Colossians 4
Pulpit Commentary
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
Verse 1. - (See Ch 3.)
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
Verses 2-6. - SECTION IX. PRAYER AND SOCIAL CONVERSE. There are added some brief exhortations of a more general tenor, the contents of which are summed up in the heading given to this section. Verse 2. - Continue steadfast in prayer, being watchful (or, wakeful) therein, with thanksgiving (Ephesians 6:18; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18; 1 Timothy 2:1; Luke 11:5-10; Luke 18:1-8; Luke 21:36; Acts 1:14; Acts 20:31; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Peter 5:8; Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). "Steadfast continuance" in prayer is specially illustrated in our Lord's sayings on the subject in St. Luke (comp. Acts 1:14, where the same peculiar verb is used). In Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18; 1 Timothy 2:l, again "thanksgiving" is associated with "prayer." Wakefulness in prayer is enjoined by Christ in Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38: compare the synonymous ἀγρυπνέω, to be sleepless, used in Ephesians 6:1, 2; Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36; Hebrews 13:17. "To be awake" is to be alive in the fullest sense, to have all the powers of perception and action in readiness. The activity of the soul in prayer is to be both energetic and incessant. "With [literally in, ἐν, not μετὰ, as in Ephesians 6:18] thanksgiving gives the pervading element or influence, in or under which the prayers of the Colossians were to be offered (comp. Colossians 1:12; Colossians 2:7; Colossians 3:15, 17).
Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
Verse 3. - Praying at the same time also for us (Ephesians 6:19; Romans 15:30-32; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1, 2; Hebrews 13:18). In Ephesians and Romans the apostle implores prayer for himself alone, and dwells on his personal circumstances. Here and in the Thessalonian letters he unites his fellow labourers with him in the request. That God may open to us a door for the word (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:1). "The word" is the Word of God which the apostle preaches (Colossians 1:5, 25; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Galatians 6:6; 2 Timothy 4:2; Acts 16:6); and "a debt" is wanted, in his present difficulties, through which that Word may freely pass, such as he speaks of in 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12 (comp. Acts 14:27; Revelation 3:8). It is fanciful to give "door" here the sense of "mouth." The "opening of my mouth," in Ephesians 6:19, expresses the subjective freedom (corresponding to "as I ought to speak," ver. 4); "the door for the word," the objective liberty desired by St. Paul in his imprisonment. To speak the mystery of Christ, because of which also I am bound (Colossians 1:23-29; Ephesians 6:19; Ephesians 3:1-13; Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:12-14; Philemon 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:8-10; Acts 20:22-24). Were his prison door once opened, the apostle would be able freely to preach the gospel to the Gentiles - for this "the mystery of Christ" chiefly signifies (Colossians 1:25-29; Ephesians 3:1-8; 1 Timothy 2:3-7.) (On "mystery," see note, Colossians 1:26.) It is this very mission which makes him long for freedom, that keeps him a prisoner (Colossians 1:23; Ephesians 3:13). He is in the strange position of an "ambassador in chains" (Ephesians 6:19; Philemon 1:9, 10: comp. 2 Timothy 2:9). This "I am bound" (singular) shows that the "for us" of the former clause designedly includes others with himself.
That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Verse 4. - That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:11, 20-6:10; Romans 12:6; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 2 Timothy 3:10; Acts 20:18-21, 27, 33-35). This clause qualifies the last; the "open door" is to be asked for the apostle, that he may make effective use of it. The mystery has been made manifest by God in the mission of Christ (Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:15, note; 2 Corinthians 5:19, etc.); but that manifestation has to be made known to the Gentile world (Ephesians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 10:14). To this end he had received a special manifestation of "the mystery of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Galatians 1:15, 16; Acts 9:15, 16; Acts 22:14, 15, 21; Acts 26:16-18). How the apostle conceives that he "ought to speak" appears from the parallel passages (see especially 2 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 6; and Acts 20.).
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Verse 5. - Walk in wisdom towards those without (Ephesians 5:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 2:8; 1 Peter 2:12, 15; 1 Peter 3:16; Matthew 10:16). (On "wisdom," see Colossians 1:9, note; Colossians 1:28; 2:3; 3:16; this was a chief need of the Colossian Church.) "Those without," as opposed to Christians - "those within the pale;" a Jewish mode of expression (Lightfoot): comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 5:12, 13; 1 Timothy 3:7. From a different point of view, they are designated" the rest" in Ephesians 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6. This injunction appears in a different form and position in Ephesians. Standing at the close of the writer's exhortations, and followed up by the direction of the next verse, it is more pointed and emphatic here. Buying up each (literally, the) opportunity (Ephesians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 7:29; Galatians 6:10; John 11:9, 10; Luke 13:32; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In Ephesians 5:16 the reason is added, "because the days are evil." In Daniel 2:8 (LXX) the verb ἐξαγοράζω ("to buy out" or "up," a word of the market) has precisely this sense and connection, and the idiom occurs in classical writers. The verb is middle in voice: "buying up for yourselves," "for your own advantage." In Galatians 3:13 the compound verb is somewhat differently used. The opportunity is the fit time for each step of a well-conducted walk, the precise juncture of circumstances which must be seized at once or it is gone. This wary promptitude is always needful in dealing with men of the world, both to avoid harm from them and in seeking to do them good. The latter thought, it may be, connects this verse and the next.
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Verse 6. - (Let) your speech (literally, word) (be) always with grace, seasoned with salt (Ephesians 4:29, 31; Ephesians 5:3, 4; Titus 2:8; Matthew 12:34-37; Luke 4:22; Psalm 45:2). "Word" (λόγος) has its common acceptation, as in Colossians 3:17; Colossians 2:23; Titus 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:17; James 3:2. "With grace" (ἐν χάριτι) gives the pervading element of Christian speech; as "in wisdom," of Christian behaviour (ver. 5). "Grace," here without the article, is not, as in Colossians 3:16, where the article should probably be read, "the (Divine) grace," but a property of speech itself, "gracefulness" the kindly, winning pleasantness which makes the talk of a good and thoughtful man attractive: comp. Psalm 45:2 (44:3, LXX); Ecclesiastes 10:12 (LXX); Sir. 21:16. "Salt" is the "wholesome point and pertinency" (Ellicott) seasoning conversation, while grace sweetens it. The clause which follows indicates that "salt" denotes here, as commonly in Greek (instance the phrase, "Attic salt"), an intellectual rather than a moral quality of speech. In Ephesians 4:29 the connection is different, and the application more general (comp. Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:49, 50). That you may know how you ought to answer each one (ver. 4; 1 Peter 3:15; Philippians 1:27, 28; 2 Thessalonians 2:17). The Colossians were to pray for the apostle that he might "speak the mystery of Christ... as he ought to speak;" and he bids them seek for themselves the same gift of παρρησία, liberty of speech and readiness to "every good word." For their faith was assailed by persuasive sophistry (Colossians 2:4, 8, 23) and by brew-beating dogmatism (Colossians 2:16, 18, 20, 21). They were, like St. Paul, "set for the defence of the gospel," placed in the van of the conflict against heresy. They needed, therefore, "to have all their wits about them," so as to be able, as occasion required, to make answer to each of their opponents and questioners, that they might "contend" wisely as well as "earnestly for the faith." 1 Peter 3:15 is a commentary on this verse: the parallelism is the closer because that Epistle was addressed to Churches in Asia Minor, where the debates out of which Gnosticism arose were beginning to be rife; and because, likewise, "the hope that was in them" was a chief object of the attack made on the Colossian believers (Colossians 1:5, 23, 27; Colossians 2:18; Colossians 3:15). With this exhortation the Christian teaching of the Epistle is concluded. In its third and practical part (Colossians 3:1-4:6) the apostle has built up, on the foundation of the doctrine laid down in the first chapter, and in place of the attractive but false and pernicious system denounced in the second, a lofty and complete ideal of the Christian life. He has led us from the contemplation of its "life of life" in the innermost mystery of union with Christ and of its glorious destiny in him (Colossians 3:1-4), through the soul's interior death-struggle with its old corruptions (vers. 5-11) and its investment with the graces of its new life (vers. 12-15), to the expression and outward acting of that life in the mutual edification of the Church (vers. 16, 17), in the obedience and devotion of the family circle (ver. 18 - Colossians 4:1), in constant prayerfulness and sympathy with the ministers and suffering witnesses of Christ (vers. 2-4), and, lastly, in such converse with men of the world, and in the midst of the distracting debate by which faith is assailed, as shall fittingly commend the Christian cause.
All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:
Verses 7-18. - SECTION X. PERSONAL MESSAGES AND GREETINGS. St. Paul concludes his letter, first, by introducing to the Colossians its bearer, Tychicus, along with whom he commends to them their own Onesimus, returning to his master (vers. 7-9); then, according to his custom, he conveys greetings from his various friends and helpers present with him at the time, in particular from Mark, who was likely to visit them, and from Epaphras their own devoted minister (vers. 10-14); thirdly, he sends greeting to the neighbouring and important Church of Laodicea, specially mentioning Nympha, with directions to exchange letters with the Laodiceans, and with a pointed warning to Archippus, probably a Colossian, having some charge over that Church (vers. 15-17). Finally, he appends, with his own hand, his apostolic greeting and benediction (ver. 18). The personal references of this section, though slight and cursory, are of peculiar value, bearing themselves the strongest marks of genuineness, and decisively attesting the Pauline authorship of the Epistle. At the same time, we gather from them several independent facts throwing light on St. Paul's position during his imprisonment, and on his relations to other leading personages of the Church. Verse 7. - All that relates to me (literally, the things concerning me) Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant (bondman), will make known to you (Ephesians 6:21, 22; Titus 3:12; 1 Timothy 6:12; 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Philippians 2:25). Tychicus appears first in Acts 20:4, where he is called an "Asian" (of the Roman province of Asia, of which Ephesus was capital), along with Trophimus, who, in Acts 21:29, is styled "the Ephesian." He accompanied the apostle on his voyage to Jerusalem (A.D. 58), with a number of others representing different Churches, and deputed, as Lightfoot thinks, in conformity with the directions of 1 Corinthians 16:3, 4, to convey the contributions raised for "the poor saints at Jerusalem." Trophimus was with St. Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:29), and so, probably, his colleague (the words, "as far as Asia," in Acts 20:4, are of very doubtful authority), he is now with the apostle in his imprisonment at Rome, about to be sent home with these two letters (comp. Ephesians 6:21, 22), and in charge of Onesimus, on whose account the apostle sends a private letter to Philemon. In the interval between the first (present) and second imprisonment (2 Timothy), the apostle revisited the Asiatic Churches (so we infer from 1 Timothy 1:3), and Tychicus rejoined him; for we find St. Paul proposing to send him to Titus in Crete (Titus 3:12), and finally sending him from Rome once more to Ephesus (2 Timothy 6:12). These facts sustain the high terms in which he is here spoken cf. "In the Lord" belongs both to "minister" and "fellow servant." This language is almost identical with that used of Epaphras in Colossians 1:7 (see notes). Tychicus is "minister" (διάκονος), not to Paul himself (Acts 19:22; Acts 13:5, ὑπηρέτης), nor in the official sense of Philippians 1:1, but "of Christ," "of the gospel," or "the Church" (1 Thessalonians 3:2), as St. Paul himself (Colossians 1:23, 25). He is "a beloved brother" to his fellow believers, "a faithful minister" of the Lord Christ, and "a fellow servant" with the apostle (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:10; Philippians 2:25).
Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
Verse 8. - Whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know how it is with us (literally, the things about us), and that he may comfort your hearts (Ephesians 6:22). The Received Text reads, by a slight confusion of similar Greek letters, that he may know the things about you (see Lightfoot's 'Notes on some Various Readings'). This is the only clause exactly identical in Colossians and Ephesians. There would be great anxiety on St. Paul's account amongst the Gentile Christians everywhere, and especially in the Asiatic Churches, after the ominous words of his address to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:22-25: comp. vers. 37, 38). The Colossians had sent through Epaphras messages of love to him (Colossians 1:8). To know that he was of good courage, and even in hope of a speedy release (Philemon 1:22), would "comfort their 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.
Verse 9. - With Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is (one) of you (ver. 7; Philemon 1:10, 16; Colossians 1:2; 1 Peter 5:12). "In Christ there is no slave" (Colossians 3:11). Onesimus, like Epaphras and Tychicus, is a brother, to be trusted and loved (comp. Philemon 1:10-17). This language strongly supports the appeal of ver. 1, and would further the purpose of the apostle's intercession to Onesimus' master. And Onesimus even shares with the honoured Tychicus in the privilege of being the apostle's messenger! All things that are happening here they will make known to you (ver. 7; Ephesians 6:21). There is, therefore, no need for any detailed account of the writer's circumstances. The solicitude which he assumes that these stranger Colossians (Colossians 1:8; Colossians 2:1) feel on his behalf shows how commanding his ascendancy over the Gentile Churches had become.
Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
Verse 10. - Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, saluteth you (Philemon 1:2, 23; Philippians 2:25; Romans 16:7). Aristarchus, as a Thessalonian, accompanied the apostle to Jerusalem, along with Tychicus the Asian (Acts 20:4), and was his companion at least during the first part of his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:2). In Philemon 1:23, 24 his name follows that of Mark as a "fellow worker" (comp. ver. 11) and of Epaphras "my fellow prisoner" (comp. Romans 16:7). "Fellow prisoner" (αἰχμαλωτός, captive, prisoner of war) differs from the "prisoner" (δέσμιος, one in bonds) of Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:8. The supposition that these men were permitted as friends to share St. Paul's captivity in turn, is conjectural (see Meyer). Possibly the incident recorded in Acts 19:29 was attended by some temporary joint imprisonment of St. Paul and Aristarchus. As "a soldier of Christ Jesus," the apostle was himself now "a prisoner of war" (2 Timothy 2:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6); and therefore those who shared his sufferings were his "fellow prisoners," as they were his" fellow soldiers" (Philemon 1:2; Philippians 1:30) and his "fellow servants" (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:7). And Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, about whom you received commandments - if he should come to you, welcome him (Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:13). It is pleasant to find John Mark, who deserted the apostle in his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13), and on whose account he separated from Barnabas (Acts 15:37-40) ten years before, now taken again into his confidence and friendship (comp. 2 Timothy 4:11). And indeed it is evident that there was no permanent estrangement between the two great Gentile missionaries; for Mark is called "cousin of Barnabas" by way of recommendation (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1, 9, 13). Mary, the mother of John Mark, was a person of some consideration in the Church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), and through her he may have been related to Barnabas, who, though a Cypriot Jew, had property near Jerusalem (Acts 4:36, 37), and was also highly honoured by the mother Church (Acts 9:27; Acts 11:22-24; Acts 15:25, 26). Mark is, moreover, a link between the Apostles Paul and Peter. It is to the house of his mother that the latter betakes himself on his escape from Herod's prison (Acts 12:12). In 1 Peter 5:13 he appears, along with Silvanus (Silos), St. Paul's old comrade, in St. Peter's company, who calls him "my son." St. Peter was then at Babylon, where Mark may have arrived at the end of the journey eastwards which St. Paul here contemplates his undertaking. The striking correspondence of language and thought between St. Peter's First Epistle (addressed, moreover, to Churches of Asia Minor) and those of St. Paul to the Ephesians and Colossians (and, in an equal degree, that to the Romans) suggests the existence of some special connection at this time between the two writers, such as may well have been afforded by Mark, if, leaving Rome soon after the despatch of these letters, he travelled in their track by way of Asia Minor to join St. Peter at Babylon. At the time of St. Paul's second imprisonment, about four years later, Mark is again in Asia Minor in the neighbourhood of Timothy, and the apostle desires his services at Rome (2 Timothy 4:11). When or how the Colossians had received already directions concerning Mark, we have no means of knowing. His journey appears to have been postponed. The apostle must before this have communicated with the Colossians. The visit of Epaphras to Rome may have been due to some communication from him. "If he should come to you, give him a welcome," is the request the apostle now makes.
And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.
Verse 11. - And Jesus, called Justus - the only name of this list wanting in Philemon. Nor is this person mentioned elsewhere. "Jesus" ("Joshua," Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8) was a common Jewish name. "Justus" ("just," "righteous") was frequently adopted by individual Jews, or conferred on them, as a Gentile (Latin) surname (comp. Acts 1:23; Acts 18:7); it implied devotion to the Law, and was the equivalent of the Hebrew Zadok (see Lightfoot). Its Greek equivalent, δίκαιος, is the standing epithet of James, the brother of the Lord, and the head of the Church at Jerusalem; and is emphatically applied to Christ himself (Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:1). Who are of the circumcision, - these only (my) fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, (men) who have been a comfort to me (Philemon 1:1, 24; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 16:3, 9, 21; 2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:3). Aristarchus, therefore, was a Jew, as well as Mark and Jesus Justus. "These only," etc., must be read as in close apposition to the previous clause. This statement accords with the apostle's complaint in Philippians 1:15-17; Philippians 2:19-24; but the still stronger language of the latter passages seems to point to a later time when he was yet more solitary, having lost Tychicus and Mark, and perhaps Aristarchus also, and when he had a more definite prospect of release. The title "fellow worker" he frequently confers on his associates (see references). In Philemon 1:24 it is applied, to Luke and Demas also. "The kingdom of God" was, in Colossians 1:13, "the kingdom of his Son;" as in Ephesians 5:5 it is "the kingdom of Christ and God." On his arrival at Rome, St. Paul is described as "testifying, and preaching the kingdom of God" (Acts 28:23, 31: comp. Acts 8:12; Acts 14:22; Acts 19:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5). On the force of οἵτινες ("men who," "such as"), see Colossians 2:23; and for ἐγενήθησαν ("proved," "became in point of fact"), comp. Colossians 3:15. Παρηγορία ξομφορτ, a word found only here in the Greek Testament, is a medical term (compare "paregoric"), implying "soothing relief."
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Verse 12. - Epaphras, who is (one) of you, saluteth you, a servant (bondman) of Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1; Galatians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 7:22; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:24; Acts 4:29; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:3, 6). "Of you," like Onesimus (ver. 9). He was a native of Colossae, as well as evangelist and minister of the Church there (Colossians 1:7, 8). "Bondman of Christ Jesus" is the title the apostle so often claims for himself (see references), only here put by him on any one else. Is there an implied reference to Onesimus (ver. 9), who was "a bondman after the flesh," but "the Lord's freedman" (Philemon 1:16), while Epaphras, "the freeman," is "Christ's bondman" (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:22)? We are reminded again of Colossians 2:6 (see note). Always striving on your behalf in his prayers, that ye may stand fast, (being) perfect and fully assured in all the will of God (Colossians 1:9, 23, 29; Colossians 2:1, 2, 5; Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:11-14; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15). Epaphras "strives" ("wrestles") for his spiritual charge, like the apostle himself (Colossians 1:29, see note on ἀγωνίζομαι; Colossians 2:1; Romans 15:30; Luke 22:44). Προσκαρτερέω in ver. 2 denotes the patient persistence, this word the intense energy, of prevailing prayer. For "stand" (where Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, and other critical editors read the stronger σταθῆτε for στῆτε), comp. Colossians 1:23; Colossians 2:7; it is four times repeated in the stirring appeal of Ephesians 6:11-14. For Churches threatened by the attacks of heresy it was above all things needful "that they should stand fast." On "perfect," see Colossians 1:28; also Colossians 3:14; the word bears a primary reference to "knowledge," and implies a fully instructed and enlightened condition (Philippians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Hebrews 5:14; Hebrews 6:1), attended with corresponding spiritual advancement (Ephesians 4:13). "Fully assured" (πεπληροφορημένοι, Revised Text) carries us back to Colossians 2:2 (see notes; on this verb, compare Lightfoot's exhaustive note). It bears the same sense in Romans 4:21 and Romans 14:5; a slightly different one in Luke 1:1. From the tenor of the letter it appears that the Colossians needed a deeper Christian insight and more intelligent and well-grounded convictions respecting the truth "as in Jesus." "All (the) will" is strictly distributive (every will); θέλημα' (Colossians 1:9) differs from our will in having a concrete rather than abstract sense, denoting an act or expression of will.
For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
Verse 13. - For I hear witness to him that he hath much labour (πὸνον for ζῆλον, Revised Text) for you (Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:1; Philippians 2:19-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Corinthians 16:15, 16). Πόνος occurs in the New Testament besides only in Revelation 16:10, 11 and Revelation 21:4, where it means "pain;" in classical Greek it implies "painful, distressful exertion" (comp. κοπιῶ, Colossians 1:29). It indicates the deep anxiety of Epaphras for this beloved and endangered Church. There is nothing here to point to "outward toil" (Lightfoot), any more than in Colossians 2:1. The apostle loves to commend his fellow labourers (Colossians 1:7; Philippians 2:20-22, 25, 26; 2 Corinthians 8:16-23). And for those in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis (vers. 15-17; Colossians 2:1). The Church in Hierapolis is added to that of Laodicea, singled out in Colossians 2:1 as a special object of the apostle's concern (on these cities, see Introduction, § 1). Whether Epaphras were the official head of these Churches or not, he could not but be deeply concerned in their welfare. Ver. 17 indicates the existence of a personal link between the Churches of Colossus and of Laodicea.
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
Verse 14. - Luke the physician, the beloved, saluteth you (Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11). This reference to Luke's profession is extremely interesting. We gather from the use of the first person plural in Acts 16:10-17, and again from Acts 20:5 to the end of the narrative, that he joined St. Paul on his first voyage to Europe and was left behind at Philippi; and rejoined him six years after on the journey to Jerusalem which completed his third missionary circuit, continuing with him during his voyage to Rome and his imprisonment. This faithful friend attended him in his second captivity, and solaced his last hours; "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11). His being called "the physician" suggests that he ministered to the apostle in this capacity, especially as "his first appearance in St. Paul's company synchronizes with an attack of St. Paul's constitutional malady" (Lightfoot: comp. Acts 16:10 and Galatians 4:13-15; the illness referred to in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 and 2 Cor 4:7-5:8 may partly have led to Luke's rejoining St. Paul in Macedonia). St Luke's writings testify both to his medical knowledge and to his Pauline sympathies. His companionship probably gave a special colouring to the phraseology and cast of thought of St. Paul's later Epistles. (On the relations of St. Luke and St. Paul, see a valuable Paper by Dean Plumptre in the Expositor, first series, vol. 4. pp. 134-156.) "The beloved" is a distinct appellation, due partly to Luke's services to the apostle, but chiefly, one would suppose, to the amiable and gentle disposition of the writer of the third Gospel. It is not unlikely that he is "the brother" referred to in 2 Corinthians 8:18, 19. Lucas is a contraction for Lucanus; so that he was not the "Lucius" of Acts 13:1, nor, certainly, the "Lucius my kinsman" of Romans 16:21, who was a Jew. He was probably, like many physicians of that period, a freedman; and, since freedmen took the name of the house to which they had belonged, may have been, as Plumptre conjectures, connected with the family of the Roman philosopher Seneca and the poet Lucan. And Demas (Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:10), who alone receives no word of commendation - a fact significant in view of the melancholy sentence pronounced upon him in 2 Timothy 4:10. His name is probably short for Demetrius.
Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
Verse 15. - Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea (ver. 13; Colossians 2:1; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 3:14-22). Perhaps the brethren in Hierapolis (ver. 13) were not formed into a distinct Church as yet (comp. Colossians 2:1). The Church in Laodicea early became a flourishing and wealthy community (Revelation 3:17). And Nympha (or, Nymphas), and the Church (literally, assembly) at her (or, their) house. Νύμφαν may be either masculine or feminine accusative. The reading "her" (αὐτῆς) is adopted by Westcott and Hort without alternative, and seems on the whole the most probable. The Revised Text follows Tischendorf, Tregelles, Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, who read "their" (αὐτῶν). "His" (αὐτοῦ) is evidently a later correction. Lightfoot says, indeed, that "a Doric form of the Greek name (sc. Νύμφαν for Νύμφην) seems in the highest degree improbable;" but he allows, on the other hand, that Νυμφᾶς as a contracted masculine form (for Νυμφόδωρος) "is very rare." This person was apparently a leading member of the Laodicean Church, at whose house Church meetings were held (comp. Acts 12:12; Philemon 1:2; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19). "The Church at her house" can scarcely have been an assembly distinct "from the brethren that are in Laodicea." Both expressions may relate to the same body of persons, referred first individually, then collectively as a meeting gathered at this place. Others suppose a more private gathering to be meant, as e.g. of Colossians living at Laodicea (Meyer). Many older interpreters identified this Church with the household of Nymphas. If "their" be the true reading, the expression must include Nympha and her family. Nympha (or Nymphas), like Philemon and his family, St. Paul had doubtless met in Ephesus.
And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
Verse 16. - And when this letter has been read among you, see to it (literally, cause) that it be read also in the Church of (the) Laodiceans (1 Thessalonians 5:27). For these two Churches were closely allied in origin and condition, as well as by situation and acquaintanceship (Colossians 2:1-5; Colossians 4:13). The leaven of the Colossian error was doubtless beginning to work in Laodicea also. The words addressed to Laodicea in the Apocalypse (Revelation 3:14-22) bear reference apparently to the language of this Epistle (Colossians 1:15-18); see Lightfoot, pp. 41, etc. The phrase, "Church of Laodiceans," corresponds to that used in the salutation of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, but is not found elsewhere in St. Paul. And that ye also read the letter from Laodicea. What was this letter? Clearly a letter from St. Paul which would be received at Laodicea, and which the Colossians were to obtain from there. The connection of this sentence with the foregoing, and the absence of any other definition of the words, "the letter (from Laodicea)," make this evident. Nothing further can be affirmed with certainty. But several considerations point to the probability that this missing Epistle is none other than our (so-called) Epistle to the Ephesians. For:

(1) Both letters were sent at the same time, and by the same messenger (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7).

(2) The relation between the two is more intimate than exists between any other of St. Paul's writings; they are twins, the birth of the same crisis in the condition of the Church and in the apostle's own mind. Each serves as a commentary on the other. And there are several important topics, lightly touched upon in this letter, on which the writer dilates at length in the other (comp. Colossians 1:9 b and Ephesians 1:17, 18; Colossians 1:23 b-25 and Ephesians 3:1-13; Colossians 1:18 a, 24 b, 2:19 and Ephesians 4:4-16, 5:23-32; Colossians 1:21, 27, 2:11-13, 3:11 and Ephesians 2; Colossians 1:18 ("Firstborn out of the dead"), 2:12 b and Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 3:12 ("God's elect") and Ephesians 1:3-14; Colossians 3:18, 19 and Ephesians 5:22-33). On the other hand, the main arguments of the Colossian letter are, as it seems, assumed and presupposed in the Ephesian (comp. Ephesians 1:10, 20 b-23, 2:20 b, 3:8 b-11, 19 b, 4:13 b with Colossians 1:15-20, 2:9, 10; Ephesians 4:14 with Colossians 2:4, 8, 16-23).

(3) The words ἐν Αφέδῳ in Ephesians 1:1 are of doubtful authenticity; and there is much in the internal character of that Epistle to favour the hypothesis, proposed by Archbishop Usher, that it was a circular letter, destined for a number of Churches in Asia Minor, of which Ephesus may have been the first and Laodicea the last (compare the order of Revelation 2:3.). In that case a copy of the Ephesian Epistle would be left at Laodicea by Tychicus on his way to Colossae. (See Introduction, § 6; compare that to Ephesians.)

(4) Marcion, in the middle of the second century (see Tertullian, 'Against Marcion,' 5:11, 17), entitled the Epistle to the Ephesians, "To the Laodiceans." It does not appear that his heretical views could have been furthered by this change. Probably his statement contains a fragment of ancient tradition, identifying the Epistle in question with that referred to by St. Paul in this passage.

(5) The expression, "the letter from Laodicea," would scarcely be used of a letter addressed simply to the Laodiceans and belonging properly to them; but would be quite appropriate to a more general Epistle transmitted from one place to another. There is extant in Latin a spurious epistle 'Ad Laodicenses,' which is traced back to the fourth century, and was widely accepted in the Middle Ages; but it is "a mere cento of Pauline phrases, strung together without any definite connection or any clear object" (Lightfoot). (On this curious forgery, and on the whole subject of "the Epistle from Laodicea," see Lightfoot's masterly discussion, pp. 274 - 300; also p. 37.) Meyer, on the other hand, in his 'Introduction to Ephesians,' pronounces strongly against "the circular hypothesis."
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
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.
The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
Verse 18. - The salutation with mine own hand - of Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 16:21-24; Galatians 6:11-18). So the apostle appends his authenticating signature to the letter, written, as usual, by his amanuensis, himself inscribing these last words (see parallel passages). The Epistle to Philemon he appears to have penned himself throughout (Philemon 1:19). Remember my bonds (Colossians 1:24; Philemon 1:9, 13; Ephesians 3:1, 13; Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:9). This pathetic postscript is thoroughly characteristic (comp. Galatians 6:17). Grace be with you; literally, the grace (comp. Colossians 3:16). The apostle's final benediction in all his Epistles; here in its briefest form, as in 1 and 2 Timothy. In the Ephesian benediction "grace" is also used absolutely. 2 Corinthians 13:14 gives the formula in its full liturgical amplitude.

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