Colossians 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Colossians 1)

Verse 2

[2] 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.

The saints-This word expresses their union with God. And brethren — This, their union with their fellow-Christians.

Verse 3

[3] We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

We give thanks — There is a near resemblance between this epistle, and those to the Ephesians and Philippians.

Verse 5

[5] For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Ye heard before — I wrote to you.

In the word of truth, of the gospel — The true gospel preached to you.

Verse 6

[6] 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:

It bringeth forth fruit in all the world — That is, in every place where it is preached.

Ye knew the grace of God in truth — Truly experienced the gracious power of God.

Verse 7

[7] As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

The fellowservant — Of Paul and Timotheus.

Verse 8

[8] Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Your love in the Spirit — Your love wrought in you by the Spirit.

Verse 9

[9] 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;

We pray for you — This was mentioned in general, Colossians 1:3, but now more particularly.

That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will — Of his revealed will.

In all wisdom — With all the wisdom from above.

And spiritual understanding — To discern by that light whatever agrees with, or differs from, his will.

Verse 10

[10] That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

That, knowing his whole will, ye may walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing - So as actually to please him in all things; daily increasing in the living, experimental knowledge of God, our Father, Saviour, Sanctifier.

Verse 11

[11] Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Strengthened unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness — This is the highest point: not only to know, to do, to suffer, the whole will of God; but to suffer it to the end, not barely with patience, but with thankful joy.

Verse 12

[12] Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Who, by justifying and sanctifying us, hath made us meet for glory.

Verse 13

[13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Power detains reluctant captives, a kingdom cherishes willing subjects.

His beloved Son — This is treated of in the fifteenth and following verses. Colossians 1:15

Verse 14

[14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

In whom we have redemption — This is treated of from the middle of Colossians 1:18. The voluntary passion of our Lord appeased the Father's wrath, obtained pardon and acceptance for us, and, consequently, dissolved the dominion and power which Satan had over us through our sins. So that forgiveness is the beginning of redemption, as the resurrection is the completion of it.

Verse 15

[15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Who is — By describing the glory of Christ, and his pre-eminence over the highest angels, the apostle here lays a foundation for the reproof of all worshippers of angels.

The image of the invisible God — Whom none can represent, but his only begotten Son; in his divine nature the invisible image, in his human the visible image, of the Father.

The first begotten of every creature — That is, begotten before every creature; subsisting before all worlds, before all time, from all eternity.

Verse 16

[16] 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:

For — This explains the latter part of the preceding verse. Through implies something prior to the particles by and for; so denoting the beginning, the progress, and the end.

Him — This word, frequently repeated, signifies his supreme majesty, and excludes every creature.

Were created all things that are in heaven — And heaven itself. But the inhabitants are named, because more noble than the house.

Invisible — The several species of which are subjoined. Thrones are superior to dominions; principalities, to powers. Perhaps the two latter may express their office with regard to other creatures: the two former may refer to God, who maketh them his chariots, and, as it were, rideth upon their wings.

Verse 17

[17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is before all things — It is not said, he was: he is from everlasting to everlasting.

And by him all things consist — The original expression not only implies, that he sustains all things in being, but more directly, All things were and are compacted in him into one system. He is the cement, as well as support, of the universe. And is he less than the supreme God?

Verse 18

[18] 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.

And — From the whole he now descends to the most eminent part, the church.

He is the head of the church — Universal; the supreme and only head both of influence and of government to the whole body of believers.

Who is — The repetition of the expression { Colossians 1:15} points out the entrance on a new paragraph.

The beginning — Absolutely, the Eternal.

The first begotten from the dead — From whose resurrection flows all the life, spiritual and eternal, of all his brethren.

That in all things — Whether of nature or grace.

He might have the pre-eminence — Who can sound this depth?

Verse 19

[19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

For it pleased the Father that all fulness — All the fulness of God.

Should dwell in him — Constantly, as in a temple; and always ready for our approach to him.

Verse 20

[20] 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.

Through the blood of the cross — The blood shed thereon.

Whether things on earth — Here the enmity began: therefore this is mentioned first.

Or things in heaven — Those who are now in paradise; the saints who died before Christ came.

Verse 21

[21] And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

And you that were alienated, and enemies — Actual alienation of affection makes habitual enmity.

In your mind — Both your understanding and your affections.

By wicked works — Which continually feed and increase inward alienation from, and enmity to, God.

He hath now reconciled — From the moment ye believed.

Verse 22

[22] In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

By the body of his flesh — So distinguished from his body, the church. The body here denotes his entire manhood.

Through death — Whereby he purchased the reconciliation which we receive by faith.

To present you — The very end of that reconciliation.

Holy — Toward God.

Spotless — In yourselves.

Unreprovable — As to your neighbour.

Verse 23

[23] 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;

If ye continue in the faith — Otherwise, ye will lose all the blessings which ye have already begun to enjoy.

And be not removed from the hope of the gospel — The glorious hope of perfect love.

Which is preached — Is already begun to be preached to every creature under heaven.

Verse 24

[24] 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:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up — That is, whereby I fill up.

That which is behind of the sufferings of Christ — That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ, 1. Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole; and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all. 2. Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth. And these also are necessary for the church; not to reconcile it to God, or satisfy for sin, (for that Christ did perfectly,) but for example to others, perfecting of the saints, and increasing their reward.

Verse 25

[25] 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;

According to the dispensation of God which is given me — Or, the stewardship with which I am intrusted.

Verse 26

[26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

The mystery — Namely, Christ both justifying and sanctifying gentiles, as well as Jews. Which hath been comparatively hid from former ages and past generations of men.

Verse 27

[27] 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:

Christ dwelling and reigning in you, The hope of glory - The ground of your hope.

Verse 28

[28] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

We teach the ignorant, and admonish them that are already taught.