Colossians 1





                                  COLOSSE AND ITS PEOPLE


COLOSSAE (or Colassae) was an inland city of Western Asia Minor. It

was situated on the river Lycus (modern Tchoruk-su), a southern affluent

of the famous Maeander, lying under the frowning heights of Mount

Cadmus, which bounded the Lycus valley on the south; and on the high

road from Miletus and Ephesus to the central highlands of the peninsula, at

a point distant about a hundred and twenty miles from the coast.

Ethnically, it belonged to southwestern Phrygia, with the borders of Lydia

and Carla closely approaching it on the west and south; but politically, the

district was included in the Roman proconsular province of Asia, whose

capital was Ephesus.


Under the Persian kings, Colossae had been “a populous city, prosperous

and great” (Xenophon, ‘Anabasis,’ 1:2. 6; Herodotus, 7:30); but in later

times it was eclipsed by its more fortunate neighbors, Laodicea and

Hierapolis, which lay on opposite sides of the Lycus valley, ten or twelve

miles below Colossae, and distant some six miles from each other.

Laodicea, whose name commemorated the rule of the Greco-Syrian

dynasty in Asia Minor, was the chief city of the immediate district, the

Cibyratic conventus (διοίκησις - dioikaesis - diocese) or “jurisdiction,” one of

the departments or counties into which the Roman province of Asia was

divided for administrative purposes. Hierapolis, on the other hand, was a

health resort, celebrated for the medicinal qualities of its waters, which

were extremely abundant; “full of natural baths” (Strabo, 13:4. 14). The

great prosperity of this region was chiefly due to its wool. The

neighboring uplands afforded excellent pasture for sheep, and the streams

of the Lycus valley were peculiarly favorable to the dyer’s art. Both these

cities were actively engaged in the trade in wool and dyed stuffs, of which

Colossae had formerly been a chief center, giving its name (colossinus) to a

valued purple dye. Colossae, however, had already dwindled into a third-rate

town (Strabo, 12. S. 13; died A.D. 24), whether from natural causes,

or, as M. Renan conjectures, from the conservative and Oriental habits of

its people, who were slow to adapt themselves to new conditions. After

this time it disappears from history, whilst the other cities held a

conspicuous place both in secular and Christian annals. Even its ruins have

been discovered but lately, and with difficulty. The Byzantine town of

Chonae (modern Chonas), which took its place, is situated three miles to

the south of the river, at the mouth of the pass leading through the Cadmus



The early decay and subsequent obliteration of Colossae are probably due

to the combined action of the earthquakes with which this valley has been

frequently visited, and of the immense calcareous deposits formed by the

streams on the northern side of the Lycus — a phenomenon especially

marked at Colossae (Pliny, ‘Natural History,’ 31:2. 20) — which, in the

course of ages, have considerably modified the features of the locality.

Colossal, if situated in the plain, immediately on the river-side, as now

appears, would be liable to suffer greater injury from these causes than the

sister cities. There was a destructive earthquake in this region about the

very time that St. Paul wrote, according to the testimony of Tacitus and

Eusebius. Tacitus, indeed, gives its date as A.D. 60 or 61, and mentions

only Laodicea as involved in the calamity. But Eusebius, who says that

Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colossae were overthrown, fixes the date of the

occurrence some four years lurer; and in this instance he is probably more

correct (see Lightfoot, pp. 38-40). Very possibly Colossae, already

decaying and enfeebled, succumbed to this disaster.


The population of this district was of a heterogeneous character. Its

substratum was Phrygian, marked by that tendency to mystical illusion and

orgiastic excitement which made Phrygia the home of the frantic worship

of Dionysus and of Cybele, and which gave birth to the Montanistic heresy

with its strange ecstasies and its ascetic rigor. In the cities, as throughout

Asia Minor, the Greek language and Greek manners prevailed, and the

immigrant Greek population had long ago blended with the native

inhabitants and leavened them with their own superior culture. A large

body of Jewish settlers had been deported to this region from Mesopotamia

by Antiochus the Great, and the Jewish community in Laodicea and the

neighborhood appears to have been both numerous and wealthy. If we

may judge from the Talmud, it was not renowned for strict orthodoxy:

“The wines and the baths of Phrygia have separated the ten tribes from

Israel” (see Lightfoot, p. 22). M. Renan believes that there existed “about

the Cadmus (sc. Eastern: a Semitic word) an ancient Semitic settlement,”

and that traces of its influence exist in the remains of Colossae; and the

tutelary Zeus of Laodicea bore the epithet of Aseis, a name which seems to

be of Eastern (probably Syrian) origin (Lightfoot, pp. 8, 9). These are

circumstances of some importance in view of the Oriental affinities of the

Colossian error.



                        PAUL’S CONNECTION WITH COLOSSAE.


The Churches of the Lycus were not founded by Paul himself. Twice he

had traversed Phrygia — in his second missionary tour from the Lycaonian

cities through Galatia to Troas (Acts 16:4-8), and in his third from Galatia to

Ephesus (Acts 18:23; 19:1). But his direct route, on both journeys, would take

him through northern Phrygia, to the northeast of the Lycus valley. The language

of Colossians 1:7 and 2:1 seems to us positively to exclude the supposition that

this district had been evangelized by the apostle in person. But during his long

residence at Ephesus (A.D. 54 or 55 to 57, 58) we are told that “all they which

 dwelt in Asia heard thE word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks”

(Acts 19:10). Epaphras, a Colossian by birth (ch. 4:12), had been the principal

means of spreading the knowledge of Christ in Colossae and the neighboring

cities, and had superintended the Colossian Church since its foundation (ch.1:6-7; 

4:12-13). He had labored from the beginning under Paul’s direction (ch. 1:7,

“for us:” see Exposition), and with remarkable zeal and success. The apostle

has nothing but praise for his labors; nothing but approval for the doctrine that

Epaphras had taught, and the discipline that had been established in the Church

at Colossae (ch. 1:5-7,23; 2:5-7; 4:12-13). He had evidently been acquainted by

report with the Churches of the Lycus for some time (ch.1:3, 5, 9; 2:1), and had

been previously in communication with Colossae (ch. 4:10). Now Epaphras has

come to visit the apostle in his captivity, bringing a good report of the general

condition of the Colossian Church, of its stability and growth in grace, and

assuring the apostle of its loyal affection for him (ch. 1:8); but at the same

time filling Paul’s mind with a deep anxiety (ch. 2:1-4), which he shared himself

(ch. 4:12), by his tidings of the new and perilous doctrine that was gaining a

footing in it.  The apostle’s friend Philemon resided at Colossae (compare

ch. 4:9 with the Epistle to Philemon), where his house had become an,

important center of Christian influence (Philemon 1:2, 5-7). He was

another of Paul’s “sons in the gospel” (v. 19), having come under the

apostle’s influence, we may presume, when on some visit with his family to

Ephesus, the metropolitan city of the province. His son Archippus was at

present exercising some special “ministry” in the Laodicean Church, as we

gather from the connection of vs. 16 and 17 in ch. 4. (compare Philemon 1:2).

The apostle had, by a singular providence, recently met with Onesimus,

Philemon’s runaway slave, and had been the means of converting him to the

faith of Christ (Philemon 1:10-11). He has persuaded him to return to his master,

and is sending him back, “no longer as a slave, but a brother beloved” (Philemon

1:16), in company with Tychicus, the bearer of the Colossian and Ephesian letters

(ch.4:7-9; Ephesians 6:21-22), with a private note to Philemon, entreating

pardon for Onesimus, and announcing his own hope of being free before

long to visit Colossae himself (Philemon 1:12-17, 22)


Paul was in prison, when he wrote Colossians.



(Dear Reader:  In trying to prepare Colossians for this web site, I am finding out

that it is a different type study than most of the other books which we have studied

in that there are a lot of scriptural references.  I try to check them all for accuracies.

I have found myself doing a lot of reading but this reading has reinforced the

Biblical principles of the Christian walk and our total dependence up

Jesus Christ, not only for Salvation but for help in “walking the walk”. 

While at first, I found this time consuming and somewhat monotonous, I soon

found that it was a good crash course in Christianity, was encouraging and

reinforced the basic foundation of our faith in Christ Jesus!   Some of the

references may seem or actually be repetitious, but may I say that I have always

heard, “repetition is the way you learn” – at least that is the way I learned to

ride a bicycle and also how I learned to shoot free throws.  I have been a

University of Kentucky fan since 1950, at seven years old – I remember

listening to Bill Spivey in basketball and the Jan. 1, 1952 Cotton Bowl

against Texas Christian University – I remember in 1978, Kyle Macy

hit his free throws, the Cats won the NCAA and people remember

Jack Givens and that team – if this years team had hit free throws, four

of twelve in a 56-55 loss to Connecticut, perhaps they too would be

remembered in a different light – When it comes to the end, you and

I will be judged before God as to whether we have accepted Jesus Christ

as our personal Savior or not – attention to details are important – thus

the repetition in learning to shoot free throws and the repetition of over

and over, reading about the Salvation of Jesus Christ and Walking the

Christian walk, will have eternal repercussions – Now those athletes

of the 1950’s, the 1970’s and of 2011, practiced to obtain a corruptible

crown “but we an incorruptible.”– [I Corinthians 9:25; James 1:12;

II Timothy 4:8; I Peter 5:4] - I recommend How to Be Saved - # 5

this web site - CY – 2011) 


The Epistle commences, Paul’s manner, with a salutation (vs. 1-2), followed by

thanksgiving (vs. 3-8) and prayer (vs. 9-14).



                                                Salutation (vs. 1-2)


1   Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timotheus (Timothy)

our brother.”  (Ephesians 1:1; II 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 (compare ch. 4:9,17 with

Philemon 1:2, 10-12). During Paul’s long residence at Ephesus Timothy was with him

(Acts 19:22), and there, probably, Philemon had come under his influence and made

Timothy’s acquaintance. There was, therefore, at least one link of acquaintance

between “Timothy the brother” and “the saints in Colossae” (compare

Philippians 1:1; II Corinthians 1:1; I and II  Thessalonians 1:1, where his name

appears in the same way). The honorable prominence thus given to Timothy marked

him out for future leadership in the Church (I Timothy 1:3, 18; II Timothy 2:2; 4:2,5-6).


2   To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse:”

(Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:2;  II Corinthians 1:1).

“Saints” in respect of their Divine calling and character (ch. 3:12; I 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 (v. 23;

ch. 2:5, 18-19; 3:15; Ephesians 4:14-16; 6:10-18; Philippians 1:27: II Timothy 2:19).

“grace be unto yon, and peace,” -  “as in all his Epistles.” This Pauline

formula of greeting combines the Greek and Hebrew, Western and Eastern,

forms of salutation (compare “Abba, Father,” Romans 8:15). χάρις -charis –

grace -  is a modification of the everyday χαίρειν - chairein – happy or well-off;

 impersonal especially as a salutation like farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail,

joy, rejoice.  (Acts 15:23; James 1:1; II John 1:10); and εἰρήνη - eirenae – peace –

Hebrew shalom (salam). Grace is the source of all blessing as bestowed by God

(v. 6; Ephesians 1:3-6; 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; 8:6; II 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. (The Greek New Testament

which I have had from college omits these words also – CY – 2011) - 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 John’s Gospel:

“honoring the Son,” they must needs “honor the Father” also (vs. 12-13; ch. 3:17;

Ephesians 1:17; 2:18; 3:14; 4:6; 5:20).




                                                Thanksgiving (vs. 3-8)


The opening thanksgiving in vs. 3-8 is full and appropriate. Its content is determined

by the state of this Church, and by the apostle’s relation to it through Epaphras,

(shortened name of Epaphroditus) and his  own present position.


3   “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” -

We; Timothy and I (compare I Thessalonians 1:2; II Thessalonians 1:3;

II Corinthians 1:3-4). The Revised Text omits “and” between “God” and “Father,”

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. 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 vs. 2-3 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.” -  (v. 9; ch. 2:1-3; Philippians 1:4; Romans 1:9 [I

remember writing home to my parents from Florida in the fall of 1961 and

mentioning Romans 1:9-12 – that was a half century ago – I recommend a

study of Psalm 90 – this web site on the brevity of life - CY - 2011). The

apostle had known from the first of the existence of this Church; and had already

been in communication with it (see Introduction). He had, therefore, a general

prayerful interest in the Colossians (II Corinthians 11:28), that has been quickened

to joyful thanksgiving (ch. 2:5; compare I 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; similarly in Philemon 1:4; in Ephesians 1:16 the turn of expression is



4  “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which

ye have to all the saints.” - (Ephesians 1:15; Philemon 1:5 - R.V.;

I Thessalonians 4:9-10; I John 3:23; II John 1:4; III John 1:3-4). “Having heard”

more immediately from Epaphras (vs. 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 (v. 5); from the day they had heard they had borne

fruit (v. 6), and he, in return, from the day he heard of it, had not ceased

to pray for them (v. 9); see note on v. 8; and compare I Thessalonians 1:5 and

2:2 with 3:6 (Greek). “In Christ Jesus” is attached to “faith” (as to “brethren”

in v. 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 -  eis -

(literally, into or unto Christ); only in the pastoral Epistles and in Ephesians 1:15 —

not in Galatians 3:26 or Romans 3:25 do we find, as here, πίστις ἐν Ξριστῷ -

pistis en Christo - 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” (compare Romans

5 and ch. 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 [universal]- (v. 6; ch. 3:11), and Colossian error in particular

tended to exclusiveness and caste feeling (see note on v. 28). The iteration of “all”

in this Epistle is remarkable.


5   “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven,” - Colossians 3:4;

Ephesians 1:12-14; Philippians 3:20-21;Romans 8:18-25; I Corinthians. 15:50-58;

II Corinthians 5:1-5; I Thessalonians 4:13-17; I Peter 1:3-5; Matthew 6:20; 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. V. 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” or “faith and love”.  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; 8:28-39;

15:13; Ephesians 1:13; compare I 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.  (ch. 1:12, 22-23, 27-28; 2:18;

3:4, 24; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:12; Galatians 1:6-9; 4:4; Philippians 1:6; 2:16; 3:11-21:

compare I Peter. 1:3-4). 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” (ch.3:15; see note) are to themselves. Similarly, in Philippians

1:27-28 and  II 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. From the general occasion and ground of his thanksgiving in the

Christian state and prospects of his readers, Paul proceeds to dwell on certain

special circumstances which enhanced his gratitude to God (vs. 5b-8). “whereof

ye heard before in the word of truth of the gospel;” - or, good tidings (vs.7,23;

ch. 2:7; Ephesians 1:13; 4:15, 21; Galatians 1:6-9; 3:1-4; 4:9; 5:7; I Thessalonians

1:5; 2:13; 4:1; II Thessalonians 2:13-15; I Peter 5:12). There is a veiled polemic

reference in “the word of the truth of the gospel” (compare v. 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. Others

interpret, less suitably: heard already (before my writing), or heard beforehand

(before the fulfilment of the hope). It is in 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.


6   “Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit,

as it doth also in you,” -  Romans 1:8; I Thessalonians 1:8; II Corinthians 2:14;

Acts 2:47; 5:14; 6:7; 9:31; 11:21; 12:24; 19:20). The words, “and increasing,”

 are added to the text to make it  καρποφορούμενον καὶ αὐξανόμενον 

karpophoroumenon kai auxanomenon -“bearing fruit and increasing”- on

the testimony, all but unanimous, of the older witnesses. (my Greek New Testament

also – CY – 2011) - 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, Paul 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 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.

For “bearing fruit,” compare Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 1:11;

John 15:8,16: and for “growing,” II Thessalonians 3:1; Matthew 13:31-33;

and parallel passages; see also v. 11. In the last clause the expression “doubles

back upon itself” in a fashion characteristic of Paul, whose sentences grow and

change their form like living things while he indites them (compare ch. 3:13;

I Thessalonians 1:5-8; 4:1, Revised Version): 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 ye heard of it, and knew the grace of

God in truth.”  (v. 5; ch.  2:6-7; Ephesians 1:13; 4:21; I Thessalonians 2:1-2,

13; I  Corinthians 2:1-5; 15:1-11; II Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 1:6,11; 3:1-3;

II Timothy 3:14). For their progress had been continuous (compare Philippians 1:5).

The Authorized Version maintains the connection of thought in understanding

“the gospel” as object of “heard.” The verb ἐπέγνωτε, - epegnote - knew

well, realized -  with ἐπίγνωσις epignosis – full knowledge, recognition,

 discernment – (v. 9, etc.), belongs specially to the vocabulary of this group

of Epistles. Knowledge, in I Corinthians, is denoted by the simple gnosis. But this

word became at an early time the watchword of the heretical Gnostics (“ men of

knowledge:” compare I Timothy 6:20); and the false teachers of Colossae pretended

to an intellectual superiority, asserted, we may imagine, in much the same way

(compare ch. 2:2-4, 8, 23). The apostle now prefers the more precise and distinctive

epignosis (επίγινώσκωepiginosko - meaning” accurate” or “advanced

knowledge.”  To hear the gospel” is “to know well the grace of God”

 (Acts 20:24; Romans 3:21-26; II Corinthians 5:20 — 6:1; John 1:17); the full

knowledge of which “in truth” (v. 5; Ephesians 4:14, 15, 20-24) would preserve

the Colossians from knowledge falsely so called.


7   “As ye also learned of Epaphras, our dear fellow-servant,” - literally,

bondman (Ephesians 4:20; II Timothy 3:14). Only in ch.4:7 does the epithet

“fellow-bondman” appear again in Paul (the Revisers in these two places omit

their marginal “bondservant”).  The dominant thought of Christ Jesus “the Lord”

(ch. 2:6; 3:22-4:1) possibly dictates this expression. That the Colossians had

received the gospel in this way from Epaphras, a disciple of Paul, was a

striking proof of its fruitfulness, and a further cause for thanksgiving on his

own part -  “who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;” -  (ch. 4:12-13;

II Corinthians 8:22; Philippians 2:25-30).  He puts his seal upon the ministry of

Epaphras, and vindicates it against all  questioning at home It was as 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 (ch. 2:1-2, 5-7:

compare Romans 15:20; II Corinthians 10:13-16). “Minister” as translated here

is really - (διάκονος, - diaconos - deacon, in its official sense found in Paul first

in Philippians 1:1, then  in I Timothy) is to be distinguished from the “servant”

(δοῦλος  - doulos – servant,  in bondage - slave) of the last clause, and from

(ὑπηρέτης –- huperetes – translated  minister; assistant; under rower;

as distinguished from a seaman; hence it came to denote any subordinate

acting under another’s direction  - I Corinthians 4:1; Acts 13:5;  26:16), and

 (θεράπωνtherapon - to serve; to heal as “attendant;”  - Hebrews 3:5) - 

It is a favorite word of Paul’s, and points to the service rendered, while other

terms indicate the status of the servant.


8   “Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 7:7; 8:7;

I 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 – Epaphras  had conveyed the blessings

of the gospel from Paul to the Colossians, and they now send back the grateful

assurance of their love by the same channel. This was a choice fruit of the gospel in

them (compare Philippians 4:10,15-18), and such a reference to it gives a kindly

conclusion to the thanksgiving. The Spirit is the ruling element of the Colossians’ love

(Galatians 5:22) Love-in-the-Spirit forms a single compound phrase, like

“faith-in-Christ-Jesus” (v. 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; I John 3:23-24).

“Spirit” occurs besides in this Epistle only in ch. 2:5 (but see “spiritual,” v. 9).



                                                Prayer (vs. 9-14)


The opening prayer rises out of the foregoing thanksgiving, and leads up

to the chief doctrinal statement of the Epistle (vs.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 (compare 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


  • a fuller knowledge of the Divine will (v. 9);
  • to result in greater pleasing to God (v. 10 a),
  • due to increased moral fruitfulness and spiritual growth (v.10 b),
  • to patience under suffering (v. 11),
  • and to thankfulness for the blessings of redemption (vs. 12-14).



9   “For this cause we also,” -  (Ephesians 1:15-17; I Thessalonians 3:6-13).

Timothy and I, in return for your love to us (v. 8) and in response to this good news

about you (vs. 4-6) – “since the day we heard it,” -  an echo of “from the day

 that ye heard it” (v. 6) – “do not cease to pray for you, and to desire” -  The

former is a general expression (v. 3), the latter points to some special matter of

petition to follow. This second verb αἰτούμενοι -  aitoumenoi - while being asked

for - from αἱτέω - aiteo – request -   αἵτημα - aitema – something asked for), Paul

only uses elsewhere of prayer to God in Ephesians 3:13, 20 - “that ye may be filled

with (or, made complete in) the knowledge of His will” -  (ch. 2:10; 4:12; Ephesians

3:18-19; Romans 12:2; Hebrews 13:21). On “knowledge” (ἐπίγνωσις), see note. to v. 6. 

“With the  knowledge” represents the Greek accusative of specification (as in

Philippians 1:11); and the verb πληρωθῆτε  -– plaerothote – ye may be being filled -  

(compare note on πλήρωμα, v. 19), as in v. 25 and ch. 2:10, denotes “fulfilled” or

“made complete,” rather than “made full” — “made complete as to the full knowledge,”

etc. “His will” (“God’s will,” v. 1; ch. 4:12) need not be limited to the original purpose

of salvation (Ephesians 1:9), or to His moral requirements respecting Christian believers

(v. 10), but includes “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) made known to us

in Christ (vs. 26-27). “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (ch.2:2;

Ephesians 5:17; Philippians 1:9; I 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” (ch.2:3), “and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8), etc. For this Church the

apostle asks specially the gift of understanding or comprehension, (compare  2:2;

only in Ephesians 3:4 and II Timothy 2:7 besides, in Paul; I Corinthians 1:19

from Septuagint), the power of putting things together (σύνεσις –- sunesis –

 prudence) -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 (compare notes on

“truth,” in vs. 5-6; also ch. 2:4, 8, 18, 23; Ephesians 4:13-14). This “wisdom

and understanding” are “spiritual,” as inspired by the Divine Spirit (compare

the use of “spirit,” “spiritual,” in I Corinthians 12:1-11; Galatians 5:16, 25; 6:1;

  Ephesians 1:17; 3:16-19), and opposed to all “wisdom of the flesh,” the

unrenewed nature of man (ch.2:18; I Corinthians 2:4-8, 13-15; James 3:15).

(Once again I remind you of this profound truth – EVERY UNREGENERATE

MAN IS AN ABORTION – C. H. Spurgeon – CY – 2011)


(The next verse, as many of the above and following, are a study in themselves.

I highly recommend looking up each verse referenced and to meditate on its

teaching – This is Christianity in a nutshell.  CY – 2011)


10  “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,” - ( Ephesians 4:1;

Philippians 1:27; I Thessalonians 2:12; 4:1; II Thessalonians 1:5, 11; I  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. Spiritual enlightenment (v. 9)

enables the Christian to walk (a Hebraism adopted also into biblical English) in a way

“worthy of the Lord” (Christ, Colossians 2:6; 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; I Corinthians 1:9).

This is the ideal and the aim of the religious life throughout the Bible (compare I 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 (vs. 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 -– peripataesai -  

to walk – compare, for the idiom, ch. 3:16, also 2:2). “being fruitful in every good

work,” Ephesians 4:28; Galatians 6:9-10; I Thessalonians 5:15; II Thessalonians 2:

16-17; I 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 Revised Version margin

and many older interpreters), but appears to be parallel in position and sense with

“in all power” (v. 11). On“bearing fruit” (active in voice where the subject is personal:

compare  ἐνέργειανenergeian -  worketh; in action; operation – where we get

the word energy -  in Colossians 1:29, where the word is used twice and

in Philippians 2:13) - “and increasing in the knowledge of God.” - While doing

good to his fellow-man, the Christian is “increasing in the knowledge of God.”

(Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 4:13-16; II Peter 3:18; I Corinthians 3:1-2; 14:20; 16:13;

Hebrews 5:12-14). His own nature becomes larger, stronger, more complete. Here

it is individual (internal) growth, in v. 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  - tae epignosei (so best copies and Revised Text: the Received

Text, unto the knowledge, is a repetition of v. 9) is “dative of instrument” rather

than “of respect”  (in the knowledge; so Revised Version).


11  “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all

patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;”  (vs. 24, 29; Ephesians 1:19; 3:16;

6:10; I Corinthians 16:13; II Timothy 1:7-8; 2:1,3,9-10; I Peter 5:10). The same

word is repeated as noun and verb (δύναμιςdunamis - power, δυναμόω -  

dunamo-o;  empower; strengthen) 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 - kratos – might), in distinction

from power (δύναμις) and other synonyms (compare v. 29; Ephesians 1:19; 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 splendor of God’s revelations of Himself, in which His might is so

conspicuous.  Gazing on this glory, especially as seen in Christ (II Corinthians 4:6)

and the gospel (I Timothy 1:11, Revised Version), 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; compare Isaiah 40:28-29; 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 (compare Colossians 3:12).

Christ, in His earthly life, was the supreme example of patience (II Thessalonians 3:5,

Revised Version; I Peter. 2:21-23; Hebrews 12:3-4), which is “wrought by tribulation”

(Romans 5:4): longsuffering finds its pattern in God’s dealing with “the unthankful

 and evil” (Luke 6:35: Romans 2:4; I Timothy 1:16; I Peter. 3:20; II Peter 3:15).

“With  joyfulness” belongs to this clause rather than the next, and lends a more vivid

force to the foregoing words, while comparatively needless if prefixed to those that

follow.  (This paradox is genuinely Pauline, and arises from personal experience

(compare v. 24; Philippians 1:29; Romans 5:3; I Thessalonians 1:6; II Corinthians

1:4-8; 6:10; 12:9-10).





                                                            Introduction (vs. 1-11)




Ø      Paul and Timothy.


o        “Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”“not of men, nor

by men” (Galatians 1:1; 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:9-10; 1 Timothy 2:7;

Acts 9:15), as every true minister of Christ is able to say, holding

his office, not by his own seeking or scheming, nor by election of the

Church alone, though that is needful in its place (Acts 13:1-3), but by

a distinct Divine appointment (John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28).


o        The apostle delights to honour his associates. With every right to

speak simply in his own name, yet he adds that of “Timothy the

brother (“ my fellow worker,” Romans 16:21; “my true child in

faith,” 1 Timothy 1:1). Not as a matter of courtesy and kind feeling

only, but in view of the future needs of the Church, its older and more

responsible officers should duly recognize young brother Timothy.


Ø      Saints and faithful brethren.


o        All true Christians are saints by their very calling, as persons

devoted to God and brought near to Him (ch. 3:12; 1 Peter 1:15-16;

2:5, 9; 1 John 1:3; Exodus 19:3-6) through the blood of atonement

(Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:14; 10:12, 14; Revelation 1:5-6), and by the

indwelling of the Holy Spirit (II Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:5), and

the continued influence of the truth (II Thessalonians 2:13; John

15:3-4, 7; 17:17). A spotless moral life is the outcome of this

inward sanctity, which belongs to body as well as soul

“as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3; II Timothy 2:19-21;

II Corinthians 6:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).


o        They are brethren to each other “in Christ,” having access through

Him “in one Spirit to the Father,” and belonging to “the household

of God” (Ephesians 2:18-22; 4:1-4; Colossians 3:11-14; Galatians

6:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; John 13:14; 15:12-17; 1 John

2:7-11; 3:23); and faithful to Christ the Head and to the brotherhood,

when their faith is assaulted and their unity endangered (here

ch. 2:7, 19; 3:15; 4:3, 15-17; Philippians 1:27).


Ø      Grace and peace.


o        All Divine blessing is matter of grace to us as dependent creatures, but

especially as fallen and sinful. It is “the grace of God that brings

salvation(Titus 2:11; Ephesians 2:5), which “superabounded where

sin abounded” (Romans 5:20), and is the source of all good in man

(1 Corinthians 15:10) and of all we hope for (II Thessalonians 2:16;

II Timothy 1:9-10; Acts 15:11). It is the outflow of God’s love, of

His “kindness and philanthropy” (Titus 3:4); and has its supreme

expression in “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (Romans 5:8;

Hebrews 2:9; John 1:17; 3:16; 1 John 4:10). Our everlasting

songs will resound “to the praise of the glory of His grace”

(Ephesians 1:6; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:12-13; 7:10).


o        Peace is the effect of grace within the soul — the end of its war with

God in forgiveness of sin (vs. 14, 20; Ephesians 2:16; II Corinthians

5:19; Romans 5:1), the restoring of inward harmony and health

(Romans 8:6), freedom from fear and trouble (Colossians 3:15;

Philippians 4:7; John 14:27), bearing fruit in mutual concord

and amity (Ephesians 2:14-16; Romans 15:7; II Thessalonians

3:16). It is the gift, the legacy of Christ (Ephesians 1:2; 2:14, 17;

John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 26). These all-comprising gifts are primarily

from God our Father.” Grace is the outgoing of the Father’s love

toward His rebel children (Acts 17:28; Ephesians 2:4-5; Luke 15:11-

32), and peace the reuniting of the child to the Divine family

(Ephesians 2:18-19).




Ø      The essentials of the Christian life. (vs. 3-5.) “Fides, amor, spes:

summa Christianismi” (Bengel). Compare the order and relation of the

three graces here and in 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Ephesians 1:15-18;

with 1 Corinthians 13:13; also Hebrews 10:22-25, Revised Version.


o        “To hear of your faith in Christ Jesus” is good news indeed. So in the

case of a child or friend; how much more in that of a whole community!

What boundless and endless possibilities of good are implied in this

single fact! It is the birth of true, eternal life (ch. 2:12-13; Romans

6:1-11;  John 1:12; 3:36; 6:47, 57; 17:3), the entrance into a fellowship

with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9) which brings a happiness and power to

which there is no measure (1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 1:3-  4; John 7:38; 15:11;

16:22; Philippians 4:13).


o        “Faith worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6); hearing of the first, if it be

genuine, one is sure to hear of the second. Love is the first “fruit of the

Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), the witness of a Divine life in the soul (1 John

3:14; 5:1). This love is universal — a family affection, going out to all

the children of God, the saints everywhere and of all times, whenever

we see them or hear or read of them; overleaping every national,

social, or (alas that we should have to add!) ecclesiastical barrier

(ch. 3:11; Galatians 3:28).


o        But the present state and character of Christians call for thanksgiving

on their account, most of all, “because of the hope in store for them in

heaven.” Faith and love are unspeakable blessings even now; but what

if in this life only we had hoped in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:19)? It is

the thought of what awaits the Colossian believers in heaven, the

conviction that they have “Christ in them, the hope of glory” (v. 27;

ch. 3:4), that fills the apostle’s heart with joy (Philippians 1:6;

II Thessalonians 1:3-5; 1 Peter. 1:3-7; John 14:2-3; 17:24).

So in regard to himself (Philippians 1:21-23; II Corinthians 5:1-8;

II Timothy 4:6-8). Finis coronat opus (the end crowns the work).

It is the grand outlook, the glorious prospect beyond death, that

gives security and dignity, a serene calmness and a buoyant energy,

to the Christian life (Romans 5:1-5; 8:18, 35-39; 1 Corinthians 15:58;

II Corinthians 4:16-18;  Philippians 1:20; II Timothy 1:12; Hebrews

11:13, 35;  Revelation 2:10). This hope will not deceive; it is founded

on “the word of the truth of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 15:15;

II Peter 1:16).


Ø      The progress of the gospel. (vs. 6-8.)


o        It spreads by its inherent fruitfulness, by the living energy with which it

works in those who receive it, by the silent contagion of conviction and

example, acting continuously as leaven on the surrounding mass of the

world (Matthew 13:33). The fruit it produces in the lives of those who

receive it becomes seed in its turn for the soil around. Epaphras has

heard the gospel from St. Paul; he carries it home and teaches and

practices it there, and the Church of Colossae springs up (compare

1 Thessalonians 1:8-10).


o        At the same time, it has its special messengers and advocates

“servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God”

(1 Corinthians 4:1); “Ye learned from Epaphras” (ch. 4:12;

Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-12). “A

faithful minister of Christ:” how honourable the title! how great

the reward (1 Peter 5:1-4)! We note the care of the apostle to commend

and support his fellow servant, and the grateful and graceful way with

which he refers to the love of the Colossians to himself. The progress

of the gospel is not a little helped by mutual recognition and

confidence of this kind on the part of Christ’s servants towards

each other.




Ø      Christian knowledge (vs. 9-10.)


o        We so often find knowledge divorced from action, the head and the

heart at variance, that we are apt to exclaim, “Knowledge, alas! ‘tis all

in vain.” But it is, nevertheless, a precondition of all saving faith and

all right action. In it lies the beginning of the soul’s life (v. 6b), the

means of its growth and advancement (v. 10, “by the knowledge of

God” (How does one go about obtaining this knowledge?  I got

to thinking and thought, “Well, you go to school!”  Then my

thought turned to crash courses like many do in high school

or college and I wondered if they have a book on The Bible

for Dummies, and, lo, and behold, they do.  This is not what

I would recommend because of the implied inferior nature of

its qualities [though it may be twenty times more effective

in teaching than my website.  I would recommend as a good source, but it is

not as concise as the volume below. Anyway, we all are graciously

given time, a normal person has been given a lot of it, plus an

inquisitive spirit, and if we would discipline ourselves

to a daily study of God’s Word, it is amazing how much God

will reveal unto us and how much territory we can cover

in a year towards that goal.  Regardless of your sources,

pick one or many and then allow the Holy Spirit to open

God’s Word to you and before you know it, the Spirit will

lead you to become a “born-again” Christian if you are not

saved  and your spiritual growth will startle and

encourage you!  CY - 2021)


Paperback The Bible For Dummies Book

       They even have it in PDF


The end towards which it strives (ch. 3:10; 1 Corinthians 13:12;

John 17:3). True, “we know in part,” and are “rather known by

God” than know Him (Galatians 4:9); and knowledge, therefore,

must go hand-in-hand with the “faith that worketh by love.” Otherwise

it“puffeth up,” and needs to be humbled beneath the supremacy of love

(1 Corinthians 8:1-3; ch. 13 [all]; 1 John 4:7-8; John 13:17; 14:15-17;

16:13).  (“Now if any man have not the spirit of God he is not of His!”

(Romans 8:9)  But it is possible to exalt love in a one sided, prejudicial

way; and then the prayer of Philippians 1:9 should be called to mind.

(A passage greatly emphasized when we studied Philippians in the

last few weeks.  CY - 2021)


o        Knowledge in the form of a sound and manly understanding

(1 Corinthians 14:20), an instructed and well ordered comprehension

of the system of Christian truth, is necessary for the Church, absolutely

necessary for her teachers, and especially in times of mental conflict,

such as that on which the Asiatic Churches were then entering, and

such as that which is now reaching an acute stage in our modern

Christendom. In her contention with heresy and skepticism, the

Church’s strength depends on the amount of “spiritual wisdom

and understanding” possessed by her members. And the

understanding is a spiritual faculty, that needs to be informed and

guided by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.


o        Yet Christian knowledge can never be merely abstract, terminating in

the intellect; for it is “knowledge of God’s will.” All its doctrines

bear on practice; its principles of truth are laws of life; its teachings,

its commands. It concentrates reason, feeling, will, in the unity of a

spiritual life, where each predominates in turn, and every faculty

sustains and quickens every other (compare Ephesians 4:13-15;

John 7:17; 14:15-17).


Ø      Christian conduct. (vs. 10-12.)


o        Advancing to a completer knowledge of God’s will, the Christian

      man more and more “bears fruit in every good work.” For he knows

that God’s will is the well being of men, and that he cannot please

Him better, or cooperate more effectually with his gracious

purposes towards mankind, than by “doing good, as he has

opportunity, to all men, and especially to those that are of the

household of faith” (Galatians 6:10; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Titus 3:8;

Hebrews 13:16; 1 Peter 2:12-15; Matthew 5:14-16, 44-48; 22:36-40).


o        And in him “patience has its perfect work.” “In all power he is

strengthened, according to the might of God’s glory” — to what

end? In order to do some great thing, one would suppose; but no,

it is “unto all patience and long suffering.” Patience is the mark

of strength. In suffering human nature is most receptive of

THE POWER OF GOD!   (“Thy people shall be willing in the

day of thy power.”  Psalm 110:3)  And on that lonely sick bed,

where some quiet sufferer lies, may oftentimes be witnessed a

display of “the might of His glory” which the grandest

achievements of the Christian hero will scarcely equal (II Corinthians

12:9-10; Romans 5:3; Hebrews 2:10; 5:7-9; 12:1-3; James 1:2-4;

Revelation 7:13-15). Perhaps imprisonment had helped to teach the

ardent and restless spirit of the apostle this lesson. He endures

“with joyfulness,” not with a mere passive and dumb submission;

for he suffers “by the will of God” (Acts 9:16; 5:41; Hebrews

12:5-10; 1 Peter. 3:17). “It was granted” him (Philippians 1:29,

ἐχαρίσθη - echaristhae - is graced; is graciously granted; -

“made matter of grace and favor”) “to suffer for Christ’s sake;”

and thus, at least, he can glorify Him, if in no other way (1 Peter

2:19-20). For whatever gifts or means for doing good may be wanting

to us, we have at any rate the capacity of suffering.


o        And whether doing or bearing his Lord’s will, the Christian’s life

will be a constant “thanksgiving to the Father.” At the thought of the

blessings of redemption (vs. 12-14), as he gains a deeper insight into

all “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” new songs of

praise break forth ever and again from his soul. He is a child and heir

of God (Romans 8:14-17), joint heir with Christ and with his saints

(Ephesians 3:6; Titus 3:7; Galatians 3:29), in the realm of light where

his soul already dwells, and whose light will shine for him “more and

more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)  He rejoices “in hope of

 the glory of God.” How shall he not, therefore, give thanks! So

God would have it (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).


o        And so walking, he walks “worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing”

(Ephesians 5:10; Romans 12:2). God’s smile rests upon him from

day to day. “The Lord taketh pleasure in His servants.” (Psalm

35:27)  Christ could say, “I do always the things that please Him”

(John 8:29), and they who are “as He is in this world” can, in their

measure and degree, humbly say the same. They abide in their

Saviour’s love (John 15:9-10). They have “confidence towards God”

(1 John 3:21-22) — confidence even in the thought of the day of

judgment (1 John 4:17). Pleasing God now, they will be accepted then.


Ø      The nature of salvation. (vs. 12-14, 21-22.) For that inheritance for

which the Christian praises God he was “made meet,” and he is grateful

for the means, as well as for the end, of his salvation. He holds the title

deeds of his heritage in certain acts and transactions on the part of God

which make him meet for it, and make it meet for the Divine Father to

invest him with it.


o        His salvation is an act of rescue — a redemption by power. For men

were captives, under a dark and cruel tyranny (Ephesians 2:2; 6:12;

II Corinthians 4:4; II Timothy 2:26; Acts 26:18; Hebrews 2:14;

John 8:34; 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Luke 4:6, 18). When we

consider how inbred and inveterate is the power of evil over mankind,

how allied with the disordered course of nature, and how its working

in this world is a part of a vast, mysterious confederacy of spiritual

forces acting powerfully and insensibly upon and around us, we need

not wonder that our salvation is represented as a mighty and glorious

achievement of Divine power, one with that exhibited in Christ’s

victory over death (ch. 2:12; Ephesians 1:19-20;  ). Delivered, we

are at the same time translated — carried over at once into the

opposite camp as subjects and soldiers of Christ Jesus; whose

kingdom is that where love rules, whose means and ends, counsels

and agencies, are all the ministers of love. Light and love are one,

as darkness and hate (1 John 2:9-11; 4:7-5:5).


o        It is  equally an act of ransom — redemption by price. God cannot deny

Himself. He is “a just God and a Saviour.” His power works on the

lines laid down by His righteousness. He would have destroyed rather

than saved us, would have violated the human conscience, had He

(conceivably) saved us without forgiveness; or without a forgiveness

rationally grounded on some act of propitiation that should make

amends for the guilty past. This propitiation, as it frees us from the

power of Satan and of death, is OUR RANSOM. The Son of God’s

love, if He would redeem us, must pay the price. What that price

should be, Divine justice determines, while Divine love provides it.

He bought us with “His own blood” (Galatians 3:13; Acts 20:28;

1 Peter 1:18-19); “gave his life a ransom” (Matthew 20:28; Titus 2:14).


o        And we may anticipate what follows in vs. 20-21, by adding that it

is, finally, an act of reconciliation. God lays aside His holy resentment

against us as sinners, accepting the sacrifice of Christ which He

Himself  has provided, offered on earth and by our Representative, as

a just and countervailing satisfaction “for the sins of the whole world”

(Romans 3:25; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2); while men thereupon, becoming

aware of  this (Luke 2:14; Ephesians 2:17), cease from their enmity

and strife  against Him (II Corinthians 5:19-20). So “peace is made

through the  blood of the cross” (Ephesians 2:16; Romans 5:1, 10-11).

And meeting God in this peace-making, men meet each

other; the broken unity of mankind is restored (ch. 3:11; Ephesians

2:13-16; John 11:51-52); and other worlds, it may be, share with our

own in the “peace” established “on earth” (v. 20).


(The next verse, as many of the above and following, are a study in themselves.

I highly recommend looking up each verse referenced and to meditate on its

teaching – This is Christianity in a nutshell.  It took me an hour and fifteen

minutes to edit this verse and to verify each reference.  I received a blessing

and I trust you will too - CY – 2011)


12  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us (or, you) meet

to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” - (vs. 3-5; Acts 20:32;

26:18; Titus 3:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11-14; Galatians 3:29; Romans 8:15-17). The

reading “us” is very doubtful.  Some prefer “you,” as in the two oldest manuscripts:

for the transition from first to second person, compare ch. 2:13-14 (vs. 9-12). In the

same strain the apostle gave thanks on their account (v. 5). “Thanksgiving” is

prominent in this letter (ch. 2:7; 3:15, 17; 4:2), as “joy” in Philippians. The title the

Father” frequently stands alone in John’s Gospel, coming from the lips of the Son,

but Paul employs it thus only here and in Ephesians 3:14, Revised Version; Romans

8:15; Galatians  4:6 (compare  I John 3:1); see note on v. 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.” (Romans 8:17) - (ἱκανόω -  hikanoo -“To make meet; to render fit; to

make sufficient” ) the verb found besides only in II Corinthians 3:5-6 in the New

Testament, “to make sufficient,” Revised Version) is “to make competent,” “to qualify”

for some position or work. This meetness, already conferred on the Colossians,

consists in their forgiveness (v. 14) and adoption (Ephesians 1:5-7), which qualify

and entitle them to receive the blessings of Christ’s kingdom (v. 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” (vs. 10, 22, 28; I Thessalonians

5:23-24);  “Called and (made us meet)” is one of the few characteristic readings

of the great Vatican Manuscript.   “The lot of the saints” is that entire wealth of

blessedness laid up for the people of God (Ephesians 1:3; 2:12; 3:6; 4:4-7), in

which each has his due share or part -compare v. 28; Ephesians 4:7. Κλῆρος

klaeros - “lot, an inheritance” Acts 8:21; 26:18), scarcely distinguishable from

the more usual κληρονομίαkleronomia  - a lot, an inherited property;

an inheritance - ch. 3:24; Ephesians 1:14, etc.; Acts 20:32; Hebrews 9:15;

I Peter 1:4), is used in the Old Testament (Septuagint) 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). (I recommend Deuteronomy ch 32 v 9 – God’s

Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY – 2011)  -It is the divinely

allocated possession of the people of God in His kingdom. It belongs to them as

“saints” (v. 2; Ephesians 2:19; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Psalm 15:1-5; Numbers 35:34;

Jeremiah 2:7); and it lies “in the light,” in “the kingdom of the Son of God’s love”

(v. 13) that is filled with the light of the knowledge of God proceeding from Christ

(II Corinthians 4:1-6; John 1:4; 8:12), light here manifest “in part” and in conflict

with Satanic darkness (v. 13; Ephesians 5:8-14; 6:11-12; I Thessalonians 5:4-8;

Romans 13:11-13; John 1:5), hereafter the full possession of God’s saints (ch. 3:4;

I Corinthians 13:12; Romans 13:12; John 12:35-36; Revelation 21:23-25;

Isaiah 60:19-20).



                        Divine Meetness of the Saints for their Inheritance

                                                            (v. 12)


“Giving thanks to the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the

inheritance of the saints in light.”



understand by it heaven or the blessings of the kingdom is immaterial, but

the original suggests the idea of a joint inheritance, of which each

individual enjoys a part.


Ø      It is an ancient inheritance. For “it is a kingdom prepared for you from

the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Its “Builder and

Maker” is God Himself (II Corinthians 5:1).


Ø      It is bound up with the coheirship of Christ. (Romans 8:17-18;

Psalm 2) God makes us “heirs and rich in faith” ( James 2:5). By

virtue of the coheirship, it is a free, sure, satisfying, durable inheritance.


Ø      It is a holy inheritance. It is “with the saints.” Only saints enjoy it with

one another. “The pure in heart shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). No

unclean thing shall enter into God’s kingdom (Acts 20:32; 26:18;

1 Thessalonians 1:10).


Ø      It is an inheritance “in light.”


o       The Lamb is the Light of heaven (Revelation 21:23).

o       There will be clear vision in heaven’s light. Whatever

      makes manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:13)

o       “In thy light we shall see light.”  (Psalm 36:9)

o       We shall “know even as we are known.” (I Corinthians 13:12)

o       We shall “see face to face.”  (ibid.)

o       We shall dwell for ever “in the light of God’s countenance.”

(Psalm 89:15)


There will be no darkness there.




Ø      It is implied that we have no natural meetness for it. We could not merit

it by our righteousness, and our spirits are out of harmony with its joys.

There is nothing in us but “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). The

spirit which is in moral darkness cares not for the light.


Ø      The meetness is given to us.


o       We are made meet by our calling, by our justification, by our


o       We are made meet for it by our sanctification. The Father

gives us, along with the kingdom, the disposition, inclination,

behaviour of heirs, sons, kings, and priests.


·         THE AUTHOR OF THIS MEETNESS. “The Father.”


Ø      It is He who hath begotten us to the inheritance. (1 Peter 1:3.)

Ø      It is He only who can pardon us and accept us.

Ø      It is He who is the Fountain of all holiness.

Ø      It is He who is stronger than all to preserve us to the end and

      crown us with final glory. (Jude 1:24; Ephesians 1:17.)


·         THE DUTY OF THANKSGIVING. “Giving thanks to the Father.”


Ø      A sanctified heart is ready to acknowledge the instrument by which

good is received, yet more the Author of blessing.


Ø      It honors God to thank Him. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me”

(Psalm 50:23).


Ø      A thankful heart is sure of a gracious hearing. The more thankful

we are for mercies received the more ground have we to expect more



Verses 13-14 proceed to show how this qualification has been gained.


13   “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath

translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son:” (Ephesians 5:8; 6:12;

Romans 7:14-8:4; I Corinthians 15:56-57; I Thessalonians 1:9-10; I Peter 2:9;

I John 1:5-7; 2:7-11). (ῤύομαι:rhuomai – to rescue; preserve from; to deliver)

I Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 7:24; II Corinthians 1:10; II 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. Paul repeatedly associates the figure of darkness with the language

of warfare (Ephesians 6:12; Romans 13:12; I Thessalonians 5:8; compare John 1:5,

Revised Version margin). “Dominion of darkness” — same as “dominion of Satan”

(Acts 26:18).  ἐξουσίας – exousia – to exercise authority -  as distinguished from

δύναμις dunamis - power, vs. 11, 29), is “right,” “authority” - (compare I 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 (I Corinthians 15:56;

Luke 4:6; John 12:31). “The darkness” is precisely opposed to “the light” (v.12),

being the region of falsehood and hatred, whether in this world or outside of it, where

Satan rules ( Ephesians 5:8,11; 6:12;; II Corinthians 4:4; I John 2:8-11; Matthew 8:12;

Luke 22:53; John 3:19-20; 12:35). (μεθίστημιmethistemi -  translate) 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 (vs. 15-20; ch. 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,” compare Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:6-11;

Romans 14:9; I Corinthians 8:6; 15:24- 28; Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-10; Revelation

1:5-7,18; 5:1-14;  John 5:22-27; 17:2; 18:36; Matthew 25:31-46; 28:18-20.) Only

here and in Ephesians 5:5; II Timothy 4:1,18; I 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),

but the representative and depositary of His love: “Who is His love made

 manifest” – see v. 2, note; John 3:16; 17:26; I John 4:8-9,14-16; Ephesians 2:4;

Titus 3:4-6; Romans 5:8), being at once our “Redeemer King” (vs. 13-14) and

the “Image of the invisible God” (v. 15).




                        Translation into Christ’s Kingdom (v. 13)


The apostle now proceeds to show how the Father makes us meet for the

inheritance of saints. “Who delivered us from the power of darkness, and

translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”


·         THE ORIGINAL CONDITION OF ALL MEN. They are under “the

power of darkness.”


Ø      Consider the meaning of this darkness. There is a darkness that is

seasonable; which, in the economy of nature and brings rest and

recovery to man. This darkness is far different.


o       It is the darkness of ignorance apart from the light of life”

(John 8:12; Ephesians 5:13).

o       It is the darkness of sin (Romans 13:12; II Corinthians 3:14),

blinding men against the truth.

o       It is the darkness of misery (Isaiah 8:22).

o       It is the darkness of death (Psalm 88:12).

o       It is the darkness of hell“ UTTER DARKNESS!”


Ø      It is darkness organized for the ruin of men. It is “the power of

darkness — an arbitrary, usurped power, and not “a true kingdom.”

The prince of darkness is at the head of this dreary realm and strives

to keep all his slaves in darkness, lest “the light of the knowledge of

the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus should shine into them”

(II Corinthians 4:4).



delivered us. NONE BUT GOD CAN DO THIS WORK! The strong man

will keep his own till the stronger come (Luke 11:22). He delivers us in our

effectual calling.


Ø      He enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ, who is “the true

Light.” (John 8:12.)


Ø      He persuades and enables us to embrace Christ as offered in the

gospel. (John 6:44; Philippians 2:13.)


Ø      He renews our wills and causes as to “walk in the light as He is in the

light.” (1 John 1:7.)


Ø      He clothes us “with the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12.)



NEW RELATIONS, “And translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His

love.” The word usually suggests the transplanting of races and the

settlement of them in a new territory.


Ø      The significance of the translation.


o       It implies separation


§         from the world,

§         from sin,

§         from the devil. “Come out from among them, and be ye

 separate (II Corinthians 6:17).


o       It implies the assumption of entirely new relations. The believer

is a member of a new society — “the kingdom of grace;” is

a fellow-citizen with the saints;” is heir of the kingdom of glory.

He has a new name, new hopes, new friends, and works for

a new heaven.


Ø      The new kingdom of the saints. “The kingdom of the Son of His love.”


o       It is not the kingdom of inferior angels, as errorists might fancy

(ch. 2:8), but that of God’s own Son.

o       It is a kingdom already in existence.

o       It is a kingdom that cannot be shaken like the kingdoms of earth

(Hebrews 12:28).

o       It is a kingdom that will endure to the end (Luke 1:33).

o       It is a kingdom in which the number of the possessors will not

      diminish the blessings enjoyed by each.

o       It is a kingdom in which Christ now reigns by His Word and

Spirit; the saints rejoicing to have Him reigning over them.

o       All the subjects of this kingdom are kings (Revelation 1:6).


14   “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the

forgiveness of sins:” (Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 3:10-13; Romans 3:19-26;

II Corinthians 5:18-21; I 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 - apo lutrosis – release; deliverance). The ransom price Christ

had declared beforehand (Matthew 20:28; 26:28; compare Romans 3:24-26;

Galatians 2:20; I Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 9:12-14; I Peter 1:18; Revelation 1:5,

Revised Version; 5:9). “We have redemption” (“had it,” according to a few ancient

witnesses) in present experience in “the forgiveness of our sins  (vs. 21-22;

ch. 2:13-14; 3:13; II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:25; 5:1; 8:1; Titus 2:14; Hebrews

9:14; 10:1-18; I Peter. 2:24; I John 1:7-2:2; 4:10).  Romans 3:24 gives its objective

ground. The “redemption of the body”  (also bought by the same price, I Corinthians

6:20)  will make the work complete (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:19-23;

I Corinthians 1:30).  In firm, clear lines the apostle has retraced, in vs. 12-14 -

(compare vs. 20-23;  ch.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.




                            The Kingdom of God’s Dear Son (vs. 9-14)


From the thanksgiving presented because of the faith, hope, and love of the

Colossians, Paul next proceeds to intercession for their spiritual progress.

There is considerable similarity between the intercession he makes for the

Ephesians (Ephesians 3:14-21) and the intercession he here makes for

the Colossians. In both he appeals to the Father that the most intimate and

loving relations may be established between the persons prayed for and

“His dear Son.” He gives, however, in the case before us a magnificence to his

conception of Christ which is not found in the longer Epistle. In this way

he could best meet and overcome the Gnostic tendency at Colossee. Let us

consider the truth embodied in the intercession in the following order:



has already presented Jesus Christ as the Object of the Colossians’ faith. But

in the present section he presents Him as “God’s dear Son,” or “the Son of His

love (τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ - tou huiou taes agapaes autou), in possession

of a kingdom. This kingdom is the antithesis of “the power of darkness;” it

is, in fact, a kingdom of light. The sphere of the inheritance of the saintly

subjects is said to be light (v. 12). Hence Jesus is brought before us in

this prayer much as He is brought before us in the Apocalypse, as the light

giving Lamb (Revelation 21:23). “I am the Light of the world,” He

said; and as the greater light rules the day, so does Jesus rule in His

kingdom (John 8:12; Genesis 1:16). The sun is now known to be

the source of all the light and heat enjoyed on the earth; to his genial beams

we owe spring and summer and autumn, and all the precious fruits of the

earth; so is it to Jesus Christ we owe all the procession of seasonable

blessing which his kingdom affords. He is King, then, over such a realm as

Pilate could not fathom — over a kingdom of truth, whose rights

interfered not with the rights of Caesar (John 18:33-38 [especially v. 37];

Matthew 22:21). The light in which our spirits are bathed is TRUTH

the truth as it is in Jesus (Ephesians 4:21) and of which He has abundance -

Exodus 34:6). From His glorious Person there radiates the benign and

healing beams which enable the recipients to grow even as the calves of the

stall (Malachi 4:2).



(vs. 13-14.) Now, Paul in this prayer speaks of the Father providing

subjects for His dear Son. And, strange to say, He finds them in the

kingdom of darkness, and by translation He populates the kingdom of His

Son. He finds the raw material in sinners who need redemption and pardon,

and they become Christ’s subjects through receiving at His hands these

indispensable blessings. Truly it is a strange arrangement that the King,

God’s dear Son, should, before entering upon His reign, first die and

provide through the shedding of His blood the redemption and forgiveness

the subjects need. Yet so it is. The Father sent His Son to be the Sacrifice

to take away sin, and from the altar He passes to the throne. We here can

see how endeared the King must be to His subjects. Having lived and died

to redeem us, we feel it to be only just that we should live, and, if need be,

die for Him. Hence the consecration of the blood of the Son of God is upon

all the subjects. It is a kingdom of redeemed and pardoned and blood-bought

souls over whom Jesus reigns.



(vs. 9-11.) We can now see clearly that the duty of the blood bought

subjects of King Jesus is, in one word, to do His will. But, before we can

do His will, we must know it. Hence Paul prays that these Colossians may

be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual

understanding.” The cry of the blood bought soul is “Lord, what wilt thou

have me to do?” We place ourselves at the disposal of our King and ask

Him to show us His will. As a rule, we shall not be left long in doubt

regarding it. In the darkest hour the light ariseth for the upright (Psalm

112:4). If we straight fowardly want to know what Christ’s will is, we shall

soon find it. But this knowledge of Christ’s will is that the Colossians may

walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good

work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Jesus indicates His will

that His blood bought people may walk worthily. High moral principle is to

characterize them constantly. And every good work will find in them

willing hands. The servants of Christ have been always in the van of

philanthropic effort. And this morality and zeal will not be allowed to

hinder progress in the knowledge of God. Education is not withheld from

any of Christ’s subjects by reason of the multiplicity of other claims. The

real education, which is in the knowledge of God — for the world and all

that it contains constitute in the last analysis simply a revelation of his

power and Godhead (Romans 1:20) — goes hand-in-hand with moral

earnestness and effort. But yet again, the subjects of Christ’s kingdom find

the need of patience and long suffering; they cannot get along without

bearing a good deal from worldly people — sneers, insolence, persecution,

and in extreme cases death. Yet the King strengthens His people with might

according to His glorious power, so that they are able joyfully to bear and

suffer what is sent. It is here that the occupations of the kingdom constitute

a power. The world wonders at the saints who can be so joyful in their

King, in spite of the drawbacks and difficulties to which they are exposed.



      (v. 12.) What is “the inheritance of the saints in light”?

Does it mean a heavenly world where light such as only shines on tropical

lands shall bathe emancipated men, and they shall be enabled to lie like

lotus eaters amid the glory, and never further roam? It is to be feared that

the current notions of heaven partake of the dreamy “sofa religion,” which

to earnest worldly natures is so repulsive. Let us, on the contrary,

remember that the doing of our Lord’s will is its own reward. Heaven will

afford no higher enjoyment than this. Our souls are not rightly balanced

when they look for something else or more. “We are saved,” says Archer

Butler, “that we may for eternity serve God; salvation itself would be

misery if unaccompanied by a love for that service.” In the pleasing of our

King, therefore, all the compensations of the kingdom lie. The outward

conditions and circumstances would be changed in vain if we were not

animated by this loyal and loving spirit. May such meetness for the

inheritance be our present experience, as it was that of the Colossians.




                                    The Love of the Father (vs. 12-14)


We have seen that the apostle’s prayer loses itself in utterances of adoring

gratitude to the Fountain of all good. In the work of our salvation we have

proofs of the love of the Father (John 3:16; Romans 8:32), the love of the Son

(Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2), and the love of the Spirit (Romans 15:30;

Ephesians 4:30), of the one “God of our salvation.” In vs. 12-14 Paul reminds

the Colossians of the love of the Father, and that the blessings which this love

secures to us are powerful motives for gratitude and for seeking to attain to that

character for which he has been praying. The blessings which the Father’s love

procures for us includes four changes —


                  1. a change of place,

      2. of character,

      3. of kingdom, and

      4.of state.


·         A CHANGE OF PLACE. There is an “inheritance” which has been

prepared and is “reserved” for us (Matthew 25:34; 1 Peter 1:5).

(Whether vain man will admit of God’s Creative Design on this earth


mansions involved! Jesus said,....I go to prepare a place for you.  And if

I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you

unto myself; that where I am ye may be also.” - John 14:2-3 - Thus

Christ verifies what I have been saying for the last few months,



It is not here, but “in heaven;” not here, amid darkness and ignorance,

the shadow of death,” and, what is worse, the stern realities of sin and of

death itself; but “in light” — note various uses of this figure -

            19 “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness

            shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto

            thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.  20 Thy sun shall

            no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the

            LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning

            shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:19-20) And for good measure v. 18 says 

            Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor

            destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation,

            and thy gates Praise.”


                                                * Read Ephesians 5:8-18

                                                * I John 1:5; 2:8-10

                                                * Revelation 21:23-27

                                                * Revelation 22:5-8; 14-15


That inheritance is possessed only by God’s “saints,” whether angelic or

human. The sanctity needed for this inheritance is something more than

that “consecration” of heart to God which even we

sinful children of God may enjoy as we render service in the lower

sanctuary of “this present evil world.” The “saints in light” are “without

blemish,” “faultless.” God, who is Himself “light,” is our pledge, that in that

inheritance there shall be “no darkness at all,” nothing “that defileth,” etc.

(Revelation 21:27).


·         A CHANGE OF CHARACTER, “Who made us meet.”   (ἱκανόω -  hikanoo -

“To make meet; to render fit; to make sufficient) the verb found besides only

in II Corinthians 3:5-6 in the New Testament,“to make sufficient,” Revised

Version) is “to make competent,” “to qualify”  for some position or work.

This meetness, already conferred on the Colossians, consists in their

forgiveness (v. 14) and adoption (Ephesians 1:5-7), which qualify

and entitle them to receive the blessings of Christ’s kingdom (v. 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” (vs. 10, 22, 28; I Thessalonians

      5:23-24);   The reference is not here to that growth in the elements of spiritual

mindedness by which we become increasingly fitted for the employments and

enjoyments of the heavenly inheritance. Paul has been praying for these

(vs. 9-11); but here he recognizes that the new nature which God has

bestowed on us has already qualified us “to be partakers of the

saints in light.”  (“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power

to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

John 1:12)  A king’s child is already, by his birth, capable of taking some

part in the life and the engagements of the palace. The penitent robber

could take a place in Paradise on the day of his conversion. If we are

partakers of THE DIVINE NATURE we are meet for the Divine

inheritance. (Dear Reader, My prayer for you is your realization,

and mine too, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious

promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having

escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  I Peter 1:4 -

CY - 2021)  Already we are “children of the light.” Our darkness is past,

never to return; the light shineth, and when we change our place it must

needs  be to an inheritance suited to our new natures and present characters.

Jesus prayed for us in Gethsemane “Father, I will that they also, whom

thou has given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory,

which thou givest to me:  for thou lovest me before the foundation of the

world.”  (John 17:24). Without the new birth we shall be as unfit for our

inheritance above as a boorish peasant, who had suddenly come to a

peerage, for his new position, and as incapable of enjoying and really

inheriting it as one who had no taste for art or sacred music would be

if admitted to a picture gallery or an oratorio (a lengthy choral work usually

of a religious nature consisting chiefly of recitatives, arias, and choruses

without action or scenery); he could not “see the kingdom of God.”

What a glorious gift our new nature is! It is only by means of it we are

made capable of receiving the blessings offered to us; as though a monarch

could not only give us a high place in his service, but at the same time could

endow us with power to discharge its duties (once again John 1:12), without

which the mere position would be a burden rather than a blessing.

Thus God deals with us!


“Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also

hat given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 5:5;


“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,

which God hath before ordained that we should walk  in them.”

(Ephesians 2:10).


·         A CHANGE OF KINGDOMS. (v. 13.) The change of nature is

accompanied by a twofold deliverance — we are rescued from a lawless

tyranny (v. 13) and delivered from a lawful condemnation (v. 14). We

speak of a change of kingdoms, for elsewhere we read of the “kingdom” of

Satan who is “the prince of this world.” But here the term suggests mere  

power (“the power of darkness,” spoken of by Christ, Luke 22:53).

The agents of Satan are described as “the powers, the world rulers of this

darkness (Ephesians 6:12). (“Spiritual wickedness in high places”

of which the “lying meda” is a  part, who are under their power and under the

tyranny of “the prince of the power of the air,” who is at their head

(Luke 11:21; and of which we once had a part “And you hath He quickened,

who were dead  in trespasses and sins; Wherein in the time past ye walked

according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power

of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”

Ephesians 2:2). The mental anarchy of demoniacal possession is a fit

symbol of the lawless tyranny of the kingdom of Satan.

From that tyranny the Father, with a strong hand, rescued us, emancipated

us, and transferred us into a Divine kingdom, of which “the Son of his

loveis the Head. Love is as much the essence of the only begotten Son as

it is of the Father (1 John 4:8-10). So that His kingdom is a kingdom

where love is the ruling power, and where promises, privileges, and

benedictions are the main motives for wearing his easy yoke. We are made

free citizens of that kingdom and shall share in its triumphs here and in its

final glory.


·         A CHANGE OF STATE. (v. 14.) The kingdom which Christ

established in our hearts is based on His work as a Redeemer (Romans

14:9; Philippians 2:7-11). The pardon of sins and the translation into

the kingdom are inseparable. Each blessing would be incomplete and

insufficient without the other. Pardoned sinners left under the power of

Satan can no more be thought of than subjects of Christ’s kingdom

STILL UNDER WRATH! We were under:


Ø      a lawful condemnation as well as

Ø      a lawless tyranny.


From that merited curse we have been ransomed by the Father’s

love through the redeeming work of Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Titus

3:5-7 - esp. v. 6). The fundamental facts and doctrines of the gospel     

(Romans 4:25; 5:1-11 - v. 5b is one example of Titus 3:6 mentioned in

the third line above); 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Galatians 3:10-13).                                

We thus enjoy a change of state, being justified and no longer condemned.

Note the words, “in whom,” etc. Luther remarks that there is a good deal of

divinity in the pronouns; so is there also in the prepositions. Christians not

only receive blessings through Christ, but in Christ (v. 19; 1 Corinthians

1:30; 1 John 5:20); from whose fullness we receive (like the air, in which

we live and move and draw our breath without limitation or restraint;

not like water, supplied to us from time to time in a limited cistern).

Notice too the necessity of all these four blessings to us, and how

absolutely dependent we are for them upon the love of God which is in

Christ Jesus our Lord. Our enfranchisement (I hear a lot about

disenfranchisement in our easy to give and to take culture) in the kingdom

of Christ includes:


Ø      free forgiveness,

Ø      securing for us, by the work of the Spirit, “the sanctification, without

     which no man can see the Lord,” (Hebrews 12:14) and

Ø      insures our admission to the heavenly inheritance.   (What person

      living in such a materialistic culture as we do, cannot appreciate

      not only the assurance of God, but His insurance too!  CY - 2021)


“Blessed are they that wash their robes,” (Revelation 22:14; see also

Acts 20:32; 26:1-18; Romans 8:29-30; Philippians 3:20). What motives for

giving thanks unto the Father” arise from the reception of such glorious






                                                Redemption (v. 14)


The material immediately below comes from the homily taken from Ephesians 1:7



Redemption through Blood (Ephesians 1:7)


“Redemption” is a large and exclusive term, implying deliverance from sin,

Satan, and death. It includes, not the mere remission of sins, which is,

however, the primary element in it; nor the mere adoption, though that is

the consequence of it — for we are redeemed that we may receive the

adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4), but the completed sanctification of

our souls and the consummated redemption of our bodies. The price of

redemption is the blood of Him who is here described as “the Beloved.”




CHRIST. More was needed for redemption than the mere birth of the

Redeemer, else He need not have died. Therefore we preach, not the person

of Christ, nor the child born, but Christ crucified, “the wisdom of God, and

the power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:24)  Some lay stress upon His life rather

than upon His death. But the one righteousness on the ground of which we

are justified, consists at once of the obedience of His life and of the

sufferings of His death. Our Savior was our Substitute both in life and in death.

Yet Scripture assigns the greater prominence to the death. We are “bought with

a price;” (ibid. ch. 6:20)“We are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.”

(I Peter 1:19)  Not only is redemption set forth objectively in Christ’s person,

because He is of God made unto us “redemption” (I Corinthians 1:30), but

the ransom price is definitively described as “His blood” ("….by Himself"

- Hebrews 1:3 - CY - 2019), considered as the reality of the ancient sacrifices

and as procuring the full salvation which they only figured forth.



Some divines say the work of redemption is wholly subjective, its sole aim

being the moral transformation of the sinner, or the rooting of sin out of

the soul. They say, indeed, that no such thing as remission of sin is

possible, except through the previous extirpation of sin itself. But,

according to Scripture, REDEMPTION includes everything necessary to

SALVATION, both the change of condition and the change of character —

both justification and sanctification. And both these come to us IN VIRTUE

OF CHRIST’S BLOOD!   If nothing was required for salvation but the exercise

of spiritual power upon us, no person need have come from the bosom of the

Godhead, and there need have been no crucifixion. The double aspect of

Christ’s death is presented in such passages as these: “He bare our sins in

His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto

righteousness (I Peter 2:24); “He gave Himself for us, that He might

redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people,

zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). That is, His ultimate design is

to deliver us from sin itself. But the moral power of the cross depends

upon those substantial objective benefits which it procures for us.



implies this — “we are having” this redemption. Naturalistic writers give us

a dead Christ. But we have a living Savior who, because He was crucified

once, is dead no more, but “ever liveth to make intercession for us.” (Hebrews

7:25)  He is now carrying on in heaven the work of our redemption. The

Holy Spirit applies to us all the blessings, and seals us unto the day of



“In whom we have the redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness

of our sins.”


·         What men need is more than instruction, education, or an elevating

influence. They are in sin — condemned, enslaved, and disordered; in the

fetters of a strong man armed, and a stronger is needed to disarm him and

spoil his house. In a word, they need redemption from sin.


·         What the gospel specially announces is such a redemption. CHRIST CAME,

not merely to enlighten, or elevate, or improve, but TO REDEEM!  He came

to grapple with sin in all its bearings and results.


·         This redemption was consummated by THE SHEDDING OF CHRIST’S

      BLOOD!  Jesus died as a sacrifice or propitiation for sin. He came by water

and by blood, not by water only. His blood “cleanseth us from all sin;”

His Spirit renews the soul. Calvin says the blood figured atonement, the

water ablution. The side of Christ, he says, was the fountain of our sacraments.


·         Forgiveness of sins is a fundamental element of THIS REDEMPTION!  The

gospel of Christ is a gospel of forgiveness. Sin is blotted out freely through

Christ’s merit. We need nothing short of forgiveness, and should not rest

till we have it.


All this is to be enjoyed in UNION TO CHRIST!   “In whom” WE HAVE

REDEMPTION!  Thus union to Christ is the turning-point of all blessing.



                        The Redeeming Son and His Kingdom (vs. 15-23)


 We now approach the real subject of the apostle’s letter, and that which is its

distinction and glory amongst the Epistles, in the great theological deliverance of

vs. 15-20 concerning the Person of Christ.  This passage occupies a place in the

Christology of Paul corresponding to that which belongs to Romans 3:19-26 in regard

to his Soteriology.  (theology dealing with salvation especially as effected by

Jesus Christ) - Here Paul treats directly and expressly of the sovereignty of Christ

and the nature of His Person — subjects which elsewhere in his writings are for the

most part matter of assumption or mere incidental reference. But the paragraph is no

detached or interpolated piece of abstract theology. It depends grammatically and

practically on  vs. (12-14). It sets forth who Jesus Christ  is and what place He

fills in the universe,  that the Son of God’s love in whom we have redemption,

and in whose kingdom the Father has placed us; and what cause, therefore, there is

for the Colossians to give thanks as having such a Person for their redeeming King.

The passage falls into two parts, closely corresponding both in form and sense,

and governed, like other of the apostle’s more fervid and elevated utterances, by a

Hebraistic antithetical rhythm of expression, which should aid us in the difficulties of its

interpretation. A twofold headship is ascribed to the Lord Christ — natural

(vs.15-17) and redemptional (vs. 18-20): the first the source and ground of the

second; the second the issue and consequence of the first, its reassertion and

consummation. This symmetrical structure we may attempt to exhibit in the

following way:


     I.  Jesus Christ


·         Who is Image of God the invisible, Firstborn of all creation: (v. 15)

·         For in Him were created all things, (v. 16)

·         In the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things

                        invisible — whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities,

                        whether dominions — (v. 16)

·         All things through Him and unto Him have been created; (v. 16)

·         And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (v. 16)


                        In virtue of His relation to God, Christ is at once:


o       ground of creation,

o       both in heaven and on earth, and at the same time

o       its means and its end; He is, therefore,

o       supreme over the universe, preconditioning its existence,

                  constituting its unity.


  II.  Jesus Christ


·         He is the Head of the body, the Church; (v. 18)

·         Who is (the) Beginning, Firstborn out of the dead, that in all things He

                        might become pre-eminent:  (v. 18)

·         For in Him He was pleased that all the fullness should dwell; (v. 19)

·         And through Him to reconcile all things unto Him, having

                        made peace through the blood of His cross, — through Him, (v, 20)

·         Whether the things on the earth, or the things in the heavens. (v. 20)


                   In a similar sense He is:


o       Head of the Church,

o       in virtue of His new relation to man, which makes Him

o       the ground,  means, and end of reconciliation also,

o       whether on earth or in heaven.


15   “Who is the Image of the invisible God” - (ch. 2:9; Philippians 2:6;

II Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 11:27; John 1:1-3,18; 5:37-38; I Timothy 1:17;

Exodus 33:20; Job 23.8-9). On (εἰκὼνeikon – image) - “the image” — no

imitation, but the very archetypal representation Himself (αὐτὸ τὸ ἀρχέτυπον

εἶδος).  This title the apostle had before conferred on Christ in II Corinthians 4:4.

There it is in the moral and redemptional attributes of the Godhead, manifest in

“the illumination of the gospel,” that Jesus Christ (v. 6), the incarnate Redeemer,

appears as “the Image of God:” here  the title is put upon Him as representing the

invisible God in all that pertains to nature and creation. The Colossian error rested

on a philosophical dualism. It assumed an absolute separation between the infinite

God and the finite, material world, which was viewed as the work of lower and

more or less evil powers. To counteract it, therefore, the apostle’s argument must

go down to the foundation of things, and seeks for a true conception of the

universe on which to ground itself.  Accordingly, in this and the following verses,

he bases the redeeming work of “the Word made flesh who dwelt among us,”

(John 1:14) - set forth in his previous Epistles, upon that of “the Word who was

with God in the beginning, who was God, and through whom all things

 were made.” (Ibid. vs. 1-3) He avoids, however, the term λόγος - Logos, which

must have been perfectly familiar to him in this connection — possibly to prevent

misunderstanding – “the firstborn of every creature (“all creation”):” –

(Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:2,6; John 1:18; Psalm 89:27). Primogeniture in early

ages carried with it the rights of full heirship, involving representation of the father

both in his religious and civil capacity, and in his sovereignty within the house

(Genesis 25:31; 27:29; 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17; I Chronicles 5:1). But natural

precedence, as in the ease of Esau and Jacob, may yield to Divine election,

which gives a unique sacredness and separateness to the position and title

of the firstborn. So Israel is Jehovah’s firstborn among the nations

(Exodus 4:22-23; Jeremiah 31:9). What belonged to the chosen

people under this title is, in the language of Psalm 89:27, concentrated

on the person of the Messianic King, the elect Son of David; and firstborn

became a standing designation of the Messiah. The apostle has already

applied it to Christ in his relation to the Church (Romans 8:29; see

below, v.18), as being not the eldest simply, but one intrinsically

superior to and sovereign over those whom he claims for his brethren

(compare Romans 14:9). Here the historical birthright and actual

sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ within the Church are affirmed to rest

upon an original primacy over the universe itself. He is not the Church’s

only, but “all creation’s Firstborn” (compare Hebrews 3:3- 6, Son over

His own house” — the house of Him “who built all things’). The phrase is

synonymous with the “Heir of all things” of Hebrews 1:2, and the

“Only-begotten” of John 1:18. So far were the titles Firstborn and

Only-begotten from excluding each other in Jewish thought that Israel is

designated “God’s firstborn, only-begotten,” in the apocryphal Psalms of

Solomon (18:4; also 4 Esdras 6:58); and so entirely had the former become

a title of sovereignty that God Himself is called “Firstborn of the world”

(Rabbi Bechai: see Lightfoot). Philo uses the equivalent πρωτόγονος -

protogonos – of the Divine Word as the seat of the archetypal ideas

after which creation was framed. This phrase has been a famous battle-ground

of controversy. It was a chief stronghold of the Arians, who read “of (out of) all

creation” as partitive genitive. This interpretation, while grammatically allowable, is

exegetically and historically impossible. For vs. 16 and 17 expressly and

emphatically distinguish between “Him” and “the all things” of creation.

The idea of the Son of God being part of creation was foreign to Paul’s

mind (ch. 2:9; I Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 2:6-8), and to the thought of his day.

Had such a misunderstanding occurred to him as possible, he would, perhaps,

have expressed himself differently. Some of the early opponents of Arius gave

to πρωτότοκονprototokos – first begotten; first born - against all usage,

an active sense — “First-begetter  of all creation.” Athanasius, with other Greek

Fathers of the fourth century, in the stress of the same controversy, were led to

propose whatsubsequently became the standard Socinian interpretation,

understanding “creation” to mean “the new (moral) creation” (so also

Schleiermacher) — against the whole scope of the context, and cutting the

very nerve of the apostle’s argument. The Jewish theosophy of the day distributed

the offices of representing God, and of mediating between Him and the creatures,

amongst a variable and nebulous crowd of agencies — angels, words, powers —

 neither human nor strictly Divine. The apostle gathers all these mediatorial and

administrative functions into one, and places them in the hands of “the Son of

His love.”  Looking up to God, He is His Image: looking down on creation,

He is its primal Head and Lord. “Creation,” standing collectively without the

article in antithesis to “Firstborn,” is used qualitatively, or (as the logicians would

say) intensively (compare v. 23 and Ephesians 2:21, Revised Text). This is better

than making κτίσις ktisis – creation - a quasi-proper noun or rendering

distributively, “every creature.”



16  “For by (in) Him were all things created,” -  (v. 17; John 1:3-4). ἐν - en - is “in,”  

never “by,” in Paul. τὰ πάνταta panta – all things -  (collective plural with

singular predicate, literally,  was created) corresponds nearly to our “the universe.”

 John 1:4 (R.V. margin;  preferable, as we think) is the true parallel to this sentence.

John sees in “the Word”  the animating principle of creation; Paul in “the Son of

 God’s love” its ground and raison d’etre. He is the Source of its life, the Center of

all its developments, the  Mainspring of all its motions. As the spiritual life of believers

was formed “in Christ” ch. 1:2, 4; 2:10-15), so, in its measure, the natural life of

creation. The added “that are in heaven , and that are in earth,” (v. 20;

Philippians 2:10; Matthew 6:10) reduces to the same subordination to the Lord

Christ the two worlds so widely separated in common thought and in the religious

philosophy of the time. The polemic bearing of this distinction comes out more

clearly when to the distinction of sphere is added that of nature “visible and

invisible” -  (ch. 2:18; II Corinthians 4:18; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 11:3); and

when amongst the latter are specified those highest  orders of invisible beings

whose power might be most readily supposed to come into comparison with that

of the Son, — “whether they be thrones, or dominions or principalities or

powers:”  - (ch. 2:10, 15,18-19; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; 4:10; 6:12;  Romans 8:38;

I Corinthians 15:24; Hebrews 2:5; Revelation 4:4). By their low and vague

conceptions of the position of Christ, and by over-exalted notions of that of the

angels, the Colossian errorists had all but, if not altogether, identified their powers

with His. The apostle, therefore, declares that the invisible beings of the worlds above

us, however lofty their names or mighty their powers, are His creatures as much as

the lowliest objects within our sight (compare Hebrews chps. 1 and 2; where also

false views are corrected of the importance of the angels, exaggerated at the

expense of Christ).  This list of angelic titles is not intended to be exhaustive, or

authoritative. It is rather quoted as current at the time, and in a certain tone of 

impatience with this elaborate angelology – “all things were created by Him,

and for Him.”  (I Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:2; John 1:3). “In Him” carries us

back to the beginning of creation (with verb ἐκτίσθη ektisthae – were created –

 in aorist, indefinite past); “through Him” leads us along its process; and “unto

Him” points us to its end (verb ἔκτισται ekistai – has been created - in

perfect tense, of abiding  result). Compare Philo  (‘On Monarchy,’ it. § 5): “

Now the image of God is the Word, through which the whole world was framed.”

Already Paul had said, “Through Christ are all things” (I Corinthians 8:6).

Hitherto the “unto (for) Him” has been reserved for “the Father”

(Ibid.)  Romans 11:36; compare Hebrews 2:10). But the apostle speaks from a

standpoint different from that of the earlier Epistles. In the Roman and Corinthian

passages he is concerned with the relations of God to man, and His dealings with

mankind through Christ; here, with the relations of Christ Himself to His own

kingdom. The final “delivering up of the kingdom to the Father”  (I Corinthians

15:24-28) lies outside the scope of this passage, which begins with the delivering up

of us by the Father to “the kingdom of the Son” (v. 13). Till “the end,” which

is “not yet,” Christ must reign (I Corinthians 15:25), and all things owe allegiance

to Him; they are created unto this end (Ephesians 3:9-10), and therefore unto Him,

to serve His kingdom (Philippians 2:10).  The apostle asserts of creation what he has

already said (II Corinthians 5:15; Romans 14:9; Acts 20:28) and is about to say again

(v. 20) of the redeemed Church. That both exist for Christ (relatively and proximately)

is a truth perfectly consistent with their existing for God (absolutely and ultimately);

I Corinthians 3:23 gives the unity of the two ideas “And ye are Christ’s; and

Christ is God’s.”


17   “And He is before all things,” -  (v. 15; John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5; Revelation 3:14;

Proverbs 8:22-31 – Christ as a child romping and tagging along with His

Father – CY - 2011). This emphatic “He” ( αὐτός - autos) meets us in every clause

and in every possible grammatical form, as though in the very grammar of the sentence

Christ must be “all in all.” “He” is kept ringing in the cars of those who were in

danger of forgetting Him in the charm of other sounds (ch. 2:4,19: compare ch. 2:9-15;

Ephesians 2:14-18, for the same rhetorical feature; also Ibid. v.11; I John 2:2;

Revelation 19:15, Greek).  We now pass from the origination (ve. 16a), through the

continuance (v. 16b, present perfect ἔκτισται ektistai - has being created), to the

present constitution (v. 17b) of the universe as resting upon this antecedent and

perpetual He Is, which affords the underlying basis uniting in one the redemptional

and the  creative offices of Christ (vs. 17-18). In the mouth of a Hebraist like Paul, the

coincidence of the doubly emphatic “He Is” with the etymological sense of

Jehovah (Yahweh;  ὁ ὤν - ho on  - I AM; the being one; He who is -  Septuagint),

as interpreted in Exodus 3:6., can scarcely be accidental. And Greek readers of the

Septuagint might be reminded of  such declarations as those of Isaiah 41:4; 44:6;

48:12 (compare John 1:1-2; 8:24,28,58; 13:19; Revelation 1:8,17; 21:6). In Paul’s Christ,

as in Isaiah’s Jehovah, sovereignty of redeeming, rests upon sovereignty of creative

power, and both alike upon that perpetuity of being which “the Son of God’s love”

shares with the Father. Socinian exegetes give to “before” an ethical sense (“at the

head of,” “superior to”), in harmony with their reference of vs. 15-18 to the relation

of Christ to the Church. But πρὸ - pro  - before - never has this sense in Paul:

compare also the “Firstborn” of v. 15, and again “Beginning,” “Firstborn”

(v. 18). If v. 15 left us in any doubt as to the writer’s intention to assert

Christ’s premundane existence, this expression ought to remove it.  Language can

hardly be more explicit - “and by Him all things consist.”  (John 1:3-4, Revised

Version   καὶ  ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων , καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν -

margin; Hebrews 1:3; 11:3); i.e. have their common standing, are constituted a

whole. The apostle speaks here the language of philosophy. In Plato and Aristotle,

the term consist (consistence) is found expressing the essentially philosophical

conception of the inherent unity, in virtue of which the universe is such and forms a

single, correlated whole. The Alexandrine Judaists had already found this unifying

principle in the Logos: “He is the Image of God, to whom alone fullness belongs.

For other things of themselves are loose; and if they happen to be consolidated

anywhere, it is the Divine Word by which they are tied fast. For it is the cement

and the bond of things, that has filled all things with its essence. And having

chained and woven together everything, it is itself absolutely full of itself” (Philo,

‘Who is Heir of Divine Things?’ § 38). Paul’s declaration meets the questionings

indicated by language of this kind.






Colossian error was undermining the Christian system by introducing into

it a false, dualistic theory of nature, then widely prevalent in other quarters.

And the leaders of Christian thought can never afford to be indifferent to

the current philosophic views of their day. Indeed, in the contact of

Christian teaching with philosophy, and in the reflection of thoughtful men

at all times, the question was sure to arise and must constantly recur in new

forms, “What is the relation of Christ to the universe? At what point does

He enter the scheme of things? He who died on Calvary, who claims to

save the souls of men, what has He to do with nature and the common

world?” If this question could not be answered, or if any inferior and

limited position in the world of being must be assigned to Him, then, as the

Colossian heresy shows, His spiritual authority and the efficacy of His

redemption become, in the same degree, limited and uncertain. Hence the

teaching of the Epistles of this group (Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians)

respecting the Person of Christ is the logical and theological sequel of that

of the second (Galatians, Romans, I and II Corinthians), respecting our

salvation through Him. We gather from the apostle’s teaching here:


  • That in Christ God becomes visible, and nature becomes intelligible.

            To earnest philosophic thought, as to sound religious instinct, it has

            always been evident that “what is seen hath not been made out of things

            which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). An “everlasting power and divinity

            are clearly seen from the creation of the world” — but as “invisible

            things” (Romans 1:20). Our latest Agnosticism is but a despairing echo

            of the cry of Job: “I go towards the east, but He is not there; and

            westward, but I cannot perceive Him; toward the north, where He is

            working, but I cannot see Him; where He veileth Himself in the south,

            but I cannot find Him”  (Job 28:8-9). God effectually hides Himself

            behind His works. All visible point to invisible causes, all finite things

            lead up to the Infinite, all phenomena to the noumenal; but whither

            they point we cannot follow.  From the invisible, Christ comes forth to

             testify of Him whom “no man hath seen nor can see” (John 1:14, 18;

            14:9). We know now what the Maker of the universe is like. The world

            is no longer orphaned. The unknown God proves to be its Father, and His

            Son its older Brother. Human thought has a visible center around which

            to move, a sun which sheds light and warmth over all its speculations.

            The incarnation and resurrection of Christ, with the whole course of His

            miracles (His signs – σημείων – semeion – the Gospel of John sets

            Christ forth – also, I recommend El Shaddai – Names of God by Nathan

            Stone – this web site – CY - 2011), assure us that natural law is,

            and must prove itself ultimately to be, subservient to spiritual law, the lower

            to the higher order, the material world to the moral being of man. His

            miracles and parables and His general teaching furnish many fruitful hints,

            some that lie on the surface, others that await our deeper searching or future

            need, respecting the meaning and use of the natural world. He is, after all, its

            chief Interpreter, the Master of poets and philosophers of nature who often

            owe most to him when they are least aware of it, as well as of religious

            thinkers and social reformers. While we hold fast this faith in the “Image of

            God the invisible,” the “Firstborn of all creation,” we may witness

            science and philosophy pursuing their inquiries without misgiving, and we

            may follow them, warily indeed, but without mistrust; for they can discover

            no truth which will not in the end support the “TRUTH AS IT IS

            IN JESUS” (Ephesians 4:21) – “In whom are hid all the treasures

            of wisdom and knowledge”  (ch. 2:3) -and they labor, though they know

             it not, only to add their own to the “many crowns” that are preparing for

            the head of our Immanuel.




                        Christ’s Headship Over Nature (vs. 15-17)


The Gnostic errorists at Colossae taught that the gulf between the infinite

God and finite man was bridged across by subordinate angelic agencies.

The apostle teaches that THE GULF IS BRIDGED BY JESUS CHRIST

 who, being both God and Man, touches both and is the Reconciler of God

and man. He shows that Christ has a double sovereignty, a twofold mediatorial

function — in relation to the universe and in relation to the Church. Thus

we have a most pregnant statement concerning the doctrine of the person

of Christ with the view of showing that there is a real mediation between

God and creation.



of the invisible God.” Christ is likewise called “the Brightness of the

Father’s glory, the express Image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3).


Ø      The meaning of this image.


o        Christ is not a mere likeness of the Father, like the head of a sovereign

stamped on a coin, or as a son hears the features of his father.


o        But He is an essential manifestation and embodiment of the Father.

Thus the invisible God becomes visible to man, according to our Lord’s

own words, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son,

who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him” (John 1:18).

“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).


o        It implies His perfect equality with the Father in respect to substance,

nature, and eternity. The Son is the Father’s Image except in respect that

He is not the Father.


Ø      Lessons to be drawn from this representation of Christ’s glory.


o        If we would know the Father, we must get into Christ by faith

(II Corinthians 4:4).


o        As it is Christ’s glory to be God’s Image, be it our honor to be

Christ’s image:

§         in knowledge (ch. 3:10),

§         in holiness, and

§         in righteousness (Ephesians 4:21).


We are “predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son”

(Romans 8:29).