Colossians 1:12
Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Giving thanks unto the Father.—These words naturally follow the words “with joyfulness,” with which, indeed, they may be grammatically connected. But the “thankfulness” here is, as the context shows, the thankfulness of humility, sensible that from the Father’s love we have received all, and can but receive.

Which hath made us meet.—The same word is used in 2Corinthians 3:6, “who hath made us able ministers of the new covenant,” and corresponds to the word “sufficient” in St. Paul’s previous question (2Corinthians 2:16), “Who is sufficient for these things?” The reference is clearly to God’s foreknowledge and call (as in Romans 8:29-30), in virtue of which “we are more than conquerors,” and “cannot be separated from His love in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints.—Literally, for the part (appointed to us) of the lot of the saints. (Comp. Ephesians 1:11, where, however, the sense is slightly different). The “lot” (like the Old Testament type of the share in the land of Canaan,” the lot of their inheritance”) is the place assigned to the saints primarily by the grace of God. It may have, as in the case of the type, to be fought for; but it is won not by our own arm, but by “God’s hand and His arm, and the light of His countenance, because He has a favour unto us” (Psalm 44:3). Hence, in accordance with St. Paul’s usual teaching (especially emphatic in this and the Ephesian Epistle), the whole stress is laid on God’s grace, giving us our lot, and “making us meet” to accept it.

In light.—Properly, in the light. See Ephesians 4:8-14—a passage dwelling on the idea of the kingdom of light, almost as strongly and exhaustively as St. John himself (1John 1:5-7, et al.). “In the light” (opposed to “the power of darkness” of the next verse) is in the light of God’s countenance, revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.

Colossians



THANKFUL FOR INHERITANCE


Colossians 1:12 {R.V.}

It is interesting to notice how much the thought of inheritance seems to have been filling the Apostle’s mind during his writing of Ephesians and Colossians. Its recurrence is one of the points of contact between them. For example, in Ephesians, we read, ‘In whom also were made a heritage’ {i. 11}; ‘An earnest of our inheritance’ {i. 14}; ‘His inheritance in the saints’ {i. 18}; ‘Inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ’ {v. 5}. We notice too that in the address to the Elders of the Church at Ephesus, we read of ‘the inheritance among all them that are sanctified’ {Acts 20-32}.

In the text the climax of the Apostle’s prayer is presented as thankfulness, the perpetual recognition of the Divine hand in all that befalls us, the perpetual confidence that all which befalls us is good, and the perpetual gushing out towards Him of love and praise. The highest diligence, the most strenuous fruit-bearing, and the most submissive patience and longsuffering would be incomplete without the consecration of a grateful heart, and the noblest beauty of a Christian character would lack its rarest lustre. This crown of Christian perfectness the Apostle regards as being called into action mainly by the contemplation of that great act and continuous work of God’s Fatherly love by which he makes us fit for our portion of the inheritance which the same love has prepared for us. That inheritance is the great cause for Christian thankfulness; the more immediate cause is His preparation of us for it. So we have three points here to consider; the inheritance; God’s Fatherly preparation of His children for it; the continual temper of thankfulness which these should evoke.

I. The Inheritance.

The frequent recurrence of this idea in the Old Testament supplies Paul with a thought which he uses to set forth the most characteristic blessings of the New. The promised land belonged to Israel, and each member of each tribe had his own little holding in the tribal territory. Christians have in common the higher spiritual blessings which Christ brings, and Himself is, and each individual has his own portion of, the general good.

We must begin by dismissing from our minds the common idea, which a shallow experience tends to find confirmed by the associations ordinarily attached to the word ‘inheritance,’ that it is entered upon by death. No doubt, that great change does effect an unspeakable change in our fitness for, and consequently in our possession of, the gifts which we receive from Christ’s pierced hands, and, as the Apostle has told us, the highest of these possessed on earth is but the ‘earnest of the inheritance’; but we must ever bear in mind that the distinction between a Christian life on earth and one in heaven is by no means so sharply drawn in Scripture as it generally is by us, and that death has by no means so great importance as we faithlessly attribute to it. The life here and hereafter is like a road which passes the frontiers of two kingdoms divided by a bridged river, but runs on in the same direction on both sides of the stream. The flood had to be forded until Jesus bridged it. The elements of the future and the present are the same, as the apostolic metaphor of the ‘earnest of the inheritance’ teaches us. The handful of soil which constitutes the ‘arles’ is part of the broad acres made over by it.

We should be saved from many unworthy conceptions of the future life, if we held more steadfastly to the great truth that God Himself is the portion of the inheritance. The human spirit is too great and too exacting to be satisfied with anything less than Him, and the possession of Him opens out into every blessedness, and includes all the minor joys and privileges that can gladden and enrich the soul. We degrade the future if we think of it only, or even chiefly, as a state in which faculties are enlarged, and sorrows and sins are for ever ended. Neither such negatives as ‘no night there,’ ‘neither sorrow nor crime,’ ‘no more pain,’ nor such metaphors as ‘white robes’ and ‘golden crowns’ and ‘seats on thrones’ are enough. We are ‘heirs of God,’ and only as we possess Him, and know that we are His, and He is ours, are we ‘rich to all intents of bliss.’ That inheritance is here set forth as being ‘in light’ and as belonging to saints. Light is the element and atmosphere of God. He is in light. He is the fountain of all light. He is light; perfect in wisdom, perfect in purity. The sun has its spots, but in Him is no darkness at all. Moons wax and wane, shadows of eclipse fall, stars have their time to set, but ‘He is the Father of lights with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.’ All that light is focussed in Jesus the Light of the world. That Light fills the earth, but here it shineth in darkness that obstructs its rays. But there must be a place and a time where the manifestation of God corresponds with the reality of God, where His beams pour out and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof, nothing which they do not bless, nothing which does not flash them back rejoicing. There is a land whereof the Lord God is the Light. In it is the inheritance of the ‘saints,’ and in its light live the nations of the saved, and have God for their companion. All darkness of ignorance, of sorrow, and of sin will fade away as the night flees and ceases to be, before the rising sun.

The phrase ‘to be partakers’ is accurately rendered ‘for the portion,’ and carries a distinct allusion to the partition of the promised land to Israel by which each man had his lot or share in the common inheritance. So the one word inheritance brings with it blessed thoughts of a common possession of a happy society in which no man’s gain is another’s loss, and all envyings, rivalries, and jealousies have ceased to be, and the other word, ‘the portion,’ suggests the individual possession by each of his own vision and experience. Each man’s ‘portion’ is capable of growth; each has as much of God as he can hold. The measure of his desire is the measure of his capacity. There are infinite differences in the ‘portions’ of the saints on earth, and heaven is robbed of one of its chief charms unless we recognise that there are infinite differences among the saints there. For both states the charter by which the portion is held is ‘Be it unto thee even as thou wilt,’ and in both the law holds ‘To him that hath shall be given.’

II. The Fatherly preparation for the Inheritance.

It is obvious from all which we have been saying that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. The inheritance being what it is, the possession, the enjoyment of communion with a Holy God, it is absolutely incapable of being entered upon by any who are unholy. That is true about both the partial possession of the earnest of it here and of its fulness hereafter. In the present life all tolerated sin bars us out from enjoying God, and in the future nothing can enter that defileth nor whatsoever worketh or maketh a lie. There are many people who think that they would like ‘to go to heaven,’ but who would find it difficult to answer such questions as these: Do you like to think of God? Do you find any joy in holy thoughts? What do you feel about prayer? Does the name of Christ make your heart leap? Is righteousness your passion? If you have to answer these questions with a silence which is the saddest negative, what do you think you would do in heaven? I remember that the Greenlanders told the Moravian missionaries who were trying to move them by conventional pictures of its delights, that the heaven which these pious souls had painted would not do for them, for there were no seals there. There are thousands of us who, if we spoke the truth, would say the same thing, with the necessary variations arising from our environment. There is not a spinning-mill in it all. How would some of us like that? There is not a ledger, nor a theatre, no novels, no amusements. Would it not be intolerable ennui to be put down in such an order of things? You would be like the Israelites, loathing ‘this light bread’ and hungering for the strong-smelling and savoury-tasting leeks and garlic, even if in order to taste them you had to be slaves again.

Heaven would be no heaven to you if you could go there and be thus minded. But you could not. God Himself cannot carry men thither but by fitting them for it. It is not a place so much as a state, and the mighty hand that works on one side of the thick curtain preparing the inheritance in light for the saints, is equally busy on this side making the saints meet for the inheritance.

I do not wish to enter here on grammatical niceties, but I must point out that the form of the word which the Apostle employs to express it points to an act in the past which still runs on.

The Revised Version’s rendering, ‘made us meet,’ is preferable to the Authorised Version’s, because of its omission of the ‘hath’ which relegates the whole process of preparation to the past. And it is of importance to recognise that the difference between these two representations of the divine preparation is not a piece of pedantry, for that preparation has indeed its beginnings in the past of every Christian soul, but is continuous throughout its whole earthly experience. There is the great act of forgiveness and justifying which is cotemporaneous with the earliest and most imperfect faith, and there is the being born again, the implanting of a new life which is the life of Christ Himself, and has no spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing. That new life is infantile, but it is there, the real man, and it will grow and conquer. Take an extreme case and suppose a man who has just received forgiveness for his past and the endowment of a new nature. Though he were to die at that moment he would still in the basis of his being and real self be meet for the inheritance. He who truly trusts in Jesus is passed from death unto life, though the habits of sins which are forgiven still cling to him, and his new life has not yet exercised a controlling power or begun to build up character. So Christians ought not to think that, because they are conscious of much unholiness, they are not ready for the inheritance. The wild brigand through whose glazing eyeballs faith looked out to his fellow-sufferer on the central cross was adjudged meet to be with him in Paradise, and if all his deeds of violence and wild outrages on the laws of God and man did not make him unmeet, who amongst us need write bitter things against himself? The preparation is further effected through all the future earthly life. The only true way to regard everything that befalls us here is to see in it the Fatherly discipline preparing us for a fuller possession of a richer inheritance. Gains and losses, joys and sorrows, and all the endless variety of experiences through which we all have to pass, are an unintelligible mystery unless we apply to them this solution, ‘He for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness.’ It is not a blind Fate or a still blinder Chance that hurtles sorrows and changes at us, but a loving Father; and we do not grasp the meaning of our lives unless we feel, even about their darkest moments, that the end of them all is to make us more capable of possessing more of Himself.

III. The thankfulness which these thoughts should evoke.

Thankfulness ought to be a sweet duty. It is a joy to cherish gratitude. Generous hearts do not need to be told to be thankful, and they who are only thankful to order are not thankful at all. In nothing is the ordinary experience of the ordinary Christian more defective, and significant of the deficiencies of their faith, than in the tepidness and interruptedness of their gratitude. The blessings bestowed are continuous and unspeakable. The thanks returned are grudging and scanty. The river that flows from God is ‘full of water’ and pours out unceasingly, and all that we return is a tiny trickle, often choked and sometimes lost in the sands.

Our thankfulness ought to be constant. The fire on the altar should never be quenched. The odour of the sweet-smelling incense should ever ascend. Why is it that we have so little of this grace which the Apostle in our text regards as the precious stone that binds all Christian graces together, the sparkling crest of the wave of a Christian life? Mainly because we have so little of the habit of regarding all things as God’s Fatherly discipline and meditating on that for which they are making us meet. We need a far more habitual contemplation of our inheritance, of our experience as lovingly given by God to fit us for it and of the darkest hours which would otherwise try our faith and silence our praise as necessary parts of that preparation. If this be our habitual attitude of mind, and these be ever present to us, our song will be always of His mercy and our whole lives a thank-offering.

The text is a prophecy describing the inheritance in its perfect form. Earthly life must be ended before it is fully understood. Down in the valleys we praised God, but tears and mysteries sometimes saddened our songs; but now on the summit surveying all behind, and knowing by a blessed eternity of experience to what it has led, even an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, we shall praise Him with a new song for ever.

Thankfulness is the one element of worship common to earth and heaven, to angels and to us. Whilst they sing, ‘Bless the Lord all ye His hosts,’ redeemed men have still better reason to join in the chorus and answer, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul.’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 1:12.1:9-14 The apostle was constant in prayer, that the believers might be filled with the knowledge of God's will, in all wisdom. Good words will not do without good works. He who undertakes to give strength to his people, is a God of power, and of glorious power. The blessed Spirit is the author of this. In praying for spiritual strength, we are not straitened, or confined in the promises, and should not be so in our hopes and desires. The grace of God in the hearts of believers is the power of God; and there is glory in this power. The special use of this strength was for sufferings. There is work to be done, even when we are suffering. Amidst all their trials they gave thanks to the Father of our Lord Jesus, whose special grace fitted them to partake of the inheritance provided for the saints. To bring about this change, those were made willing subjects of Christ, who were slaves of Satan. All who are designed for heaven hereafter, are prepared for heaven now. Those who have the inheritance of sons, have the education of sons, and the disposition of sons. By faith in Christ they enjoyed this redemption, as the purchase of his atoning blood, whereby forgiveness of sins, and all other spiritual blessings were bestowed. Surely then we shall deem it a favour to be delivered from Satan's kingdom and brought into that of Christ, knowing that all trials will soon end, and that every believer will be found among those who come out of great tribulation.Giving thanks to the Father - This is another mode by which we may "walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing" Colossians 1:10; to wit, by rendering appropriate thanks to God for his mercy. The particular point which the apostle here says demanded thanksgiving was, that they had been called from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. This had been done by the special mercy of the Father who had provided the plan of salvation, and had sent his Son to redeem them. The connection shows that the word "Father" refers, in this place, not to God as the Father of his creatures, but to the Father as distinguished from the Son. It is the "Father" who has translated us into the kingdom of the "Son." Our special thanks are due to the "Father" in this, as he is represented as the great Author of the whole plan of salvation - as he who sent his Son to redeem us.

Who hath made us meet - The word used here - ἱκανόω hikanoō - means properly to make sufficient, from ἱκανός hikanos - sufficient, abundant, much. The word conveys the idea of having sufficient or enough to accomplish anything; see it explained in the notes at 2 Corinthians 3:6. The verb is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. In its use here, there seems to be implied the idea of conferring the privilege or the ability to be thus made the partakers of the kingdom, and the idea also of rendering us fit for it. The sense is, he has conferred on us grace sufficient to make it proper that we should partake of the blessings of his kingdom. In regard to this "fitness" or "meetness" for that kingdom, we may remark:

(1) that it does not mean that we are rendered fit by our own merits, or by anything which we have done; for it is expressly said that it is God who has thus rendered us "meet" for it. No one, by his own merits, even made himself fit for heaven. His good works cannot be an equivalent for the eternal rewards of heaven; nor is the heart when unrenewed, even in the best state, fit for the society and the employments of heaven. There is no adaptedness of such a heart, however amiable and however refined, to the pure spiritual joys of the upper world. Those joys are the joys of religion, of the love of God, of pleasure in holiness; and the unrenewed heart can never be wrought up to a fitness to enter into those joys. Yet.

(2) there is a fitness or meetness which Christians possess for heaven. It consists in two things. First, in their having complied with the conditions on which God promises heaven, so that, although they have no merit in themselves, and no fitness by their own works, they have that meetness which results from having complied with the terms of favor. They have truly repented of their sins, and believed in the Redeemer; and they are thus in the proper state of mind to receive the mercy of God; for, according to the terms of mercy, there is a propriety that pardon should be bestowed on the penitent, and peace on the believing. A child that is truly brokenhearted for a fault, is in a fit state of mind to be forgiven; a proud, and obstinate, and rebellious child, is not. Secondly, there is, in fact, a fitness in the Christian for the participation of the inheritance of the saints in light. He has a state of feeling that is adapted to that. There is a congruity between his feelings and heaven - a state of mind that can be satisfied with nothing but heaven. He has in his heart substantially the same principles which reign in heaven; and he is suited to find happiness only in the same objects in which the inhabitants of heaven do, He loves the same God and Saviour; has pleasure in the same truths; prefers, as they do, holiness to sin; and, like the inhabitants of heaven, he would choose to seek his pleasure in holy living, rather than in the ways of vanity. His preferences are all on the side of holiness and virtue; and, with such preferences, he is fitted for the enjoyments of heaven. In character, views, feelings, and preferences, therefore, the Christian is made suitable to participate in the employments and joys of the saints in light.

To be partakers of the inheritance - The privileges of religion are often represented as an heirship, or an inheritance; see the notes at Romans 8:17.

Of the saints in light - Called in Colossians 1:13, "the kingdom of his dear Son." This is a kingdom of light, as opposed to the kingdom of darkness in which they formerly were. In the East, and particularly in Persia, there prevailed early the belief that there were two great kingdoms in the universe - that of light, and that of darkness. We find traces of this opinion in the Scriptures, where the kingdom of God is called "light," and that of Satan is called "darkness." These are, of course, figurative expressions; but they convoy important truth. Light, in the Scriptures, is the emblem of holiness, knowledge, happiness; and all these are found in the kingdom over which God presides, and of which Christians are the heirs. Accordingly, we find the word "light" often used to describe this kingdom. Thus, it is said of God, who presides over it, that he "is light, and in him is no darkness at all," 1 John 1:5; of Christ, that he is "the light of man," John 1:4; that he is "the true light," John 1:9; that he is "the light of the world," John 8:12; compare John 12:35; Luke 2:32. The angels of that kingdom are "angels of light," 2 Corinthians 11:14. Those who compose that kingdom on earth are "the children of light," Luke 16:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5. And all the descriptions of that kingdom in heaven represent it as filled with light and glory, Isaiah 60:19; Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5.

12. You "giving thanks unto the Father." See on [2401]Col 1:10; this clause is connected with "that ye may be filled" (Col 1:9), and "that ye may walk" (Col 1:10). The connection is not, "We do not cease to pray for you (Col 1:9) giving thanks."

unto the Father—of Jesus Christ, and so our Father by adoption (Ga 3:26; 4:4-6).

which hath made us meet—Greek, "who made us meet." Not "is making us meet" by progressive growth in holiness; but once for all made us meet. It is not primarily the Spirit's work that is meant here, as the text is often used; but the Father's work in putting us by adoption, once for all, in a new standing, namely, that of children. The believers meant here were in different stages of progressive sanctification; but in respect to the meetness specified here, they all alike had it from the Father, in Christ His Son, being "complete in Him" (Col 2:10). Compare Joh 17:17; Jude 1, "sanctified by God the Father"; 1Co 1:30. Still, secondarily, this once-for-all meetness contains in it the germ of sanctification, afterwards developed progressively in the life by the Father's Spirit in the believer. The Christian life of heavenliness is the first stage of heaven itself. There must, and will be, a personal meetness for heaven, where there is a judicial meetness.

to be partakers, &c.—Greek, "for the (or 'our') portion of the inheritance (Ac 20:32; 26:18; Eph 1:11) of the saints in light." "Light" begins in the believer here, descending from "the Father of lights" by Jesus, "the true light," and is perfected in the kingdom of light, which includes knowledge, purity, love, and joy. It is contrasted here with the "darkness" of the unconverted state (Col 1:13; compare 1Pe 2:9).

Giving thanks unto the Father; he passeth from petitioning, Colossians 1:9, to thanksgiving to God the Father, upon the consideration of his grace manifested in his Son for our redemption. In the Ephesians, Ephesians 1:3,4, he began with election, here with effectual vocation; he acknowledgeth God the Father to be the object and author of what was wrought for us by his Son, and in us by his Spirit.

Which hath made us meet; who hath made us capable of communion with himself, or ready and fit, which implies that by nature we are unready and unfit; so that merit cannot be drawn hence, and the Rhemists have done ill, contrary to the translation of the Syriac, to translate it, made us worthy: one copy hath, who hath called us. The original word, in that we follow, seems to be an idiom of the apostle (as the learned think) borrowed from the Hebrew; we find it used only in one other text by the apostle, 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; and there he shows we are insufficient for, and incapable of, saying good things, till God do capacitate us by making us accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6; we cannot understand things of the Spirit of God, nor affect God, John 12:39 Romans 8:5 1 Corinthians 2:14, till God do draw and capacitate us, John 6:44,45 Phm 2:13, and form and work us by his Spirit unto this selfsame thing, Romans 4:17 2 Corinthians 5:5.

To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; to have a part in the lot of the purchased inheritance with them that are sanctified, Acts 26:18 Ephesians 1:14. The apostle seems to allude to the land of Canaan, wherein a portion was assigned to every one by lot for his inheritance, that being a type of the rest which remaineth to the people of God, Hebrews 4:9; and this is here said to be

of the saints in light, as allegorically connoting the joy and glory of that state and place, in opposition to the power of darkness. Giving thanks unto the Father,.... To God the Father, as the Vulgate Latin and the Syriac versions read the clause; and the Complutensian edition, and some copies, "God and the Father"; who is both the Father of Christ by nature, and of all his people by adoption. The Ethiopic version renders it, as an exhortation or advice, "give ye thanks to the Father"; and so the Syriac version: but the words rather seem to be spoken in the first, than in the second person, and are to be considered in connection with Colossians 1:9. So when the apostle had made an end of his petitions, he enters upon thanksgiving to God:

which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; by the "inheritance", or "lot", is meant not the common lot of the children of God to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ, and through much tribulation to enter into the kingdom, which they are by God the Father counted and made worthy of, with the rest of saints called out of darkness into light; nor their present state and condition, having a power to become the children of God, and to be fellow citizens with the saints, to enjoy communion with them, under the Gospel dispensation, called "light", in opposition to Jewish and Gentile darkness, to be brought into which state is an high favour of God; but the heavenly glory, so called, in allusion to the land of Canaan, which was divided by lot to the children of Israel, according to the will and purpose of God; and because it is not acquired by the works of men, but is a pure free grace gift of God, and which he, as the Father of his people, has bequeathed unto them; and which they enjoy through the death of the testator Christ; and of which the Spirit is the earnest; and because this glory is peculiar to such as are the children of God by adopting grace. It is no other than that inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and which fades not away, reserved in the heavens; and designs that substance, or those solid and substantial things they shall possess hereafter; that kingdom, salvation, and glory, they are heirs of; and includes all things they shall inherit, and even God himself, who is their portion, their inheritance, their exceeding great reward, and of whom they are said to be heirs. This is the inheritance "of the saints", and of none else; who are sanctified or set apart by God the Father in eternal election; who are sanctified by the blood of Christ, or whose sins are expiated by his atoning sacrifice; who are sanctified in Christ, or to whom he is made sanctification; and who are sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, or have the work of sanctification begun upon their souls by him; in consequence of which they live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world. And this inheritance of theirs is "in light"; unless this clause should be read in connection with the word "saints", and be descriptive of them; they being called and brought out of darkness into light, and made light in the Lord, light being infused into them; in which light they see light, sin to be exceeding sinful, and Christ to be exceeding precious: or this phrase should be thought to design the means by which the Father makes meet to partake of the inheritance; namely, in or by the light of the Gospel, showing the way of salvation by Christ, and by the light of grace put into their hearts, and by following Christ the light of the world, which is the way to the light of life: though it rather seems to point out the situation and nature of the heavenly inheritance; it is where God dwells, in light inaccessible to mortal creatures, and who is light itself; and where Christ is, who is the light of the new Jerusalem; and where is the light of endless joy, and uninterrupted happiness; and where the saints are blessed with the clear, full, and beatific vision of God in Christ, and of Christ as he is, seeing him, not through a glass darkly, but face to face. This may be said in reference to a notion of the Jews, that the "light" which God created on the first day is that goodness which he has laid up for them that fear him, and is what he has treasured up for the righteous in the world to come (d). Now the saints meetness for this is not of themselves; by nature they are very unfit for it, being deserving of the wrath of God, and not of an inheritance; and are impure and unholy, and so not fit to partake of the inheritance of saints, or Holy Ones, and much less to dwell and converse with an holy God; and being darkness itself, cannot bear such light, or have communion with it: but God the Father makes them meet, which includes all the acts of his grace towards them, upon them, and in them; such as his choosing them in Christ, and their inheritance for them; in preparing that for them, and them for that; blessing them with all grace, and all spiritual blessings in Christ; putting them among the children by an act of adoption, of his own sovereign will and free grace, and thereby giving them a goodly heritage, and a title to it; justifying them by the righteousness of his Son, and so making them heirs according to the hope of eternal life, and forgiving all their trespasses for Christ's sake; cleansing them from all in his blood, so that being the undefiled in the way, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, they are fit for the undefiled inheritance; regenerating them by his Spirit, and implanting principles of light and life, grace and holiness, in them, without which no man shall see the Lord, or enter into the kingdom of heaven. One copy, as Beza observes, reads it, "which hath called us to be partakers", &c. and so does the Ethiopic version. And all such as the Father has thus called, and made meet, shall certainly be partakers of the inheritance; they partake of it already in Christ their head, and in faith and hope, having the Spirit as an earnest and pledge of it, and will wholly and perfectly enjoy it hereafter: for though, like Canaan's land, it is disposed of by lot, by the will, counsel, and free grace of God, yet will it not be divided into parts as that was; there is but one undivided inheritance, but one part and portion, which all the saints shall jointly and equally partake of, having all and each the same right and title, claim and meetness. For which they have abundant reason to give thanks to the Father, when they consider what they were, beggars on the dunghill, and now advanced to sit among princes, and to inherit the throne of glory; were bankrupts, over their head in debt, owed ten thousand talents, and had nothing to pay, and now all is frankly, forgiven; and besides, a title to, and meetness for, the heavenly inheritance, are freely bestowed on them; and particularly when they consider they are no more worthy of this favour than others that have no share in it, and also how great the inheritance is,

(d) Zohar in Gen. fol. 6. 3. & in Exod. fol. 32. 3. & in Leviticus 14.4. & xxxvii. 4. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 3. 2.

{4} Giving thanks unto the {5} Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in {h} light:

(4) Having ended the preface, he goes to the matter itself, that is to say, to an excellent description (although it is but short) of complete Christianity, which is fitly divided into three treatises: for first of all he expounds the true doctrine according to the order of the causes, beginning from this verse to Col 1:12-21. And from there he begins to apply the same to the Colossians with various exhortations to Col 1:22-2:6. And last of all in the third place, even to Col 2:6-23, he refutes the corruptions of true doctrine.

(5) The efficient cause of our salvation is only the mercy of God the Father, who makes us fit to be partakers of eternal life, delivering us from the darkness in which we were born, and bringing us to the light of the knowledge of the glory of his Son.

(h) In that glorious and heavenly kingdom.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 1:12. While ye give thanks with joyfulness, etc.,—a third accompanying definition of περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως κ.τ.λ. (Colossians 1:10), co-ordinate with the two definitions preceding, and not to be connected with οὐ παυόμεθα κ.τ.λ. (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Calvin: “iterum redit ad gratulationem,” Calovius, Böhmer, Baumgarten-Crusius).

τῷ παρτί] of Jesus Christ; comp. Colossians 1:13, and τοῦ Κυρίου in Colossians 1:10, not: “the Father absolutely” (Hofmann). It is always in Paul’s writings to be gathered from the context, whose Father God is to be understood as being (even at Ephesians 1:17); never does he name God absolutely (in abstracto) ὁ πατήρ. Comp. Colossians 1:3, which, however, is held by Holtzmann to be the original, suggesting a repetition by the editor at our passage, in spite of the fact that the two passages have different subjects. Just as little does εἰς τὴν μερίδα κ.τ.λ. betray itself as an interpolation from Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 1:11 (Holtzmann), seeing that, on the one hand, the expression at our passage is so wholly peculiar, and, on the other hand, the idea of κληρονομία is so general in the N. T. Comp. especially Acts 26:18.[19]

τῷ ἱκανώσαντι κ.τ.λ.] Therein lies the ground of the thanksgiving, quippe qui, etc. God has made us fit (ἡμᾶς applies to the letter-writers and readers, so far as they are Christians) for a share in the Messianic salvation through the light, inasmuch as, instead of the darkness which previously prevailed over us, He has by means of the gospel brought to us the ἀλήθεια, of which light is the distinctive element and the quickening and saving principle (Ephesians 5:9) of the Christian constitution both in an intellectual and ethical point of view (Acts 26:18); hence Christians are children of the light (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Luke 16:8). Comp. Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Peter 2:9. In Christ the light had attained to personal manifestation (John 1:4 ff; John 3:9; John 8:12; Matthew 4:16, et al.), as the personal revelation of the divine nature itself (1 John 1:5), and the gospel was the means of its communication (Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 6:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Acts 26:23, et al.) to men, who without this enlightenment were unfit for the Messianic salvation (Ephesians 2:1 ff; Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:4, et al.). The instrumental definition ἐν τῷ φωτί is placed at the end, in order that it may stand out with special emphasis; hence, also, the relative sentence which follows refers to this very element. An objection has been wrongly urged against our view (which is already adopted by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact; comp. Estius and others, including Flatt and Steiger), that Paul must have used πνεῦμα instead of φῶς (see Olshausen). The ἱκανοῦν ἐν τῷ φωτί is, indeed, nothing else than the καλεῖν εἰς τὸ φῶς (1 Peter 2:9) conceived in respect of its moral efficacy, and the result thereof on the part of man is the εἶναι φῶς ἐν κυρίῳ (Ephesians 5:8), or the εἶναι υἱὸν τοῦ φωτός (1 Thessalonians 5:5; John 12:36), ὡς φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ (Php 2:15). But the light is a power; for it is τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς (John 8:12), has its armour (Romans 13:12), produces its fruit (Ephesians 5:9), effects the Christian ἐλέγχειν (Ephesians 5:13), endurance in the conflict of affliction (Hebrews 10:32), etc. Ἐν τῷ φωτί is usually connected with τοῦ κλήρου τῶν ἁγίων, so that this κλῆρος is described as existing or to be found in light, as the kingdom of light; in which case we may think either of its glory (Beza and others, Böhmer, Huther), or of its purity and perfection (Olshausen, de Wette, and Dalmer) as referred to. But although the connecting article τοῦ might be wanting, and the κλῆρος τ. ἁγ. ἐν τῷ φωτί might thus form a single conception, it may be urged as an objection that the heritage meant cannot be the temporal position of Christians, but only the future blessedness of the Messianic glorious kingdom; comp. Colossians 1:13, τὴν βασιλ. τοῦ υἱοῦ. Hence not ἐν τῷ φωτί, but possibly ἐν τῇ δόξῃ, ἐν τῇ ζωῇ, ἐν τοῖς οὐρανεῖς, or the like, would be a fitting definition of κλῆρος, which, however, already has in τῶν ἁγίων its definite description (comp. Ephesians 1:18; Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18). Just as little—for the same reason, and because τ. μερίδα already carries with it its own definition (share in the κλῆρος)—is ἐν τῷ φωτί to be made dependent on τὴν μερίδα, whether ἐν be taken locally (Bengel: “Lux est regnum Dei, habentque fideles in hoc regno partem beatam”) or as in Acts 8:21Colossians 1:12. εὐχαριστοῦντες: not to be taken with οὐ παυόμεθα, Colossians 1:9 (Chrys., Beng.). Usually it is co-ordinated with the two preceding participial clauses. Haupt objects that it would be strange if thankfulness for participation in salvation were mentioned only after its consequences for Christian conduct had been deduced. He thinks it is a more precise development of μετὰ χαρᾶς; joy being produced by our thankful consciousness of the benefits thus secured to us. There is force in this, though the form of expression strongly suggests the common view, and considerations of order should not, perhaps, be so rigidly pressed.—τῷ πατρὶ. The word is selected to emphasise God’s Fatherly love as the source of their redemption; though Soden thinks that, as in Romans 6:4, Paul has in mind God’s relation to Christ (so Alf.).—τῷ ἱκανώσαντι ὑμᾶς: “who qualified you”. The reference is to status rather than character.—εἰς τὴν μερίδαφωτί. Lightfoot thinks τ. μερ. τ. κλ. is the portion which consists in the lot, κλήρου being a genitive of apposition (so Sod., Abb.). But probably κλ. is the general inheritance in which each individual has his μέρ. The lot is the blessedness awaiting the saints. More controverted is the connexion of ἐν τῷ φωτί. Meyer connects it with ἱκανώς. and takes ἐν as instrumental “by the light”. This is harsh, and φωτί in contrast to σκότους (Colossians 1:13) cannot mean the Gospel. Others connect it with ἁγίων, either in the sense of angels (so Kl[5], Franke and Lueken) or saints (so Ol. and others). But the angels are never in the N.T. called οἱ ἅγιοι, though this term is used for them in the O.T. and Jewish Apocalyptic. Further, the contrast with the “darkness” of Colossians 1:13 loses its force unless the “holy ones” are Christians as opposed to non-Christians. And if Paul had meant this he would have expressed himself more plainly. Nor is any such reference probable in an Epistle directed especially against over-valuation of the angels. If saints are meant, unless (with Ol.) we give φωτί merely an ethical sense, they must be saints in heaven, for which we should have expected τῶν ἐν φωτί, as the object of the addition would be to distinguish them from saints on earth. ἐν φωτί should therefore be connected either with μερίδα (Beng.), μερίδα τ. κλήρου (Alf., Lightf.), or κλήρου (De W., Ell., Sod., Haupt). The difference is slight, and it seems simplest to connect with κλ., “the lot of the saints [situated] in the light”; ἐν being probably local, and not expressing, as in Acts 8:21, the idea of a share in the light. The precise sense of φῶς is disputed. Oltramare takes it of the state of holiness in which Christians live, so that the distinction between saints on earth and in heaven does not arise. But the immediate impression of the phrase is that the heavenly kingdom, where God dwells in light, is referred to.

[5] Klöpper.12. giving thanks] as the disciple is to do “in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So would the deep-felt “joy” be specially expressed. See on Colossians 1:3 above.

unto the Father] Who is always revealed as the ultimate Object of thanksgiving, the eternal Fountain of the whole Redemption. Cp. e.g. Matthew 11:25; John 3:16; John 17:1; John 17:4; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; Php 2:11; 1 Peter 1:3.—He is here viewed as the Father of the Son, not immediately as “our Father;” see Colossians 1:13.

which hath made us meet] Who qualified us, or (Lightfoot), made us competent; i.e., gave us, as His redeemed ones in the Son (Colossians 1:14), title to and entrance on our spiritual possessions.—The time-reference is, from one point of view, to the moment of the Lord’s finished work; from another, to the moment of each believer’s personal union with the Lord.—The same verb occurs 2 Corinthians 3:6 (only), “He qualified us to be ministers, &c.” In the Old Latin Version we find qui vocavit nos, etc. This represents a various reading of the Greek, “who called us.”—But the evidence for “qualified” is decisive. Another various reading, not to be adopted, is “you” for “us.”

to be partakers, &c.] Lit., unto the portion of the lot of the saints in the light. “The kingdom” (Colossians 1:13) of the Son of God is the realm of light, the light of spiritual knowledge, purity, and joy; the mystical Canaan of the redeemed; the “lot” or inheritance of the “peculiar people,” in which each one has his “portion.” In other words, the saints, possessed by Christ, themselves possess Christ as their riches and light, and are “qualified” to do so by the grace of the Father who gave the Son for them and to them.—The reference is not immediately to the coming glory, but to the present grace. Cp. Luke 16:8; John 8:12; John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 John 1:7, &c.; for the imagery of “light” in such a connexion.

It is questioned, whether we are to understand the Apostle to speak of “the lot in the light,” or of “the saints in the light”? Probably the words “in light” qualify all parts of the thought. The mystical Canaan is “in the light,” and so are its inhabitants therefore.

Saints:”—see on Colossians 1:2 above.Colossians 1:12. Εὐχαριστοῦντες, giving thanks) i.e. and we give thanks. It depends on Colossians 1:9 [we do not cease, etc.—giving thanks]: Us presently follows, and you, Colossians 1:21. [He gives thanks, namely, in behalf of the Israelites, Colossians 1:12-20, on account of the Gentiles, Colossians 1:21, etc. Comp. Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 2:11.—V. g.]—τῷ ἱκανώσαντι, who hath made us meet) For we had been formerly not meet. The same word is found at 2 Corinthians 3:6.—εἰς, for) i.e. that we might receive a part of the inheritance of the saints; comp. the following verse, and Ephesians 1:11, or rather Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18.—μερίδα τοῦ κλήρου) a part given by allotment, not for a price.—ἐν, in) construed with a part. Light is the kingdom of God, and believers enjoy a blessed share in this kingdom: ἐν, in, is, so to speak, a preposition of place. The opposite, Matthew 4:16, should be compared, where in occurs twice.—τῷ φωτὶ, in light) an antithesis to of darkness, Colossians 1:13. Comp. Ephesians 5:8. It is the light of knowledge [recognition and perception] and joy.Verse 12. - Giving thanks to the Father, who made us (or, you) meet for our (or, your) share in the lot (or, portion) of the saints in the light (vers. 3-5; Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; Titus 3:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11-14; Galatians 3:29; Romans 8:15-17). The reading "us" is very doubtful. Westcott and Hort, with Tischendorf, prefer "you," as in the two oldest manuscripts: for the transition from first to second person, comp. Colossians 2:13, 14 (vers. 9-12). In the same strain the apostle gave thanks on their account (ver. 5). Thanksgiving" is prominent in this letter (Colossians 2:7; Colossians 3:15, 17; Colossians 4:2), as "joy" in Philippians. The title "the Father" frequently stands alone in St. John's Gospel, coming from the lips of the Son, but St. Paul employs it thus only here and in Ephesians 3:14, R.V.; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6 (comp. 1 John 3:1); see note on ver. 2. Those "give thanks to the Father" who gratefully acknowledge him in "the spirit of adoption" as their Father through Christ (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:1-7; Ephesians 1:5). And the Father makes us meet for the inheritance when he enables us to call him "Father" - "If children, then heirs." "To make meet" (ἱκανόω, the verb found besides only in 2 Corinthians 3:5, 6 in the New Testament, "to make sufficient," R.V.) is "to make competent," "to qualify" for sonic position or work. This meetness, already conferred on the Colossians, consists in their forgiveness (ver. 14) and adoption (Ephesians 1:5-7), which qualify and entitle them to receive the blessings of Christ's kingdom (ver. 13; Romans 5:1, 2; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:5, 6; Titus 3:7), and which anticipate and form the basis of that worthiness of character and fitness of condition in which they are finally to be presented "perfect in Christ" (vers. 10, 22, 28; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24); "not qui dignos fecit (Vulgate), but qui idoneos fecit" (Ellicott). "Called and (made us meet)" is one of the few characteristic readings of the great Vatican Manuscript, which Westcott and Herr reject (see their 'Introduction,' § 320, and Lightfoot's 'Detached Notes,' p. 251). "The lot of the saints" is that entire wealth of blessedness laid up for the people of God (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4-7), in which each has his due share or part (Meyer, Ellicott, Lightfoot, less suitably: "parcel of (consisting in) the lot"); comp. ver. 28; Ephesians 4:7. Κλῆρος ("lot," Acts 8:21; Acts 26:18), scarcely distinguishable from the more usual κληρονομία ("inheritance," Colossians 3:24; Ephesians 1:14, etc.; Acts 20:32; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4), is used in the Old Testament (LXX) of the sacred land as "divided by lot," and as "the lot" assigned to Israel (Numbers 34:13; Deuteronomy 4:21, etc.), also of Jehovah himself as "the lot" of the landless Levites (Deuteronomy 10:9), and of Israel in turn as "the lot" of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 4:20). It is the divinely allocated possession of the people of God in his kingdom. It belongs to them as "saints" (ver. 2; Ephesians 2:19; Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; Psalm 15; Numbers 35:34; Jeremiah 2:7); and it lies "in the light," in "the kingdom of the Son of God's love" (ver. 13) that is filled with the light of the knowledge of God proceeding from Christ (2 Corinthians 4:1-6; John 1:4; John 8:12), light here manifest "in part" and in conflict with Satanic darkness (ver. 13; Ephesians 5:8-14; Ephesians 6:11, 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8; Romans 13:11-13; John 1:5), hereafter the full possession of God's saints (Colossians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 13:12; John 12:36; Revelation 21:23-25; Isaiah 60:19, 20). Vers. 13 and 14 proceed to show how this qualification has been gained. Made us meet (ἱκανώσαντι)

See on 2 Corinthians 3:6.

To be partakers of the inheritance (εἰς τὴν μερίδα τοῦ κλήρου).

Lit., for the portion of the lot; that is, the portion which is the lot. Compare Acts 8:21, where the two words are coordinated.

In light (ἐν τῷ φωτί)

Connect with inheritance: the inheritance which is in light. This need not be limited to future glory. The children of God walk in light on earth. See John 3:21; John 11:9; John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:10.

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