The Pre-eminence of the Son.
SUMMARY.--Greeting. Thanksgiving for the Faith of the Colossian Church. Prayer for Their Progress. Becoming Meet for the Inheritance of the Saints. In the Kingdom of the Son. The Glories of the Son. The Work of Christ on Reconciling Men to Himself. Joy in Sufferings. The Mystery Among the Gentiles.
1, 2. Paul, an apostle . . . by the will of God. Not by human appointment, but by divine. Timotheus our brother. The other Epistles written at this time that Timothy was then in Rome. He is named six times in the address of Paul's letters to the churches: here and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians and Philemon.. 2. To the saints. A designation in apostolic ages of all Christians. Two characteristics are named; they were believing brethren also. At Colosse. For an account of Colosse, see Introduction to this Epistle.
3-8. We. Both Paul and Timothy. Give thanks. When offerings prayers in behalf of the Colossians, as he was wont to do for all the churches under his care, he had grounds for thanks. 4. Since we heard of your faith . . . and love. He probably heard through Epaphras, a member at Colosse (verse 7 and 4:12), who was at that time with him in Rome. 5. For the hope. He gives thanks for their hope of heaven. Laid up. This suggests that they have a treasure laid up in heaven which they hope to use. Their treasure is above. Whereof ye heard before. They heard of this hope when the gospel was preached to them. 6. Which is come to you. The gospel had come to them, being now spread abroad in all the world. That is not to be taken literally, but affirms the wide diffusion of the gospel. Bringeth forth fruit. It always bears fruit in holy lives wherever received. 7. As ye also learned of Epaphras. "Also" in Common Version is not found in the best MSS. They had learned of the gospel, its truth, its hope, and fruit from Epaphras, who probably planted the church under Paul's direction. Where he was converted we are not informed, but possibly at Ephesus, the capital of the province, during Paul's stay of three years there. Some have held that he is the same as the Epaphroditus of Phil. 2:25; 4:18, but this is not probable. He is highly commended here and in 4:12, and in the latter place is identified with the Colossian church. 8. Who also declared to us. He was at the date of the letter attending the apostle at Rome.
9-12. For this cause. What he had heard, named in the preceding paragraph. Since the day we heard. He had heard something which had aroused his solicitude. That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will. This would be their best security against false teaching, and an assurance of a faithful life. Wisdom and spiritual understanding. The wisdom and understanding conferred by walking as led by the Spirit. See Eph. 1:3, 8, and 1 Cor. 12:8. 10. That ye might walk, etc. Thus they would be equipped so as to please the Lord in all things in their walk. Being fruitful. Some things are named which please the Lord. The first is to abound in good works. The second is to increase in the knowledge of God. 11. Strengthened. Made mighty by the divine power. Unto all patience. Nothing requires more grace than patience and long-suffering under wrong, or even fancied wrong. It is especially hard to endure wrong with joyfulness. 12. Giving thanks. In the midst of the trials which call for patience and long-sufferings, still joyful and thankful to the Father that he hath made us meet to be partakers. Fit to have a share. Once, then, they were unfit. The inheritance of the saints. God's infinite love had called them to be children, heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ. The heavenly inheritance is meant. To have a share with the saints in light is to be heirs of heavenly felicity. Light. Light is a symbol of purity and blessedness. It is in contrast with darkness below.
13, 14. Who hath delivered us. The language implies that we were captive. We were under the power of darkness. Compare Luke 22:53. Satan is the power of darkness. Those in sin are held under his power. Hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. God, through the gospel, had rescued them, and has translated them into Christ's kingdom. This was effected when they were converted. Some teach that Christ's kingdom is yet future, but this passage shows that it already had an existence. The church was its visible form. It was inaugurated on Pentecost. 14. In whom we have redemption. We are redeemed from sin. We were in bondage, but have been purchased. Satan holds us under bondage until our sins are blotted out. The price paid is his blood. Compare Eph. 1:7.
15-17. Who is the image of the invisible God. He came in order to reveal the Father in his own person. See John 14:10, and Heb. 1:3. The love of God is revealed in Christ. He was the visible representative of the invisible God. The first-born of every creature. The thought is that he existed before creation began; born of God instead of being created by the divine fiat; born before any creature was called into existence. The passage does not say that he was the first created, but the first-born. He was before creation. See John 1:1, 2. 16. By him were all things created. Hence he must have existed before any creation. Compare John 1:3, and Heb. 1:2. As God manifested himself by means of the Son in the gospel, so in creation he manifested himself through the Son. The visible universe is a manifestation of God through the Son. THE WORD is the power that gives all things existence that exist. Thrones, dominions, principalities. The angelic hierarchy; different ranks of angels, according to the teachings of some of the Jewish doctors. A heresy had already been proposed that divided these into ranks, assigned them an undue prominence, and held that Christ was only an angel. Paul does not pause to say whether these divisions are correct, but declares that Christ is above them all, created them, and that they were created for him. One of these heresies he wished to counteract was the doctrine of angel worship. 17. And he is before all things. He was before them all in time, and through him they came into existence.
18-20. In verses 15-17, Paul portrays Christ as the center and source of the creation. In this section he shows that he is the Head of the new creation. He is the head of the body, the church. In the church he is pre-eminent. It is his spiritual body, and he is the supreme head. Compare 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:10, 22. The beginning. The new creation began from him and in him. He is first of all in time. The first-born from the dead. He first conquered death, and not for himself alone, but the great company of those found in him who have been born from the dead. 19. In him should all fulness dwell. All power and blessing. Completeness in all things. If limitations were placed upon his power to create, to save and to bless, all fulness would not dwell in him. 20. Having made peace. See notes on Eph. 2:14, 17. Christ came to make peace between Jew and Gentile, man and man, man and God. The means employed was the blood shed on the cross. Through it the law, the partition wall between Jew and Gentile, was removed, and both alike have access to God. By him to reconcile all things unto himself. "It pleased the Father" (verse 19) . . "by him (Christ) to reconcile all things to himself" (the Father). All who accept Christ, are reconciled to him, and found in him, are reconciled thus to God. Whether things in earth. Human beings. Things in heaven. Chrysostom explains: Christ not only reconciles man on the earth, but raises him, who had been an enemy to God, to heaven and gives him a place there at peace with God, so that in the heavens the fruits of reconciliation are seen forever.
21-29. You, that were some time alienated. In a state of estrangement before conversion. Enemies in your mind. Hostile on account of wicked works. A wicked life will fill a man with hostile thoughts to God. Yet now hath he reconciled. Christ has changed them by the gospel so that they are enemies no longer. God needs no change. The change must be wrought in man. 22. In the body of his flesh. It is through the sufferings of Christ that they are enabled to come to God. Without Christ and the cross there could be no gospel. Through his blood their sins are cleansed, so that they are holy in the sight of God. 23. If ye continue in the faith. Their continued acceptance depends on their clinging to Christ who redeemed them. Grounded and settled. Having an immovable foundation, so that they could not be moved from the hope of the gospel by any wind of doctrine. Which was preached, etc. See note on verse 6 above. 24. Who now rejoice. Rather, I now rejoice. My sufferings for your sake. He was a prisoner and a sufferer because he preached the gospel to the Gentiles. And fill up, etc. Christ endured afflictions for us. We must have a fellowship of his sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). Paul also suffers that he might share the afflictions of Christ. Not only did he suffer with Christ, but Christ suffers with his afflicted people. See Acts 9:4. Hence, afflictions suffered for Christ may be called his afflictions. All the suffering required for the sake of the church is behind of the afflictions of Christ. 25. According to the dispensation. God made him a minister of the church. That ministry was a "stewardship" (dispensation) committed to him. He refers to the great responsibility of the apostolic office. He as a "steward of the grace of God" (Eph. 3:2). To fulfil the word of God. Not only to do what the word required, but to preach the word everywhere. 26. Even the mystery. The mystery of the gospel, of salvation through Christ, hidden from past ages, but now revealed to the saints. A mystery, as Paul uses the term, is a thing hidden in the past, but now made known. 27. To whom God would make known. To the saints he would reveal the glory of the mystery. The glory of the mystery is Christ in you. Christ dwelling in the saved and filling their hearts with the hope of glory. 28. Whom we preach. Christ. Every man. Note that this is repeated three times in the verse. The apostle impresses the fact that the gospel is not for a few favored ones, but for every one. In all wisdom. In every form of wisdom. Perfect. We should all aim at perfection; the apostle aims to bring all to this ideal. The high ideal is before, for which we all should aim. However, he whose sins are all blotted out will be counted perfect in the great day. 29. According to the working. Christ within us is a life and a power. If we conquer the flesh and give ourselves entirely up to him he will work mightily.