaking about it only, but because it gathers together in brief compass the three principal designations by which the early believers knew themselves. ‘Saints’--that tells their relation to God, as well as their character, for it means ‘consecrated,’ set apart for Him, and therefore pure; ‘faithful’--that means ‘full of faith’ and is substantially equivalent to the usual ‘believers,’ which defines their relation to Jesus Christ as the Revealer of God; ‘brethren’--that defines their relation and sentiment towards their fellows. These terms go a great deal deeper than the nickname which the wits of Antioch invented. The members of the Church were not content with the vague ‘Christian,’ but they called themselves ‘saints,’ ‘believers,’ ‘brethren.’ One designation does not appear here, which we must take into account for completeness: the earliest of all--disciples. Now, I purpose to bring together these four names, by which the early believers thought and spoke of themselves, in order to point the lessons as to our position and our duty, which are wrapped up in them. And I may just say that, perhaps, it is no sign of advance that the Church, as years rolled on, accepted the world’s name for itself, and that people found it easier to call themselves ‘Christians’--which did not mean very much--than to call themselves ‘saints’ or ‘believers.’

Now then, to begin with,

I. They were ‘Disciples’ first of all.

The facts as to the use of that name are very plain, and as instructive as they are plain. It is a standing designation in the Gospels, both in the mouths of friends and of outsiders; it is sometimes, though very sparingly, employed by Jesus Christ Himself. It persists on through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and then it stops dead, and we never hear it again.

Now its existence at first, and its entire abandonment afterwards, both seem to me to carry very valuable lessons. Let me try to work them out. Of course, ‘disciple’ or ‘scholar’ has for its correlative--as the logicians call it--’teacher.’ And so we find that as the original adherents of Jesus called themselves ‘disciples,’ they addressed Him as ‘Master,’ which is the equivalent of ‘Rabbi.’ That at once suggests the thought that to themselves, and to the people who saw the origination of the little Christian community, the Lord and His handful of followers seemed just to be like John and his disciples, the Pharisees and their disciples, and many another Rabbi and his knot of admiring adherents. Therefore whilst the name was in one view fitting, it was conspicuously inadequate, and as time went on, and the Church became more conscious of the uniqueness of the bond that knit it to Jesus Christ, it instinctively dropped the name ‘disciple,’ and substituted others more intimate and worthy.

But yet it remains permanently true, that Christ’s followers are Christ’s scholars, and that He is their Rabbi and Teacher. Only the peculiarity, the absolute uniqueness, of His attitude and action as a Teacher lies in two things: one, that His main subject was Himself, as He said, ‘I am the Truth,’ and consequently His characteristic demand from His scholars was not, as with other teachers, ‘Accept this, that, or the other doctrine which I propound,’ but ‘Believe in Me’; and the other, that He seldom if ever argues, or draws conclusions from previous premises, that He never speaks as if He Himself had learnt and fought His way to what He is saying, or betrays uncertainty, limitation, or growth in His opinions, and that for all confirmation of His declarations, He appeals only to the light within and to His own authority: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you.’ No wonder that the common people were astonished at His teaching, and felt that here was an authority in which the wearisome citations of what Rabbi So-and-So had said, altogether lacked.

That teaching abides still, and, as I believe, opens out into, and is our source of, all that we know--in distinction and contrast from, ‘imagine,’ ‘hope,’ ‘fear’--of God, and of ourselves, and of the future. It casts the clearest light on morals for the individual and on politics for the community. Whatever men may say about Christianity being effete, it will not be effete till the world has learnt and absorbed the teaching of Jesus Christ; and we are a good long way from that yet!

If He is thus the Teacher, the perpetual Teacher, and the only Teacher, of mankind in regard to all these high things about God and man and the relation between them, about life and death and the world, and about the practice and conduct of the individual and of the community, then we, if we are His disciples, build houses on the rock, in the degree in which we not only hear but do the things that He commands. For this Teacher is no theoretical handler of abstract propositions, but the authoritative imposer of the law of life, and all His words have a direct bearing upon conduct. Therefore it is vain for us to say: ‘Lord, Lord, Thou hast taught in our streets and we have accepted Thy teaching.’ He looks down upon us from the Throne, as He looked upon the disciples in that upper room, and He says to each of us: ‘If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.’

But the complete disappearance of the name as the development of the Church advanced, brings with it another lesson, and that is, that precious and great as are the gifts which Jesus Christ bestows as a Teacher, and unique as His act and attitude in that respect are, the name either of teacher or of disciple fails altogether to penetrate to the essence of the relation which knits us together. It is not enough for our needs that we shall be taught. The worst man in the world knows a far nobler morality than the best man practises. And if it were true, as some people superficially say is the case, that evil-doing is the result of ignorance, there would be far less evil-doing in the world than, alas! there is. It is not for the want of knowing, that we go wrong, as our consciences tell us; but it is for want of something that can conquer the evil tendencies within, and lift off the burden of a sinful past which weighs on us. As in the carboniferous strata what was pliant vegetation has become heavy mineral, our evil deeds lie heavy on our souls. What we need is not to be told what we ought to be, but to be enabled to be it. Electricity can light the road, and it can drive the car along it; and that is what we want, a dynamic as well as an illuminant, something that will make us able to do and to be what conscience has told us we ought to be and do.

Teacher? Yes. But if only teacher, then He is nothing more than one of a multitude who in all generations have vainly witnessed to sinful men of the better path. There is no reformation for the individual, and little hope for humanity, in a Christ whom you degrade to the level of a Rabbi, or in a Church which has not pressed nearer to Him than to feel itself His disciples.

There was a man who came to Jesus by night, and was in the dark about the Jesus to whom he came, and he said, ‘We know that Thou art a Teacher come from God.’ But Jesus did not accept the witness, though a young teacher fighting for recognition might have been glad to get it from an authoritative member of the Sanhedrim. But He answered, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ If we need to be born again before we see it, it is not teachers of it that will serve our turn, but One who takes us by the hand, and translates us out of the tyranny of the darkness into the Kingdom of the Son of God’s love. So much, then, for the first of these names and lessons.

Now turn to the second--

II. The Disciples must be Believers.

That name begins to appear almost immediately after Pentecost, and continues throughout. It comes in two forms, one which is in my text, ‘the faithful,’ meaning thereby not the reliable, but the people that are full of faith; the other, meaning the same thing, they who believe, the ‘believers.’ The Church found that ‘disciple’ was not enough. It went deeper; and, with a true instinct, laid hold of the unique bond which knits men to their Lord and Saviour. That name indicates that Jesus Christ appears to the man who has faith in a new character. He is not any longer the Teacher who is to be listened to, but He is the Object of trust. And that implies the recognition, first, of His Divinity, which alone is strong enough to bear up the weight of millions of souls leaning hard upon it; and, second, of what He has done and not merely of what He has said. We accept the Teacher’s word; we trust the Saviour’s Cross. And in the measure in which men learned that the centre of the work of the Rabbi Jesus was the death of the Incarnate Son of God, their docility was sublimed into faith.

That faith is the real bond that knits men to Jesus Christ. We are united to Him, and become recipient of the gifts that He has to bestow, by no sacraments, by no externals, by no reverential admiration of His supreme wisdom and perfect beauty of character, not by assuming the attitude of the disciple, but by flinging our whole selves upon Him, because He is our Saviour. That unites us to Jesus Christ; nothing else does. Faith is the opening of the heart, by which all His power can be poured into us. It is the grasping of His hand, by which, even though the cold waters be above our knees and be rising to our hearts, we are lifted above them and they are made a solid pavement for our feet. Faith is the door opened by ourselves, and through which will come all the Glory that dwelt between the cherubim, and will fill the secret place in our hearts. To be the disciple of a Rabbi is something; to be the ‘faithful’ dependent on the Saviour is to be His indeed.

And then there is to be remembered, further, that this bond, which is the only vital link between a man and Christ, is therefore the basis of all virtue, of all nobility, of all beauty of conduct, and that ‘whatsoever things are lovely and of good report’ are its natural efflorescence and fruit. And so that leads us to the third point--

III. The believing Disciple is a ‘Saint.’

That name does not appear in the Gospels, but it begins to show in the Acts of the Apostles, and it becomes extremely common throughout the Epistles of Paul. He had no hesitation in calling the very imperfect disciples in Corinth by this great name. He was going to rebuke them for some very great offences, not only against Christian elevation of conduct, but against common pagan morality; but he began by calling them ‘saints.’

What is a saint? First and foremost, a man who has given himself to God, and is consecrated thereby. Whoever has cast himself on Christ, and has taken Christ for his, therein and in the same degree as he is exercising faith, has thus yielded himself to God. If your faith has not led you to such a consecration of will and heart and self, you had better look out and see whether it is faith at all. But then, because faith involves the consecration of a man to God, and consecration necessarily implies purity, since nothing can be laid on God’s altar which is not sanctified thereby, the name of saint comes to imply purity of character. Sanctity is the Christian word which means the very flower and fragrant aroma of what the world calls virtue.

But sanctity is not emotion, A man may luxuriate in devout feeling, and sing and praise and pray, and be very far from being a saint; and there is a great deal of the emotional Christianity of this day which has a strange affinity for the opposite of saintship. Sanctity is not aloofness. ‘There were saints in Cæsar’s household’--a very unlikely place; they were flowers on a dunghill, and perhaps their blossoms were all the brighter because of what they grew on, and which they could transmute from corruption into beauty. So sanctity is no blue ribbon of the Christian profession, to be given to a few select {and mostly ascetic} specimens of consecration, but it is the designation of each of us, if we are disciples who are more than disciples, that is, ‘believers.’ And thus, brethren, we have to see to it that, in our own cases, our faith leads to surrender, and our self-surrender to purity of life and conduct. Faith, if real, brings sanctity; sanctity, if real, is progressive. Sanctity, though imperfect, may be real.

IV. The believing Saints are ‘Brethren.’

That is the name that predominates over all others in the latter portions of the New Testament, and it is very natural that it should do so. It reposes upon and implies the three preceding. Its rapid adoption and universal use express touchingly the wonder of the early Church at its own unity. The then world was rent asunder by deep clefts of misunderstanding, alienation, animosity, racial divisions of Jew and Greek, Parthian, Scythian; by sexual divisions which flung men and women, who ought to have been linked hand in hand, and united heart to heart, to opposite sides of a great gulf; by divisions of culture which made wise men look down on the unlearned, and the unlearned hate the wise men; by clefts of social position, and mainly that diabolical one of slave and free. All these divisive and disintegrating forces were in active operation. The only thing except Christianity, which produced even a semblance of union, was the iron ring of the Roman power which compressed them all into one indeed, but crushed the life out of them in the process. Into that disintegrating world, full of mutual repulsion, came One who drew men to Himself and said, ‘One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.’ And to their own astonishment, male and female, Greek and Jew, bond and free, philosopher and fool, found themselves sitting at the same table as members of one family; and they looked in each other’s eyes and said, ‘Brother!’ There had never been anything like it in the world. The name is a memorial of the unifying power of the Christian faith.

And it is a reminder to us of our own shortcomings. Of course, in the early days, the little band were driven together, as sheep that stray over a pasture in the sunshine will huddle into a corner in a storm, or when the wolves are threatening. There are many reasons to-day which make less criminal the alienation from one another of Christian communities and Christian individuals. I am not going to dwell on the evident signs in this day, for which God be thanked, that Christian men are beginning, more than they once did, to realise their unity in Jesus Christ, and to be content to think less of the things that separate than of the far greater things that unite. But I would lay upon your hearts, as individual parts of that great whole, this, that whatever may be the differences in culture, outlook, social position, or the like, between two Christian men, they each, the rich man and the poor, the educated man and the unlettered one, the master and the servant, ought to feel that deep down in their true selves they are nearer one another than they are to the men who, differing from them in regard to their faith in Jesus Christ, are like them in all these superficial respects. Regulate your conduct by that thought.

That name, too, speaks to us of the source from which Christian brotherhood has come. We are brethren of each other because we have one Father, even God, and the Fatherhood which makes us brethren is not that which communicates the common life of humanity, but that which imparts the new life of sonship through Jesus Christ. So the name points to the only way by which the world’s dream of a universal brotherhood can ever be fulfilled. If there is to be fraternity there must be fatherhood, and the life which, possessed by each, makes a family of all, is the life which He gives, who is ‘the first-born among many brethren,’ and who, to them who believe on Him, gives power to become the sons of God, and the brethren of all the other sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty.

So, dear friends, take these names, ponder their significance and the duties they impose. Let us make sure that they are true of us. Do not be content with the vague, often unmeaning name of Christian, but fill it with meaning by being a believer on Christ, a saint devoted to God, and a brother of all who, ‘by like precious faith,’ have become Sons of God.

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.

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.Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ - See the notes. at Romans 1:1

By the will of God - Notes, 1 Corinthians 1:1.

And Timotheus our brother - On the question as to why Paul associated others with him in his epistles, see the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:1. There was a particular reason why Timothy should be associated with him in writing this Epistle. He was a native of the region where the church was situated Acts 16:1-3, and had been with Paul when be preached there, and was doubtless well known to the church there; Acts 16:6. It is evident, however, from the manner in which Paul mentions him here, that he did not regard him as "an apostle," and did not wish the church at Colosse to consider him as such. It is not "Paul and Timothy, apostles of Jesus Christ," but "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother." Paul is careful never to apply the term "apostle" to Timothy; Philippians 1:1. "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ;" compare 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1. If he had regarded Timothy as an apostle, or as having apostolic authority, it is not easy to conceive why he should not have referred to him as such in these letters to the churches. Could he have failed to see that the manner in which he referred to him was adapted to produce a very important difference in file estimate in which he and Timothy would be held by the Colossians?



The GENUINENESS of this Epistle is attested by Justin Martyr [Dialogue with Trypho, p. 311, B.], who quotes "the first-born of every creature," in reference to Christ, from Col 1:15. Theophilus of Antioch [To Autolychus, 2, p. 100]. Irenæus [Against Heresies, 3.14.1], quotes expressly from this "Epistle to the Colossians" (Col 4:14). Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 1. p. 325], quotes Col 1:28; also elsewhere he quotes Col 1:9-11, 28; 2:2, &c.; Col 2:8; 3:12, 14; 4:2, 3, &c. Tertullian [The Prescription against Heretics, 7], quotes Col 2:8; [On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 23], and quotes Col 2:12, 20; 3:1, 2. Origen [Against Celsus, 5.8], quotes Col 2:18, 19.

Colosse (or, as it is spelt in the best manuscripts, "Colassæ") was a city of Phrygia, on the river Lycus, a branch of the Meander. The Church there was mainly composed of Gentiles (compare Col 2:13). Alford infers from Col 2:1 (see on [2392]Col 2:1), that Paul had not seen its members, and therefore could not have been its founder, as Theodoret thought. Col 1:7, 8 suggests the probability that Epaphras was the first founder of the Church there. The date of its foundation must have been subsequent to Paul's visitation, "strengthening in order" all the churches of Galatia and Phrygia (Ac 18:24); for otherwise we must have visited the Colossians, which Col 2:1 implies he had not. Had Paul been their father in the faith, he would doubtless have alluded to the fact, as in 1Co 3:6, 10; 4:15; 1Th 1:5; 2:1. It is only in the Epistles, Romans and Ephesians, and this Epistle, such allusions are wanting; in that to the Romans, because, as in this Church of Colosse, he had not been the instrument of their conversion; in that to the Ephesians, owing to the general nature of the Epistle. Probably during the "two years" of Paul's stay at Ephesus, when "all which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus" (Ac 19:10, 26), Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, Apphia and the other natives of Colosse, becoming converted at Ephesus, were subsequently the first sowers of the Gospel seed in their own city. This will account for their personal acquaintance with, and attachment to, Paul and his fellow ministers, and for his loving language as to them, and their counter salutations to him. So also with respect to "them at Laodicea," (Col 2:1).

The OBJECT of the Epistle is to counteract Jewish false teaching, by setting before the Colossians their true standing in Christ alone (exclusive of all other heavenly beings), the majesty of His person, and the completeness of the redemption wrought by Him; hence they ought to be conformed to their risen Lord, and to exhibit that conformity in all the relations of ordinary life Col 2:16, "new moon, sabbath days," shows that the false teaching opposed in this Epistle is that of Judaizing Christians. These mixed up with pure Christianity Oriental theosophy and angel-worship, and the asceticism of certain sections of the Jews, especially the Essenes. Compare Josephus [Wars of the Jews, 2.8,13]. These theosophists promised to their followers a deeper insight into the world of spirits, and a nearer approach to heavenly purity and intelligence, than the simple Gospel affords. Conybeare and Howson think that some Alexandrian Jew had appeared at Colosse, imbued with the Greek philosophy of Philo's school, combining with it the Rabbinical theosophy and angelology which afterwards was embodied in the Cabbala. Compare Josephus [Antiquities, 12.3,4], from which we know that Alexander the Great had garrisoned the towns of Lydia and Phrygia with two thousand Mesopotamian and Babylonian Jews in the time of a threatened revolt. The Phrygians themselves had a mystic tendency in their worship of Cybele, which inclined them to receive the more readily the incipient Gnosticism of Judaizers, which afterward developed itself into the strangest heresies. In the Pastoral Epistles, the evil is spoken of as having reached a more deadly phase (1Ti 4:1-3; 6:5), whereas he brings no charge of immorality in this Epistle: a proof of its being much earlier in date.

The PLACE from which it was written seems to have been Rome, during his first imprisonment there (Ac 28:17-31). In my [2393]Introduction to the Epistle to the Ephesians, it was shown that the three Epistles, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, were sent at the same time, namely, during the freer portion of his imprisonment, before the death of Burrus. Col 4:3, 4; Eph 6:19, 20, imply greater freedom than he had while writing to the Philippians, after the promotion of Tigellinus to be Prætorian Prefect. See [2394]Introduction to Philippians.

This Epistle, though carried by the same bearer, Tychicus, who bore that to the Ephesians, was written previously to that Epistle; for many phrases similar in both appear in the more expanded form in the Epistle to the Ephesians (compare also Note, see on [2395]Eph 6:21). The Epistle to the Laodiceans (Col 4:16) was written before that to the Colossians, but probably was sent by him to Laodicea at the same time with that to the Church at Colosse.

The STYLE is peculiar: many Greek phrases occur here, found nowhere else. Compare Col 2:8, "spoil you"; "making a show of them openly" (Col 2:15); "beguile of your reward," and "intruding" (Col 2:18); "will-worship"; "satisfying" (Col 2:23); "filthy communication" (Col 3:8); "rule" (Col 3:15); "comfort" (Col 4:11). The loftiness and artificial elaboration of style correspond to the majestic nature of his theme, the majesty of Christ's person and office, in contrast to the beggarly system of the Judaizers, the discussion of which was forced on him by the controversy. Hence arises his use of unusual phraseology. On the other hand, in the Epistle of the Ephesians, subsequently written, in which he was not so hampered by the exigencies of controversy, he dilates on the same glorious truths, so congenial to him, more at large, freely and uncontroversially, in the fuller outpouring of his spirit, with less of the elaborate and antithetical language of system, such as was needed in cautioning the Colossians against the particular errors threatening them. Hence arises the striking similarity of many of the phrases in the two Epistles written about the same time, and generally in the same vein of spiritual thought; while the peculiar phrases of the Epistle to the Colossians are such as are natural, considering the controversial purpose of that Epistle.


Col 1:1-29. Address: Introduction: Confirming Epaphras' Teaching: The Glories of Christ: Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Colossians: His Own Ministry of the Mystery.

1. by the will of God—Greek, "through," &c. (compare Note, see on [2396]1Co 1:1).

Timothy—(Compare Notes, see on [2397]2Co 1:1 and [2398]Php 1:1). He was with Paul at the time of writing in Rome. He had been companion of Paul in his first tour through Phrygia, in which Colosse was. Hence the Colossians seem to have associated him with Paul in their affections, and the apostle joins him with himself in the address. Neither, probably, had seen the Colossian Church (compare Col 2:1); but had seen, during their tour through Phrygia, individual Colossians, as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia (Phm 2), who when converted brought the Gospel to their native city.Col 1:1,2 After saluting the saints at Colosse,

Col 1:3-8 Paul testifieth his thankfulness to God for the good

account he had heard of their faith and love,

Col 1:9-14 and his continual prayers for their improvement in

spiritual knowledge, right practice, and thanksgiving

to God for the benefits of redemption by his Son.

Col 1:15-20 He showeth them the exalted nature and mediatorial

office of Christ,

Col 1:21,22 by whom they, who were once enemies, were now

reconciled, if they continued true to the gospel,

Col 1:23-29 whereof he Paul was made a minister to preach to the


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, Act 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, Mat 10:2 Luk 6:13 1Co 12:28 Gal 1:12: See Poole on "Eph 1:1". See Poole on "Eph 4:11".

And Timotheus our brother; he joins Timothy, as elsewhere Sosthenes, 1Co 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.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ,.... The apostle puts his name to this epistle, by which he was known in the Gentile world, as he usually does in all his epistles; and styles himself "an apostle", as he was, having seen Christ in person, and received his commission, doctrine, and qualifications immediately from him, with a power of doing miracles to confirm the truth of his mission. This he chose to make mention of, partly because the false teachers everywhere insinuated that he was not an apostle; and partly to give the greater sanction and authority, and command the greater regard and credit to what he should say; as well as to excuse his freedom in writing to them whom he had never seen, since he was an apostle of the Gentiles, and so to them; see Romans 11:13; he calls himself an apostle "of Jesus Christ"; not of men, he was not sent out by men, but by Christ, who appeared to him, made him a minister of his, gave him his Gospel by revelation, abundantly qualified him for the work, sent him forth unto the Gentiles, in whose name he went as an ambassador and messenger of his, and whom he preached, and by whom he was greatly succeeded, to the conversion of many souls, who were seals of his apostleship in every place, 1 Corinthians 9:2, into which office he came

by the will of God; not by the will of men, for he derived no authority and power, nor received any doctrine from men; nor by his own will, of his own head, by any usurpation of his; he did not take this office upon him of himself, but was invested with it, according to the secret will and purpose of God, from everlasting, who had ordained and appointed him to this service, and according to his will of command made known to him in time, when he told him what he should do, and openly separated, and sent him forth to do the work he had called him to; and which arose not from any merits or worthiness of the apostle, but from the sovereign good will and pleasure, free grace and favour, of God, to which the apostle continually ascribes it in all his epistles:

and Timotheus our brother; who joined with the apostle in this epistle, and whom he calls a "brother"; partly because of the Christian relation he stood in to him, and them, they being all brethren, children of the same Father, partakers of the same grace of regeneration, belonging to the same family, and so should own and love one another as brethren; and partly and chiefly because of his being a brother, companion, fellow soldier, and a fellow labourer in the Gospel. He mentions him, either because he was known unto them, or that he might be so; and to show the agreement there was between them in the doctrine of Christ, which might have the greater weight with them to abide in it.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the {a} will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

(a) By the free bountifulness of God.

Colossians 1:1-2. Διὰ θελήμ. Θεοῦ] see on 1 Corinthians 1:1. Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1.

καὶ Τιμόθ.] see on 2 Corinthians 1:1; Php 1:1. Here also as subordinate joint-author of the letter, who at the same time may have been the amanuensis, but is not here jointly mentioned as such (comp. Romans 16:22). See on Php 1:1.

ὁ ἀδελφός] see on 1 Corinthians 1:1; referring, not to official (Chrys.: οὐκοῦν καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπόστολος), but generally to Christian brotherhood.

τοῖς ἐν Κολ. ἁγ. κ.τ.λ.] to the saints who are in Colossae. To this theocratic designation, which in itself is not as yet more precisely defined (see on Romans 1:7), is then added their distinctively Christian character: and believing brethren in Christ. Comp. on Ephesians 1:1. ἁγίοις is to be understood as a substantive, just as in all the commencements of epistles, where it occurs (Romans 1:7; 1 Cor.; 2 Cor.; Eph.; Phil.); and ἐν Χριστῷ is closely connected with πιστ. ἀδ., with which it blends so as to form one conception (hence it is not τοῖς ἐν Χ.), expressly designating the believing brethren as Christians, so that ἐν Χ. forms the element of demarcation, in which the readers are believing brethren, and outside of which they would not be so in the Christian sense. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 6:21; in which passages, however, πιστός is faithful,—a meaning which it has not here (in opposition to Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Dalmer), because everywhere in the superscriptions of the Epistles it is only the Christian standing of the readers that is described. No doubt ἐν Χριστῷ was in itself hardly necessary; but the addresses have a certain formal stamp. If ἁγίοις is taken as an adjective: “the holy and believing brethren” (de Wette), ἐν Χριστῷ being made to apply to the whole formula, then πιστοῖς coming after ἁγίοις (which latter word would already have, through ἐν Χ., its definition in a Christian sense, which, according to our view, it still has not) would be simply a superfluous and clumsy addition, because ἁγίοις would already presuppose the πιστοῖς.

The fact that Paul does not expressly describe the church to which he is writing as a church (as in 1 Cor.; 2 Cor.; Galatians 1 and 2 Thess.) has no special motive (comp. Rom., Eph., Phil.), but is purely accidental. If it implied that he had not founded the church and stood in no kind of relation to it as such, and especially to its rulers (de Wette, by way of query), he would not have written of a Λαοδικέων ἐκκλησία (Colossians 4:16). Indeed, the principle of addressing as churches those communities only which he had himself founded, is not one to be expected from the apostle’s disposition of mind and wisdom; and it is excluded by the inscription of the Epistle to the Ephesians (assuming its genuineness and destination for the church at Ephesus), as also by Php 1:1 (where the mention of the bishops and deacons would not compensate for the formal naming of the church). It is also an accidental matter that Paul says ἐν Χριστῷ merely, and not ἐν Χ. Ἰησοῦ (1 Cor.; Eph.; Phil.; 2 Thess.), although Mayerhoff makes use of this, among other things, to impugn the genuineness of the epistle; just as if such a mechanical regularity were to be ascribed to the apostle!

χάρις ὑμῖν κ.τ.λ.] See on Romans 1:7.


Ch. Colossians 1:1-2. Greeting

1. Paul] Paulos. See Acts 13:9. The Apostle probably bore, from infancy, both the two names, Saul (Saoul, Saulos) and Paul. See on Ephesians 1:1, and Romans, p. 8, in this Series.

an apostle] Lit., an envoy, a missionary; in the Gospels and Acts always in the special sense of an immediate Delegate from the Saviour; except perhaps Acts 14:14, where Barnabas bears the title. In Romans 16:7 the sense is perhaps more extended; certainly so in 2 Corinthians 8:23 (Greek). It always, however, in N.T. designates at least a sacred messenger, not excepting Php 2:25 (Greek), where see note in this Series.—St Paul needed often to insist on the fact and rights of his divinely given apostleship; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 1:1.—See further Ephesians, in this Series, Appendix F.

of Jesus Christ] Of Christ Jesus is the better-attested order; an order of our blessed Lord’s Name and Title almost peculiar to St Paul, and the most frequent of the two orders in his writings. It is calculated that he uses it (assuming the latest researches in the Greek text to shew right results) 87 times, and the other order 78 times (see The Expositor, May, 1888). The slight emphasis thus laid on the word “Christ” suggests a special reference of thought to our Lord in glory.—See further our notes on Romans 1:1.

by the will of God] So, in the same connexion, 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1.—Lit., by means of the will of God (so too Romans 15:32; 2 Corinthians 8:5; besides the places just quoted). The will of God is regarded as the means of the Apostle’s consecration, because with God to will implies the provision of the means of fulfilment.—See Galatians 1:1 for the deep certainty of a direct Divine commission which underlay such a phrase in St Paul’s mind. He knew himself to be “a vessel of choice, to bear the name” (Acts 9:15) of his Lord.

and Timotheus] Timothy is thus associated with Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:1 (in the same words); Php 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; Philemon 1:1 (in the same words). The association (which in Philippians begins and ends with the first sentence) is here maintained throughout the opening paragraph, dropping at the words (Colossians 1:23) “whereof I Paul, &c.” It is remarkable that Timothy is not mentioned in the contemporary Epistle to Ephesus; an omission probably to be explained by the more public and circular character of that Epistle (see Introd., pp. 41, 42, and Ephesians in this Series, pp. 24–29), making it more suitable that it should go as from the Apostle of Asia alone.

Timothy is named 24 times in the N.T. See Acts 16:1 for his parentage and early home. For indications of his character as man and Christian cp. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:4-5, and esp. 2 Timothy 2:19-22. His association with St Paul was intimate and endeared. He appears oftenest in connexion with the Apostle’s work in Europe; but he was himself an Asiatic by birth (Acts 16:1), and we last see him as the delegate of St Paul at Ephesus (1 and 2 Tim.).

our brother] Lit., the brother. So he is called also 2 Corinthians 1:1; Philemon 1:1. So too are designated Quartus (Romans 16:23), Sosthenes (1 Corinthians 1:1), Apollos (1 Corinthians 16:12). Cp. 2 Corinthians 12:18; Ephesians 6:21; below, Colossians 4:7. Strictly the term is the equivalent of “Christian;” but thus used it has a certain point and speciality, not as denoting an office or position, but known Christian worth and work.

Colossians 1:1-2. Ἐν Κολοσσαῖς, at Colosse) a city of Phrygia.—ἁγίοις, to the saints) This has the force of a substantive. It implies union with God: to the faithful brethren, implies union with Christian men. The word brethren suggests union. These were believers.

Verse 1. - Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus through God's will, and Timothy the brother (Ephesians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1). The apostle designates himself by his office, as always, except in the Macedonian Epistles and the letter of private friendship to Philemon. Timothy shares also in the greeting of the Epistle to Philemon, probably a leading member of the Colossian Church (comp. Colossians 4:9, 17 with Philemon 1:2, 10-12). During St. Paul's long residence at Ephesus Timothy was with him (Acts 19:22), and there, probably, Philemon had come under his influence (see Introduction, § 2), and made Timothy's acquaintance. There was, therefore, at least one link of acquaintance between "Timothy the brother" and "the saints in Colossae" (comp. Philippians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 1 and 2 Thessalonians 1:1, where his name appears in the same way). The honourable prominence thus given to Timothy marked him out for future leadership in the Church (1 Timothy 1:3, 18; 2 Timothy 2:2; 2 Timothy 4:2, 5, 6). Colossians 1:1
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