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A. D. 63. He gives some particular, and then some general exhortations; he commends their christian liberality, and affectionately salutes them.
of more privileges than most of them as to the flesh; and he could add what made him once more respected among his unbelieving brethren, that he had persecuted the church of Christ. But how did he now view the things of which he once made his boast! They were worth less and even vile in comparison with Christ. The knowledge of Christ, of his love and grace, made his Jewish privileges of no esteem. He knew that believers were the true circumcision, worshipping acceptably the Father, and rejoicing in Christ Jesus. Thus do all believers renounce and forsake all other grounds of dependence, hope, and comfort, but Christ; and having tasted that the Lord is gracious, and knowing that in him is their righteousness, strength, and salvation, they glory in him as their Lord and their all.
2. We learn that the most eminent saints are in this life but imperfect. Paul had not attained that holiness, and that perfection of knowledge, and other graces, after which he so eagerly panted. He had indeed made advances in the divine life far beyond most of his brethren; and to what an eminent degree had his faith, hope, love, and zeal reached! If after all he forgot the things behind and reached forward to those before him, what should we do, who in comparison with him are but babes in Christ? How ardently desirous ought we then to be to attain such a knowledge of Christ, as shall derive virtue from his death and resurrection, so as to make us conformable to both, by dying unto sin, and living unto God? How ought we to press towards the mark for the prize of our high calling?
What christians should mind.
giving. And the peace of God, which passeth 7 all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, 8 whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are grave, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those 9 things, which which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now 10 at length your care of me hath revived; wherein ye wherein ye were careful also before, but wanted opportunity. Not that I speak in re- 11 spect of want: for I have learned, in what
Syntyche, &c.- -Book of life. See Malachi, iii. 16, 17.
4-7. Rejoice in, &c. Ch. iii. 1.– -Gentleness. Be meek and humble under all your trials, as the Lord is near. -Peace of God, &c. A sense of reconciliation with him, and the animating hope of the everlasting enjoyment
In a word we should never be satisfied until we have attained that perfection in knowledge, grace, and holiness, in a better world, which Christ designed for his people, when he laid hold on, and first apprehended them by his word and Spirit.
3. We learn what is our duty according to our attainments; and while encouraged by the holy example of some, we ought carefully to avoid the sinful conduct of others. If we have attained the lowest degree of perfection in the divine life, and in christian knowledge and grace, let us walk by the same holy rule, even that of the written word. Let us mark how the apostle lived and adorned the gospel which he preached. Let us consider his humility, meekness, patience, goodness, charity, prudence, courage, and zeal; and particularly his spirituality and heavenly mindedness! Let us imitate his virtues and usefulness, while we detest and avoid the example of such as prove by their conduct, themselves to be the enemies of Christ, being given up to intemperance, or to covetousness, and for whom remains only destruetion. While such men think gain to be godliness, let us remember, that our citizenship is in heaven, whence we ought to be looking for the Saviour; though it is most probable that before that event, our bodies, vile by sin, will be dissolved in the dust, yet he will revive them and change them, and make them like his own glorious and immortal body. And how firm should be our hope of this from that power of which he is now possessed; for he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Hence let us stand fast in the Lord.
of his favour, will inspire an inconceivable pleasure, and will keep your hearts and minds stedfast in the faith through Christ.
8-9. Things are true, &c. How comprehensive this summary of christian morals; and he adds, if there be any other virtue, or thing worthy of praise, think on these things.
10-13. Hath revived. By your sending a supply for my need. Paul happily brought his mind to his circumstances; and however various these were, he was content. He tells them the ground of it, "through Christ strengthening him." Griesbach omits Christ; but his authorities for it do not satisfy me. I have therefore retained it.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER IV. 1. We should affectionately remember those engaged in the same holy cause as ourselves, and show all suitable respect to them, for their works' sake. Paul not only noticed the ministers of the gospel, but even those pious women who did in any way assist him and others. They might labour with him in the service of the gospel, by their prayers, by instructing, and faithfully admonishing those of their own sex, with whom they had familiar intercourse, and especially young women. They might also promote the cause of Christ by their charity, visiting the poor, the sick, and adorning by their meekness, condescension, and holy conduct, the gospel of Christ. Let ministers respect all such, and help and encourage them; and all faithful labourers rejoice that their names are in the book of life. Let them live in expectation of the coming of their Lord; and while they are subject to trials and various wants, let them humbly, but confidently, make known their requests unto God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
2. We are reminded how anxious we should be, not only to hold fast the doctrines of grace, but to adorn our profession by the cultivation and practice of all the christian virtues and graces. Whatsoever is true in words and deeds; grave venerable and far removed from sinful levity; whatsoever things are just, giving to all their due, to individuals, due respect and honour, according to the station they occupy, and in our worldly transactions, strictly maintaining the principle of doing to another as we expect him to do to us; whatsoever
14-16. My affliction, &c. My present distress; and to your honour it may be mentioned, that formerly you only among all the churches in Macedonia, showed a liberal spirit towards me.
17-20. Fruit that may, &c. Christian kindness and liberality is fruit
VOL. III. PART XXIII.
justly commended. But I have every thing, and abound: I am 18 full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, an acceptable sacrifice, wellpleasing to God. And my God shall supply 19 all your wants according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus. Now unto our God and 20 Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The 21 brethren who are with me salute you. All 22 the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Cæsar's household. The grace of our Lord 23 Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus.
things are pure, not indulging even the thought of violating the laws of sobriety and chastity, but maintaining a mind and conscience void of offence; whatsoever things are lovely, and of good report among men, such as prudence, moderation, meekness, patience, benevolence; of all these things let christians think, and meditate, and by the display of these virtues in some high degree, let them commend their religion to men. And while thus honouring God, they may hope for his presence with them.
3. We are taught by the example of the apostle, to acknowledge the kindness of friends with gratitude. In regard to temporal things, Paul experienced constant changes, being instructed by experience what it was to be full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer want. Jn all situations he had learnt submission and contentment ; and he could cheerfully do and endure any thing through Christ strengthening him. While he commends the liberal spirit of his converts at Philippi, he rejoices, not so much for the benefit and help afforded himself, as that fruit might abound to their account; and having received what they had sent by Epaphroditus, he considered this as a sacrifice acceptable and well-pleasing to God. In return for their christian affection and esteem, he pours out his heart, and assures them, that the God he served would supply all their wants by Christ Jesus. Let christians learn to show brotherly kindness, and confidently expect the fulfilment of God's promises, and especially that made to Joshua, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
which will be rewarded; and I can assure you, that as ye have abounded in kindness, God will abound towards you, to whom be glory for ever.
22. Cæsar's household. Some of Nero's domestics, courtiers, or even of his own family, had embraced the gospel.
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE
THIS Epistle appears to have been written at the same time with that to the Ephesians, and sent by the same persons. They seem to have borne a honourable character for piety and zeal; but from the cautions given, were in danger of being drawn aside by the subtleties of some heathen philosophers, and the arts of some Jewish christians, who maintained the necessity of observing their rites. Hence the great design of the apostle was to excite them to a behaviour worthy of the gospel, and to guard them against the seductive arts of its real enemies.
A. D. 63. Paul thanks God for their faith, and prays for their growth in grace; he describes the person and deity of Christ, and commends his own ministry.
PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will 2 of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colosse: Grace and peace be to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (praying always for 4 you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ 5 Jesus, and of your love to all the saints,) Belove to all the saints,) Because of the hope which is laid up for you in in heaven, of which ye have heard before in the have heard before in the 6 true word of the gospel; Which is come to you, as it is into all the world: and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard it, and knew the grace of God
CHAP. I. 3-9. Give thinks, &c. The apostle having begun to state his unfeigned gratitude, and the reason of it, goes off, and parenthetically notices his praying for them, since he had heard of their faith in Christ and love to the saints. His thanks arose from the assurance that they as believers were made heirs of the hope of eternal life promised in the gospel, which had in the providence of God come to them, and been made effectual to their conversion by the ministry of Epaphras.- -Grace of God in truth. The grace of God as manifest in the gospel, truly and really. Your love in spirit. I consider in spirit to be used for their own mind or heart. Pierce renders, "hath declared your love in spirit towards us."
9-11. May be filled, &c. More abundantly with the knowledge of God's will as to the way of salvation by Christ; being enabled to walk in a holy and suitable manner, and being supported under any trials which you may experience.
in truth: As ye learned from Epaphras our 7 beloved fellow-servant, who is to you a faithful minister of Christ; Who hath also declared 8 to us your love in spirit.
For this cause we also, since the day we 9 heard it, cease not to pray for you, and to desire that ye may have a full knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding; That ye may walk worthy of the Lord as to 10 all that is well-pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, ac- 11 cording to his glorious power, unto all patience and joyful and joyful long-suffering. We give thanks 12 also to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; Who hath delivered us from the 13 power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son; By whom 14
12. We give thanks, &c. As the former verses contain the requests of the apostle, and this begins his thanksgiving, I think we should consider it as the commencement of a new period.Meet to be, &c. Or fit for a portion of, or in the inheritance which saints in glory enjoy; and this meetness consists in what he has wrought in us and for us.
13. Power of darkness. The rule and dominion of Satan, and the power of our own dark and sinful state. See Luke xxii. 53; Eph. vi. 12.—King. dom of, &c. Brought us under his authority by the gospel, to whom we, as believers, are now subject.
14. Through his blood. Judging from the authorities, these words should be omitted; yet as all the copies have them, Eph. i. 7, I see no reason to think that they are interpolated; and if Paul wrote this epistle immediately after that, from the law of association we may expect the same sentiments and even words to occur. See Paley's Horæ Pauline.
Christ the creator, &c..
we have redemption, through his blood, the 15 forgiveness of sins; Who is the image of the invisible God, begotten before any creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things 17 were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things 18 consist. And he is the head of his body, the church who is the chief, the first-born from the dead, that in all respects he might have 19 pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that 20 in him should all the fulness dwell; And by him to reconcile all things to himself, making peace by the blood of his cross; by him, I say,
15. Begotten before, &c. The Greek fathers understood #gwrtaxos in this sense, See Suicer: and that wr; is used adverbially, see John i. 15, 30. The term is rendered, first-begotten, Hebr. i 6.; and it is properly rendered, as it cannot refer to his birth. If we give this sense, it must refer, according to the well-known idiom, to his being head and Lord of all things; but as this is doubtful, unless when applied to Christ as related to his people, (see Rom. viii. 29,) I prefer the sense given, as it is supported and confirmed by the no Tw of the 17th verse. I understand his being the image of the invisible God, and begotten before any creature, as expressing his personal glory as manifested to men and angels, (Hebr. i. 1—3,) and his eternal existence, as what existed before any creature must be eternal.
16. By him were, &c. Some understand that the Father created all things by the Son as his instrument; but supposing the Son a creature, however exalted, he was no more the creator than the rod in the hand of Moses was the efficient cause of the miracles wrought in Egypt. That denotes here the efficient and final cause is evident by the close of the verse d'auto. See John i. 3, and Schleusner 16. That the apostle describes here the creation of all things, properly so called, is certain, if words can make such a thing certain ; and nothing is more forced than to refer the passage to the constitution of the gospel church. The whole universe, with all the beings contained in it, is evidently intended.
17. By him all things consist. As Paul expresses it, Hebr. i.3, “upholding all things by the word of his power;" which is as much an act of omnipotence as creation.
18. And He is the head, &c. And he who is the creator and upholder of all things, is also the head of the church, as the incarnate Redeemer and Saviour. The beginning. Either the first cause, or beginning of the church, which began immediately after the fall, by the promise of the Saviour; or else, "the first-fruits," as a few uss. read, 1 Cor. xv. 20.; and then what follows will be explanatory. Sometimes the term agy denotes dominion, authority, &c. but as this is expressed in the first clause, I incline to the sense last given. First-born from, &c. There is manifestly a difference both in the language and construction here, from verse 15. There he is said to be BLWTOTOKOS NAONG XTisiws, “the first-begotten, or begotten before any creature ;" but here, aguroTOMOS EX TWv vexgwv, the first-begotten from the dead; not from death, but from the dead, being joined with the dead as one of them. Surely no accurate writer would express the latter sense in the language used, verse 15. In all respects. Others render, "among all," understanding his brethren, as Rom. viii. 29. I prefer the sense given, as it applies to his greatness and glory, as the foundation of the church, and as the risen Mediator.
19. Ali fulness, &c. The Armenian version, a manuscript of the old Italic, z z 3
Believers reconciled. whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven. And you, who were formerly aliena- 21 ted and enemies in your mind by wicked works, he hath now indeed reconciled, By his fleshly 22 body, through his death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: Since ye continue grounded and sted- 23 fast in the faith, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature that is under heaven; of which I Paul have been made a minister.
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and 24: fill up what remaineth to me of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church: Of which I have been 25
one of the Vulgate, and a few Latin fathers read here, Torns, as Ch. ii. 9, which at least shows the sense in which they understood the passage. -For it pleased the Father. Instead of supplying the Father, some would render "For in him all fulness pleased to dwell." In this case "all fulness" must be regarded as a periphrasis for Deity or Divinity; and admitting this, how wil it agree with what follows? The pronoun, avros, requires a masculine noun as' its antecedent. With our translators, I consider navng as understood; and the whole context and the general doctrine of the New Testament support this insertion. Castelio, Beza, and others, supplying as I have done, render, “For it pleased the Father by him to inhabit all the fulness;" understanding by "all the fulness," the church, as Eph. i. 23. If there were any peculiar reasons for this construction it might be admitted; but critical candour must allow that the common construction is more used. And as to the sense it agrees with Ch. ii. 9. By the fulness I understand such perfection and power; as qualified him for his office of Mediator. Having mentioned his resurrection (which implied his death) as one thing in which he had pre-eminence, he here states the reason and ground of it. For it seemed good, it was fit and proper, it pleased God that in him, in his human nature, all the fulness of per fection should dwell, that he might be the visible image of the invisible God, and appear as the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express likeness of his person or substance. Heb. i. 3, and 2 Cor. v. 19. 20. And by him, &c. Might bring into a state of friendship and harmony, "making peace by the blood of his cross," by which the typical and ceremonial law was fulfilled and abolished, and the cause of enmity between Jew and Gentile removed.- -By him I say, whether, &c. By things in hea. ven some understand the saints departed, and by those on earth, such as then did, or should hereafter, live. Others consider holy angels to be meant, who, as being faithful servants to God, could not be in friendship with rebellious men, until these were reconciled. Our Lord, by his mediation, has reconciled and united in himself men of every nation and condition, that believe in him, and has become the head and Lord of angels, to whom they are subject and pay homage and worship. Comp. Eph. i. 10. Matt. xxviii. 18. Heb. i. 14.
21-23. By his fleshly body, &c. By his offering up himself on the crossas a sin-atoning victim, to redeem you from your guilt and your sinful state of mind, and finally to present you to himself holy, &c, and of this I am assured, since ye continue, &c. For the sense given to uyt, Peirce observes, that it has often this signification; and that the apostle, had he only meant the conditional sense, would have made use of the verb in the future, and not in the aorist teuse. Whitby en Eph. iii. 2, has fully proved this sense from Philo See his excellent note.
24-22. Afflictions of Christ, &c. Aflictions endured for his sake, and 363
The design of the ministry.
made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which hath been given me towards you, that I may fully preach the word of 26 God; Even the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generations, but 27 now is made manifest to his saints; To whom God would make known what are the glorious riches of this mystery, which in respect to the Gentiles, is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, admonishing every man, and teaching every man with all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 For which I labour also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me with mighty power.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER 1. 1. What holy joy does a genuine christian feel when he hears of the success of the blessed gospel, and especially a zealous and faithful minister of the word! Paul had heard, by Epaphras, of the faith of the Colossians, and of their love to one another, and to all the saints, and with other brethren, gave thanks to God for the good work wrought in them. What should particularly affect us is, the blessedness laid up in heaven for all believers, which is now the object of their hope, and of which they have heard by the gospel, the true word of God. And it should be our care to cherish this hope, as a holy principle of purity and obedience, and see to it, that the gospel produce fruit corresponding to the grace of God, which it reveals. What a privilege is it to know the grace of God in truth; to know it experimentally, in the forgiveness of our sins, the acceptance and renovation of our persons; and as the source of all the good we hope for ever to enjoy.
2. While thankful for what God has wrought in us, we should ardently desire to be filled with the knowledge of his will, so far as he has been pleased to reveal it, that we may possess spiritual wisdom and understanding. Let us not abide children in knowledge, but go on and increase more and more. And ever let us remember that the great design of divine knowledge is, to direct and regulate our practice; and that we should aim to walk worthy of the Lord, whose name we bear, and in whom we profess to trust, being fruitful in every good work. To attain these valuable ends, let us pray for the exertions of God's glorious and mighty power, by which our souls may not only be established in all patience, long-suffering, but inspired with holy joy, while we give thanks to the Father, for having, in some degree, made us
in some respects like those which he suffered. Fully preach. See Rom. xv. 19, where the verb is thus rendered.-Is Christ in you, &c. Made known to you, and believed in as a Saviour, and who is the ground of your hope of future glory; and he is the subject of our preaching and labours among all men, whom we affectionately warn and instruct that they may be saved.
CHAP. II. 1. Have not seen my face, &c. What a holy zeal does this manifest in the cause of Christ, and how anxious was he to see and aid its prosperity.
2. God and Father, and, &c. Griesbach rejects these words; but it must
Paul's prayer for them.
A. D. 63. He exhorteth them to perseverance, to beware of philosophy and vain traditions, the worshipping of angels, and the observance of legal rites, &c.
FOR I desire you to know what a great con- 1 flict I have for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts may be com- 2 forted, being knit together in love, and to the richest and fullest understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hidden 3 all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say, lest any man should beguile 4 you with enticing words. For though I be 5
meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. This is the end he designed, when he delivered us from the power of darkness, from sin, guilt, and hell, and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, who has redeemed us by his blood, and in whom we find forgiveness and acceptance.
3. Let us learn to entertain high and suitable opinions of the glorious person of our Lord. Though he appeared in this world in the fashion of a man, and was really such; yet he was possessed of the divine nature, and in this nature existed before any creature. He that was before all things, and by whom all things consist, must be God; for these are properties which can only belong to him. Let us then adore him as a divine person, by whom all things were created that are in heaven, and that are on earth; not excepting the highest orders of angels, by whatsoever name, powers, or attributes they are distinguished. O let us give him the glory due to his name, and honour him as one with the Father; as the glorious image of the invisible God; and as the ever powerful and ever living head of the church, which he has redeemed by his blood.
4. With gratitude let us reflect on the effects of his mediation. It is by him that God is reconciled to us, and that we become reconciled to one another and to God. The blood of his cross hath made peace between every believing Jew and Gentile: between heaven and earth. How animating is it, when we know that we ourselves, who were alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works, ase now changed, and brought into a state of peace. And how solicitous should we be to follow the example of the Colossians, by continuing grounded and stedfast in the faith, and not moved away from the hope
be admitted that his authorities are few, and of little value. The variations in some of the mss. and versions probably induced him to consider them a gloss. The authorities for omitting xa after God are more respectable than those for omitting the words altogether. The mystery is explained, Eph. iii. 6, &c.; but it may include the whole gospel and its dispensation.
3. In whom are hidden, &c. Or, laid up all the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge, and not in angels, or in the reveries of vain philosophy. 4-7. Now I say this, &c. As I know the errors of many designing men, I do most affectionately warn you to guard against them.