Colossians 3:11
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(11) Where there is neither . . .—This passage naturally suggests comparison with Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Jesus Christ.” In comparing the passages (passing by the insertion here of “circumcision nor uncircumcision,” which is simply explanatory of “Jew nor Greek”) we notice in this—(1) The insertion of “barbarian, Scythian.” This insertion is clearly intended to rebuke that pride of intellect, contemptuous of the unlearned, which lay at the root of Gnosticism. The “barbarian” was simply the foreigner (comp. 1Corinthians 14:11); the “Scythian” was the savage, towards whom the contempt implied for the “barbarian” assumed explicitness, and reached its climax. (2) The omission of “male nor female.” In the Oriental society, as in Galatia, the dignity of women needed to be asserted against supposed inferiority. In Greek or Græcised society, as at Corinth, Ephesus, and Colossæ, the new “freedom” of the gospel was apt to be abused to license; hence it was rather the “subjection” of women which needed to be suggested. (Comp. 1Corinthians 11:3-16; 1Corinthians 14:34-35; Ephesians 5:22-24; and 1Timothy 2:11-15.) (3) Whereas in the Galatian Epistle the stress is laid on the unity of all with one another in Christ, here (as usual) the great truth is that “Christ is all things and in all.” In 1Corinthians 15:28 we have this phrase applied to God, in contradistinction to the office of the Son in His mediatorial kingdom. Here it is in reference to that kingdom that it is used. In it Christ (see Ephesians 1:23) “fills all in all;” and by His universal mediation all “life is hid with Him in God.” He is all that can be needed, and that both “in all things” and “in all persons.” But under both aspects the catholicity of the gospel is equally brought out; here by the direct union of all alike with Christ, there by the resulting unity of all with one another.

3:5-11 It is our duty to mortify our members which incline to the things of the world. Mortify them, kill them, suppress them, as weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them. Continual opposition must be made to all corrupt workings, and no provision made for carnal indulgences. Occasions of sin must be avoided: the lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world; and covetousness, which is idolatry; love of present good, and of outward enjoyments. It is necessary to mortify sins, because if we do not kill them, they will kill us. The gospel changes the higher as well as the lower powers of the soul, and supports the rule of right reason and conscience, over appetite and passion. There is now no difference from country, or conditions and circumstances of life. It is the duty of every one to be holy, because Christ is a Christian's All, his only Lord and Saviour, and all his hope and happiness.Where there is neither Greek nor Jew - See this fully explained in the notes at Galatians 3:28. The meaning here is, that all are on a level; that there is no distinction of nation in the church; that all are to be regarded and treated as brethren, and that therefore no one should be false to another, or lie to another.

Circumcision nor uncircumcision - No one is admitted into that blessed society because he is circumcised; no one is excluded because he is uncircumcised. That distinction is unknown, and all are on a level.

Barbarian - No one is excluded because he is a barbarian, or because he lives among those who are uncivilized, and is unpolished in his manners; see the word "barbarian" explained in the notes at Romans 1:14.

Scythian - This word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The name Scythian is applied in ancient geography to the people who lived on the north and northeast of the Black and Caspian seas, a region stretchings indefinitely into the unknown countries of Asia. They occupied the lands now peopled by the Monguls and Tartars. The name was almost synonymous with barbarian, for they were regarded as a wild and savage race. The meaning here is, that even such a ferocious and uncivilized people were not excluded from the gospel, but they were as welcome as any other, and were entitled to the same privileges as others. No one was excluded because he belonged to the most rude and uncivilized portion of mankind.

Bond nor free - See the notes at Galatians 3:28.

But Christ is all, and in all - The great thing that constitutes the uniqueness of the church is, that Christ is its Saviour, and that all are his friends and followers. Its members lay aside all other distinctions, and are known only as his friends. They are not known as Jews and Gentiles; as of this nation or that; as slaves or freemen, but they are known as Christians; distinguished from all the rest of mankind as the united friends of the Redeemer; compare the notes at Galatians 3:28.

11. Where—Translate, "Wherein," namely, in the sphere of the renewed man.

neither … nor … nor … nor—Translate as Greek, "There is no such thing as Greek and Jew (the difference of privilege between those born of the natural seed of Abraham and those not, is abolished), circumcision and uncircumcision (the difference of legal standing between the circumcised and uncircumcised is done away, Ga 6:15)—bondman, freeman." The present Church is one called out of the flesh, and the present world-course (Eph 2:2), wherein such distinctions exist, to life in the Spirit, and to the future first resurrection: and this because Satan has such power now over the flesh and the world. At Christ's coming when Satan shall no longer rule the flesh and the world, the nations in the flesh, and the word in millennial felicity, shall be the willing subjects of Christ and His glorified saints (Da 7:14, 22, 27; Lu 19:17, 19; Re 20:1-6; 3:21). Israel in Canaan was a type of that future state when the Jews, so miraculously preserved distinct now in their dispersion, shall be the central Church of the Christianized world. As expressly as Scripture abolishes the distinction of Jew and Greek now as to religious privileges, so does it expressly foretell that in the coming new order of things, Israel shall be first of the Christian nations, not for her own selfish aggrandizement, but for their good, as the medium of blessing to them. Finally, after the millennium, the life that is in Christ becomes the power which transfigures nature, in the time of the new heaven and the new earth; as, before, it first transfigured the spiritual, then the political and social world.

Scythian—heretofore regarded as more barbarian than the barbarians. Though the relation of bond and free actually existed, yet in relation to Christ, all alike were free in one aspect, and servants of Christ in another (1Co 7:22; Ga 3:28).

Christ is all—Christ absorbs in Himself all distinctions, being to all alike, everything that they need for justification, sanctification, and glorification (1Co 1:30; 3:21-23; Ga 2:20).

in all—who believe and are renewed, without distinction of person; the sole distinction now is, how much each draws from Christ. The unity of the divine life shared in by all believers, counterbalances all differences, even as great as that between the polished "Greek" and the rude "Scythian." Christianity imparts to the most uncivilized the only spring of sound, social and moral culture.

He prevents the reasoning of those, who did not neglect regeneration, and place religion in more externals, showing that in the new man, or true sanctification, and real Christianity, there was sufficient to save us, in communion with Christ, without those external observances false teachers did stickle for as necessary.

If there there is neither Greek nor Jew; God, in effectually calling persons into a state of regeneration, had no regard to those known distinctions then in the world, of those who were born of the Gentiles or the seed of Abraham, Matthew 3:9 John 8:39 Romans 2:11 10:12 Romans 11:7,11,12: See Poole on "Galatians 3:28".

Circumcision nor uncircumcision; he works upon those who are not circumcised, as well as on those who are circumcised, now Christ is come, Galatians 5:6 6:15, since which the posterity of Japheth, constituting the greater part of the Gentile church, do dwell in the tents of Shem, according to Noah’s prophecy, Genesis 9:27, compared with Balaam’s, Numbers 24:24. Shem and Ham are not excluded, yet (a learned man observes) the faith of Christ from the ages of the apostles hath flourished most hitherto in Europe, and the parts of Asia where Japheth’s lot lay; and as of old some of the latter might, so we know of the former many of late have passed into America. Upon the apostle’s adding

Barbarian, Scythian, without conjunction either compulative or disjunctive, some have inquired whether these two should be balanced in the like opposition with the former? And it may be said, there is no more necessity for such exactness here, than elsewhere in the like form of speech, Romans 8:39 1 Corinthians 3:22: and the most think here is an increase of the oration, understanding by

Scythian (which is now more strictly the Tartarian) the most barbarous of the Barbarians. Yet, because the Grecians sometime accounted the world, besides themselves, (who were polished with human learning and philosophy), Barbarians, if any think there ought to be an opposition between the Barbarian and Scythian, then by Barbarian (i.e. in the philosophers’ reckoning) may be understood the Jews; by Scythian, the Gentiles. So Jew, circumcision, Barbarian, as in a parallel, are opposed to Gentile, uncircumcision, Scythian. For Scythians being numerous, thereby some used to express the nations, ( as Symmachus translates Genesis 14:9, Tidal king of the Scythians), and so reckon the whole world might be divided into the Jews and Scythians, no otherwise than into circumcised and uncircumcised.

Bond nor free; as to acceptance with God in Christ, the distinctions of people were abolished with their observances and polities, because, some where they were more free, having milder laws; some where they were more servile, having more severe laws, which was an indifferent thing now as to their being in Christ, concerned to submit to certain honest laws, ordinances of magistrates, 1 Peter 2:13, though not Judaic or judicial ones. In every condition, high or low, whether of service or freedom, Acts 10:34,35 1 Corinthians 7:20-22, whosoever hath put on the new man in Christ is accepted. Neither the eloquence of the philosopher nor the rudeness of him who is uncultivated, neither the liberty of the freeman nor the bondage of the slave, doth further or obstruct the work of the new creation.

But Christ is all, and in all; but they that are truly interested in Christ, have really put him on, they are certainly privileged with that which answers all, they are indeed the blessed with faithful Abraham, whether they be of his seed according to the flesh, yea or no, Psalm 32:2 Galatians 3:7-9; having put on Christ, Romans 13:14, they are all complete in him, Colossians 2:10. He is all things to and in all those who are renewed, both meritoriously and efficaciously, 1 Corinthians 1:30 15:10 Galatians 2:20: being by fiath one with him who hath all, they have all, Ephesians 3:17, either for their present support or their eternal happiness, Acts 4:12.

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew,.... That is, either in Christ, after whose image the new man is created; see Galatians 5:6 or in the new man, and with respect to

regeneration; or in the whole business of salvation: it matters not of what nation a man is; this has no influence on his new birth, either to forward or hinder it; for he is never the more a new creature, a regenerate man, and interested in salvation, because he is a Jew, which he may be outwardly, and not inwardly; and he may be born again, though he is a Greek or Gentile, as the Syriac version reads; for God of his own will, and abundant mercy, and not out of respect to nations and persons, begets souls again to a lively hope of the heavenly inheritance:

circumcision or uncircumcision; a man's being circumcised in the flesh signifies nothing; this he may be, and not a new creature; for that is not true circumcision, but that which is of the heart, and in the spirit: and, on the other hand, it is no objection to a man's being born again, that he is uncircumcised in the flesh; this may be his case, and yet may be circumcised with the circumcision made without hands; neither one nor the other is of any account with God, nor makes the man either better or worse.

Barbarian, Scythian; all such were Barbarians to the Romans, that did not speak their language; and as were such also to the Greeks, who were not of their nation, and therefore Greeks and Barbarians are opposed to each other, see Romans 1:14 and so they are here in the Syriac version, which reads "Greek" and "Barbarian". The Arabic version, instead of "Barbarian", reads "Persian", because it may be, a Persian is so accounted by the Arabians; and because the Scythians were, of all people, the most barbarous and unpolished (z), and were had in great disdain by others, therefore the apostle mentions them, as being within the reach of the powerful and efficacious grace of God; nor were the fierceness of their dispositions, and the impoliteness of their manners, any bar unto it. Remarkable is the saying of Anacharsis the Scythian, who being reproached by a Grecian, because he was a Scythian, replied (a),

"my country is a reproach to me, but thou art a reproach to thy country.''

It matters not of what nation a man is, so be it he is but a good man; especially in Christianity, all distinctions of this kind cease. It is added,

bond or free; the grace of God in regeneration is not bestowed upon a man because he is a free man, or withheld from another because he is a bond servant. Onesimus, a fugitive servant, was converted by the Apostle Paul in prison; and whoever is called by grace, if he is a free man in a civil sense, he is Christ's servant in a religious one; and if he is a servant of men, he is, in a spiritual sense, the Lord's free man. It is not nation, nor outward privileges, nor the civil state and condition of men, which are regarded by God, or are any motive to him, or have any influence upon the salvation of men:

but Christ is all, and in all; he is "all" efficiently; he is the first cause of all things, the beginning of the creation of God, the author of the old, and of the new creation, of the regeneration of his people, and of their whole salvation: he is all comprehensively; has all the fulness of the Godhead, all the perfections of deity in him; he is possessed of all spiritual blessings for his people; and has all the promises of the covenant of grace in his hands for them; yea, all fulness of grace dwells in him, in order to be communicated to them: and he is all communicatively; he is their light and life, their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, their food and clothing, their strength and riches, their joy, peace, and comfort, who gives them grace here, and glory hereafter, So, with the Jews, the Shekinah is called "all" (b): and this likewise, with the Cabalists (c), is one of the names of the living God, and well agrees with Christ, who has all things in him; and is the reason they give for this divine appellation: and Christ is "in all"; in all places, being infinite, immense, and incomprehensible, as God, and so is everywhere by his power, upholding all things by it; and in all his churches, by his gracious presence, and in the hearts of all his regenerate ones, of whatsoever nation, state, and condition they be: he is revealed in them, formed within them, and dwells in their hearts by faith; and is all in all to them, exceeding precious, altogether lovely, the chiefest among ten thousands, and whom they esteem above all creatures and things. The Arabic version reads, "Christ is above all, and in all".

(z) Vid. Justin. l. 2. c. 1, 2, 3. Plin. l. 4. c. 12. & 6. 17. Herodot. l. 4. c. 46. (a) Laertius in Vita Anacharsis. (b) Tzeror Hammot, fol. 28. 2.((c) Shaare Ora, fol. 6. 1. & 22. 2. & 25. 3.

{9} Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

(9) He tells them again that the Gospel does not refer to those external things, but true justification and sanctification in Christ alone, which have many fruits, as he reckons them up here: but he commends two things especially, that is, godly harmony, and continual study of God's word.

Colossians 3:11. Where all the separating diversities have ceased, by which those phenomena of malevolence and passion mentioned in Colossians 3:8 were occasioned and nourished. Comp. Galatians 3:28, of which passage Baur indeed sees here only an extended and climactic imitation.

ὅπου] where there is not, etc.; namely there, where the old man has been put off, and the νέος κ.τ.λ. put on, Colossians 3:10. It represents the existing relation according to local conception, like the Latin ubi, i.e. qua in re, or in quo rerum statu, like the local ἵνα; comp. Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. iii. 5. 1; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 331 f. The relation is one objectively real, historically occurring (comp. Galatians 3:28; Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13), present in renewed humanity. Consequently ὅπου is not to be referred to the ἐπίγνωσις, and to be interpreted within which, i.e. in the Christian consciousness (Schenkel); but just as little is the relative clause to be joined immediately with εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατʼ εἰκόνα κ.τ.λ. so that it affirms that there, where this image is found, all contrasts, etc., have vanished; so Hofmann in connection with his erroneous explanation of εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατʼ εἰκόνα κ.τ.λ., see on Colossians 3:10.

Respecting ἔνι, equivalent to ἔνεστι, see on Galatians 3:28.

Ἕλλην κ. Ἰουδ.] national diversity, without taking Ἕλλην, however, with Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others, in the sense of proselyte.

περιτ. κ. ἀκροβ.] theocratic diversity.[152]

βάρβαρος κ.τ.λ.] In the increasing vividness of conception the arrangement by pairs is dropped, and the nouns are placed beside each other asyndetically. Paul does not couple with βάρβαρος, as he does again in the case of ΔΟῦΛΟς, its opposite, which was already adduced (Ἕλλην, comp. on Romans 1:14), but proceeds by way of a climax: Σκύθης. Bengel (comp. Grotius) well says: “Scythae … barbaris barbariores;” they were included, however, among the barbarians (in opposition to Bengel, who thinks that the latter term indicates the Numidians). For instances in which the Scythians are termed βαρβαρώτατοι (comp. also 2Ma 4:47; 3Ma 7:5), see Wetstein. We may infer, moreover, from the passage, that among the Christians there were even some Scythians, possibly immigrants into Greek and Roman countries.

ἀλλὰ τὰ πάνταΧριστός] the dividing circumstances named, which, previous to the putting on of the ΝΈΟς ἌΝΘΡΩΠΟς, were so influential and regulative of social interests and conduct, have now—a fact, which was beyond doubt not recognised by the Jewish prejudice of the false teachers—since the Christian renovation (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:17) ceased to exist in the fellowship established by the latter (ideal expression of the thought: their morally separating influence is abolished); whereas Christ is the sum total of all desires and strivings, and that in all individuals, without distinction of nations, etc.; He “solus proram et puppim, ut aiunt, principium et finem tenet” (Calvin). All are one in Christ, Galatians 3:28; Galatians 5:15; Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:14. Comp. on this use of the τὰ πάντα in the sense of persons, who pass for everything, 1 Corinthians 15:28; Herod. iii. 157, vii. 156; Thuc. viii. 95. 1; Dem. 660. 7; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 727.

Χριστός] the subject put at the end with great emphasis. He, in all His believers (ἐν πᾶσι) the all-determining principle of the new life and activity, is also the constituent of the new sublime unity, in which those old distinctions and contrasts have become meaningless and as it were no longer exist. The Hellene is no longer other than the Jew, etc., but in all it is only Christ, who gives the same specific character to their being and life.

[152] For even a Ἕλλην might be circumcised and thereby received into the theocracy.—The tact that Ἕλλην stands before. Ἰουδ (it is otherwise in Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 10:12, et al.) ought not to be urged, with Holtzmann, following Baur and Hökstra, against the originality of the passage. Paul does not arrange the designations mechanically, as is evident from the second clause. Holtzmann, however, justly denies, in opposition to Mayerhoff and Hökstra, that the arrangement is so inserted in antagonism to the Jewish people.

Colossians 3:11. Cf. Galatians 3:28. He has been speaking of sins inconsistent with brotherly love, anger and falsehood. Such sins are incompatible with Christianity, which has abolished even those deep distinctions that divided mankind into hostile camps. In the splendid sweep of the great principle, which has cancelled the most radical differences of nationality, ceremonial status, culture and social position, all minor causes of strife are necessarily included. The solvent of national, racial and even religious hate cannot be powerless before the petty strifes of a Christian church.—ὅπου οὐκ ἔνι: “where there cannot be”, ὅπ. seems to refer to “the new man,” not to “knowledge” or “the image”. In the new man created by God all these distinctions vanish. ἔνι seems not to be for ἐνεστι, as used to be said, but, as Buttmann maintained, a form of ἐν. Winer-Schmiedel says “ἔνι is the older form of ἐν, and has the significance of ἔνεστιν”.—Ἕλλην κ.τ.λ. The first two pairs contain opposites, in race and then in religion. For the third pair Paul cannot employ an antithesis, since Ἕλλ., the contrast to βάρ., has already been used in the sense of Gentile. He therefore adds to barbarian the Scythian as the extreme example—Scythae barbaris barbariores (Beng.)—but reverts to the method of opposition in the last pair. The order Έλλ. κ. Ἰουδ. is unusual, and perhaps due to the fact that he is writing to Gentiles, but in Galatians 3:28 he is writing to Gentiles too. The usual order is resumed in περ. κ. ἀκρ. In δοῦλ. ἐλεύθ. he may have a reference to Philemon and Onesimus, but the terms occur also in the Galatian list.—πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν Χριστός. This expresses the thought that Christ is all, and that He is in all the relations of life; πᾶσιν is neuter, and Χ. is placed at the end for emphasis. Since He is all, and all things are one in Him, He is the principle of unity, through whom all the distinctions that mar the oneness of mankind are done away.

11. where] “in” “the new Man.” This phrase is a further suggestion of the inner reference to Christ as the New Man which we find in this passage and the Ephesian parallel. Certainly the language of locality accords better with such a reference than with a reference merely to the regenerate state of the Christian.

there is neither] The Greek is emphatic; there exists neither. “Not merely the fact but the possibility” is negatived (Lightfoot). In Christ, such differences cannot breathe.

Greek nor Jew] Cp. Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28 (a close verbal parallel). The word Hellên in such antithetical places “denotes all nations not Jews that made the language, customs and learning of the Greeks their own” (Grimm’s N.T. Lexicon, ed. Thayer). In this sense it is used e.g. John 7:35, where A.V. renders “Gentiles.” See too Acts 11:20 (true reading), Acts 14:1, &c.

circumcision nor uncircumcision] Cp. Romans 2:25-27; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; and see Ephesians 2:11.

barbarian, Scythian] The word barbaros, in Greek, first denoted a speaker of an unintelligible language, and so a non-Greek, whatever his state of society or culture. It thus included the Romans, and in pre-Augustan Latin writers is even used as a synonym for Latin. But “from the Augustan age the name belonged to all tribes which had no Greek or Roman accomplishments” (Liddell and Scott, Greek Lexicon).

Scythian:”—an intensification of the previous word. The Scythians, a wandering race, akin probably to the modern Turks, were regarded by both Greeks and Jews as the wildest of wild tribes, (though the opposite view, strangely, had been taken by early Greek thought, idealizing the unknown. Thus Æschylus (cent. 5 b.c.) calls the Scythians “well-ordered”).—Lightfoot points out that to the Jews the Scythians were specially a name of terror and savagery, for in the reign of Josiah they had poured into Palestine (Herodotus i. 105–6); an invasion not recorded in Scripture, but perhaps indicated in Jeremiah 1:13-16; Ezekiel 38-39.

bond nor free] Cp. 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 6:8 (with notes in this series on Colossians 3:5); and see 1 Corinthians 7:22.—Onesimus and Philemon would be at hand as living illustrations of this brief but wonderful statement.

but Christ is all and in all] More exactly, to paraphrase, but all things, and in all (persons), are—Christ. Such was the union of every believer with Him, that each was to each an embodiment as it were of His presence and life. In this respect all differences, national, ritual, educational, social, were assimilated in the eyes of faith and love. Facts of race, history, status, were not indeed contradicted, but they were overruled, and transfigured into mere varying phases of a central union in the Lord, Who shone equally through all His members.

This short sentence is at once a radical contradiction to some of the deepest prejudices of classical paganism and of (distorted) Judaism, and a wonderful positive revelation.

Colossians 3:11. Ὅπου) where, i.e. in whom, or in which thing.—οὐκ ἔνι, there is not present) In the estimation of God and of believers there is present neither Jew, etc.—Ἕλλην καὶ Ἰουδαῖος, Greek and Jew) The concrete for the abstract, as afterwards also Christ is used: for circumcision and uncircumcision, which occur presently, are abstract nouns.—ἀκροβυστία, uncircumcision) Even the Greek might have been circumcised. Therefore the mention of uncircumcision renders the expression more distinct.—Βάρβαρος, Σκύθης, Barbarian, Scythian) These two words, put by Asyndeton without a conjunction, make equally a pair (συζυγίαν) as bond, free. The Greeks were on the west, the Jews on the east; the Barbarians on the south (for Scaliger shows that the term Barbarians is an Arabic word properly applied to the Numidians), the Scythians on the north, more barbarous than the barbarians (properly so-called). And with this impression Anacharsis, as Galen relates, was reproached by, I know not whom, ὅτι βάρβαρος εἴη καὶ Σκὐθης, that he was a barbarian, and [what is tantamount to] barbarous, a Scythian. Every nation, as it prefers some one other nation to itself, so again, under whatever pretext, prefers itself to all the rest. Therefore the Barbarian, as occupying the middle place between the Greeks and Scythians, gave the palm to the Greek, but at the same time considered himself superior to the Scythian. Faith takes away this distinction. Perhaps at Colosse there were one or two Scythian Christians.—τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσι Χριστὸς, Christ is all and in all) The apposition is Χριστὸς (ὤν) τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσι. A Scythian is not a Scythian, but Christ’s. A barbarian is not a barbarian, but Christ’s. Christ is all, and that too in all, who believe. The new creature is in Christ, Colossians 3:10; Galatians 6:15.

Verse 11. - Where there is (or, can be) no Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman (Galatians 3:28; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:14-18; Ephesians 4:25; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 15:5-12; Philemon 1:15, 16; John 17:20-23; Luke 22:24-27; John 13:12-17). That ἔνι means "can be," "negativing, not merely the fact, but the possibility," is doubtful in view of 1 Corinthians 6:5 (Revised Text). "In Christ" these distinctions are non-existent. There is no place for them. These and the following words indicate the sphere, as "unto knowledge" the end, and "after the image" the ideal or norm, of the progressive renewal to be effected in the Colossian believer. It can be carried on only where and so far as these distinctions are set aside. The "new man" knows nothing of them. The enmity between Greek and Jew being removed, the malice and falsehood that grew out of it will disappear (vers. 8, 9: comp. Romans 15:7; Ephesians 4:25). In Galatians 3:28 "Jew" stands first, and the distinction of sex is added. The distinctions here enumerated appear as looked at from the Greek side. Only here in the New Testament does "Greek" precede "Jew" (comp. Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13, etc.). "Barbarian" (Romans 1:14) and "Scythian" (only here in the New Testament) are together opposed to "Greek," and imply want of culture rather than alien nationality, the Scythian being the rudest of barbarians (see Lightfoot's full note). Such terms of contempt would, in Asia Minor, be commonly applied by Greeks to the native population. The party who affected philosophic culture (Colossians 2:8, 23) may, perhaps, have applied them to simple, uneducated Christians (see note on Colossians 1:28). (On "circumcision," see Colossians 2:11; and for the connection with ver. 9, comp. Galatians 6:15.) For "bond" and "free," a division then pervading society universally, comp. Galatian list. Onesimus and Philemon are doubtless in the apostle's mind. On this relationship he enlarges in the next section (Colossians 3:22-4:1). The four pairs of opposed terms represent distinctions

(1) of race,

(2) of religious privilege,

(3) of culture,

(4) of social rank. But Christ is all things, and in all (Colossians 1:15-20; Colossians 2:9, 10; Colossians 3:4, 17; Ephesians 1:3, 10, 22, 23; Ephesians 2:13-22; Ephesians 3:8, 19; Philippians 1:21; Philippians 3:7-14; Philippians 4:19; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:2, 4; Romans 5:10; Romans 8:32, 39). "Christ" stands at the end of the sentence, with accumulated emphasis. The Church regards and values each man in his relation to Christ, and bids every other consideration bow to this. He is "all things" - our common centre, our standard of reference, and fount of honour, the stun of all we acknowledge and desire; and he is "in all" - the common life and soul of his people, the substance of all we experience and possess as Christians. The second "all" is masculine (so most commentators, from Chrysostom downwards), referring more specially to the classes just enumerated. Similarly, in Ephesians 4:6: comp. Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 1:15; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:19. (While he is "in all," it is equally true that all are "in him:" comp. John 15:4; John 17:23, 26.) Just as in the spiritual sphere, and in the relations between God and man, Christ is shown to be all, so that "principalities and powers" are comparatively insignificant (Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:9, 10, 15); so in the moral sphere, and in the relations between man and man. All human distinctions, like all angelic offices, must pay homage to his supremacy, and submit to the reconciling unity of his kingdom (Ephesians 1:10). Colossians 3:11Where there is (ὅπου ἔνι)

Where, in the renewed condition; there is, better, as Rev., can be: ἔνι strengthened from ἐν in signifies not merely the fact but the impossibility: there is no room for.

Greek, Jew, etc.

Compare Galatians 3:28. National, ritual, intellectual, and social diversities are specified. The reference is probably shaped by the conditions of the Colossian church, where the form of error was partly Judaistic and ceremonial, insisting on circumcision; where the pretense of superior knowledge affected contempt for the rude barbarian, and where the distinction of master and slave had place as elsewhere.


For the circumcised. So Romans 4:12; Ephesians 2:11; Philippians 3:3.

Barbarian, Scythian

See on 1 Corinthians 14:11. The distinction is from the Greek and Roman point of view, where the line is drawn by culture, as between the Jew and the Greek it was drawn by religious privilege. From the former stand-point the Jew ranked as a barbarian. Scythian. "More barbarous than the barbarians" (Bengel). Hippocrates describes them as widely different from the rest of mankind, and like to nothing but themselves, and gives an absurd description of their physical peculiarities. Herodotus describes them as living in wagons, offering human sacrifices, scalping and sometimes flaying slain enemies, drinking their blood, and using their skulls for drinking-cups. When a king dies, one of his concubines is strangled and buried with him, and, at the close of a year, fifty of his attendants are strangled, disemboweled, mounted on dead horses, and left in a circle round his tomb. The Scythians passed through Palestine on their road to Egypt, b.c. 600, and a trace of their invasion is supposed to have existed in the name Scythopolis, by which Beth Shean was known in Christ's time. Ezekiel apparently refers to them (38, 39) under the name Gog, which reappears in Revelation. See on Revelation 20:8.

Colossians 3:11 Interlinear
Colossians 3:11 Parallel Texts

Colossians 3:11 NIV
Colossians 3:11 NLT
Colossians 3:11 ESV
Colossians 3:11 NASB
Colossians 3:11 KJV

Colossians 3:11 Bible Apps
Colossians 3:11 Parallel
Colossians 3:11 Biblia Paralela
Colossians 3:11 Chinese Bible
Colossians 3:11 French Bible
Colossians 3:11 German Bible

Bible Hub

Colossians 3:10
Top of Page
Top of Page