Colossians 1
Pulpit Commentary
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
Verse 1. - Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus through God's will, and Timothy the brother (Ephesians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1). The apostle designates himself by his office, as always, except in the Macedonian Epistles and the letter of private friendship to Philemon. Timothy shares also in the greeting of the Epistle to Philemon, probably a leading member of the Colossian Church (comp. Colossians 4:9, 17 with Philemon 1:2, 10-12). During St. Paul's long residence at Ephesus Timothy was with him (Acts 19:22), and there, probably, Philemon had come under his influence (see Introduction, § 2), and made Timothy's acquaintance. There was, therefore, at least one link of acquaintance between "Timothy the brother" and "the saints in Colossae" (comp. Philippians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 1 and 2 Thessalonians 1:1, where his name appears in the same way). The honourable prominence thus given to Timothy marked him out for future leadership in the Church (1 Timothy 1:3, 18; 2 Timothy 2:2; 2 Timothy 4:2, 5, 6).
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.
Verse 2. - To those in Colossae (which are) saints and faithful brethren in Christ (Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1). "Saints" in respect of their Divine calling and character (Colossians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 1, 2, where this title is formally introduced); "faithful brethren in Christ" (Ephesians 1:1) in view of the errors and consequent divisions threatening them as a Church (ver. 23; Colossians 2:5, 18, 19; Colossians 3:15; Ephesians 4:14-16; Ephesians 6:10-18; Philippians 1:27: 2 Timothy 2:19). Grace to yon, and peace: "as in all his Epistles." This Pauline formula of greeting combines the Greek and Hebrew, Western and Eastern, forms of salutation (comp. "Abba, Father," Romans 8:15). Ξάρις is a modification of the everyday χαίρειν, hail! (Acts 15:23; James 1:1; 2 John 1:10); and εἰρήνη reproduces the Hebrew shalom (salam). Grace is the source of all blessing as bestowed by God (ver. 6; Ephesians 1:3-6; Ephesians 2:5; Romans 5:2, 17, 21; Titus 2:11); and peace, in the large sense of its Hebrew original, of all blessing as experienced by man (Ephesians 2:16, 17; Luke 2:14; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:16). From God our Father. Among the apostle's salutations this alone fails to add "and from our Lord Jesus Christ" - a defect which copyists were tempted to remedy. The omission is well established (see Revised Text, and critical editors generally), and cannot surely be accidental. In this and the twin Ephesian letter, devoted as they are to the glory of Christ, the name of the Father stands out with a peculiar prominence and dignity, much as in St. John's Gospel: "honouring the Son," they must needs "honour the Father" also (vers. 12, 13; Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:14; Ephesians 4:6; Ephesians 5:20).
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Verses 3-8. - The opening thanksgiving is full and appropriate. Its content is determined by the state of this Church, and by the apostle's relation to it through Epaphras, and his own present position. Verse 3. - We give thanks to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We; Timothy and I (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, etc.). The Revised Text omits "and" between" God" and "Father," following Lachmann, Westcott and Heft, and Lightfoot (who hesitates), on evidence numerically slight, but sufficient; especially as in every other instance of this combination the conjunction is present. "Father" is also without definite article in the better attested (Revised) reading. The words, "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," bear, therefore, an explanatory, quasi-predicative force. St. Paul wishes his readers to understand that he gives thanks to God on their account distinctly under this aspect, regarded as "Father of Christ." He has just spoken of "our Father," and now adds, "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," suggesting that it is in this relation that we know God as "our Father," the Author of grace and peace, the Object of Christian thanksgiving. So the sovereign and exclusive mediation of Christ, the ruling idea of the whole Epistle, is thrown into bold relief at the outset; and, in this light, the unique omissions of vers. 2 and 3 explain and justify each other. This fatherhood embraces the entire Person and offices of the Son as "our Lord Jesus Christ." Praying always for you (ver. 9; Colossians 2:1-3; Philippians 1:4; Romans 1:9). The apostle had known from the first of the existence of this Church; and had already been in communication with it (see Introduction, § 2). He had, therefore, a general prayerful interest in the Colossians (2 Corinthians 11:28), that has been quickened to joyful thanksgiving (Colossians 2:5; comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10) by the arrival of Epaphras. "Always" and "for you" - either or both of the phrases - may be joined grammatically to "we give thanks" or to "praying:" the latter connection is preferable (see Alford or Ellicott); similarly in Philemon 1:4; in Ephesians 1:16 the turn of expression is different.
Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
Verse 4. - Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have (ἤν ἔχετε, Revised Text) toward all the saints (Ephesians 1:15, B.V.; Philemon 1:5, R.V.; 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10; 1 John 3:23 2John 4 3John 3, 4). "Having heard "more immediately from Epaphras (vers. 8, 9). Note the characteristic recurrence of this word: he had heard of their faith and love, as they had heard before the word of truth (ver. 5); from the day they had heard they had borne fruit (ver. 6), and he, in return,from the day he heard of it, had not ceased to pray for them (ver. 9); see note on ver. 8; and comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and 1 Thessalonians 2:2 with 1 Thessalonians 3:6 (Greek). "In Christ Jesus" is attached to "faith" (as to "brethren" in ver. 2) so closely as to form with it a single idea; to be "in Christ Jesus" is of the very essence of this faith and brotherhood. "Faith in Christ," "believe in Christ," in our English Bible, commonly represent a different Greek preposition, εἰς (literally, into or unto Christ); only in the pastoral Epistles and in Ephesians 1:15 - not in Galatians 3:26 (see Lightfoot) or Romans 3:25 (see Meyer or Beet) - do we find, as here, πίστις ἐν Ξριστῷ. In Christ faith rests, finding its abiding ground and element of life. In the Epistles of this period the Christian state appears chiefly as "life in Christ;" rather than, as in the earlier letters, as "salvation through Christ" (comp. e.g. Romans 5. and Colossians 2:9-15). The "love" of the Colossians evokes thanksgiving, as that which they have "toward all the saints;" for as the Church extended Christian love needed to be more catholic (ver. 6; Colossians 3:11), and Colossian error in particular tended to exclusiveness and caste feeling (see note on ver. 28). The iteration of "all" in this Epistle is remarkable.
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Verse 5. - (We give thanks) because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens (Colossians 3:4; Ephesians 1:12-14; Philippians 3:20, 21; Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Matthew 6:20; Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:33; John 14:2, 3). "Hope" is objective - matter of hope, as in Galatians 5:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 6:18. St. Paul speaks most of heaven and heavenly things in the letters of this period. Ver. 4 gives the nearest grammatical connection for this clause; and many recent commentators, following Greek interpreters, accordingly find here that which "evokes and conditions" the Colossians' "love" (Meyer, Ellicott) or "faith and love" (De Wette, Lightfoot). But this construction we reject. For it makes the heavenly reward the reason of the Colossians' present (faith and) love, reversing the true and Pauline order of thought (Romans 5:1-5; Romans 8:28-39; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 1:13; comp. 1 John 4:17, 18); while, on the other hand, the heavenly hope is the last and highest ground of the apostle's thanksgivings and encouragements, and the forfeiture or impairing of it the chief matter of his fears and warnings throughout the Epistles of this group (Colossians 1:12, 22, 23, 27, 28; Colossians 2:18; Colossians 3:4, 24; Ephesians 1:13, 14; Ephesians 2:12; Galatians 1:6-9; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:16; Philippians 3:11-21: comp. 1 Peter 1:3, 4). It is better, therefore, with Bengel, Hofmann, Klopper, Conybeare, Eadie, and others, from Athanasius downwards, to refer ver. 5 as well as ver. 4 to the principal verb, "we give thanks" (ver. 3). What the apostle hears of "the faith and love" of the Colossian brethren moves him to give thanks for "the hope which is in store for them in heaven." Of that hope this faith and love are to him a pledge and an earnest, even as the "seal of the Spirit" (Ephesians 1:14) and the "peace of Christ in their hearts" (Colossians 3:15; see note) are to themselves. Similarly, in Philippians 1:27, 28 and 2 Thessalonians 1:4, 5, from the present faith and patience of the saints the certainty of their future blessedness is argued. By singling out this hope as chief matter of thanksgiving here, the apostle enhances its certainty and its value in his readers' eyes. (On this verse, see the Expositor, first series, vol. 10. pp. 74-80.) From the general occasion and ground of his thanksgiving in the Christian state and prospects of his readers, St. Paul proceeds to dwell on certain special circumstances which enhanced his gratitude to God (vers. 56-8). Which (hope) ye heard of before, in the word of the truth of the gospel; or, good tidings (vers. 7, 23; Colossians 2:7; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:15, 21; Galatians 1:6-9; Galatians 3:1-4; Galatians 4:9; Galatians 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 5:12). There is a veiled polemic reference in "the word of the truth of the gospel" (comp. ver. 7 and parallels from Galatians). The word "before" (aforetime) "contrasts their earlier with their later lessons, the true gospel of Epaphras with the false gospel of recent teachers" (Lightfoot). Others interpret, less suitably: heard already (before my writing), or heard beforehand (before the fulfilment of the hope). It is in St. Paul's manner to refer his readers at the outset to their conversion and first Christian experiences (see parallel passages). Their hope was directly at stake in the controversy with Colossian error. Here we meet the first of those cumulative combinations of nouns, so marked a feature of the style of Colossians and Ephesians, which are made a reproach against these Epistles by some critics; but each is appropriate in its place.
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:
Verse 6. - That is come unto you, even as also (it is) in all the world, bearing fruit and increasing, as in you also (Romans 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 2:14; Acts if. 47; 5:14; 6:7; 9:31; 11:21; 12:24; 19:20). The words, "and increasing," are added to the text on the testimony, all but unanimous, of the older witnesses. Their propriety is manifest; for the success of the gospel at Colossae was a gratifying evidence, both of its inherent fruitfulness, and of its rapid progress in the Gentile world. Stationary at Rome (see Introduction, § 3), and with his messengers coming and going, and news reaching him from time to time of the advance of the Christian cause, the strong expression, "in all the world," is natural to St. Paul. From Rome "all the world" is surveyed, just as what takes place at Rome seems to resound "in all the world" (Romans 1:8). Bearing fruit (verb in middle voice, implying inherent energy) precedes growing - the first "describing the inner working," the second" the outward extension of the gospel" (Lightfoot). For "bearing fruit," comp. Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 1:11; John 15:8, 16: and for "growing," 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Matthew 13:31-33; and parallel passages; see also ver. 11. In the last clause the expression "doubles back upon itself" in a fashion characteristic of St. Paul, whose sentences grow and change their form like living things while he indites them (comp. Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, R.V.): the coming of the gospel to Colossae suggests the thought of its advent in the world, and this gives place to the fuller idea of its fruitfulness and expansion, which in turn is evidenced by its effect at Colossae. Since the day that ye heard (it), and knew well the grace of God in truth (ver. 5; Colossians 2:6, 7; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:21; 1 Thessalonians 2:1, 2, 13; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 1:6, 11; Galatians 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:14). For their progress had been continuous (comp. Philippians 1:5). Meyer and Ellicott, with the A.V., better maintain the connection of thought in understanding "the gospel" as object of "heard." The verb ἐπέγνωτε, knew well, with ἐπίγνωσις (ver. 9, etc.), belongs specially to the vocabulary of this group of Epistles. Knowledge, in 1 Corinthians, is denoted by the simple gnosis. But this word became at an early time the watchword of the heretical Gnostics (" men of knowledge:" comp. 1 Timothy 6:20); and the false teachers of Colossae pretended to an intellectual superiority, asserted, we may imagine, in much the same way (comp. Colossians 2:2-4, 8, 23). The apostle now prefers the more precise and distinctive epignosis (επίγινώσκω), meaning" accurate" or" advanced knowledge" (see Lightfoot here, and on ver. 9). "To hear the gospel" is "to know well the grace of God" (Acts 20:24; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:20 - 6:1; John 1:17); the full knowledge of which "in truth" (ver. 5; Ephesians 4:14, 15, 20-24) would preserve the Colossians from knowledge falsely so called.
As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
Verse 7. - As ye learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant; literally, bondman (Ephesians 4:20; 2 Timothy 3:14). Only in Colossians 4:7 does the epithet "fellow-bondman" appear again in St. Paul (the Revisers in these two places omit their marginal "bondservant"). The dominant thought of Christ Jesus "the Lord" (Colossians 2:6; Colossians 3:22-4:1) possibly dictates this expression. That the Colossians had received the gospel in this way from Epaphras, a disciple of St. Paul, was a striking proof of its fruitfulness, and a further cause for thanksgiving on his own part. Who is a faithful minister of Christ on our (or, your) behalf (Colossians 4:12, 13; 2 Corinthians 8:22; Philippians 2:22). He puts his seal upon the ministry of Epaphras, and vindicates it against all questioning at home. Textual evidence for "on our" or "your behalf" is pretty evenly balanced: most older Greek copies read the first person, while the ancient versions generally adopted the second; and the critical editors are similarly divided. The Revisers, with Tregelles, Alford, Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, prefer "our," which gives a finer and more fitting sense. It was as St. Paul's representative that Epaphras had ministered in Colossae, and to him he now reported his success; and this justified the apostle in claiming the Colossians as his own charge, and in writing to them in the terms of this letter (Colossians 2:1, 2, 5-7: comp. Romans 15:20; 2 Corinthians 10:13-16). "Minister" (διάκονος, deacon, in its official sense found in St. Paul first in Philippians 1:1, then in 1 Timothy) is to be distinguished from the "servant" (δοῦλος, slave) of the last clause, and from "assistant" (ὑπηρέτης: 1 Corinthians 4:1; Acts 13:5; Acts 26:16), and "attendant" (θεράπων: Hebrews 3:5); see Trench's 'Synonyms of the New Testament.' It is a favourite word of St. Paul's, and points to the service rendered, while other terms indicate the status of the servant.
Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Verse 8. - Who also showed us your love in (the) Spirit (2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; Philippians 4:10); i.e. your love to us. Timothy and myself, especially if we read "in our behalf" in ver. 7: so, many interprefers, from Chrysostom to Klopper. Epaphras had conveyed the blessings of the gospel from St. Paul to the Colossians, and they now send back the grateful assurance of their love by the same channel (comp, note on "having heard," ver. 4, and parallel passages). This was a choice fruit of the gospel in them (comp. Philippians 4:10, 15-18), and such a reference to it gives a kindly conclusion to the thanksgiving. Ellicott and others understand here brotherly love in general - a somewhat pointless repetition of ver. 4. Meyer, reading "on your behalf" in ver. 7. more suitably suggests the Colossians' love to Epaphras in return for his services to them. The Spirit is the ruling element of the Colossians' love (Galatians 5:22) Love-in-the-Sprat forms a single compound phrase, like "faith-in-Christ-Jesus" (ver. 4). The one Spirit dwells alike in all the members of Christ's body, however sundered by place or circumstance (Ephesians 4:1-4), and makes them one in love to each other as to him (John 13:34, 35; 1 John 3:23, 24). "Spirit" occurs besides in this Epistle only in Colossians 2:5 (but see "spiritual," ver. 9), and some find in Colossians 2:1, 5 the explanation of this phrase (sc. "a love formed in absence, without personal intercourse:" but this is forced, and doubtful in point of grammar). Verses 9-14. - The opening prayer rises out of the foregoing thanksgiving, and leads up to the chief doctrinal statement of the Epistle (vers. 15-20: compare, for the connection, Ephesians 1:15-23; Romans 1:8-17). The burden of this prayer, as in other letters of this period, is the Church's need of knowledge (comp. Ephesians 1:17, 18; Philippians 1:9, 10). Here this desire has its fullest expression, as the necessity of the Colossians in this. respect was the more urgent and their situation, therefore, the more fully representative of the stage in the history of the Pauline Churches now commencing. He asks for his readers

(1) a fuller knowledge of the Divine will (ver. 9); to result in

(2) greater pleasingness to God (ver. 10 a), due

(3) to increased moral fruitfulness and spiritual growth (ver. 10 b), to

(4) patience under suffering (ver. 11), and to

(5) thankfulness for the blessings of redemption (vers. 12-14).
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;
Verse 9. - For this cause we also (Ephesians 1:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13). Timothy and I, in return for your love to us (ver. 8) and in response to this good news about you (vers. 4-6). From the day that we heard (it); an echo of "from the day that ye heard it" (ver. 6). Do not cease praying for you, and making request. The former is a general expression (ver. 3), the latter points to some special matter of petition to follow. This second verb St. Paul only uses elsewhere of prayer to God in Ephesians 3:13, 20 (see Trench's 'Synonyms' on αἱτέω, αἵτημα). That ye may be filled with (or, made complete in) the knowledge of his will (Colossians 2:10; Colossians 4:12; Ephesians 3:18, 19; Romans 12:2; Hebrews 13:21). On "knowledge" (ἐπίγνωσις), see note. to ver. 6, and Lightfoot's note here. "With the knowledge" represents the Greek accusative of specification (as in Philippians 1:11, where see Ellicott); and the verb πληρωθῆτε (comp. note on pleroma, ver. 19), as in Colossians 2:10 and Colossians 1:25, denotes "fulfilled" or "made complete," rather than "made full" - "made complete as to the full knowledge," etc. "His will" ("God's will," ver. 1; Colossians 4:12) need not be limited to the original purpose of salvation (Ephesians 1:9), or to his moral requirements respecting Christian believers (ver. 10; so Meyer), but includes "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) made known to us in Christ (vers. 26, 27). In all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 2:2; Ephesians 5:17; Philippians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 14:20). Wisdom, in its highest sense, is the sum of personal excellence as belonging to the mind; it implies a vital knowledge of Divine truth, forming the sentiments and determining the will as it possesses the reason, Hence the word occurs in a great variety of connections: Wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), "and prudence" (Ephesians 1:8), etc. For this Church the apostle asks specially the gift of understanding or comprehension, (comp. Colossians 2:2; only in Ephesians 3:4 and 2 Timothy 2:7 besides, in St. Paul; 1 Corinthians 1:19 from LXX), the power of putting things together (σύν(εσις), of discerning the relations of different truths, the logical bearing and consequences of one's principles. For the errors invading Colossae were of a Gnostic type, mystic at once and rationalistic; against which a clear and well-informed understanding was the best protection (comp. notes on "truth," in vers. 5, 6; also Colossians 2:4, 8, 18, 23; Ephesians 4:13, 14). This "wisdom and understanding" are "spiritual," as inspired by the Divine Spirit (comp. the use of "spirit," "spiritual," in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Galatians 6:1 and Gal 5:16, 25; Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 3:16-19), and opposed to all "wisdom of the flesh," the unrenewed nature of man (Colossians 2:18; 1 Corinthians 2:4-6, 13-15; James 3:15).
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Verse 10. - To walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 11; 1 John 2:6; Revelation 3:4; Hebrews 13:21); so as to please him in every way. "The end of all knowledge, the apostle would say, is conduct" (Lightfoot). Spiritual enlightenment (ver. 9) enables the Christian to walk (a Hebraism adopted also into biblical English) in a way "worthy of the Lord" (Christ, Colossians 2:6; Colossians 3:24; Acts 20:19, etc.), becoming those who have such a Lord and who profess to be his servants. And to be "worthy of Christ" is to "please God" (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4, 5, 11; 1 Corinthians 1:9). This is the ideal and the aim of the religious life throughout the Bible (comp. 1 Samuel 13:14; Micah 6:6-8; Hebrews 11:5, 6; John 8:29; Romans 8:8). The characteristics of this walk are set forth by three coordinate participial phrases (vers. 10b-12), standing in the half independent nominative case instead of the more regular accusative (as agreeing with the understood object of the infinitive περιπατῆσαι: see Winer's ' N. T. Grammar,' p. 716: compare, for the idiom, Colossians 3:16, also Colossians 2:2). In every good work bearing fruit (Ephesians 4:28; Galatians 6:9, 10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 1 Timothy 5:10; Titus 3:8; Hebrews 13:16; Acts 9:36). "Good work" is that which is beneficial, practically good (see parallel passages). "In every good work" might grammatically qualify the foregoing" pleasing ' (so R.V. margin and many older interpreters), but appears to be parallel in position and sense with "in all power" (ver. 11). On"bearing fruit" (active in voice where the subject is personal: comp. ἐνεργέω in Colossians 1:29 and in Philippians 2:13), see note to ver. 6. While doing good to his fellow-men, the Christian is growing by (or, in) the knowledge of God (Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 4:13-16; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Hebrews 5:12-14). His own nature becomes larger, stronger, more complete. Here it is individual (internal) growth, in ver. 6 collective (external) growth (of the gospel, the Church) that is implied; the two are combined in Ephesians 4:13-16. The dative τῇ ἐπιγνώσει (so best copies and Revised Text: the Received, unto the knowledge, is a repetition of ver. 9) is "dative of instrument" (Alford, Lightfoot) rather than "of respect" (in the knowledge; so R.V.).
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Verse 11. - In all power being empowered, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness (vers. 24, 29; Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Timothy 1:7, 8; 2 Timothy 2:1, 3, 9, 10; 1 Peter 5:10). The same word is repeated as noun and verb (δύναμις, δυναμόω, power, empower) with a strong Hebraistic sort of emphasis (otherwise in Ephesians 3:16). In all (every kind of) power gives the mode, according to the might of his glory the measure, and unto all patience, etc., the end of this Divine strengthening. "Might" (κράτος), in distinction from power (δύναμις) and other synonyms (comp. ver. 29; Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 6:10), implies "mastery," "sovereign sway," and, except in Hebrews 2:14 ("might of death"), is used in the New Testament only of the power of God. "Glory," as in Philippians 3:21, bears a substantive meaning of its own, and is not a mere attributive of "might." It is the splendour of God's revelations of himself, in which his might is So conspicuous. Gazing on this glory, especially as seen in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6) and the gospel (1 Timothy 1:11, R.V.), the Christian discerns the might of him from whom it streams forth, and understands how that might is engaged in his behalf (Ephesians 1:19, 20; comp. Isaiah 40:28, 29; Isaiah 42:5, 6); and this thought fills him with invincible courage and endurance. Patience is steadfastness and stout heartedness under ill fortune (not a mere resigned patience); long suffering is gentleness of temper and magnanimity under ill treatment (comp. Colossians 3:12; and see Lightfoot, in loc., and Trench's 'Synonyms'). Christ, in his earthly life, was the supreme example of patience (2 Thessalonians 3:5, R.V.; 1 Peter 2:21-23; Hebrews 12:3, 4), which is "wrought by tribulation" (Romans 5:4): long-suffering finds its pattern in God's dealing with "the unthankful and evil" (Romans 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:16; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:15). "With joyfulness" belongs to this clause (Theodoret, Calvin, Bengel, Alford, Lightfoot) rather than the next, and lends a more vivid force to the foregoing words, while comparatively needless if prefixed to those that follow (so, however, Chrysostom, Erasmus, Meyer, Ellicott - "with joy giving thanks," etc.). This paradox is genuinely Pauline, and arises from personal experience (comp. ver. 24; Philippians 1:29; Romans 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 1:4-8; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Verse 12. - Giving thanks to the Father, who made us (or, you) meet for our (or, your) share in the lot (or, portion) of the saints in the light (vers. 3-5; Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; Titus 3:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11-14; Galatians 3:29; Romans 8:15-17). The reading "us" is very doubtful. Westcott and Hort, with Tischendorf, prefer "you," as in the two oldest manuscripts: for the transition from first to second person, comp. Colossians 2:13, 14 (vers. 9-12). In the same strain the apostle gave thanks on their account (ver. 5). Thanksgiving" is prominent in this letter (Colossians 2:7; Colossians 3:15, 17; Colossians 4:2), as "joy" in Philippians. The title "the Father" frequently stands alone in St. John's Gospel, coming from the lips of the Son, but St. Paul employs it thus only here and in Ephesians 3:14, R.V.; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6 (comp. 1 John 3:1); see note on ver. 2. Those "give thanks to the Father" who gratefully acknowledge him in "the spirit of adoption" as their Father through Christ (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:1-7; Ephesians 1:5). And the Father makes us meet for the inheritance when he enables us to call him "Father" - "If children, then heirs." "To make meet" (ἱκανόω, the verb found besides only in 2 Corinthians 3:5, 6 in the New Testament, "to make sufficient," R.V.) is "to make competent," "to qualify" for sonic position or work. This meetness, already conferred on the Colossians, consists in their forgiveness (ver. 14) and adoption (Ephesians 1:5-7), which qualify and entitle them to receive the blessings of Christ's kingdom (ver. 13; Romans 5:1, 2; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:5, 6; Titus 3:7), and which anticipate and form the basis of that worthiness of character and fitness of condition in which they are finally to be presented "perfect in Christ" (vers. 10, 22, 28; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24); "not qui dignos fecit (Vulgate), but qui idoneos fecit" (Ellicott). "Called and (made us meet)" is one of the few characteristic readings of the great Vatican Manuscript, which Westcott and Herr reject (see their 'Introduction,' § 320, and Lightfoot's 'Detached Notes,' p. 251). "The lot of the saints" is that entire wealth of blessedness laid up for the people of God (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4-7), in which each has his due share or part (Meyer, Ellicott, Lightfoot, less suitably: "parcel of (consisting in) the lot"); comp. ver. 28; Ephesians 4:7. Κλῆρος ("lot," Acts 8:21; Acts 26:18), scarcely distinguishable from the more usual κληρονομία ("inheritance," Colossians 3:24; Ephesians 1:14, etc.; Acts 20:32; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4), is used in the Old Testament (LXX) of the sacred land as "divided by lot," and as "the lot" assigned to Israel (Numbers 34:13; Deuteronomy 4:21, etc.), also of Jehovah himself as "the lot" of the landless Levites (Deuteronomy 10:9), and of Israel in turn as "the lot" of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 4:20). It is the divinely allocated possession of the people of God in his kingdom. It belongs to them as "saints" (ver. 2; Ephesians 2:19; Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; Psalm 15; Numbers 35:34; Jeremiah 2:7); and it lies "in the light," in "the kingdom of the Son of God's love" (ver. 13) that is filled with the light of the knowledge of God proceeding from Christ (2 Corinthians 4:1-6; John 1:4; John 8:12), light here manifest "in part" and in conflict with Satanic darkness (ver. 13; Ephesians 5:8-14; Ephesians 6:11, 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8; Romans 13:11-13; John 1:5), hereafter the full possession of God's saints (Colossians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 13:12; John 12:36; Revelation 21:23-25; Isaiah 60:19, 20). Vers. 13 and 14 proceed to show how this qualification has been gained.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Verse 13. - Who (sc. the Father) rescued us from the dominion of the darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love (Ephesians 5:8; Ephesians 6:12; Romans 7:14-8:4; 1 Corinthians 15:56, 57; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5-7; 1 John 2:7-11). To "rescue" (ῤύομαι: 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 7:24; 2 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:17, 18, - to be carefully distinguished from other Greek verbs rendered "deliver") implies the evil state of the rescued, the superior power of the rescuer, and a conflict issuing in deliverance. St. Paul repeatedly associates the figure of darkness with the language of warfare (Ephesians 6:12; Romans 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; comp. John 1:5, R.V. margin). "Dominion of darkness" - same as "dominion of Satan" (Acts 26:18). Αξουσία, as distinguished from δύναμις ("power," vers. 11, 29), is "right," "authority" (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:4-6; John 1:12;. 17:2): the power of Satan is not mere external force, but takes the form of established and (as it were) legalized dominion (1 Corinthians 15:56; Luke 4:6; John 12:31). "The darkness" is precisely opposed to "the light" (ver. 12), being the region of falsehood and hatred, whether in this world or outside of it, where Satan rules (Ephesians 6:12; Ephesians 5:8, 11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:8-11; Matthew 8:12; Luke 22:53; John 3:19, 20; John 12:35). To "translate" (μεθίστημι) is to remove from one place, office, etc., to another; Josephus ('Ant.,' 9:11, 1) uses it of the deportation of the Israelites by the Assyrian king. The Father, rescuing his captive children, brings them "into the kingdom of the Son of his love." Here we touch the central and governing idea of this Epistle, that of the supreme lordship of Christ (vers. 15-20; Colossians 2:6, 10, 19, etc.); and this passage affords a clue which will, we trust, guide us through some of the greatest difficulties which follow. (On "the kingdom of the Son," comp. Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:6-11; Romans 14:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 15:24 28; Hebrews 1:1-4; Hebrews 2:5-10; Revelation 1:5-7, 18; Revelation 5, etc.; John 5:22-27; John 17:2; John 18:36; Matthew 25:31-46; Matthew 28:18-20.) Only here and in Ephesians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:1, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:24, 25, does the apostle speak of the kingdom as Christ's; otherwise as God's (and future). The "Son of his love" is not simply the "beloved Son" (Ephesians 1:6; Matthew 3:17, etc.), but the representative and depositary of his love: "Who is his love made manifest" (Augustine, Lightfoot; see ver. 2, note; John 3:16; John 17:26; 1 John 4:8, 9, 14-16; Ephesians 2:4; Titus 3:4-6; Romans 5:8), being at once our "Redeemer King "(ver. 13, 14) and the" Image of the invisible God" (ver. 15).
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Verse 14. - In whom we have (or, had) our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 3:10-13; Romans 3:19-26; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 Peter 3:18, 19). Ephesians 1:7 suggested to some later copyists the interpolation "through his blood," words highly suitable in the Ephesian doxology. This verse is the complement of the last: there salvation appears as a rescue by sovereign power, here as a release by legal ransom (ἀπο λύτρωσις). The ransom price Christ had declared beforehand (Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; comp. Romans 3:24-26; Galatians 2:20; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 9:12-14; 1 Peter 1:18; Revelation 1:5, R.V.; Revelation 5:9). "We have redemption" ("had it," according to a few ancient witnesses) in present experience in "the forgiveness of our sins "(vers. 21, 22; Colossians 2:13, 14; Colossians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:1-18; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 1:7-2:2; 1 John 4:10). Romans 3:24 gives its objective ground. The "redemption of the body" (also bought by the same price, 1 Corinthians 6:20) will make the work complete (Ephesians 1:13, 14; Romans 8:19-23; 1 Corinthians 1:30). Lightfoot suggests that the apostle intends to contradict the doctrine of redemption taught by the Gnostics, who made it consist in initiation into their "mysteries" (see note on ver. 27); and supposes that this notion may already have existed at Colossae in some incipient form. But such an abuse of the term seems to imply a well established and familiar Christian use. Philo, who speaks the language of the Jewish philosophic mysticism of the first century, has no such usage. In firm, clear lines the apostle has retraced, in vers. 12-14 (comp. vers. 20-23; Colossians 2:11-14), the teaching of his earlier Epistles on the doctrines of salvation. Here he assumes, in brief and comprehensive terms, what in writing to the Galatians and Romans he had formerly been at so much pains to prove.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Verse 15.

(a) Who is Image of God the invisible, Firstborn of all creation:
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:
Verse 16.

(b) For in Him were created all things,

(c) In the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible - whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether dominions -
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Verse 17.

(d) All things through Him and unto Him have been created;

(e) And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

II. Ver. 18.

(e) And He is the Head of the body, the Church;

(a) Who is (the) Beginning, Firstborn out of the dead, that in all things He might become pre-eminent:
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.
Verse 18. - The words, And he is the Head of the body, the Church (Colossians 2:10, 19; Ephesians 1:22, 23; Ephesians 3:8-10; Ephesians 4:15, 16; Hebrews 1:3; John 15:1-6), identify the mediatorial Lord of creation (vers. 15-17) with the redeeming Head of the Church, and claim the prerogatives belonging to him in the former capacity as the basis of his position and offices in the latter (comp. Ephesians 1:22). The Pauline doctrine of the Church as the body of Christ is developed in Colossians and Ephesians, especially in the later Epistle, where it receives its fruitful application. Here the doctrine of the Person of Christ and the doctrine of the Church find their meeting-point as mutually implying each other, and together opposed to the double effect of early Gnosticism, which tended first to lower the dignity of Christ, and then to impair the unity of his Church (see Colossians 2:19, note). In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and Romans 12:4, 5 the figure of the body and members is merely a passing illustration of the mutual relation of believers in the Church; now the body of Christ becomes the formal title of the Church, expressing the fundamental and fixed conception of its nature as related to him, who is the centre of its unity, the source of all vital energy and directing control within it (comp. the vine and branches, John 15.). In vers. 16, 17 the writer passed from the thought of the origin to that of the constitution of the cosmos; now he proceeds in the reverse order. (He is the head) who is (the) Beginning (Revelation 3:14; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:13; Acts 3:15; Acts 5:31; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2). Αρχή is without article, used as a proper noun. It is arbitrary to identify it with ἀπαρχὴ ("firstfruits") of 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Romans 11:16. As explained by the following words, it denotes, as in philosophical Greek, a first principle, originating cause, fens et origo (see Lightfoot's note and references). To borrow "of the dead" from the following parallel clause weakens the force of both. His body, the Church, begins in him, dating and deriving from him its "all in all" (Colossians 3:11, 4; 1 John 5:12; Revelation 21:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). This is quite consistent with the "all things are of God" of 2 Corinthians 5:18; for the apostle is thinking here of the relative, historical beginning of "the kingdom of the Son" (ver. 13), there of the absolute beginning of the Divine work of redemption (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 3:23; and note on "unto him," ver. 16). St. John, writing to the neighbouring Laodicea, echoes, apparently, this language of our apostle (Revelation 3:14) As Firstborn out of the dead (Colossians 2:12, 13; Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 1:19, 20; Romans 1:4; Romans 6:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15:13-18; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Acts 13:30-39; 1 Peter 1:3, 21; Revelation 1:5, 18; Revelation 2:8; John 11:25), this Beginning actually begins; Christ becomes the source, of a new humanity, a new creation (2 Corinthians 4:14 and Romans 8:21). The apostle derives the whole life and power of Christianity, whether as seen in Christ or proved by his people, from his resurrection (see parallels). The name Firstborn brings over with it into this verse the glory which surrounds it in ver. 15. The Divine Firstborn, who is before and over all things, wins his title a second time for his earthly brethren's sake (Hebrews 2:10-15). As he appears "out of the dead," born anew from the dark womb of the grave, the nether abyss (Romans 10:7; Ephesians 4:9; Philippians 2:8), the Father declares to him, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5); the Church exclaims," My Lord and my God" (John 20:28); "all authority in heaven and on earth" becomes his (Matthew 28:18; John 17:2); he is made "Firstborn over many brethren," who call him Lord (Romans 8:29; Romans 14:9; Revelation 5:12); and proceeds to "subdue all things unto himself" (Philippians 2:9, 10; Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 10:13; Revelation 19:11-16). "Firstborn out of the dead" in the source of his new birthright of lordship in the Church, he is" Firstborn of the dead" (Revelation 1:5, R.V.: comp. ver. 15) in his abiding relation to dying humanity. And he won this title so as to carry out an antecedent purpose in his mind (comp. Romans 14:9; "In the mind of the father," say Meyer and others - a thought true in itself, but interpolated here), viz. that he might become in all things pre-eminent (ver. 13; Colossians 2:6; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Luke 19:12-27; Luke 22:29, 30; John 18:36; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 19:16; Psalm 2:7, 8). The purpose of creation as "unto Christ" (ver. 17) had been frustrated, so far as related to man, by the entrance of sin and death, and his rightful pre-eminence denied him (John 1:10). He must, therefore, recover it, must become pre-eminent; and this he does by his death and resurrection (John 12:31, 32; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 2:6-11; Isaiah 53:12). "To this end Jesus died and lived again" (Romans 14:9: comp. 2 Corinthians 5:15; Revelation 1:18).
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
Verse 19.

(b) For in Him he was pleased that all the fulness should 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.
Verse 20.

(d) And through Him to reconcile all things unto Him, having made peace through the blood of his cross, - through Him,

(c) Whether the things on the earth, or the things in the heavens.


(a) In virtue of his relation to God, Christ is at once

(b) ground of creation,

(c) both in heaven and on earth, and at the same time

(d) its means and its end; he is, therefore,

(e) supreme over the universe, preconditioning its existence, constituting its unity.

II. In a similar sense he is

(e) Head of the Church,

(a) in virtue of his new relation to man, which makes him

(b) ground,

(d) means, and end of reconciliation also,

(c) whether on earth or in heaven.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Verse 21. - And you, at one time being (men) alienated, and enemies in your thought, (engaged) in your wicked works, yet now did he reconcile; or, were ye reconciled [so Meyer, Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, and R.V. margin, following Codex B] (Colossians 2:11; Colossians 3:7; Ephesians 2:1-3, 11, 12; Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 5:5-8; 1 Corinthians 6:4; Romans 6:21; 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 4:3). The combination of ὄντες ("being") with perfect passive participle ("having been alienated") implies a fixed condition, that has become as a part of one's nature (so in Ephesians 4:18, Revised Text). As the opposite of "reconciled," "alienated" is strictly passive, and denotes, not a subjective feeling on the part of the sinner, but an objective determination on the part of God, an exclusion from the Divine favour, from "the kingdom of the Son" and "the lot of the saints" (vers. 12, 13; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 2:3, 11-13; Ephesians 4:18; Romans 1:18: comp. usage of LXX in Psalm 68:9; 1 Esdr. 9:4; Sir. 11:34). "Enemies in your thought" sets forth the disposition of the sinner towards God (Romans 8:7; Philippians 3:18: so Alford,Ellicott, Lightfoot). Meyer maintains the passive sense of "enemies," as found in Romans 5:10; Romans 11:28; Galatians 4:16. On the latter view, σῇ διανοίᾳ is instrumental dative, "by," "in virtue of your state of mind;" on the former, it is dative of reference or definition. Διανοία (here only and Ephesians 2:3 and Ephesians 4:18 in St. Paul) has possibly a polemical reference. It denotes in Greek philosophy, the faculty of thought, as opposed to the bodily powers. In Philo's teaching it signifies the higher part of human nature, akin to God, and opposed to evil which belongs to the senses: "Thought (διανοία) is the best thing in us" ('On Fugitives,' § 26); "Every man in regard to his intellect (διανοία) is united to the Divine Word, being an impression or fragment or ray of that blessed nature; but in respect of his body he belongs to the entire world" ('On the Creation of the World,' § 51). But here sin is associated With the intellect in man, and redemption with "the body of Christ's flesh" (ver. 22): comp. notes on "reason," Colossians 2:18, and "body," Colossians 2:23; also Ephesians 4:18, where the reason is vain, the intellect darkened. "Wicked [emphasized by its position in the Greek, denoting active evil; see Trench's 'Synonyms,' on πονηρός] works" is a phrase common in St. John, only used here by St. Paul (comp. Colossians 3:7; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 6:19, 20; Galatians 5:19; Hebrews 9:14). These works are the practices of life in which the sinner is abidingly excluded from "the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5), and manifests the radical antipathy of his mind toward God. "Yet [or, 'but'] now:" comp. ver. 26; Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 2:13; Romans 3:21, etc. - a lively form of transition characteristic of St. Paul, primarily temporal, then also logical in sense. "Were ye reconciled" breaks through the grammatical structure of the sentence, as in vers. 26, 27 (see Lightfoot, and Winer's 'N. T. Grammar,' p. 717). If "did he reconcile" (or, "hath he reconciled") be the correct reading, "Christ" is still subject of the verb, as in vers. 19-22, and consistently with Ephesians 2:15, 16. (On "reconcile," see ver. 20.)
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Verse 22. - In the body of his flesh (ver. 20; Colossians 2:11; Romans 8:3; Romans 7:4; 1 Timothy 3:10; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:1; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Hebrews 10:20; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7; Luke 24:39). With a significant emphasis, the material body of Christ is made the instrument of that reconciliation in the carrying out of which "his whole fulness" is engaged (vers. 19, 20); see note on "thought," ver. 21, and on "body," Colossians 2:23. The necessity of the double expression was shown by the fact that the Gnostic Marcion erased "of his flesh" from the text of this Epistle, and interpreted "the body" as "the Church;" Bengel and others suppose "of his flesh "to be added to prevent this mistake (see Tertullian, 'Against Marcion,' 5:19). This phrase was the crux of Docetism, whose principles were indeed implicitly contained in the Alexandrine-Jewish philosophy with its contempt for matter and the physical life, which was now first beginning to leaven the Church. Body is antithetical to soul: flesh to spirit. The former is individual and concrete, the actual physical organism; the latter denotes the material of which it consists, the bodily nature in its essence and characteristics (comp. note on ver. 11; and see Cremer's 'Lexicon' on these words). "In the body" is not "by the body," nor "during his earthly life" (as though opposed to "out of the body," 2 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 12:3), but "as incarnate." The Epistle to the Hebrews expands the thought of our Epistle in its own way in Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 10:5-10. That reconciliation is through the (or, his) death (Romans 3:25; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 9:15, 16; John 11:51, 52; John 10:11; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 2:8) is the fundamental axiom of the gospel (ver. 5), already implied in vers. 14 and 20. And the atoning death presupposes the Incarnation (Hebrews 2:14). The two foregoing phrases belong grammatically to ver. 21. To present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before him (ver. 28; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Acts 17:31); before "Christ" (ver. 19), who is "Judge" (John 5:22, 23) as well as "King" and "Redeemer" (vers. 13, 14): this also belongs to his fulness. He will "himself present the Church to himself" (Ephesians 5:27, Revised Text; also 2 Corinthians 4:14). In this presentation his redeeming work culminates (comp. Philippians 1:6, 10; Philippians 2:16; and, in view of the connection of vers. 22 and 23, 1 Corinthians 1:6-9). So, in general, Meyer and Alford. Ellicott and Lightfoot refer to God's present approbations, quoting Ephesians 1:4, a parallel much less close than ver. 27, and supposing "God" the subject of the verb (see note on ver. 19). "Holy erga Deum; without blemish respectu vestri; unreprovable respectu proximi" (Bengel). (On "holy," see note, ver. 2; also Colossians 3:12.) "Apropos is not "without blame," but "without blemish," "immaculate" (Lightfoot, R.V.; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 2:15: comp. Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19). In the LXX it is the equivalent of the Hebrew tamim ("integer"), "faultless" in bodily condition or in moral character. "Unreprovable," as a judicial term ("without charge that can be preferred"), points to the judgment day, and hence is wanting in Ephesians 1:4 (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:8; Romans 8:33, 34; 1 Timothy 3:10; Titus 1:6, 7).
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;
Verse 23. - If at least ye are continuing in the faith, grounded and settled (ver. 4; Colossians 2:6, 7; Ephesians 3:18; Ephesians 6:10-17; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:2, 58; Galatians 1:6; Galatians 5:1). All that Christ has done and will do for the Colossians, yet depends on their continued faith. Αἴγε (only Pauline in New Testament; containing "the volatile particle γε) suggests, actually (Galatians 3:4) or rhetorically (Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 4:21), a conceivable alternative; if as appears, as one hopes, or fears, or may assume. "Are continuing in" (ἐπιμένετε) is both "abiding by" and "adhering to" (Romans 6:1; Philippians 1:24, R.V.; 1 Timothy 4:16). As present indicative, it implies a (supposed) actual state. "The faith," as regularly in the New Testament, is the act and exercise of faith (subjective), not the content or matter of faith (objective). "Grounded" or "founded," perfect passive, implies a fixed condition (comp. Colossians 2:7; Ephesians 3:18, coupled with "rooted;" 1 Corinthians 3:10-12; Ephesians 2:20; 2 Timothy 2:19; also Luke 6:48). "Settled" (ἑδραῖος, from ἕδρα, a seat) is opposed to "moved away," just as in 1 Corinthians 15:58. The words, and not being moved away (or, letting yourselves be moved away), put the same assumption negatively, and more specifically as he adds, from the hope of the gospel; good tidings (vers. 5, 27; Colossians 3:15, 24; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 10; 2 Timothy 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:8; Romans 8:17-25; Hebrews 3:6, 14; Hebrews 6:11, 18, 19; Hebrews 10:35, 36) - that which is its peculiar property and glory, the crown of Christ's redeeming work (ver. 22), the end of his servant's labours (ver. 28), for which, by anticipation, he already gives thanks (ver. 5). but which was directly threatened and brought in question by Colossian error (see notes on Colossians 2:18; 3:15). (The gospel) which you heard (vers. 5, 7: notes), which was preached in all creation that is under the heaven (ver. 6; Romans 16:26; Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19, 20; Matthew 24:14). The transition from "you" to "all creation" resembles that of vers. 5, 6 (comp. vers. 20, 21). "Preached" is literally" heralded," "loudly and officially announced;" so, frequently in St. Paul (see 2 Timothy 1:11), also in Mark 16:15. Greek usage does not support the interpretation which makes κτίσις ("creation ") equivalent to "humanity." This sense of the word, which, even in Mark, such interpreters as Bengel, Lange, Alford, reject, is quite Hebraistic and exceptional. The phrase, "all creation," the writer has already used in ver. 15; here, as there (see here), without the article (Revised Text). The universal meaning it carries there is now limited by "under the heaven." The earthly creation subject as it is to Christ, is the sphere of this proclamation, the preaching room which is to resound everywhere with the glad tidings (comp. Psalm 1:1; Psalm 98:7; Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 55:12; Revelation 10:2; Revelation 14:6). And with this range it was proclaimed, for from the first it claimed universal audience. Whereof I became, I Paul, a minister (vers. 24-29; Ephesians 3:1-13; 1 Timothy 1:11-14; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Romans 1:5; Romans 11:13; Romans 15:15-19; 1 Corinthians 3:5, 10; 1 Corinthians 9:1, 2, 16, 17; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Galatians 1:1, 15, 16; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Acts 9:15; Acts 26:16-18). (For "minister," see ver. 7.) The later Epistles betray a markedly heightened sense in the apostle of the unique dignity and importance of his own position, and those who question their authenticity press this fact against them. But the difference of tone is what one would expect in "such a one as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Christ Jesus" (Philemon 1:9). As the Gentile Churches grew, reverence for his person deepened; and the success of his life mission became more assured, especially now that the struggle with reactionary Judaism, signalized by the Epistles of the third missionary journey, was to a large extent decided in his favour. The false teachers he is now opposing did not, we should gather, attack the apostle personally; but may rather have claimed to be on his side. The movement of thought we have followed in vers. 15-23 proceeds from Christ's redeeming work to the experience of the Colossians in receiving it, and the labours of the apostle in publishing it; and is parallel to that of Ephesians 1:20-3:13. Here, however, the second of these topics has been made quite subordinate (vers. 21-23: comp. Ephesians it.). The third is the subject of our next section.
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:

(1) The apostle's ministry is at present one of suffering (ver. 24)

(2) Christ, the Hope of the Gentiles, the Secret of the ages, is its theme (vers. 25-27);

(3) and its aim the individual perfection of all to whom it is addressed (ver. 28).

(4) In seeking which he is sustained by a supernatural power (ver. 29). Verse 24. - Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake (Colossians 4:3; Ephesians 3:1, 13; Ephesians 6:19, 20; Philippians 1:12, 16, 29; Philippians 2:17; Philemon 1:9, 13; 2 Timothy 1:11, 12; Acts 9:16; Acts 26:29). "Who" is wanting in the older manuscripts. The abruptness of expression indicates a sudden outburst of feeling (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Timothy 1:12). "Now - as these thoughts fill my mind" (Lightfoot); or, better, "In my present position (with the chain round my wrist:" Eadie). St. Paul's sufferings as apostle of the Gentiles and in defence of their rights in the gospel - so "for your sake" (comp. Acts 13:44-50; Acts 22:21, 22; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; Romans 15:16; Galatians 5:11; 1 Timothy 2:7) - were matter of joy to him as they were of benefit to them. And am filling up in my turn the things that are lacking of the afflictions of Christ (Mark 10:39; John 15:20; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:12; Philippians 3:10). "Am filling up" (ἀναπληρόω) has the same object (ὑστέρημα) in 1 Corinthians 16:17; Philippians 2:30 (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 11:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:10). Here it is further compounded with ἀντί ("over against"), which implies some sort of correspondence - between defect and supply, say Meyer, Alford, Ellicott; but this is surely contained in the idea of filling up, whereas ἀντὶ bears as a rule, and always in St. Paul, a distinct and pointed reference of its own. "He says not simply ἀναπληρῶ, but ἀνταναπληρῶ, that is, Instead of the Lord and Master, I the slave and disciple" (Photius). Christ, the Head, had borne his part, now the apostle in turn fills up his part, in the great sum of suffering to be undergone on behalf of the body of Christ (see parallels). The verb being so understood, then, with Lightfoot, we infer that "the afflictions of Christ" (a phrase peculiar. . to this passage). are:

(1) Christ's own ministerial sufferings, endured at the hands of men. Affliction is a common term for all that Christians suffer as being in "this present evil world" (2 Thessalonians 1:4-6; Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 4:17: comp. John 16:33). Such suffering is common to the Master and his servants (John 15:20), and he leaves behind to each his fitting and correspondent share therein. These afflictions are "the sufferings of the Christ" in their ministerial as distinguished from their mediatorial aspect.

(2) The latter sense is, however, put on the phrase by Romanist divines, who quote the text in support of the doctrine of the merit of the saints, in contradiction to the uniform teaching of St. Paul and the whole New Testament, that the sacrifice of Christ is the sole meritorious ground of salvation for all men, leaving nothing to fill up (vers. 20-22; Ephesians 2:16; Romans 3:25, 20; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:14; Acts 4:12; Acts 13:38, 39; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; 1 Peter 2:24, etc.). It is worthy of note that, unless it be in the Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul never uses the words "suffer," "suffering" (much less "affliction") in connection with the atoning sacrifice. He dwells rather on the objective fact itself - "the death," "the cross," "the blood."

(3) The prevailing interpretation (Chrysostom, Augustine, down to Alford, Ellicott) finds here the afflictions of the Church (including Paul's) made Christ's by mystic sympathy (Ephesians 5:23, 29). But this view identifies Paul's sufferings with his Master's, while he expressly distinguishes them; and the idea, however beautiful in itself, is without Pauline analogy.

(4) Meyer holds the afflictions to be Paul's own afflictions which are Christ's by ethical identity, as belonging to the same class. This approaches (1), but is less simple grammatically, and again confuses the antithesis involved in the pointed ἀντί.

(5) Other modifications of this view - afflictions coming from Christ, on account of Christ, etc. - are less plausible. Dr. Gloag, in the Expositor, first series, vol. 7. pp. 224-236, fully discusses the passage and ably defends (3). In my flesh (2 Corinthians 4:10, 11; 2 Corinthians 7:5; Galatians 4:13, 14); for St. Paul's physical nature felt keenly the pangs of imprisonment, the chafing of "these bonds." And thus he puts honour on the despised flesh, as capable of such high service (see note, ver. 22). On behalf of his body, which is the Church (ver. 18; Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 5:23; 2 Timothy 2:10). The interests of the Church demanded his sufferings. They are "for you" (Colossian Gentiles); but, in his view, the full possession of the gospel by the Gentiles and the existence of the Church itself were vitally bound up together (Ephesians 2:15, 21, 22; Ephesians 3:6). If "Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for her" (Ephesians 5:25), he might well in his turn suffer on the same account. The magnitude of the interests involved are measured by his greatness whose body the Church is (vers. 15-18). (On "body," see note, ver. 18 .)
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;
Verse 25. - Of which I became a minister (2 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 11:28, 29; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). His sufferings are, therefore, matter of duty, as well as of joy. As the Church's minister, he is bound to toil and to suffer in whatever way her welfare requires. Elsewhere he styles himself "minister of the gospel" (ver 23; Ephesians 3:7), "of God," "of Christ," "of a new covenant" (2 Corinthians 3:6). (On "minister," see note, ver. 7. According to the stewardship of God, that was given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:1-13; 1 Corinthians 4:1-4; 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Timothy 1:4, R.V.; 1 Timothy 3:15; Luke 12:42; Luke 16:2-4; Hebrews 3:2-6; 1 Peter 4:10). Οἰκονομία ("economy") is first "house-management," then "administration" generally the οἰκόνομος ("house-steward") was a confidential upper servant, frequently a slave, who controlled the general arrangements of a large establishment, and was responsible immediately to the master. Such an office the apostle holds, along with others (1 Corinthians 4:1), in the Church, "the house of God" (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:20: this conception, like that of "the body of Christ" - comp. note on ver. 18 - is fully developed only in the later Epistles). In this office he "administers the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:17, 18), "the grace of God" (Ephesians 3:2; 1 Peter 4:10), and here more especially "the mystery" of vers. 26, 27 (comp. Ephesians 3:9, R.V.). In Ephesians 1:10 and Ephesians 3:2, the οἰκονομία is referred to God himself, the supreme Dispenser in his own house. This office "was given" him, and specifically as "toward the Gentiles" (for "you" points to the Colossians as Gentiles, vers. 24, 27, notes; Ephesians 3:1, 2; Romans 11:13), when he first became a servant of Christ (Acts 9:15; Acts 22:21; Acts 26:16-18; Galatians 1:15, 16; 1 Timothy 1:11-15; Romans 15:15, 16). Some interpreters connect "to you-ward" with the word "fulfil," but less suitably (comp. Ephesians 3:2; Romans 15:16). To fulfil the word of God (Romans 15:16-19; Romans 16:25, 26). "To fulfil" (see vers. 9, 24, and "fulness," ver. 19; also Colossians 2:9, 10; Colossians 4:12) is either "to complete," to give full development and extension to the gospel message (vers. 5, 6; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; Romans 15:19; Acts 20:20, 21, 27); or "to accomplish" the prophetic word (Romans 9:24-26; Romans 15:8 - 12; Acts 15:15-17), as in Acts 13:27, and frequently in the Gospels. This verb πληρόω, however, is not used by St. Paul elsewhere in the latter sense, and the former precisely suits the context (compare parallels from Romans). Other interpretations - "to preach abundantly," "to continue Christ's preaching" (Ephesians 2:17; Hebrews 2:3), "to execute the Divine commission" - miss the sense of the verb. The word which it is the object of the apostle's ministry to fulfil, and in regard to which he had a special stewardship, is none other than -
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
Verse 26. - The mystery which hath been hidden away from the ages and from the generations (Ephesians 2:2, 3; Ephesians 3:5, 9; Romans 16:25, 26; Romans 11:25, 26, 33). The word "mystery" plays a large part in Colossians and Ephesians. It occurs in 1 Corinthians, and twice in the Roman Epistle, written from Corinth. Its use in Romans 16:25 is identical with that of the passage before us. The Greek mysteries were secret religious doctrines and rites made known only to initiated persons, who formed associations statedly assembling at certain sacred spots, of which Eleusis near Athens was the most famous. These systems exercised a vast influence over the Greek mind, and Greek literature is full of allusions to them; but their secret has been well kept, and little is known of their real character. Some of these mystic systems, probably, inculcated doctrines of a purer and more spiritual type than those of the vulgar polytheism. The ascetic and mystical doctrines ascribed to Pythagoras were propagated by secret societies. The language and ideas connected with the mysteries were readily adopted by the Jewish Broad Church of Alexandria, whose endeavour it was to expand Judaism by a symbolical and allegorizing method into a philosophic and universal religious system, and who were compelled to veil their inner doctrine from the eyes of their stricter, unenlightened (or unsophisticated) fellowbelievers. Μυστήριον appears in the Apocrypha as an epithet of the Divine Wisdom (Wisd. 2:22 Wisd. 8:4; etc.): Psalm 49:4; Psalm 78:2 (comp. Matthew 13:34, 35) furnished the Old Testament basis of this usage. (See Philo, 'On the Cherubim,' § 12; 'On Fugitives,' § 16; etc., for the place of mystery in the Alexandrine theology.) St. Paul, writing to men accustomed, either as Greeks or as Hellenistic Jews, to this phraseology, calls the gospel "a mystery," as that which is "hidden from the natural understanding and from the previous searchings of men" (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). But in the words that follow he repudiates the notion of any secrecy or exclusiveness in its proclamation (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6); in his language, "mystery is the correlate of revelation." The thrice-repeated ἀπὸ ("from," "away"), with the double indication of time, "gives a solemn emphasis" (Meyer) to the statement. Ages are successive epochs of time, with their states and conditions (comp. Galatians 1:4); generations are successive races of men, with their traditions and hereditary tendencies. But now it was made manifest to his saints (Colossians 2:2; Colossians 4:3; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 6:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:20). The word "reveal" (Ephesians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 2:10) indicates a process, "make manifest" points to the result of this Divine act (Romans 16:25, 26: comp. Romans 1:17 with Romans 3:21; see Trench's 'Synonyms'). The transition from the participle in the last clause to the strongly assertive finite verb in this almost disappears in English idiom: comp. vers. 5, 6; Ephesians 1:20-22 (Greek); and see Winer's 'N.T. Grammar,' p. 717, or A. Buttmann, p. 382. There is also a change of tense: the manifestation is a single, sudden event (aorist), breaking through the long and seemingly final concealment of all previous time (present perfect participle); similarly in Romans 16:25, 26 and 1 Peter 1:20 (comp. Colossians 2:14, note). To his sailors; i.e. to the Church at large (ver. 2; Colossians 3:12); but this implies a spiritual qualification (1 Corinthians 2:14). "His saints" are the recipients; "his holy apostles and prophets, in the Spirit," the organs (Ephesians 3:5) of this manifestation. The Church had long ago formally accepted this revelation (Acts 11:18); it was St. Paul's office to make it practically effectual.
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:
Verse 27. - To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery amongst the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:5-10; Acts 11:17, 18; Romans 11:11, 12, 25-32; Romans 15:9-12). "Willed" stands emphatically first in the Greek. The revelation was so momentous in its issue, so signal in its method, and so contrary to human foresight and prejudice, that it proceeded evidently from" the will of God" (vers. 1, 9; Colossians 4:12; comp. Romans 9:18): "Who was I," said St. Peter, "that I could withstand God?" The Ephesian letter delights to dwell on God's will as the cause of the whole counsel and work of salvation. The Revisers have rendered the verb by "was pleased," the equivalent of εὐδοκέω (ver. 19; Ephesians 1:5, 9; etc.). There is no need to seek a reference to free grace in the verb "willed;" the two ideas are concurrent, but distinct (see, however, Lightfoot). The apostle's mind is filled with amazement as he contemplates the boundless riches which the salvation of the Gentiles revealed in God himself (comp. Romans 11:33-36; Romans 16:25-27; Ephesians 3:8-10). "The glory of this mystery" is the splendour with which it invests the Divine character (on "glory," see note, ver. 11; and for "riches of glory," Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:19; Romans 9:23). Amongst the Gentiles: "semi-local clause, defining the sphere in which the riches of the glory is more specially evinced" (Ellicott). At last this mystery is defined: which is Christ in you (Colossians 2:2, 3; 1 Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:19; Romans 8:10). By a bold metonymy, the mystery is identified with its subject or content. It is "Christ" himself (see Colossians 2:2, note), the Divine secret of the ages, the burden of all revelation; and "Christ in you" (Colossians 3:11), Christ dwelling in Gentile carts - this is the wonder of wonders! So the "sinners of the Gentiles" receive "the like [equal] gift" with the heirs of the promises (Acts 11:17). By a further and yet bolder apposition, this mystery of Christ in Colossian believers is made one with the hope of glory (vers. 5, 23; Colossians 3:4; Ephesians 1:12-14, 18; Philippians 3:20, 21; Romans 2:7; Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:43; 1 John 3:2), of which it is a pledge and a foretaste (vers. 4, 5; Colossians 3:15; Ephesians 1:13, 14; Romans 8:10-17). This glory is that which the Christian will wear in his perfected, heavenly state (Colossians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 15:43; Romans 8:18), when he will fully reflect the glory he now beholds in God through Christ ("the glory of this mystery"): compare the double "glory" of 2 Corinthians 3:18. The rights of the Gentile believer in Christ are therefore complete (Ephesians 3:6). Possessing him now in his heart, he anticipates all that he will bestow in heaven (on "hope," see ver. 5).
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Verse 28. - Whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:4-13; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:11; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:1; Acts 20:18-35; Acts 26:22, 23). We (emphatic, like the "I" of vers. 23, 25) includes St. Paul's coadjutors, Epaphras in particular (ver. 9; Colossians 4:7, 11, 12: comp. 2 Corinthians 1:19). Καταγγέλλω, to publish, bears a wider sense than κηρύσσω, to herald (ver. 23), St. Paul's favourite word. "Admonishing and teaching" are the two essential parts of the apostle's ministry, related as repentance to faith (Lightfoot, who gives interesting classical parallels). Νουθετέω (radically, "to put in mind"), peculiar to St. Paul in New Testament (including Acts 20:31), may denote reproof for the past, but more especially warning for the future (see 1 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15: comp. note on Colossians 3:16). Thrice in this verse "every man" is repeated, and "in all wisdom" follows "teaching" with a marked emphasis. The Colossian errorists, as we should presume from the general tenor and affinities of their system, sought to form an inner mystical school or circle of discipleship within the Church, initiated into a wisdom and holiness supposed to be higher than that attainable by ordinary Christian faith (see note on "mystery," ver. 26; also Colossians 2:2, 3, 8). An intellectual caste-feeling (see note, Colossians 3:11) was springing up in the Church. In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 the apostle denounces the pride of reason which claims "the things of God" as its own; here he denounces the pride of intellect which refuses the knowledge of them to those who stand on a lower level of mental culture. To every man the Divine wisdom in Christ is accessible (Colossians 2:3, 10; Colossians 3:10, 16; Ephesians 2:17; Ephesians 3:18, 19): to none but "the spiritual man" (1 Corinthians 2:6, 12-3:1). "Wisdom" here is not subjective, a quality of the apostle (so Meyer, quoting 1 Corinthians 3:10), but objective, the quality of the truth itself (comp. Colossians 2:2, 23; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; 1 Corinthians 2:6, 7). That we may present every man perfect in Christ (ver. 22; Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 13:7-9; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20; 2 Timothy 2:10): the aim alike of Christ's redemption (ver. 22) and of the apostle's ministry. "Perfect" (τέλειος) is a word associated with the Greek mysteries (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:6, 7; and quotations in Lightfoot), and in common use denoted "full-grown," "grown men," as opposed to" children "(Ephesians 4:13, 14; Philippians 3:12, 15; Hebrews 5:11-6:1). The philosophic Judaists affected this term considerably. Philo frequently distinguishes between the "perfect" or "fully initiated" (τέλειοι), who are admitted to the sight of God, and the "advancing" (προκόπτοντες: comp. Galatians 1:14), who are candidates for admission to the Divine mysteries; and he makes Jacob a type of the latter, Israel of the former (see 'On Drunkenness,' § 20; 'On Change of Names,' § 3; 'On Agriculture,' §§ 36-38). The apostle makes "perfect" designedly parallel to the "holy and without blemish" of ver. 22, holding out a spiritual ideal very different from that of Alexandrine mystics; and declares that it is to be realized "in Christ" (vers. 2, 4), as in ver. 22 it appeared to be wrought "through Christ" and "for Christ" (comp. ver. 16).
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Verse 29. - To which end also I toil hard, striving according to his working (Colossians 2:1; Colossians 4:12, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 4:11; Philippians 2:16; 1 Timothy 4:10; Acts 20:35). Κοπιῶ, to labour to weariness, often used of manual labour, is a favourite word of St. Paul's (1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 11:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:9: comp. Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; John 4:38). The figurative use of "striving" ("agonizing," i.e. "contending in the arena") is only Pauline in the New Testament: comp. Colossians 2:1; Colossians 4:12; Philippians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; also Luke 22:44; in 1 Timothy 4:10 (R.V.) it is again connected with "toil" (κοπιάω). We need not, with Meyer and Ellicott, distinguish inward from outward striving in this word. The apostle's bodily sufferings (ver. 21) and his mental anxiety (Colossians 2:1) alike enter into the mighty struggle which he is maintaining on the Church's behalf, and which strains every fibre of his nature to the utmost (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:28). "Striving" implies opponents against whom he contends (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 11:26); "toiling hard," the painful efforts he has to make. In this toll he is divinely sustained, for he "strives according to his [Christ's: comp. Philippians 4:13] working." Ανεργεία ("energy," "operative force," "power in action") - another word of St. Paul's vocabulary (frequent also in Aristotle) - is used by him only of supernatural power, "a working of God," "of Satan" (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 11). Which worketh in me with power (ver. 11; Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 2:13; Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10). The "energy of Christ" is such that it "effectually works" in the apostle; the same idea is repeated in noun and verb (ver. 11, note). The verb is middle in voice, as this "working" is that in which the Divine "energy of Christ" puts itself forth and shows what it can do (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:3-6); see note on "bearing fruit," ver. 6, and Winer's 'N. T. Grammar,' p. 318 (dynamic middle). So it works unmistakably "in [or, 'with'] power." Never do we find this consciousness of the Divine power dwelling in himself expressed by St. Paul with such joyous confidence as at this period (see Philippians 1:20, 21; Philippians 4:13; Ephesians 3:9, 20; and comp. note on ver. 23 b).

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