Bartimaeus Alliance of the Blind, Inc.

Home Articles & Books Back to Gaebelein Index


     from THE ANNOTATED BIBLE by A. C. Gaebelein, 1861-1945



     Colossae was a city of Phrygia, a district in Asia Minor. It
was pleasantly located in the valley of the Lycus, a branch of
the Meander. Two other cities are also mentioned in this Epistle
to the Colossians, the cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:13).
Laodicea was only nine miles and Hierapolis, thirteen miles from
Colossae. Laodicea was a very rich and influential city.
Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs. Colossae was the
smallest of these three cities. Christian believers lived in all
three cities and later the Lord selected the church of the
Laodiceans and addressed to it the final message of the seven
churches (Rev. 3). The region of Phrygia was well settled by
Jews, some of whom were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost
(Acts 2:10). We shall find through the study of this Epistle that
a Jewish sect which held evil doctrines flourished in the whole
region; this sect was known as the Essenes, and the Spirit of God
warns against their false teachings in the Epistle. Phrygia also
was known as the seat of other heresies, especially an
oriental-philosophical mysticism. 

          The Church in Colossae

     It seems that the church in Colossae was preeminently a
Gentile church (2:13). How did it come into existence? Paul
evidently did not visit the city, though he passed through
Phrygia (Acts 16:6; 18:23), for he writes in this Epistle, "For I
would that ye know what great conflict I have for you, and for
them in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the
flesh" (2:1). It seems also clear that the church in Colossae
came into existence after Paul had passed through that region the
second time as stated in Acts 18:23, for if a church had existed
then in that city, he would probably have visited Colossae. If we
turn to the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts, which records
the long sojourn of the Apostle Paul in Ephesus, we have a hint
on how the gospel was made known to the Colossians. First we read
that Paul continued for two years, "so that all they which dwelt
in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks"
(Acts 19:10). And then Demetrius the silversmith witnessed to the
extension of the work of Paul while being in Ephesus. "Moreover
ye see and hear, that not only in Ephesus, but almost throughout
Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people..."
(Acts 19:26). Asia does not mean the continent, but a province of
Asia Minor, of which Phrygia was a part. The whole region heard
the gospel during his stay in the prominent city of Ephesus;
among the visitors who listened to the messages of Paul were
people from Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis. These carried the
gospel back to their homes and thus churches were formed.
Philemon and Epaphras of Colossae must in this way have heard the
gospel from the apostle and became the instruments through whom
the church in their home-city was founded. That Epaphras was the
more prominent one becomes certain from chapter 1:7 and 4:12-13.

     The Occasion and Object of the Epistle

     Paul in Rome had received, probably through Epaphras, the
information that the Colossian Christians were facing great
dangers as to their faith. What the danger was the text of the
Epistle will show us more fully. A number of false doctrines
emanating from philosophical speculations, oriental mysticism,
asceticism and Judaism, were being advocated amongst them and
threatened the complete corruption of the church. Later a system
known by the name of Gnosticism (from the Greek word
"gnosis"--knowledge) wrought great havoc in the Church; the
beginning of it was troubling the Colossians, who seemed to have
been an intellectual class to whom the philosophical, mystical
and ascetic teachings appealed in a special  way. Gnosticism
attempted to explain creation, the origin of evil, God, etc.,
apart from the revelation God has given in His Word. Besides
speaking of a certain class of beings, half-gods of different
rank, they denied that God had created the world, but that an
inferior being had called it into existence. This system taught
that matter is evil and that the only way to escape from evil
would be to repudiate matter completely. 
     The worst feature of these Gnostic teachings was a denial of
the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of redemption. It
was a philosophical, theosophical speculation, anti-Christian
throughout. Well did Polycarp say to the Gnostic Marcion, "I know
thee, thou firstborn of Satan." While this evil system had not
yet fully developed in the Colossian church, the foundation for
it had been laid and the Holy Spirit anticipated its coming, and
in sending this document to the Colossians answers the false
teachings of Gnosticism. This is of equal interest and importance
to the Church in the twentieth century. "Christian Science," so-called, that
philosophical-theosophical-mystical cult, is a
satanic revival of ancient Gnosticism. The Epistle to the
Colossians must, therefore, be an effectual weapon against this
cult, which denies the two pillars of Christianity, the Son of
God and the finished work of the cross. The Colossians were also
being misled, as the second chapter shows us, by other false
teachers. Judaizers were at work among them. We are not left to
infer respecting the class of religionists to which these
teachers belonged, for the mention of "new moon and Sabbath" in
chapter 2:16, at once characterizes them as Judaizers, and leads
us to the then prevalent forms of Jewish philosophy to trace
them. Not that these teachers were merely Jews; they were
Christians (by profession), but they attempted to mix with the
gospel of Christ the theosophy and angelology of the Jews of
their times. They became infected with theosophic and ascetic
principles and were gradually being drawn away from the simple
doctrine of Christ. This false system of philosophy and ascetic
mysticism, attempting to intrude into unseen things, with which
was linked angel-worship, limited the superiority and greatness
of the Lord Jesus Christ and more so the sufficiency of His work
of redemption.
     The occasion of the Epistle was the existence of these evil
things among them. The object in writing was more than
counteracting the false doctrines. The Holy Spirit unfolds the
truth of the gospel, showing in this Epistle the majesty and
glory of Christ, that He has the preeminence in all things, head
of creation and head of the Church; it unfolds the completeness
of His redemption and the believer's completeness in Christ as
risen with Christ and in living union with Him, in whom the
fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. Like all the great Pauline
Epistles, containing the revelation of God to man, the Colossian
Epistle with its vital and glorious truths, is meat in due season
for God's people, especially in these days when we are confronted
by the same errors in modern movements and energized by the power
of Satan to destroy the very foundations of the faith. 

     Colossians in Contrast with Ephesians

     Colossians was written by Paul about the year 62 A.D., from
the Roman prison, and, as stated in the introduction to the
Epistle to the Ephesians was carried by the same messenger who
also received the Ephesian Epistle from the hands of the Apostle.
Tychicus was this messenger (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7-9). There is a
striking resemblance between these two Epistles, which have been
called "twins." Dean Alford speaks of it as follows: "in writing
both, the apostle's mind was in the same frame--full of the
glories of Christ and the consequent glorious privileges of His
Church, which is built on Him, and vitally knit to Him. This
mighty subject, as he looked with indignation on the beggarly
system of meats and drinks and hallowed days and angelic
mediations to which his Colossians were being drawn down, rose
before him in all its length and breadth and height, but as
writing to them, he was confined to one portion of it, and to
setting forth that one portion pointedly and controversially. He
could not, consistently with the effect which he would produce on
them, dive into the depths of the divine counsels in Christ with
regard to them." Ephesians and Colossians embody the highest
revelations God has given to man. Colossians is the counterpart
of the Ephesian Epistle; each may be viewed as a supplement to
the other. In Ephesians the revelation concerns mostly the body
of Christ (the Church), the fullness of that body, its rich
privileges and heavenly destiny; in Colossians the head of that
body in His fullness and glory is blessedly revealed. In
Ephesians we find repeatedly the blessed position of the believer
stated "in Christ Jesus"; in Colossians we read of Christ in the
believer, "Christ in you." Ephesians reveals the calling of God
and exhorts believers "to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith
we are called"; Colossians making known the Lord and His glory,
exhorts "to walk worthy of the Lord." Controversy concerning evil
doctrines and errors is absent in Ephesians; it is prominent in
Colossians. In Ephesians the Holy Spirit and His work in the
believer is fully brought out. Then we read of the quickening,
the sealing, the filling of the Spirit and are warned against
quenching and grieving the Spirit; in Colossians nothing is said
about the Holy Spirit, the doctrine concerning the Spirit is
absent. The annotations will point out the reason for this. At
the same time the redemption truths of Ephesians as well as
Romans and Galatians are all touched upon in Colossians. The
great truths contained in these wonderful Epistles must ever be
kept in freshness and in power by the Spirit of God before the
heart and mind of God's people, so that they can live and walk as
those who are redeemed and be kept in the enjoyment of salvation.
The more these deep and precious documents are studied the
greater the blessedness for God's people. May God the Holy
Spirit, the author of this Epistle, fill, through His message,
our eyes and hearts with Him who is our Lord and the Head of His

     The Division of Colossians

     Chapter 2:9-10 is the center of the Epistle. "For in Him
dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are
complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power."
It is the very heart of the Epistle, the key which unlocks its
heavenly treasures. We get in this verse the scope of the
Epistle. The apostle does not begin by warning the Colossians of
the danger and by exposing the fatal errors which were creeping
in among them. He writes first of Him and His glory. The Spirit
of God wants the Colossians to get the right estimate of the
Person and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, of His dignity and
preeminence in all things, of the great work of reconciliation,
the peace which was made in the blood of the cross and the
present and future results of this work. Then He shows that the
believer is in Christ, that He who is bodily in glory, in whom
all the fullness of the Godhead dwells is the fullness of the
believer. Each is complete in Him. And therefore ordinances,
philosophy, traditions of men, intruding in mysterious things,
angel-worship, cannot add anything to the believer's knowledge or
perfection. His perfection is Christ. Then follow exhortations,
how a believer who is risen with Christ and one with Him should
walk down here. We divide, therefore, this Epistle into three




          Analysis and Annotations


                    CHAPTER 1

     1. The introduction (1:1-8)

     2. The prayer (1:9-14)

     3. The person and glory of Christ, Head of creation and Head
of the Church (1:15-18)

     4. The work of reconciliation and the double ministry 

     Verses 1-8. This Epistle unfolds the doctrine of Christ and
therefore Paul speaks of himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus by
the will of God; Timotheus is spoken of as a brother. In
addressing the Philippians, the apostle spoke of himself and of
Timotheus as servants and did not mention his apostleship at all.
In addressing the Colossians, when error is to be refuted and
truth to be revealed, he uses his title as apostle. He addresses
them as saints and faithful brethren in Christ and the precious
greeting to such whom God has separated from evil and unto
Himself follows: "Grace be unto you and peace, from God our
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Grace and peace belonged to
them, as it belongs to all who are in Christ. Their state could
not affect what God has bestowed upon them in His Son. Then he
gives thanks "to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
praying always for you." He had heard of their faith in Christ
Jesus; of the love which they had towards all the saints and then
mentions the hope which is laid up for them in heaven. 
     Faith, love and hope are the blessed marks of all true
believers, produced in them by the Spirit of God. Their faith in
Christ Jesus was manifested in love for all the saints. "This is
His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son
Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment" (1
John 3:23). "We know that we have passed from death unto life,
because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). And they also know
the blessed hope which they had heard and learned in the word of
the truth of the gospel. The gospel then had produced these
blessings among the Colossians, who were once heathen; and the
same gospel was also going out in all the world bringing forth
fruit wherever it was received in faith. Could this be said of
the various philosophical systems which were being introduced
among the Colossians? Or could mysticism and law-keeping show
such results? Only those who hear and believe the gospel know the
grace of God in truth. 
     Then Paul mentions Epaphras, the beloved fellow servant, who
was for them a faithful minister. Through his ministry they had
learned these things, while Epaphras had declared unto Paul their
love in the Spirit. This is the only time the Spirit of God is
mentioned in this Epistle. It is different in the Epistle to the
Ephesians. There the fullest teachings concerning the Holy Spirit
are given. Every chapter in Ephesians speaks of the Holy Spirit.
We read there that He is the seal and the earnest; He is the
Spirit of wisdom and revelation; access is through Him unto the
Father; the church is described as the habitation of God through
the Spirit, who has also made known the mystery hid in former
ages. Furthermore He strengthens the inner man that Christ may
dwell in the heart by faith. Then the unity of the Spirit is
spoken of in Ephesians; believers are not to grieve the Spirit by
whom they are sealed unto the day of redemption; the filling with
the Spirit, spiritual songs as the result, the sword of the
Spirit and prayer in the Spirit are likewise mentioned in the
Epistle to the Ephesians.
     Why is all this omitted in Colossians? Why is this Epistle
silent about the work of the Spirit in the believer? The reason
is of much interest. Our Lord said concerning the coming of the
Spirit of truth, "He shall not speak of Himself," and again He
said, "He shall glorify Me" (John 16:13-14). While the Ephesians
knew Christ, owned Him and His glory, the Colossian Christians,
through false teachers, were being turned away from Christ; they
began to lose sight of the glory of Christ by listening to
philosophy (2:8); their eyes were no longer only on Christ. He
therefore aims in this Epistle to glorify Christ, to lead the
Colossians back to a full realization of the Person and Glory of
Christ and their completeness in Him. He directs their hearts to
the Lord Jesus Christ and thus fulfills his mission, speaking not
of himself and glorifying Christ.
     (Certain sects which claim a restoration of Pentecostal
power and gifts are constantly occupied with the Holy Spirit, His
work in the believer; they speak much of the Spirit, the 
feelings He produces, the energy He gives, etc. Nowhere in the
Word are believers told to be occupied with the Spirit. The one
object given to the believer to have ever before the heart is the
Lord Jesus Christ and His glory. One finds among these people who
claim a restoration of apostolic gifts (notably the smallest,
speaking in tongues) those who are quite ignorant of the work of
Christ, and the glory of Christ.)
     Verses 9-14. Next follows a prayer, Paul being only the
instrument of the utterance of the Spirit of God. And it is a
prayer fully adapted to the conditions of the Colossian
Christians. It is still the prayer of the Holy Spirit for all the
people of God. The leading petition in this prayer is for the
knowledge of the will of God--"that ye might be filled with the
knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding."
All the other requests may be looked upon as the results of a
spiritual understanding of the will of God. What is the meaning
of the will of God? It is that will of God of which we read so
much in the first chapter of Ephesians and concerns those who are
in Christ. What we possess in Christ, what God has made us in Him
and given to us with Him, according to the good pleasure of His
will, is that which believers need to know. What God has willed
for those who are redeemed by the blood of His Son, how they are
constituted in Him holy, put into the place of sons, accepted in
the Beloved, heirs of God, sealed and indwelt by His Spirit, is
the knowledge with which Christians should be filled. This the
Colossians lacked. The full knowledge of that will would have
kept them from listening to the enticing words of false teachers,
who promised them wisdom, knowledge and other benefits, which are
only found in Christ and which the believer possesses in Him. And
this knowledge of His will is a growing knowledge and must govern
the walk of the believer. It is needed "to walk worthy of the 
Lord unto all pleasing." Such a walk is only possible by enjoying
constantly the relationship into which the gracious will of God
has brought the believer; the more we enter into all grace has
done for us and lay hold of it, the more we shall walk worthy of
the Lord. And this walk is "unto all pleasing." With a true
Christian, God may be displeased, though He condemn not; and
there is a lack of felt fellowship. Only as walking worthily of
Christ can we abound in obedience to God, and be as children
intimate with their father. Every Christian's habitual question
should be, not, "What must I do to escape censure, or win wages?"
But "What will please God?" It produces also fruit bearing in
every good work and growth by the true knowledge of God. And this
gives strength in the way down here.
     "Strengthened with all power, according to the might of His
glory, unto all patience and long suffering with joy." In the
midst of tribulation and suffering strength is supplied through
the might of His glory. It is the glory of Christ and Christ in
glory which strengthens the believer, gives power to endure and
to pass through every trial and hardship with joy. To know this
will of God in Christ and Christ and His glory constantly before
the soul, this is what leads to Christlikeness and what gives
victory as we walk through a world to which the believer no
longer belongs. "For, with our feet outside of the land, our way
must be a toilsome and afflicting one, dreary enough and a
perpetual outrage to the soul strung to heavenly purity and peace
and worship. But He who was from heaven and is now its
attractiveness went through it all with a glow of gladness that
broke out in a rapture at times of greatest neglect and
misapprehension and hatred from without (Matt. 11:25-27). He was
as a weaned child, desiring nothing here. There has been no
promise of making things smooth here, but the opposite, and if we
nestle we must have made the nest by gathering worldly materials,
by accepting a friendship where He would get hate. God brings
nothing before us to hold the heart in comfort, peace, and joy,
but the glory to be revealed. And is it not enough for that and
enough to wait for?" (M. Taylor, Colossians)
     Being filled with the knowledge of His will produces
likewise worship. "Giving thanks unto the Father who hath made us
meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;
who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and translated
us into the kingdom of the Son of His love; in whom we have
redemption, the forgiveness of sins." It is a part of the prayer
that Christians might give thanks to the Father in spiritual
worship. And these things mentioned are known to the believer if
he is filled with the knowledge of His will, for they tell us
what God hath done for the sinner who believes on His Son. Here
are the most assuring statements, the things forever settled for
those who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. There is an
inheritance of the saints in light and the Father hath made us
meet to be partakers of it through the work of His Son. From the
Father we receive this inheritance. The title to that
inheritance, which every true child of God fully owns, is the
blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fitness to be there is
the new nature bestowed upon the believer. It is therefore not,
as so often stated, that we try to fit ourselves for heaven; this
is impossible. The moment a sinner accepts the Lord Jesus Christ,
he is made meet to be a partaker of that inheritance. All the
glory of that inheritance is at once put on the side of him who
trusts on Christ. All was done for us once for all when Christ
died; in Him we are sons and if sons, heirs of God, the fellow
heirs of Christ.
     "There can be no greater acceptance of us in heaven than God
gives us now in Christ, for even there we shall stand accepted in
Him alone. Our Father will not more fully rejoice over us there
than He does here; for then, as now, He will see us only as in
Christ. Our meetness, then, for the one part of the inheritance
is just our meetness for the other part. And so, when some
eminent saint comes to his death-bed, what is it that gives him
his comfort, his serene triumph, in that critical hour? Is it his
progressive practical sanctification? Indeed, no. He is too
conscious of many failures, that he should rely on that as his
passport through the gates into the city. Thankful he is to God,
that He has enabled him to serve Him with whatever degree of
faithfulness, and he may speak of it to the praise of the glory
of His grace; but he rests not his destination on so imperfect a
prop as that. What is it then? Just this: the infinite value of
the blood which sprinkled him. On that he rests, as on the Rock
of Ages. Yes, Christ Himself is our only meetness for the
inheritance, and our believing on Christ is our having the
meetness" (Bishop W. Nicholson).
     And more than that, "He hath delivered us (not a gradual
deliverance, but a deliverance accomplished) from the power of
darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of
His love." And the deliverance takes place as well as the
translation into His kingdom, when we believe on Christ. There is
a power of darkness. Satan is the ruler of darkness and to this
power of darkness the unsaved sinner belongs. We are by nature
the complete subjects of this power and also the children of
wrath (Eph. 2:1-3). As such we are in a helpless condition and
if deliverance is to take place it must come from the side of
God. And it has come for all believers. All who are in Christ are
no longer under the authority of Satan, the prince of the power
of the air, they are taken from his domain and rule and are
translated into another kingdom, the kingdom of the Son of his

     My chains are snapped, the bonds of sin are broken,

     And I am free.

     Oh! let the triumphs of His grace be spoken 

     Who died for me.

     The expression "kingdom of the Son of His love" has been
identified with the Church, while others make it to mean the
coming kingdom, which will be set up when the Lord Jesus Christ
comes again. But it does not mean the body of Christ and much
less the kingdom on earth, which is termed the kingdom of the Son
of man. We quote from the Synopsis. by Darby, who gives the
correct meaning of this term.
     "Here alone, I believe, is the kingdom called the kingdom of
the Son; and, I think, it is only as introducing His Person as
the center of everything and giving us the measure of the
greatness of the blessing. It is the kingdom of One who has this
place, the Son of His love, into which we are introduced. It is
indeed His kingdom; and in order that we may apprehend the
character of this kingdom as it is now for us, and our nearness
to God as having part in it, it is called the kingdom of the Son
of His love. It is this which is the present foundation and
characteristic of the relationship with God of those who are
truly in and of it. As the kingdom of the Son of man, it is His
manifestation hereafter in glory and in government. Here it is
characterized by the relationship of the Son Himself to the
Father, in His person, with the addition of that which gives us a
full title to share it--redemption through His blood, the
forgiveness of sins."
     Blessed possessions! Blessed assurance! In Christ, fit for
glory; in Christ, delivered from the power of darkness and near
to God now as He, the Son of His love, is near, belonging to same
realm of glory; in Christ redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
There are no "ifs" and no questionings. All is positive. For all
this we should give thanks to the Father and praise Him for what
He has done for us. Such worshippers the Father seeketh (John 4)
for they delight in His Son, in whom all His delight is. Yet how
little such true worship is rendered! And why? Because Christians
are so little filled with the knowledge of His will, with that
which grace has accomplished in Christ. (The spiritual condition
of a Christian may be learned by his prayer. One who knows what
God has done, who has looked deep into the gospel of God, whose
heart knows and enjoys Christ will praise much 
and thank the Father for all these blessed realities. But how
many ask God constantly to give to them that, which they already
possess; and there is no real worship possible unless we know and
enjoy His grace. Bye and bye all our prayers will cease and it
will be all praise and worship--when we are with Him in glory and
know what grace has done for us forever.)
     Verses 15-18. With these verses we reach the heart of this
chapter. Christ, the Son of His love, having been named in the
prayer, the Holy Spirit reveals Him now in His Person and glory
as well as the work of redemption accomplished by Him. It is a
remarkable portion of this Epistle in which all the errors about
the Person of Christ are refuted and silenced. Arianism,
Socianism, Unitarianism, Russellism, Christian Science and other
"isms" which rob the Lord Jesus Christ of His full glory and deny
His deity, are completely answered in the brief words which
unfold His glory. It was Arius of Alexandria who taught in the
beginning of the fourth century that the Lord Jesus was a
creature, the first of all created beings, though superangelic,
yet not eternal in His being nor a partaker of the divine
essence. The council of Nicea (325 A.D.) condemned the wicked
theory of Arius. Socinus in the Reformation period revived this
error, as did Priestly and Martineau in England and Channing and
others in America.
     It remained for one Charles T. Russell, whose system is
known by different names, to popularize these false and corrupt
views and spread them throughout Christendom. Russell with Arius
asserts that in His preexistent state Jesus was a pure spirit,
higher than the angels, yet only a creature. When born of the
Virgin Mary, He dropped His spirit nature while on earth. He
teaches that the atonement offered by our Lord was only human,
having nothing divine about it. Russellism also denies that the
human body of our Lord was raised from the dead. The whole system
is a conglomerate of Arianism, Ebioniteism and Rationalism.
Christian Science equally denies the deity of Christ and contains
in itself all the fatal errors of Gnosticism, which the
Colossians were facing in their day.

     1. The first statement concerns His absolute deity--"Who is
the image of the invisible God." He is the image of God in all
His fullness and perfection. As the image of God, the invisible
God, He therefore is God. "He is the effulgence of His glory and
the expression of His substance" (Heb. 1:3). He has made known
God to man; in Him we see what God is. "No man hath seen God at
any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father, hath declared Him" (John 1:18). Were He not the essential
image of God in His own person, one with God in eternity and
glory, He could not be the representative image of God by
     2. "Firstborn of all Creation"--not as the Authorized
Version has it "the firstborn of every creature." It is here
where the false teaching originates, which claims that our Lord
was after all only a creature, called into existence by God, and
not very God. This passage teaches no such thing. The title
"Firstborn" denotes His priority to creation, for He is
creation's head; the headship of all creation belongs to Him.
When He who is the image of the invisible God takes His place in
creation, as He did in incarnation, it can only be as the
Firstborn, as the beginning of the creation of God, the head of
all. He, who became man, under whose feet as the second Man all
things will be put in subjection (Ps. 8; Heb. 2), is the Lord
from Heaven, the Creator of all things.
     3. That He is not a creature, though He took on the
creature's form, is at once demonstrated by the words which
follow. The Holy Spirit anticipated the errors which would deny
His glory and therefore we read of Him as the Creator. "For by
Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth,
things visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or
dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created
by Him and for Him." It is therefore absolutely certain that the
"Firstborn" does not mean that our Lord is a creature, but the
Creator. These words which were written by the apostle are
revelation. Nor is Paul the only instrument through whom the
Spirit of God makes known His glory. John wrote in the beginning
of his Gospel the same truth. "All things were made by Him; and
without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3).
     The Son of God is therefore the Creator, yet not to the
exclusion of the power of the Father, nor the operation of the
Spirit. The three are one, in character and in their work, in
creation and in redemption the three persons of the Godhead are
active. What a dignity and glory is His! All things visible were
created by Him and for Him; all life, vegetable and animal, all
matter and all physical forces, the small things and the big
things, everything was called into existence by Him. The heavens
are the work of His fingers (Ps. 8:3); the firmament showeth His
handiwork (Ps. 19:1). The millions of stars with their suns, the
planets and comets, the whole universe, unfathomable and
incomprehensible for the creature, were all called forth by His
omnipotent word. Not by science, nor by searching do we know of
this, but "through faith we understand that the worlds were
framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not
made of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:3). And then things
invisible--how little we know of these!
     The innumerable company of angels, this vast and wonderful
world of the unseen, are also created by Him. It is all "by Him"
and "for Him"; He is the primal cause of it, as well as the final
cause. In the presence of such deep and blessed revelations,
which man's mind could never discover, in the presence of the
infinite, the reasonings of Unitarianism and Darwinianism and all
other reasonings crumble into dust. The evolutionary hypothesis
of the creation of a cell or of "primordial germs" from which,
through millions of years, all things were developed is an
invention of man and completely silenced by this passage and
other portions of the Word. "And what a wonderful light do these
words throw upon creation itself and upon its destiny! Christ is
not only the One under whom it is; He is not only the One who
will bring it all into blessing, but He, the One who has become
the man Christ Jesus, is the One for whom it all exists!" And
such a One, the Lord of creation, by whom and for whom are all
things is our Lord, with whom all who have accepted Him are one.
How blessed, how safe we are in Him and with Him, sheltered and
kept by His mighty arms! And when all things are put under His
feet, when in the dispensation of the fullness of times, all
things in heaven and on earth are headed up in Christ, when the
glories of the new creation are manifested, what glory will be
ours in Him and with Him!
     4. "And He is before all things and by Him all things
consist." Everything depends upon Him; all things are held
together by Him. Without Him all would cease to be. Four times in
these two verses we read of "all things." All things created by
Him; all things for Him; He is before all things; all things
consist by Him.
     Verse 18 reveals another headship and glory. "And He is the
head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn
from among the dead, that in all things He might have the
     From creation the Holy Spirit now leads us to another
sphere, that of Redemption. Creation became marred and ruined by
sin and He who is the head of all things in creation had to come
to earth in the form of man to redeem. He died, and, raised from
among the dead, He is the Firstborn, the head of the body, the
Church, and as such the Beginning, that is, a new Beginning. The
Church was not in existence before His death and resurrection
from the dead. He could not be the Head of the Church till He had
become the Firstborn by resurrection. And now He has a body,
composed of all who have believed on Him as Saviour and Lord,
born again and one Spirit with Him. This body is one with Him in
life, in position and in glory. This body is the new creation,
completely identified with Him, who is the Head, the fullness of
Him who filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23).
     "He is the Firstborn of creation, He is the Firstborn
according to the power of resurrection, in this new order of
things in which man is predestined to an entirely new position,
gained by redemption, and in which he participates in the glory
of God (as far as that which is created can do so), and that by
participating in divine life in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and
everlasting life; and, as regards the Church, as members of His
body. He is the Firstborn of creation, the Firstborn from among
the dead; the Creator, and the conqueror of death and the enemy's
power. These are the two spheres of the display of the glory of
God. The special position of the Church, the body of Christ,
forms a part of the latter. He must have this resurrection-glory,
this universal preeminence and superiority also, as being man,
for all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him" (Synopsis of
the Bible).
     Thus in all things He has the preeminence. And we also must
give Him in all things the first place. As we lay hold on the
glory of Christ, the head of creation, the Risen One now, the
head of the body in glory, and look forward to the day of
consummation and glory to come, when we shall see Him as He is,
and participate in the glory, which His grace has bestowed upon
us, we shall indeed walk worthily of the Lord and be strengthened
according to the power of His glory.
     Verses 19-29. His great work of redemption and the ministry
connected with it is the theme of the remaining verses of this
chapter. "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all
fullness dwell." It is to be noticed that the words "the Father"
are supplied. If a word is to be used it must be the word
"Godhead" (2:9). But there is no need to do that. The correct
rendering of the verse is "In Him all the fullness was pleased to
dwell," and that is the fullness of the Godhead. It is a blessed
and deep truth that the whole Godhead manifested itself in Him
for the great purpose of redemption. The Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit dwelled in all fullness in the blessed One who walked
among men. He could say of Himself that the Father dwelleth in
Him (John 14:10); he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (John
14:9) and again, "I am in the Father and the Father in Me." And
He who spoke thus was and is the Son of God. And the third person
of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, was not given to Him by measure
(John 3:34) but He was in Him in all His fullness. The fullness
of the Godhead was pleased to dwell in the incarnate One. The
Gnostic teachers, which began then to sow their evil seed in the
early Church, used the word "fullness" (pleroma) very much, and
meant by it the absolute perfection of deity. But they taught
that portions of this fullness were given to various divine
incarnations and angels, who were generated by a supreme being.
Christ, according to their philosophy, was an inferior being, who
did not possess the pleroma of the Godhead.
     In answer to this perversion the Holy Spirit witnesses to
the truth that in Him all the fullness, the pleroma, was pleased
to dwell. The fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him and was
manifested through Him, yet man, His creation, would not have
Him. Man gave Him a cross which showed that man was
irreconcilable as far as he was concerned. "He in whom all
fullness dwelt, who was the one altogether lovely, who manifested
the very character of God and brought among men unimagined
goodness and power, who dealt with every need, going about doing
good, who never refused a single soul, He was despised and
rejected by man, hated without a cause. They crucified the Lord
of glory, the Creator of all things.
     "And what was to be done? Ah! this was the serious question,
and this it was which God was waiting to solve. He meant to
reconcile man in spite of himself; He would prove His own love to
be the conqueror of his hatred. Let man be unmendable, let his
enemy be beyond all thought, God, in the calmness of His own
wisdom, and in the strength of His unwearied grace, accomplishes
His purpose of redeeming love at the very moment when man
consummates his wickedness. It was at the cross of Christ. And so
it was that, when all seemed to fail, all was won. The fullness
of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus; but man would have none of it, and
proved it above all in the cross. Yet the cross was the precise
and only place where the foundation that cannot be moved was
laid. As he says, 'having made peace through the blood of His
cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, I
say, whether it be things on earth or things in heaven'" (W.
     He made peace in the blood of His cross. Then the great work
of redemption was accomplished. And through the blood of the
cross, all things are to be reconciled by Him to the Godhead,
whether things on earth or things in heaven. What reconciliation
is this? It is a reconciliation which is not yet accomplished. It
includes all creation and the universe. The heavens and the earth
will be completely delivered from the power of evil. This
reconciliation of all things in virtue of the blood of His cross
will take place when He comes again, when all things are put in
subjection under His feet. All is in disorder in creation; it is
a groaning creation. Satan with his wicked spirit is in the
heavenlies and defilement is there. Yet the purchase price has
been paid in the blood of His cross. The reconciliation of all
things yet to come is the same which Peter preached as "the
restitution of all things of which God has spoken by the mouth of
His holy prophets since time began" (Acts 3:19-21). Therefore the
prophets in the Old Testament give us the meaning of this coming
reconciliation. We find it predicted in portions of the prophetic
Word, concerning the coming age, when righteousness reigns, peace
is established, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the
earth and the earth is full of His glory, when Israel has
received the promised blessing and glory, and groaning creation
no longer groans under the curse (Isaiah 11:6-9; Rom. 8:19-22).
It will all be accomplished when He returns, whose right it is to
reign and who paid for all in the blood of His cross. Then all
present disorder will cease, the curse will be removed, Satan
will be bound. This dispensation of the fullness of times will
have come and Christ will reign and His saints with Him.
     Does this reconciliation include the unsaved, the
unregenerated, who reject Christ and remain in their sins? Does
it include Satan and the fallen angels? Some, who call themselves
"Reconciliationists" or "Restitutionists" teach this; and so does
Russellism and other cults. But it is not so. The Scriptures do
not teach such a universal reconciliation which reaches the
wicked dead and wicked spirits. The best proof is when we compare
the statement here with a similar one in Phil. 2:10. In this
passage Paul speaks of the things under the earth, which are the
lost. It is there the question of acknowledging the supreme
authority of the Lord. But here in Colossians where it is the
question of reconciliation, things on earth and things in heaven
are mentioned, but the things under the earth are omitted,
because there is not reconciliation for such. "These shall go
away into everlasting punishment"; no future reconciliation is
anywhere promised in the Word of God for the lost. There is no
new birth, no repentance, no faith in hell. Not a drop of the
living water will ever reach there to quench the spiritual thirst
of the damned.
     But while the reconciliation of all things awaits the return
of our Lord to put all things in order, there is another
reconciliation which is already effected. "And you being in time
past alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works, yet now hath
He reconciled in the body of His flesh, through death, to present
you holy and unblamable and irreproachable before Him; if indeed
ye abide in the faith, grounded and firm, and not moved away from
the gospel which ye heard, which hath been preached in the whole
creation which is under heaven, whereof I Paul was made a
minister" (verses 21-23). This is spoken of those who have
believed on the Son of God. All were once estranged from God and
enemies in mind by wicked works, but having believed His work,
His sacrificial death on the cross hath reconciled them. In
virtue of this reconciliation believers are no longer enemies but
made nigh, accepted in the Beloved and presented holy,
unblamable, and irreproachable before God. What a change! And it
is not of man, by his work, or having become a believer by living
a fully separated life, but it is all through His death. In Him
we are constituted holy, unblamable and irreproachable; this is
the believer's standing before God. The words "if ye continue in
the faith," etc., are words of caution. They do not touch the
election and perseverance of the saints who are members of the
body of which He is the head. A believer thus reconciled will
continue in the faith and will not be moved away from the hope of
the gospel; this is one of the tests of salvation. There was
danger for the Colossians to abandon the great fundamentals of
Christianity; if they did so they rejected the grace which
presented them to God and in doing this they showed that they had
never received the reconciliation, for one who is reconciled
continues in the faith and remains upon the sure foundation.
     "All the blessedness that Christ has procured is for those
that believe; but this of course supposes that they hold Him
fast. The language does not in the smallest degree insinuate that
there is any uncertainty for a believer. We must never allow one
truth to be either shut out or enfeebled by another; but then we
need also to remember that there are, and have always been, those
that, having begun seemingly well, have ended by becoming the
enemies of Christ and the Church. Even antichrists are not from
without in their origin. "They went out from us, because they
were not of us." There are no enemies so deadly as those who,
having received enough truth to overbalance them and to abuse to
their own self exaltation, turn again, and would rend the church
of God, wherein they learned all that gives them power to be
specially mischievous. The apostle could not but dread the slide
on which the Colossians found themselves; and the more so as they
themselves had no fears, but on the contrary thought highly of
that which had attracted their minds. If there was danger,
certainly it was love to admonish them; and in this spirit he
therefore says, 'If ye continue in the faith, grounded and
     (if thousands and tens of thousands of members of the
professing church turn to "Christian Science" or accept the
teachings of the "New Theology" and in doing so abandon the
gospel and deny the doctrine of Christ, they show thereby that
all their profession was only a sham, that they never received
the love of the truth, were never real believers who have been
reconciled. They were at least the enemies of the cross who more
openly deny Christ.)
     Then Paul speaks of himself as being the minister of that
gospel which hath been preached in the whole creation. How he
termed this gospel "my gospel" and received it by revelation, and
the meaning of all this we learned from Romans and Galatians. And
the sound of this gospel goes forth into all creation.
     We must notice here that up to this point in this Epistle we
have learned of the two headships of Christ. He is Head of
Creation and Head of the Church. Then followed a twofold
reconciliation. The reconciliation of all things which includes
all creation over which He is the head, and the reconciliation of
believers, who are in that body over which He is the head. All
these wonderful revelations fully answered the teachers who
brought among the Colossians the most deadly errors, denying the
deity of Christ, as if some demiurge had created the world, etc.
And these great statements of verses 15-23 also answer all
heresies of today.
     To the two headships of Christ and the two reconciliations
there is now added a twofold ministry. The ministry of the gospel
and the ministry of the church. Twice Paul writes he was made a
minister, the minister of the gospel (verse 23) and the Church,
whereof he was also made a minister (verse 25). It means that to
him was given the revelation concerning the gospel of grace and
glory and through him was also made known the truth concerning
the Church, the body of Christ. There is then a blessed harmony
in these statements.

     1. The twofold Headship of Christ: Head of Creation and Head
of the Church
     2. The twofold Reconciliation: Reconciliation of all things
(creation) and our reconciliation (the Church)
     3. The twofold Ministry: The gospel. (preached in all
creation) and The Church (to present every man perfect in Christ)
     Paul, to whom the Spirit of God revealed these great truths,
fulfilled in this way the Word of God, for the truth about the
Church, the body of Christ, is the highest revelation. He was
shut up in a prison and was suffering "for His body's sake,"
which sufferings he looks upon as filling up that which remained
of the sufferings of Christ in them. He rejoiced in these
sufferings for he knew they were "for His body's sake." He knew
and declared "the mystery which hath been hid from ages and
generations, but now hath been made manifested to His saints, to
whom God would make known what are the riches of the glory of
this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope
of glory." The mystery of which he writes is not the coming of
Christ to this earth, His incarnation, death, resurrection,
ascension and coming again.
     All this was not a mystery, for it was revealed in the Old
Testament. The mystery made known through him and of which he
writes is a glorified Christ who unites all in His person, the
Head in glory, who has a body composed of saved Jews and
Gentiles, who are one in Him, and "Christ in (or among) you the
hope of glory"--which looks forward to the consummation, when
this body which is now forming, through the preaching of the
gospel, is to be with the Head in glory. This is the mystery
which was hid in former ages. It is unrevealed in the Old
Testament and therefore exclusively a New Testament revelation.
With such a revelation and ministry he preached, "warning every
man, and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present
every man perfect in Christ Jesus; where unto I also labor,
striving according to His working which worketh in me in power."
Every man "perfect" means full-grown. (See Phil. 3:15 and Heb.
5:14.) It is the believing apprehension of what Christ is for us
and what we are in Him. Through this knowledge and heart
occupation with the Lord of glory the believer becomes full grown
and true Christian character is formed. And what toil and energy
the great apostle manifested that this might be accomplished!


                    CHAPTER 2

     1. The mystery of God (2:1-8)

     2. Complete in Christ (2:9-15)

     3. Exhortations and warnings (2:16-23)

     Verses 1-8. In view of the last verses of the preceding
chapter we can understand his anxiety and the great conflict he
had for the Colossians and for those living in nearby Laodicea,
and for as many who had not seen his face in the flesh. He was
deeply concerned about them after he heard of their danger of
going into error. It was a spiritual conflict. He was greatly
exercised in his thoughts and feelings. He knew the powers of
evil so well; hence the burden for the Colossians, for the
Laodiceans and for all others. In writing to them about his great
conflict for them, and therefore his prayerful interest in them,
he did so that their hearts might be comforted thereby and then,
being knit together in love for this purpose: "unto all riches of
the full assurance of understanding to the full knowledge of the
mystery of God in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge." (The translation in the Authorized Version is not
correct. The words "of the Father and of Christ" must be omitted.
It is "The mystery of God, in which are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge.")
     And what is this mystery of God in which the treasures, yea
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden? The mystery
of God is Christ. But it is not Christ in incarnation, in His
life on earth, His death on the cross and His resurrection. Nor
is it Christ at the right hand of God, or Christ coming again to
rule over the nations on earth and establish His kingdom of
glory. All these things are subjects of divine revelation in the
Old Testament. They are not a mystery. It is Christ, the Head of
the body and believers in union with the glorious Head, joined to
Him by His Spirit, possessing His life, one with Him, destined to
share His glory. This is the mystery of God in which are hid all
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And what treasures these
are! How little His people know of all this mystery of God
contains! It will take eternity to know and enjoy these
treasures, the unsearchable riches.
     The Greek word for knowledge is "gnosis"; the false teachers
called themselves, after this word, "gnostics," boasting of
superior knowledge and as if they possessed mysteries unknown to
those who believed on Christ. We understand in this light the
brief exhortation which follows: "And this I say, lest any man
should delude you with enticing words." Being in Christ they had
all in Him and no human philosophy or science, falsely so called,
could give a greater wisdom or knowledge, than that which God had
made known by revelation. The enemy's work is to keep God's
people back from fully enjoying their union with Christ and
increasing in the knowledge of it. Satan does this work in the
garb of an angel of light, through all kinds of theories and
     Before the apostle sounds a more definite warning, he
expressed his joy in seeing their order and steadfastness of
their faith in Christ. No doubt a part of the Colossian church
stood unwavering for the faith, while others had given ear to the
delusive teachings. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus
the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him and
stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding
therein with thanksgiving." This was their danger, as it is still
more in these days of declension and delusion, our danger, not to
walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him. They were not satisfied
with Christ only. They did not realize that the secret of
blessing and all a Christian needs, is to go on and know more and
more of Christ. This they did not do but turned instead to other
sources and listened to that which was not after Christ.
     "When we have received Christ, all the rest is but a
development of that which He is, and of the glory which the
counsels of God have connected with His person. Knowledge, or
pretended knowledge, outside this, does but turn us away from
Him, withdraw our hearts from the influence of His glory, throw
us into that which is false, and lead our souls into connection
with the creation apart from God, and without possessing the key
to His purposes. Thus, since man is incapable of fathoming that
which exists, and of explaining it to himself, his efforts to do
so cause him to invent a mass of ideas that have no foundation,
and to endeavor to fill up the void that is found in his
knowledge through his ignorance of God by speculations, in which
(because he is at a distance from God) Satan plays the chief part
without man's suspecting it" (Synopsis of the Bible).
     Then follows a stronger and important warning. "Beware lest
any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the
tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
Christ." It is a warning against the natural man's philosophy,
and the religious man's traditions; both are not after Christ,
but aim at the person, the work and the glory of Christ.
Rationalism and ritualism are still the pronounced enemies of the
Lord Jesus Christ, as they were when He walked on the earth. (The
Sadducees were the philosophers, the rationalists. The Pharisees,
the most religious sect, the ritualists. Both combined in hatred
of Christ.) Both may use His name, but deny His glory and reject
the great truth of His headship. Philosophy is the wisdom of this
world. Well has it been said: "Philosophy is an idol of man, a
blind substitute for the knowledge of God." It is false and
ruinous whether it leaves Him out or tries to bring Him in,
whether it denies the true God, or sets up a sham god. Atheism
and pantheism are the ultimate goal and results of philosophy,
and both set God and His revelation aside. This is especially
true of the present day destructive Bible criticism, which claims
to be "scientific" and "philosophical." It is the most subtle
deception the father of lies has produced.
     This destructive criticism, which denies with a show of
learning the Word of God, denies with it God and His blessed Son;
it is an antichrist, preparing the way for the final great
delusion, the full manifestation of the mystery of iniquity, the
man of sin. The evolution theory is another philosophy. Though
proven to be untenable, preachers, and especially the teachers of
the young, still adhere to it and thereby deny God's revelation.
The evolution-philosophy has no explanation for the sin and
misery of the world, but makes it all a part of the nature of
things which God could not avoid when He started the world
evolving. It makes God the author of sin. And evolution offers no
remedy for sin and its results. Evolutionists as found in all the
prominent sects or denominations of Christendom teach that sin is
only animalism left in man; and then they substitute for true
conversion, regeneration, for reconciliation by the death of
Christ and salvation by grace--they substitute for it a
development for the better by civilization and culture.
Evolution-philosophies are the enemies of revelation and the
cross of Christ.
     "But obviously this evolutionary 'salvation' is largely or
wholly a salvation of the race through the prospective future
perfectibility of mankind as a whole; and it is childishly
inadequate in dealing with the poor individual then and now who,
under this hideous handicap fails in the sad conflict with his
inherited animalism; and it has no gospel for these present moral
failures (or those of the past), unless they can be reincarnated
at a higher stage of the racial development, or have 'another
chance' under some less hard conditions in the future while it
goes without saying that, in the view of these theistic
evolutionists, this racial culture of development can be
accomplished without the intervention of a divine mediator and
the help of a divine sacrifice" Professor Price.
     "Christian Science" also comes under the garb of a
philosophy. This wicked system with its outrageous deceptions may
be termed the masterpiece of Satan. Against its blasphemous
inventions the Spirit of God bears a perfect witness in the first
chapter of this Epistle. Christianity is not science. Science is
knowledge gained by experience, by searching. Christianity is a
revelation from God. It is a faith.
     The traditions of men and rudiments of the world are terms
which apply to the religion of the flesh, by which we mean a
religion which the natural man can lay hold of and which suits
perfectly the natural, unregenerated man. This is ritualism, the
Galatianized gospel which has the curse of God resting upon it.
It brings in man's works, law-keeping, ceremonies, holy days,
saints' days, the mass and other things. But it is not after
Christ. Against these two currents, rationalism and ritualism,
the Spirit of God warns. Any one who follows either must deny
Christ and becomes spoiled and ruined.
     Verses 9-10 introduce us to the heart of this great
document. "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead
bodily, and in Him ye are filled full, who is the head of all
principality and power. How this blessed statement recalls our
attention to the great truths of the first chapter we do not need
to point out. While in the first chapter He is displayed as the
Incarnate One, who walked on earth, in whom all the fullness was
pleased to dwell; in this statement of the second chapter we see
Him as the Risen One, who is in glory as the Glorified Man and in
Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Glorious
truth that there is the Man, in glory, in a real human body, the
Man, who made peace in the blood of His cross. The fullness of
the Godhead dwelleth in Him and out of this fullness we receive
grace upon grace, and that we might also be filled with all the
fullness of God (Eph. 3:19). In Him believers are filled full. In
Him we possess perfection and completeness before God and are not
wanting anything whatever as to our position before God.
Believers are in Him before God, not in what they do or according
to their service, or anything else, but in perfection of what He
is. Who could add to His fullness and who can add to the fullness
and completeness the believer possesseth forever in Him!
     The child of God has no need of philosophy, ceremonies,
asceticism, advanced thought, or any other thing. No need of the
traditions of men as embodied in ritualism, a man-made priesthood
which He hates (Rev. 2:15); or the mass with its terrible
blasphemy, or the worship of angels! We have and are all in
Christ. Our only concern must be to lay hold in a practical way
of this fullness, to take more and more of Him and walk in the
power of it.
     This is viewed next. The literal rendering of verses 11 and
12 is as follows:
     "In whom also ye have been circumcised with circumcision not
done by hand, in the putting off of the body of the flesh in the
circumcision of Christ; buried with Him in baptism, in whom ye
have been also raised together through faith in the operation of
God, who raised Him from among the dead." Circumcision done by
hand is for the Jew, the sign of separation from the Gentiles.
Believers are circumcised in the circumcision of Christ, that is,
"the putting off of the body of flesh" (not "putting off the body
of the sins of the flesh") separated from it, by being made
partakers of the efficacy of His death. In the death of Christ
the old man is put to death as more fully demonstrated in Romans
6; we are dead to sin, because we are in Christ, who is our life.
And having now no more confidence in ourselves we are the true
circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in
Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:3). Baptism is the symbol of this "buried
with Him in baptism." And we are raised up with Him through faith
in the operation of God who raised Him from among the dead. It is
"through faith" this is accomplished and not in an ordinance; we
are risen with Christ in possession of life.
     "It is thus that we are set free from the thought of
deliverance by an ordinance, which so many hold today. We are
'raised up through the faith of the operation of God who raised
Him from among the dead.' Here we see distinctly what is meant.
Resurrection is the opposite of burial. In burial a dead man is
put among the dead. In resurrection a now living man is given his
place among the living; and it is seen that Christ, identified
with us through grace in His death, has been raised up of God;
that we might find, therefore, our own title and ability to take
our place amongst those truly alive. But then all depends upon
this identification of ourselves with Him. Our eyes are now,
therefore, to be upon Christ. He is in this character our true
self, and our confidence, therefore, is to be in Him. As we have
had it in Galatians, we live, yet no more we, but Christ liveth
in us. It is the One who is before God for us who is before us
now in faith and whom we accept as now our true self, a self in
whom we can have confidence, a self that we can contemplate with
joy and satisfaction, and without the least tendency to such
pride of heart as results naturally from what we call
self-occupation. Here is One who will draw us away from self, who
will, as a Heavenly Object draw us completely out of the world,
and accomplish our deliverance in both senses at the same time"
(Numerical Bible).
     The truth unfolded in the Ephesian Epistle (chapter 2) is
also mentioned here by the apostle. "And you being dead in
offenses and the uncircumcision of your flesh hath He quickened
together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses." Blessed
truth again! What follows has a meaning for both Jewish and
Gentile believers. "Having blotted out the handwriting in
ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, He has
taken it out Of the way, having nailed it to the cross." The
Colossians were Gentiles, they had not been under the law and its
ordinances, therefore he writes not which were "against you" but
"against us." All the ordinances were against them, for they were
as Jews under obligation to keep them, as they had, so to speak,
put their handwriting, their signature to it, when they said with
one voice, "All the words which the Lord hath said we will do"
(Exodus 24:3). And inasmuch as they did not keep these
ordinances, they were against them. The work of Christ has taken
it out of the way; all was nailed to the cross. Then the
signature was erased and the debt paid. The ordinances are
removed. This applies to Gentiles as well and also in another
sense. The law and the ordinances were the middle wall of
partition, which excluded the Gentiles. Christ "has broken down
the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His flesh the
enmity, the law of commandment in ordinances, for to make in
Himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph. 2:14-15). At
the same time He spoiled principalities and powers, made a show
of them openly, leading them in triumph by it. This means the
principalities and powers of Satan and the wicked spirits. They
were against us, but He has vanquished them in His death on the
cross and in it has triumphed over them. Trespasses are forgiven;
ordinances blotted out, completely gone; principalities and
powers triumphed over.
     Verses 16-23. The chapter closes with warnings and
exhortations. The first warning exhortation is against
ritualistic legalism. "Let none therefore judge you in meat or in
drink, or in matter of an holy day, or new moon, or of the
Sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of
Christ." All the ceremonies of the law were shadows; the
substance has come and the shadows have ceased. Ritualistic
Christendom has aped the shadows and by doing so practically
denies by it the truth of the gospel. It is a turning away from
the substance and moving after the shadow. A religion in
ordinances, so-called sacraments with mysterious powers, with an
imposing ritual for the eye and the ear, which gives the flesh
something to do and to boast in, is an invention of Satan. True
Christianity has no holy days and feast days, saints' days,
lenten days, etc.; nor does it need these "beggarly elements."
     The Sabbath is also mentioned. Some keep the seventh day,
Saturday, and claim that this is the day to be kept. But the
church has no Sabbath to keep in the legal sense. The first day
of the week, the Lord's day, is the day of worship.
     The next warning is against the worship of angels and
occultism. "Let no one fraudulently deprive you of your prize,
doing his own will in humility and worship of angels, entering
into things which he has not seen vainly puffed up by the mind of
his flesh, and not holding fast to the head from whom all the
body ministered to and united together by the joints and bands,
increases with the increase of God." Here the Romish idolatry
comes into view. It began early in the church. Angels are
ministering spirits who minister to the heirs of glory. Their
presence with and ministry to God's people may be believed, but
never must they be worshipped. Putting them between Christians
and Christ as a mediatorial agency is idolatrous, sinful and a
denial of the headship of Christ. The worship of angels denies
the union of the believer with the Head. The Head, Christ in
glory, ministers to the body in spiritual things. All looked like
humility when it was in reality self-will and pride. Intruding
into unseen things points to such evil systems as spiritism,
theosophy, Psychical research and other cults. Whoever follows
these things proves thereby that Christ as the Head over all is
not recognized but denied. He who knows Christ and is in
conscious union with Him will never crave after any of these
     Asceticism is the concluding thing against which the Holy
Spirit warns. "If ye have died with Christ from the elements of
the world, why as if alive in the world do ye subject yourselves
to ordinances?" Then he gives an illustration of these "Do not
handle, do not taste, do not touch." (Strange it is that these
words are generally misapplied, wrested from the context, twisted
and contorted to furnish a text for the drink-evil and to
advocate prohibition. It has nothing to do with that.) This and
the concluding words reprove asceticism "the harsh treatment of
the body" not keeping the body in a certain honor and all to the
satisfaction of the flesh, as he writes: "According to the
injunctions and teachings of men (which have indeed an appearance
of wisdom in voluntary worship, and humility, and harsh treatment
of the body, not in a certain honor), to the satisfaction of the
flesh." These errorists taught that matter is evil and the body
is the source of sin and therefore they treated the body harshly.
They denied honor to the body but it was for their own
satisfaction of the flesh.
     "Asceticism is utterly powerless to effect the object aimed
at: it does not, it cannot sanctify the flesh. It has a show of
wisdom. It is extravagant in its pretensions and loud in its
promises. But it never fulfills them. The apostle here declares
that it has no value against the indulgence of the flesh (2:23).
It, rather, stimulates the appetites and passions it is meant to
extirpate. Asceticism has often proved to be a hotbed of vice.
Some of the vilest men have been found among those who advocated
the strictest austerities. They denounced the holiest of human
associations, and branded as sensual the purest relations.
Marriage was degraded, celibacy glorified, the family disparaged,
domestic life despised. And some of these foes of truth have been
     "Asceticism does not touch the seat of sin. All its strength
is exerted against the body. Sin is of the soul, has its seat in
the soul. So long as the heart is corrupt, no bodily restraints
will make the life holy. There is one remedy alone for human sin,
one that reaches to its roots, that ultimately will totally
destroy it, viz., the blood of Christ" (1 John 1:7) (Professor
W.A. Moorhead).
     And all these warnings are for our own times, for we live in
the day when the tares the devil sowed in the field in the
beginning of the age are ripening for the harvest. They are full
grown. Legalism, ritualism, evolution, higher criticism,
Christian Science, Russellism, demonism, spiritism, New Thought,
New Religion, New Theology, theosophy, Unitarianism, Romanism,
Mormonism, Seventh Dayism and other still more dangerous
theories, because more subtle, are about us. Only a constant
realization of our position in Christ and holding fast the head
will keep His people in the days of apostasy. May God's people
today, the faithful remnant, never lose sight of the two vital
truths of these two chapters: In Him dwelleth the fullness of the
Godhead bodily--and we are complete in Him.


                    CHAPTER 3

     1. The life hid with Christ in God (3:1-4)

     2. The contrast: The old man and the new man (3:5-11)

     3. Manifesting Christ (3:12-17)

     4. Relationships (3:18-4:1)

     Verses 1-4. Risen with Christ; such is the believer's
position. "Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God."
These are the great truths of Christianity: The believer dead
with Christ; risen with Christ and in possession of a life which
is hid with Christ in God and therefore safe and secure. And
these facts constitute the controlling motive of the believer's
life on earth. If apprehended in faith they will lead the soul to
seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the
right hand of God. The mind will then be constantly set on the
things above and not on things which are on the earth. The more a
believer enters into those blessed truths, making them his own by
reckoning himself dead with Christ and risen with Him, with his
life hid with Christ in God, the more will the things above be
for him the great attraction and the things on earth will lose
their charm. The things above are Christ and His glory. The
things on earth include all the deceiving things mentioned in the
previous chapter, such as the rudiments of the world, philosophy
and words of vain deceit, legalism, ritualism, ordinances, as
well as worldly ambitions, honors, pleasures and achievements.
All these will fade away when the believer's heart is occupied
with Him who fills the throne in glory. This is the true and only
way of sanctification--heart occupation with the risen Christ.
     When the eyes of the heart see the risen and glorified
Christ and faith lays hold of the wonderful meaning for us who
believe, then we learn to walk in that separation into which God
has called His people. What the Christian therefore needs is an
ever increasing realization in faith of his position in Christ,
and then to be energized by the indwelling Spirit to seek those
things which are above and not the things on earth. Such a life
means joy and peace. It is a life of obedience and quietness,
victorious over all earthly circumstances. And because it is a
life which is hid with Christ in God, it is hidden from the
world. "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him
not" (1 John 3:1). The world, which lieth in the wicked one,
cannot understand nor estimate such a life of separation through
faith in an unseen person, a life which reaches out after an
unseen goal and which spurns worldly honors and the things which
are the boast of the natural man. (Phil. 3:18-19 tells us that
those who mind earthly things, though Christians in profession,
are the enemies of the cross of Christ and that their end will be
destruction. Such is the state of the masses of Christendom
today--minding earthly things; filled with the love of the world
and dead to the spiritual heavenly things.)
     But it will not be always thus. A day is coming when this
life, hidden now, will be fully manifested. "When Christ is
manifested who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with
Him in glory." It will be a manifestation in glory. It comes when
He comes again. "When He shall come to be glorified in His
saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day"
(2 Thes. 1:10). It is not the day when He comes for His saints;
it is the day of His visible manifestation, when all His own
share His glory and come with Him, when He brings His many sons
unto glory. To look constantly in holy anticipation to this
promised glory-event, is inseparably connected with the
statements of the preceding verses. What blessed links these
are:--dead with Christ--risen with Christ--a life hid with Christ
in God--a life to be manifested when He comes again! May God's
people know the reality of all this in power and be kept from a
mere profession, lifeless and powerless, of these fundamental
facts of the gospel.
     Verses 5-11. An exhortation follows to mortify the members
which are upon the earth. And what shameful and shameless things
are mentioned here! "Fornication, uncleanness, inordinate
affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is
idolatry." From this exhortation addressed to those who are
believers, dead and risen with Christ, we learn that the old
nature is not eradicated in the child of God. The believer knows
that the old man is crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), that being
in Christ he is now no longer seen by God as in the flesh; but
the believer also knows that the old nature is still in him. He
finds this out daily "for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit."
The spiritually minded believer acknowledges freely that in his
flesh there dwelleth no good thing, and that in his fallen nature
are all these shameful things and that this old nature is capable
of all of which the apostle writes. On account of these things
the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. "In the
which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them." The
natural man lives in these things; but not so the believer. A
child of God may commit these horrible things of the flesh, but
he no longer lives in them.
     And what is to be done to these members? The translation,
"mortify your members which are on the earth," does not fully
express the original meaning. It does not mean that we are to be
doing it as it is so often attempted by resolutions, fasting and
other exercises, ever trying to fight the flesh and conquer the
evil things of the old nature. We are never told to fight the
flesh, but to flee and abstain from fleshly lusts. Fighting the
flesh, trying to put it to death ourselves leads to defeat. We
cannot do it, but it has been done for us. The old man was put to
death in the cross of Christ; we are now dead to sin--sin is not
to have dominion over us. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to
be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye
should obey it in the lusts thereof" (Rom. 6:11-12). "Mortify
your members" means keep them in the place Of death where they
have been put by the death of Christ. "Let it be as
done"--exercise the power which redemption gives by holding in
the place of death the members which are upon earth. This,
however, is not possible unless the believer walks in the Spirit,
is occupied with Christ and seeks those things which are above.
For this reason the exhortations of verses 5-11 are the result of
doing what the opening verses of this chapter put before us. 
     And there are other things besides the gross things of the
flesh. "Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communications,
lying one to another" are likewise the works of the flesh. They
are to be put off. The same Greek tense, aorist imperative, is
here also employed--"let it be as done"--have it put off, because
grace in redemption has made it possible. No need, therefore, to
tolerate these things any longer in your lives, "seeing that ye
have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new
man which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of Him
that created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew,
circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor
free; but Christ is all, and in all."
     Born again, believers have received a new nature, the nature
from above; and this new man is being renewed in knowledge, not
after the pattern of the first man, Adam, but after the image of
Him, who created him. Christ Himself is the type of the new man;
Christ is the object of the faith and the ambitions of the new
nature in the believer. And in this new man all differences have
ceased, all human distinctions disappear forever. Greek, Jew,
circumcision, uncircumcision, barbarian, and the worst type of
the barbarian, the Scythian, bond and free, are completely
obliterated and gone. Having believed in Christ the new man is
formed in each, and Christ is all as well as in all. He Himself
is everything and all things are found in Him. The new man is
independent of all earthly things and conditions and blessedly
dependent upon Him, who created the new man.
     It is a great truth that Christ is all and also "in all."
The believer must look upon all fellow-believers as being indwelt
by Christ, that He is in all. This brings deliverance from self;
all jealousy, pride and fleshly ambitions will end among the
saints of God if they look upon each other after this manner,
that Christ is in all. Here is comfort and power.
     Verses 12-17. Therefore, as the elect of God, who are the
new man indwelt by Christ and one with Him, holy and beloved, are
exhorted to put on (have it done) the things which manifest
Christ. Bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,
long-suffering. It is the fruit of knowing Christ risen and
seated in glory. His own character is reproduced and Christ is
manifested in the believer's walk.
     "As the elect of God, those who owe everything to His will,
His choice as those set apart to Him, and those upon whom He has
set His love, we are to put on the things which properly
accompany this: 'bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness,
meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another and forgiving
one another.' It is striking how, in all these, there is found
some form of self-denial. Power is shown by competence for
stooping; God turning also the very things that are against us
into the means of educating us in this. Things evil in themselves
may, nevertheless, furnish us with a wholesome discipline for the
way and enable us, in answer, to bring forth fruit which is
according to God. We are to forbear as God has forborne. We are
to forgive as Christ has forgiven us; to all which is to be added
love as that which is the 'bond of perfectness,' which keeps
everything in its place and perfects every detail of life. Think
how the world, even, has to put on the appearance of love, the
more if it has not the reality; but love itself has no need to
put on an appearance. It will manifest itself in harmony in every
tone and gesture. The manifestation of the divine nature has a
unity in it which makes everything to be in harmony. If there is
love in the heart, the words will not be hard or unseemly; their
very tone will be affected" (Numerical Bible).
     "And let the peace of Christ (not 'Peace of God' as in the
Authorized Version) preside in your hearts, to which also ye have
been called in one body, and be thankful." All God's true
children have peace with God and their calling in one body is
also to have the peace of Christ presiding in their hearts. This
blessed heritage (John 14:27) will be enjoyed by all who walk in
the Spirit, who walk in love, obedient to His will and in
unbroken fellowship with Him. The crown and glory of such a walk
is the peace of Christ, the very peace which He possessed while
down here. Blessed, unspeakable privilege!
     Yet how few know this peace of Christ and enjoy it daily! If
Christ is all for the believer and seen as being "in all," in
every member of the body of Christ, then that peace will rule in
the heart and we shall know the comfort and joy of it.
Furthermore the word of Christ is to dwell richly in the
believer's heart in all wisdom. And this word ever directs us to
Himself. It does not teach us self-occupation but occupation with
Himself, His own person and glory. It is through His word that we
learn to know Him better and by which we are kept in His
fellowship. And this again bears the blessed fruits of joy and
praise, as well as spiritual fellowship with the saints.
"Teaching, and admonishing one another; with psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God." And
all the believer does in word or in deed is all to be done in His
own worthy name, "giving thanks to God the Father by Him." The
Lord Jesus is to be in all our thoughts; in every word and in
every deed must be given Him the preeminence.
     "This consciousness of relationship with Christ, in the life
which is of Him in us, applies to everything. Nothing is done
without Him. If He is the life, all which that life does has Him
for its end and object, as far as the heart is concerned. He is
present as that which is the governing motive, and gives its
character to our actions, and which preoccupies our heart in
performing them. Everything relates to Him: we do not eat without
Him (how can we when He is our very life?); we do not drink
without Him; what we say, what we do, is said and done in the
name of the Lord Jesus. There is the sense of His presence; the
consciousness that everything relates to Him, that we can do
nothing--unless carnally--without Him, because the life which we
have of Him acts with Him and in Him, does not separate from Him,
and has Him for its aim in all things, even as water rises to the
height from which it descended. This is what characterizes the
life of the Christian. And what a life! Through Him, dwelling in
the consciousness of divine love, we give thanks to our God and
     Verse 18-4:1. Wives, husbands, children, fathers, servants
and masters are exhorted how to walk in the different
relationships while still in the body. The more complete
exhortations as to husband and wife are found in the Epistle to
the Ephesians (5:22-23); and as to children, fathers, servants
and masters in chapter 6:1-9. The same loving submission of the
wives to their husbands "as is fitting in the Lord" is here
stated once more. And husbands are to love their wives and be not
bitter against them. God has established and sanctioned the
marriage relation; sin has come in and brought its corruption,
never so much in evidence as in our own days. Believers in this
relationship are exhorted to give in it a lovely display of the
union which exists between Christ and the Church. Children in the
believer's family are to be brought up in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and seeing the truth that
"Christ is all" exemplified in the family life they are exhorted
to obey their parents in all things. The disintegration of the
family life is one of the evil things of the closing days of this
     Among the characteristics of "the perilous times" with which
our age closes we find "disobedience to parents" and "without
natural affection" (2 Tim. 3:1-5). And fathers must take heed so
as not to provoke their children to anger by any unjust
treatment, so that the children be not discouraged to obey in all
things. How often a spirit of rebellion is fostered in children
by the treatment of parents, who do not manifest the love of
Christ. But if "Christ is all" in the family life, if the peace
of Christ presides in the hearts, if the Word of Christ dwells
there richly, then love will govern all.
     The servants exhorted were slaves, who had believed and
become in Christ true freedmen. Not a word is said about the
wrong of slavery. Sin is responsible for it. But these Christian
slaves are exhorted to obey their masters according to the flesh
in all things. In serving them, not with eye-service, as
men-pleasers, but in faithfulness, meekness and devotedness they
do it as unto the Lord. The place of honor belonged to these
slaves in Christ, for they could manifest in their low place the
life of Christ, who was here on earth the servant who came not to
be ministered to but to minister; the servant of all. In the
coming day of Christ many of the slaves who believed on Christ
and served in meekness and lowliness will receive a great reward.
     "Two principles act in the heart of the Christian slave: his
conscience in all his conduct is before God; the fear of God
governs him, and not his master's eye. And he is conscious of his
relationship to Christ, of the presence of Christ, which sustains
and lifts him above everything. It is a secret which nothing can
take from him, and which has power over everything, because it is
within and on high--Christ in him, the hope of glory. Yes, how
admirably does the knowledge of Christ exalt everything that it
pervades; and with what consoling power does it descend into all
that is desolate and cast down, all that groans, all that is
humbled in this world of sin!
     "Three times in these two verses, while holding their
conscience in the presence of God, the apostle brings in the
Lord, the Lord Christ, to fill the hearts of these poor slaves,
and make them feel who it was to whom they rendered service. Such
is Christianity" (Synopsis of the Bible).
     And masters are exhorted to render unto the slaves that
which is just and equal. "Knowing that ye also have a Master who
is in heaven." Before that Master, all will have to appear and
there will be no respect of persons.

                    CHAPTER 4

     1. Prayer and ministry (4:2-4)

     2. Walking in wisdom (4:5-6)

     3. The fellowship of the saints in their service (4:7-17)

     4. The conclusion (4:18)

     Verses 2-4. The first verse of this chapter belongs to the
preceding one. Prayer is the most needed thing for those who are
risen with Christ and know that they are complete in Him. Without
continued prayer the full realization of the great truths
unfolded in this Epistle is impossible. Communion with God makes
it all real. "Continue steadfastly in prayer, and watch therein
with thanksgiving." The knowledge of our position in Christ, that
we are in Him and have all in Him teaches us our dependence on
Him. The more we enter into all these things the greater will be
our sense of the need of prayer and real communion with God. The
new man yearns for this. All the exhortations to seek the things
which are above, to set the mind on those things and not on
earthly things, to keep in the place of death the members which
are on the earth, to put on the new man and manifest Christ, are
impossible without prayer. (Those who boast of being complete in
Christ and treat prayer slightingly show thereby how little they
know of the real spiritual meaning of being dead with Christ and
risen with Him.)
     Without continued prayer the reality and power of our
position and blessing in Christ is on the wane and soon lost. It
is through prayer that we lay hold of all; it is the means by
which we enter deeper into His knowledge. Prayer is, therefore,
the greatest need for those who are risen with Christ. And while
we express in this way our utter dependence on Him, conscious of
Himself and our union with Him, He also delights in our
fellowship. We can bring all to Him, "nothing is too small to
enlist His love; nothing too great for His strength, and nothing
too difficult for His wisdom." And there must be perseverance in
it; a broken and interrupted communion soon tells in the life of
the believer. No other way to know and enjoy our portion in
Christ, to advance in it and be victorious in the conflict which
is ours in a world of evil, than continued, steadfast prayer,
communion with God.
     In prayer we are "to watch therein and be thankful"--"Watch
and pray" our Lord said to His disciples in the garden, and while
He prayed more earnestly they slept (Matt. 26:41). And again it
is written, "Be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer" (1
Peter 4:7). Our thoughts wander and our infirmities often become
very evident in the exercise of this blessed privilege. We must
watch before we pray, watch while we pray and watch after we have
prayed, and watch for the answer, not impatiently, but in
child-like faith. The spirit of praise and thanksgiving is needed
for this watching.
     The apostle next requests prayer for himself and the
ministry of the mystery of Christ. "At the same time praying also
for us, that God may open unto us a door of the word, to speak
the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds, that I may
make it manifest as I ought to speak." This blessed man of God
was in the prison. From the Epistle to the Philippians we learned
how unselfish he was. And here is another evidence. He might have
requested united prayer for his deliverance, for divine
interference in his behalf as it happened to Peter when he was
imprisoned; he might have asked the prayers of the saints that
his needs might all be supplied. As risen with Christ he is above
these earthly circumstances. His request is for prayer for the
gospel, the mystery of Christ, so preciously told out in the
first part of this Epistle. God must open the door for this. How
humble and dependent he was! What a contrast with present day
professional evangelism! And for the open door to preach the
gospel; to speak the mystery of Christ effectively, the saints of
God must continue to pray and watch confidently for the answer.
In praying for the Word that it may have free course and be
glorified (2 Thes. 3:1), we can have all boldness and
expectation. Such prayers have God's approval and answer.
     Verses 5-6. Towards those who are without, the unsaved,
believers with the profession of being risen with Christ, for
whom Christ is all, must walk in wisdom. What we are in Christ,
the grace which has saved us, the love of God which is shed
abroad in our hearts must be made known in our intercourse with
those who know not Christ. How great is our failure! And why?
Because we are not constantly occupied with our Lord and our
heavenly position in Him. Lack of real communion with God and
prayer for the gospel, in behalf of the unsaved about us, strips
us of the power to walk in wisdom. "Redeeming the opportunity."
It means to bear witness to those without when the proper time
for it presents itself And when the opportunity comes the word
spoken is to be "always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye
may know how ye ought to answer each one."
     Verses 7-11. The words which follow these exhortations bring
out the fellowship of saints and their different services.
Tychicus is mentioned first. We find his name also in Acts 20:4;
Eph. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:12 and Titus 3:12. With Onesimus he was the
bearer of this Epistle, as well as the Epistle to the Ephesians,
while Onesimus carried also the letter to Philemon. Three things
has Paul to say of Tychicus. He calls him the beloved brother,
well known because he was a faithful minister, who preached
faithfully the gospel and as such he was for the apostle a
fellow-servant in the Lord. He sent him to the Colossians to tell
them about his own state, and that he might know their state and
comfort their hearts.
     "We see how Christian love delights to communicate and to
hear. It was his confidence in their love; and this is shown not
merely in his desire to hear about them, but in the conviction
that they would like to hear about him. Can anything be sweeter
than this genuine simplicity of affection and mutual interest? In
a man it would be vain and curious; it is blessed in a Christian.
No right-minded man, as such, could take for granted that others
would care to know about his affairs any more than he theirs,
unless indeed in case of a relation, or a friend, or a public and
extraordinary personage. But here writes the lowly-minded
apostle, in the full assurance that, though he had never seen
them, or they him, it would be real and mutual gratification to
know about one another from him who went between them. What a
spring of power is the love of Christ! Truly charity is 'the bond
of perfectness.' 'And my state shall Tychicus declare unto you,
who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and
fellow-servant in the Lord; whom I have sent unto you for the
same purpose, that he might know your state, and comfort your
hearts; with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one
of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done
here"' (W. Kelly).
     Onesimus, the once good for nothing slave, the runaway also
is called a faithful and beloved brother. The Epistle to Philemon
will tell us more of this.
     Then there was Aristarchus (Acts 19:29; 20:4) who was a
fellow-prisoner of Paul and also a fellow-worker (Philemon 24).
And how delightful to find Mark here, the sister's own son to
Barnabas. Twelve years before, he left the work (Acts 13:13) and
was the occasion of the deplorable separation between Paul and
Barnabas (Acts 15:26-40). But now he is seen restored. (See also
2 Tim. 4:11.) The third fellow-worker for the kingdom of God, who
was a comfort to the prisoner of the Lord, was Jesus Justus.
These sent their greetings, as also did Epaphras. Him the
Colossians knew well for this servant of Christ was one of them.
He is an example of a praying saint. He continued steadfastly in
prayer for them. He prayed, yea, he agonized (such is the Greek
word) in prayer for the Colossians, that they might stand perfect
and complete in all the will of God. He knew their danger; he had
as a faithful minister communicated some of these things to the
apostle. Knowing the Colossian condition, he prayed fervently.
His ministry was the ministry of prayer. Paul adds his own word
of commendation and approval.
     "For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you,
and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis." Though
the Laodiceans were probably even then drifting into the lukewarm
condition which the Lord from heaven so fully uncovered later
(Rev. 3), this servant of Christ did not stand aside, but had a
prayerful and loving interest in them.
     Luke and Demas sent their greetings. Luke, the beloved
physician, is the inspired author of the Gospel which bears his
name. He also was with Paul in Rome as he was for some time his
travelling companion. What a comfort the beloved physician must
have been to the prisoner of the Lord! Demas is mentioned, but
not a word is said about him. Was even then the evil working in
his heart, which later broke out? No doubt it was. A short time
afterward we read his sad story. "Demas hath forsaken me, having 
loved this present age" (2 Tim. 4:10).
     "Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and
the church which is in his house. And when this Epistle is read
among you, cause that it be also read in the church of the
Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea"
(4:15-16). (This must have been the Epistle to the Ephesians. See
our introduction to Ephesians.)
     One more message is given. "And say to Archippus, take heed
to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou
fulfill it." He probably had become in one of these cities the
instrument for ministry. This he had received from the Lord. He
alone can call into the ministry and bestow gifts. Whatever our
ministry is, faithfulness in the exercise of it is the important
     Verse 18. "The salutation by the hand of me, Paul. Remember
my bonds. Grace be with you." Like other Epistles, except
Galatians (Gal. 6:11) and Philemon (verse 19), this letter was
dictated to an amanuensis. But this closing verse was written
with his own hand. (See also 1 Cor. 16:21; 2 Thes. 3:17.) And
when he added these words the chain was upon his hand. "Remember
my bonds." We may look upon it as a delicate excuse for not
having written the whole letter to the Colossians, whom he knew
not personally. At the same time the mentioning of his bonds were
to remind them that he is the prisoner of the Lord for the
Gentiles (Eph. 3:1). Grace be with you. Blessed be God that His
Grace will always be with His people.

Return to Top