Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV

Colosse was a city of the Greater Phrygia, not far from Laodicea and Hierapolis. Though St. Paul preached in many parts of Phrygia, yet he never had been at this city. It had received the gospel by the preaching of Epaphras, who was with St. Paul when he wrote this epistle.

It seems the Colossians were now in danger of being seduced by those who strove to blend Judaism, or heathen superstitions, with Christianity; pretending that God, because of his great majesty, was not to be approached but by the mediation of angels; and that they were certain rites and observances, chiefly borrowed from the law, whereby these angels might be made our friends.

In opposition to them, the apostle,

  1. Commends the knowledge of Christ, as more excellent than all other, and so entire and perfect that no other knowledge was necessary for a Christian. He shows,
  2. That Christ is above all angels, who are only his servants; and that, being reconciled to God through him, we have free access to him in all our necessities.

This epistle contains,

 I. The inscription,................................... C i.  I,2
 II. The doctrine, wherein the apostle pathetically explains
       the mystery of Christ,
    By thanksgiving for the Colossians,...................... 3-8
    By prayers for them,.................................... 9-23
    With a declaration of his affection for them,.......... 24-29
                                                       C. ii. 1-3
 III The exhortation,
    1. General, wherein he excites them to perseverance,
        and warns them not to be deceived,................... 4-8
     Describes again the mystery of Christ in order,........ 9-15
     And in the same order, draws his admonitions,
      1. From Christ the head,............................. 16-19
      2. From his death,................................... 20-23
      3. From his exaltation,........................ C. iii. 1-4
    2. Particular,........................................... 5-9
      1. To avoid several vices,
      2. To practise several virtues,...................... 10,11
         Especially to love one another,................... 12-15
         And study the scriptures......................... 16, 17
      3. To the relative duties of wives and husbands,.... 18, 19
         Children and parents,............................ 20, 21
         Servants and masters,............................  22-25
                                                         C. iv. 1
    3. Final, to prayer,..................................... 2-4
          to spiritual wisdom............................... 5, 6
 V. The conclusion,......................................... 7-16

Chapter I

2 The saints - This word expresses their union with God. And brethren - This, their union with their fellow - Christians.
3 We give thanks - There is a near resemblance between this epistle, and those to the Ephesians and Philippians.
5 Ye heard before - I wrote to you. In the word of truth, of the gospel - The true gospel preached to you.
6 It bringeth forth fruit in all the world - That is, in every place where it is preached. Ye knew the grace of God in truth - Truly experienced the gracious power of God.
7 The fellowservant - Of Paul and Timotheus.
8 Your love in the Spirit - Your love wrought in you by the Spirit.
9 We pray for you - This was mentioned in general, Col 1:3, but now more particularly. That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will - Of his revealed will. In all wisdom - With all the wisdom from above. And spiritual understanding - To discern by that light whatever agrees with, or differs from, his will.
10 That, knowing his whole will, ye may walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing - So as actually to please him in all things; daily increasing in the living, experimental knowledge of God, our Father, Saviour, Sanctifier.
11 Strengthened unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness - This is the highest point: not only to know, to do, to suffer, the whole will of God; but to suffer it to the end, not barely with patience, but with thankful joy.
12 Who, by justifying and sanctifying us, hath made us meet for glory.
13 Power detains reluctant captives, a kingdom cherishes willing subjects. His beloved Son - This is treated of in the fifteenth and following verses. Col 1:15
14 In whom we have redemption - This is treated of from the middle of Col 1:18. The voluntary passion of our Lord appeased the Father's wrath, obtained pardon and acceptance for us, and, consequently, dissolved the dominion and power which Satan had over us through our sins. So that forgiveness is the beginning of redemption, as the resurrection is the completion of it.
15 Who is - By describing the glory of Christ, and his pre - eminence over the highest angels, the apostle here lays a foundation for the reproof of all worshippers of angels. The image of the invisible God - Whom none can represent, but his only begotten Son; in his divine nature the invisible image, in his human the visible image, of the Father. The first begotten of every creature - That is, begotten before every creature; subsisting before all worlds, before all time, from all eternity.
16 For - This explains the latter part of the preceding verse. Through implies something prior to the particles by and for; so denoting the beginning, the progress, and the end. Him - This word, frequently repeated, signifies his supreme majesty, and excludes every creature. Were created all things that are in heaven - And heaven itself. But the inhabitants are named, because more noble than the house. Invisible - The several species of which are subjoined. Thrones are superior to dominions; principalities, to powers. Perhaps the two latter may express their office with regard to other creatures: the two former may refer to God, who maketh them his chariots, and, as it were, rideth upon their wings.
17 And he is before all things - It is not said, he was: he is from everlasting to everlasting. And by him all things consist - The original expression not only implies, that he sustains all things in being, but more directly, All things were and are compacted in him into one system. He is the cement, as well as support, of the universe. And is he less than the supreme God?
18 And - From the whole he now descends to the most eminent part, the church. He is the head of the church - Universal; the supreme and only head both of influence and of government to the whole body of believers. Who is - The repetition of the expression {Col 1:15} points out the entrance on a new paragraph. The beginning - Absolutely, the Eternal. The first begotten from the dead - From whose resurrection flows all the life, spiritual and eternal, of all his brethren. That in all things - Whether of nature or grace. He might have the pre - eminence - Who can sound this depth?
19 For it pleased the Father that all fulness - All the fulness of God. Should dwell in him - Constantly, as in a temple; and always ready for our approach to him.
20 Through the blood of the cross - The blood shed thereon. Whether things on earth - Here the enmity began: therefore this is mentioned first. Or things in heaven - Those who are now in paradise; the saints who died before Christ came.
21 And you that were alienated, and enemies - Actual alienation of affection makes habitual enmity. In your mind - Both your understanding and your affections. By wicked works - Which continually feed and increase inward alienation from, and enmity to, God. He hath now reconciled - From the moment ye believed.
22 By the body of his flesh - So distinguished from his body, the church. The body here denotes his entire manhood. Through death - Whereby he purchased the reconciliation which we receive by faith. To present you - The very end of that reconciliation. Holy - Toward God. Spotless - In yourselves. Unreprovable - As to your neighbour.
23 If ye continue in the faith - Otherwise, ye will lose all the blessings which ye have already begun to enjoy. And be not removed from the hope of the gospel - The glorious hope of perfect love. Which is preached - Is already begun to be preached to every creature under heaven.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up - That is, whereby I fill up. That which is behind of the sufferings of Christ - That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ,
  1. Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole; and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all.
  2. Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth.
And these also are necessary for the church; not to reconcile it to God, or satisfy for sin, (for that Christ did perfectly,) but for example to others, perfecting of the saints, and increasing their reward.
25 According to the dispensation of God which is given me - Or, the stewardship with which I am intrusted.
26 The mystery - Namely, Christ both justifying and sanctifying gentiles, as well as Jews. Which hath been comparatively hid from former ages and past generations of men.
27 Christ dwelling and reigning in you, The hope of glory - The ground of your hope.
28 We teach the ignorant, and admonish them that are already taught.

Chapter II

1 How great a conflict - Of care, desire, prayer. As many as have not seen my face - Therefore, in writing to the Colossians, he refrains from those familiar appellations, "Brethren," "Beloved."
2 Unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto the acknowledgment of the mystery of God - That is, unto the fullest and clearest understanding and knowledge of the gospel.
6 So walk in him - In the same faith, love, holiness.
7 Rooted in him - As the vine. Built - On the sure foundation.
8 Through philosophy and empty deceit - That is, through the empty deceit of philosophy blended with Christianity. This the apostle condemns,
  1. Because it was empty and deceitful, promising happiness, but giving none.
  2. Because it was grounded, not on solid reason, but the traditions of men, Zeno, Epicurus, and the rest. And,
  3. Because it was so shallow and superficial, not advancing beyond the knowledge of sensible things; no, not beyond the first rudiments of them.
9, For in him dwelleth - Inhabiteth, continually abideth, all the fulness of the Godhead. Believers are "filled with all the fulness of God," Eph 3:19. But in Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead; the most full Godhead; not only divine powers, but divine nature, Col 1:19. Bodily - Personally, really, substantially. The very substance of God, if one might so speak, dwells in Christ in the most full sense.
10 And ye - Who believe. Are filled with him - John 1:16. Christ is filled with God, and ye are filled with Christ. And ye are filled by him. The fulness of Christ overflows his church, Psa 133:3. He is originally full. We are filled by him with wisdom and holiness. Who is the head of all principality and power - Of angels as well as men Not from angels therefore, but from their head, are we to ask whatever we stand in need of.
11 By whom also ye have been circumcised - Ye have received the spiritual blessings typified of old by circumcision. With a circumcision not performed with hands - By an inward, spiritual operation. In putting off, not a little skin, but the whole body of the sins of the flesh - All the sins of your evil nature. By the circumcision of Christ - By that spiritual circumcision which Christ works in your heart.
12 Which he wrought in you, when ye were as it were buried with him in baptism - The ancient manner of baptizing by immersion is as manifestly alluded to here, as the other manner of baptizing by sprinkling or pouring of water is, Heb 10:22. But no stress is laid on the age of the baptized, or the manner of performing it, in one or the other; but only on our being risen with Christ, through the powerful operation of God in the soul; which we cannot but know assuredly, if it really is so: and if we do not experience this, our baptism has not answered the end of its institution. By which ye are also risen with him - From the death of sin to the life of holiness. It does not appear, that in all this St. Paul speaks of justification at all, but of sanctification altogether.
13, And you who were dead - Doubly dead to God, not only wallowing in trespasses, outward sins, but also in the uncircumcision of your flesh - A beautiful expression for original sin, the inbred corruption of your nature, your uncircumcised heart and affections. Hath he - God the Father. Quickened together with him - Making you partakers of the power of his resurrection. It is evident the apostle thus far speaks, not of justification, but of sanctification only.
14 Having blotted out - in consequence of his gracious decrees, that Christ should come into the world to save sinners, and that whosoever believeth on him should have everlasting life. The handwriting against us - Where a debt is contracted, it is usually testified by some handwriting; and when the debt is forgiven, the handwriting is destroyed, either by blotting it out, by taking it away, or by tearing it. The apostle expresses in all these three ways, God's destroying the handwriting which was contrary to us, or at enmity with us. This was not properly our sins themselves, (they were the debt,) but their guilt and cry before God.
15 And having spoiled the principalities and powers - The evil angels, of their usurped dominion. He - God the Father. Exposed them openly - Before all the hosts of hell and heaven. Triumphing over them in or by him - By Christ. Thus the paragraph begins with Christ, goes on with him, and ends with him.
16 Therefore - Seeing these things are so. Let none judge you - That is, regard none who judge you. In meat or drink - For not observing the ceremonial law in these or any other particulars. Or in respect of a yearly feast, the new moon, or the weekly Jewish sabbaths.
17 Which are but a lifeless shadow; but the body, the substance, is of Christ.
18 Out of pretended humility, they worshipped angels, as not daring to apply immediately to God. Yet this really sprung from their being puffed up: (the constant forerunner of a fall, Prov 16:18) so far was it from being an instance of true humility.
19 And not holding the head - He does not hold Christ, who does not trust in him alone. All the members are nourished by faith, and knit together by love and mutual sympathy.
20 Therefore - The inference begun, Col 2:16; is continued. A new inference follows, Col 3:1. If ye are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world - That is, If ye are dead with Christ, and so freed from them, why receive ye ordinances - Which Christ hath not enjoined, from which he hath made you free.
21 Touch not - An unclean thing. Taste not - Any forbidden meat. Handle not - Any consecrated vessel.
22 Perish in the using - Have no farther use, no influence on the mind.
23 Not sparing the body - Denying it many gratifications, and putting it to many inconveniences. Yet they are not of any real value before God, nor do they, upon the whole, mortify, but satisfy, the flesh. They indulge our corrupt nature, our self - will, pride, and desire of being distinguished from others.

Chapter III

1 If ye are risen, seek the things above - As Christ being risen, immediately went to heaven.
3 For ye are dead - To the things on earth. And your real, spiritual life is hid from the world, and laid up in God, with Christ - Who hath merited, promised, prepared it for us, and gives us the earnest and foretaste of it in our hearts.
4 When Christ - The abruptness of the sentence surrounds us with sudden light. Our life - The fountain of holiness and glory. Shall appear - In the clouds of heaven.
5 Mortify therefore - Put to death, slay with a continued stroke. Your members - Which together make up the body of sin. Which are upon the earth - Where they find their nourishment. Uncleanness - In act, word, or thought. Inordinate affection - Every passion which does not flow from and lead to the love of God. Evil desire - The desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life. Covetousness - According to the derivation of the word, means the desire of having more, or of any thing independent on God. Which is idolatry - Properly and directly; for it is giving the heart to a creature.
6 For which - Though the heathens lightly regarded them.
7 Living denotes the inward principle; walking, the outward acts.
8 Wrath - Is lasting anger. Filthy discourse - And was there need to warn even these saints of God against so gross and palpable a sin as this? O what is man, till perfect love casts out both fear and sin.
10 In knowledge - The knowledge of God, his will, his word.
11 Where - In which case, it matters not what a man is externally, whether Jew or gentile, circumcised, or uncircumcised, barbarian, void of all the advantages of education, yea, Scythian, of all barbarians most barbarous. But Christ is in all that are thus renewed, and is all things in them and to them.
12 All who are thus renewed are elected of God, holy, and therefore the more beloved of him. Holiness is the consequence of their election, and God's superior love, of their holiness.
13 Forbearing one another - If anything is now wrong. And forgiving one another - What is past.
14 The love of God contains the whole of Christian perfection, and connects all the parts of it together.
15 And then the peace of God shall rule in your hearts - Shall sway every temper, affection, thought, as the reward (so the Greek word implies) of your preceding love and obedience.
16 Let the word of Christ - So the apostle calls the whole scripture, and thereby asserts the divinity of his Master. Dwell - Not make a short stay, or an occasional visit, but take up its stated residence. Richly - In the largest measure, and with the greatest efficacy; so as to fill and govern the whole soul.
17 In the name - In the power and Spirit of the Lord Jesus. Giving thanks unto God - The Holy Ghost. And the Father through him - Christ.
18 Wives, submit - Or be subject to. It is properly a military term, alluding to that entire submission that soldiers pay to their general. Eph 5:22, &c.
19 Be not bitter - (Which may be without any appearance of anger) either in word or spirit.
21 Lest they be discouraged - Which may occasion their turning either desperate or stupid.
22 Eyeservice - Being more diligent under their eye than at other times. Singleness of heart - A simple intention of doing right, without looking any farther. Fearing God - That is, acting from this principle.
23 Heartily - Cheerfully, diligently. Menpleasers are soon dejected and made angry: the single - hearted are never displeased or disappointed; because they have another aim, which the good or evil treatment of those they serve cannot disappoint.

Chapter IV

1 Just - According to your contract. Equitable - Even beyond the letter of your contract.
3 That God would open to us a door of utterance - That is, give us utterance, that we "may open our mouth boldly," Eph 6:19, and give us an opportunity of speaking, so that none may be able to hinder.
6 Let your speech be always with grace - Seasoned with the grace of God, as flesh is with salt.
10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner - Such was Epaphras likewise for a time, Phm 1:23. Ye have received directions - Namely, by Tychicus, bringing this letter. The ancients adapted their language to the time of reading the letter; not, as we do, to the time when it was written. It is not improbable, they might have scrupled to receive him, without this fresh direction, after he had left St. Paul, and "departed from the work."
11 These - Three, Aristarchus, Marcus, and Justus. Of all the circumcision - That is, of all my Jewish fellowlabourers. Are the only fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God - That is, in preaching the gospel. Who have been a comfort to me - What, then, can we expect? that all our fellowworkers should be a comfort to us?
12 Perfect - Endued with every Christian grace. Filled - As no longer being babes, but grown up to the measure of the stature of Christ; being full of his light, grace, wisdom, holiness.
14 Luke, the physician - Such he had been, at least, if he was not then.
15 Nymphas - Probably an eminent Christian at Laodicea.
16 The epistle from Laodicea - Not to Laodicea. Perhaps some letter had been written to St. Paul from thence.
17 And say to Archippus - One of the pastors of that church. 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 real. The ministry - Not a lordship, but a service; a laborious and painful work; an obligation to do and suffer all things; to be the least, and the servant, of all. In the Lord - Christ by whom, and for whose sake, we receive the various gifts of the Holy Spirit.

This document (last modified October 01, 1997) from