Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Epaphras.—See Note on Colossians 1:7.
Servant of Christ.—A title assumed by St. James and St. Judo, as well as by St. Paul himself, but given by him only to Timothy (Philippians 1:1) and to Epaphras here. Of course, all Christians are “servants of Christ.” But the name, as applied here, is no doubt distinctive of some peculiar character of service.
Labouring fervently.—Properly, wrestling in agony of prayer. (See Romans 15:30.)
Perfect and complete.—The word here found in the best MSS. for “complete” is used in Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5, for “fully convinced” or “persuaded.” This is probably, though not perhaps necessarily, its meaning here. In the two epithets—perfect and fully established in conviction—we may again trace, as before, reference to the pretensions of the Gnostic teachers to exclusive perfection in wisdom. St. Paul’s true fellow-worker, like himself, prays that this perfection may belong to all, and that it may have its basis not is the secrets of heavenly knowledge, but in the revealed “will of God.”Colossians 4:12-15. Epaphras, always labouring — Αγωνιζομενος, striving, or agonizing; for you in prayers — The word properly denotes contending, or combating in the games; here it signifies the greatest fervency of desire and affection in prayer: that ye may stand perfect — Perfectly instructed in all Christian graces, and performing all Christian duties. See 1 John 4:17; Hebrews 13:21. And complete — Πεπληρωμενοι, filled with; all the will of God — As being no longer babes, but grown up to the measure of the stature of Christ, being filled with light and wisdom, grace and holiness. See on Colossians 2:10. He hath great zeal for you — A great concern for your growth in grace and holiness, and your eternal salvation. And them that are in Laodicea and Hierapolis — Neighbouring cities in the Greater Phrygia, in which were Christian churches. The latter “was named Hierapolis, that is, the holy city, from the multitude of its temples. But it is not known what particular deity was its tutelary god. Its coins bear the images of Apollo, of the Ephesian Diana, of Esculapius, and of Hygeia. The two last-mentioned idols were worshipped in Hierapolis, on account of the medicinal springs with which it abounded. There was likewise a Mephitis, or opening in the earth, here, from which a pestilential vapour issued, which killed any animals which happened to breathe in it.” — Macknight. Luke, the beloved physician — Luke was deservedly beloved by St. Paul. He was not only an intelligent and sincere disciple of Christ, but the apostle’s affectionate and faithful friend, as appears from his attending him in several of his journeys through the Lesser Asia and Greece. (See the preface to St. Luke’s gospel, and the note on Acts 27:1.) And when the apostle was sent a prisoner to Italy, Luke accompanied him in the voyage, and remained with him till he was released. He was also with the apostle during his second imprisonment in the same city; on which occasion, when his other assistants deserted him, through fear, Luke abode with him, and ministered to him, 2 Timothy 4:11. Salute the brethren in Laodicea and Nymphas — It seems Nymphas was an eminent Christian at Laodicea; and the church which is in his house — The society or congregation which assembled there for social or public worship.Colossians 1:7.
Always laboring fervently for you in prayers - Margin, "or striving." Greek: "agonizing." The word denotes the intense desire which he had for their salvation; his fervent, earnest pleading for their welfare.
That ye may stand perfect and complete - Margin, as in Greek, filled. The desire was, that they might maintain their Christian principles unadulterated by the mixture of philosophy and error, and completely perform the will of God in every respect. This is the expression of a pious wish in regard to them, without any affirmation that any had been absolutely perfect, or that they would be perfect in this world. It is, however, a command of God that we should be perfect (see Matthew 5:48), and it is the highest wish of benevolence in reference to anyone that he may be complete in moral character, and may do all the will of God; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 13:9.
labouring fervently—As the Greek, is the same, translate, "striving earnestly" (see on Col 1:29 and Col 2:1), literally, "striving as in the agony of a contest."
in prayers—Translate as Greek, "in his prayers."
complete—The oldest manuscripts read, "fully assured." It is translated, "fully persuaded," Ro 4:21; 14:5. In the expression "perfect," he refers to what he has already said, Col 1:28; 2:2; 3:14. "Perfect" implies the attainment of the full maturity of a Christian. Bengel joins "in all the will of God" with "stand."Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you: after he had given them the good wishes of some of the Jews, he doth here give the like from some of the Gentiles, beginning with Epaphras, whom he had before commended, Colossians 1:7,8, and doth here recommend him as born and bred amongst them, devoted to their service, in being the servant of Christ, as Paul, separated to the preaching of the gospel, Romans 1:1, yea, a fellow prisoner with the apostle upon that account, Philemon 1:23.
Always labouring fervently for you in prayers; and, as it became such a one, faithful in his office, not diverted by distance of place or length of time, was night and day contending zealously with prayers to God for their spiritual, temporal, and eternal welfare, as Romans 15:30.
That ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God; that they might attain a sufficient perfection in all that which God would have them reach to: See Poole on "Colossians 1:28,29". See Poole on "Philippians 3:15". The distance between Colosse and Philippi, &c. render it improbable, whatever a learned man conceits, that Epaphras should be the same with Epaphroditus. Colossians 1:7.
A servant of Christ; not merely in the same sense as every believer is, but as he was a preacher of the Gospel, in which he faithfully served his Lord and master, Christ:
saluteth you; sends his Christian respects to you, for whom he bore a sincere love and hearty affection, as appears by what follows:
always labouring fervently for you in prayers; in all his prayers, which were many and frequent, he never forgot his dear flock at Colosse, of which he was pastor, but strove with God for them, even to an agony, as the word signifies; he wrestled with the Lord as Jacob did, nor, as he, would he let him go without a blessing for this church; he was incessant, importunate, and fervent in prayer for them: and what he prayed in particular for them was,
that ye may stand perfect; in Christ Jesus their head, and in his spotless righteousness; see Colossians 1:28 and continue believing in him, and looking to him for righteousness and strength, in whom all the fulness, the perfection of grace dwells; and where the saints only are, and can continue to be perfect:Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Colossians 4:12. Ἐπαφρᾶς] See Colossians 1:7 and Introd.
It is to be observed that, according to Colossians 4:11, Epaphras, Luke, and Demas (Colossians 4:14) were no Jewish-Christians, whereas Tiele in the Stud. u. Krit. 1858, p. 765, holding Luke to be by birth a Jew, has recourse to forced expedients, and wishes arbitrarily to read between the lines. Hofmann, refining groundlessly (see on Colossians 4:14), but with a view to favour his presupposition that all the N. T. writings were of Israelite origin, thinks that our passage contributes nothing towards the solution of the question as to Lake’s descent; comp. on Luke, Introd. § 1.
ὁ ἐξ ὑμῶν] as in Colossians 4:9, exciting the affectionate special interest of the readers; ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν afterwards thoughtfully corresponds.
δοῦλος Χ. is to be taken together with πάντοτε ἀγωνιζ., but ὁ ἐξ ὑμῶν is not to be connected with δοῦλος (Hofmann); on the contrary, it is to be taken by itself as a special element of recommendation (as in Colossians 4:9): Epaphras, your own, a servant of Christ who is always striving, etc.
ἀγωνιζ.] Comp. Romans 15:30. The more fervent the prayer for any one is, the more is it a striving for him, namely, in opposition to the dangers which threaten him, and which are present to the vivid conception of him who wrestles in prayer. Comp. also Colossians 2:1. The striving of Epaphras in prayer certainly had reference not merely to the heretical temptations to which the Colossians, of whose church he was a member, were exposed, but—as is evident from ἵνα στῆτε κ.τ.λ. (purpose of the ἀγωνιζ. κ.τ.λ.)—to everything generally, which endangered the right Christian frame in them.
στῆτε] designation of stedfast perseverance; in which there is neither wavering, nor falling, nor giving way. To this belongs ἐν παντὶ θελήμ τ. Θ., expressing wherein (comp. 1 Peter 5:12) they are to maintain stedfastness; in every will of God, that is, in all that God wills. Comp. on στῆναι ἐν in this sense, John 8:44; Romans 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 1 Corinthians 16:13. This connection (comp. Bengel and Bleek) recommends itself on account of its frequent occurrence, and because it completes and rounds off the whole expression; for στῆτε now has not merely a modal definition, τέλ. κ. πεπληρ., but also a local definition, which admirably corresponds to the figurative conception of standing. This applies, at the same time, in opposition to the usual mode of construction with τέλ. κ. πεπληρ., followed also by Hofmann, according to which ἐν π. θελ. τ. Θ. would be the moral sphere, “within which the perfection and firm conviction are to take place,” Huther.
ΤΈΛΕΙΟΙ ΚΑῚ ΠΕΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΗΜΈΝΟΙ] perfect and with full conviction, (comp. Colossians 2:2; Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5; and see on Luke 1:1) obtain through the context (στῆτε ἐν π. θελ. τ. Θ.) their more definite meaning; the former as moral perfection, such as the true Christian ought to have (Colossians 1:28); and the latter, as stedfastness of conscience, which excludes all scruples as to what God’s will requires, and is of decisive importance for the τελειότης of the Christian life; comp. Romans 14:5; Romans 14:22 f.
 This postulate, wholly without proof, is also assumed by Grau, Entwickelungsgesch. d. neutest. Schriftth. I. p. 54.
 If we follow the Recepta πεπληρωμένοι (see the critical remarks), on the other hand, we must join, as is usually done, following Chrysostom and Luther, ἐν π. θελ. τ. Θεοῦ to πεπληρωμ.: filled with every will of God, which, instead of being transformed into “voluntatis divinae verae et integrae cognitio” (Reiche, comp. Beza), is rather to be understood as denoting that the heart is to be full of all that God wills, and that in no matter, consequently, is any other will than the divine to role in the believer. Respecting ἐν, comp. on Ephesians 5:18. Bähr incorrectly renders: “by virtue of the whole counsel of God,” which is not possible on account of the very absence of the article in the case of παντί. Grotius, Heinrichs, Flatt, and others, erroneously hold that ἐν is equivalent to εἰς.Colossians 4:12. Ἐπαφρᾶς: see on Colossians 1:7. He was either a native of Colossæ or had settled there.—δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. Paul uses this term often of himself, but of no one else except here and Php 1:1, where he calls himself and Timothy δοῦλοι Χ. Ἰ. Meyer and Alford connect with ὁ ἐξ ὑμ., but it is better to place a comma after ὑμῶν.—πεπληροφορημένοι: see on Colossians 2:2. Usually it is translated here “fully assured”. Haupt thinks that after τέλειοι this is unsuitable. But if we translate “complete” or “filled,” this is tautological, and it is not clear that τέλ. covers full assurance.—ἐν παντὶ θελήματι Θεοῦ: “in everything that God wills”. Meyer and Alford connect with σταθῆτε (or as they read στῆτε), but it is better to connect with the two participles.12. Epaphras] Cp. Colossians 1:7, and note.
who is one of you] Cp. Colossians 4:9, and note.
a servant of Christ] A designation true of all Christians; see Ephesians 6:6. Here it seems to denote a man in whom the holy “bondservice” was markedly illustrated; perhaps specially in his pastoral or missionary character. Cp. 2 Timothy 2:24.
“Of Christ”:—read, of Christ Jesus.
labouring] Wrestling; “as Jacob of old with the Angel.”—See notes on Colossians 1:29, Colossians 2:2; and cp. Romans 15:30.—Epaphras prayed as one who grappled with trials to faith and perseverance in the work of prayer.—The word “fervently” is inserted in the A.V. (as in older English Versions) to express the intensity of a wrestle.—The Latin Versions, somewhat weakly, have semper sollicitus pro vobis; Wyclif, better (though rendering from them), “euer bisie for you.”
in prayers] Lit., “in the prayers,” almost as if, “in his prayers.” Epaphras was Paul’s true scholar in the school of intercession. See Colossians 1:9.
stand] Stand fast better represents the best-supported reading here.
perfect] See note on the word, Colossians 1:28. And cp. Php 3:15, and note.
complete] I.e., “filled full.” So Old Latin, adimpleti; Vulgate, pleni; all English Versions before A.V., “full.” R.V., fully assured; adopting another and better supported reading, which gives the verb used also in e.g. Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5; and cognate to the noun used ch. Colossians 2:2, where see note. The usage of this verb (see Lightfoot’s note) leaves the rendering “filled” still possible; but the parallels in St Paul are in favour of R.V.—Epaphras prayed, in effect, that their Christian consistency might be mature (“perfect”) and consciously decided.
in all the will] More lit., “in every will”; in every part of the will. The thought is the attentive obedience which holds sacred each detail of the Master’s orders. Cp. Ephesians 5:15-17; and see above ch. Colossians 1:10.Colossians 4:12. Τέλειοι καὶ πεπληρωμένοι, perfect and complete) This is introduced from the former discussion.—ἐν παντὶ, in all) Construe with, ye may stand.
 Ch. Colossians 1:28, Colossians 2:2, Colossians 3:14.—ED.Verse 12. - Epaphras, who is (one) of you, saluteth you, a servant (bondman) of Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1; Galatians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 7:22; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:24; Acts 4:29; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:3, 6). "Of you," like Onesimus (ver. 9). He was a native of Colossae, as well as evangelist and minister of the Church there (Colossians 1:7, 8). "Bondman of Christ Jesus" is the title the apostle so often claims for himself (see references), only here put by him on any one else. Is there an implied reference to Onesimus (ver. 9), who was "a bondman after the flesh," but "the Lord's freedman" (Philemon 1:16), while Epaphras, "the freeman," is "Christ's bondman" (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:22)? We are reminded again of Colossians 2:6 (see note). Always striving on your behalf in his prayers, that ye may stand fast, (being) perfect and fully assured in all the will of God (Colossians 1:9, 23, 29; Colossians 2:1, 2, 5; Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:11-14; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15). Epaphras "strives" ("wrestles") for his spiritual charge, like the apostle himself (Colossians 1:29, see note on ἀγωνίζομαι; Colossians 2:1; Romans 15:30; Luke 22:44). Προσκαρτερέω in ver. 2 denotes the patient persistence, this word the intense energy, of prevailing prayer. For "stand" (where Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, and other critical editors read the stronger σταθῆτε for στῆτε), comp. Colossians 1:23; Colossians 2:7; it is four times repeated in the stirring appeal of Ephesians 6:11-14. For Churches threatened by the attacks of heresy it was above all things needful "that they should stand fast." On "perfect," see Colossians 1:28; also Colossians 3:14; the word bears a primary reference to "knowledge," and implies a fully instructed and enlightened condition (Philippians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Hebrews 5:14; Hebrews 6:1), attended with corresponding spiritual advancement (Ephesians 4:13). "Fully assured" (πεπληροφορημένοι, Revised Text) carries us back to Colossians 2:2 (see notes; on this verb, compare Lightfoot's exhaustive note). It bears the same sense in Romans 4:21 and Romans 14:5; a slightly different one in Luke 1:1. From the tenor of the letter it appears that the Colossians needed a deeper Christian insight and more intelligent and well-grounded convictions respecting the truth "as in Jesus." "All (the) will" is strictly distributive (every will); θέλημα' (Colossians 1:9) differs from our will in having a concrete rather than abstract sense, denoting an act or expression of will.
In all the will (ἐν παντὶ θελήματι)
Lit., in every will. Will means the thing willed, as Luke 12:47; James 5:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Hence used sometimes in the plural, as Acts 13:22, shall do all my will (θελήματα), i.e., perform all the things willed by me. Ephesians 2:3, desires, strictly willings. So here the sense is, everything willed by God. The connection is apparently with σταθῆτε ye may stand. For a similar construction see John 8:44; Romans 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 1 Corinthians 16:13. As Meyer observes, this connection gives stand both a modal definition (perfect and fully assured) and a local definition (in all the will).
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