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think, that both letters were written in the second year of the apostle's confinement, and towards the end of that year, answering to A. D. 61. when the apostle had a prospect of being soon released.
The letter to the Colossians was not sent by Epaphras their own pastor. That good man, from the time of his arrival in Rome, had exerted himself so strenuously in the cause of Christ, that he became obnoxious to the magistrates, and was imprisoned, Philem. ver. 23. The apostle, therefore, sent this letter by Tychicus, and Onesimus a Dave who had run away from his master Philemon, but whom the apostle converted in Rome, and fent bank to Coloffe.
Because Tychicus, the bearer of the apostle's letter to the Colossians, carried likewise his letter to the Ephe Gans, Ephef. vi. 21, 22. and because there is a remarkable agreement in the sentiments and language of both epistles, many have conjectured that they were written about the same time. See Pref. to the Ephef. fect. 5. This too was Locke's opinion, who says,
They seem to be writ at the very same time in the same run " and warmth of thoughts, so that the very fame expressions,
yet fresh in his mind, are repeated in many places : The « form, phrase, matter, and all the parts quite through of these " two epistles, do so perfectly correspond, that one cannot be “ mistaken in thinking one of them very fit to give light to the “ other." —But though this observation be just in general, it will not hold in every instance. For in comparing some of the fimilar passages of the two epistles, we must not fancy, because the expressions are the same, or nearly the same in both, that their meaning is precisely the same. The different circumstances of the churches to which these letters were addressed, and the different views which the apostle had in writing to them, occafioned him, in some instances, to affix different meanings to the fame expressions. The false teachers moulded their errors into different forms, suiting them, as was observed above, to the characters and prejudices of the persons whom they wished to persuade. And therefore in confuting them, the apostle was obliged to give his arguments a new turn; so that although in words, some passages may be the same in different epistles, they are not the same in sense. Of this we have an example in the
inscriptions of the epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians ; where, in the former, we have, tous les TOLS 8JIV Ev EDW, xa τοις πιςοις εν Χρισώ Ιησε: and in the latter, τοις εν Κολοσσαις αγιοις, HQ1 TISOIS aden pois ev Xpisy. For, in the epistle to the Ephesians, the phrase xai TOIS T15015 ev Xperw Ince, fignifies, to the believers in Christ Jesus; namely, who were in the province of Asia, as distinguished from the saints who were in Ephesus. Whereas the same phrase, in the epistle to the Colossians, fignifies, to the faithful brethren in Chrif; as is plain from the clause, toisey Κολοσσαις, which is connected both with αγιοις, and with πισοις αδελφοις εν Χρισω. The reafon is, if τους πισοις αδελφοις εν Χριστώ, in the inscription to the Colossians, is tranflated, to the believing brethren in Christ, it will be of the same import with tons án 10154 to the saints.—For other examples, fee Col. ii. 13. note 2. and ver. 14. note 2.-Wherefore, a proper attention to the above observation is necessary, in many instances, to our understanding the true meaning of the apostle Paul's writings.
View and Illustration of the Do£trines and Discoveries contained in
FFECTUALLY to filence the false teachers, who endea
voured to seduce the Coloflian brethren to Judaism, the apostle began the doctrinal part of this epistle with confuting their leading error; the error for the sake of which all the rest were introduced ; namely, that the institutions of Moses, but especially the Levitical sacrifices were still necessary, because there were no propitiatory facrifices in the gospel. This false and most destructive doctrine the apostle exploded, by shewing that they who are translated into the kingdom of God's beloved Son, have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of fin; confequently, that in the gospel dispensation, God hath appointed a propitiatory facrifice of real efficacy; namely, the facrifice of the blood of Chrift, to which believers can have sure recourse for pardon, and have no need of any other propitiatory facrifice whatever, ver. 13, 14.---But, left the Colossians might have been told by the Judaizers, that the pardon of the sins of the whole world, was an effect too great to be ascribed to the once fhedding of Christ's blood, the apostle obferved, that the atonement made by that one sacrifice, is perfectly sufficient for the taking away the fins of all who believe, because the superemia nent dignity of Christ, enhanced thử merit of his death. Christ's dignity the apostle described in a magnificence of language suggested by the grandeur of the subject. He is the image of the invisible God, and the Lord of the whole creation, ver. 15.—for he created all things in the heavens, and upon the earth, visible and invisible, ver. 16.—and by him all things are upheld, ver. 17.- The apostle having thus described the original dignity of Christ as God's beloved Son, for the purpofe of difplaying the merit of his death, proceeded to speak of the ho
nour and power which he received, in the human nature, as the reward of his death; whereby he hath shewed in a conspicuous light, the folly of those who endeavoured to persuade the Colosfians, to prefer the mediation of angels to the mediation of Christ. He is the head of the body, even of the church, and the beginning or author thereof. He is also the first born or Lord of the dead; having died to raise them again to life, ver. 18.This greatness, both in the natural and moral world, he hath received from his Father, that he may unite angels and men in one great community under himself as their head, in order that they may be happy in their subjection to God, and in the society of one another, to all eternity. For, faith the apostle, it pleased the Father, that in him all the fulness of perfection and power fhould constantly abide, ver. 19.--and through the exercise of his authority and power, by him to unite all things under him as head, having made peace between them by the blood of his cross, ver. 20.-Even the idolatrous Gentiles, notwithstanding their former wickedness, he hath thus united, ver. 21.-in one body with the Jews, in his church, through the death of his Son, to render them holy and unblameable in Christ's fight, at the last day, ver. 22.--To be in that manner presented before Christ, the apostle told the Colossians would be their happy lot, since they were continuing firm in the faith of the gospel dodrine, which, because of its efficacy to fanctify, sinners, was preached to every creature under heaven ; of which gospel Paul was made a minister by Christ himself, ver. 23.
But left his imprisonment, for having preached falvation to the believing Gentiles, equally with the Jews, through the death of Christ although they did not obey the law of Moses,
GREEK Text CHAP I. Paul
Παυλο. ασοςολο. apoftle of Icfus Chrift by Ιησε Χριςε, δια θεληματος the will of God, and Timotheus our brother.
Θεα, και Τιμοθεος ο αδελφας, ,
Ver. 1. - 1. Paul an apostle of Jesus Chrift, &c. To convince the Colossians, that all the things contained in this epistle were dictated by the Spirit of God, Paul began it with affuring them, not only that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, but that he was made an apoftle by the will of God the Father; an honour which none of the false teachers could claim
might have led the Colossians to suspect the truth of his doctrine, the apostle told them, that he rejoiced in the afflictions he was enduring for them; that is, for maintaining their title to salvation; and that these afflictions were expressly appointed to him by Christ, for the purpose of building his body, which is his church, ver. 24.-Of which church, he told them a second time, he was made a minister, or apostle, to build it by fully publishing God's determination to save the believing Gentiles, ver. 25.--Then he informed them, that this determination was a mystery or secret, which, during the Mosaic dispensation, was kept hid both from the Jews and from the Gentiles; but was now discovered to such of the Jews as God thought fit to employ in publishing it to the world, ver. 26.-To these preachers, God was pleased to make known by revelation, the greatness of the glory of this mystery concerning the Gentiles; that is, the glorious excellence of that part of his plan which relates to the Gentiles ; namely, That Jesus Christ, to them also, is the author of the hope of a glorious resurrection to eternal life, as well as to the Jews, ver. 27.-Him, therefore, all the inspired Christian teachers preach as the only Saviour of the world, exhorting every man to receive him as Saviour, and teaching every man with all wisdom, the true doctrines of religion, that at the day of judgment, they may present every man perfect, both in respect of holiness and pardon, ver. 28.-And to accomplish that glorious end, Paul himself laboured with the utmost vigour in preaching Jesus Christ the hope of glory to believers of all nations, and in defending that doctrine with success, in proportion to the supernatural gifts bestowed upon him as an apostle,
COMMENTARY. CHAP. I. I Paul an CHAP. I. 1 Paul, made an apoftle apostle of Jesus Christ' of Jesus Christ by the appointment of by the will of God, and God, (fee Galat. chap. i. Illuft.) and Timothy our brother. Timothy, who, though not an apostle,
is our brother in the ministry,
2. And Timothy our brother. Ti:nothy's early piety, his excellent endowments, his approved faithfulness, and his affectionate labours in the gospel with the apostle, well known to most, if not to all the Gentile churches, rendering him highly worthy of their regard, Paul allowed him to join in writing several of the letters which he addressed to these churches : Not however to add any th to his own authority, but rather to add to Timothy's influence ; for which purpose also he calls him here, his brother, rather than his fon. See Pref. to i Theff. Loct. 2. about the middle.