Colossians 1:21
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled
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(21) Alienated.—Not naturally aliens, but estranged. (See Note on Ephesians 2:12.)

By wicked works.—Properly, in your wicked works. The enmity of heart is not properly caused by wicked works, but shown in them, and probably intensified by reflex action through them.

Colossians 1:21-23. And you — Colossians, in particular, with all other Gentiles; that were sometime — Greek, ποτε, once, formerly; alienated — Estranged from the knowledge, love, and life of the one living and true God, (see note on Ephesians 4:18,) being destitute not only of all conformity to him, and union with him, but of all fear of him, and acquaintance with his nature and attributes; yea, and enemies — To him and to his worship and service; in your mind — Your understanding, judgment, will, and affections; by wicked works — Which at once manifested your inward enmity, and continually fed and increased it. Observe, reader, every violation of the divine law, every instance of disobedience to his commands, is an undeniable proof of enmity to him. This, however, is not the only evidence thereof: for, as he manifests his will by the dispensations of his providence, as well as by the precepts of his word, so far as we do not receive these dispensations, however afflictive, with resignation and patience, we manifest our enmity to him; as we do likewise, according to Romans 8:6-7, (where see the note,) so far as we are carnally minded; that is, esteem, desire, and delight in visible and temporal, in preference to spiritual and eternal things; or set our affection on things beneath, instead of setting it on things above, and seek that happiness in the creature which ought to be sought, and certainly can only be found, in the Creator. Yet now hath he reconciled — To himself and to the society of his people. That is, he is both reconciled to you, having forgiven you all your trespasses, and also hath reconciled you, or removed your enmity, by shedding his love abroad in your hearts; in the body of his flesh — (Thus distinguished from his body the church,) namely, his entire manhood, offered up upon the cross for you; through death — Endured to expiate your guilt, and thereby both to render a holy and just God reconcileable, on the terms of repentance toward him, and faith in his Son, and to procure for you the Holy Spirit to work that repentance and faith in you, and give you such a display of God’s love to you as should win and engage your affections to him. See on Romans 5:10; to present you holy — Toward God, dedicated to him in heart and life, conformed to his image, and employed in his service; and unblameable Αμωμους, spotless in yourselves; cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit; and unreproveable — With respect to your neighbour, cultivating truth in your words, and justice and mercy in your actions toward all men. If ye continue — That is, you will assuredly be so presented, if you continue in the faith, exercising living faith in Christ and his gospel; grounded and settled Τεθεμελιωμενοι και εδραιοι, placed on a good foundation, and firmly fixed upon it; and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel — Namely, that lively hope of eternal life, felicity, and glory, (Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:3,) to which you were begotten again when made children of God by adoption and grace, Romans 8:17. This is termed the hope of the gospel, because the gospel reveals that future and immortal state which is the great object of this hope, and shows us how we may secure a title to that state. Faith and hope are the principal means of our salvation, from first to last. By the former, we are not only justified, and made the children of God, (Romans 3:28; Galatians 3:26,) but sanctified and saved eternally; (Acts 26:18;) and by the latter, we have patience, gratitude, joy, purity, with a disposition to be zealous and diligent in the work of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 5:2; 1 John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 15:58. It is therefore of absolute necessity, in order to our eternal salvation, that we should continue in the lively exercise of these graces. Which ye have heard — Even ye Gentiles; and which was preached — Or is already begun to be preached, by a special commission from God; to every creature which is under heaven — Being no longer confined to the Jews, but extended to all the different nations and languages of men; whereof — Of which gospel; I, Paul, am made a minister — By the singular mercy and grace of God.1:15-23 Christ in his human nature, is the visible discovery of the invisible God, and he that hath seen Him hath seen the Father. Let us adore these mysteries in humble faith, and behold the glory of the Lord in Christ Jesus. He was born or begotten before all the creation, before any creature was made; which is the Scripture way of representing eternity, and by which the eternity of God is represented to us. All things being created by Him, were created for him; being made by his power, they were made according to his pleasure, and for his praise and glory. He not only created them all at first, but it is by the word of his power that they are upheld. Christ as Mediator is the Head of the body, the church; all grace and strength are from him; and the church is his body. All fulness dwells in him; a fulness of merit and righteousness, of strength and grace for us. God showed his justice in requiring full satisfaction. This mode of redeeming mankind by the death of Christ was most suitable. Here is presented to our view the method of being reconciled. And that, notwithstanding the hatred of sin on God's part, it pleased God to reconcile fallen man to himself. If convinced that we were enemies in our minds by wicked works, and that we are now reconciled to God by the sacrifice and death of Christ in our nature, we shall not attempt to explain away, nor yet think fully to comprehend these mysteries; but we shall see the glory of this plan of redemption, and rejoice in the hope set before us. If this be so, that God's love is so great to us, what shall we do now for God? Be frequent in prayer, and abound in holy duties; and live no more to yourselves, but to Christ. Christ died for us. But wherefore? That we should still live in sin? No; but that we should die to sin, and live henceforth not to ourselves, but to Him.And you, that were sometime alienated - In this work of reconciling heaven and earth, you at Colossae, who were once enemies of God, have been reached. The benefit of that great plan has been extended to you, and it has accomplished in you what it is designed to effect everywhere - to reconcile enemies to God. The word "sometime" here - ποτε pote - means "formerly." In common with all other men they were, by nature, in a state of enmity against God; compare the notes at Ephesians 2:1-3.

In your mind - It was not merely by wicked works, or by an evil life; it was alienation seated in the mind, and leading to wicked works. It was deliberate and purposed enmity. It was not the result of passion and excitement; it had a deeper seat, and took hold of the intellectual powers The understanding was perverse and alienated from God, and all the powers of the soul were enlisted against him. It is this fact which renders reconciliation with God so difficult. Sin has corrupted and perverted alike the moral and the intellectual powers, and thus the whole man is arrayed against his Creator; compare the notes at Ephesians 4:18.

By wicked works - The alienation of the mind showed itself by wicked works, and those works were the public evidence of the alienation; compare Ephesians 2:1-2.

Yet now hath he reconciled - Harmony has been secured between you and God, and you are brought to friendship and love. Such a change has been produced in you as to bring your minds into friendship with that of God. All the change in producing this is on the part of man, for God cannot change, and there is no reason why he should, if he could. In the work of reconciliation man lays aside his hostility to his Maker, and thus becomes his friend; see the notes at 2 Corinthians 5:18.

21. The Colossians are included in this general reconciliation (compare Eph 2:1, 12).


alienated—from God and salvation: objectively banished from God, through the barrier which God's justice interposed against your sin: subjectively estranged through the alienation of your own wills from God. The former is the prominent thought (compare Ro 5:10), as the second follows, "enemies in your mind." "Actual alienation makes habitual 'enemies'" [Bengel].

in your mind—Greek, "in your understanding" or "thought" (Eph 2:3; 4:18).

by wicked works—rather as Greek, "in your wicked works" (wicked works were the element in which your enmity subsisted).

yet now—Notwithstanding the former alienation, now that Christ has come, God hath completely reconciled, or restored to His friendship again (so the Greek, compare Note, see on [2406]Col 1:20).

And you, that were sometime alienated: the particle and, by a Hebraism, is put for therefore, or wherefore, leading the Colossians from the doctrines he had proposed, to consider their own estrangement from God and the things that please him, before they were effectually called by the gospel, being then in such a miserable condition as others were in a state of corrupted nature. See Psalm 5:9 Romans 6:19 1 Corinthians 6:11 Ephesians 2:1,3,11,12.

And enemies; not only in their outward deportment had they no communion with the true God, but inwardly they hated God as an enemy, and they were hated of him as his enemies; by their willing and nilling that which was contrary to him and his pleasure, in opposing his revealed will, John 15:18,21 Ro 1:29,30 5:10 8:7 Jam 4:4.

In your mind by wicked works; this enmity was predominant in their mind, or cogitation, or carnal reasoning, not receiving or comprehending the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:14; that leading power of their souls being darkened, Ephesians 4:18, there was an enmity against God, so that they neither could be subject to God’s law, Romans 8:7, under the prevaleney of that corrupt reasoning which was so intent upon their corrupt courses, Genesis 6:5, that then they thought not of peace with God.

Yet now hath he reconciled; yet such was the unconstrained compassion of God, that now while sinners, (in a divided sense), Romans 5:10, they were actually reconciled; now, not before, not from eternity in his decree, nor meritoriously when upon the cross, 2 Corinthians 5:19: he doth not mean simply the action, of such virtue, necessary and efficacious to make reconciliation, and the appeasing of God’s displeasure; but compriseth the efect of it also when it is wrought in time, 2 Corinthians 5:20, and the enmity in the subject is actually removed. And you that were sometime alienated,.... The general blessing of grace and reconciliation, which belongs to the whole body of Christ, the church universal, all the elect of God, whether in heaven or in earth, is here particularly applied to the saints at Colosse, who were eminent instances of it; and that the free grace of God towards them in it might more illustriously appear, the apostle takes notice of what they were before the coming of Christ in the flesh, before the Gospel came among them, and while in a state of unregeneracy, as that they were "alienated": that is from God, not from his general presence, power, and providence, which reach to all his creatures, but from the life of God; see Ephesians 4:18; from living agreeably to the will of God, being estranged from him who is the fountain of moral and spiritual, as well as natural life; from the law, the rule of life, and from a principle of life in themselves; and altogether disapproving of such a life, as contrary to their carnal affections and lusts: and which alienation from God greatly lay in their forsaking him, the one only and true God, and following and serving strange gods, not attending to the dictates and light of nature; and being destitute of a divine revelation, they went further and further off from God, and from his people, worship, and ordinances; and were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise; the source of all which was sin, and was owing to themselves: God did not alienate himself from them first; they alienated themselves from him; their sins separated between God and them, set them at a distance from him, and at enmity to him, and which very early appeared, for they were estranged from the womb:

and enemies in your mind by wicked works. They were enemies to God, the true God, and were lovers and worshippers of idols; they were enemies to the being and perfections of God, as all men in a state of nature are; and more or less show it, by either denying there is a God, or wishing there was none, or fancying him to be such an one as themselves; or they dispute his sovereignty, deny his omniscience, arraign his justice and faithfulness, and despise the riches of his grace and goodness; they are enemies to his purposes, providences, and word; cannot bear that he should determine any thing concerning them or others; their eye is evil to him because he is good to others; they reply against him, they run upon him, and charge his decrees with unrighteousness and cruelty; murmur at and quarrel with the dispensations of his providence, as unequal and unjust; cast away the law of the Lord, will not be subject to it, and condemn the revelation of his will. They are enemies to Christ in one shape or another; either to his person, denying his proper deity, or real humanity; or to his offices, not hearkening to him as a prophet, trampling on his blood and sacrifice as a priest, and unwilling to have him to rule over them as a King; or to the way of salvation by him, of pardon by his blood, atonement by his sacrifice, justification by his righteousness, and acceptance with God through his person; or to his doctrines and ordinances, which are unsuitable to their vicious tastes, carnal affections, and appetites: they are enemies to the Spirit of Christ, by either denying his deity and personality, or by ridiculing the operations of his grace; or treating with contempt, and as foolish, everything of his, the Bible and all the truths contained in it, dictated by him. They are enemies to the people of God, exceeding mad against them, hate them and persecute them, reckon them the faith of the world, and the offscouring of all things, living in malice to them, and hateful and hating one another: and this enmity to everything divine and good is seated "in the mind"; the mind is not the object of this enmity, as some read the words, "to the mind": for the mind of a carnal man is enmity itself against God; but it is the subject of it, where it has its chief place, and from whence it proceeds, and shows itself in evil actions; and though the word "your" is not in the original text, it is rightly supplied; for the meaning is not that they were enemies "of his mind"; of the mind of the Lord, of his counsels and will, as some read and explain the words, though there is a truth in this, but in their own minds: so that not the body but the soul is the seat of this enmity; and not the inferior faculties of the soul only, the sensitive appetite and passions, but the understanding, the judgment and will, the more noble and rational powers of the soul; from hence spring all the malice and enmity expressed in word and actions: where then is man's free will to that which is good? and hence it is that the mind stands in need of being renewed, enlightened, cleansed and sanctified, and renovation begins here, which is the effect of almighty power; for nothing else can remove the rooted enmity in the heart of men; and which, as deep and as secret as it is, sooner or later, in one way or another, shows itself "by wicked works"; and that frequently, as by loving what God hates, and hating what he loves; by omitting what he commands, and committing what he forbids; by maintaining friendship with the world, and by harbouring his professed enemies, and persecuting his dear friends; and by their wicked words, and evil lives and conversations; and by the various works of the flesh, which are manifest, some being more directly against God, others by which they wrong themselves, and others by which they injure their neighbours:

yet now hath he reconciled; which may be understood either of the Father's reconciling them to himself by his Son; and so the words are a continuation of the account of the Father's grace, as to all the elect in general, so to the Colossians in particular, notwithstanding the black characters in which they stand described in their natural estate: or else of Christ's reconciling them to his Father, by the sacrifice of himself, which he voluntarily offered for them, though this was their case, and of enemies made them friends: and may be meant either of the impetration of reconciliation for them by his sufferings and death; or of the virtue and efficacy of it in the application of it; in the former sense the "now" refers to the coming of Christ into the world, and the time of his death, and the offering up of his body once for all, when peace and reconciliation were completely made at once for all God's elect; in the latter sense it refers to the time of the conversion of these Colossians, when Christ by his Spirit, in consequence of reconciliation made in the body of his flesh, through death reconciled them to God; to his mind and will, to the way of salvation by himself, to the saints the excellent in the earth, to the Gospel and the ordinances of it, and to all his ways and worship.

{10} And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath {o} he reconciled

(10) Sanctification is another work of God in us by Christ, in that that he restored us (who hated God extremely and were wholly and willingly given to sin) to his gracious favour in such a way that he in addition purifies us with his Holy Spirit, and consecrates us to righteousness.

(o) The Son.

Colossians 1:21. As far as Colossians 1:23, an application to the readers of what had been said as to the reconciliation, in order to animate them, through the consciousness of this blessing, to stedfastness in the faith (Colossians 1:23).

καὶ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ.] you also, not: and you, so that it would have to be separated by a mere comma from the preceding verse, and νυνὶ δὲθανάτου would, notwithstanding its great importance, come to be taken as parenthetical (Lachmann), or as quite breaking off the discourse, and leaving it unfinished (Ewald). It begins a new sentence, comp. Ephesians 2:1; but observe, at the same time, that Ephesians 2 is much too rich in its contents to admit of these contents being here compressed into Colossians 1:20-21 (in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 150). As to the way in which Holtzmann gains an immediate connection with what precedes, see on Colossians 1:19. The construction (following the reading ἀποκατηλλάγητε, see the critical notes) has become anacoluthic, inasmuch as Paul, when he began the sentence, had in his mind the active verb (which stands in the Recepta), but he does not carry out this formation of the sentence; on the contrary, in his versatility of conception, he suddenly starts off and continues in a passive form, as if he had begun with καὶ ὑμεῖς κ.τ.λ. See Matthiae, p. 1524; Winer, p. 527 ff. [E. T. 714]; and upon the aorist, Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 171 [E. T. 197].

ἀπηλλοτρ. κ.τ.λ] when ye were once in the state of estrangement, characterizes their heathen condition. As to ἀπηλλοτρ., see on Ephesians 2:12; from which passage ἀπὸ τῆς πολιτείας τ. Ἰσρ. is here as unwarrantably supplied (Heinrichs, comp. Flatt), as is from Ephesians 4:14 τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ (Bähr). In conformity with the context, seeing that previously God was the subject as author of reconciliation, the being estranged from God (τοῦ Θεοῦ), the being excluded from His fellowship, is to be understood. Comp. ἄθεοι ἐν τ. κόσμῳ, Ephesians 2:12. On the subject-matter, Romans 1:21 ff.

ἐχθρούς] sc. τῷ Θεῷ, in a passive sense (comp. on Romans 5:10; Romans 11:28): invisos Deo,[55] as is required by the idea of having become reconciled, through which God’s enmity against sinful men, who were τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς (Ephesians 2:3), has changed into mercy towards them.[56] This applies in opposition to the usual active interpretation, which Hofmann also justly rejects: hostile towards God, Romans 8:7; Jam 4:4 (so still Huther, de Wette, Ewald, Ritschl, Holtzmann), which is not to be combined with the passive sense (Calvin, Bleek).

τῇ διανοίᾳ and ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἜΡΓΟΙς Τ. Π. belong to both the preceding elements; the former as dative of the cause: on account of their disposition of mind they were once alienated from God and hateful to Him; the latter as specification of the overt, actual sphere of life, in which they had been so (in the wicked works, in which their godless and God-hated behaviour had exhibited itself). Thus information is given, as to ἀπηλλ. and ἘΧΘΡΟΎς, of an internal and of an external kind. The view which takes Τῇ ΔΙΑΝΟΊᾼ as dative of the respect (comp. Ephesians 4:18): as respects disposition (so, following older expositors, Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald), would no doubt suit the erroneous active explanation of ἐχθρ., but would furnish only a superfluous definition to it, as it is self-evident that the enmity towards God resides in the disposition. Luther incorrectly renders: “through the reason;” for the διάν. is not the reason itself, but its immanent activity (see especially, Plato, Soph. p. 263 E), and that here viewed under its moral aspect; comp. on Ephesians 4:18. Beza (“mente operibus malis intenta”), Michaelis, Storr, and Bähr attach ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις κ.τ.λ. to Τῇ ΔΙΑΝΟΊᾼ. This is grammatically admissible, since we may say ΔΙΑΝΟΕῖΣΘΑΙ ἘΝ, animo versari in (Psalm 73:8; Sir 6:37; Plato, Prot. p. 341 E), and therefore the repetition of the article was not necessary. But the badness of the disposition was so entirely self-evident from the context, that the assumed more precise definition by ἐν τοῖς ἔργ. τ. πονηρ. would appear tediously circumstantial.

The articles Τῇ and ΤΟῖς denote the disposition which they have had, and the works which they have done. In the latter case the subjoined attributive furnished with the article (τοῖς πονηροῖς) is not causal (“because they were bad,” Hofmann), but emphatically brings into prominence the quality, as at Ephesians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 7:14, and often (Winer, p. 126 [E. T. 167]).

νυνὶ δὲ ἀποκατηλλάγητε] as if previously ὙΜΕῖς Κ.Τ.Λ. were used (see above): Ye also … have nevertheless now become reconciled. On δέ after participles which supply the place of the protasis, as here, where the thought is: although ye formerly, etc., see Klotz, ad Devar. p. 374 ff.; Maetzner, ad Antiph. p. 136; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. iii. 7. 8, Anab. vi. 6. 16. On νυνί, with the aorist following, comp. Colossians 1:26; Romans 7:6; Ephesians 2:13; Plat. Symp. p. 193 A: πρὸ τοῦἓν ἦμεν, νυνὶ δὲ διὰ τὴν ἀδικίαν διῳκίσθημεν ὑπὸ τ. θεοῦ. Ellendt, Lex Soph. II. p. 176; Kühner, II. 2, p. 672. It denotes the present time, which has set in with the ἀποκατηλλ. (comp. Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 171 [E. T. 197]); and the latter has taken place objectively through the death of Christ, Colossians 1:22, although realized subjectively in the readers only when they became believers—whereby the reconciliation became appropriated to them, and there existed now for them a decisive contrast of their νυνί with their ΠΟΤΈ.[57] The reconciling subject is, according to the context (Colossians 1:19-20), not Christ (as at Ephesians 2:16), through whom (comp. Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18) the reconciliation has taken place (see Colossians 1:20), but, as at 2 Corinthians 5:19, God (in opposition to Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Calovius, Heinrichs, and others, including de Wette and Ewald). For the reference to Christ even the reading ἀποκατήλλαξεν would by no means furnish a reason, far less a necessity, since, on the contrary, even this active would have, according to the correct explanation of εὐδόκησε in Colossians 1:19, to be taken as referring to God (in opposition to Hofmann).

[55] Compare the phrase very current in the classical writers, from Homer onward, ἐχθρὸς θεοῖς, quem Dii oderunt.

See Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 276 ff., who aptly explains καταλλάσσεσθαί τινι: in alicujus favorem venire, qui antea succensuerit. Comp. Philippi, Glaubensl. IV. 2, p. 265 ff., ed. 2. The reconciliation of men takes place, when God, instead of being further angry at them, has become gracious towards them,—when, consequently, He Himself is reconciled. Comp. Luke 18:13; 2 Corinthians 5:19. So long as His wrath is not changed, and consequently He is not reconciled, men remain unreconciled. 2Ma 7:33 : ὁ ζῶν κύριοςβραχέως ἑπώργισται καὶ πάλιν καταλλαγήσεται τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ δούλοις, comp. 2Ma 8:29, 2Ma 1:5, 2Ma 5:20; Clem. Cor. I. 48: ἱκετεύοντες αὐτόν (God), ὅπως ἵλεως γενόμενος ἐπικαταλλαγῇ ἡμῖν. In Constt. Apost. viii. 12. 14, it is said of Christ that He τῷ κόσμῳ κατήλλαξε God, and § 17, of God: σοῦ καταλλαγέντος αὐτοῖς (with believers).

[57] Comp. Luthardt, vom freien Willen, p. 403.Colossians 1:21. For this verse cf. Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:12. Usually καὶ ὑμᾶς is made to begin a new sentence. Even with the reading ἀποκατήλλαξεν the construction is not quite regular, but with the probably correct reading, ἀποκατηλλάγητε, a violent break in the context is involved, since Paul begins with the second person as the object and suddenly makes it the subject. Such an anacoluthon is possible in dictation, but very improbable unless several words had intervened, so that the beginning of the sentence should be forgotten. This is not the case here. Lachmann (followed by Lightf. and others) takes νυνὶ δὲθανάτου as a parenthesis, in which case παραστῆσαι depends on εὐδόκησε, and ὑμᾶς is repeated “to disentangle the construction”. The irregularity is thus avoided. Haupt objects that it is unlikely that Paul should have continued after so long a sentence as Colossians 1:20 with the same construction, and also that the thought in this part of the sentence, “to present you holy,” is not co-ordinated to the thoughts in κατοικ. and ἀποκατ. For in the latter the thought is that it is the Son in whom the fulness dwells and through whom reconciliation is effected. But this thought of the pre-eminence of the Son in the work of salvation is not continued in Colossians 1:22, where the thought is of the Christian standing of the Colossians before God. It is therefore unlikely that παραστ. should depend on εὐδοκ. Accordingly, with Haupt and Weiss, a comma should be placed at the end of Colossians 1:20, and a full stop at the end of Colossians 1:21. ὑμᾶς in Colossians 1:21 will then depend on ἀποκατ. It might seem an anti-climax after the wide sweep of Colossians 1:20 to narrow down the reference to the Colossians. But we have a similar case in Colossians 1:6, and the personal application of a universal truth is anti-climax only to a rhetorician. The danger of the Colossians makes it peculiarly appropriate here.—καὶ ὑμᾶς: “you also”.—ὄντας emphasises that this state was continuous.—ἀπηλλοτριωμένους: “estranged,” i.e., from God, probably not to be taken as counted as aliens by God, but as expressing their attitude to God.—ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ. Meyer takes ἐχθ. as passive, regarded as enemies by God, but the qualification τῇ διαν. and the further addition ἐν. τ. ἔργ. τ. πον. makes this very improbable. It involves the translation of τῇ διαν. “on account of your state of mind,” for which διά with the accusative would have been expected. But it is much simpler to take διαν. as dative of the part affected, and ἐχθ. as active, hostile to God in your mind. διανοία (used only here and Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 4:18 by Paul) means the higher intellectual nature, but specially on the ethical side; it is usually in the LXX the translation of “heart”. Cremer defines it as “the faculty of moral reflexion”. ἐν τ. ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς: to be connected with ἀπηλλ. καὶ ἐχθ. The preposition indicates the sphere in which they were thus estranged and enemies.21–23. The Subject pursued: the special case of the Colossians with regard to Redemption

21. you] In the Greek “you” is accusative, and (in the best supported reading) the only verb to govern it is “to reconcile” in Colossians 1:20. (See note on “hath He reconciled” just below.) Thus the construction runs unbroken from Colossians 1:20 into this verse. But there is a break, a paragraph, practically, in the thought and treatment.

As in Ephesians 1:13, so here, the Apostle moves from the general case of the “all things” to the particular case of the Colossian believers, included among “the things on the earth.” Cp. also Ephesians 2:1; a close parallel.

sometimes] Ideally, before Christ’s work; biographically, before their conversion to Him.

alienated] Estranged, Lightfoot.—Cp. Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 4:18, and our notes there. Here, as there, the unregenerate man, and now particularly the heathen man, is viewed as (ideally) once in covenant and peace with God, and recipient of His “life,” but “fallen” thence.—See note above on “to reconcile,” Colossians 1:20.

enemies] Not, as some render, “hated.” The Greek does mean “hatedRomans 11:28; but scarcely so anywhere else in N.T.—For the truth, cp. Romans 8:7. In its inmost essence, sinfulness is hostility to the nature, will, and claims of the Holy One. He therefore on His part must be judicially adverse to the sinner, apart from the propitiation He has provided. But this side of the fact is less prominent here.

in your mind] The word rendered “mind” commonly denotes the rational powers in general; cp. e.g. Ephesians 4:17; 1 Peter 1:13. The Colossians in their heathen state had shewn their “enmity” “in those powers,” inasmuch as the approved principles of their lives were contrary to the will of God.

by wicked works] More lit., in your wicked works; the orbit, so to speak, traced by their life of “enmity.” For the truth, cp. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:1-3; Titus 3:3-7.

now] “As the fact is,” in the actual provision of mercy and gift of grace. “Comp. e.g. Colossians 1:26, Romans 5:11; Romans 7:6; Romans 11:30-31; Romans 16:26; Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Peter 1:12; 1 Peter 2:10; 1 Peter 2:23.” (Lightfoot.)

hath he reconciled] More lit., did He reconcile, in the finished work of Christ. But the somewhat better supported reading gives the passive; you were reconciled. Thus (see note on “you” just above) we have here a new sentence, grammatically, although the order of thought practically justifies the rendering of the A.V. Reading thus, we may regard the words from “yet now” to “through death” as a parenthesis in the construction.Colossians 1:21. Καὶ ὑμᾶς, and you) Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:12.—ἀπηλλοτριωμένους καὶ ἐχθροὺς, alienated and enemies) Actual alienation makes habitual enemies.—τῇ διανοίᾳ) in the original and inmost force [bias, Vulg. ‘sensu,’ in feeling] of the mind, which draws after it the other faculties.—νυνὶ) now, when you have received that faith, by which you have been brought to the reconciliation made on the cross; i.e. you were formerly alienated, but now He has reconciled you; although you were enemies, nevertheless He has reconciled you. The Apodosis is to be referred to the words immediately preceding, although they do not render the sentence complete.—ἀποκατήλλαξεν, reconciled) i.e. God hath.Verse 21. - And you, at one time being (men) alienated, and enemies in your thought, (engaged) in your wicked works, yet now did he reconcile; or, were ye reconciled [so Meyer, Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, and R.V. margin, following Codex B] (Colossians 2:11; Colossians 3:7; Ephesians 2:1-3, 11, 12; Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 5:5-8; 1 Corinthians 6:4; Romans 6:21; 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 4:3). The combination of ὄντες ("being") with perfect passive participle ("having been alienated") implies a fixed condition, that has become as a part of one's nature (so in Ephesians 4:18, Revised Text). As the opposite of "reconciled," "alienated" is strictly passive, and denotes, not a subjective feeling on the part of the sinner, but an objective determination on the part of God, an exclusion from the Divine favour, from "the kingdom of the Son" and "the lot of the saints" (vers. 12, 13; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 2:3, 11-13; Ephesians 4:18; Romans 1:18: comp. usage of LXX in Psalm 68:9; 1 Esdr. 9:4; Sir. 11:34). "Enemies in your thought" sets forth the disposition of the sinner towards God (Romans 8:7; Philippians 3:18: so Alford,Ellicott, Lightfoot). Meyer maintains the passive sense of "enemies," as found in Romans 5:10; Romans 11:28; Galatians 4:16. On the latter view, σῇ διανοίᾳ is instrumental dative, "by," "in virtue of your state of mind;" on the former, it is dative of reference or definition. Διανοία (here only and Ephesians 2:3 and Ephesians 4:18 in St. Paul) has possibly a polemical reference. It denotes in Greek philosophy, the faculty of thought, as opposed to the bodily powers. In Philo's teaching it signifies the higher part of human nature, akin to God, and opposed to evil which belongs to the senses: "Thought (διανοία) is the best thing in us" ('On Fugitives,' § 26); "Every man in regard to his intellect (διανοία) is united to the Divine Word, being an impression or fragment or ray of that blessed nature; but in respect of his body he belongs to the entire world" ('On the Creation of the World,' § 51). But here sin is associated With the intellect in man, and redemption with "the body of Christ's flesh" (ver. 22): comp. notes on "reason," Colossians 2:18, and "body," Colossians 2:23; also Ephesians 4:18, where the reason is vain, the intellect darkened. "Wicked [emphasized by its position in the Greek, denoting active evil; see Trench's 'Synonyms,' on πονηρός] works" is a phrase common in St. John, only used here by St. Paul (comp. Colossians 3:7; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 6:19, 20; Galatians 5:19; Hebrews 9:14). These works are the practices of life in which the sinner is abidingly excluded from "the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5), and manifests the radical antipathy of his mind toward God. "Yet [or, 'but'] now:" comp. ver. 26; Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 2:13; Romans 3:21, etc. - a lively form of transition characteristic of St. Paul, primarily temporal, then also logical in sense. "Were ye reconciled" breaks through the grammatical structure of the sentence, as in vers. 26, 27 (see Lightfoot, and Winer's 'N. T. Grammar,' p. 717). If "did he reconcile" (or, "hath he reconciled") be the correct reading, "Christ" is still subject of the verb, as in vers. 19-22, and consistently with Ephesians 2:15, 16. (On "reconcile," see ver. 20.) Enemies

To God, in the active sense.

Mind (διανοίᾳ)

See on imagination, Luke 1:51. The spiritual seat of enmity.

By wicked works (ἐν τοῖς ἔγροις τοῖς πονηροῖς)

Rev., better, in your evil works. In the performance of - the sphere in which, outwardly, their alienation had exhibited itself.

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