Colossians 4:17
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Say to Archippus.—Archippus is included in the salutation of the Epistle to Philemon (Philemon 1:1) apparently as a member of his family, and is generally thought to have been his son. He held a “ministry in the Church. The word is the same as the word “diaconate,” but it is obviously used in a more general sense, precisely as in the charge to Timothy (2Timothy 4:5), “Make full proof of thy ministry; “and the whole tone of the passage here suggests that, like Timothy’s, it was a ministry of some prominence in the Church. Tradition makes him afterwards a bishop of Laodicea; it is likely enough that he had that leadership among the presbyters, from which the episcopate was developed at the close of the Apostolic period. Whether this was at Colossæ—his father’s native place—or Laodicea, cannot be gathered with any certainty from the context. The exhortation comes in close connection with Laodicea; yet, on the other hand, it seems strange to send through one church a message to a chief pastor of another. In any case this indirect transmission of a charge is curious, standing in marked contrast with the direct personal addresses of the Philippian Epistle (Philippians 4:2-3).

Which thou hast received in the Lord.—Properly, which thou dost receive. The probability seems to be that he received it from St. Paul, or perhaps Epaphras. The phrase is “in the Lord,” not “from the Lord.” Contrast Galatians 1:12, “I received it not from man, neither was I taught but by revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Colossians 4:17-18. Say to Archippus — It is generally supposed that the person here mentioned was the Archippus spoken of Philemon 1:2, where he is called Paul’s fellow-labourer and fellow-soldier. It seems he was one of the pastors of the church at Colosse; and many think that he had failed in the duties of his office, and that the apostle, in what he here says, ordered the Colossians to rebuke him publicly for his negligence: but others, perhaps with more truth, and certainly with more charity, as Macknight observes, “are of opinion that the apostle, in this direction, meant that the Colossians should encourage Archippus to diligence, because the false teachers at Colosse were very active in spreading their errors. And their opinion derives probability from the respectful manner in which Archippus is addressed in the epistle to Philemon, which was written about this time, and sent with the epistle to the Colossians.” Take heed — It is the duty of the flock to try them that say they are apostles; to reject the false; and to warn, as well as to receive, the true; to the ministry — Not a lordship, but

διακονια, a service, a laborious and painful work; an obligation to do and suffer all things; to be the least, and the servant of all; which thou hast received in the Lord — Christ, by his appointment; by whom, and for whose sake, his servants receive the various gifts of the Holy Spirit; that thou fulfil it — Properly; that thou faithfully discharge all the duties of it with diligence and care; for the consequence of neglecting any of them. after having solemnly undertaken to fulfil them, will be infinitely dangerous and fatal. A necessary and important caution this to all ministers of the gospel! The salutation by the hand of me Paul — Which I add as a token of the genuineness of this epistle. Remember my bonds — See an account of the manner of the apostle’s confinement at Rome, in the notes on Acts 28:16; Ephesians 6:20. The apostle’s having suffered now almost four years’ imprisonment for the gospel, and in the course of that time many hardships and dangers, was such a demonstration of his certain knowledge of the truth and importance, yea, and necessity of the gospel to the salvation of mankind, as could not fail to confirm the faith of the Colossians, and of all the Gentiles who were informed of these his sufferings. This probably is the reason that, notwithstanding he had mentioned his bonds twice before in this letter, he brings the subject in a third time here at the conclusion. 4:10-18 Paul had differed with Barnabas, on the account of this Mark, yet he is not only reconciled, but recommends him to the churches; an example of a truly Christian and forgiving spirit. If men have been guilty of a fault, it must not always be remembered against them. We must forget as well as forgive. The apostle had comfort in the communion of saints and ministers. One is his fellow-servant, another his fellow-prisoner, and all his fellow-workers, working out their own salvation, and endeavouring to promote the salvation of others. The effectual, fervent prayer is the prevailing prayer, and availeth much. The smiles, flatteries, or frowns of the world, the spirit of error, or the working of self-love, leads many to a way of preaching and living which comes far short of fulfilling their ministry. But those who preach the same doctrine as Paul, and follow his example, may expect the Divine favour and blessing.And say to Archippus - Archippus is mentioned also in Plm 1:2. He is not elsewhere referred to in the New Testament, and nothing further is known of him.

Take heed to the ministry ... - The Greek here is, τὴν διακονίαν tēn diakonian - meaning the office of ministering in divine things; but it is not certain precisely what office he held there. It seems probable from the language which the apostle applies to him - "the ministry" - (compare Acts 1:17, Acts 1:25; Acts 6:4; Acts 20:24; Acts 21:19; Romans 11:13; 1 Corinthians 12:5; 2 Corinthians 3:7-9; 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 6:3; Ephesians 4:12), that he was not a deacon, properly so called, but that he was a preacher of the word. In Plm 1:2, he is mentioned by Paul as his "fellow-soldier," and it is evident that the apostle meant to speak of him with honor. There is no evidence, as has been supposed by some, that he intended to imply, by what he said, that he had been remiss in the performance of his duties, but the apostle doubtless meant to encourage him and to excite him to increased ardor and zeal in the work of the Lord; compare the notes at Acts 20:28. It is always proper to caution even the most faithful and self-denying servants of the Lord to "take heed," or see to it, that they perform their duties with fidelity. The office of the ministry is such, and the temptations to unfaithfulness are so great, that we need constant watchfulness.

That thou fulfil it - That there be nothing wanting, or lacking, in any of the departments of labor which you are called to perform.

17. say to Archippus—The Colossians (not merely the clergy, but the laymen) are directed, "Speak ye to Archippus." This proves that Scripture belongs to the laity as well as the clergy; and that laymen may profitably admonish the clergy in particular cases when they do so in meekness. Bengel suggests that Archippus was perhaps prevented from going to the Church assembly by weak health or age. The word, "fulfil," accords with his ministry being near its close (Col 1:25; compare Phm 2). However, "fulfil" may mean, as in 2Ti 4:5, "make full proof of thy ministry." "Give all diligence to follow it out fully"; a monition perhaps needed by Archippus.

in the Lord—The element in which every work of the Christian, and especially the Christian minister, is to be done (Col 4:7; 1Co 7:39; Php 4:2).

He also enjoins them to advise or advertise Archippus, whom he doth elsewhere call his fellow soldier, i.e. minister in the gospel, Philemon 1:2, on his and Timothy’s behalf, to see to, or be mindful of, the nature of that excellent ministry he had undertaken, Romans 11:13 Ephesians 3:7 1 Timothy 4:6; yea, and to be more heedful, Acts 20:28,29 1 Peter 5:1,2, considering the authority of the Lord Jesus, in whose name he had been called to it, and intrusted with it, Matthew 9:38 Philippians 1:17 1 Timothy 5:1,21; having been colleague to Epaphras, or in his absence newly received into this sacred charge, to encourage him to a faithful discharge of his duty therein, to fill up all the parts of his office, and leave none of them unperformed: see Colossians 1:25 1 Corinthians 9:16,17 1 Timothy 4:16, with 2 Timothy 4:5. And say to Archippus,.... A name common among the Grecians. This person the apostle calls his fellow soldier, in Plm 1:2 and who was now the minister of the Gospel at Colosse, his fellow minister, or co-pastor Epaphras, being at Rome, and a prisoner there; though by some he is said to be the first bishop of the Laodiceans, but it seems most likely that he now resided at Colosse, and was their minister: who being negligent in his office, they are called upon to say unto him,

take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord,

that thou fulfil it. The "ministry" he had, was not that of the office of a deacon, as some have thought, but of a preacher of the word; and this he had "received" gifts for, and was called unto it, and installed in it; and that "in", and "by the Lord" himself, and to whom he was accountable for it: and therefore it was incumbent on him to "fulfil it"; by constantly preaching the word, and faithfully administering the ordinances; by defending truth, detecting error, reproving vice, visiting the sick, and comforting the feeble minded; taking heed in all things to himself and doctrine, that he feed the whole flock of God with wholesome food; and, as a wise and faithful steward, give to everyone their portion of meat in due season: hence it appears, that when ministers are negligent in the discharge of their duty, the church has a power to admonish and exhort them to a diligent performance of it.

And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 4:17. The particular circumstances which lay at the root of this emphatic admonitory utterance[184] cannot be ascertained, nor do we even know whether the διακονία is to be understood in the narrower sense of the office of deacon (Primasius), or of any other office relating to the church (possibly the office of presbyter), or of the calling of an evangelist, or of some individual business relating to the service of the church. We cannot gather from ἐν κυρίῳ any more precise definition of the Christian διακονία. Ewald conjectures that Archippus was a still younger man (Bengel holds him to have been sick or weak through age), an overseer of the church, who had been during the absence of Epaphras too indulgent towards the false teachers. Even Fathers like Jerome and the older expositors regard him as bishop (so also Döllinger, Christenthum u. Kirche, ed. 2, p. 308), or as substitute for the bishop during the absence of Epaphras (similarly Bleek), whose successor he had also become (Cornelius a Lapide and Estius). Comp. further as to this Colossian,[185] on Philemon 1:2.

The special motive for this precise form of reminding him of his duty is not clear.[186] But what merits attention is the relation of disciplinary admonitive authority, in which, according to these words, the church stood to the office-bearers, and which should here be the less called in question with Hofmann, since Paul in the letter to Philemon addressed jointly to Archippus would doubtless himself have given the admonition, if he had not conceded and recognised in the church that authority of which he invokes the exercise—and that even in the case, which cannot be proved, of the διακονία having been the service of an evangelist. The expedient to which Oecumenius and others have recourse can only be looked upon as flowing from the later hierarchical feeling: ἵνα ὅταν ἐπιτιμᾶ Ἄρχιππος αὐτοῖς, μὴ ἔχωσιν ἐγκαλεῖν ἐκείνῳ ὡς πικρῷἐπεὶ ἄλλως ἄτοπον τοῖς μαθηταῖς περὶ τοῦ διδασκάλου διαλέγεσθαι (Theophylact).

βλέπε κ. τ. λ.] Grotius, Wolf, Flatt, Bähr, and many, take the construction to be: βλέπε, ἵνα τὴν διακ. ἣν παρέλ. ἐν κυρ., πληροῖς, from which arbitrary view the very αὐτήν should have precluded them. The words are not to be taken otherwise than as they stand: Look to the service (have it in thy view), which thou hast undertaken in the Lord, in order that thou mayest fulfil it, mayest meet its obligations; ἵνα αὐτ. πληρ. is the purpose, which is to be present in the βλέπειν τ. διακ, κ.τ.λ. Comp. 2 John 1:8. On πληροῖς, comp. Acts 12:25; 1Ma 2:55; Liban. Ep. 359; Philo, in Flacc. p. 988: τὴν διακονίαν ἐκπλήσαντες.

ἐν κυρίῳ] not: from the Lord (Bähr); not: for the sake of the Lord (Flatt); not: secundum Domini praecepta (Grotius). Christ, who is served by the διακονία (1 Corinthians 12:5), is conceived as the sphere, in which the act of the παραλαμβάνειν τὴν διακονίαν is accomplished objectively, as well as in the consciousness of the person concerned; he is in that act not out of Christ, but living and acting in Him. The ἐν κυρ. conveys the element of holy obligation. The less reason is there for joining it, with Grotius, Steiger, and Dalmer, to the following ἵνα αὐτ. πληρ.

[184] Bengel: “vos meis verbis dicite tanquam testes. Hoc magis movebat, quam si ipsum Archippum appellaret.”

[185] Theodoret already with reason declares himself against the opinion that Archippus had been a Laodicean teacher (so Theodore of Mopsuestia, Michaelis, and Storr), just as the Constitt. apost. vii. 46. 2 make him appointed by Paul as bishop of Laodicea. Recently it has been defended by Wieseler, Chronol. des apost. Zeitalt. p. 452, and Laurent in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1866, p. 130, arguing that, if Archippus had been a Colossian, it is not easy to see why Paul, in ver. 17, makes him he admonished by others; and also that ver. 17 is joined by καί to ver. 15 f., where the Laodiceans are spoken of. But the form of exhortation in ver. 17 has a motive not known to us at all; and the reason based on καί in ver. 17 would only be relevant in the event of ver. 17 following immediately after ver. 15. Lastly, we should expect, after the analogy of ver. 15, that if Archippus had not dwelt in Colossae, Paul would have caused a salutation to be sent to him as to Nymphas. Besides, it would be altogether very surprising that Paul should have conveyed the warning admonition to Archippus through a strange church, the more especially when he had written at the same time to himself jointly addressed with Philemon (Philemon 1:2).

[186] Hitzig, p. 31 (who holds also vv. 9, 15, 16 to be not genuine), gives it as his opinion that Archippus is indebted for this exhortation, not to the apostle, but to the manipulator, who knew the man indeed from Philemon 1:2, but probably had in his mind the Flavius Archippus, well known from Plin. Ep. x. 66–68, and the proconsul Paulus, when he adjusted for himself the relation between the Apostle Paul and his fellow-warrior Archippus (Philemon 1:2). I do not understand how any one could ascribe even to an interpolator so singular an anachronistic confusion of persons. Yet Holtzmann finds the grounds of Hitzig so cogent, that he ultimately regards vv. 15–17 as the rivet, “by means of which the Auctor ad Ephesios has made a connected triad out of his own work, the interpolated Colossian epistle, and the letter to Philemon.”Colossians 4:17. Archippus may have been at Laodicea, but more probably not, for we should have expected the reference to him in Colossians 4:15. The Church is entrusted with the duty of exhorting one of its ministers. There is no need to infer any slackness on his part.—ἐν Κυρίῳ is added to emphasise its importance, and the need that it should be zealously fulfilled.17. say to Archippus] Probably the son of Philemon (cp. Philemon 1:2, and notes, and Lightfoot, Colossians &c., pp. 374, 5). He was apparently an ordained minister in the mission-church, either at Colossæ or (less probably, surely; see on Philemon 1:2) at Laodicea. St Paul, perhaps, had misgivings about his zeal and care, and, without saying as much, aims here at his conscience through his flock. Or, quite possibly, Archippus had been appointed to take the place of Epaphras when Epaphras left for Rome; and this warning bears only on the thought that his work was just beginning. See further below, p. 152.—In those simple days such an appeal through the people to the pastor was easy; “lordship over God’s heritage” (1 Peter 5:3) was no part of the Apostles’ programme of the pastorate.

the ministry] Diaconia; Latin Versions, ministerium. The word in itself has no necessary reference to an ordained “ministry.” But the context here makes such a reference at least highly probable; Archippus evidently stood out as a “worker” in a sense quite special and deeply sacred. On the other hand, the reference is probably not to the “diaconate” (Php 1:2; 1 Timothy 3:8, &c.) specially. In Laodicea, as in Philippi, there might well be more than one “deacon.” And the deacon’s office, while sacred and important, was scarcely such as to occasion this solemnity of appeal. Archippus, we believe, was (at least for the time) the chief “pastor and teacher” (Ephesians 4:12) of Colossæ.

which thou hast received] Lit. and better, didst receive. Cp. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5. And for St Paul’s own “reception of ministry,” and his ideal of it, see Acts 20:24.

in the Lord] Pregnant words. It was only as a man in union with Christ that he had “received,” and could “fulfil,” his ministry.

fulfil it] Lit., fill it full; so that his “works should be found filled before God” (Revelation 3:2). No duty of his ministry was to be ignored; he was to “take heed to himself, his doctrine, and his flock” (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:16).—“A minister of Christ is often in highest honour with men for the performance of one half of his work, while God is regarding him with displeasure for the neglect of the other half” (R. Cecil, quoted by Abp Trench, on Revelation 3:2).Colossians 4:17. Εἴπατε, say) Speak ye, in my name, as witnesses. This was more affecting than if he had addressed Archippus himself. And perhaps Archippus, a minister, was prevented from going to the public assembly by weak health or old age. For that he was near the end of his career, may be inferred from the word fulfil, Philemon 1:2. Moreover it is not the different overseers of the Church, but the Church itself, which is commanded to speak to Archippus. Therefore the epistle was directed to the Church, although its subject is very sublime. [Why then are laymen, as they are called, to be prevented from reading the Scriptures?—V. g.]—ἣν παρέλαβες, which thou hast received) by a mediate calling [i.e. through the mediate instrumentality of men, who ordained him]; for there does not follow, from the Lord, but in the Lord.Verse 17. - And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou receivedst in (the) Lord, that thou fulfil it (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 1:18, 19; 1 Timothy 4:6, 11-16; 1 Timothy 6:13, 14, 20, 21; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 4:5). From the connection of this verse with the two preceding, it seems likely that "the ministry" of Archippus related to the Laodicean Church. Hence he is not addressed directly. If he was, as we gather from Philemon 1, 2, the son of Philemon, whose house formed a centre for the Colossian Church (Philemon 1:2), the warning would be suitably conveyed through this channel. In the letter to Philemon, the apostle calls him his" fellow soldier" (comp. Colossians 4:10; Philippians 1:29, 30). Both from this fact, and from the emphasis of the words before us, it would appear that his office was an important one, probably that of chief pastor. This warning addressed so early to the minister of the Laodicean Church is premonitory of the lapsed condition in which it is afterwards found (Revelation 3:14-22); see Lightfoot, pp. 42, 43. (For "ministry" (διακονία), comp. Colossians 1:7, 23; 1 Corinthians 4:1, etc. For "received," comp. note, Colossians 2:6.) "In the Lord; "for every office in the Church is grounded in him as Head and Lord (Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:6; Colossians 3:17, 24; Colossians 4:7; Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 12:5, etc.), and must be administered according to his direction and as subject to his judgment (see 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 2 Corinthians 10:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Galatians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2). "Fulfil" (comp. Colossians 1:26; 2 Timothy 4:5; Acts 12:25). This admonition resembles those addressed to Timothy in the Pastoral Epistles.
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