Colossians 1:25
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
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(25) Whereof I am made (or, became) a minister.—Above (in Colossians 1:23) St. Paul describes himself as a “minister of the gospel,” here as a “minister (or, servant) of the Church.” Elsewhere he is always the “minister of God” and “of Christ”; here of the Church, as the Body of Christ, and so indissolubly united with Christ.

The dispensation of God.—See Ephesians 3:2-9, and Notes there. The reference is to his peculiar “Apostleship of the Gentiles.”

To fulfil.—The marginal reading and reference to Romans 15:19 give the explanation of the word, “fully to preach the Word of God”—to be a messenger of the perfect revelation, which had now unfolded what was previously a hidden “mystery.”

1:24-29 Both the sufferings of the Head and of the members are called the sufferings of Christ, and make up, as it were, one body of sufferings. But He suffered for the redemption of the church; we suffer on other accounts; for we do but slightly taste that cup of afflictions of which Christ first drank deeply. A Christian may be said to fill up that which remains of the sufferings of Christ, when he takes up his cross, and after the pattern of Christ, bears patiently the afflictions God allots to him. Let us be thankful that God has made known to us mysteries hidden from ages and generations, and has showed the riches of his glory among us. As Christ is preached among us, let us seriously inquire, whether he dwells and reigns in us; for this alone can warrant our assured hope of his glory. We must be faithful to death, through all trials, that we may receive the crown of life, and obtain the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.According to the dispensation of God - The arrangement which God has made. That is, he designed that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and, in accordance with that arrangement, he has called me to be a minister. Notes, Ephesians 3:2.

To fulfil the word of God - Margin, "fully to preach." The Greek is, "to fill up the word of God;" the meaning is, "fully to teach and promulgate the gospel;" compare the notes at Romans 15:19.

25. am—Greek, "I was made a minister": resuming Col 1:23, "whereof I Paul was made a minister."

dispensation—the stewardship committed to me to dispense in the house of God, the Church, to the whole family of believers, the goods of my Master (Lu 12:42; 1Co 4:1, 2; 9:17; Eph 3:2).

which is given—Greek, "which was given."

for you—with a view to you, Gentiles (Col 1:27; Ro 15:16).

to fulfil—to bring it fully to all: the end of his stewardship: "fully preached" (Ro 15:19). "The fulness of Christ (Col 1:19), and of the times (Eph 1:10) required him so to do" [Bengel].

Whereof I am made a minister; see under what title he suffers for the church, because a minister, ( in the more general acceptation of the word), as Colossians 1:23, not (as one of the ancients saith) to give the price of redemption, but to preach. He looked not on his apostleship as a domination, but ministration, 2 Corinthians 5:18; and though in regard of his call he was an extraordinary apostle, yet he, (remembering his Master’s injunction, Matthew 20:26), no more than Peter did affect dominion or a lordship over Christ’s heritage 2 Corinthians 1:24 1 Peter 5:1-3, according to his singular and eminent call to be a minister and a witness, Acts 26:16. As he doth elsewhere make mention of the minister of God, 2 Corinthians 6:4 1 Thessalonians 3:2; of the New Testament, gospel, word, reconciliation, Acts 6:4 2 Corinthians 3:6 5:18,19 Eph 3:7; of Jesus Christ and of the Lord, Romans 15:8 1 Corinthians 4:1 Ephesians 6:20 1 Timothy 4:6; so he doth here, by reason of the union between the Head and the body, own himself to be constituted a minister of the church, which some, of a lower rank, like not now to be called.

According to the dispensation of God; and that by Divine vouchsafement and commandment, being called from persecution of the church to this ministry, Acts 9:15,16 1 Corinthians 4:1 2 Corinthians 5:19 Ephesians 1:1. Yea, and also for them at Colosse, who, being of the Gentiles, were in his commission, according to the gift of the grace of God given to him, Ephesians 3:7.

Which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; fully to preach the word of God amongst them, as well as to the Romans and others, Romans 15:19, and so to fulfil the prophecy, Zechariah 2:11, for the calling of the Gentiles by the promulgation of the gospel amongst them, Acts 22:21 Romans 1:5 11:13 1 Timothy 2:7; and so fulfilling God’s word, by fully expounding the whole doctrine of salvation amongst them, and promoting of it to the end of his life.

Whereof I am made a minister,.... Not of Christ, or of the Gospel as before, though both were true; but of the churches for whose sake he endured afflictions; and which carries in it a reason of his suffering for them: he was not a saviour of the body, nor a redeemer of the church, nor Lord of it; but a minister, a servant of it, that ministered to it in holy things, in the word and ordinances; not a deacon, as the word, sometimes signifies, nor an ordinary minister, or a pastor of a particular church; but a minister of the church in general, being an apostle sent to preach the Gospel everywhere: he was made a minister of it, not by men, or anything he received from men; nor by himself, not by usurpation, he did not thrust himself into this office, or take it upon him of himself; but was put into it by Christ, who counted him faithful, he appeared to him, and made him a minister, qualified him for this office, called him to it, and sent him to perform it: and which he executed

according to the dispensation of God: or divine economy, which denotes such an authority and administration as is used in a family. The church is God's family, it is called the house and household of God, and the household of faith, part of which is in heaven and part on earth; God is the householder or master of the family; Christ is the Son over his own house; ministers are stewards in it, and their work is to give to everyone their portion of meat in due season; their authority from God to do so, and the exercise of it, are the economy or dispensation of the Gospel committed to them: this is of God and not man, for none but God can give them a power to dispense it, and which is purely of his grace, called therefore the dispensation of the grace of God, Ephesians 3:2; and here said to be given,

which is given to me for you; not according to any merits of his, who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an injurious person to Christ and his Gospel; but according to the pure grace of God, and that not for himself, but for the good of others, for the Gentiles especially, and so for the Colossians:

to fulfil the word of God; either the promises and prophecies contained in the word of God, respecting the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and their conversion by it; which had in a great measure their accomplishment through the ministry of the apostle: or to fill all places with the word of God and Gospel of Christ, as the apostle did from Jerusalem, and round about to Illyricum, diffusing the savour of the knowledge of Christ in every place; and sinners being converted, churches were planted and daily filled with such as should be saved; or to preach fully and faithfully the Gospel, keeping back nothing that was profitable, but declaring the whole counsel of God, continuing faithful to it to the end, as he did: to fill up or fulfil words is an Hebraism, and signifies to confirm them, or act according to them; see 1 Kings 1:14 and the Septuagint there.

{13} Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

(13) He brings another proof of his apostleship, that is, that God is the author of it, by whom also he was appointed especially as apostle for the Gentiles, to the end that by this means, that same might be fulfilled by him, which the Prophets foretold concerning the calling of the Gentiles.

Colossians 1:25. That He suffers thus, as is stated in Colossians 1:24, for the good of the church, is implied in his special relation of service to the latter; hence the epexegetical relative clause ἧς ἐγενόμην κ.τ.λ. (comp. on Colossians 1:18): whose servant I have become in conformity with my divine appointment as preacher to the Gentiles (κατὰ τ. οἰκον. κ.τ.λ.). In this way Paul now brings this his specific and distinctive calling into prominence after the general description of himself as servant of the gospel in Colossians 1:23, and here again he gives expression to the consciousness of his individual authority by the emphasized ἐγώ. The relation of the testimony regarding himself in Colossians 1:25 to that of Colossians 1:23 is climactic, not that of a clumsy duplicate (Holtzmann).

κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομ. κ.τ.λ.] in accordance with the stewardship of God, which is given to me with reference to you. The οἰκονομία τ. Θεοῦ is in itself nothing else than a characteristic designation of the apostolic office, in so far as its holder is appointed as administrator of the household of God (the οἰκοδεσπότης), by which, in the theocratic figurative conception, is denoted the church (comp. 1 Timothy 3:15). Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Corinthians 4:1; Titus 1:7. Hence such an one is, in consequence of this office conferred upon him, in his relation to the church the servant of the latter (2 Corinthians 4:5), to which function God has appointed him, just because he is His steward. This sacred stewardship then receives its more precise distinguishing definition, so far as it is entrusted to Paul, by the addition of εἰς ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ. It is purely arbitrary, and at variance with the context (τὴν δοθ. μοι), to depart from the proper signification, and to take it as institution, arrangement (see on Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2). So Chrysostom and his successors (with much wavering), Beza, Calvin, Estius, Rosenmüller, and others. It is well said by Cornelius a Lapide: “in domo Dei, quae est ecclesia, sum oeconomus, ut dispensem … bona et dona Dei domini mei.” Comp. on 1 Corinthians 4:1.

εἰς ὑμᾶς] although the office concerned Gentile Christians generally; a concrete appropriation, as in Colossians 1:24. Comp. on Php 1:24. It is to be joined with τ. δοθεῖσάν μοι, as in Ephesians 3:2; not with πληρῶσαι κ.τ.λ. (Hofmann), with the comprehensive tenor of which the individualizing “for you” is not in harmony, when it is properly explained (see below).

πληρῶσαι κ.τ.λ.] telic infinitive, depending on τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς, beside which it stands (Romans 15:15 f.); not on ἧς ἐγεν. διάκ. (Huther). Paul, namely, has received the office of Apostle to the Gentiles, in order through the discharge of it to bring to completion the gospel (τὸν λόγον τ. Θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 14:36; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Acts 4:29; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:2, and frequently), obviously not as regards its contents, but as regards its universal destination, according to which the knowledge of salvation had not yet reached its fulness, so long as it was only communicated to the Jews and not to the Gentiles also. The latter was accomplished through Paul, who thereby made full the gospel—conceived, in respect of its proclamation in accordance with its destiny, as a measure to be filled—just because the divine stewardship for the Gentiles had been committed to him. The same conception of πλήρωσις occurs in Romans 15:19. Comp. Erasmus, Paraphr.; also Calovius.[68] Similarly Bengel: “ad omnes perducere; P. ubique ad summa tendit.” Partly from not attending to the contextual reference to the element, contained in τ. δοθ. μοι εἰς ὙΜᾶς, of the ΠΛΉΡΩΣΙς of the gospel which was implied in the Gentile-apostolic ministry, and partly from not doing justice to the verbal sense of the selected expression πληρῶσαι, or attributing an arbitrary meaning to it, commentators have taken very arbitrary views of the passage, such as, for example, Luther: to preach copiously; Olshausen, whom Dalmer follows: “to proclaim it completely as respects its whole tenor and compass;” Cornelius a Lapide: “ut compleam praedicationem ev., quam cocpit Christus;” Vitringa, Storr, Flatt, Bähr: πληροῦν has after גמר the signification of the simple docere; Huther: it means either to diffuse, or (as Steiger also takes it) to “realize,” to introduce into the life, inasmuch as a doctrine not preached is empty;[69] de Wette: to “execute,” the word of God being regarded either as a commission or (comp. Heinrichs) as a decree; Estius and others, following Theodoret: “ut omnia loca impleam verbo Dei” (quite at variance with the words here, comp. Acts 5:28); Fritzsche, ad Rom. III. p. 275: to supplement, namely, by continuing the instruction of your teacher Epaphras. Others, inconsistently with what follows, have explained the λόγος τ. Θεοῦ to mean the divine promise (“partim de Christo in genere, partim de vocatione gentium,” Beza, comp. Vatablus), in accordance with which πληρ. would mean exsequi. Chrysostom has rightly understood τ. λόγ. τ. Θεοῦ of the gospel, but takes πληρῶσαι, to which he attaches ΕἸς ὙΜᾶς, as meaning: to bring to full, firm faith (similarly Calvin)—a view justified neither by the word in itself nor by the context.

[68] Who rightly says: “Nimirum impletur ita verbum non ratione sui ceu imperfectum, sed ratione hominum, cum ad plures sese diffundit.”

[69] In a similarly artificial fashion, emptying the purposely chosen expression of its meaning, Hofmann comes ultimately to the bare sense: “to proclaim God’s word,” asserting that the word is a fact, and so he who proclaims the fact fulfils it.

Colossians 1:25. ἧς ἐγενόμην ἐγὼ διάκονος. With these words Paul returns to Colossians 1:23, speaking of himself here, however, as a minister of the Church, there of the Gospel. Because he is a minister of the Church, it is a joy to suffer for its welfare. He proceeds to explain what his peculiar (ἐγὼ emphatic) ministry is.—κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν: cf. Ephesians 3:2. οἰκ. is “stewardship” rather than “dispensation” (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:17). τ·Θεοῦ indicates that this office is held in the house of God, or that it has been entrusted to him by God.—εἰς ὑμᾶς: to be taken with δοθ. as in Ephesians 3:2, not with πληρ. (as by Chrys. and Hofm.). It means towards you Gentiles, that is for your benefit. The context shows that the Gentiles are uppermost in his thought.—πληρῶσαι τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ: “to fulfil the word of God”. πλ. is taken by some of the completion by this letter of the teaching already given to the Colossians. But Paul is speaking of the function specially entrusted to him. Generally this is explained of the geographical extension of the Gospel. Haupt thinks the geographical point of view is not present here. An essential characteristic of the Gospel is its universality. Paul’s special mission is to bring this to realisation. This he does by proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles, thus making clear the true nature of the Gospel. This suits the context better, for Paul proceeds to define the mystery entrusted to him as the universality of salvation, not the wide extension of the Gospel. Other interpretations may be seen in Meyer or Eadie.

25. whereof] That is, of the Church; on behalf of it, serving its holy interests.

according to] His “ministry” was conditioned and guided by the terms of “the dispensation” just about to be mentioned.

the dispensation] Better, the stewardship. So Ephesians 3:2, a close parallel. For the figure see 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Peter 4:10. And cp. Matthew 13:52.—On Ephesians 1:10, where the word occurs in a somewhat different phase of meaning, see note in this Series.

It is almost needless to say that the N.T. use of the figure of stewardship has regard to the minister’s duty to provide the household of God with the food of truth, and not to any supposed right or duty to reserve that food.

fulfil the word of God] I.e. in the light of the context, not to “accomplish His promise,” but to “develope, unfold, His message to the full.” Cp. Romans 15:19; “I have fully preached (lit., fulfilled) the Gospel of Christ.”

Colossians 1:25. Τὴν οἰκονομίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, the dispensation of God) Thence Paul (was) a steward [1 Corinthians 4:1, one having dispensation] of the grace of God, Ephesians 3:2.—εἰς ὑμᾶς, to you) Gentiles, Colossians 1:27.—πληρῶσαι) to fulfil, to bring it fully to all. Paul everywhere aims towards the farthest point; comp. Romans 15:19, πεπληρωκέναι [round about unto Illyricum I have fully preached]. The fulness of Christ and of the times required that.

Verse 25. - Of which I became a minister (2 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 11:28, 29; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). His sufferings are, therefore, matter of duty, as well as of joy. As the Church's minister, he is bound to toil and to suffer in whatever way her welfare requires. Elsewhere he styles himself "minister of the gospel" (ver 23; Ephesians 3:7), "of God," "of Christ," "of a new covenant" (2 Corinthians 3:6). (On "minister," see note, ver. 7. According to the stewardship of God, that was given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:1-13; 1 Corinthians 4:1-4; 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Timothy 1:4, R.V.; 1 Timothy 3:15; Luke 12:42; Luke 16:2-4; Hebrews 3:2-6; 1 Peter 4:10). Οἰκονομία ("economy") is first "house-management," then "administration" generally the οἰκόνομος ("house-steward") was a confidential upper servant, frequently a slave, who controlled the general arrangements of a large establishment, and was responsible immediately to the master. Such an office the apostle holds, along with others (1 Corinthians 4:1), in the Church, "the house of God" (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:20: this conception, like that of "the body of Christ" - comp. note on ver. 18 - is fully developed only in the later Epistles). In this office he "administers the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:17, 18), "the grace of God" (Ephesians 3:2; 1 Peter 4:10), and here more especially "the mystery" of vers. 26, 27 (comp. Ephesians 3:9, R.V.). In Ephesians 1:10 and Ephesians 3:2, the οἰκονομία is referred to God himself, the supreme Dispenser in his own house. This office "was given" him, and specifically as "toward the Gentiles" (for "you" points to the Colossians as Gentiles, vers. 24, 27, notes; Ephesians 3:1, 2; Romans 11:13), when he first became a servant of Christ (Acts 9:15; Acts 22:21; Acts 26:16-18; Galatians 1:15, 16; 1 Timothy 1:11-15; Romans 15:15, 16). Some interpreters connect "to you-ward" with the word "fulfil," but less suitably (comp. Ephesians 3:2; Romans 15:16). To fulfil the word of God (Romans 15:16-19; Romans 16:25, 26). "To fulfil" (see vers. 9, 24, and "fulness," ver. 19; also Colossians 2:9, 10; Colossians 4:12) is either "to complete," to give full development and extension to the gospel message (vers. 5, 6; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; Romans 15:19; Acts 20:20, 21, 27); or "to accomplish" the prophetic word (Romans 9:24-26; Romans 15:8 - 12; Acts 15:15-17), as in Acts 13:27, and frequently in the Gospels. This verb πληρόω, however, is not used by St. Paul elsewhere in the latter sense, and the former precisely suits the context (compare parallels from Romans). Other interpretations - "to preach abundantly," "to continue Christ's preaching" (Ephesians 2:17; Hebrews 2:3), "to execute the Divine commission" - miss the sense of the verb. The word which it is the object of the apostle's ministry to fulfil, and in regard to which he had a special stewardship, is none other than - Colossians 1:25The dispensation (οἰκονομίαν)

From οἶκος house and νέμω to dispense or manage. Hence οἰκονόμος a house-steward. Here the meaning is stewardship - the office of a steward or administrator in God's house. See on 1 Corinthians 9:17, and compare Luke 16:2-4; 1 Corinthians 4:1; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10. In Ephesians 3:2, the word is used of the divine arrangement or economy committed to Paul. In Ephesians 1:10 of the divine government or regulation of the world.

For you (εἰς ὑμᾶς)

Rev., more strictly, to youward. Connect with was given. The stewardship was assigned to me with you as its object. Compare Ephesians 3:2; Romans 15:16.

To fulfill (πληρῶσαι)

Fully discharge my office, so that the divine intent shall be fully carried out in the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles no less than to the Jews. Compare fully preached, Romans 15:19.

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