COLOSSIANS



Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

It seems evident from statements the Apostle Paul makes in this letter, such as Chapter 1, verses 3 through 9, that the church at Colosse was founded by Epaphras, and, probably, has never been visited by the apostle himself at the time of this writing. Yet he expresses for these brethren the same fervent love and careful concern which characterize his letters to all the churches. It seems that his main concerns in this letter are to warn them against false doctrines, particularly those that might have a tendency to lead them into embracing worldly philosophy and traditions as having any merit in the work of salvation, and to firmly establish them in the fact that in our Lord Jesus the Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Chapter 1


(Verses 1 and 2) "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, 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."

 

As usual the apostle's first statement identifies both himself and those with him, (in this case only one brother, Timotheus, whom we know as Timothy). He tells us both who he is and why, as well as how. He is Paul, an apostle of Jesus the Christ. He is not this because of his desire for the office, nor by any work he has done to obtain such. He is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. God willed it according to His own counsel, and, since His will can neither be set aside nor hindered by any, He brought it to pass. An apostle is, in the strictest sense of the word "one who is sent," that is, a messenger or representative. But in the sense of being an apostle of Jesus the Christ, he is one who has been sent forth personally by Christ Jesus, and one whom He has not only commissioned to preach the gospel, but to whom He has also given authority to establish doctrine and practice for the church, and powers of judgment to enforce them. Paul then, as mentioned above, includes Timotheus, whom he calls, "our brother." He now addresses the epistle to "the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse. He is not addressing two separate groups: "the saints" and "the faithful brethren in Christ," but only one group, "the saints" who are also "the faithful brethren in Christ," at Colosse. His prayer for them is that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will continue grace and peace unto them.

 

(Verses 3 through 8) "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: as ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit."

 

The apostle says that, ever since he first heard of the faith in Christ Jesus with which these brethren are blessed, he has been praying for them, and thanking God for the "hope which is laid up" for them in heaven. Although Paul's most common usage of "hope" is to mean the confident expectation of that which is laid up for us, he here uses it, not as the expectation, but that which is expected, the glory that is promised through our Lord Jesus the Christ. He does not have to present a description or a discussion of it because they have already heard it through the "word of the truth of the gospel." Just as this word has gone forth into other parts of the world, and has there brought forth fruit, so it has done for them, as Paul says, "since the day that ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth." That is, not just since they heard of it by the ear, but since the Holy Ghost opened their hearts to experience the grace of God. Paul says that Epaphras, the man of whom they learned this gospel, is "a dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Jesus Christ." With this recommendation, they have no need to fear that they have been misled. Epaphras has also told Paul of their love in the Spirit.

 

(Verses 9 through12) "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, Which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:"

 

As the apostle assures these brethren that they have occupied a place in his constant prayers ever since the day he heard of their faith and love in the Spirit, we notice what he is, in his prayers, asking for them. What he does not ask for is conspicuous by its absence. Nothing is mentioned concerning physical well being or worldly gain of any sort, not because Paul is callous or indifferent to their physical or economic welfare, but because other things are far more important. The first thing he lists is "that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." This is by no means a prayer that they may be given knowledge of the will of God concerning coming events that they might be able to foretell such; but rather that they may be filled with the knowledge of His will concerning what He will have them do day by day, and the wisdom and spiritual understanding of how they may best accomplish that which is their duty. His next statement shows this to be the direction of his thinking: "that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." The phrase, "worthy of the Lord," is not to be construed as meaning that we, of ourselves, are, or ever can be, worthy of the Lord in the strict sense of the words, but it is used to describe those who strive to please the Lord by their lives. Although they can never, by their own merits, be worthy of Him, they are, by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by the grace of God, judged worthy of Him; and their conduct bears witness that they are. His next prayer for these brethren is that they may be "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness." The apostle knows full well what awaits these brethren, since even at the time of this writing he is himself in prison for the sake of the gospel. So he prays that they may be strengthened fully by the glorious power of God, so that they will be able to rejoice even in such times as require great patience and longsuffering as they await the fulfillment of the promises of God, and for the sake of those promises endure tribulations, afflictions, and persecutions. Being thus strengthened they will be able, even under severe conditions, to give thanks to God the Father, Who has "made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." It is the power of God the Father, in the person of Jesus the Christ, and by the operation of the Holy Ghost, Which has made us suitable to have a part in the inheritance of the saints, not only the present fellowship with which we are blessed, but also that glory which is yet to be revealed.

 

(Verses 13 through 16) "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: in Whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature."

 

"Who," in this first clause, obviously refers back to the Father, for He it is Who has "delivered us," (taken us out,) from the kingdom of darkness. He did not merely take us out of that kingdom, and leave us to cope the best we could with the situation. Instead He "translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." The word, "translate," when thus used, literally means "to take someone, or something, out of one place, and put him, or it, into another." So not only has the Father delivered us, in the sense of breaking our bonds, but He has actually removed us from the kingdom of darkness, and placed us in another kingdom, that of His dear Son. Notice that the apostle did not say, "He has called us to come out of the kingdom of darkness, and come into the kingdom of His dear Son." This would have entailed action on our part to get from one kingdom to the other; and such is not the case. It is altogether by the power of the Father that we are placed in the kingdom of His dear Son, "in Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins."

 

It is interesting to note that forgiveness is in the Son, not in the Father. The reason for this is obvious when we consider what the words, "forgive" and "forgiveness," actually mean. In order to make their meanings more evident, let us re-arrange the words from which they are made since they are compound words. Look at them thus: instead of "forgive," break the word and reverse the order of its parts, making it "give-for;" and in a similar manner "forgiveness" becomes "give-for-ness." Forgiveness is the giving of oneself for the one who has done the wrong. That is, if I truly forgive you, I must take upon myself the responsibility and blame for the error you have committed. If I cannot do this, I cannot forgive you, no matter how many times I may say, "I forgive you." This is exactly what our Lord Jesus did for us, not only figuratively, but literally and physically. He took our sins upon Himself in the body, and in that same body He paid the price for them on the cross, thus indeed forgiving us, giving Himself for us. It is through His blood that our redemption was purchased. He is the image of the invisible God. John tells us, (John 1:18 ,) "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, Which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." And in John 14:9, Jesus says, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father_ _ _." Should anyone object to Paul's statement, "Who is_ _ _the firstborn of every creature," on the grounds that our Lord's coming into the world was, as the apostle says in another place, "in the end of the world," and not in the beginning thereof, it should be noted that all Bible scholars through the centuries have agreed that, the Theophanies of the Old Testament are the appearances of the Son, and not the Father. It is also evident that since He is the Eternal Son of God, He is before all things, and is therefore the firstborn "of all creation," as is the literal translation of the phrase.

 

(Verses 16 and 17) "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist."

 

God's law declares that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." We have before us Paul's testimony. So let us check that of another apostle, John. In John 1:3, he says, "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." This should certainly establish the point. Paul enhances his testimony a little by saying that whether the things one might consider are in heaven or in earth, visible or invisible, whatever or wherever they are, they not only were created by Him, but also for Him. Man is always trying to find fault with God and His word. Men question how it can be that the wicked, both wicked men and wicked powers, as well as Satan and his angels, could be "created by Him and for Him." And even some well meaning, but faint hearted, Christians try to get around this by limiting the phrase, "all things," to only good things. Solomon did not make any such restrictions. (Proverbs 16:4) "The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." With him Paul completely agrees. (Romans 9:20-22) "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" Everyone, saint and sinner, likes to think of God as "a God of love" whose "mercy endureth forever;" and this is a totally accurate description of Him toward those who love Him; but to His enemies He is a "God of judgment," "a consuming fire," "a God of wrath," and "a God of vengeance." So "all things were created by Him, and for Him"; and, upon the foundation of other scriptural testimony, it can be safely declared that those who do not honor Him before the day of judgment will then be forced to do so, to the glory of the Father. "And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." He is before all things, not only chronologically, as we have already noted, but also in order of importance, power, and glory. Nothing can equal, or even approach His glory or power. Not only so, but it is also by Him that all things consist. That is, even though it may sometimes seem to us that many evil things are given extremely wide latitude, He has set limits beyond which they cannot pass. And He holds them in check under these boundaries by His own power until the Day of Judgment, in which, He will Himself judge all things.

 

(Verses 18 through 20) "And He is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness 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."

 

Here the apostle speaks, as he does also in his other epistles, of the church as the body of Christ, affirming that Christ, "Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead," is the head of this body, and that He is not to be regarded as only "a figurehead," but as having the preeminence, or highest authority and power, (literally, the "first place," or "place of Highest respect,") in all things. We hear many today, saying, that if Jesus were here among the conditions of the present times, He would teach quite differently from the manner in which He taught while He was here. To even entertain such ideas is nothing short of blasphemy. It attempts to reduce Him to the level of ordinary humanity, while even His name, Emmanuel, means "God with us," (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 ). He is to have the preeminence, not only in the matter of worship, but also in our obedience to His teaching, as well as in all other things, for He is "the beginning, the firstborn from the dead." That is, He is the First Who has risen from the dead to immortality. He raised some from the dead while He was here on earth, but none of them to immortality. They were only raised back to the same natural life they had before. But when He arose He is able to testify, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." All of this was brought about because the Father, God Almighty, is pleased that all fullness should dwell in Him. The entire operation, although wrought by the Son, is of the Father, for it is He Who, through the blood of the Son Who died on the cross, has made peace, and reconciled all things to Himself, "whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." We are in this as the writer expressed it in Hebrews 2:8. After quoting Psalms 8:4-6, he says, "But now we see not yet all things put under Him;" and in this instance we do not yet see all things reconciled unto Him. He has already paid the price of redemption and reconciliation for all His elect. His faithful ministers are preaching the gospel of this reconciliation, the Holy Ghost is working this reconciliation in their hearts; and all who, on the day of final judgment, have not been reconciled unto Him, will on that day be reconciled by force. It is to be noted that the word, "reconcile," does not always mean "make friends:" it also means "bring to quiet submission." This latter meaning is the one that will be fulfilled when every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Christ Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father. Because God's purpose cannot be changed, and His decree cannot be broken, Paul speaks of it as an accomplished fact.

 

(Verses 21 through 23) "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"

 

As the apostle continues his discussion of reconciliation, he points out to these brethren that they were themselves at one time enemies in their minds to God because of their own wicked works; but he has now reconciled them. We must keep in mind that, although it is God's justice that was offended by the sin of man, God has never been an enemy of His elect. Therefore there has never been any necessity for God's being reconciled to them. His feelings toward them have always been as He said to Jeremiah. (Jer. 31:3) "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee"; and Paul says, (Eph. 2:4-5,) "But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ." Yet the perversity of human nature is such that man, having been warned of God beforehand of the penalty for disobedience, when he did incur that penalty, began trying, in every way he could imagine, to set the penalty aside, and deliver himself from it on his own. Then, frustrated by the failure of his own works, he became enraged against God and all those who are acceptable to God. The story of Cain is an outstanding example of this. This same enmity continues to this day in the heart and mind of every man until the Spirit of God applies to his heart and mind the efficacy of the blood of Christ. Then that man is reconciled to God. God has made the preparation for this "in the body of His (Christ's) flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight." He, by making His Son the sacrifice, has taken away our sin, our blame, and our reproof; and when the Holy Ghost makes this known to us, it kills that enmity we once had toward God. "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel_ _ _." This in no wise endangers the security of the saints in Christ Jesus our Lord, but, as is the case with so many other expressions in the scriptures, it is descriptive of those who are reconciled to God. Those who continue in the faith are the ones who have been reconciled. Just as there were false prophets, and are false teachers, there are also false professors. They follow the outward marks of faith for a while, but always draw back at some point. The writer clarified this matter in Hebrews 10:38-39. "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." So those who are saved will "continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel." He then reminds them that they have already heard the gospel, and through it have been taught of that hope. (Here the apostle uses "hope," not only as the expectation of glory, but also as the very substance of that hoped for.) He further says, "which is preached to every creature which is under heaven." It is very clear that this expression can not be taken in the strictest construction of every word, for it is obvious, from both scriptural and secular records, that at the time of this writing the gospel had spread very little farther than around the shores of the Mediterranean . So, of course, "every creature under heaven" cannot be taken in the strict literal sense. The question then might arise, "Did Paul write a falsehood?" The answer is an emphatic "No." Having thus answered, we are obligated to give his meaning, which, according to all evidence is that NO ONE has been shunned, or passed by. This is particularly true of his personal ministry, which he mentions thus: "whereof I Paul am made a minister." Some today seem to think that either they are too good to preach to certain types of sinners, or else that it will do no good to do so; and they are ready to pass them by. NOT SO WITH PAUL. He preached to one as to another, leaving the selection in the hands of God where it belongs. He did not shun to preach the gospel to anyone, beggar or king, saint or sinner. He was given the gift of "discerning of spirits" and the authority and power of judgment, both of which he used when necessary, but he never refused to preach the gospel to whomever he might meet. Although we do not have the same gift and authority as he, we must remember that our Lord, in speaking to the religious leaders of His day who felt that they were better than others, said, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." So he preached to "every creature which is under heaven" with whom he had any contact. We often hear someone say, when an object has been mislaid, and an unsuccessful search has been made for it, "I have looked everywhere under the sun for it." When we hear such a statement, we do not consider the speaker to be a liar. We simply take the expression within the context, in which it is meant, which is with an "understood" extension that makes the complete idea to be, "I have looked everywhere under the sun, within my reach, for it."  Paul's statement here, and our Lord's command to His disciples, (Mark 16:15 ,) "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," is to be understood in the same manner.

 

(Verses 24 through 29) "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church: whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you to fulfil the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily."

 

This is an extremely long and complex sentence, actually beginning with verse 21, and continuing through verse 29. We have already touched on verses 21 through 23, but the key to the overall understanding of this sentence is found in two expressions, one in verse 21 and the other in verse 27. The remainder is primarily in explanation of these. They are, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled_ _ _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." By thus joining these two parts of the sentence we can more readily see that the whole has to do with the wonderful purpose of God which had been kept secret from the beginning until the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead, and the sending forth of the apostles into "all the world," not just Judaea, and to all nations and peoples, not just the Jews. Paul, in many places in his writings, refers to this great purpose of God as a "mystery," or secret, which He has kept hidden from the beginning until the gospel day, not that God did not have His prophets foretell the great event, for indeed He did. But He did not open the understanding of men to receive it until the time of its revelation in the resurrection of Christ, and then not all men, but chosen ones whom He sent forth to declare this, no longer secret, but now openly manifested truth. Of this Paul was made a minister, as he says, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God." When he says, "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," let no one even momentarily entertain the idea that he considers the sufferings of our Lord insufficient for the great work of salvation which He wrought. In far too many places of his writings he adamantly maintains that the sufferings of Christ, and of Him alone, make up the only sacrifice for sin, and that it is, of itself, fully adequate. The writer says, in Hebrews 10:14, "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." To this truth Paul bears witness in many places. So, instead of indicating any weakness or inadequacy in the sufferings of Christ, he is simply saying, that he has not finished those sufferings that he as a minister of Christ has been "given" to fulfill. (Philippians 1:29, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.") Isaiah said, (Is. 66:19,) "and I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles". Paul says, "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." Isaiah declared the word of God long before; and now God has sent forth Paul, as well as others, to fulfill His word. This is all according to God's eternal purpose, not something, which He has lately decided to do. He kept it hidden "from ages and from generations, but now [it] is made manifest to His saints." The expression, "To whom God would make known," obviously means, "To whom God, from eternity, purposed that He would make known." So it was always God's purpose to make known, at His appointed time, "what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Although when we consider this from an individual viewpoint, there can be no doubt that Christ is IN His people, that is, He dwells in their hearts. Yet, since Paul is here considering the great mystery which God has so long kept hidden, but has now revealed, there seems some evidence that a better rendering might be, "which is Christ among you, the hope of glory." This by no means changes the fact that Christ is the hope of glory, nor that He dwells in the hearts of His people. But, since the subject is God's revealing of His long kept secret to the Gentiles, who, prior to this revelation, "were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world," (Eph, 2:12,) it seems that the apostle's primary thought concerns the fact that God has, according to His purpose, sent the gospel among them declaring Christ, Who is the hope of glory. He continues, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Wherever Paul went he preached the word of truth. No man can do that without warning every person to whom he has the opportunity to speak of the judgment of God which He has appointed and will bring upon devils and evil men on that final day. Some well-meaning people scoff at the idea of warning the wicked concerning that terrible event, saying, "Why warn the wicked? God's elect are going to be saved by the grace of God, and the wicked are going to be turned into hell; and there is nothing you can do about it."  Those who have such a selfish, or callous attitude surely must have been called by a different spirit from Him, Who called Ezekiel. Although Ezekiel was sent to Israel , many of those to whom he was sent were, according to the Apostle Paul, the children of the flesh, and not children of God. Not only so, but God Himself warned Ezekiel that many of them would not heed his message. Nevertheless, the only way in which Ezekiel could be clear before God was, that he declare the word of God to all, just as he was instructed. This we find to be exactly the course Paul followed. Witness Acts 24:25, "And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, `Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.'" As one reads the remainder of that chapter he finds that, although Felix did often send for Paul, and talk with him, it was because he hoped Paul would pay him to set him free, not because of any love for him, or for God either; but he continued to hold Paul prisoner as long as he was governor. This clearly indicates that no work of grace had been wrought in the heart of Felix. So the question arises, "What caused a Roman military governor to tremble?" The only logical answer is that Paul spoke so forcefully of the judgment to come on the wicked, that it made Felix afraid. Why is it not thus presented today? Are men afraid that they will be accused of trying to scare the wicked into becoming children of God? (God is the only One Who can change a sinner into a saint.) What then is their fear? Could it be they are afraid that the wicked will become angry, and persecute them? Paul says, (2 Tim. 3:12 ,) "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Not only did Paul "warn every man," that is, every person with whom he conversed, but he also taught everyone in all wisdom. Since he declared to the Corinthians that Christ "is made unto us wisdom." no doubt, his effort was to teach all about Christ Jesus our Lord, both what He has done for us, and what He would have us, His servants, to do. His purpose in so doing is that all may be presented "perfect in Christ," that is, that all may have complete knowledge of Christ. As he said in another place, he did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. Now he says, "Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily." This is his testimony of how greatly he felt the power of God urging him on to do that for which he was called. As he said in another place, "For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel."


Chapter 2


(Verses 1 through 3) "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Jesus Christ; in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

 

Perhaps in the ancient usage of the English language, the word, "conflict" may have been readily understood in Paul's statement. In our present manner of speaking, or writing, a better choice of words is "anxiety," or "care." Both of these are acceptable translations of the Greek word used by the Apostle Paul; and "care" seems to fit best of all with the context. So the apostle says that, it is his desire that not only the Colossians, but also the Laodiceans, together with all other Christians who have not personally met him, might know the great care he has for them, that with their hearts knit together in love, they may be comforted by the "riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ." Notice that he does not say, "assurance of full understanding," but "full assurance of understanding." We will never, while in this life, have full understanding of the mystery of God; but he desires that we have full assurance of understanding to the point that we will acknowledge this great mystery of God the Father and our Lord Jesus the Christ. No doubt, although there are many "mysteries," or secrets, of God, the one of which he speaks here is the same as that already set forth in Chapter I, verse 27. The reason for his great concern about this matter is that there are already teachers trying to add legalism to the gospel that they might bring Gentile Christians into bondage to the law, as will appear as Paul continues his discussion. In view of this he says, "In Whom [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." He is complete without the law, without tradition, and without the imagination of man. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him alone. No one can add anything beneficial to the gospel. Everything worthwhile is already there; and let every man beware lest he try to take anything from it.

 

(Verses 4 and 5) "And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ."

 

Just as mentioned above, the apostle declares that the reason for his great concern is that there are those who, with enticing words, would deceive our Lord's followers, and lead them into bondage. He assures them that although he is separated from them in the flesh, he is able in the spirit to behold their order, and the steadfastness of their faith in Christ; and as he does, he rejoices with them.

 

(Verses 6 and 7) "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."

 

Paul here signifies that he has full confidence in Epaphras as a faithful servant of our Lord and a reliable teacher of the things of God. For he instructs these brethren to continue to order their lives to the best of their abilities exactly as they have been taught, that they may be rooted and built up in the Christ. In view of the general subject upon which he is treating, it seems that his primary intent is to encourage them to maintain the doctrines of the gospel of the Christ as they have received them; and particularly, to hold fast to the fact that the Christ is in Himself a full and complete Saviour WHO NEEDS NOTHING ADDED TO HIS WORK. We should all be fully established in the faith that is anchored in the Christ alone, and be always abounding in thanksgiving to God the Father for the wonderful gift of Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

(Verses 8 through 12) "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, Which is the head of all principality and power: in Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who raised Him from the dead."

 

This is, beyond question, as important to us today as it was to the Colossians when Paul wrote it. For there are on every side today those who, while claiming to be gospel ministers, would gladly lead us all into captivity to philosophy, vain deceit, human tradition, and rudiments of the world, instead of instructing us "after Christ," that is, according to gospel truth as Paul proceeds to set it forth. First, Paul says, "Beware lest any man spoil you_ _ _." The word translated "spoil," means "to make a spoil, or prey of," as in taking a captive in combat; and to "beware" of anything is to be on guard against that thing. Before continuing, this thought should be fixed firmly in mind; if there were no danger and no possibility that a thing might take place, there would be no need to beware of it. So we are to be on guard lest anyone take us captive by any means; but the ones which the apostle mentions are philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, and the rudiments of the world. Perhaps everyone knows what these things are, but it never hurts to refresh our minds about what to expect from our enemies. "Philosophy" is made up from two Greek words, "philos," meaning "love;" and "sophia," meaning "wisdom." Thus "philosophy" means "the love of wisdom." It would seem from this that philosophy would then be a very desirable thing to pursue, until we remember that it is the basic cause of the first sin ever committed in the world. Satan, in the person of the serpent, said, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:5) Then, (Gen. 3:6,) "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired TO MAKE ONE WISE, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat". Not only was philosophy (the love of wisdom) the leading cause of the sin, but it was embellished with vain deceit. Eve was deceived into thinking "that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise," all of which was false; but in her deceived condition, it all appeared true. Philosophy is the love of the wisdom of the world; and Paul tells us, (I Cor. 1:21 ,) "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Not only did the world by its wisdom not know God, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, the very thing which the world considers the height of foolishness, is the means God ordained to save His elect. One of the sad things concerning this today is that many well-meaning brethren have been so misled by the subtlety of this philosophy that they will read God's word, and declare that God did not mean what He said. But we have to take His word and interpret it by a bunch of symbols that are nowhere in scripture authorized. The only answer for this is that God not only knew exactly what He intended to say, but also said exactly what He meant; and if it does not suit what we believe, we had better change our ideas instead of interpreting His word to fit them. Just as surely as we follow after philosophy and vain deceit we become prisoners of those who teach them. We all know what tradition is. It is something that may never have had any truth in it at all, but has been taught or practiced so long that those who follow it feel compelled to do so without knowing why. "Rudiments," when thus used in the plural, means "the introduction to, or the fundamentals of," something. Since the apostle says, "the rudiments of the world," we can readily see that these are not what we want, for they are always contrary to the principles of Christ. These then are the things which some will use to try to lead us into captivity, "and not after Christ" These false teachers will do everything possible to lead us away from our Lord. Let us then lay firm hold upon what Paul says, "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." There is nowhere else to go, and no one else to whom we can look. All we need is in Him. The apostle continues, "And ye are complete in Him, Which is the head of all principality and power." Since that which is complete needs nothing added to it, if we are in Christ, all these things which men use trying to lure us into their trap can add nothing of value to us; so why follow them? He, Christ, is the head over all governments and powers. We may sometimes fail to see this as we think we ought, but it is true. In Him we are circumcised, not in the flesh, by hands; but in the heart, by the Holy Ghost. The circumcision by hands, in the flesh, never put away a sin, but the "circumcision of Christ," applied to our hearts by the Spirit of God, puts off "the body of sins of the flesh," all of them. This next verse is one we must consider in the light of Paul's consistent teaching on the subject he brings up. "Buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who raised Him from the dead." Some will immediately pounce upon this verse, and claim that he is talking about dipping a person in water. However, a closer inspection of what he has already said and the three verses immediately following this should convince anyone that there is far more under consideration. Perhaps, reviewing two other places where Paul speaks of this same matter may make it a little clearer. (I Cor. 12:13) "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." (Romans 6:3-4) "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." The Apostle Peter tells us that water baptism "is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God." Surely, if water baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh, neither does it, nor can it, put us into Christ. Paul tells us, as already quoted, that the manner of our getting into "one body," which body he had already emphatically declared is the body of Christ, is by being "baptized by one Spirit," Who can be no other than the Holy Ghost. Then he says that all who are thus baptized into Christ are baptized into His death; and that is precisely what he means when he says, "buried with Him in baptism." Only the dead are buried. So if we are buried with Him, we are made partakers of His death. Water baptism is only a figure. It bears witness that we believe that we have been buried with Christ. In this same "operation of God" we are also raised up with Christ that we should walk in newness of life.

 

(Verses 13 through 15) "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross, and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."

 

When we were dead in our sins, being of the uncircumcised Gentiles, and having no pretense of a claim to the blessings of God, God has by the operation of God through the Holy Ghost's baptizing us into the body of Christ, and thus into His death, raised us up also with Him, or "quickened us together with Him." And we stand by His grace forgiven of all trespasses: because when Christ was crucified, He, in that same act, nailed to His cross the law, "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way." The law was against us, and contrary to us, because it constantly demanded that the penalty for sin, which is death, be paid. It could not give life. Nevertheless, when our Lord was crucified, He not only had power to lay down His life, but what is of far greater moment, He had power to take it again; and this He did, thus "spoiling," or conquering, principalities and powers. He broke the powers of death and the grave together with those of Satan and man. The most powerful man-made government the world had ever known ordered Him crucified, and His enemies sealed the tomb. He arose from that tomb, and spent approximately forty days with His disciples before making His spectacular ascension to heaven. In so doing, He triumphed openly over all these principalities and powers that attempted to destroy Him.

 

(Verses 16 and 17) "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."

 

The key to these two verses is the last clause, "But the body is of Christ." Since we by the Holy Ghost have been baptized into the body and death of Christ, we are to be concerned no more about the dietary laws, the special holy days, the new moon, or the Sabbaths. In the King James Version the translators added a word which confuses the issue. Instead of translating the text literally, and saying "Sabbaths," they said, "Sabbath days." The important distinction here is that to say, "Sabbath days" may give the impression that Paul is concerned about the seventh day of the week, which is the Sabbath set aside by one of the "Ten Commandments." Under the ordinances of the ceremonial law there were also set apart a Sabbath year, the seventh year, and an additional Sabbath year, the fiftieth, which is the year of jubilee. So it is best to read this, "the Sabbaths," as it appears in the Greek. The reason Paul says that we should not be concerned about these things is that they are only shadows of things to come, "but the body is of Christ". Therefore we should remain focused upon Him, and Him alone.

 

(Verses 18 and 19) "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head, from Which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God."

 

Again Paul warns that there are those who would lead us astray into the worshipping of angels, and thus cheat us out of our reward for faithful service to God. Sometimes the word "angel" simply means "messenger," and not "angel," as most commonly considered. In this instance there is a strong possibility that both are included. For a long time one of the most prevalent forms of this worship has been the worshipping of saints, who were only messengers of God. All such is brought about by men who are "vainly puffed up" by their fleshly minds; and they are intruding into things which they have not seen, and of which they know nothing, instead of holding "the Head," which is Christ Jesus our Lord. Since He is the Head of the whole body, it is He alone, Who supplies all that we need, and by Whom we are nourished and increased "with the increase of God."

 

(Verses 20 through 25) "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which are all to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the flesh."

 

In the premise, "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ to the rudiments of the world," the Apostle Paul sums up what he has already said. And inasmuch as he has so emphatically taught that, by the operation of God, we have been both "buried with Him [Christ] in baptism" and "quickened together with Him," that "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body," and are thus "baptized into His death," we are to understand that in this statement "if" does not imply any doubt, but should be considered the same as "since." So, with us thus dead with Christ to the rudiments of the world, the question is: "Why are we subject to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men?" This question, in such a setting, carries the idea of, "Why would we want to subject ourselves to such?" To do so is to abandon the liberty there is in Christ, and go willingly into bondage to such ordinances. When he says, "ordinances_ _ _after the commandments and doctrines of men," he has no reference to laws of community or state, which also are made by men for the governing of society. He completely clarifies this in Romans 13:1-2. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." So this is certainly not his meaning here. He is concerned only with such ordinances as men establish for their manner of worship, and try to persuade, and sometimes to force, others to follow. His parenthesis explains the type of ordinances he has under consideration, "Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using." All are perishable, with no lasting value in any of them. Our only hope of any thing eternal is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul says that these things, because they require some self control, show some humility, or subjection, and deny the body to some extent, have a show of wisdom. That is, they APPEAR to have some wisdom about them, and make it seem that they are not giving any honor to the desires of the flesh. He has already said, in verse 18, that, all such things are set up by men who are vainly puffed up by the fleshly mind. So, in spite of the appearance to the contrary, it is all for the satisfaction of the flesh. Therefore let us be always on guard against such.

 


Chapter 3


(Verses 1 through 4) "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."

 

Again, as is readily apparent from what he has said before and what he says in verses 3 and 4, Paul's use of "if" is, in his intent, equivalent to saying, "since." He has made very clear what he means by our being "risen with Christ." So we turn our attention to the message he has for us who are risen with Christ. That message is: "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Both of these sentences are the same with only the addition of "not on things on the earth" at the end of the second. The fact that Paul uses the repetition shows the importance of this admonition. Unquestionably the things that are on the earth are the works of the flesh, while those that are above are the fruit of the Spirit; and the apostle clearly sets them forth in Galatians 5:19-23. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like_ _ _But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law". So we do not have to wonder what we should seek, and set our affection upon. Now Paul tells us why. First of all, we are dead to "the rudiments of the world." Therefore we have no reason to set our affections upon the things of the world. Then our lives are hid with Christ in God, Who certainly is above. So there is where our heart and our affection should be. Not only is our life hid with Christ in God, but He also IS our life. He will, at the appointed time "appear," or come back to earth to gather up His own; and when He appears, we shall also appear with Him in glory.

 

(Verses 5 through 7) "Mortify therefore your members which are on earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience; in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them."

 

The word translated "mortify," literally means "put to death, or kill". An equally acceptable translation of this passage is, "Kill therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, depraved passion, wicked desires, and greed, which is idolatry: for which comes the wrath of God [upon the sons of obstinacy]: in which you also engaged when you lived in them." The phrase enclosed in brackets is in some Greek texts, and does not appear in others. The sense of it is, with or without this phrase, that it is for the punishment of those who continue in such evil things that, God will in His wrath send judgment upon the wicked. And therefore we are to leave off all such just as those who are dead take no part in activities of this life, because through Christ we are dead to them. As Paul said in Ephesians 2:3-5, "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ," This is the same message he is delivering to the Colossians even if in slightly different words.

 

(Verses 8 through 11) "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him That created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

 

It would be difficult, if not totally impossible, to set forth this message any more clearly than it is just as written. It is absolutely unacceptable for a Christian to be found using filthy language, lying, or engaging in any of the other evil things here listed. This should "go double," as the modern expression is, for one who is considered a gospel minister. Christians, by the power of God, have been killed to sin, being made partakers of the death of our Lord. Thus they have "put off the old man with his deeds". Lest anyone try to argue that since the apostle says, "put off the old man_ _ _," and "put on the new man," this is something the Christian must do himself, and does not refer to what God has done for him. Notice what the Apostle Peter says, II Peter 1:14 , "Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me." Does this mean that Christ has informed Peter that he must commit suicide? How foolish! In like manner, by being quickened together with Christ, they have "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." Christians then are to lay aside every evil, and cultivate every good habit of thought word and deed. In Christ there is no bondage. There is neither Jew nor Greek. Circumcision, or the lack of it means nothing. The One, Who is all important, is Christ; and He is in every one of His saints.

 

(Verses 12 and 13) "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering: forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so do ye."

 

The apostle's statement, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God _ _ _." is the equivalent of saying, "Put on therefore, because ye are the elect of God_ _ _." It is not an admonition to someone who is not of the elect to act as if he were. Because we are the elect of God, holy and beloved, (that is, beloved of God and holy through the imputed holiness of Christ Jesus our Lord,) we are to cultivate the very graces the apostle lists. It seems that among those who claim to love the Lord in this present time, the things set forth in verse 13 are the most often disregarded instructions in scripture. "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: as Christ forgave you, so do ye." To forbear one another is to be patient with one another, literally "to bear for one another:" and to forgive one another is to honestly and sincerely take upon ourselves the responsibility and blame for the error our brother may have committed against us. The word, "forgive" is more readily understood when the syllables are exchanged, and another word inserted between them, thus: "give oneself for." This is exactly what our Lord did for us. Paul says, "Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." We have already pointed out that He "gave himself for" us; but other questions arise. How did He do it? and When did He do it? If we are to follow His example, we must know the answer to both of these questions. To the first question the answer is, "He did it willingly, not of necessity, and humbly, with no effort to show off. To the second question we have to answer, "He did it before we ever thought of apologizing to Him and before we even considered asking Him. And further, He did it when He knew that in our hearts there was not even the slightest movement of repentance. For, in fact, at that time we were "enmity against" Him. Can we do this? We ought, and if we do as He did, we must.

 

(Verses 14 through 17) "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him."

 

In keeping with what he has taught in other places, and particularly in I Cor., Chapter 13, Paul sets charity, or love, above everything else. Where love is there is a bond, which will hold us together in the face of whatever may come, which he calls, "the bond of perfectness," or perfection. Since we have been "called in one body," or, as he said to the Corinthians, "baptized into one body," by the Spirit of God, let us live so that the peace of God will rule in our hearts. At the same time remember that this is the gift of God, and be thankful to Him for it. As Paul says, "The word of Christ," in the context in which he uses it, no doubt his intent is to emphasize the doctrine of our Lord Jesus the Christ as a full and complete Saviour, One Who needs nothing added to make His work complete. Since He is our wisdom, let this wonderful truth dwell in us, remain constantly in our minds, in all wisdom. The apostle instructs us to teach and admonish one another in, or by the use of, three things, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. A review of the meanings of these words might be in order. A psalm is defined as, "a sacred song or hymn" There are also given some special meanings, but this is the general meaning of the word. The definition given for "hymn" is, "a song or ode in honor of God, or in honor of some deity; a sacred lyric; a song of praise, adoration, or thanksgiving." And since neither we nor the Apostle Paul recognize any deity other than God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the phrase, "or in honor of some deity" is completely moot. The definition of "song" is very simple, "that which is sung; a poem to be sung; a vocal melody." However, the apostle mentioned only one kind of song, "spiritual songs," which can only be songs brought forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Although all of these are primarily to give glory to God, they are also to be used for teaching and admonishing one another. And whatever we do, whether it be the speaking of a word, or the performing of a work, it is to be done in the name of the Lord Christ Jesus, and in thankfulness to God the Father by, or through Him, since He is the only way of access to the Father.

 

(Verses 18 through 25) "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons."

 

This is a set of instructions that many today, who pretend to be Christians, say would not have been written as they are if the Apostle Paul were writing them today. The only answer we can give to such is that those who say such things must only be PRETENDING to be Christians. Paul was inspired by the Holy Ghost in Whom is the wisdom of all ages, just as it is in God the Father, and in the Son, Christ Jesus our Lord. The fact that humanity has deteriorated to the point that women are screaming to be "liberated," neither realizing, nor caring, that such, instead of putting them on a higher plane, is actually degrading them more and more; and the supposed "authorities" are proclaiming that a child must be given freedom to "do his own thing," whatever that may be, is no surprise to Him. He inspired Paul to write this because it is God's commandment; and in spite of man's rebellion, it is still God's commandment, and just as true and binding as when written. The wife is commanded to submit herself to her husband, not that she cannot make any decisions for herself, but if there is any real difference of opinion, she is to yield to the judgment of her husband as the head of the family. For his part, the husband is commanded to love his wife, and not use bitterness, or harshness, in either word or deed, in dealing with her. Children are to be obedient to their parents in all things. Although the next statement is addressed to "Fathers," it is because the father is the head of the family, and the message is binding on both parents, "Provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged." The phrase, "to anger," was added by the translators, and is not needed in the sentence. The meaning of the commandment is, "Do not be constantly trying to find fault with the child and what he, or she, is doing." Certainly, a child needs correction when he does something wrong, but he just as surely needs encouragement when he does that which is right. In our present day situation most people want to discard Paul's instructions to servants, saying that they no longer apply, seeing that in this country slavery has been abolished. We must not forget that, if we are hired to work for someone, whether on a salary, by the hour, or by the job, we are the servants of the one who is paying us while we are in his employ. Even the man who owns his own business is the servant of those to whom he sells a product or renders a service; and if he forgets this, he soon will not have a business. So as servants, we are to obey those who are our masters, not for their sakes, but because God is always beholding what we do; and we are to please Him in all things. Our Lord Jesus the Christ is the master we are serving; and we will be rewarded for faithful service, and just as surely chastened for any fault or failure. With Him there is no respect of persons.


Chapter 4


In verse 1, the apostle gives instructions to masters, and what we have said about servants can simply be turned around for masters, that is, those who have others working for them, or under their supervision, are masters of the same. So the instructions given here apply to them as clearly as if they actually had slaves to do their bidding. "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." No matter how high you may be in the chain of command, there is still at least One above you. That is Christ Jesus our Lord; and what Paul said in the last verse of the preceding chapter is applicable to you also, "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons."

 

(Verses 2 through 6) "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man"

 

As the apostle admonishes these brethren to "continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving," he also requests that they pray for him. He says that there are two things, which he especially desires. The first is "that God would open unto us a door of utterance." that is, that God would afford him an opportunity to preach the "mystery of Christ," that great secret of God which he set before us in Chapter 1, verses 25 through 27. and for which he says, "I am also in bonds." At the time of this writing he is a prisoner in Rome for the sake of this very gospel. Further, he wants them to pray that he will, when afforded this opportunity, be able to "make it manifest," to preach this wonderful gospel so that it can be clearly understood. He then instructs the Colossians to use wisdom in their conduct "toward them that are without," that is, unbelievers, striving not to unduly antagonize them, thus "redeeming the time," or as we commonly say today, "buying time". The less antagonism we provoke in others, the longer we may have opportunity to tell them about our Lord Jesus the Christ; and that is the one thing above all else in which Paul was interested. In spite of objections by modern health authorities, it has been an accepted idea for centuries that almost all foods need a little salt to make them more pleasant to the taste. And from this idea comes Paul's expression in verse 6, of letting our speech be not only with grace, but also "seasoned with salt." He is still concerned with our getting along with "them that are without." So his admonition is, "Always be gracious in your speech toward them, making it as pleasant as possible." This instruction is for the purpose of our knowing how we "ought to answer every man."

 

The remainder of this chapter is taken up with things of primary importance to the Colossians, such as the introduction of those he is sending as messengers to them, and salutations from those who are with him. It seems that upon the departure of these messengers, the only ones of his fellow workers still to be with him are Aristarchus; Marcus who is the nephew of Barnabas; Jesus who is called Justus; Luke, the physician; Demas; and Epaphras. This might seem to us quite a long list until we consider the fact that these are the only friends present upon whom he feels he can depend; and meanwhile he is in prison, not knowing whether he will be released or put to death. He gives a short eulogy of Epaphras, "who," he says, "is one of you." All of these send their salutations. Paul also asks that they "Salute the brethren which are at Laodicea , and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house." This points out a fact, which was very common. Many of the early Christians were very poor, and consequently they were not able to build houses just for meeting places. So in addition to finding other places in which to meet some of the members would open their homes for such usage. This was the situation at the house of Nymphas. In Paul's instructions in verse 16 we find the only scriptural reference to his Laodicean Epistle. There is no record of what became of it, just as there is no record of the fate of his first letter to the Corinthians, which he mentions in I Corinthians 5:9, but there is no further information regarding it. He instructs the brethren to encourage Archipus in the ministry to which he has been called; and signs off with these words: "The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen."

 

 


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