Colossians 1:28
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
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(28) Warning every man, and teaching.—In “warning” is implied the idea of reproof of folly or sin. (See 1Thessalonians 5:14; 2Thessalonians 3:5.) “Teaching” is simply instruction—including, of course, practical exhortation—of those already warned.

Perfect.—See Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:15, and Notes there. Here, however, as in 1Corinthians 2:6-7, the reference may be to the sense of “perfect “as “initiated in mystery.” St. Paul, in opposition to the exclusive claim of “perfection” by the speculators in mystic knowledge (“falsely so called”) would present “every man,” learned or ignorant, “perfect before God.” In this universality of privilege lies the glorious distinction between the gospel and all schools of philosophy, whether they reject or assume its name.

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.Whom we preach, warning every man - This does not mean warning of danger, but "admonishing all of the claims of the gospel to attention." Our word warn is commonly used in the sense of cautioning against danger. The Greek word here means to put in mind; to admonish; to exhort. The idea of the apostle is, that he made it his great business to bring the offers of the gospel fairly before the mind of every man. As it had the same claims on all; as it might be freely offered to all, and as it furnished the only hope of glory, he made it the object of his life to apprize every man of it, as far as he could.

And teaching every man - Paul made it his business to instruct men, as well as to exhort them. Exhortation and warning are of little use where there is not sound instruction and a careful inculcation of the truth. It is one of the duties of the ministry to instruct men in those truths of which they were before ignorant; see Matthew 28:19; 2 Timothy 2:25.

In all wisdom - Compare the Matthew 10:16 note; Colossians 1:9 note. The meaning is, that he and his fellow-laborers endeavored to manifest true wisdom in the method in which they instructed others.

That we may present every man - When we come to appear before God; Notes, 2 Corinthians 11:2. Paul was anxious that no one to whom this gospel was preached should be lost. He believed it to be adapted to save every man; and as he expected to meet all his hearers at the bar of God, his aim was to present them made perfect by means of that gospel which he preached.

28. preach—rather as Greek, "announce" or "proclaim."

warning … teaching—"Warning" is connected with repentance, refers to one's conduct, and is addressed primarily to the heart. "Teaching" is connected with faith, refers to doctrines, and is addressed primarily to the intellect. These are the two heads of evangelical teaching.

every … every man—without distinction of Jew or Gentile, great or small (Ro 10:12, 13).

in all wisdom—with all the wisdom in our method of teaching that we possess: so Alford. But Col 1:9; Col 3:16, favor Estius' view, which refers it to the wisdom communicated to those being taught: keeping back nothing, but instructing all in the perfect knowledge of the mysteries of faith which is the true wisdom (compare 1Co 2:6, 7; 12:8; Eph 1:17).

present—(See on [2410]Col 1:22); at Christ's coming.

every man—Paul is zealous lest the false teachers should seduce one single soul of Christ's people at Colosse. So each individual among them should be zealous for himself and his neighbor. Even one soul is of incalculable value.

perfect in Christ—who is the element in living union with whom alone each believer can find perfection: perfectly instructed (Eph 4:13) in doctrine, and full grown or matured in faith and practice. "Jesus" is omitted in all the oldest manuscripts.

Whom we preach: here he shows that the subject of his and other ministers’ preaching was Christ, (as he had before described him), in whom alone hope of glory was to be had, Acts 4:12 1 Corinthians 2:2 Galatians 5:4 1Jo 1:3.

Warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; the manner of it was by admonishing and instructing all, in all the Christian wisdom that Christ required, that they might avoid sin and do their duty. He means all collectively, not distributively; of the generals of each, not each one of those generals; excluding none from the communion of so great a benefit, having no acceptation of nations or persons, making no exception of any condition, but inviting all men to Christ, holding forth this light of the gospel to whosoever would receive it, while God did vouchsafe life and strength to them, in the most taking way, Acts 20:21,27,31 Ro 1:14-16 1 Timothy 3:2 2 Timothy 2:24 2 Timothy 3:16 4:2 Titus 1:9.

That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; and the end and aim he and others of his mind had in preaching of this matter in such a manner was the same with Christ’s, Colossians 1:22, to put them into such an estate by their labours that they might, through Christ, appear at a throne of grace without confusion, 2 Corinthians 11:2 Philippians 3:12,15 Heb 5:14.

Whom we preach,.... Under the above considerations; as the riches, the glory, and the mystery of the Gospel; as the hope set before lost sinners to lay hold upon; as the only Saviour and Redeemer, by whose righteousness believers are justified, through whose blood their sins are pardoned, by whose sacrifice and satisfaction atonement is made, and in whose person alone is acceptance with God: Christ and him crucified, and salvation by him, were the subjects of the ministry of the apostles; on this they dwelt, and it was this which was blessed for the conversion of sinners, the edification of saints, the planting of churches, and the setting up and establishing the kingdom and interest of Christ:

warning every man; of his lost state and condition by nature; of the wrath to come, and the danger he is in of it; of the terrors of the Lord, and of an awful judgment; showing sinners that they are unrighteous and unholy, that their nature is corrupt and impure, their best righteousness imperfect, and cannot justify them before God; that they stand guilty before him, and that destruction and misery are in all their ways; and therefore advise them to flee from the wrath to come, to the hope set before them in the Gospel:

and teaching every man in all wisdom; not natural, but spiritual and evangelical; the whole Gospel of Christ, the counsel of God, the wisdom of God in a mystery, and all the branches of it; teaching them to believe in Christ for salvation, to lay hold on his righteousness for justification, to deal with his blood for pardon, and with his sacrifice for the atonement of their sins; and to observe all things commanded by Christ, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly: by these two words, "warning" and "teaching", the several parts of the Gospel ministry are expressed; and which extend to all sorts of men, rich and poor, bond and free, greater and lesser sinners, Gentiles as well as Jews; and who are chiefly designed here, and elsewhere, by every man and every creature:

that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; not in themselves, in which sense no man is perfect in this life; but in the grace, holiness, and righteousness of Christ, in whom all the saints are complete: or it may regard that ripeness of understanding, and perfection of knowledge, which, when arrived unto, saints become perfect men in Christ; and is the end of the Gospel ministry, and to which men are brought by it; see Ephesians 4:13; and to be understood of the presentation of the saints, not by Christ to himself, and to his Father, but by the ministers of the Gospel, as their glory and crown of rejoicing in the day of Christ.

{14} Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in {x} all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

(14) He protests that he faithfully executes his apostleship in every place, bringing men to Christ only through the Lord's plentiful blessing of his labours.

(x) Perfect and sound wisdom, which is perfect in itself, and will in the end make those perfect who follow it.

Colossians 1:28. Christ was not proclaimed by all in the definite character just expressed, namely, as “Christ among the Gentiles, the hope of glory;” other teachers preached Him in a Judaistic form, as Saviour of the Jews, amidst legal demands and with theosophic speculation. Hence the emphasis with which not the simply epexegetic ὅν (Erasmus and others), but the ἡμεῖς, which is otherwise superfluous, is brought forward;[74] by which Paul has meant himself along with Timothy and other like-minded preachers to the Gentiles (we, on our part). This emphasizing of ἡμεῖς, however, requires the ὅν to be referred to Christ regarded in the Gentile-Messianic character, precisely as the ἡμεῖς make Him known (comp. Php 1:17 f.), thereby distinguishing themselves from others; not to Christ generally (Hofmann), in which case the emphasizing of ἡμεῖς is held to obtain its explanation only from the subsequent clause of purpose, ἵνα παραστ. κ.τ.λ.

The specification of the mode of announcement νουθετοῦντες and διδάσκοντες, admonishing and teaching, corresponds to the two main elements of the evangelical preaching μετανοεῖτε and πιστεύετε (Acts 20:21; Acts 26:18; Romans 3:3 ff.; Mark 1:15). Respecting the idea of νουθετεῖν, see on Ephesians 6:4. It occurs also joined with διδάσκ.[75] in Plato, Legg. viii. p. 845 B, Prot. p. 323 D, Apol. p. 26 A; Dem. 130. 2.

ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ] belongs to ΝΟΥΘΕΤ. and ΔΙΔΆΣΚ. :by means of every wisdom (comp. Colossians 3:16) which we bring to bear thereon. It is the πῶς of the process of warning and teaching, comp. 1 Corinthians 3:10, in which no sort of wisdom remains unemployed. The fact that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:17, comp. Colossians 2:1; Colossians 2:4, repudiates the ΣΟΦΊΑ ΛΌΓΟΥ in his method of teaching, is not—taking into consideration the sense in which ΣΟΦΊΑ there occurs—at variance, but rather in keeping, with the present assertion, which applies, not to the wisdom of the world, but to Christian wisdom in its manifold forms.

The thrice repeated. πάντα ἄνθρωπον (in opposition to the Judaizing tendency of the false teachers) “maximam habet ΔΕΙΝΌΤΗΤΑ ac vim,” Bengel. The proud feeling of the apostle of the world expresses itself.[76]

ἵνα παραστήσ. κ.τ.λ.] The purpose of the ὃ ἡμεῖς καταγγέλλομεν down to σοφίᾳ. This purpose is not in general, that man may so appear (Bleek), or come to stand so (Hofmann), but it refers, as in Colossians 1:22, and without mixing up the conception of sacrifice (in opposition to Bähr and Baumgarten-Crusius), to the judgment (comp. on 2 Corinthians 4:14), at which it is the highest aim and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:19 f.) of the apostolic teachers to make every man come forward τέλειον ἐν Χ. Ἐν Χριστῷ contains the distinguishing specialty of the τελειότης, as Christian, which is not based on anything outside of Christ, or on any other element than just on Him. It is perfection in respect of the whole Christian nature; not merely of knowledge (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others, including Böhmer), but also of life. Moreover, this ἐν Χ. is so essential to the matter, and so current with the apostle, that there is no ground for finding in it an opposition to a doctrine of the law and of angels (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others). Theophylact, however (comp. Chrysostom), rightly observes regarding the entire clause of purpose: τί λέγεις; πάντα ἄνθρωπον; ναί, φησι, τοῦτο σπουδάζομεν· εἰ δὲ μὴ γένηται, οὐδὲν πρὸς ἡμᾶς.

[74] Without due reason, Holtzmann, p. 153, finds the use of the plural disturbing, and the whole verse tautological as coming after ver. 25. It is difficult, however, to mistake the full and solemn style of the passage, to which also the thrice repeated πάντα ἄνθρωπον belongs.

[75] In Colossians 3:16 the two words stand in the inverse order, because there it is not the μετανοεῖν preceding the πίστις which is the aim of the νουθεσία, but mutual improvement on the part of believers.

Which Hofmann groundlessly calls in question, finding in πάντα ἄνθρωπον the idea: “every one singly and severally.” This is gratuitously introduced, and would have been significantly expressed by Paul through ἕνα ἕκαστον (Acts 20:31), or through the addition of καθʼ ἕνα, or otherwise; comp. also 1 Thessalonians 2:11. Calvin hits the thought properly: “ut sine exceptione totus mundus ex me discat.”

Colossians 1:28. δν: i.e., Χριστὸν ἐν ὑμῖν.—ἡμεῖς: (emphatic) we in contrast to the false teachers. But the reference seems to be simply to Paul, not to Timothy and Epaphras as well. For throughout the section he is speaking of his own special mission.—νουθετοῦντες. Meyer points out that admonishing and teaching correspond to the two main elements of the evangelic preaching, repent and believe. Haupt thinks on the ground of the order that Paul is not referring to elementary Christian teaching, but has this epistle in his mind. The order might, however, suggest warning to non-Christians followed by teaching of new converts. But the addition of ἐν π. σοφίᾳ and τέλειον support the view that it is warning against error, and advanced teaching that he has in view.—πάντα ἄνθρωπον: emphatically repeated here. The Gospel is for all men, in opposition to any exclusiveness, and for each individual man in particular. And the ideal is only attained when each individual has reached completeness. The exclusiveness might be, as with the Judaisers, of a sectarian type, or, as with the Gnostics, and possibly here, of an intellectual, aristocratic type. Since such is the Apostle’s task, he addresses a Church the members of which are unknown to him.—ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ is taken by some to express the content of the teaching, everyone may be fully instructed in the whole of Christian wisdom. This forms a good contrast to the probable practice of the false teachers of reserving their higher teaching for an inner circle. But for this we should have expected the accusative. Probably the words express the manner of teaching. If the phrase is taken with both participles the content of the teaching is excluded.—παραστής.: probably to present at the judgment.—τέλειον. Here also allusion to the mysteries is discovered by Lightfoot. The term is said to have been employed to distinguish the fully initiated from novices. But, even if this be correct, the word is used in Matthew 5:48; Matthew 19:21, where such a reference is out of the question. Probably Paul is contrasting the completeness he strives to secure with that promised by the false teachers.

28. we] Emphatic. He has the alien emissaries in mind.

preach] Slightly better, as R.V., proclaim. The Greek word recurs with Christ as its living Object, Acts 17:3; Php 1:16; Php 1:18.

warning] Better, as R.V., admonishing; a word which is rather more general in its scope. The kindred noun occurs Ephesians 6:4.

every man … every man … every man] Perhaps this solemn emphasis has a double reference; (a) as Lightfoot, to the universality of the Gospel, whose “counsels of perfection” are not (as the false teachers would have it, in their “Gospel”) for a privileged inner circle of votaries but for every one without exception who comes to Jesus Christ; and (b) to the fact that in this universality the individual is never lost or merged in the community; each soul, each life, as if there were no other, is to be “perfect in Christ.”

in all wisdom] In the whole field of that holy “wisdom” which is not a mere mass of knowledge but the principles and secrets of a life of faith and love. It is better to explain this phrase thus than as meaning that “we” teach with perfect wisdom. This would less fully bring out the emphasis (so strong in the Greek) of “every” “all,” in this verse. The point is that every disciple may and should learn every secret of grace. There are no spiritual secrets behind the Gospel.

that we may present] when the Lord returns, and the pastor “gives his account” (Hebrews 13:17). See for another side of the same prospect, Ephesians 5:27.

perfect] Teleion. In this word Lightfoot sees a technical term of the pagan “mysteries,” borrowed and adapted for the Gospel. In the mysteries, the teleios, or “perfect,” was the man who had passed his novitiate and was fully instructed. The term was certainly used by the Gnostics of the sub-apostolic age to denote the man who had passed from mere “faith” (so called) into “knowledge” (so called). See Lightfoot’s full and instructive note, in which he further remarks that the word “perfect” is early used in Christian literature to distinguish the baptized man from the catechumen. But we doubt whether the word here can with any certainty be viewed as quasi-technical, or however whether such can be its main bearing. It appears in e.g. Matthew 5:48, with the apparent meaning of spiritual entirety, whole-heartedness, in the life of love; and cp. 1 Corinthians 14:20; Hebrews 5:14; where it is “full-grown,” adult, as different from infantine. So Ephesians 4:13, and perhaps James 3:2; 1 John 4:18. Not initiation so much as developed maturity of conscience, faith, life, experience is the thought of this passage.

in Christ Jesus] vital union with whom is the sine quâ non of growth and maturity, because of spiritual life altogether.—The word “Jesus” is to be omitted, by documentary evidence.

Colossians 1:28. Ἡμεῖς, we) Colossians 1:1 [I and Timothy].—πάντα ἄνθρωπον, every man) This expression, so often used, has the greatest δεινότης (vehemence) and force, and contains the reason why he writes even to them who are unknown to him, ch. Colossians 2:1. The distribution of the all [“every man—every man—every man”] may be compared with ch. Colossians 3:11.—καὶ διδάσκοντες) and teaching. νουθετοῦνται (they are admonished) is said of those who have been already taught, as the Colossians; διδάσκονται (are taught) is said of the ignorant and uninstructed.—τέλειον) See Ephesians 4:13 : perfect, without the elements of the world.

Verse 28. - Whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:4-13; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:11; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:1; Acts 20:18-35; Acts 26:22, 23). We (emphatic, like the "I" of vers. 23, 25) includes St. Paul's coadjutors, Epaphras in particular (ver. 9; Colossians 4:7, 11, 12: comp. 2 Corinthians 1:19). Καταγγέλλω, to publish, bears a wider sense than κηρύσσω, to herald (ver. 23), St. Paul's favourite word. "Admonishing and teaching" are the two essential parts of the apostle's ministry, related as repentance to faith (Lightfoot, who gives interesting classical parallels). Νουθετέω (radically, "to put in mind"), peculiar to St. Paul in New Testament (including Acts 20:31), may denote reproof for the past, but more especially warning for the future (see 1 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15: comp. note on Colossians 3:16). Thrice in this verse "every man" is repeated, and "in all wisdom" follows "teaching" with a marked emphasis. The Colossian errorists, as we should presume from the general tenor and affinities of their system, sought to form an inner mystical school or circle of discipleship within the Church, initiated into a wisdom and holiness supposed to be higher than that attainable by ordinary Christian faith (see note on "mystery," ver. 26; also Colossians 2:2, 3, 8). An intellectual caste-feeling (see note, Colossians 3:11) was springing up in the Church. In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 the apostle denounces the pride of reason which claims "the things of God" as its own; here he denounces the pride of intellect which refuses the knowledge of them to those who stand on a lower level of mental culture. To every man the Divine wisdom in Christ is accessible (Colossians 2:3, 10; Colossians 3:10, 16; Ephesians 2:17; Ephesians 3:18, 19): to none but "the spiritual man" (1 Corinthians 2:6, 12-3:1). "Wisdom" here is not subjective, a quality of the apostle (so Meyer, quoting 1 Corinthians 3:10), but objective, the quality of the truth itself (comp. Colossians 2:2, 23; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; 1 Corinthians 2:6, 7). That we may present every man perfect in Christ (ver. 22; Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 13:7-9; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20; 2 Timothy 2:10): the aim alike of Christ's redemption (ver. 22) and of the apostle's ministry. "Perfect" (τέλειος) is a word associated with the Greek mysteries (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:6, 7; and quotations in Lightfoot), and in common use denoted "full-grown," "grown men," as opposed to" children "(Ephesians 4:13, 14; Philippians 3:12, 15; Hebrews 5:11-6:1). The philosophic Judaists affected this term considerably. Philo frequently distinguishes between the "perfect" or "fully initiated" (τέλειοι), who are admitted to the sight of God, and the "advancing" (προκόπτοντες: comp. Galatians 1:14), who are candidates for admission to the Divine mysteries; and he makes Jacob a type of the latter, Israel of the former (see 'On Drunkenness,' § 20; 'On Change of Names,' § 3; 'On Agriculture,' §§ 36-38). The apostle makes "perfect" designedly parallel to the "holy and without blemish" of ver. 22, holding out a spiritual ideal very different from that of Alexandrine mystics; and declares that it is to be realized "in Christ" (vers. 2, 4), as in ver. 22 it appeared to be wrought "through Christ" and "for Christ" (comp. ver. 16). Colossians 1:28Warning (νουθετοῦντες)

Rev., admonishing. See on Acts 20:31. Compare νουθεσίᾳ admonition, Ephesians 6:4.


Thrice repeated, in order to emphasize the universality of the Gospel against the intellectual exclusiveness encouraged by the false teachers. For similar emphatic repetitions of all or every, compare 1 Corinthians 10:1, 1 Corinthians 10:2; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 9:6, Romans 9:7; Romans 11:32, etc.

In all wisdom (ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ)

In every form of wisdom. Thus opposed to the idea of esoteric and exoteric wisdom represented by the false teachers; higher knowledge for the few philosophic minds, and blind faith for the masses. In christian teaching the highest wisdom is freely open to all. Compare Colossians 2:2, Colossians 2:3.


Compare 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 2:7, and see note. There may be in this word a hint of its use in the ancient mysteries to designate the fully instructed as distinguished from the novices. Peter uses the technical word ἐπόπται eye-witnesses, which designated one admitted to the highest grade in the Eleusinian mysteries, of those who beheld Christ's glory in His transfiguration, 2 Peter 1:16. From this point of view Bishop Lightfoot appropriately says: "The language of the heathen mysteries is transferred by Paul to the christian dispensation, that he may the more effectively contrast the things signified. The true Gospel also has its mysteries, its hierophants, its initiation; but these are open to all alike. In Christ every believer is τέλειος fully initiated, for he has been admitted as ἐπόπτης eye-witness of its most profound, most awful secrets."

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