ICC New Testament Commentary
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS
The spelling of the name is uncertain. In the title the spelling Κολοσσαεις is given by א Bc D G L 17 (Κολοσαεις), while A B* K P have Κολασσαεις, which א also has twice at the top of the page, and so G once (once also Κολοσοαεις). In the subscription א A B* C K 17 agree in Κολασσαεις, while B2 D G L P have Κολοσσαεις.
In ver. 2 א B D G L have Κολοσσαις, K P 17, al. Κολασσαις (A non liquet).
The versions also vary. Syr. (both) have א, with Boh., but Vulg. and Arm. o.
Coins give the spelling with o, and for the name of the people Κολοσηνων or Κολοσσηνων. But the form with a appears in Polyaenus and in some MSS. of Herodotus and Xenophon. The latter may have been a provincial pronunciation and spelling. WH. and Lightfoot adopt a in the title, o in ver. 2; Tregelles has a in both places, as well as in the subscription (which WH. omit). Tischendorf preserves the correct spelling with o, remarking, “videtur Κολασσαι scriptura sensim in usum abisse. At inde non sequitur iam Paulum ita scripsisse.” As the heading did not proceed from the pen of St. Paul, this conclusion agrees practically with that of WH. and Lightfoot as to the spelling here.
1:1 Salutation. Παῦλος ἀπόστολος, κ.τ.λ. See Ephesians 1:1.
καὶ Τιμόθεος. Timothy’s name is joined with that of Paul also in 2 Cor. 1Th_2 Thess. Philemon. In Phil. and Philemon, however, the apostle proceeds in the singular, whereas here the plural is maintained throughout the thanksgiving.
ὁ ἀδελφός. This does not imply any official position (οὐκοῦν καὶ ἀπόστολος, Chrys.); it is the simplest title that could be employed to express Christian brotherhood. So it is used of Quartus, Romans 16:23; of Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1; and of Apollos, 1 Corinthians 16:12; and of an unnamed brother, 2 Corinthians 8:18, 2 Corinthians 12:18. Compare 2 Corinthians 9:3, 2 Corinthians 9:5.
2. τοῖς ἐν Κ. ἁγίοις καὶ πιστοῖς ἀδελφοῖς. ἁγίοις, as in all similar salutations, must be taken as a substantive. De Wette, however, and apparently Syr. and Vulg., connect it as an adjective with ἀδελφοῖς. πιστοῖς is more than “believing,” which would add nothing to ἁγίοις and ἀδελφοῖς. It is “true, steadfast.” Cf. Acts 16:15.
ἐν Χριστῷ. Closely connected with πιστοῖς ἀδ., but refers chiefly to πιστοῖς. Cf. πιστὸς διάκονος ἐν Κυρίῳ, Ephesians 6:21. Only in Christ were they “faithful brethren”; the article, therefore, is not required. ἐν Χρ. might, indeed, have been dispensed with; but it suits the formality of the introductory greeting.
After ἐν Χριστῷ, Ἰησοῦ is added in A D* G 17, Vulg., Boh., not in א B DeK L P, Syr-Harcl., Arm., etc. (Syr-Pesh has Ἰησοῦ before Χριστῷ).
It is remarkable that St. Paul’s earlier Epistles are addressed τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις; whereas here, as in Rom. and Eph., the address is to the saints and brethren. This can hardly be accidental. It certainly gives the address a more personal and less official aspect, and may have been adopted because the apostle had no personal relations with the heads of these Churches, to which he was personally unknown. It has been objected to this, that in 4:16 the Church of the Laodiceans is mentioned; and, again, that the Epistle to the Philippians, to whom St. Paul was personally known, is similarly addressed. As to the former objection, it may be fairly replied that to speak of his Epistle being read in the Church is very different from addressing it to the Church; and as to the second, although the word ἐκκλησία is not used in the address to the Phil., we have what may be regarded as an equivalent, σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις. It is hardly satisfactory to say that the disuse of ἐκκλησία in the address is characteristic of the later Epistles; for, first, this is not an explanation; and, secondly, the word is used in Philemon, τῇ κατʼ οἶκόν σου ἐκκλησίᾳ.
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν = Ephesians 1:2, where there follows Καὶ Κυρίον Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
These words are added here also in א A C G and most MSS. Boh., Arm., also P in a different order, Ἰησοῦ Χρ. τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν. The words are absent from B D K L 17, al. Amiat., Fuld.., Syr-Pesh (text). Origen and Chrysostom both expressly attest the absence of the words. The latter, after quoting the preceding words, observes: τὸν υἱὸν ἐσίγησεν καὶ οὐ προσέθηκεν ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐπιστολαῖς· καὶ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The addition has plainly come in by assimilation to Eph.
3-8. Thanksgiving for their faith and love, passing on into the assurance that the gospel they were taught by Epaphras was the true universal gospel, which proved its genuineness by the fruit it produced, both among them and in all the world
3. εὐχαριστοῦμεν. In all St. Paul’s Epistles to Churches, with the exception of that to the Galatians, the Salutation is followed by thanksgiving. In Eph. as in 2 Cor. this is in the form εὐλογητὸς ὁ Θεός, elsewhere in some form of εὐχαριστῶ. On the verb, see Ephesians 1:15.
τῷ Θεῷ πατρί. We have the same form of words in 3:15; elsewhere, however, always ὁ Θεὸς καὶ πατήρ.
Here also καί is inserted by א A C2 Dc K L P, and apparently all other MSS. except those mentioned below; Vulg., Arm., Theodoret, al.
It is wanting in B C* D* G, Chrys. (D* G Chrys. have τῷ πατρί). Old Latin, Syr. (both), Boh., Eth.
Tisch. 8th ed. (in deference to א), restores καί, which he had omitted in 7th ed. (WH. and RV. omit). Lachm. also omits, but reads τῷ with D* F G. Meyer thinks καί was omitted in a mechanical way after the preceding Θεοῦ πατρός.
It is observable that in 3:17, א A agree with B C in omitting καί, while D F G, with K L and nearly all others, as well as Syr-Pesh, insert it. The evidence for the omission there is decidedly preponderant. It is less so here, yet perhaps decisive enough when we consider how certainly the scribes would stumble at the unusual form. The reading τῷ πατρί appears to be another attempt to get rid of it. Compare 1:12 below, where א 37, with other authorities, have Θεῷ before πατρί.
εὐχαριστοῦμεν … πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν προσευχόμενοι. It is questioned whether πάντοτε is to be joined with εὐχαριστοῦμεν or with προσευχ. The latter connexion is adopted by the Greek commentators, also by Bengel, Olshausen, Alford, Ellicott, etc. But Ephesians 1:16 is almost decisive for the other connexion, οὐ παύομαι εὐχαριστῶν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:2. προσευχ. is, in fact, a nearer definition of πάντοτε “We give thanks on your account always in our prayers,” or (as Meyer), “always when we pray for you.” “Always praying for you” would require the addition of words specifying the object of the prayer.
The reading varies between περί and ὑπέρ. The latter is read by B D* G 17, al., but A C Dc J K, with most MSS., have περί. ὑπέρ would readily be introduced from ver. 9, where there is no variant.
4. ἀκούσαντες τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Assigns the ground of his thanksgiving. He had heard from Epaphras, ver. 8. The addition of ἐν Χρ. Ἰης. as a more precise definition of πίστις, which of itself expresses only a psychological conception, is quite natural here, where St. Paul is addressing for the first time those who were unknown to him. So in Ephesians 1:15. In Romans 1:8 the specification of πίστις had preceded vv. 2, 3. The article is unnecessary, as πίστις ἐν Χρ. is one notion. See Eph. l.c.
καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην ἣν ἔχετε εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους.
ἣν ἔχετε is read in א A C D* G P 17 37 47, al. Old Latin, Vulg., Boh., Syr-Harcl., Arm. But Dc K L and most MSS. Chrys., Theod., Syr-Pesh have τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς, while B has τὴν ἀγάπην εἰς. The reading with ἣν ἔχετε might be a conformation to Philemon 1:5, while τὴν ἀγάπην τήν might be a conformation to Ephesians 1:15.
5. διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα. The Greek comm. and most moderns connect this with the words immediately preceding, “the love which ye have to all the saints.” ἀγαπᾶτέ, φησι, τοὺς ἁγίους οὐ διά τι ἀνθρώπινον ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ ἐλπίζειν τὰ μέλλοντα ἀγαθά, Theoph. The reasons alleged are—(1) the remoteness of εὐχαριστοῦμεν; (2) the following clause,ἣν προηκούσατε, suggests that the words διὰ τῆν ἐλπίδα describe the motives of the Colossians for welldoing, rather than the reasons of the apostle for thanksgiving; (3) in other Epistles the ground of thanksgiving is the spiritual state of the persons addressed; (4) εὐχαριστεῖν is never used with διά in the N.T.; and (5) the connexion with εὐχ. would break up the triad of graces which St. Paul delights in associating together. (So Meyer, Soden, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot.) (1), (2), (5) are considered by Lightfoot decisive. Yet surely there is something strange in assigning the future hope as the motive of Christian love. As Eadie observes, if the apostle had said that they loved one another because of the common hope which they had in heaven, or that this prospect of a joint inheritance deepened their attachments, the meaning might have been easily apprehended; but why the hope in itself should be selected as the prop of such love, we know not. Of all the graces, love has the least of self in its nature. Such passages as 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:9 f. are not analogous; for what creates a difficulty is not the mention of expected reward as a motive for action, but as a motive for love. As ἐλπίς here is not the grace of hope, but the object (τὴν ἀποκειμένην), reason (5) loses its force; as ἐλπίς does not mean the same thing as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, for example, it is quite natural that it should fall into a different connexion. Nor does there seem to be much weight in the second reason. The words ἣν προηκούσατε, κ.τ.λ., involve an appeal to the first teaching they had received, which was sound and full. This goes very well with εὐχαριστοῦμεν; but if the hope were described as the motive of their love, what appropriateness would there be in referring to their former instruction in it? As to (3) and (4), the clause ἀκούσαντες does imply that the ground of his thanksgiving was their faith and love; but it is consistent with this that what prompted him to feel thankful for these graces was the thought of the hope laid up for them, and hence with this connexion διά is not only admissible, but is alone suitable. The signification of εὐχαριστεῖν ὑπέρ (1 Corinthians 10:30; Ephesians 5:20) is not that required here. There is good reason, then, for Bengel’s interpretation: “ex spe patet, quanta sit causa gratias agendi pro dono fidei et amoris.” If ἣν ἔχετε be omitted the connexion with ἀγάπην is grammatically harsh.
Estius, De Wette, Olshausen, and others connect διὰ τὴν ἐλπ. with both πίστιν and ἀγάπην. This connexion is certainly awkward, and the sentiment not Pauline. Theodore Mops. connects the words with προσευχόμενοι.
ἐλπίς is clearly objective, as in Romans 8:24; Galatians 5:5.
τὴν ἀποκειμένην. The thought of the “hope,” i.e. the blessing hoped for, being already prepared is not expressed in this form by St. Paul elsewhere, except perhaps 1 Timothy 6:19, but is clearly put in 1 Peter 1:4, κληρονομίαν … τετηρημένην ἐν οὐρανοῖς. In substance it is involved in Php 3:20, and, indeed, in Matthew 6:20.
ἣν προηκούσατε. The προ- has reference, according to Meyer, to the future fulfilment. Bengel understands it simply as “antequam scriberem,” but the context rather suggests that the reference is to their early teaching in contrast to the later errors. The apostle now is not teaching them anything new, but desires to confirm them in the true doctrine which they had already learned. Compare vv. 7, 23 and 5:6. Hence also the mention of the truth of the gospel in the following words:—
ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθείας τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. That εὐαγγελίου is the principal notion here is shown by the participle παρόντος, which agrees with it, and not with ἀληθείας. And this is confirmed by the connexion of ἐλπίς and εὐαγγέλιον in ver. 23. The genitive ἀληθείας then qualifies λόγος, and this compound notion is explained by εὐαγγ. ἡ ἀλ. τοῦ εὐαγγ., Galatians 2:5, Galatians 2:14, is not exactly parallel, because there the formula has a direct polemical purpose. Here the point is that ὁ λόγος τοῦ εὐαγγ. is a λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας in opposition to those false teachers who would fain complete it by their παραδόσεις, 2:8, which were κενὴ ἀπάτη.
6. τοῦ παρότος εἰς ὑμᾶς. A quite classical use of παρεῖναι as implying “has come and remains.” οὐ παρεγένετο καὶ ἀπέστη, ἀλλʼ ἔμεινε καὶ ἔστιν ἐκεῖ, Chrys.; cf. Acts 12:20. It needs, then, no further addition.
καθὼς καὶ ἐν παντὶ τῷ κόσμῳ ἐστὶν καρποφορούμενον. παντὶ τῷ κόσμῳ here is not an insignificant hyperbole, but intimates the catholicity of the true gospel in opposition to the merely local character of false gospels; compare ver. 23.
Tischendorf, Exo_8, places a comma after ἐστίν. This construction escapes the irregularity involved in the doubling back of the comparison by the second καθώς. The comparison then may be either as to the mere fact of the presence of the gospel, so that ἐστίν = “exists,” or as to the contents of it, which agrees better with the designation of the gospel as λόγος τῆς ἀληθειας. The readers then are assured that the gospel which has come to and remains with them is the same as in the whole world; they need have no fear that it was imperfect; it is the false teachers that are not in agreement with the universal gospel. So Soden. But most comm. connect ἐστί with καρποφορούμενον καὶ αὐξ.
καί is prefixed to ἐστίν in Dbc G K L, etc. Old Lat., Vulg., Syr. (both), Chyrs.
It is absent from א A B C D* 17, al. Boh., Arm., Eth. The evidence against it, therefore, is quite decisive. It was doubtless added to simplify the construction, and is defended on the ground of this simplicity by Olshausen and Eadie. Ellicott, who had previously hesitated, thinking that it might have been omitted to modify the hyperbole, omitted the word in his 5th ed.
καρποφορούμενον. The middle voice is not elsewhere found; its force here is probably intensive, denoting the inherent energy, while the active (which is used below, ver. 10) would rather denote external diffusion (Lightfoot). Verbs like σιδηροφορεῖσθαι, τυμπανοφορεῖσθαι are not parallel, since in them φορεῖσθαι means “to wear.”
Those comm. who connect ἐστίν with the participles explain this periphrastic present as expressing continuity of action, as in 2 Corinthians 9:12, οὐ μόνον ἐστὶν προσαναπληροῦσα, κ.τ.λ., and Phil: 2:26, ἐπιποθῶν ῃν.
καὶ αὐξανόμενον rests on preponderant evidence, א A B C D* G I, Vss. Rec. omits, with Dbc K, etc.
αὐξανόμενον doubtless refers to the outward expansion, as καρποφ. to the personal, inner working. “The gospel is not like those plants which exhaust themselves in bearing fruit and wither away. The external growth keeps pace with the reproductive energy,” Lightfoot. Observe the order; first the preservation of the gospel amongst those who received it, and after that its extension to new circles. Both are to the Colossians a proof of its truth and sufficiency.
καθὼς καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν, so that they did not come behind their brethren in this respect.
If we connect the participles with ἐστίν, the comparison is very curiously doubled back on itself. Moreover, as Olshausen observes (defending the addition of καί after κόσμῳ), the words καθὼς καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν do not fit the beginning of the proposition, καθὼς καὶ ἐν παντὶ τῷ κόσμῳ, since the Colossians are, of course, included with the rest in the whole world. Lightfoot explains the irregularity thus: “The clause reciprocating the comparison is an afterthought springing out of the apostle’s anxiety not to withhold praise where praise can be given,” and he compares 1 Thessalonians 4:1 (not Rec.),παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν Κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ ἵνα, καθὼς παρελάβετε παρʼ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν Θεῷ, καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε, ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον. But that passage is not really parallel; for καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε is entirely distinct from καθὼς παρελάβετε, and is a courteous admission that they were actually walking as they had been taught. Here there is nothing of the kind, and the difficulty (apart from that mentioned by Olshausen) is that we have the mere repetition,“in you as also in all the world, as also in you.” The difficulty, of course, disappears in the Rec. Text with the insertion of καί; or, since we are compelled to omit καί, with the adoption of the construction above referred to, as then the comparison in καθὼς καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν is with καρποφ. καὶ αὐξ.
ἀφʼ ἧς ἡμέρας, κ.τ.λ. To be closely joined with καθὼς καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν; the fruitfulness and growth began at once, so that it was independent of these later παραδόσεις.
ἠκούσατε καὶ ἐπέγνωτε τὴν χάριν. There is no occasion to regard τὴν χάριν as the object of the latter verb only (as Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Eadie understanding “it,” i.e. the gospel, as the object of ἠκούσατε). χάρις was the content of the gospel message, which is called τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς· χάριτος τοῦ Θεοῦ(Acts 20:24), and as such may be said to be heard. We can hardly, indeed, say, with Lightfoot, that St. Paul uses χάρις as a “synonyme for the gospel,” of which use he gives as instances 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 8:9, γινώσκετε τὴν χάριν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅτι διʼ ὑμᾶς ἐπτώχευσε πλούσιος ὤν. Here the word suggests a contrast with the false gospel, which was one of δόγματα (2:14). Compare Galatians 2:21, οὐκ ἀθετῶ τὴν χάριν τοῦ Θεοῦ.
ἐπέγνωτε implies not so much developed knowledge as active conscious recognition, or taking knowledge of; cf. Acts 3:10, Acts 3:4:13, Acts 3:22:24, 29, 27:39, 28:1; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Corinthians 1:14 (ἐπέγνωτε ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ μέρους).
ἐν ἀληθείᾳ. Even although the gospel was itself λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας, there was the possibility that as known by them it was imperfect; hence this is added to guard them against the error of the false teachers, who insisted on supplementing it by their philosophy (2:8, 28).
7. καθὼς ἐμάθετε ἀπὸ Ἐπαφρᾶ. This gives them a further assurance as to the source of their Christianity; the apostle gives his seal to the teaching of Epaphras, which conveyed the full gospel of the grace of God, so that having received this in truth as they did, they had no need to listen to strange teachers.
Epaphras appears from 4:12 to have been a Colossian; either a native, or now reckoned as an inhabitant of Colossae. From the present passage we gather that he was the founder of the Church there (compare the καθώς and ἀφʼ ἧς ἡμέρας.) He was at this time a fellow-prisoner of St. Paul (Philemon 1:23): or perhaps συναιχμάλωτος there only means that he was so constantly with St. Paul as practically to share his captivity. As the name is a shortened form of Epaphroditus, it was natural to conjecture that the Epaphroditus of Php 2:25 was the same person. But the names were common, occurring frequently in inscriptions; and as Epaphroditus appears to be in close connexion with the Philippians (whose ἀπόστολος he was), there is no sufficient ground for the identification.
τοῦ ἀγαπητοῦ συνδούλου ἡμῶν. So Tychicus (4:7) is called σύνδουλος, the servitude being, of course, to Christ. This designation appears intended to command high respect for Epaphras, who is thus placed as near as possible to the apostle.
ὅς ἐστι πιστὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν διάκονος τοῦ Χριστοῦ. See note on the reading. The reading ἡμῶν makes Epaphras a representative of St. Paul in preaching the gospel at Colossae; probably at the time when the apostle was dwelling for two years at Ephesus, at which time “all that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10). This would explain the attitude of authority which St. Paul assumes in this Epistle towards a Church which he had not himself seen.
διάκονος has clearly its general meaning “minister,” not the special sense “deacon,” as the genitive τοῦ Χριστοῦ shows. This designation of him as πιστὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, κ.τ.λ., serves still further to confirm the confidence of the Colossians in their first teacher. If ὑμῶν is read, ὑπέρ ὑμῶν would mean “for your benefit,” not “instead of you,” for there is no personal reference here, as in Philemon 1:13, ἵνα ὑπὲρ σοῦ μοι διακονῇ. The genitive τοῦ Χριστοῦ is, indeed, decisive of this, for this implies that his ministry was one of spiritual benefit, which would not be suitable to a messenger from the Colossians to St. Paul.
There are two rather important varieties of reading in ver. 7. The Rec. Text has καί after καθώς on comparatively weak authority, viz. Do 37 47 K L Syr-Harcl., Arm., against א A B C D * G 17 P Vulg., SyrPesh1;, and other Vers. καί was doubtless added from assimilation to the two preceding καθὼς καί. καθὼς ἐμάθετε without καί can only mean that Epaphras was their first teacher.
The other important variation is between ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν and ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, and with respect to this there is a remarkable conflict between MSS. and versions. ἡμῶν is read by א* A B D * G.
Ambrosiaster (Comm. “qui eis ministravit gratiam Christi vice Apostoli”).
ὐμῶν by אc C Dbc K L P and most MSS.
The versions, however, are nearly all on the side of ὑμῶν, Vulg., Syr. (both), Boh., Arm., Eth., Goth., Chrys. also interprets ὑμῶν. The other Greek comm. are silent as to the word in their comments, and the reading in their texts, which is ὑμῶν, may be due to editors. Of the old Latin, d (and e) with f have “vobis” (against the Greek D F), while g has “nobis” (agreeing with G).
Internal evidence favours ἡμῶν. First, “for your benefit” would hardly be expressed by ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, but either by ὑμῶν, cf. διάκονον περιτομῆς, Romans 15:8, or ὑμῖν, as in 1 Peter 1:12. The form of expression does not indicate that any emphasis on “for your benefit” is intended, as if the apostle meant to impress on the Col. that whatever Epaphars had done was for their good. Secondly, it is easy to understand how ὑμῶν might be substituted for ἡμῶν partly on account of the recurrence of ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν in the neighbouring context (vv. 3, 9) and in connexion with this, from the significance of ἡμῶν not being understood. The two words being pronounced alike, these circumstances would naturally lead to ὑμῶν being written by mistake in the first instance, and the second to its preference when both readings were deliberately compared. On the other hand, Meyer thinks that ἡμῶν is due to the influence of the preceding ἡμῶν and the following ἡμῶν. Editors differ in their judgment; Lachm., Treg., WH., Lightfoot, RV., Barry, Moule adopt ἡμῶν, ὑμῶν being given a place in the margin by WH., RV.
On the other hand, Tisch., Meyer, Ell. Eadie, Soden prefer ὑμῶν. Eadie in support of this points out that ἡμῶν would include Timothy. But there is no reason why Timothy should be so pointedly excluded, as would have been the case had ἐμοῦ been used, any more than with συνδούλου and δηλώσας.
8. ὁ καὶ δηλώσας ἡμῖν τὴν ὑμῶ ἀγάπην ἐν πνεύματι, viz. their love to St. Paul in particular. This appears clear from ἡμῖν τὴν ὑμῶν, as well as from the subsequent διὰ τοῦτο Καὶ ἡμεῖς. The words may be regarded as a courteous justification of the didactic tone which the apostle adopts, and perhaps also as an indication that Epaphras had not made any complaint of the Colossians. Meyer (reading ὑμῶν) understands love to Epaphras; Ellicott, brotherly love.
ἐν πνεύματι expresses the ground of their love, which was not individual sympathy, personal acquaintance, or the like, but belonged to the sphere of the Holy Spirit’s influence. It was οὐ σαρκική, ἀλλὰ πνευματική, Oecum. Compare ὅσοι οὐχ ἑωράκασι τὸ πρόσωπόν μου ἐν σαρκί (2:7).
9-12. Prayer for their advancement in spiritual knowledge, not speculative, but practical
9. Διὰ τοῦτο. On account, namely, of all that has preceded from ver. 4; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:4. Chrys. strikingly observes: καθάπερ ἐν τοῖς ἀγῶσιν ἐκείνους μάλιστα διεγείρομεν τοὺς ἐγγὺς ὄντας τῆς νικῆς· οὕτω δὴ καὶ ὁ Παῦλος τούτους μάλιστα παρακαλεῖ τοὺς τὸ πλέον κατωρθωκότας. Cf. Ephesians 1:15. καὶ ἡμεῖς, “we also,” by its position emphasises the transition from the conduct of the Colossians to its effect on the apostle and his friends.
ἀφʼ ἧς ἡμέρας ἠκούσαμεν echoes the similar expression in ver. 6. So the apostle’s prayer was, as it were, an echo of their faith. An encouragement to them to proceed as they had begun.
οὐ πανόμεθα προσευχόμενοι. Cf. Ephesians 1:16. Called by Ellicott an “affectionate hyperbole”; yet it is hardly to be called a hyperbole, for it would at no moment be true to say that he had ceased to pray for them. It is not asserted that the expression of the prayer was uninterrupted. As they did not cease to grow and bear fruit, so he did not cease to pray. Cf. Acts 5:42, οὐκ ἐπαύοντο διδάσκοντες, κ.τ.λ., and contra, Acts 13:10, οὐ παύσῃ διαστρέφων, and 1 Samuel 12:23. καὶ αἰτούμενοι, κ.τ.λ., adds the special request to the more general προσευχόμενοι. Compare Mark 11:24, ὅνα προσεύχεσθε καὶ αἰτεῖσθε.
ἵνα after words like θέλειν, αἰτεῖσθαι, signifies merely the purport of the wish or prayer; cf. Php 1:9, where τοῦτο as object of προσεύχομαι is explained by ἵνα πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν. For the accusative, compare Php 1:11, πεπληρωμένοι καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης, “that ye may be perfected in,” Oltramare. ἐπίγνωσιν, stronger than γνῶσις: see 1 Corinthians 13:12. The difference, however, seems to be rather that the former word implies a more active exercise of a faculty, and hence lends itself better to the expression of practical knowledge. This distinction agrees well with Romans 1:21, Romans 1:28. Compare on the verb, ver. 6. Lightfoot remarks that ἐρίγνωσις is a favourite word in the later Epistles of St. Paul; but, in fact, although it occurs four times in this Epistle and twice in Eph., it is used only once in Phil. (1:9), whereas it is thrice used in Rom. In the later Epistles, however, it is always used in reference to spiritual knowledge. See Trench, Syn. lxxv.
τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ. The following context, vv. 10-12, shows that what is meant is the Divine will as to their conduct, as in 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:5:18; Romans 12:2; not the χάρις mentioned as the object of their knowledge in ver. 6 (διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ προσάγεσθαι ἡμᾶς αὐτῷ, οὐκέτι διʼ ἀγγέλων, Chrys., etc.). The knowledge which is here meant is, in fact, the consequence of that which is there attributed to them. Knowing the χάρις, they should know also that what God required of them was nothing but conduct corresponding thereto. This in opposition to the false teachers and the doctrines of their φιλοσοφία.
ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει πνευματικῇ. “In all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” ἐν introducing the manner in which the πληρωθῆναι is carried out, and πάησͅ and πνευματικῇ being taken with both substantives. To connect πν. with συνέσει alone would be to give the inappropriate meaning, “wisdom of all kinds and spiritual understanding.”
On σοφία see Ephesians 1:8, where the words are ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει. These three, σοφία, φρόνησις, σύνεσις, are reckoned by Aristotle as the three intellectual ἀρεταί or excellences (Eth. N. i. 13), the first being the most general and thorough, embracing the knowledge of first principles as well as that of particulars; while he distinguishes φρόνησις as the practical knowledge of particulars from σύνεσις, which is critical; ἡ φρόνησις ἐπιτακτική ἐστιν … ἡ δὲ σύνεσις κριτική (Eth N. vi. 7. ii). Demosth. (269. 24) defines σύνεσις, ᾗ τὰ καλὰ καὶ αἰσχρὰ διαγνώσκεται, which agrees with Aristotle’s κριτική. It would appear, therefore, that σύνεσις was the faculty of deciding what was right or wrong in particular cases, while σοφία apprehended the general principles. But σύνεσις is used by St. Paul in a more general sense; see Ephesians 3:4; cf. Luke 2:47. The two words frequently occur together in the O.T., e.g. Exodus 31:3; Isaiah 29:14; Eccles. 14:20; (1 Corinthians 1:19 is a quotation), and the corresponding adjectives in Matthew 11:25.
πνευματικῇ, given by the Spirit. Compare 1 Corinthians 12:8, ᾧ μὲν διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος δίδοται λόγος σοφίας.
The word is emphatic in this position, marking the contrast with the false teaching, which had λόγον σοφίας, a pretence of wisdom (2:23) which really proceeded from ὁ νοῦς τῆς σαρκός (2:18). We have the apostle’s σοφία σαρκική, 2 Corinthians 1:12; ἀνθρωπίνη, 1 Corinthians 2:5, 1 Corinthians 2:13; τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, 1 Corinthians 2:6, etc.
10. περιπατῆσαι ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ Κυρίου. A similar expression occurs 1 Thessalonians 2:12, ἀξίως τοῦ Θεοῦ: and Ephesians 4:1, τῆς κλήσεως, “in a manner worthy of,” i.e. befitting your connexion with Him. The infinitive expresses the consequence (and proof) of πληρωθῆναι, ἀεὶ τῇ πίστει συζεύγνυσι τὴν πολιτείαν, Chrys.
If ὑμᾶς after περιπατῆσαι were genuine (Text. Rec.), the infinitive might conceivably be regarded as dependent on προσευχόμενοι; but it is certainly spurious, being omitted by א* A B C D* G 17, al. Clem., Boh. It is added in אc Dc K L P, most MSS. Chrys., Theodoret, Arm.
εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκείαν. I.e. “so as to please God in every way.” Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:5, πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέκειν Θεῷ. In classical authors ἀρεσκεία has generally an unfavourable sense, “obsequiousness,” and it is so defined both in Eth. Eudem. (τὸ λίαν πρὸς ἠδονήν, ii. 3) and by Theophrastus (Char. 5). Polybius uses it especially of trying to gain the favour of a sovereign. Similarly Philo, πάντα καὶ λέγειν καὶ πράττειν ἐσπούδαζεν εἰς ἀρεσκείαν τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ βασιλέως (i. p. 34), but he also uses it of pleasing God. The ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν is disavowed by the apostle in Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; compare ch. 3:22. The verb is used, however, without any unfavourable connotation, in Romans 15:2 (τῷ πλησίον ἀρεσκέτω) and elsewhere.
ἐν παντὶ ἔρλῳ ἀγαθῷ qualifies the following, as ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει qualifies the following participle. Most commentators separate καρποφοροῦντες and αὐξανόμενοι; but then αὐξ. τῇ ἐπιγνώσει becomes tautologous with πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν, ver. 9. Moreover, the combination καρποφορούμενον καὶ αὐξ. in ver. 6 seems to require that the two participles here also should be taken together. What is true of the gospel in the world and amongst the Colossians is also to hold good of those whose lives are inspired by its teaching. The participles refer to the logical subject of περιπατῆσαι, not to πληρωθῆτε (Beza, Bengel). Cf. Ephesians 4:2. τῇ ἐπίγνωσε ιτοῦ Θεοῦ, “by the knowledge of God,” instrumental dative, a frequent use of the dative with αὐξαν. (So Alford, Eadie, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Soden, RV.mg.) The fruitfulness and growth are wrought through the ἐπίγνωσις τοῦ Θεοῦ, and this again results from the practice of his will, ver. 9.
Some commentators take the dative as one of reference, as in Romans 4:20 (?), “increasing in the knowledge of God” (Moule, RV. text), which, after πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπιγν., ver. 9, would be somewhat of a tautology.
τῇ ἐπιγνώσει is the reading of א A B C D* G P 17, al. Amiat., Arm. al. ἐν is prefixed in אc 47, and a few others, Chrys., Old Lat. and Vulg-Clem. have “in scientia Dei,” which is doubtful. Text. Rec. has είς τήν ἐπίγνωσιν, with Dc K L most MSS., Theodoret, Theoph. Oec. This appears to be an attempt to simplify the construction. Meyer, on the contrary, regards the dative as an explanation of the more difficult (?) είς τὴν ἐπ., which, he thinks, is also confirmed by the parallelism in structure of the other participial clauses, which conclude with a definition introduced by εἰς. He understands it as “in respect of,” that is, always more fully attaining to a knowledge of God, εἰς indicating the final reference, or direction of the growth, comparing Ephesians 4:15 and 2 Peter 1:8. As to the comparative difficulty of the readings, Alford’s judgment, that the simple dative “is by far the most difficult of the three readings,” is surely more correct than Meyer’s. είς τὴν ἐπίγν. would, in fact, present no difficulty to the ordinary reader.
11. ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει δυναμούμενοι. Theodoret takes this ἐν as instrumental, τῇ θείᾳ ῥοπῇ κρατυνόμενοι, and so Eadie, Ellicott, and Meyer. “Strengthened with all (every form of) strength,” Ell. (a translation which is itself ambiguous).
It is simpler and more natural to understand ἐν π. δ. as “in (i.e. in the matter of) all strength” (Alford, Lightfoot). It thus corresponds with ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ and ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ, which are both subjective. δυναμούμενοι, present, “becoming strengthened.” The simple verb is not used elsewhere by St. Paul, who, however, employs ἐνδυναμοῦσθαι several times. But δυναμοῦσθαι is in Hebrews 11:34, and B has it in Ephesians 6:10. It is frequently used by the Greek translators of the O.T., but is not a classical word. The connected virtues here, ὑπομονή and μακροθυμία, indicate that what is referred to in this clause is steadfastness under trial, as the former referred to active conduct.
κατὰ τὸ κρὰτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ. “According to the might of His glory.” Strength is supplied in a manner corespondent with the power which belongs to the glory of God, i.e. His majesty as manifested to men. Compare Ephesians 1:19. The rendering of AV. (Beza, etc.), “His glorious power,” is sufficiently refuted by αὐτοῦ. Thomas Aquinas understands by “His glory,” “His Son Christ Jesus.” But although the Son may be called ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ, it would not be intelligible to use ἡ δόξα αὐτοῦ as a substitute for His name. Lightfoot remarks that κράτος in N.T. is “applied solely to God”; but see Hebrews 2:14 τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου, τοῦτʼ ἔστι τὸν διάβολον.
εἰς πᾶσαν ὑπομονῆν καὶ μακροθυμίαν. “To all endurance and longsuffering.” “Patience” is a very inadequate rendering of ὑπομονή, which includes perseverance or steadfast continuance in a course of action. Thus we have καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ, Luke 8:15; ὑπομονῆ ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ, Romans 2:7; διʼ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν, Hebrews 12:1. Even the ὑπομονή of Job, to which James refers, was by no means the uncomplaining endurance of suffering to which we give the name of “patience.” Job was, in fact, the very reverse of “patient”; but he maintained his faith in God and his uprightness in spite of his sore trials. μακροθυμία comes much nearer to our notion of “patience” (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4); not so much, however, patience under suffering, but “the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong.” It is the opposite of ὀξυθυμία. Chrysostom distinguishes the two words thus: μακροθυμεῖ τις πρὸς ἐκείνους οὓς δυνατὸν καὶ ἀμύνασθαι· ὑπομένει δὲ οὓς οὑ δύναται ἀμύνασθαι; but this, though correct as to μακροθυμεῖ, is clearly inadequate for ὑπομένει.
11, 12. μετὰ χαρᾶς εὐχαριστοῦντες. μετὰ χαρᾶς is joined by many comm. to the preceding (Theodoret, Olsh., De W., Alf., Eadie, Lightfoot, RV.). In defence of this it is said that εὐχαριστεῖν of itself implies joyfulness, so that μετὰ χ. if attached to it would be flat and unmeaning; also that by joining the words with εὐχ. we lose the essential idea of joyful endurance. Lightfoot, quoting Jam 1:2, Jam 1:3, πᾶσαν χαράν ἡγήσασθε … ὅταν πελρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πιστέως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν, remarks that this parallel points to the connexion with the preceding, and adds that the emphatic position of the words if connected with εὐχ. cannot be explained. It may be replied that εὐχαριστεῖν does not necessarily imply joy. See, for example, 1 Corinthians 14:18, “I thank God, I speak with tongues more than you all,” 10:30; Colossians 3:17. χαρᾶς is so far from being flat or unmeaning, that without it εὐχαριστοῦντες would be too weak. The idea of joyful endurance is not lost when the prayer passes from endurance to joyful thanksgiving; and the emphatic position of the words is sufficiently explained by the writer’s desire to emphasise this characteristic of their thanksgiving with special reference to the trials implied in ὑπομονή and μακροθυμία. The words thus acquire greater significance than if they slipped in as it were after μακροθυμίαν. The connexion with εὐχαριστοῦντες is also favoured by the structure of the preceding clauses, each of which commences with a defining adjunct. This connexion is adopted by Chrys., Theoph., Oecum., also Ellicott, Meyer, Soden, Lachm., Tisch.
In any case εὐχ. is not to be connected with οὐ παυόμεθα, as Chrys., Theoph., al., which unnaturally separates this clause from the preceding, making them parenthetical. This interpretation was suggested by the reading ἡμᾶς: but even if that is correct, the transition from the second person to the first is quite in St. Paul’s manner; cf. 2:12, 2:13.
τῷ Πατρί. The designation of God thus absolutely as ὁ Πατήρ, when Christ has not been named immediately before (as in Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:18; Acts 1:4, Acts 1:7, Acts 1:2:33), is remarkable. But we have τοῦ Κυπίου in ver. 10, and, what is perhaps more to the point, τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ in ver. 13.
א 37 (G, Θεω τω πατρι), Vulg-Clem., Boh. al. prefix Θεῷ πατρί.
τῷ ἱκανώσαντι ὑμᾶς. “Who qualified you,” or “made you competent.” i.e. given you a title. The same verb occurs 2 Corinthians 3:6 (only). ὃς καὶ ἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης, “qualified us to be ministers,” cf. ib. ver. 5. The adjective ἱκανός is of frequent occurrence in the N.T., always with the idea of reaching to a certain standard, “sufficient,” and so when time or quantity is in question, “considerable.” See Mark 15:15; Luke 22:38, ἱκανόν ἐστι: Acts 22:6, φῶς ἱκανόν: 2 Corinthians 2:16, πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός: 2 Timothy 2:2, οἵτινες ἱκανοὶ ἔσονται καὶ ἑτέρους διδάξαι. It does not mean “dignus,” “worthy,” although with a negative that translation is not unsuitable in Matthew 3:11 Matthew 3:8:8. Here, then, ἱκάνωσεν is not “dignos fecit,” Vulg., but “idoneos fecit.”
There is an important variety of reading. For ἱκανώσαντι (which is read by א A C Dc K L P most MSS., Vulg., Boh., Syr. (both), Chrys., etc.) we have καλέσαντι in D* G 17 8o, Goth., Arm., Eth., also Didymus (once), Ambrosiaster; while B has καλέσαντι καὶ ἱκανώσαντι, which is adopted by Lachm., but appears to be a combination of both readings. The confusion between ΤΩΙΙΚΑΝΩςΑΝΤΙ and ΤΩΙΚΑΛΕςΑΝΤΙ would be easy, and the latter word would naturally occur to a copyist.
ὐμᾶς is the reading of א B 4 23 80 115, Amiat., Syr-Pesh marg. Eth., Didymus, Theoph., Ambrosiaster.
ἡμᾶς. A C D G K L P most MSS., Vulg-Clem., Fuld.., Syr Pesh and Harcl text, Chrys., Theodoret, etc.
Internal evidence seems rather to favour ὑμᾶς. The natural tendency of scribes would be to generalise such a statement, and this would be assisted by ἡμᾶς which presently follows. On the other hand, it would be quite natural for St. Paul to enforce the exhortation involved in his prayer by such a personal application. In the next sentence, where he passes to a direct dogmatic statement, he naturally and of course uses ἡμᾶς. (Yet P, al. Amiat., Goth. have ὑμᾶς there also.) Compare Ephesians 4:32, Ephesians 5:2. ὑμᾶς is adopted here by Tisch., WH., Soden, and is given a place in the margin by Tregelles, Lightfoot, RV.
εἰς τὴν μερίδα τοῦ κλήρου, “for, i.e. to obtain, the portion of the lot.” Compare Psalm 15:5, Κύριος μερὶς τῆς κληρονομίας μου. Κλῆρος (pp. “a lot”) is not synonymous with κληρονομία, it does not designate the whole, but the allotted part; cf. Acts 8:21, οὐκ ἔστι σοι μερὶς οὐδὲ κλῆρος: 26:18, κλῆρον ἐν τοῖς ἡγιασμένοις. What is a μερίς in reference to the whole is a κλῆρος in reference to the possessor. The genitive, then, is one of apposition, “the portion which consists in the lot” (Lightfoot, Soden). It is, however, possible to understand it as partitive, “to have a share in the κλῆρος and so most comm. Chrysostom observes: σιὰ τί κλῆρον καλεῖ; δεικνὺς ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἀπὸ κατορθωμάτων οἰκείων βασιλείας τυγχάνει, referring to Luke 17:10. Compare also Luke 12:32, εὐδόκησεν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν δοῦναι ὑμῖν τὴν βασιλείαν.
ἐν τῷ φωτί. Chrys., Oec., Theoph. followed by Meyer, al., connect with ἱκανώσαντι, “by the light,” ἱκανοῦν ἐν τῷ φωτί being nothing else but καλεῖν εἰς τὸ φῶς (1 Peter 2:9) regarded in its moral efficacy, the result of which is that men are φῶς ἐν Κυρίῳ (Ephesians 5:8). This light has power, it is the light of life (John 8:12); has its weapons (Romans 13:12); produces fruit (Ephesians 5:9), etc.; and without it men were incapable of partaking in the kingdom of Christ. But φῶς is not the means, but the result; and, moreover, the distance of ἐν τῷ φωτί from ἱκαν. forbids the connexion, for there is no such emphasis on the words as to account for their position. It is the deliverance that is the thought dwelt on, not the means. It is better to connect the word with τὴν μερίδα, κ.τ.λ. (Alf., Lightfoot), or, if with one of the three substantives, with κλήρου, which has a local sense (Ellicott, Soden). Thus ἐν τῷ φωτί = “in the kingdom of light.” Compare 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 21:24. κλῆρος ἐν τῷ φωτί, then, is equivalent to the ἐλπὶς ἀποκειμένη ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, φῶς being here chosen because the apostle had already in his thoughts the representation of the natural condition of men as σκότος. There is nothing, therefore, in the objection, that if this were the sense intended ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς would have been used, or ἐν τῇ ζωῇ, or the like. Eadie’s interpretation, “the inheritance which consists in light,” is untenable, and is certainly not supported by his examples of κλῆρος ἐν from Acts 8:21, Acts 26:18.
13ff. From the prayer for their increase in knowledge, St. Paul goes on to give them positive instruction which will be a safeguard against the false teaching which threatens them. They have already been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, and it is in Him only that they have redemption.
13. ὃς ἐρρύσατο (ἐρύσατο, B* G P Lightf.) ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ σκότους. “Who rescued us from the power of darkness.” ἐρρύσατο, δεικνὺς ὅτι ὣς αἰχμάλωτοι ἐταλαιπωρούμεθα. Theoph. ἐξουσία (from ἔξεστι), properly means “liberty of action,” as in 1 Corinthians 9:5; hence in relation to others, “authority,” generally “delegated authority” (but not always; see Judges 1:25). Lightfoot, following Wetstein, maintains that the word here means “arbitrary power, tyranny.” But the instances he cites seem quite insufficient to support this. In Demosth., for example, De Falsa Leg. p. 428, τὴν ἄγαν ταύτην ἐξουσίαν, it is the word ἄγαν that introduces the idea of excess, just as we might speak of the “excessive exercise of authority.” From the etymology of the word it is applicable, whether the ἐξεῖναι is assumed or rightfully derived. Whatever its use, however, in Plutarch or other writers, the usage of the N.T. gives no support to Lightfoot’s view. It is a word of very frequent occurrence (being found nearly one hundred times), and always in the simple sense of “authority” (abstract or concrete). If the “idea of disorder is involved” in ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ σκότους here and in Luke 22:53, it is suggested by σκότους, not by ἐξουσία. When Chrysostom, after explaining τῆς ἐξουσίας by τῆς τυραννίδος, adds: χαλεπὸν· καὶ τὸ ἁπλῶς εἶναι ὑπὸ τῷ διαβόλῳ· τὸ δὲ καὶ μετʼ ἐξουσίας, τοῦτο χαλεπώτερον, his meaning seems to be: “It is hard to be simply under the power of the devil; but that he should also have authority is still harder.” This gives much more force to his words. That ἐξουσια is not opposed to βασιλεία, as an arbitary tyranny to a well-ordered sovereignty, see Revelation 12:10, ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ Χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ. The whole passage is strikingly parallel to Acts 26:18, τοῦ ἐπιοτρέψαι ἀπὸ σκότους εἰς φῶς καὶ τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ Σατανᾶ ἐπὶ τὸν Θεόν, τοῦ λαβεῖν αὐτοὺς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν καὶ κλῆρον ἐν τοῖς ἡγιασμένοις. σκότος here is not to be regarded as personified as if it were equivalent to “the devil” (Augustine); it is rather the characteristic and ruling principle of the region in which they dwelt before conversion to Christ.
καὶ μετέστησεν. The verb is appropriate, being that which is employed by classical writers to signify the removal of whole bodies of men. Yet it is doubtful whether such an idea is present here; cf. Plato, Rep. vii. p. 518 A, ἔκ τε φωτὸς εἰς σκότος μεθιοσταμένων καὶ ἐκ σκότους εἰς φῶς.
τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ. Not of angels, as the false teachers would have it. ὑπὸ τὸν κληρόνομον ἐσμέν; οὐχ ὑπὸ τοὺς οἰκέτας Severianus.
τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ. Augustine understands this as a genitive “auctoris.” “Caritas quippe Patris … nihil est quam ejus ipsa natura atque substantia … ac per hoc filius caritatis ejus nullus est alius quam qui de ejus substantia est genitus” (De Trin. xv. 19). He is followed by Olshausen and Lightfoot. But such a form of expression has no analogy in the N.T. Love is not the “substantia” or “nature” of God, but not the generation of a person.
Theodore of Mopsuestia interpreted the exepression in an opposite way: υἱὸν ἀγάπης αὐτὸν ἐκάλεσεν ὡς οὐ φύσει τοῦ Πατρὸς ὄντα υἱὸν ἀλλʼ ἀλάπῃ τῆς υἱοθεσίας ἀξιωθέτα τούτων. But an explanation of the nature of the Sonship would be alien to the context. The simplest interpretation is, “the sun who is the object of His love.” It corresponds exactly with Ephesians 1:6, ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν, κ. τ. λ., only is not merely bestowed upon Him, but makes Him its own. υἱὸς ὀδύνης μου in Genesis 35:18 (Meyer, Ellicortt) is not parallel.
Lightfoot thinks this interpretation destroys the whole force of the expression; but it is not so. It is because Christ is the central object of God’s love that who have been translated into His kingdom are assured of the promised blessings thereof.
14. ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν κ.τ.λ. = Ephesians 1:7.
The words διὰ τοῦ αὐματος of the Rec. Text are interpolation from Ephesians 1:7. They are found in many minuscules, and in Vulg-Clem., Demid., Syr-Pesh, Arm, Theodoret, Oec.; but apparently not in any uncial nor in the other versions.
For ἔχομεν B, Boh., Arab. (Lips, Bedwell) read ἔσχομεν. In the parallel passage, Ephesians 1:7, א* D* (not the Latin d) Boh., Eth., Iren. (transl.) have ἔσχομεν. Lightfoot thinks that this reading in Eph. was a harmonistic change to conform to the text which these authorities or their predecessors found in Col., and judges that ἔσχομεν. is possibly the correct reading here. WH. also give it a place in the margin. Yet it is hard to suppose that St. Paul wrote different tenses in the two places. Moreover, ἕσχομεν does not appear to be a suitable tense; if past time were to be expressed, we should expect ἐσχήκαμεν (cf. Romans 5:2). Weiss rejects it.
τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν. This expression does not occur in the Epistles of St. Paul elsewhere, but twice in his speeches in Acts (13:38, 26:18). In Ephesians 1:7 we have the equivalent, ἄφεσιν τῶν παραπτωμάτων; generally in the Epp. he prefers the more positive δικαιοσύνη. Lightfoot suggests that the studied precision in the definition of ἀπολύτρωσις points to some false conception of ἀπολ. put forward by the heretical teachers. Later Gnostics certainly did pervert the meaning of the term. Irenaeus relates of the Marcosians that they held εἶναι τελείαν ἀπολύτρωσιν αὐτὴν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ ἀρρήτου μεγέθους (1. 21. 4). Hippolytus says: λέγουσί τι φωνῇ ἀρρήτῳ ἐπιτιθέντες χεῖρα τῷ τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν λαβόντι, κ.τ.λ. (Haer. vi. 41). In the baptismal formula of the Marcosians are the words: εἰς ἕνωσιν καὶ ἀπολύτρωσιν καὶ κοινωνίαν τῶν δυνάμεων (Iren. i. 21. 3), where the last words “surely mean communion with the (spiritual) powers.” In an alternative formula, also given by Irenaeus, the words are εἰς λύτρωσιν ἀγγελικήν, which is explained by Clem. Alex. (Exc. Theod. P. 974) as ἣν καὶ ἄγγελοι ἔχουσιν. It is not likely that there was any historical connexion between these later Gnostics and the Colossian heretics; but, as Lightfoot observes, “the passages quoted will serve to show how a false idea of ἀπολύτρωσις would naturally be associated with an esoteric doctrine of angelic powers.”
15-17. The pre-eminence of Christ. In His essential nature He is above all created things, being the image of the invisible God; and more than that, all things have been created through Him and held together by Him
15. ὅς ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ.. On this verse Lightfoot has a valuable excursus. The arrangement of the passage 15-20 is twofold. We have, first, the relation of Christ to God and the world, 15-17; and, secondly, His relation to the Church, 18 ff. This division is indicated in the construction of the passage by the repeated ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ, 16, 19, introducing in each case the reason of the preceding statement. The relation to the Church begins with καὶ αὐτός, ver. 18.
Some commentators regard 15-17 as descriptive of the Word before the Incarnation, the Λόγος ἄσαρκος; and 18-20, of the Incarnate Word, Λόγος ἔνσαρκος. But this is inconsistent with ἔστιν, “is,” which shows that St. Paul is speaking of Christ in His present glorified state. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:4, τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ. The exalted Christ is now and continues to be what He was in His own nature as the Word before He became incarnate, John 17:5.
εἰκών is primarily an image (so in Rev. often, comp. Matthew 22:20). It differs from ὁμοίωμα, which expresses mere resemblance, whereas εἰκών implies representation of an archetype. αὔτη γάρ εἰκόνος φύσις μίμημα εἶναι τοῦ ἀρχετύπου (Greg. Naz. Orat. 30). It may be used, therefore, to express resemblance in some essential character. So in Hebrews 10:1, εἰκών is contrasted with σκιά. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:49, τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ χοϊκοῦ … τὴν εἰκ. τοῦ ἐπουρανίου: Romans 8:29, συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, an idea expressed again 2 Corinthians 3:18, τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα: and Colossians 3:10, τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον κατʼ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν. An allusion to Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:28. With the same allusion in 1 Corinthians 11:7 the apostle calls the man εἰκὼν καὶ δόξα θεοῦ. This last passage, in particular, forbids our adopting the view of some commentators, that the expression denotes “the eternal Son’s perfect equality with the Father in respect of His substance, nature, and eternity” (Ellicott, quoting Hil. De Syn. § 73: “perfectae aequalitatis significantiam habet similitudo.”). As Lightfoot remarks: “The idea of perfection does not lie in the word itself, but must be sought from the context, e.g. πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα, ver. 19.”
The expression is frequently used by Philo in reference to the Logos, e.g. τὸν ἀόρατον καὶ νοητὸν θεῖον λόγον εἰκόνα λέγει θεοῦ (De Mund. Op. 8, Opp. I. p. 6); λόγος δέ ἐστιν εἰκὼν Θεοῦ διʼ οὗ σύμπας ὁ κόσμος ἐδημιουργεῖτο (De Monarch. ii. 5, II. p. 225); and notably De Somniis, I. p. 656, καθάπερ τὴν ἀνθήλιον αὐγὴν ὡς ἣλιον οἱ μὴ δυνάμενοι τὸν ἤλιον αὐτὸν ἰδεῖν ὁρῶσι … οὓτως καὶ τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰκόνα, τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ λόγον, ὡς αὐτὸν κατανοοῦσι. Compare with this John 14:9, ὁ ἑωρακὼς ἐμὲ ἑώρακεν τὸν πατέρα.
Closely allied to εἰκών is χαρακτήρ, similarly applied to Christ in Hebrews 1:3, ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ.
τοῦ ἀοράτου. This word, which by its position also is emphatic, makes prominent the contrast with the εἰκών, the visibility of which is therefore implied. Compare Romans 1:20, τὰ ἀόρατα αὐτοῦ … τοῖς ποιήμασι νοούμενα καθορᾶται. Here Christ is the visible manifestation of the invisible. Chrysostom, indeed, and the Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers, argued that, as the archetype is invisible, so must the image be, ἡ τοῦ ἀοράτου εἰκὼν καὶ αὐτὴ ἀόρατος καὶ ὁμοίως ἀόρατος. But, as Lightfoot says, “the underlying idea of the εἰκών, and, indeed, of the λόγος generally, is the manifestation of the hidden.” Compare John 1:18, Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἐώρακε πώποτε· ὁ μονογενὴς ἐξηγήσατο, and 14:9, quoted above.
πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως. πρωτότοκος seems to have been a recognised title of the Messiah (see Hebrews 1:6), perhaps derived from Psalm 89:28, ἐγὼ πρωτότοκον θήσομαι αὐτόν, which is interpreted of the Messiah by R. Nathan in Shemoth Rabba, 19, fol. 118. 4. Israel is called God’s firstborn (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9), and hence the term was readily transferred to the Messiah, as the ideal representative of the race.
The genitive here is not partitive, as the following context clearly shows, for ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα. Setting this aside, commentators are not agreed as to the interpretation of πρωτότοκος. Eadie, Hofmann, al., understand it of sovereignty. Alford and Lightfoot, while giving the first place to the idea of priority to all creation, admit sovereignty over all creation as part of the connotation. So Theodore of Mops., οὐκ ἐπὶ χρόνον λέγεται μόνον· ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ ἐπὶ προτιμήσεως (but he interprets κτίσεως of the new creation). In defence of this interpretation of the word Ps. 88:28 is quoted, where after πρωτότοκον θήσομαι αὐτόν the explanation is added, ὑψηλὸν παρὰ τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τῆς γῆς: also what appears as a paraphrase of this, ἔθηκεν κληρόνομον πάντων, Hebrews 1:2: also Exodus 4:22; Romans 8:29, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς. Job 18:13, “the firstborn of death,” for “a fatal malady”; and Isaiah 14:30, “the firstborn of the poor,” for “the very poor,” are also referred to. Lightfoot quotes R. Bechai, who calls God Himself the firstborn of the world, and he concludes that the words signify “He stands in the relation of πρ. to all creation,” i.e. “He is the Firstborn, and as the Firstborn the absolute Heir and Sovereign Lord of all creation.”
The passages cited do not justify this interpretation. In Exodus 4:22 the word does not at all mean “sovereign,” which would be quite out of place even apart from the prefixed “my,” but “object of favour.” In Ps. 88:28, again, the added words, if taken as an explanation of πρωτ. simply, would go too far; but it is the πρωτότοκος of God, who is said to be “higher than the kings of the earth.” θήσομαι αὐτὸν πρ. is, “I will put him in the position of a firstborn,” and the following words are not an explanation of πρ., but state the result of God’s regarding him as such. Compare the English phrase, “making one an eldest son by will.” By no means would the words of the psalm justify such an expression as πρωτότοκος τῶν βασιλέων, unless it were intended to include the πρ amongst the βασιλεῖς. As the context forbids our including the πρωτότοκος here amongst the κτίσις, the interpretation leaves the genitive inexplicable. It is called “the genitive of reference”; but this is too vague to explain anything, as will appear by substituting either κόσμου for κτίσεως, or μέγας for πρωτ. Thus πρωτότοκος τοῦ κόσμον for “sovereign in relation to the world,” and μέγας πάσης κτίσεως are equally impossible. If by “genitive of reference” is meant “genitive of comparison,” then we come back to the relation of priority in πρῶτος. In fact, the genitive after πρ. must be 1st, genitive of possession, as “my firstborn,” 2nd, partitive, “firstborn” of the class, or 3rd, of comparison, as in John 1:15, πρῶτός μου ἦν. A moment’s reflection will show that Isaiah 14:30 is not parallel, for there “the firstborn of the poor”. is included in the class. In Job 18:13 (which, moreover, is poetical) the genitive is possessive, “death’s chief instrument.” Romans 8:29, there is no genitive, but πρ is included ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς.
Rabbi Bechai’s designation of God as “firstborn of the world” is a fanciful interpretation of Exodus 13:2. R. Bechai probably meant by the expression “priority,” not “supremacy.” The firstborn were to be consecrated to God because He was the First of all. But it must be remembered that the Hebrew word is not etymologically parallel to πρωτότοκος.
Hence the only tenable interpretation of the words before us is “begotten before πᾶσα κτίσις, ” the genitive being like that in John 1:15, πρωτότοκον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πρὸ πάντων τῶν κτισμάτων, Justin M. Dial. § 100. The only ideas involved are priority in time and distinction from the genus κτίσις. οὐχ ὡς ἀδελφὴν ἔχων τὴν κτίσιν, ἀλλʼ ὡς πρὸ πάσης κτίσεως γεννηθείς, Theodoret; and so Chrysostom: οὑχὶ ἁξίας κ. τιμῆς ἀλλὰ χρόνου μόνον ἐστι σημαντικόν. Compare Revelation 3:14, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ. πρωτόκτιστος or πρωτόπλαστος would have implied that Christ was created like πᾶσα κτίσις.
Isidore of Pelusium, in the interests of orthodoxy, assigns an active meaning to πρωτοτόκος (to be in that case thus accented), not, however, a meaning corresponding to the signification of πρωτοτόκος in classical writers, which is “primipara,” and could yield no tolerable sense, but as “primus auctor.” His words are: οὐ πρῶτον τῆς κτίσεως … ἀλλὰ πρῶτον αὐτὸν τετοκὲναι τοῦτʼ ἐστι πεποιηκέναι τὴν κτίσιν ἵνα ᾖ τρίτης συλλαβῆς ὀξυμένης, ὡς πρωτοκτίστος (EP. iii. 31). Basil seems to adopt the same view, for, comparing ver. 19, he says: εἰ δὲ πρωτότοκος νεκρῶν εἴρηται, διὰ τὸ αἴτιος εἶναι τῆς ἐν νεκρῶν ἀναστάσεως, οὔτω καὶ πρωτότοκος κτίσεως, διὰ τὸ αἴτιος εἶναι τοῦ ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων εἰς τὸ εἶναι παραγαγεῖν τὴν κτίσιν (Contra Eunom. lib. iv. p. 292 D). (The true reading in ver. 19 is πρ. ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, but πρ. τῶν ν. is in Revelation 1:5.)
This interpretation is followed by Michaelis and some others. In addition, however, to the unsuitableness of τίκτειν in this connexion, πρῶτος is unsuitable, since there would be no possibility of a δευτεροτόκος.
πάσης κτίσεως. κτίσις in N.T. has three meanings: 1st, the act of creation (the primary meaning of κτίσις as of “creation”) Romans 1:20, ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου: 2nd, “creation” as the universe of created things, Romans 8:22, πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις συστενάζει: 3rd, “a creation,” a single created thing, Romans 8:39, οὔτε τις κτίσις ἑτέρα. Here it may be questioned whether πάσης κτίσεως means “all creation” (RV., Alford, Lightfoot, al.) or “every creature” (AV., Meyer, Ellicott, al.). In favour of the latter rendering is the absence of the article, which we should expect after πᾶς in the former sense. It may be replied that κτίσις belongs to the class of nouns which from their meaning may sometimes dispense with the article, such as γῆ (Luke 2:14; Hebrews 8:4), οὐρανός (Acts 3:21, al.), κόσμος (Romans 5:13, Romans 5:11:12, Romans 5:15, al.). Yet it is very rarely, and only in particular combinations, that these words are without the article. As an instance of κτίσις = the aggregate of created things being without the article, is cited Mark 13:19, ἀπὸ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως, the parallel in Matthew 24:21 having ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κόσμου. So also Matthew 10:6; 2 Peter 3:4.
But granting that κτίσις here = κόσμος (which might be questioned) the point to be noted is the anarthrous use, not of κτίσις, but of the compound term ἀρχὴ κτίσεως, like ἀρχὴ κόσμου; and this is precisely parallel to the similar use of καταβολὴ κόσμου, which we have several times with ἀπό and πρό, always without the article. So we have frequently ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐξ ἀρχῆς. Similarly, εἰς τέλος, ἕως τέλους, μέχρι τέλους. ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς being regularly used without the article, it is in accordance with rule that in ἀπὸ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως the latter word should also be anarthrous. Moreover, even κόσμος and γῆ, which are cited as examples of words occasionally anarthrous, do not dispense with the article when πᾶς precedes, probably because of the possible ambiguity which would result. There appears, therefore, no sufficient justification for departing from the natural rendering, “every created thing.” This furnishes an additional reason against the interpretation which would include the πρωτότοκος in πᾶσα κτίσις.
This exposition of the unique and supreme position of Christ is plainly directed against the errors of the false teachers, who denied this supremacy.
The history of the ancient interpretation of the expression πρωτότοκος τ. κτ., is interesting and instructive. The Fathers of the second and third centuries understand it correctly of the Eternal Word (Justin, Clem. Alex., Tert., Origen, etc.). But when the Arians made use of the expression to prove that the Son was a created being, many of the orthodox were led to adopt the view that the words relate to the Incarnate Christ, understanding, therefore, κτίσις and κτίζεσθαι of the new spiritual creation, the καινὴ κτίσις. (Athanasius, Greg. Nyss., Cyril, Theodore Mops.) As Lightfoot observes, this interpretation “shatters the context,” for, as a logical consequence, we must understand ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς and ver. 17 of the work of the Incarnation; and to do this is “to strain language in a way which would reduce all theological exegesis to chaos.” In addition to this, the interpretation disregards the history of the terms, and “takes no account of the cosmogomy and angelology of the false teachers against which the apostle’s exposition here is directed.” Basil prefers the interpretation which refers the expression to the Eternal Word, and so Theodoret and Severianus, and the later Greek writers generally (Theoph., Oecumenius, etc.). Chrysostom’s view is not clear.
16. ὅτι introduces the proof of the designation, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτ. It leaves, therefore, no doubt as to the meaning of that expression, and shows that the πρωτότοκος is not included in πᾶσα κτίσις, for τὰ πάντα is equivalent to πᾶσα κτίσις.
ἐν αὐτῷ is not simply = διʼ αὐτοῦ, 1 Corinthians 8:6 (Chrys., etc.). The latter designates Christ as the mediate instrument, the former goes further, and seems to express that the conditioning cause of the act of creation resided in Him. The Eternal Word stood in the same relation to the created Universe as the Incarnate Christ to the Church. The latter relation is constantly expressed by ἐν, which is also used by classical writers to express that the cause of a relation exists in some person. Comp. ver. 17, ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν, and for the preposition, Acts 17:28, ἐν αὐτῷ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καί ἐσμεν. The originating cause ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα is God the Father, Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6.
The Schoolmen, following, indeed, Origen and Athanasius, interpreted the words of the causa exemplaris, viz. that the idea omnium rerum was in Christ. So that He was, as it were, the Archetypal Universe, the summary of finite being as it existed in the Eternal Mind. This view has been adopted by Neander, Schleiermacher, Olshausen, and others. Olshausen says: “The Son of God is the intelligible world, the κόσμος νοητός, that is, things in their Idea. In the creation they come forth from Him to an independent existence.”
This would correspond to Philo’s view of the Logos (which to him, however, was a philosophical abstraction), οὐδὲ ὀ ἐκ τῶν ιδεῶν κόσμος ἄλλον ἂν ἔχοι τόπον ἢ τὸν θεῖον λόγον τὸν ταῦτα διακοσμήσαντα (De Mundi Op. 4. § 4, tom. i. p. 4), and again: ὅσα ἂν ἐνθυμήματα τέκῃ, ὥσπερ ἐν οἴκῳ τῷ λόγῳ διαθείς (De Migr. Abr. 1. tom. i. p. 437). Lightfoot regards the apostle’s teaching as “an enlargement of this conception, inasmuch as the Logos is no longer a philosophical abstraction, but a Divine Person,” and he quotes, seemingly with assent, the words of Hippolytus: ἔχει ἐν ἐαντῷ τὰς ἐν τῷ πατρὶ προεννοηθείσας ἰδέας ὅθεν κελεύοντος πατρὸς γίνεσθαι κόσμον τὸ κατὰ ἕν Λόγος ἀπετελεῖτο ἀρέσκων Θεῷ (Haer. 10:33).
But, however attractive this interpretation may be, it is inconsistent with ἐκτίσθη, which expresses the historical act of creation, not a preceding εἶναι ἐν αὐτῷ. Nor has it any support elsewhere in the N.T.
ἐκτίσθη, “were created.” Schleiermacher (Studien u. Kritsken, 1832) alleges that the verb is never used in Hellenistic Greek of creation proper, and therefore understands it here of constitution and arrangement; and he interprets the statement as referring to the foundation of the Church. The word is often so used in classical writers. But in the N.T. κτίζω, κτίσις, κτίσμα are always used of original creation or production. See for the verb Mark 13:19; Romans 1:25; 1 Corinthians 11:9; 1 Timothy 4:3; Revelation 4:11, Revelation 10:6. Its use in Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 2:15, Ephesians 2:4:24 is not an exception, the καινὸς ἄνθρωπος being regarded as a new creation.
The tenses of ἐκτίσθη, ἔκτισται are to be noted; the former is suitable to the historical fact of creation, the latter to the permanent relations of the creation to the Creator; comp. συνέστηκεν, ver. 17.
τὰ πάντα, all things collectively, presently specified as to place and nature. ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, an expression designating all created things, the heaven and earth themselves not excluded, as Wetstein would have it, who infers that not the physical creation is meant, but “habitatores … qui reconciliantur.” The compendious expression is adopted because the apostle has chiefly in view the heavenly beings; but τὰ πάντα shows that the statement is meant to be universal.
The τά of Text. Rec. before ἐν τοῖς οὐρ. is omitted by א* B D* G P 17, al. d f g Vulg.
Inserted by אc A Dc K L and most MSS.
τά before ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς is omitted by א* B, d f g Vulg.
Inserted by א* A C D G K L P.
It will be observed that the authority for omission is much greater in the first clause than in the second, although the one cannot be inserted or omitted without the other. It is possible, therefore, that τά was accidentally omitted in the first clause after πάντα, and then omitted from the second for the sake of uniformity. On the other hand, it may have been inserted in both places from the parallels in ver. 20 and in Ephesians 1:10.
τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα, a Platonic division; θῶμεν οὖν, εἰ βούλει, ἔφη, δύο εἴδη τῶν ὄντων, τὸ μὲν ὁρατόν, τὸ δὲ ἀειδές. The latter term here refers to the spirit world, as the following context indicates. Chrys., Theoph., Lightfoot, etc., suppose human souls to be included, but it is more probable that man as a whole is included among the ὁρατά.
εἴτε θρόνοι, κ.τ.λ. In the parallel, Ephesians 1:21, we have ὑπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας καὶ δυνάμεως καὶ κυριότητος. It will be noted that both the names and the order are different. Moreover, the addition in Eph., καὶ παντὸς ὀνόματος ὀνομαζομένου, shows that St. Paul is only adopting current terms, not communicating any incidental revelation about objective facts (see on Ephesians 1:21). The gist of the passage is to make light of the speculations about the orders of angels, but to insist on the supremacy of Christ.
“His language here shows the same spirit of impatience with this elaborate angelology as in 2:18, ” Lightfoot. It is said, indeed, that St. Paul “is glorifying the Son of God by a view of His relation to created being; and assuredly this would not be best done by alluding to phases of created being which might all the while be figments of the imagination” (Moule). But it is sufficient for the purpose that the existence of angelic beings in general should be a reality. If St. Paul accepts as true the fundamental assumption of the heretical angelology, it seems to follow that revelations about heavenly existences may be found elsewhere than in the Scriptures, for this system of the angelic hierarchy could not be derived either from the O.T. or from reason.
θρόνοι are not mentioned elsewhere in the N.T., but in Test. XII. Patr. (Lev_3) they are placed in the highest (seventh) heaven. Probably the name was meant as a designation of spirits who occupied thrones surrounding the throne of God. Comp. Revelation 4:4. Clement of Alex. seems to regard them as so called because supporting or forming the throne of God (Proph. Ecl. 57), as the cherubim are represented in Ezekiel 9:3, Ezekiel 9:10:1, Ezekiel 9:11:22; Psalm 80:2, Psalm 99:1. For a summary of Jewish and Christian speculations as to the angelic hierarchy, Lightfoot’s note may be consulted.
τὰ πάντα κ.τ.λ. This is properly separated from the foregoing by a colon after ἐξουσίαι. The sentence emphatically restates in a form applied to the present what had already been said of the relation of Christ to the creation. Thus what was described in 16 as a historical act by ἐκτίσθη, is here repeated, regarded as a completed and continuing fact; so ἐν αὐτῶ συνέστηκεν expresses what for the present existence of things is the logical consequence of their origin ἐν αὐτῷ and, lastly, καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων repeats πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως. εἰς αὐτόν introduces a new idea.
εἰς αὐτόν. The conditions of existence of the created universe are so ordered that without Christ it cannot attain its perfection. This εἰς αὐτόν is nearly equivalent to διʼ ὅν in Hebrews 2:10. He is Alpha and Omega, the ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος (Revelation 22:13). This εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται is the antecedent condition of the subjection of all things to Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:24, 1 Corinthians 15:28. There is no inconsistency, then (as Holtzmann and others maintain), between this passage and 1 Corinthians 8:6 (where the subject of εἰς αὐτόν is not τὰ πάντα, but ἡμεῖς), or Romans 11:36, where it is said of God, ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα. Had ἐξ αὐτοῦ been used, there would have been an inconsistency; but as the passage stands, the subordination to the Father is fully indicated by the form of expression, διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται, implying that it was by the Father that He was appointed the τέλος. This double use of εἰς αὐτόν to express the immediate end and the final end, is parallel to the double use of διʼ αὐτοῦ with reference to Christ in 1 Corinthians 8:6, and to God in Romans 11:36.
The thought in Ephesians 1:10, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν Χριστῷ, is very similar to the present; but, of course, we cannot quote Eph. in a question touching the genuineness of the present Epistle.
17. καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων. αὐτός is emphatic, as always in the nom. “He himself,” in contrast, namely, to the created things. πρὸ πάντων, like πρωτότοκος, is of priority in time not in rank (which would be ἐπὶ πάντων, ὑπὲρ πάντα, or the like). In Jam 5:12; 1 Peter 4:8, πρὸ πάντων is adverbial, “above all,” “especially,” and if so taken here, we should render “He especially exists.” The words repeat with emphasis the assertion of preexistence. ἦν might have been used, but ἐστιν is more suitable to express immutability of existence. As we might say, “His existence is before all things”; compare John 8:58, πρὶνἈβραὰμ γίνεσθαι, ἐγώ εἰμι. Lightfoot accentuates the verb αὐτὸς ἐστιν; but as the predicate is πρὸ πάντων, ἐστίν appears to be only the copula.
The Latin takes πάντων as masculine, “ante omnes,” i.e thronos, etc.; but the following τὰ πάντα is decisive against this.
συνἐστηκε. “Consist,” “maintain their coherence.” “Corpus unum, integrum, perfectum, secum consentiens esse et permanere” (Reiske, Index Demosth.). ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ τὰ πάντα, καὶ διὰ Θεοῦ ἡμῖν συνέστηκεν (Aristot. De Mundo, vi. 471): ξυνεστάναι τῷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ δημιουργῷ αὐτόν τε καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ (Plato, Rep. 530 A). Compare also Philo, ὁ ἔναιμος ὅγκος, ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ διαλυτὸς ὢν καὶ νεκρός, συνέστηκε καὶ ζωπυρἐιται προνοίᾳ Θεοῦ (Quis Rer. Div. haeres. p. 489). The Logos is called by Philo the δεσμός of the universe.
18-20. Transition to Christ’s relation to the Church. ἀπὸ τῆς θεολογὶας εἰς τὴν οἰκονομίαν, Theodoret. Here also He is first, the firstborn from the dead, and the Head of the Church, all the fulness of God dwelling in Him. So that even the angelic powers are included in the work of reconciliation which has been wrought through Him
18. καὶ αὐτός, and He and none other, “ipse in quo omnia consistunt est caput.
ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος, τῆς ἐκκλησίας. τῆς ἐκκλησίας in apposition with σώματος; compare ver. 24, ὅ ἐστιν ἡ ἐκκλησία, and Ephesians 1:23, τῇ ἐκκλ. ἥτις ἐστὶ τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ. σώματος is added in order to define more precisely the meaning of the figure, κεφαλή τῆς ἐκκλησίας. It shows that the writer is not using κεφαλή vaguely, but with the definite figure of the relation of head to body in his thoughts.
ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή = “in that He is.” In classical Greek γε would probably be added. ἀρχή has special but not exclusive reference to the following words, which express the aspect in which ἀρχή is here viewed. πρωτότοκος implies that other νεκροί follow; ἀρχή, that He it was who made possible that others should follow. He was the Principle and the first example, ἀρχή, φησίν, ἐστι τῆς ἀναστάσεως, πρὸ πάντων ἀναστάς, Theoph. Thus He was the ἀπαρχή, 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:23; and the ἀρχηγὸς τῆς ζωῆς, Acts 3:14. His resurrection is His title to the headship of the Church: cf. Romans 1:4.
ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν. Not “amongst,” which would be πρ. τωσν νεκρ. as in Revelation 1:5, but “from among.” That others were raised before Him is not regarded as an objection to this. Theophylact observes: εἰ γὰρ καὶ ἄλλοι πρὸ τούτου ἀνέστησαν, ἀλλὰ πάλιν ἀπέθανον· αὐτὸς δὲ τὴν τελείαν ἀνάστασιν ἀνέστη.
ἵνα γένηται. “That He may become,” not “be,” as Vulg. As ἐστί is used to express what He is, so γένηται of what as a consequence He is to become, viz. ἐν πᾶσιν, κ.τ.λ. “Himself in all things pre-eminent.” πᾶσιν is not masculine, “inter omnes,” as Beza and others take it, but neuter, as the following τὰ πάντα makes certain. πρωτεύειν does not occur elsewhere in the N.T., but is found in classical writers and in the Sept. Thus in a connexion similar to the present, Plutarch (Mor. p. 9), σπεύδοντες τοὺς παῖδας ἐν πᾶσι τὰχιον πρωτεύειν. Demosthenes also has πρωτεύειν ἐν ἄπασι, but with ἅπασι, masc. (p. 1416). Chrysostom’s explanation here is: πανταχοῦ πρῶτος· ἄνω πρῶτος, ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ πρῶτος, ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει πρῶτος. This πρωτεύειν is the final result of the state to which the πρωτότοκον εἶναι ἐκ τῶν νεκρῷν was the introduction, but is not involved in the word πρωτότοκος itself.
19. ὅτι. The correspondence with ὅτι in ver. 16, following ὅς ἐστιν of ver. 15, shows that this assigns a reason, not for ἳνα γὲνηται, but for ὅς ἐστιν, ver. 18. The indwelling of the Godhead explains the headship of the Church as well as that of the Universe.
εὐδόκησεν. The subject may be either ὁ Θεός or πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα. The former view is adopted by most comm., including Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, De Wette, Winer. In favour of it, the ellipsis of ὁ Θεός in Jam 1:12, Jam 4:6, is quoted, and it is remarked that the omission here is the more easy, because εὐδοκία, εὐδοκεῖν etc. (like θέλημα), are used absolutely of God’s good purpose, e.g. Luke 2:14; Php 2:13.” But the verb εὐδοκεῖν is used by St. Paul even more frequently of men than of God (seven times to three). It cannot, therefore, be said that it was in any sense a technical term for the Divine counsel, so as to render the express mention of ὅ Θεός as the subject unnecessary; nor is there any instance of its being used absolutely in this sense; see 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 1:15, where ὁ Θεός is expressed with the verb. Indeed, except in Luke 2:14, even the substantive εὐδοκία, when it refers to God, is always defined either by a genitive, (Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:9) or by ὁ Θεός being the subject of the sentence, as in Php 2:13, where the article with an abstract noun after a preposition “necessarily brings in a reflexive sense,—to be referred to the subject of the sentence,” Alford.
Here there is nothing in the context from which ὁ Θεός can be supplied, and clearness, especially in such an important passage, would require it to be expressed.
Further, although an example is cited from 2 Macc. 14:35 in which the subject of the infinitive after εὐδοκεῖν is different from the subject of the finite verb (σύ, Κύριε, εὐδόκησας ναὸν τῆς σῆς κατασκηνώσεως ἐν ἡμῖν γενέσθαι), yet in every instance in the N.T. (six) in which εὐδοκεῖν is followed by an infinitive, the subject of both is the same. The assumed change of subject to the two infinitives κατοικ. and ἀποκατ. is also harsh. Lastly, the words seem to be an echo of Psalm 68:17, ὁ Θεὸς εὐδόκησε κατοικεῖν ἐν αὐτῷ, while in 2:9 we have a close parallel in ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος.
For these reasons it seems best to take πᾶν τὸ πλ. as the subject. So Ewald, Ellicott, Scholefield, Soden, RV. marg.
A third interpretation, which has little to recommend it, is that of Tertullian (adv. Marc. v. 19), according to which the subject of εὐδόκησεν is ὁ Χριστός; and this is adopted by Conybeare and Hofmann. εἰς αὐτόν then would be “to Himself.” But it was not to Christ but to the Father that all things were reconciled by Him; compare 2 Corinthians 5:19. As Lightfoot observes, the interpretation “confuses the theology of the passage hopelessly.”
Although the tense is the aorist, “hath been pleased to dwell” represents the sense better than “was pleased to dwell.” For as the good pleasure must accompany the dwelling, instead of being a transient act, antecedent to it, the latter expression would be equivalent to “dwelt,” and so would only refer to past time.
πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα. If this is the subject of εὐδ. it, of course, means “all the fulness of the Godhead,” τῆς θεότητος, as in 2:9, “omnes divitiae divinae naturae” (Fritz.), πᾶν τὸ πλ. being personified. But even if ὁ Θεός is taken as the subject, it is most natural to interpret this expression by that in 2:9, where κατοικεῖ is also used. It is, indeed, objected by Meyer and Eadie that the Divine essence dwelt in Christ “necessarily” (“nothwendig,” Meyer) and “unchangeably” (Eadie), not by the Father’s good pleasure and purpose. Hence they understand with Beza, “cumulatissima omnium divinarum rerum copia … ex qua in Christo tanquam inexhausto fonte, omnes gratiae in nos … deriventur.” Alford, while adopting the interpretation, rightly sets aside the objection of Meyer and Eadie to the former view, saying that “all that is His own right is His Father’s pleasure, and is ever referred to that pleasure by Himself.”
Severianus and Theodoret interpret πλήρωμα of the Church, following Ephesians 1:23. The latter says: πληρ. τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ἐν τῇ πρὸσἘφεσίους ἐκάλεσεν ὡς τῶν θείων χαρισμάτων πεπληρωμένην. ταύτην ἔφη εὐδοκῆσαι τὸν Θεὸν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ κατοικῆσαι, τουτέστιν αὐτῷ συνῆφθαι; and so many moderns. Similarly Schleiermacher, who, referring to πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν in Romans 11:12, Romans 11:25, Romans 11:26, explains the word here of the fulness of the Gentiles and the whole of Israel, whose indwelling in Christ is the permanent state which is necessarily preceded by the complete reconciliation of which the peacemaking was the condition. But there is nothing to support this either in the absolute use of πλ. or in the context here. It is clear that the κατοικῆσαι is stated as the antecedent, not the consequent of ἀποκατ., “haec inhabitatio est fundamentum reconciliationis,” Bengel. Other interpretations may be found in De Wette and Meyer.
κατοικῆσαι implies permanent, or rather “settled” residence, not a mere παροικία. Cf. Gen. 36:44 (37:1), κατῴκει δὲ Ἰακὼβ ἐν τῇ γῇ οὗ παρῴκησεν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ἐν γῇ Χαναάν. That the word of itself does not always imply “permanent residence,” see Acts 7:4, κατῴκησεν ἐν Χαρράν· κἀκεῖθεν μετῷκισεν αὐτὸν εἰς τῆν γῆν ταύτην: see on Luke 11:26. The aorist seems to be usually employed in the sense, “take up one’s abode in.” Compare Matthew 2:23, Matthew 2:4:13; Acts 7:2, Acts 7:4; Ephesians 3:17. This, however, cannot be insisted on here, where the infinitive is dependent on an aorist.
It is probable, as Lightfoot remarks, that the false teachers maintained only a partial and transient connexion of the πλήρωμα with the Lord.
20. ἀποκαταλλάξαι. The ἀπο may be intensive, “prorsus reconciliare,” or, as in ἀποκαθιστάναι, may mean “again” (so Alford, Ell., Lightfoot, Soden). “Conciliari extraneo possent, reconciliari vero non alii quam suo,” Tertull. adv. Marc. v. 19. But καταλλάσσειν is the word always used by St. Paul in Rom, and Cor. of reconciliation to God; and of a wife to her husband, 1 Corinthians 7:11. See on Ephesians 2:16.
τὰ πάντα, defined as it is presently after by εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, κ.τ.λ., cannot be limited to the Church (as Beza), nor to men (especially the heathen, Olshausen), nor yet to intelligent beings generally. “How far this restoration of universal nature may be subjective, as involved in the changed perceptions of man thus brought into harmony with God, and how far it may have an objective and independent existence, it were vain to speculate,” Lightfoot. Compare ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων, Acts 3:21; also Romans 8:21.
εἰς αὐτόν. If our interpretation of this were to be determined solely by considerations of language, we should have no hesitation in referring αὐτόν to the same antecedent as ἐν αὐτῷ διʼ αὐτοῦ, and αὐτοῦ after σταυροῦ, that is Christ, and that, whatever subject we adopt for εὐδόκησε, but especially if πᾶν τὸ πλ. is not taken as the subject. On this interpretation the ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν would refer back to τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτὸν … ἔκτισται. If ἑαυτῷ was necessary in 2 Corinthians 5:19, was it not more necessary here in order to avoid ambiguity?
It is, however, a serious objection to this view that we nowhere read of reconciliation to Christ, but only through Him to God.
This objection is, indeed, somewhat weakened by the consideration, first, that this is the only place in which the reconciliation of τὰπάντα is mentioned. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 the words which follow ἐαυτῷ, viz. μὴ λογιζόμενος αὐτοῖς τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν, κ.τ.λ., show that κόσμος has not the wide significance of τὰ πάντα here. Secondly, that already in ver. 17 there is predicated of Christ what elsewhere is predicated of God, viz. διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα (Romans 11:35). Thirdly, here only is εἰς used instead of the dative after (ἀπο) καταλλάσσειν. The difference is slight, and only in the point of view; but the change would be accounted for by the reference to ver. 17
It deserves notice that some expositors who reject this view use language which at least approximates to the idea of reconciliation to Christ. Thus Alford, speaking of the “sinless creation,” says it “is lifted into nearer participation and higher glorification of Him, and is thus reconciled, though not in the strictest yet in a very intelligible and allowable sense.”
If πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα is the subject, and αὐτόν be viewed as = τὸν Θεόν, this antecedent would be supplied from πᾶν τὸ πλ. in which, on this view, it is involved. On the other hand, if the subject of εὐδόκησε is ὁ Θεός understood, this, of course, is the antecedent. But the reference of αὐτόν (reflexive) to an unexpressed subject is harsh, notwithstanding Jam 1:12.
εἰρηνοποιήσας belongs to the subject of the verb, the masc. being adopted κατὰ σύνεσιν, as in 2:19. This was inevitable, since the personal character of ὁ εἰρηνοποιήσας could not be lost sight of.
As it is Christ who is specified in Ephesians 2:15 as ποιῶν εἰρηνην, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecum. and many moderns, although making ὁ Θεός the subject of εὐδόκησε, have so understood εἰρηνοποιήσας here “by the common participial anacoluthon” but this is a very harsh separation of the participial clause from the finite verb, and introduces confusion amongst the pronouns.
διʼ αὐτοῦ, repeated for the sake of emphasis, “by Him, I say.” This repetition, especially in so pointed a connexion with τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς and τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, still further emphasises the fact that angelic mediators have no share in the work of reconciliation, nay, that these heavenly beings themselves are included amongst those to whom the benefit of Christ’s work extends.
The second διʼ αὐτοῦ is read by א A C Dbc K P and most MSS., Syr. (both) Boh., Chrys., Theodoret. It is omitted by B D* G L, Old Lat., Vulg., Arm, Eth., Theophyl., Ambrosiaster, al. There would be a tendency to omit them as superfluous.
εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, εἴτε τὰ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. There is much diversity of opinion as to the interpretation of this passage; “torquet interpretes,” says Davenant, “et vicissim ab illis torquetur.” First, are we to understand τὰ πάντα as limited to intelligent creatures, or as including also unreasoning and lifeless things? Alford, Meyer, and many others adopt the latter view, which, indeed, Alford says is “clearly” the apostle’s meaning. Romans 8:19-22 is compared, where it is said that the κτίσις has been made subject to ματαιότης. But it is not easy to see how the reversal of this ματαιότης or the delivery from the δουλεία τῆς φθορᾶς can be called “reconciliation to God.” Reconciliation implies enmity, and this cannot be predicated of unreasoning and lifeless things. The neuter τὰ πάντα does not bind us to this interpretation, it is simply the most concise and striking expression of universality. But, further, what is meant by the reconciliation of heavenly beings? Many commentators suppose the meaning to be that even good angels have need to be in some sense “reconciled.” Calvin observes: “duabus de causis Angelos quoque oportuit cum Deo pacificari: nam quum creaturae sint, extra lapsus periculum non erant, nisi Christi gratia fuissent confirmati … Deinde in hac ipsa obedientia quam praestant Deo, non est tam exquisita perfectio ut Deo omni exparte et citra veniam satisfaciat. Atque huc procul dubio spectat sententia ista ex libro Job (4:18). ‘In Angelis suis reperiet iniquitatem’; nam si de diabolo exponitur, quid magnam? pronuntiat autem illic Spiritus Summam puritatem sordere, si ad Dei iustitiam exigatur.” Similarly De Wette, Bleek, Huther, Alford, Moule. The last named adopts Alford’s statement: “No reconciliation must be thought of which shall resemble ours in its process, for Christ took not upon Him the seed of angels, nor paid any propitiatory penalty in the root of their nature. … But forasmuch as He is their Head as well as ours … it cannot be but that the great event in which He was glorified through suffering should also bring them nearer to God. … That such increase [of blessedness] might be described as a reconciliation is manifest: we know from Job 15:15 that ‘the heavens are not clean in His sight’; and ib. 4:18, ‘His angels He charged [charges] with folly.’ ” The general truth may be admitted without accepting Eliphaz the Temanite as a final authority. But imperfection is not enmity, and the difficulty is in the application of the term “reconciled” in the sense of “lifted into nearer participation and higher glorification” of God. Davenant, followed by Alexander, says that Christ has reconciled angels “analogically, by taking away from them the possibility of falling.”
It is hardly necessary to dwell on the opinion of Origen, that the devil and his angels are referred to; or on that of Beza, van Til, al., that τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς are the souls of those who died in the Lord before the coming of Christ, and who are supposed to have been admitted into heaven by virtue of His work which was to come. Neither opinion has any support in Scripture. (Bengel notes that πάντα “continet etiam defunctos,” but does not suppose them referred to as in heaven.)
A better view is that of Harless (adopted also by Reuss, Oltramare, al.), according to which the reconciliation proper applies only to τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, but the apostle adds τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρ., “not as if there were in heaven any real need of redemption, nor as if heaven were only added as a rhetorical figure, but because the Lord and Creator of the whole body, whose members are heaven and earth, in restoring one member has restored the whole body; and herein consists the greatest significance of the reconciliation, that it is not only the restoration of the earthly life, but the restoration of the harmony of the universe” (Harless, Eph. p. 53).
Ritschl thinks that St. Paul refers to the angels concerned in the giving of the law, to whom he believes the apostle here and elsewhere attributes a certain lack of harmony with the Divine plan of redemption (Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1863, p. 522 f.). Compare 2:15.
Meyer’s solution is that the reference is to angels as a category, not as individuals. The original normal relation between God and these higher spirits no longer subsists so long as the hostile realm of demons still exists; whose power has indeed been broken by the death of the Lord, but which shall be fully destroyed at the Parousia.
Hammond argues at considerable length that “heaven and earth” was a Hebrew expression for “this lower earth.” Chrysostom takes the accusatives to depend on εἰρηνοποίησας. This is clear from his question, τὰ δὲ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς πῶς εἰρηνοποίησε; His reply is that the angels had been made hostile to men, seeing their Lord insulted (or as Theodoret more generally says, on account of the wickedness of the many). God, then, not only made things on earth to be at peace, but brought man to the angels, him who was their enemy. This was profound peace. Why then, says the apostle, have ye confidence in the angels? So far are they from bringing you near, that had not God Himself reconciled you to them, ye would not have been at peace. So Augustine (Enchir. 62): “pacificantur coelestia cum terrestribus, et terrestria cum coelestibus.” Erasmus adopts the same construction, amending the Latin version thus: “pacificatis et iis quae in terra sunt, et quae in coelis.” Bengel’s interpretation is similar, and he appears to adopt the same construction, for he compares Luke 19:38, εἰρήνη ἐν οὐρανῷ: and comparing this again with Luke 2:14, ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη, he remarks that what those in heaven call peace on earth, those on earth call peace in heaven. This construction does not seem to be open to any grammatical objection. Only two instances of εἰρηνοποιεῖν are cited in the Lexicons, one from the Sept., Proverbs 10:10, where it is intransitive; the other from Hermes, ap. Stob. Ecl. Phys. p. 984, where the middle is used transitively, τότε καὶ αὐτὴ τὸν ἴδιον δρόμον εἰρηνοποιεῖται. As to the form of the compound, Aristotle uses ὀδοποιεῖν with an accusative, Rhet. i. 1. 2, δῆλον ὅτι εἴη ἂν αὐτὰ καὶ ὁδοποιεῖν. So λογοποιεῖν takes an accus., e.g. συμφοράς, Lys. p. 165, 26; cf. Thuc. vi. 38, al. It is singular that this construction which yields an excellent sense has been entirely overlooked, and the interpretation of Chrys., etc., met with the objection that ἀποκαταλλάξαι … εἴτε τά … εἴτε τά cannot mean to reconcile these two with one another.
May it not be that the difficulty arises from attempting to turn what is practically a hypothetical statement into a categorical assertion? St. Paul has in his mind throughout this part of the Epistle the teaching of the false teachers at Colossae, who knew, forsooth, all about the celestial hierarchy, with its various orders, some of which were doubtless regarded as not entirely in harmony with the Divine will. The apostle no more adopts their view here than he adopts their hierarchical system. The point on which he insists is that all must be brought into harmony, and that this is effected through Christ.
Are we, however, justified in assuming that all τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (which is not necessarily equivalent to “in heaven”) are holy angels, or were so conceived by St. Paul? If there are “other worlds than ours,” would not their inhabitants be reckoned as ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς?
21-23. The Colossians are reminded that this reconciliation applies to them also, and that the object in view is that they may be blameless in the sight of God. But this depends on their holding fast by the truth which they have been taught
21. We must first note the difference of reading in the last word of the verse. ἀποκαταλλάγητε is read by B, 17 (ἀποκατηλλάκηται); ἀποκαταλλαγέντες by D* G, the Latin d g m Goth., Iren. (transl.) al.; but all other authorities have ἀποκατήλλαξεν. Lachm., Meyer, Lightfoot, Weiss adopt ἀποκατηλλάγητε, which is given a Place in the margin by Treg., WH. and Rev. It is argued that ἀποκαταλλαγέντες is an emendation, for grammatical reasons, of ἀποκατηλλάγητε (though a careless one, for it should be accus.). These two sets of authorities, then, may be taken together as attesting the Passive. As between ἀποκατηλλάγητε and ἀποκατήλλαξεν, there is in favour of the former the consideration that, if the latter had been the original reading, the construction would be Plain, and no reason would exist for altering it. Lightfoot regards this reading of B as perhaps the highest testimony of all to the great value of that MS.
With the reading ἀποκατήλλαξεν there is a slight anacoluthon, there being no direct protasis. Examples, however, are not infrequent of a clause with δέ following a participle which indirectly supplies the protasis. The anacoluthon might indeed be avoided by making ὑμᾶς depend on ἀποκαταλλάξαι; but this would be more awkward; and, besides, ver. 21 obviously begins a new Paragraph, resuming the thought from which the apostle had digressed in 15.
With the reading ἀποκατηλλάγητε it is possible to regard the clause νυνὶ δὲ—θανάτου as parenthetical. “And you who once were estranged (but now ye have been reconciled) to present you, I say,” the second ὑμᾶς repeating the first; and so Lachmann, Lightfoot, Moule. But, considering the importance of the clause, it is perhaps better (with Meyer) to understand the construction as an anacoluthon, the apostle having begun the sentence with the active in his mind, and, in a manner not unusual with him, passing to a more independent form of statement. This, too, seems much more in St. Paul’s manner than the parenthesis supposed by Lachmann.
καὶ ὑμᾶς, “and you also,” ποτὲ ὄντας ἀπηλλοτριωμένους, “who were once in a state of estrangement.” ὄντας expresses more forcibly the settledness of the alienation. For ἀπαλλοτριόω see on Ephesians 2:12. Here the remote object must be God, as of its opposite ἀποκαταλλάσσειν, and the word implies that they belonged to another (ἀλλότριος) (they were, in fact, subject to the ἐξουσία τοῦ σκότους), and that this was the consequence of movement away from Him (ἀπο-) Alford understands the verb here objectively, “banished”; but it seems more congruous to the whole context (ἀποκαταλ., ἐχθρούς) to understand it subjectively, “estranged (in mind).”
ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ ἐχθρούς is taken passively by Meyer, “invisos Deo.” But such a meaning is not justified either by the context here or by the use of the word elsewhere; cf. Romans 8:7, τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκός ἔχθρα εἰς Θεόν. Even in Romans 5:10, εἰ γὰρ ἐχθρὀι ὄντες κατηλλὰγημεν τῷ Θεῷ, κ.τ.λ., it is best understood actively; there, as here, the sinner is spoken of as reconciled to God, not God to the sinner. Indeed, nowhere in the N.T. is the latter expression used. The fact that it occurs in Clement, in the Const. Apost., and in the Apocrypha (Meyer), only makes its absence from the N.T. the more noticeable. As Lightfoot observes, “it is the mind of man, not the mind of God, which must undergo a change, that a reunion may be effected.” It was not because God hated the world, but because He loved it, that He sent His Son. In Romans 11:28, where the Jews are said to be ἐχθροί in a passive sense, this is not absolute, but κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, and they are at the same time ἀγαπητοί. Here, in particular, the active sense is required by the following τῇ διανοίᾳ, which Meyer indeed interprets as a “causal dative” (as if it were = διὰ τὴν διανοιαν). But in ἐχθρὸς τῇ διανοίᾳ the two notions must have the same subject (ὑμῶν not being added). Besides, if so intended, διανοίᾳ would surely be qualified by πονηρᾷ or the like. τῇ διανπίᾳ then, is the dative of the part affected, as in ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇδιανοίᾳ Ephesians 4:18; καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ, Matthew 5:8.
ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς, the practical sphere in which the preceding characteristics exhibited themselves. A striking contrast to the description of the Christian walk in ver. 10.
22. νυνὶ δέ, “now,” i.e. in the present order of things, not “at the present moment.” The aorist marks that the state of things followed a given event. It is correctly rendered by the English perfect. So ver. 26; also Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 2:3:5; Romans 5:11, Romans 5:7:6, Romans 5:11:30, 31, Romans 5:16:26; 2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Peter 1:10, 1 Peter 1:2:10, 1 Peter 1:25. We have the aorist similarly used in Plato, Symp. 193 A, πρὸ τοῦ, ὥσπερ λέγω, ἒν ἦμεν· νυνὶ δὲ διὰ τὴν ἀδικίαν διῳκίσθημεν ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ, and in Isaeus, De Cleon. her. 20, τότε μὲν … νυνί δέ … ἐβουλὴθη·
ἀποκατηλλάγητε or ἀποκατήλλαξεν. For reading and construction, see above.
ἐν τῷ σώματι τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, ἐν pointing to the medium of the reconciliation. The addition of τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, “consisting in His flesh,” has been variously accounted for. Beza, Huther, Barry, al., suppose the expression directed against Docetism; but there is no direct evidence of this form of error so early, nor does there appear to be any allusion to it in this Epistle. Others, as Bengel, Olshausen, Lightfoot, supposed the words added to distinguish between the physical and the spiritual σῶμα, i.e. the Church. But this would be irrelevant. Marcion, however, omitted τῆς σαρκός as inconsistent with his views, and explained ἐν τῷ σώματι of the Church. Tertullian, referring to this, says: “in eo corpore in quo mori potuit per carnem mortuus est, non per ecclesiam sed propter ecclesiam” (Adv. Marc. v. 19). The most probable explanation is that the words have reference to the opinion of the false teachers, that angels who were without a σῶμα τῆς σαρκός assisted in the work of reconciliation (so Alford, Ellicott, Meyer, Soden). διὰ τοῦ θανάτου expresses the manner in which the reconciliation was wrought.
After θανάτου, αὐτοῦ is added in א A P al., Boh., Arm., al.
παραστῆσαι ὑμᾶς. With the reading ἀποκατήλλαξεν this infinitive expresses the final purpose; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:2, ἡρμοσάμην ὑμᾶς ἑνὶ ἀνδρί, παρθένον ἁγνήν παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ. Here, however, the verb has its judicial sense; comp. 2 Corinthians 4:14, ὁ ἐγείρας τὸν Κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἡμᾶς σὺν Ἰησοῦ ἐγερεῖ καὶ παραστήσει σὺν ὑμῖν. As this παραστῆσαι is thus included by God Himself in His work as the consequence of the reconciliation which He has accomplished, it follows that there is no room for anything to be contributed to this end by man himself.
With the reading ἀπὀατηλλάγητε two constructions are possible. First, it may be taken as dependent on εὐδόκησέ, νυνὶ δέ—θανάτου being parenthetical (Lightfoot). This makes the sentence rather involved. Or, secondly, the subjet of παραστῆσαι and that of ἀποκατ. may be the same, viz. ὑμεῖς, “ut sisteretis vos.” Comp. Romans 6:13, παραστήσατε ἑαυτοὺς τῷ Θεῷ 2 Timothy 2:15, σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ Θεῷ. There is here no emphasis on the reflexive sense (the words being nearly equivalent to “that ye may stand”), so that ἑαυτούς is not required.
Lightfoot regards παραστῆσαι here as sacrificial, paraphrasing thus: “He will present you a living sacrifice, an acceptable offering to Himself.” But this is reading into the words something which is not suggested, nor even favoured, by the context. Though ἁγίους καὶ ἀμὼμους may seem to be borrowed from the vocabulary of sacrifice, the combination does not carry any such connotation with it. Comp. Ephesians 1:4 (ἐξελὲξατο ἡμᾶς) εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ; ib. ver. 27 (in connexion with the same verb παραστῆναι, where the figure is that of a bride); Judges 1:24, στῆσαι καπενὼπιον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ ἀμώμους. ἀνεγκλήτους, moreover, is not suitable to sacrifice. It is a judicial term, and thus determines the sense of the other two, παραστῆσαι being quite as much a judicial as a sacrificial word; cf. Acts 23:33. May we not add that the thought expressed in Lightfoot’s paraphrase has no parallel in the N.T.? For Romans 12:1 does not support the idea of God presenting believers to Himself as a sacrifice. Accordingly, this view is rejected by most commentators. The adjectives, then, are best understood of moral and spiritual character, the first expressing the positive aspect, the others the negative; and κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ being connected with the verb, which requires such an addition, not with the adjectives, nor with the last only.
23. εἴ γε, “assuming that.” See Ephesians 3:2.
ἐπιμένετε, “ye abide, continue in,” a figurative use of ἐπιμένειν, occurring several times in St. Paul (only), and always with the simple dative; cf. Romans 6:1, Romans 6:11:22, Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 4:16. (In Acts 13:43 the genuine reading is προσμμένειν.) The ἐπι- is not intensive, as if ἐπιμένειν were stronger than μένειν (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:9; 2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:15; Acts 18:20, Acts 18:9:43, Acts 18:28:12, Acts 18:14). It adds the idea of locality.
τῇ πίστει, i.e. ὑμῶν, referring to 1:4.
τεθεμελιωμένοι καὶ ἑδραῖοι, the former word referring to the sure foundation (Ephesians 3:17), the latter to the firmness of the structure. ἑδραῖος occurs also in 1 Corinthians 7:37, ὅς δὲ ἔστηκεν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἑδραῖος, and in 1 Corinthians 15:58, ἑδραῖοι γίνεσθε, ἀμετακίνητοι.
μὴ μετακινούμενοι expresses the same idea on the negative side, but defined more precisely by the following words. It seems better taken as middle than passive, especially considering the present tense, “not constantly shifting.” The use of μή implies that this clause is conditioned by the preceding (Winer, § 55. 1a).
ἀπὸ τῆς ἐλπίδος. As the three preceding expressions involve the same figure, Soden regards these words as connected (by zeugma) with the first two as well as with the third.
τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, subjective genitive, the hope that belongs to the gospel. Comp. ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς κλήσεως, Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 4:4.
οὗ ἠκούσατε, κ.τ.λ., Three points to enforce the duty of not being moved, etc. They had heard this gospel; the same had been universally preached, and the apostle himself was a minister of it. πάλιν αὐτοὺς φέρει μάρτυρας, εἶτα τὴν οἰκουμένην ἅπασαν … καὶ τοῦτο εἰς τὸ ἀξιόπιστον συντελεῖ. … μὲγα γάρ αὐτοῦ ἦν τὸ ἀξίωμα λοιπὸν πανταχοῦ ᾀδομένου, καὶ τῆς οἰκουμένης ὄντος διδασκάλου, Chrys.
ἐν πάσῃ κτίσει, “in all creation,” RV., or “among every creature,” Coverdale, Lightfoot; cf. Mark 16:15 (where, however, κτίσις has the article), κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγελιον παισῃ τῇ κτίσει. In both places the thought is of proclamation and of reception by faith; and therefore we can hardly (with Lightfoot) bring in “all creation, animate and inanimate.”
The expression κηρυχθέντος is probably not to be regarded as hyperbolical, but ideal, “it ‘was’ done when the Saviour … bade it be done” (Moule).
After πάσῃ, τῇ is added in אc Dc K L P and most. It is absent from א* A B C D* G 17, etc.
οὖ ἐγενόμην ἐγὼ Παῦλος διάκονος. Returning to his introduction of himself in ver. 1, the apostle prepares to say some further words of introduction of himself and his calling, before entering on the main topic of the Epistle. It is not for the purpose of magnifying his office that he thus names himself, but to impress on his readers that the gospel which they had heard, and which was proclaimed in all the world, was the very gospel that he preached.
For διάκονος א* P read κῆρυξ Καὶ ἀπόστολος. A combines both readings.
24-29. The apostle’s own qualification as a minister of this gospel. To him has been given the privilege of knowing and proclaiming this mystery which was hidden from former ages, namely, that of Christ dwelling in them. It is his mission to make this known, and so to admonish and teach that he may present every man perfect. This he earnestly labours to do through the power of Christ
24. νῦν Χαίρω. νῦν is not transitional (“quae cum ita sint,” Lücke), which would require οὖν or the like, but refers to present time. Now as a prisoner “with a chain upon my wrist” (Eadie). His active service as διάκονος is at present suspended, but the sufferings which it had brought upon him are a source of joy. Lightfoot understands it thus: “Now, when I contemplate the lavish wealth of God’s mercy, now when I see all the glory of bearing a part in this magnificent work, my sorrow is turned into joy.” But there is no indication of such a connexion of thought in the text.
ὄς is prefixed to νῦν in D* G, Vulg. al. (AV.). It is, doubtless, a repetition of the first syllable of διάκονος, assisted by the desire to supply a connecting link between the sentences. For examples of similar abruptness compare 2 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Timothy 1:12.
ἐν. Compare Php 1:18, ἐν τουτῷ χαίρω: Romans 5:3, καυχώμεθα ἐν ταῖς θλίψσιν.
After παθήμασιν, μου is added in Text. Rec. with אc and many cursives, Syr-Pesh, Arm., Eth., al.
ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, to be connected with παθήμασιν. His sufferings had been brought on him by his labours on behalf of the Gentiles, “propter vestrum gentium salutem,” Estius, and so with a kindly personal reference he represents them as endured on behalf of the Colossians, who shared in the benefit of his ministry. The article is not required before ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, τοῖς παθήμασιν being = οἷς πάσχω.
ἀνταναπληρῶ. This double compound is not found elsewhere in LXX or N.T. ἀναπληροῦν is found six times in N.T., twice in connexion with ὑστέρημα, 1 Corinthians 16:17; Php 2:30. προσαναπληροῦν also occurs twice with ὑστέρημα, but in a different sense, the former verb referring to a deficiency left by, the latter to one felt by, the persons mentioned. What modification is introduced in the meaning of ἀναπληροῦν by the addition of ἀντι- is disputed. ἀντι in composition with a verb does not imply “instead of another,” as Photius here takes it (τουτέστιν, Ἀντὶ δεσπότου καὶ διδασκάλου ὁ δοῦλος ἐγώ, κ.τ.λ.), but “over against,” which may be either in opposition, as ἀντιλέγω, ἀντικεῖμαι, or in correspondence, in turn, as ἀντιμετρέω, ἀντικαλέω Luke 14:12), ἀντιλαμβανόμαι, etc. Here the ἀντι- has been understood by some as referring to διακονία, the suffering now taking the place of the former active service, or as indicating that the apostle’s afflictions were in response to what Christ had done for him. It is, perhaps, sufficient to say, with Wetstein, that it indicates the correspondence with the ὑστερημα, “ἀντὶ ὑστερήματος succedit ἀναπλήρωμα.” (So Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Eadie, Soden.) Lightfoot objects that this practically deprives ἀντι of any meaning, for ἀναπληροῦν alone would denote as much. He adopts Winer’s view, that ἀνταναπληροῦν is used of one who “alterius ὑστέρημα de suo explet,” or, as Lightfoot puts it, “that the supply comes from an opposite quarter to the deficiency.” Instances are cited in which this idea (or rather that of “a different quarter”) is expressed in the context, for example, Dion Cass. xliv. 48, ἵνʼ ὅσον … ἐνέδει, τοῦτο ἐκ τῆς παρὰ τῶν ἄλλων συντελείας ἀνταναπληρωθῇ. The requirements of this passage seem to be fully met by the idea of correspondence, as will appear if we translate: “in order that … as much as was wanting … this might be correspondingly supplied.” And in the two instances in which ἀναπληροῦν is used with ὑστεκρημα, the supply is from a different quarter from the deficiency, so that there is no more reason for including this idea in ἀνταναπλ, than in ἀναπλ.
In Demosth. (De Symm. p. 182), τούτων τῶν συμμωριῶν ἑκόστην διελεῖν κελεύω πέντε μέρη κατὰ δώδεκα ἄνδρας, ἀνταναπληροῦντας πρὸς τὸν εὐπορώτατον ἀεὶ τοὺς ἀπορωτάτους, the idea is that the poorer members should balance the rich in each μέρος, so as to equalise the μέρη. It is this idea of balance that is expressed by the ἀντι-.
Similarly the substantive ἀνταναπλήρωσις in Diog. Laert. x. 48, καὶ γὰρ ῥεῦσις ἀπὸ τῆς τῶν σωμάτων ἐπιπολῆς συνεχὴς συμβαίνει, οὐκ ἐπίδηκος αἰσθήσει διὰ τὴν ἀνταναπλήρωσιν, i.e. On account of the counter-supply, i.e. the supply which “meets” the deficiency.
It is not, perhaps, an over-refinement to suggest that ἀνταναπληρῶ is more unassuming than ἀναπληρῶ, since part of the force of the word is thrown on the idea of correspondence.
τὰ ὑτερηήματα. The plural is used because the afflictions are not regarded as a unity from which there is a definite shortcoming. Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:10, τὰ ὑστερήματα τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν where the singular would suggest that their faith, as faith, was defective, while the plural suggests that there were points in which it needed to be made perfect.
τῶν θλίψεων τοῦ Χριστοῦ. By two classes of commentators these words are understood to mean the afflictions which Christ endured. First, many Roman Catholic expositors, including Caietan, Bellar mine, and more recently Bisping, find in the passage a support for the theory that the merits of the saints constitute a treasure of the Church from which indulgences may be granted. Estius, with his usual candour, while holding the doctrine to be Catholic and apostolic, yet judges that “ex hoc Ap. loco non videtur admodum solide statui posse. Non enim sermo iste, quo dicit Ap. se pati pro ecclesia, necessario sic accipiendus est, quod pro redimendis peccatorum poenis quas fidelis debent, patiatur, quod forte nonnihil haberet arrogantiae; sed percommode sic accipitur, quomodo proxime dixerat ‘gaudeo in passionibus meis provobis’ ut nimirum utraque parte significet afflictiones et persecutiones pro salute fidelium ipsiusque ecclesiae promovendae toleratas.” It has been more fully replied (e.g. by Lightfoot) that the sufferings of Christ may be regarded from two different points of view, either as satisfactoriae or aedificatoriae. In the former sense there can be no ὑστέρημα, Christ’s sufferings and those of His servants are different in kind, and therefore in-commensurable. But in this sense θλίψις would be an unsuitable word, and, in fact, it is never applied in any sense to Christ’s sufferings. In the second point of view, however, that of ministerial utility, “it is a simple matter of fact that the afflictions of every saint and martyr do supplement the afflictions of Christ. The Church is built up by repeated acts of self-denial in successive individuals and successive generations” (Lightfoot).
It is no doubt true that these “continue the work which Christ began” (compare 2 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Peter 4:13). But to say this is not to say that there was any “shortcoming” in the afflictions of Christ. His work, including His sufferings, was absolutely complete; and so far as others carry it on, their work is included in His (Php 4:13). To say that He left something “behind” is to slur over the meaning of ὑστέρημα, which does not mean something left behind, but a want of sufficiency. Nowhere in the N.T. is anything of the kind suggested. And the Colossians were the last to whom St. Paul would use, without explanation, a phrase which would be so open to misconception, as tending to foster the delusion that either saints or angels could add anything to Christ’s work. If affliction could do so, why not (it might be said) self-imposed suffering, asceticism, or gratuitous self-denial? Moreover, can it be supposed that St. Paul, who calls himself the least of saints, and not meet to be called an apostle, would express himself thus without some qualification? Lightfoot would mitigate the apparent arrogance by the remark that “the present tense, ἀνταναπληρῶ, denotes an inchoate, not a complete act.” The term “inchoate” does not seem to be justified. The present, indeed, denotes an act continuing and therefore not finished, but not incomplete as far as the present moment is concerned. Compare the instances of ἀναπληρῶ itself: Matthew 13:14, ἀναπληροῦται αὐτοῖς ἡ προφητεία, κ.τ.λ.: 1 Corinthians 14:16, ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου: 2 Corinthians 9:12, οὐ μόνον ἐστὶ προσαναπληροῦσα τὰ ὑστερήματα τῶν ἁγίων, ἀλλὰ καὶ περισσεύουσα, κ.τ.λ. Compare also the present of πληροῦν, Galatians 5:14; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 4:17.
A third view is adopted by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Augustine, and most expositors, ancient and modern. According to this, “the afflictions of Christ” are the sufferings of His Body, the Church, so called because “He really felt them.” So Augustine on Psa_61. says of Christ, “qui passus est in capite nostro et patitur in membris suis, id est, nobis ipsis.” And Leo, quoted by Böhmer (ap. Eadie), “passio Christi perducitur ad finem mundi,” etc. This view is adopted amongst late commentators by Alford, Ellicott, De Wette, Olshausen. But the notion that Christ suffers affliction in His people is nowhere found in the N.T. Acts 9:4, “Why persecutest thou Me?” is not an instance. There the persecution of His saints is represented as directed against Him, but He is not represented as suffering from it. The idea that the glorified Christ continues to suffer, and that “His tribulations will not be complete till the last pang shall have past” (Alf.) (an idea which, as Meyer observes, would seem to imply even the thought of Christ’s dying in the martyrs), is inconsistent with the scriptural representations of His exalted state. It is true that He sympathises with the afflictions of His people; but sympathy is not affliction, nor can the fact of this sympathy justify the use of the term “afflictions of Christ,” without explanation, to mean the afflictions of His Church. This would be particularly unsuitable in the present connexion, for it would make St. Paul say that he rejoiced in His sufferings because they went to increase the afflictions of Christ.
It remains that (with Meyer, Soden, al.) we take the expression to signify the apostle’s own afflictions; and to this interpretation the readers are naturally led, first, by the word θλίψις, which is never used of Christ’s sufferings, but often of the apostle’s; and, secondly, by the defining words ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου, which are best connected with τῶν θλίψεων. For if the writer had intended them to be taken with the verb, he would doubtless have written ἀνταναπληρῶ ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου. It is said, indeed, that the words are placed here for the sake of the antithesis to τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ. But there would be no purpose served by emphasising this antithesis here, and to do so would only distract the attention of the reader.
Meyer, however, while adopting this view of θλ. τοῦ Χρ., connects ἐν τῇ ς. μου with the verb. On the other hand, Steiger, joining these words with θλ. τοῦ Χρ., connects both with the following: “the sufferings which Christ endures in my flesh for His body.”
That St. Paul should call his own sufferings in the service of Christ the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, is quite in accordance with other expressions of his. For instance, in 2 Corinthians 1:5 he speaks of the sufferings of Christ overflowing to him, περισσεύει τὰ παθήματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς. In Php 3:10 he speaks of knowing κοινωνία τῶν παθημάτων αὐτοῦ συμμορφιζόμενος τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτοῦ. Again, 2 Corinthians 4:10, πάντοτε τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι περιφέροντες.
The form of expression, then, need not cause any difficulty. The question what St. Paul means by calling his own troubles the afflictions of Christ in his flesh is a different one, and may be answered by saying that Christ’s afflictions are regarded as the type of all those that are endured by His followers on behalf of the Church. So Theodoret: Χριστὸς τὸν ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐκκλησίας κατεδέξατο θάνατον … καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ὅσα ὑπέμεινε, καὶ ὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος ὡσαύτως ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς ὑπέστη τὰ ποικίλα παθήματα. Compare Matthew 20:23, τὸ μὲν ποτήριόν μου πίεσθε.
ὑπὲρ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ. The use of this designation was probably suggested by the mention of σάρξ. ὑπέρ is clearly not “in the place of,” but “on behalf of”; cf. ver. 7.
ὅ ἐστιν ἡ ἐκκλησία. The antithesis of σῶμα and σάρξ rendered necessary this explanation of the words σώματος αὐτοῦ. Besides, ἐκκλησία was required by the following ἐγενόμην διάκονος.
ὅ ἐστιν has not the same shade of meaning as ἥτις ἐστιν (1 Timothy 3:15, ἐν οἴκῳ Θεοῦ … ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία). The former is equivalent to id est; the latter to “and such is.”
25. ἧς ἐγενόμην διάκονος resumes the οὗ ἐγεν. διάκ. of ver. 23, carrying out now the active side of the ministry, as ver. 24 the passive.
κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν. “According to the stewardship in the house of God.” On οἰκ. cf. Ephesians 1:10. Here = the office or function of a steward, so that he is an οἰκονόμος Θεοῦ, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:17, οἰκονομίαν πεπίστευμαι, and Luke 16:2. So the apostles and other ministers of the Church are called οἰκονόμοι, 1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 4:7; Titus 1:7; see also 1 Peter 4:10. The Church is οἶκος τοῦ Θεοῦ, 1 Timothy 3:15. Chrysostom, al., take οἰκ. in the sense “dispensation,” which is inconsistent with τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι.
εἰς ὑμᾶς, cf. ver. 24. Connected by Scholefield and Hofmann with the following πληρῶσαι. But compare Ephesians 3:2, τὴν οἰκονομίαν τῆς χάριτος τοῦ Θεοῦ τῆς δοθείσης μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς: and Romans 15:16, τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰς τὸ εἶναί με λειτουργὸν Χριστοῦ εἰς τὰ ἔθνη.
πληρῶσαι, not infin. of design, but explanatory of οἰκ. τὴν δοθ. κ.τ.λ. The verb is found in a similar connexion Romans 15:19, ὥστε με … μεχρὶ τοῦ Ἰλλυρικοῦ πεπληρωκέναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ is frequently used by St. Paul for the gospel (1 Corinthians 14:36; 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 2:4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; compare also Acts 4:31, al.). The sense then is: “to carry out to the full the preaching of the gospel”; “ad summa perducere: Paulus ubique ad summa tendit,” Bengel. There is doubtless a reference to St. Paul’s special office as the apostle of the Gentiles, by virtue of which he gave full development to the “word of God.” This is suggested by δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς.
Beza takes the phrase to mean “to fulfil the promise of God” (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21), which does not suit the context. Fritzsche understands it as meaning “to complete the teaching begun by Epaphras.” See on Luke 8:11.
26. τὸ μυστήριον. Lightfoot observes: “This is not the only term borrowed from the ancient mysteries, which St. Paul employs to describe the teaching of the gospel,” and he mentions τέλειον, ver. 28; μεμύημαι, Php 4:12; and (perhaps) σφραγίζεσθαι in Ephesians 1:14. There is, he says, an intentional paradox in the employment of the image by St. Paul, since the Christian mysteries are not, like the heathen, confined to a narrow circle, but are freely communicated to all. But as μυστήριον in the singular is never used by Greek writers in connexion with the ancient mysteries, and on the other hand appears to have been an ordinary word for “secret” (see note on Ephesians 1:9), there seems to be no ground for the assumption that the term is borrowed from the “mysteries.” The plural is used thrice only by St. Paul, viz. 1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 4:13:2, 1 Corinthians 4:14:2; but occurs in the Gospels, Matthew 13:11; Luke 8:10. As to μεμύημαι, although the verb may have been originally borrowed from the mysteries, St. Paul found it already in use in the sense in which he employs it; cf. Alciphron, ii. 4, κυβεπνᾷν μυηθήσομαι. For τέλειος, see on ver. 28.
τὸ ἀποκεκρυμμένον … νῦν δὲ ἐφανερώθη. These are the two characteristics of a μυστήριον in the N.T. Compare Romans 16:25, μυστηρίου χρόνοις αἰωνίοις σεσιγημένου, φανερωθέντος δὲ νῦν. πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, used in 1 Corinthians 2:7 of God’s purpose, could not properly have been said of its concealment. ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων, κ.τ.λ. ἀπό here is of time, being opposed to νῦν. So ἀπʼ αἰῶνος, Acts 3:21, Acts 15:18. An αἰών includes many γενεαί; compare Ephesians 3:21. The fact of the long concealment and recent disclosure of the mystery is not without point here; it explains the acceptance of the errors which the apostle is combating.
27. ἐφανερώθη. The anacoluthon gives more emphasis to the mention of the φανέρωσις; cf. ver. 22.
τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ; i.e. Christians in general, not only the apostles and prophets of the N.T., as many both of the older and later commentators take it, in agreement with Ephesians 3:5. Cod. G even adds ἀποστόλοις (and F, of course, agrees).
οἷς, “quippe quibus.” ἠθέλησεν ὁ Θεός. It was God’s free choice, so that the γνωρίζειν was only to those to whom He chose to make it known.
τί τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης. Compare Romans 9:23, ἵνα γνωρίσῃ τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ: and Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 3:16. τί joined to a substantive of quantity signifies “how great.” πλοῦτος (indifferently masculine and neuter in St. Paul) is a favourite term in these Epistles as applied to the dispensation of grace.
δόξα is not a mere attribute of πλοῦτος (Erasmus), nor of μυστηρίου (Beza), but is the principal idea; it is of the δόξα τοῦ μυστηρίου that it is said that it has shown itself in rich measure. It is the glorious manifestation of God’s dealings contained in this “magniloquus est in extollenda evangelii dignitate,” Calvin. σεμνῶς εἶπε καὶ ὄγκον ἐπέθηκεν ἀπὸ πολλῆς διαθέσεως, ἐπιτάσεις ζητῶν ἐπιτάσεων, Chrys. The latter, however, understands the words of the glorious results of the gospel amongst the heathen.
ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. It was amongst these especially that this πλοῦτος was displayed; φαίνεται ἐν ἑτέροις, πολλῷ δὲ πλέον ἐν τούτοις ἡ πολλὴ τοῦ μυστηρίου δόξα, Chrys. For the construction cf. Ephesians 1:18.
ὅ ἐστιν Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖ. The antecedent may be either μυστήριον or πλοῦτος. The former (Vulg., Chrys) is that generally favoured by expositors: “the mystery consists in this, that Christ is ἐν ὑμῖν”; and this seems on the whole the most natural. Μυστήριον is the principal idea in the context (ver. 26, 2:2), τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης being subsidiary to it. Again, the “mystery” is not something distinct from the riches of the glory of it; those to whom the former is revealed are made acquainted with the latter. This view also agrees with Ephesians 3:6, where the μυστήριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ is defined as εἶναι τὰ ἔθνη συγκληρονόμα, κ.τ.λ. The strongest objection to this view is that it seems to make ὅ ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ., a merely parenthetical definition, whereas it carries on the thread of the discourse. But this is more apparent than real; it is the thought of the μυστήριον that runs through the whole, and the clause is not parenthetical, but carries on the description of the μυστήριον begun in ver. 26, ἐν ὑμῖν. The parallelism with ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν favours the interpretation “among you,” rather than “in you.”
ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς δόξης. This δόξης is an echo of the former, but this does not require us to give both the same signification. Oltramare regards this, not as an apposition to ὁ Χρ., but as a second thought succeeding the former in a lively manner, and joining on to it, “It is Christ in the midst of you! the hope of glory !”
τί τὸ πλοῦτος is read by A B Dbc K L (τὸ πλοῦτος without τί, G), while א C P have the masc. τίς ὁ πλ.
ὅ ἐστιν is read by A B G P 17 47 672, probably Lat. Vulg. (quod est); ὅς ἐστιν by אC D K L and most, Chrys., Theodoret, al. With the latter reading, ὅς is attracted to the gender of Χριστός. But this interferes with the sense, for whether the antecedent be πλοῦτος or μυστήριον, it is not Χριστός that is predicated, but Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν.
28. ὃν ἡμεῖς καταγγέλλομεν. “And Him we proclaim.” Him, i.e. not Χριστόν only, but Χρ. ἐν ὑμῖν. ἡμεῖς, emphatic, in opposition to the heretical as well as to the Judaising teachers; “we,” himself and Timothy in particular.
νουθετοῦντες … καὶ διδάσκοντες … “admonishing … and teaching.” These, as Meyer observes, correspond to the μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε of the gospel message. νουθεσία μὲν ἐπὶ τῆς πράξεως, διδασκαλία δὲ ἐπὶ δογμάτων.
πάντα ἄνθωπον, thrice repeated, emphasises the universality of the gospel as taught by St. Paul (3:11), in opposition to the doctrine of an intellectual exclusiveness taught by the false teachers; probably also it points to the fact that each man individually was an object of the apostle`s care, τί λέγεισ; πάντα ἄνθρωπον; ναί, φησι, τοῦτο σπουδάζομεν, εἰ δὲ μὴ γένηται, οὐδὲν πρὸς ἡμᾶς, Theophylact.
ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ, i.e. μετὰ πάσης σοφίας καί συνέσεως, Chrys. al., expressing the manner of the teaching. The Latin Fathers understand the words as denoting the object of the teaching; so Moule: “in the whole field of that holy wisdom,” etc. But in the N.T. the object of διδάσκειν is put in the accusative, not in the dative with ἐν.
There is no contradiction to 1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, for there is a Θεοῦ σοφία (1 Corinthians 2:7), a divine philosophy, the source of which is indicated in ch. 2:3; cf. Ephesians 1:8, τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐπερίσσευσεν εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ. Compare ver. 9 and 3:16.
ἵνα παραστήσωμεν, as in ver. 22, refers to presentation before a tribunal, not as a sacrifice.
τέλειον. This is one of the words noted by Lightfoot as “probably borrowed from the ancient mysteries, where it seems to have been applied to the fully instructed, as opposed to the novices,” and in 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 2:7 he finds the same allusion. This technical sense of τέλειος as applied to persons does not seem sufficiently made out; in the passages cited by Lightfoot, with one exception, it is not to the persons, but to the mysteries, τελεταί, that the term is applied. The one exception is Plato, Phaedr. 249 C, τελέους ἀεὶ τελετὰς τελούμενος τέλεος ὄντως μόνος γίγνεται, which cannot be regarded as proving the usage. But even if this be granted, there seems no sufficient reason for introducing this sense here, where what is in question is not complete initiation, or knowledge, but maturity of faith and spiritual life. In this sense the word is used by St. Paul, Ephesians 4:13, μέχρι καταντήσωμεν εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον: Php 3:15, ὅσοι οὖν τέλειοι, τοῦτο φρονῶμεν: 1 Corinthians 14:20, ταῖς φρεσὶ τέλειοι γίνεσθε. Compare Hebrews 5:14; Matthew 5:48, Matthew 19:2. And in the present Epistle, 4:12, ἵνα σταθῆτε τέλειοι καὶ πεπληροφημένοι ἐν παντὶ θελήματι τοῦ Θεοῦ. Observe also here the defining addition τέλειον ἐν Χριστω1͂ͅ. For the use of the term in early Christian to denote the baptized as opposed to the catechumens, see Lightfoot’s note.
29. εἰς ὅ, viz. to present every man, etc.
καὶ κοπιῶ. I not only καταγγέλλω, κ.τ.λ., but carry to the point of toiling. Hofmann understands it as meaning, “I become weary,” comparing John 4:6; Revelation 2:3, where, however, the verb is perfect. The sense, moreover, would be quite unsuitable here in connexion with the ἀγωνίζεσθαι in the power of Christ. The verb is frequently used by St. Paul of his toilsome labours in the Churches; e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 4:11; Php 2:16; also of the labours of others; Romans 16:12; 1 Corinthians 16:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12. But he also uses it of the labour of the hands; 1 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 4:28. The change to the singular has its ground in the personal experience described.
ἀγωνιζόμενος. Compare 1 Timothy 4:10, εἰς τοῦτο κοπιῶμεν καὶ ἀγωνιζόμεθα. The reference here is to inward ἀγών, as is shown by the following context; cf. 4:12.
κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν αὐτοῦ. Not by his own strength, but by that which Christ supplies. τὸν αὐτου1͂ κόπον καὶ ἀγῶνα τῷ Χριστῷ ἀνατιθείς, Oecum. But Chrys., Theoph. understand the αὐτοῦ of God, against the immediate context. ἐνεργουμένην, middle, as always in St. Paul. Fritzsche on Romans 7:5 observes: “ἐνεργεῖν, vim exercere de personis, ἐνεργεῖσθαι ex se (aut suam). vim exercere de rebus collocavit, Galatians 5:6; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; al. ut h.l. Passivo … nunquam Paulus usus est.”
ἐν δυνάμει, “in power”; cf. Romans 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Some understand this of the power of working miracles, which is quite inappropriate to the context, according to which the reference is to κοπιῶ ἀγωνιζόμενος.
Boh Bohairic. Cited by Tisch. as “Coptic,” by Tregelles as “Memphitic,” by WH. as “me.”
WH Westcott and Hort.
Syr-Harcl. The Harclean Syriac.
Syr-Pesh The Peshitto Syriac.
Fuld. Cod. Fuldensis
De W De Wette.
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.