Colossians 4:13
For I bear him record, that he has a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
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(13) On the natural union of Laodicea and Hierapolis with Colossæ, partly local and historical, partly, no doubt, having reference to their conversion by the same instrumentality (of Epaphras), see Note on Colossians 2:1 and Introduction. Epaphras is said to have great “zeal” (properly, great labour) of anxiety—finding vent in the wrestling in prayer noted above—for all three cities, for which he evidently still felt himself responsible. In such responsibility, as in the charges of Timothy and Titus, we see the link between the apostolate of this period and the episcopacy of the future.

4:10-18 Paul had differed with Barnabas, on the account of this Mark, yet he is not only reconciled, but recommends him to the churches; an example of a truly Christian and forgiving spirit. If men have been guilty of a fault, it must not always be remembered against them. We must forget as well as forgive. The apostle had comfort in the communion of saints and ministers. One is his fellow-servant, another his fellow-prisoner, and all his fellow-workers, working out their own salvation, and endeavouring to promote the salvation of others. The effectual, fervent prayer is the prevailing prayer, and availeth much. The smiles, flatteries, or frowns of the world, the spirit of error, or the working of self-love, leads many to a way of preaching and living which comes far short of fulfilling their ministry. But those who preach the same doctrine as Paul, and follow his example, may expect the Divine favour and blessing.For I bear him record - Paul had had abundant opportunity to know what were his feelings in regard to these churches.

A great zeal for you - A great desire to promote your welfare.

And them that are in Laodicea - Laodicea was the capital of Phrygia, and not far from Colossae, There was a church there. See the Introduction, and the notes at Colossians 4:16.

And them in Hierapolis - This was also a city in Phrygia, and not far from Laodicea and Colossae. It was situated under a hill to the north, and had on the south a large plain about five miles over. On the south of that plain, and opposite to Hierapolis, was Laodicea, with the river Lycus running between them, nearer to Laodicea than to Hierapolls. This place is now called by the Turks Pambuck-Kulasi, or the Cotton-Tower, on account of the white cliffs which lie round about it. It is now utterly forsaken and desolate, but the ruins are so magnificent as to show that it was once one of the most splendid cities in the East. It was celebrated for the hot springs in its vicinity; and on account of the numerous temples erected there, it received the name of Hierapolis, or the holy city. The principal deity worshipped there was Apollo. See Travels by T. Smith. B. D. 1678. Compare the notes at Colossians 4:16. From the allusion to it here, it would seem that there were Christians there in the time of Paul, though there is no mention of a church there. It is nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament.

13. a great zeal—The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate have "much labor."

for you—lest you should be seduced (Col 2:4); a motive why you should be anxious for yourselves.

them that are in Laodicea … Hierapolis—churches probably founded by Epaphras, as the Church in Colosse was. Laodicea, called from Laodice, queen of Antiochus II, on the river Lycus, was, according to the subscription to First Timothy, "the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana" (1Ti 6:21). All the three cities were destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 62 [Tacitus, Annals, 14.27]. Hierapolis was six Roman miles north of Laodicea.

For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you; for, saith the apostle, though I am not privy to his secret prayers, yet I can bear him witness, and do give him mine own testimony, that he hath a most ardent and special affection for you Christians at Colosse.

And them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis; yea, and for those also in your neighbour cities; see the argumeut, and Colossians 2:1; viz. Laodicea, the last of the seven churches, to whom excellent epistles were written, recorded by John the divine, Revelation 1:11 3:14; and Hierapolis, or the holy city, about six miles distant from the former, say geographers. For I bear him record,.... The apostle was an eye and ear witness of his fervent prayers, his labour of love, and zealous affection for these saints and others; and therefore, as he judged he ought, he bears a testimony for him,

that he hath a great zeal for you; for their spiritual welfare, that the Gospel might continue with them, and they in that, against false teachers, and their attempts to subvert them; that they might grow in the grace of the Gospel, and walk worthy of it, and be at peace among themselves:

and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis; cities in Phrygia, which lay near to Colosse, the one being situated by the river Lycus, and the other by the Maeander; here were many believers, for whom Epaphras had a like zeal and affections as for the Colossians, and to whom very likely he had been useful, either in conversion or edification, or both. The apostle takes no notice to the Colossians of Epaphras being his fellow prisoner, as, he does in his epistle to Plm 1:23 it may be for this reason, lest they should be over much distressed and cast down with it.

For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
Colossians 4:13. General testimony in confirmation of the particular statement made regarding Epaphras in πάντοτε κ.τ.λ.; on which account there is the less reason to ascribe to the interpolator the more precise definition of ἀγωνιζ. ὑπ. ὑμ., which is given by ἐν ταῖς προσευχ. (Holtzmann). The γάρ is sufficiently clear and logical.

πολὺν πόνον (see the critical remarks); much toil, which is to be understood of the exertion of mental activity—of earnest working with its cares, hopes, wishes, fears, temptations, dangers, and so forth. The word is purposely chosen, in keeping with the conception of the conflict (Colossians 4:12); for πόνος is formally used of the toil and trouble of conflict. See Herod, vi. 114, viii. 89; Plat. Phaedr. p. 247 B; Dem. 637. 18; Eur. Suppl. 317; Soph. Track. 21. 169; often so in Homer as Il. i. 467, and Nägelsbach in loc.; comp. Revelation 21:4.

καὶ τῶν ἐν Λαοδ. κ. τ. ἐν Ἱεραπ.] Epaphras had certainly laboured in these adjoining towns, as in Colossae, which was probably his headquarters, as founder, or, at least, as an eminent teacher of the churches.Colossians 4:13. The anxiety of Epaphras for these Churches was probably due to his connexion with them, either as founder or teacher.13. zeal] Labour, R.V. (so Latin Versions; Wyclif, “traveil”), adopting a somewhat better supported reading, of which that represented in A.V. is probably a transcriber’s explanation.

Laodicea] See on Colossians 2:1; and Introd. p. 13.

Hierapolis] The third mission-station in the valley of the Lycus, looking across the river, southward, a distance of about six miles, to Laodicea. See Introd., ch. 1.Colossians 4:13. Γὰρ, for) The reason (ætiologia: see Append.) is properly in, he hath. The verb, I bear him record, is modal.[34]—ζῆλον, zeal) lest you should be seduced, ch. Colossians 2:4 : comp. 2 Corinthians 11:2.

[34] Expression of feeling; opposed to categorical. See Append, on ‘modus,’ ‘modalis.’—ED.Verse 13. - For I hear witness to him that he hath much labour (πὸνον for ζῆλον, Revised Text) for you (Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:1; Philippians 2:19-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Corinthians 16:15, 16). Πόνος occurs in the New Testament besides only in Revelation 16:10, 11 and Revelation 21:4, where it means "pain;" in classical Greek it implies "painful, distressful exertion" (comp. κοπιῶ, Colossians 1:29). It indicates the deep anxiety of Epaphras for this beloved and endangered Church. There is nothing here to point to "outward toil" (Lightfoot), any more than in Colossians 2:1. The apostle loves to commend his fellow labourers (Colossians 1:7; Philippians 2:20-22, 25, 26; 2 Corinthians 8:16-23). And for those in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis (vers. 15-17; Colossians 2:1). The Church in Hierapolis is added to that of Laodicea, singled out in Colossians 2:1 as a special object of the apostle's concern (on these cities, see Introduction, § 1). Whether Epaphras were the official head of these Churches or not, he could not but be deeply concerned in their welfare. Ver. 17 indicates the existence of a personal link between the Churches of Colossus and of Laodicea. Zeal (ζῆλον)

Read πόνον labor, which occurs elsewhere only in Revelation 16:10, Revelation 16:11; Revelation 21:4, in the sense of pain. Πονος labor is from the root of πένομαι to work for one's daily bread, and thence to be poor. Πόνος toil, πένης one who works for his daily bread, and πονηρός wicked, have a common root. See on wickedness, Mark 7:22. In their original conceptions, κόπος labor (1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 6:5) emphasizes the fatigue of labor: μόχθος hard labor (2 Corinthians 11:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:9), the hardship: πόνος the effort, but πόνος has passed, in the New Testament, in every instance but this, into the meaning of pain.


The cities are named in geographical order. Laodicaea and Hierapolis faced each other on the north and south sides of the Lycus valley, about six miles apart. Colossae was ten or twelve miles farther up the stream. Hierapolis owed its celebrity to its warm mineral springs, its baths, and its trade in dyed wools. It was a center of the worship of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, whose rites were administered by mutilated priests known as Galli, and of other rites representing different oriental cults. Hence the name Hierapolis or sacred city.

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