Colossians 4:15
Salute the brothers which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) The brethren which are in Laodicea.—The comparison of this phrase with the more general “church of the Laodiceans” below has led to the idea that some special body of Christians—Dr. Lightfoot suggests a “family of Colossian Christians”—at Laodicea is here referred to. But more probably the whole of the Laodicean Christians are meant in both passages. In their individual character they are “the brethren in Laodicea;” when they are gathered to hear the Epistles they are the” Church (literally, the Christian assembly) of Laodicea.”

And Nymphas.—There is a curious variety of reading here. Some MSS. have, as in our version,” the church in his house;” some, “in her house;” the best reading seems to be “in their house.” The second of those readings would make the name “Nympha,” instead of “Nymphas,” with which the form of the original hardly agrees. The last reading (from which the common reading of our version is probably a correction) must refer, in the word “their,” to Nymphas and his family. Of Nymphas we know nothing, except from this passage. He is obviously a man of importance, a centre of Church life, in the Christian community at Laodicea.

The church which is in his house.—This phrase is found elsewhere only as applied to “Aquila and Priscilla” (Romans 16:5; 1Corinthians 16:19), and to Philemon (Philemon 1:2). Of these Aquila and Priscilla are notable Christian teachers (as of Apostles, Acts 18:26) and confessors (Romans 16:4); and Philemon is spoken of as a “beloved fellow-labourer,” and one in whom “the saints are refreshed” (Philemon 1:1; Philemon 1:7). Hence this “church in the house” is seen to have gathered only round persons of some mark and leadership. The houses sanctified by such gatherings were the parents of the material churches of the future.

Since the word “church” means nothing more than “general assembly,” it is obviously capable of definition only by the context. If undefined it is universal—the whole Catholic Church of Christ—otherwise it is civic, as is most common; or domestic, as here. Since the units of society were then the family and the city—not the country, or province—we read not of the church, but of the “churches” of Achaia, or Galatia, or Macedonia. National churches there could not be; for nations, as we understand the term, did not exist. Afterwards, when the Church was fully organised, it is well known that the ecclesiastical divisions (“parish,” “diocese,” &c., ) still followed the civil.

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.Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea - Notes, Colossians 2:1.

And Nymphas - This person is nowhere else mentioned, and nothing more is known of him.

And the church which is in his house - Notes, Romans 16:5.

15. Nymphas—of Laodicea.

church … in his house—So old manuscripts and Vulgate read. The oldest read, "THEIR house"; and one manuscript, "HER house," which makes Nymphas a woman.

Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea; having saluted the Colossians, in the names of others, circumcised and uncircumcised, he desires them in his own name to salute the Christians in the church at Laodicea.

And Nymphas; and some pious man called Nymphas, probably living either in the country near the city of Laodicea, or some eminent Christian of chief note in the city. The masculine article adjoined shows this person to be a male, and not a female, as some have inconsiderately reckoned.

And the church which is in his house; and the company of believers, either of his own family or neighbourhood, who did, under his protection or inspection, meet to worship God according to his appointment, Romans 16:1,5 1 Corinthians 16:15,19. Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea,.... Where there was a church mentioned in the following verse, of which see on Gill Revelation 2:10.

And Nymphas; which some, unskilful in the Greek language, have took for a woman; whereas it is the name of a man, as the following words show; and is a contraction of Nymphios, or Nymphidios, or Nymphodoros:

and the church which is in his house. This man seems to have been an inhabitant of Laodicea, and that the church there met at his house to worship God, to pray unto him, sing his praise, hear his word, and attend on all ordinances: or his own family was brought up so strictly to the observance of these things, that they looked like a little church of themselves.

Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 4:15. Messages down to Colossians 4:17.

The first καί is: and especially, and in particular, so that of the Christians at Laodicea (τοὺς ἐν Λαοδ. ἀδελφ.). Nymphas is specially[178] singled out for salutation by name. In the following καὶ τὴν κατʼ οἶκον αὐτῶν ἐκκλ., the church which is in their house, the plural αὐτῶν (see the critical remarks) cannot without violence receive any other reference than to τοὺς ἐν Λαοδ. ἀδελφοὺς κ. Νυμφᾶν. Paul must therefore (and his readers were more precisely aware how this matter stood) indicate a church different from the Laodicean church, a foreign one, which, however, was in filial association with that church, and held its meetings in the same house wherein the Laodiceans assembled. If we adopt the reading αὐτοῦ, we should have to think, not of the family of Nymphas (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Calvin, and others), but, in accordance with Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Philemon 1:2, of a portion of the Laodicean church, which held its separate meetings in the house of Nymphas. In that case, however, the persons here saluted would have been already included among τοὺς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἀδελφούς. The plural αὐτῶν by no means warrants the ascribing the origin of Colossians 4:15 to an unseasonable reminiscence of 1 Corinthians 16:19 and Romans 16:5, perhaps also of Philemon 1:2 (Holtzmann). What a mechanical procedure would that be!

The personal name Nymphas itself, which some with extreme arbitrariness would take as a symbolic name (Hitzig, comp. Holtzmann), is not elsewhere preserved, but we find Nymphaeus, Nymphodorus, Nymphodotus, and Nymphius, also Nymphis.

[178] Nymphas appears to have been specially well known to the apostle, and on friendly terms with him; perhaps a συνεργός, who was now for a season labouring in the church at Laodicea.Colossians 4:15. Νυμφαν may be masculine (Νυμφᾶν) or feminine (Νύμφαν). The Doric form, Νύμφαν, is improbable; on the other hand the contracted form, Νυμφᾶν, is rare. If αὐτῶν is read, either is possible. Otherwise the decision is made by the choice between αὐτοῦ and αὐτῆς. It seems probable that αὐτῶν was due to change by a scribe who included ἀδελφ. in the reference. And a scribe might alter the feminine, assuming that a woman could not have been mentioned in this way. The attestation of αὐτῆς is very strong, though numerically slight. The Church in her house was a Laodicean Church, distinct apparently from the chief Church of the town.15–17. Laodicea; Archippus

15. Salute … Laodicea] The places were only twelve miles apart.

Nymphas] A Laodicean; his name in full was, probably, Nymphodorus. See Lightfoot’s full note here, on name-contractions in -as.—In some Greek mss. this name is accented as if it were Nympha, a feminine name, and “his house” just below is read “her house.” But this is very improbable, as it would assume that the name was written in a Doric form, Nymphâ not Nymphê.—The Latin Versions, reading thus, have Nympham; and Wyclif, “the womman nymfam.”

the church which is in his house] R.V., their house; following a better supported reading. The plural refers, probably, to Nymphas and his family.

The church … in their house:—for the word “Church” used, as here, in its most limited sense, a Christian congregation of neighbours, see Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 1:2. (Cp. Romans 16:14-15.)—The Nymphas family at Laodicea were perhaps the wealthy converts there, owning a large house; themselves numerous; and they offered their great room as a meeting place for worship and “the breaking of bread” to other converts. Very possibly this was the one meeting-place in Laodicea; and the greeting in this verse, if so, is to the Laodiceans first individually then in congregation.—The Latin Versions have, domestica ejus ecclesia.

Bingham (Antiquities, viii. 1) collects allusions to Christian places of worship in the first century. He shews that special chambers were set apart, but does not shew that whole buildings were, in those first days, consecrated to devotion. By the third century at latest this became common. See our note on Romans 16:5.Colossians 4:15. Νυμφᾶν, Nymphas) of Laodicea, as may be collected from this passage. The house of Philemon was open to the congregations of believing Colossians, Philemon 1:2.Verse 15. - Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea (ver. 13; Colossians 2:1; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 3:14-22). Perhaps the brethren in Hierapolis (ver. 13) were not formed into a distinct Church as yet (comp. Colossians 2:1). The Church in Laodicea early became a flourishing and wealthy community (Revelation 3:17). And Nympha (or, Nymphas), and the Church (literally, assembly) at her (or, their) house. Νύμφαν may be either masculine or feminine accusative. The reading "her" (αὐτῆς) is adopted by Westcott and Hort without alternative, and seems on the whole the most probable. The Revised Text follows Tischendorf, Tregelles, Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, who read "their" (αὐτῶν). "His" (αὐτοῦ) is evidently a later correction. Lightfoot says, indeed, that "a Doric form of the Greek name (sc. Νύμφαν for Νύμφην) seems in the highest degree improbable;" but he allows, on the other hand, that Νυμφᾶς as a contracted masculine form (for Νυμφόδωρος) "is very rare." This person was apparently a leading member of the Laodicean Church, at whose house Church meetings were held (comp. Acts 12:12; Philemon 1:2; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19). "The Church at her house" can scarcely have been an assembly distinct "from the brethren that are in Laodicea." Both expressions may relate to the same body of persons, referred first individually, then collectively as a meeting gathered at this place. Others suppose a more private gathering to be meant, as e.g. of Colossians living at Laodicea (Meyer). Many older interpreters identified this Church with the household of Nymphas. If "their" be the true reading, the expression must include Nympha and her family. Nympha (or Nymphas), like Philemon and his family, St. Paul had doubtless met in Ephesus. Nymphas

Probably contracted from Nymphodorus, as Artemas from Artemidorus (Titus 3:12): Zenas from Zenodorus (Titus 3:13); Olympas from Olympiodorus (Romans 16:15).

The Church

Compare Plm 1:2; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Acts 12:12.

His house (αὐτοῦ)

Others read αὐτῶν their (so Rev., Lightfoot, Meyer). Others, as Westcott and Hort, αὐτῆς her, regarding the name as female, Nympha. It is difficult, however, to know to whom the plural can refer. Some explain, Nymphas and his family. Meyer refers it to the brethren at Laodicaea and Nymphas, and thinks that the allusion is to a foreign church in filial association with the church at Laodicaea, and holding its meetings in the same place.

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