Colossians Chapter 3:23-25; 4:2-13, 17 Antique Commentary Quotes

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Col 3:23
And — omitted in the oldest manuscripts (compare Eph_6:7, Eph_6:8). Compare the same principle in the case of all men, Hezekiah (2Ch_31:21; Rom_12:11).

do, do it — two distinct Greek verbs, “Whatsoever ye do, work at it” (or “labor at” it).

heartily — not from servile constraint, but with hearty good will.

A.T. Robert5son
Col 3:23
Whatsoever ye do (ho ean poiēte). See same idiom in Col_3:17 except ho instead of pān hoti.

Heartily (ek psuchēs). From the soul and not with mere eye service. In Eph_6:7 Paul adds met’ eunoias (with good will) in explanation of ek psuchēs.

As unto the Lord (hōs tōi Kuriōi). Even when unto men. This is the highest test of worthwhile service. If it were only always true!

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Col 3:24
the reward of the inheritance — “Knowing that it is from the Lord (the ultimate source of reward), ye shall receive the compensation (or recompense, which will make ample amends for your having no earthly possession as slaves now) consisting of the inheritance” (a term excluding the notion of meriting it by works: it is all of grace, Rom_4:14; Gal_3:18).

for ye serve — The oldest manuscripts omit “for,” then translate as Vulgate, “Serve ye the Lord Christ;” compare Col_3:23, “To the Lord and not unto men” (1Co_7:22, 1Co_7:23).

A.T. Robertson
Col 3:24
Ye shall receive (apolēmpsesthe). Future middle indicative of apolambanō, old verb, to get back (apo), to recover.

The recompense (antapodosin). “The full recompense,” old word, in lxx, but only here in N.T., but antapodoma twice (Luk_14:12; Rom_11:9). Given back (apo) in return (anti).

Ye serve the Lord Christ (to Kuriōi Christōi douleuete). As his slaves and gladly so. Perhaps better as imperatives, keep on serving.

Adam Clarke
Col 3:25
But he that doeth wrong – It is possible for an unfaithful servant to wrong and defraud his master in a great variety of ways without being detected; but let all such remember what is here said: He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done; God sees him, and will punish him for his breach of honesty and trust. Wasting, or not taking proper care of the goods of your master, is such a wrong as God will resent. He that is unfaithful in that which is little, will be unfaithful in much, if he have opportunity; and God alone is the defense against an unfaithful servant.

There is no respect – God neither esteems nor despises any man because of his outward condition and circumstances; for there is no respect of persons with him. Every man is, in the eye of God, what he is in his soul: if holy, loved; if wicked, despised and rejected.

A.T. Robertson
Col 3:25
Shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done (komisetai ho ēdikēsen). It is not clear whether ho adikōn (he that doeth wrong) is the master or the slave. It is true of either and Lightfoot interprets it of both, “shall receive back the wrong which he did.” This is a general law of life and of God and it is fair and square.

There is no respect of persons (ouk estin prosōpolēmpsia). There is with men, but not with God. For this word patterned after the Hebrew see note on Rom_2:11; Eph_6:9; Jam_2:1 The next verse should be in this chapter also.

John Calvin
Col 4:2
2. Continue in prayer. He returns to general exhortations, in which we must not expect an exact order, for in that case he would have begun with prayer, but Paul had not an eye to that. Farther, as to prayer, he commends here two things; first, assiduity; secondly, alacrity, or earnest intentness. For, when he says, continue, he exhorts to perseverance, while he makes mention of watchingin opposition to coldness, and listlessness.

He adds, thanksgiving, because God must be solicited for present necessity in such a way that, in the mean time, we do not forget favors already received. Farther, we ought not to be so importunate as to murmur, and feel offended if God does not immediately gratify our wishes, but must receive contentedly whatever he gives. Thus a twofold giving of thanks is necessary. As to this point something has also been said in the Epistle to the Philippians. (Phi_4:6.)

Adam Clarke
Col 4:2
Continue in prayer – This was the apostle’s general advice to all; without this, neither wives, husbands, children, parents, servants, nor masters, could fulfill the duties which God, in their respective stations, required of them.

All might, power, and life come from God; his creatures are continually dependent upon him for all these: to earnest, persevering prayer, he has promised every supply; but he who prays not has no promise. How few wives feel it their duty to pray to God to give them grace to behave as wives! How few husbands pray for the grace suited to their situation, that they may be able to fulfill its duties! The like may be said of children, parents, servants, and masters. As every situation in life has its peculiar duties, trials, etc.; so to every situation there is peculiar grace appointed. No man can fulfill the duties of any station without the grace suited to that station. The grace suited to him, as a member of society in general, will not be sufficient for him as a husband, father, or master. Many proper marriages become unhappy in the end, because the parties have not earnestly besought God for the grace necessary for them as husbands and wives. This is the origin of family broils in general; and a proper attention to the apostle’s advice would prevent them all.

Watch in the same – Be always on your guard; and when you have got the requisite grace by praying, take care of it, and bring it into its proper action by watchfulness; by which you will know when, and where, and how to apply it.

With thanksgiving – Being always grateful to God, who has called you into such a state of salvation, and affords you such abundant means and opportunities to glorify him.

Jamieson, Fausset,and Brown
Col 4:2
Continue — Greek, “Continue perseveringly,” “persevere” (Eph_6:18), “watching thereunto”; here, “watch in the same,” or “in it,” that is, in prayer: watching against the indolence as to prayer, and in prayer, of our corrupt wills.

with thanksgiving — for everything, whether joyful, or sorrowful, mercies temporal and spiritual, national, family, and individual (1Co_14:17; Phi_4:6; 1Th_5:18).

Albert Barnes
Col 4:2
Continue in prayer – That is, do not neglect it; observe it at all stated times; maintain the spirit of prayer, and embrace all proper occasions to engage in it; compare the Luk_18:1 note; Eph_6:18 note; 1Th_4:17 note.

And watch in the same with thanksgiving – Watch for favorable opportunities; watch that your mind may be in a right frame when you pray: and watch, that when your mind is in a right frame you may not neglect to pray; see the Eph_6:18 note; Phi_4:6.

John calvin
Col 4:3
3. Pray also for us. He does not say this by way of pretense, but because, being conscious to himself of his own necessity, he was earnestly desirous to be aided by their prayers, and was fully persuaded that they would be of advantage to them. Who then, in the present day, would dare to despise the intercessions of brethren, which Paul openly declares himself to stand in need of? And, unquestionably, it is not in vain that the Lord has appointed this exercise of love between us — that we pray for each other. Not only, therefore, ought each of us to pray for his brethren, but we ought also, on our part, diligently to seek help from the prayers of others, as often as occasion requires. It is, however, a childish argument on the part of Papists, who infer from this, that the dead must be implored to pray for us. For what is there here that bears any resemblance to this? Paul commends himself to the prayers of the brethren, with whom he knows that he has mutual fellowship according to the commandment of God: who will deny that this reason does not hold in the case of the dead? Leaving, therefore, such trifles, let us return to Paul.

As we have a signal example of modesty, in the circumstance that Paul calls others to his assistance, so we are also admonished, that it is a thing that is replete with the greatest difficulty, to persevere steadfastly in the defense of the gospel, and especially when danger presses. For it is not without cause that he desires that the Churches may assist him in this matter. Consider, too, at the same time, his amazing ardor of zeal. He is not solicitous as to his own safety; he does not ask that prayers may be poured forth by the Churches on his behalf, that he may be delivered from danger of death. He is contented with this one thing, that he may, unconquered and undaunted, persevere in a confession of the gospel; nay more, he fearlessly makes his own life a secondary matter, as compared with the glory of Christ and the spread of the gospel.

By a door of utterance, however, he simply means what, in Eph_6:19, he terms the opening of the mouth, and what Christ calls a mouth and wisdom. (Luk_21:15.) For the expression differs nothing from the other in meaning, but merely in form, for he here intimates, by all elegant metaphor, that it is in no degree easier for us to speak confidently respecting the gospel, than to break through a door that is barred and bolted. For this is truly a divine work, as Christ himself said, It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you. (Mat_10:20.)

Having, therefore, set forward the difficulty, he stirs up the Colossians the more to prayer, by declaring that he cannot speak right, except in so far as his tongue is directed by the Lord. Secondly, he argues from the dignity of the matter, when he calls the gospel the mystery of Christ. For we must labor in a more perfunctory manner in a matter of such importance. Thirdly, he makes mention also of his danger.

Adam Clarke
Col 4:3
Praying also for us – Let the success and spread of the Gospel be ever dear to you; and neglect not to pray fervently to God that it may have free course, run, and be glorified.

A door of utterance – Θυραν του λογου· The word θυρα, which commonly signifies a door, or such like entrance into a house or passage through a wall, is often used metaphorically for an entrance to any business, occasion or opportunity to commence or perform any particular work. So in Act_14:27 : The Door of faith is opened to the Gentiles; i.e. there is now an opportunity of preaching the Gospel to the nations of the earth. 1Co_16:9 : A great and effectual Door is opened unto me; i.e. I have now a glorious opportunity of preaching the truth to the people of Ephesus. 2Co_2:12 : When I came to Troas – a Door was opened unto me; I had a fine opportunity of preaching Christ crucified at that place. So, here, the θυρατου λογου, which we translate door of utterance, signifies an occasion, opportunity, or entrance, for the doctrine of the Gospel. The same metaphor is used by the best Latin writers. Cicero, xiii. Ep. 10: Amiciliae fores aperiuntur; the Doors of friendship are opened – there is now an opportunity of reconciliation. And Ovid, Amor. lib. iii., Eleg. xii. ver. 12: – “The gate is opened by 0ur hands.”

Of this use of the word among the Greek writers Schleusner gives several examples. See also Rev_3:8, where the word is used in the same sense. To multiply examples would be needless; the apostle excites them to pray, not that a door of utterance, i.e. a readiness and fluency of speech, may be given to him and his fellow laborers, but that they may have an opportunity of preaching the doctrine of Christ; and so the term λογος is to be understood here, as well as in many other places of the New Testament, in most of which we have either lost or obscured its meaning by translating it word instead of doctrine.

The mystery of Christ – The Gospel, which had been hidden from all former times, and which revealed that purpose long hidden in the Divine councils, that the Gentiles should be called to enjoy the same privileges with the Jews.

For which I am also in bonds – He was suffering under Jewish malice, and for preaching this very mystery; for they could not bear to hear announced, as from heaven, that the Gentiles, whom they considered eternally shut out from any participation of the Divine favor, should be made fellow heirs with them of the grace of life; much less could they bear to hear that they were about to be reprobated, and the Gentiles elected in their place. It was for asserting these things that they persecuted Paul at Jerusalem, so that to save his life he was obliged to appeal to Caesar; and being taken to Rome, he was detained a prisoner till his case was fully heard; and he was a prisoner at Rome on this very account when he wrote this Epistle to the Colossians.

jamieson, fausset,and Brown
Col 4:3
for us — myself and Timothy (Col_1:1).

a door of utterance — Translate, “a door for the word.” Not as in Eph_6:19, where power of “utterance” is his petition. Here it is an opportunity for preaching the word, which would be best afforded by his release from prison (1Co_16:9; 2Co_2:12; Phm_1:22; Rev_3:8).

to speak — so that we may speak.

the mystery of Christ — (Col_1:27).

for which … also — on account of which I am (not only “an ambassador,” Eph_6:20, but) ALSO in bonds.

Albert Barnes
Col 4:3
Withal – With all the supplications which you offer for other persons and things; or at the same time that you pray for them.

Praying also for us – Notes, Eph_6:19-20; compare 2Co_1:11; Phi_1:19; Heb_13:18-19.

That God would open to us a door of utterance – To preach the gospel. He earnestly desired to have liberty to preach the gospel, and asked them to pray that this might be restored to him; see the notes at Eph_6:19.

To speak the mystery of Christ – Called in Eph_6:19, the “mystery of the gospel;” see the notes there.

For which I also am in bonds – A prisoner at Rome; Notes, Eph_6:20.

A.T. Robertson
Col 4:3
Withal (hama). At the same time.

That God may open (hina ho theos anoixēi). Common use of hina and the subjunctive (aorist), the sub-final use so common in the N.T. as in the Koiné.

A door for the word (thuran tou logou). Objective genitive, a door for preaching. It is comforting to other preachers to see the greatest of all preachers here asking prayer that he may be set free again to preach. He uses this figure elsewhere, once of a great and open door with many adversaries in Ephesus (1Co_16:9), once of an open door that he could not enter in Troas (2Co_2:12).

The mystery of Christ (to mustērion tou Christou). The genitive of apposition, the mystery which is Christ (Col_2:2), one that puts out of comparison the foolish “mysteries” of the Gnostics.

For which I am also in bonds (di’ ho kai dedemai). Perfect passive indicative of deō. Paul is always conscious of this limitation, this chain. At bottom he is a prisoner because of his preaching to the Gentiles.

John Calvin
Col 4:4
4. As I ought. This clause sets forth more strongly the difficulty, for he intimates that it is no ordinary matter. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, (Eph_6:20,) he adds, ἵνα παῤῥησιάσωμαι, (that I may speak boldly,) from which it appears that he desired for himself an undaunted confidence, such as befits the majesty of the gospel. Farther, as Paul here does nothing else than desire that grace may be given him for the discharge of his office, let us bear in mind that a rule is in like manner prescribed to us, not to give way to the fury of our adversaries, but to strive even to death in the publication of the gospel. As this, however, is beyond our power, it is necessary that we should continue in prayer, that the Lord may not leave us destitute of the spirit of confidence.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Col 4:4
Alford thinks that Paul asks their prayers for his release as if it were the “only” way by which he could “make it (the Gospel) manifest” as he ought. But while this is included in their subject of prayer, Phi_1:12, Phi_1:13, written somewhat later in his imprisonment, clearly shows that “a door for the word” could be opened, and was opened, for its manifestation, even while he remained imprisoned (compare 2Ti_2:9).

A.T. Robertson
Col 4:4
As I ought to speak (hōs dei me lalēsai). Wonderful as Paul’s preaching was to his hearers and seems to us, he was never satisfied with it. What preacher can be?

John Calvin
Col 4:5
5. Walk wisely.He makes mention of those that are without, in contrast with those that are of the household of faith. (Gal_6:10.) For the Church is like a city of which all believers are the inhabitants, connected with each other by a mutual relationship, while unbelievers are strangers. But why would he have regard to be had to them, rather than to believers? There are three reasons: first, lest any stumbling block be put in, the way of the blind, (Lev_19:14,)
for nothing is more ready to occur, than that unbelievers are driven from bad to worse through our imprudence, and their minds are wounded, so that they hold religion more and more in abhorrence.

Secondly, it is lest any occasion may be given for detracting from the honor of the gospel, and thus the name of Christ be exposed to derision, persons be rendered more hostile, and disturbances and persecutions be stirred up. Lastly, it is, lest, while we are mingled together, in partaking of food, and on other occasions, we be defiled by their pollutions, and by little and little become profane.

To the same effect, also, is what follows, redeeming the time, that is, because intercourse with them is dangerous. For in Eph_5:16, he assigns the reason, because the days are evil. “Amidst so great a corruption as prevails in the world we must seize opportunities of doing good, and we must struggle against impediments.” The more, therefore, that our path is blocked up with occasions of offense, so much the more carefully must we take heed lest our feet should stumble, or we should stop short through indolence.

Jamieson, fausset, and Brown
Col 4:5
(See on Eph_5:15, Eph_5:16.)
in wisdom — practical Christian prudence.

them … without — Those not in the Christian brotherhood (1Co_5:12; 1Th_4:12). The brethren, through love, will make allowances for an indiscreet act or word of a brother; the world will make none. Therefore be the more on your guard in your intercourse with the latter, lest you be a stumbling-block to their conversion.

redeeming the time — The Greek expresses, buying up for yourselves, and buying off from worldly vanities the opportunity, whenever it is afforded you, of good to yourselves and others. “Forestall the opportunity, that is, to buy up an article out of the market, so as to make the largest profit from it” [Conybeare and Howson].

Albert Barnes
Col 4:5
Walk in wisdom – That is, conduct uprightly and honestly. Deal with them on the strictest principles of integrity, so that they may not have occasion to reproach the religion which you profess.

Toward them that are without – Without the pale of the church, or who are not professing Christians; see the notes at 1Co_5:12. They were surrounded by pagans, as Christians now are by men of the world. The injunction is one that requires us to act with prudence and propriety (ἐν σοφίᾳ en sophia toward them; and there is perhaps not a more important direction in the New Testament than this. Among the reasons for this are the following:

(1) People of the world judge of religion, not from the profession, but from the life of its friends.

(2) they judge of religion, not from preaching, or from books, or from the conduct of its Founder and his apostles, but from what they see in the daily walk and conversation of the members of the church.

(3) they understand the nature of religion so well as to know when its friends are or are not consistent with their profession.

(4) they set a much higher value on honesty and integrity than they do on the doctrines and duties of religion; and if the professed friends of religion are destitute of the principles of truth and honesty, they think they have nothing of any value. They may be very devout on the Sabbath; very regular at prayer-meetings; very strict in the observance of rites and ceremonies – but all these are of little worth in the estimation of the world, unless attended with an upright life.

(5) no professing Christian can possibly do good to others who does not live an upright life. If you have cheated a man out of never so small a sum, it is vain that you talk to him about the salvation of his soul; if you have failed to pay him a debt when it was due, or to finish a piece of work when you promised it, or to tell him the exact truth in conversation, it is vain for you to endeavor to induce him to be a Christian. He will feel, if he does not say – and he might very properly say – that he wants no religion which will not make a man honest.

(6) no person will attempt to do much good to others whose own life is not upright. He will be sensible of the inconsistency, and will feel that he cannot do it with any sense of propriety; and the honor of religion, therefore, and the salvation of our fellow-men, demand that in all our intercourse with others, we should lead lives of the strictest integrity.
Redeeming the time – Notes, Eph_5:6.

John Calvin
Col 4:6
6. Your speech. He requires suavity of speech, such as may allure the hearers by its profitableness, for he does not merely condemn communications that are openly wicked or impious, but also such as are worthless and idle. Hence he would have them seasoned with salt. Profane men have their seasonings of discourse, but he does not speak of them; nay more, as witticisms are insinuating, and for the most part procure favor, he indirectly prohibits believers from the practice and familiar use of them. For he reckons as tasteless everything that does not edify. The term grace is employed in the same sense, so as to be opposed to talkativeness, taunts, and all sorts of trifles which are either injurious or vain.

That ye may know how.The man who has accustomed himself to caution in his communications will not fall into many absurdities, into which talkative and prating persons fall into from time to time, but, by constant practice, will acquire for himself expertness in making proper and suitable replies; as, on the other hand, it must necessarily happen, that silly talkers expose themselves to derision whenever they are interrogated as to anything; and in this they pay the just punishment of their silly talkativeness. Nor does he merely say what, but also how, and not to all indiscriminately, but to everyone. For this is not the least important part of prudence — to have due regard to individuals.

jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Col 4:6
with grace — Greek, “IN grace” as its element (Col_3:16; Eph_4:29). Contrast the case of those “of the world” who “therefore speak of the world” (1Jo_4:5). Even the smallest leaf of the believer should be full of the sap of the Holy Spirit (Jer_17:7, Jer_17:8). His conversation should be cheerful without levity, serious without gloom. Compare Luk_4:22; Joh_7:46, as to Jesus’ speech.

seasoned with salt — that is, the savor of fresh and lively spiritual wisdom and earnestness, excluding all “corrupt communication,” and also tasteless insipidity (Mat_5:13; Mar_9:50; Eph_4:29). Compare all the sacrifices seasoned with salt (Lev_2:13). Not far from Colosse, in Phrygia, there was a salt lake, which gives to the image here the more appropriateness.

how ye ought to answer every man — (1Pe_3:15).

Albert Barnes
Col 4:6
Let your speech – Your conversation. In the previous verse the apostle had given a general direction that our conduct toward those who are not professing Christians should be wise and prudent; he here gives a particular direction in regard to our conversation.

Be alway with grace – Imbued with the spirit of religion. It should be such as religion is fitted to produce; such as to show that the grace of God is in our hearts. Bloomfield supposes that this means “courteous and agreeable, not morose and melancholy.” But though this may be included, and though the rule here laid down would lead to that, it cannot be all that is intended. It rather means that our conversation should be such as to show that we are governed by the principles of religion, and that there is unfeigned piety in the heart. This will indeed make us mild, courteous, agreeable, and urbane in our conversation; but it will do more than this. It will imbue our discourse with the spirit of religion, so as to show that the soul is under the influence of love to the Redeemer.

Seasoned with salt – Salt, among the Greeks, was the emblem of wit. Here the meaning seems to be, that our conversation should be seasoned with piety or grace in a way similar to that in which we employ salt in our food. It makes it wholesome and palatable. So with our conversation. If it be not imbued with the spirit of piety, it is flat, insipid, unprofitable, injurious. The spirit of piety will make it what it should be – useful, agreeable, beneficial to mankind. This does not mean that our conversation is to be always, strictly speaking, religious – wherever we may be – any more than our food should be mere salt; but it means that, whatever be the topic, the spirit of piety should be diffused through it – as the salt in our food should properly season it all – whatever the article of food may be.

That ye may know how ye ought to answer every man – Be imbued with the spirit of piety, that you may not utter any thing that would be rash and foolish, but be prepared to answer anyone who may question you about your religion in a way that will show that you understand its nature, and that will tend to edification. This remark may be extended further. It may be understood as meaning also, “be imbued with the spirit of religion, and you will be able to answer any man appropriately on any subject. If he asks you about the evidence or the nature of religion, you will be able to reply to him. If he converses with you on the common topics of the day, you will be able to answer him in a mild, kind, affable spirit. If he asks you of things of which you are ignorant; if he introduces some topic of science with which you are not acquainted, you will not be ashamed to confess your ignorance, and to seek instruction. If he addresses you in a haughty, insolent, and overbearing manner, you will be able to repress the risings of your temper, and to answer him with gentleness and kindness; compare Luk_2:46.

A.T. Robertson
Col 4:6
Seasoned with salt (halati ērtumenos). The same verb artuō (old verb from airō, to fit, to arrange) about salt in Mar_9:50; Luk_14:34. Nowhere else in the N.T. Not too much salt, not too little. Plutarch uses salt of speech, the wit which flavours speech (cf. Attic salt). Our word salacious is this same word degenerated into vulgarity. Grace and salt (wit, sense) make an ideal combination. Every teacher will sympathize with Paul’s desire “that ye know how ye must answer each one” (eidenai pōs dei humas heni ekastōi apokrinesthai). Who does know?

John Calvin
Col 4:7
7My things. That the Colossians may know what concern he has for them, he confirms them, by giving them, in a manner, a pledge. For although he was in prison, and was in danger of his life, making care for himself a secondary matter, he consults for their interests by sending Tychicus to them. In this the singular zeal, no less than prudence of the holy Apostle, shines forth; for it is no small matter that, while he is held prisoner, and is in the most imminent danger on account of the gospel, he, nevertheless, does not cease to employ himself in advancing the gospel, and takes care of all the Churches. Thus, the body, indeed, is under confinement, but the mind, anxious to employ itself in everything good, roams far and wide. His prudence shews itself in his sending a fit and prudent person to confirm them, as far as was necessary, and withstand the craftiness of the false apostles; and, farther, in his retaining Epaphras beside himself, until they should come to learn what and how great an agreement there was in doctrine among all true teachers, and might hear from Tychicus the same thing that they had previously learned from Epaphras. Let us carefully meditate on these examples, that they may stir us up to all imitation of the like pursuit.

Adam Clarke
Col 4:7
All my state shall Tychicus – See the note on Eph_6:21. Tychicus well knew the apostle’s zeal and perseverance in preaching the Gospel, his sufferings on that account, his success in converting both Jews and Gentiles, and the converts which were made in Caesar’s household; he could give these to the Colossians in ample detail, and some of them it would not have been prudent to commit to writing.

Marvin Vincent
Col 4:7
Tychicus
Mentioned Act_20:4; Eph_6:21; 2Ti_4:12; Tit_3:12.

Minister (διάκονος)
Probably to Paul himself. Compare Act_19:22; Act_20:4. Scarcely in the official sense of deacon.

Fellow-servant (σύνδουλος)
Used by Paul only here and Col_1:7, of Epaphras. By this term he designates Tychicus as, in common with himself, a servant of Jesus Christ. Probably not with a strict, but with a quasi official reference.

John Calvin
Col 4:9
He adds, Onesimus, that the embassy may have the more weight. It is, however, uncertain who this Onesimus was. For it can scarcely be believed that this is the slave of Philemon, inasmuch as the name of a thief and a fugitive would have been liable to reproach. He distinguishes both of them by honorable titles, that they may do the more good, and especially Tychicus, who was to exercise the office of an instructor.

Albert Barnes
Col 4:9
With Onesimus – Who had been formerly a servant of Philemon, an inhabitant of Colossae; see the notes at Phm_1:10. Onesimus had probably been recently converted; and Paul felt toward him the warm attachment of a brother; Phm_1:16. In what way he became acquainted with him is unknown. A more full account of him will be found in the notes at the Epistle to Philemon.

Who is one of you – That is, either who is from your city, or one of your own people and nation. It is clear from this, that Onesimus was from Phrygia, and probably from the city of Colossae itself. It would seem also that he was of a higher rank than is designated by the word “slave” now. He was, indeed, a “servant” δοῦλος doulos – of Philemon, but would the apostle have addressed the Colossians, and said that he was “one of them,” if he had occupied precisely the condition which is now denoted by the word “slave”?

Would a minister of the gospel now in the Northern States, who should send a letter by a run-away slave to a community of masters at the South, say of him that he was “one of them?” Would it be kindly received, or produce a good impression, if he did? There is reason, therefore, to think that Onesimus was not a slave in the proper sense, but that he might have been a respectable youth, who had bound himself to service for a term of years; compare Phm_1:18.

They shall make known to you all things which are done here – Relating to Paul himself and the state of the church in Rome. As the Epistle which Paul sent was designed not only for them, but to be a part of the volume of revealed truth, he wrote only those things which would be of permanent interest. Other matters he left for those who carried the Epistle to communicate. It would also serve to give Tychicus and Onesimus more respectability in view of the church at Colossae, if he referred the church to them for information on important points.

John Calvin
Col 4:10
10. Fellow-prisoner.From this it appears that there were others that were associated with Paul, after he was brought to Rome. It is also probable that his enemies exerted themselves, in the outset, to deter all pious persons from giving him help, by threatening them with the like danger, and that this for a time had the desired effect; but that afterwards some, gathering up courage, despised everything that was held out to them in the way of terror.

That ye receive him.Some manuscripts have receive in the imperative mood; but it is a mistake, for he expresses the nature of the charge which the Colossians had received — that it was a commendation of either Barnabas, or of Marcus. The latter is the more probable. In the Greek it is the infinitive mood, but it may be rendered in the way I have done. Let us, however, observe, that they were careful in furnishing attestations, that they might distinguish good men from false brethren — from pretenders, from impostors, and multitudes of vagrants. The same care is more than simply necessary at the present day, both because good teachers are coldly received, and because credulous and foolish men lay themselves too open to be deceived by impostors.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Col 4:10
Aristarchus — a Macedonian of Thessalonica (Act_27:2), who was dragged into the theater at Ephesus, during the tumult with Gaius, they being “Paul’s companions in travel.” He accompanied Paul to Asia (Act_20:4), and subsequently (Act_27:2) to Rome. He was now at Rome with Paul (compare Phm_1:23, Phm_1:24). As he is here spoken of as Paul’s “fellow prisoner,” but in Phm_1:24 as Paul’s “fellow laborer”; and vice versa, Epaphras in Phm_1:23, as his “fellow prisoner,” but here (Col_1:7) “fellow servant,” Meyer in Alford, conjectures that Paul’s friends voluntarily shared his imprisonment by turns, Aristarchus being his fellow prisoner when he wrote to the Colossians, Epaphras when he wrote to Philemon. The Greek for “fellow prisoner” is literally, fellow captive, an image from prisoners taken in warfare, Christians being “fellow soldiers” (Phi_2:25; Phm_1:2), whose warfare is “the good fight of faith.”

Mark — John Mark (Act_12:12, Act_12:25); the Evangelist according to tradition.

sister’s son — rather, “cousin,” or “kinsman to Barnabas”; the latter being the better known is introduced to designate Mark. The relationship naturally accounts for Barnabas’ selection of Mark as his companion when otherwise qualified; and also for Mark’s mother’s house at Jerusalem being the place of resort of Christians there (Act_12:12). The family belonged to Cyprus (Act_4:36); this accounts for Barnabas’ choice of Cyprus as the first station on their journey (Act_13:4), and for Mark’s accompanying them readily so far, it being the country of his family; and for Paul’s rejecting him at the second journey for not having gone further than Perga, in Pamphylia, but having gone thence home to his mother at Jerusalem (Mat_10:37) on the first journey (Act_13:13).

touching whom — namely, Mark.

ye received commandments — possibly before the writing of this Epistle; or the “commandments” were verbal by Tychicus, and accompanying this letter, since the past tense was used by the ancients (where we use the present) in relation to the time which it would be when the letter was read by the Colossians. Thus (Phm_1:19), “I have written,” for “I write.” The substance of them was, “If he come unto you, receive him.” Paul’s rejection of him on his second missionary journey, because he had turned back at Perga on the first journey (Act_13:13; Act_15:37-39), had caused an alienation between himself and Barnabas. Christian love soon healed the breach; for here he implies his restored confidence in Mark, makes honorable allusion to Barnabas, and desires that those at Colosse who had regarded Mark in consequence of that past error with suspicion, should now “receive” him with kindness. Colosse is only about one hundred ten miles from Perga, and less than twenty from the confines of Pisidia, through which province Paul and Barnabas preached on their return during the same journey. Hence, though Paul had not personally visited the Colossian Church, they knew of the past unfaithfulness of Mark; and needed this recommendation of him, after the temporary cloud on him, so as to receive him, now that he was about to visit them as an evangelist. Again, in Paul’s last imprisonment, he, for the last time, speaks of Mark (2Ti_4:11).

Albert Barnes
Col 4:10
Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner – Aristarchus was of Thessalonica, and is mentioned in Act_19:29; Act_20:4, as Paul’s companion in his travels. In Act_27:2, it is said that he accompanied him in his voyage to Rome, and from the passage before us it appears that he was there imprisoned with him. As he held the same sentiments as Paul, and was united with him in his travels and labors, it was natural that he should be treated in the same manner. He, together with Gaius, had been seized in the tumult at Ephesus and treated with violence, but he adhered to the apostle in all his troubles, and attended him all his perils. Nothing further is certainly known of him, though “the Greeks say that he was bishop of Assamea in Syria, and was beheaded with Paul at Rome, under Nero” – Calmet.

And Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas – John Mark, in relation to whom Paul and Barnabas had formerly disagreed so much as to cause a separation between Barnabas and Paul. The ground of the disagreement was, that Barnabas wished to take him, probably on account of relationship, with them in their travels; Paul was unwilling to take him, because he had, on one occasion, departed from them; Notes, Act_15:37-39. They afterward became reconciled, and Paul mentions Mark here with affection. He sent for him when he sent Tychicus to Ephesus, and it seems that he had come to him in obedience to his request; 2Ti_4:11. Mark had probably become more decided, and Paul did not harbor unkind and unforgiving feelings toward anyone.

Touching whom ye received commandments – What these directions were, and how they were communicated, whether verbally or by writing, is now unknown. It was, not improbably, on some occasion when Paul was with them. He refers to it here in order that they might know distinctly whom he meant.

If he come to you, receive him – In Phm_1:24, Mark is mentioned as a” fellow-laborer” of Paul. It would seem probable, therefore, that he was not a prisoner. Paul here intimates that he was about to leave Rome, and he enjoins it on the Colossians to receive him kindly. This injunction may have been necessary, as the Colossians may have been aware of the breach between him and Paul, and may have been disposed to regard him with suspicion. Paul retained no malice, and now commended, in the warmest manner, one from whom he was formerly constrained to separate.

John Calvin
Col 4:11
11. These only are fellow-workers,— that is, of the circumcision; for he afterwards names others, but they were of the uncircumcision. He means, therefore, that there were few Jews at Rome who shewed themselves to be helpers to the gospel, nay more, that the whole nation was opposed to Christ. At the same time, by workershe means those only who were endowed with gifts that were necessary for promoting the gospel. But where was Peter at that time? Unquestionably, he has either been shamefully passed over here, and not without injustice, or else those speak falsely who maintain that he was then at Rome. Farther, he calls the gospel the kingdom of God, for it is the scepter by which God reigns over us, and by means of it we are singled out to life eternal. But of this form of expression we shall treat more fully elsewhere.

Adam Clarke
Col 4:11
Jesus, which is called Justus – Jesus, Joshua, or Jehoshua, was his name among his countrymen the Jews; Justus was the name which he bore among the Greeks and Romans.

These only – That is, only Aristarchus, Marcus, and Jesus Justus, who were formerly Jews or proselytes; for οἱ οντες εκ περιτομης, they were of the circumcision, and assisted the apostle in preaching the Gospel. There were others who did preach Christianity, but they did it from envy and strife, in order to add affliction to the apostle’s bonds. It is evident, therefore, that St. Peter was not now at Rome, else he certainly would have been mentioned in this list; for we cannot suppose that he was in the list of those who preached Christ in an exceptionable way, and from impure and unholy motives: indeed, there is no evidence that St. Peter ever saw Rome. And as it cannot be proved that he ever was bishop or pope of that city, the keystone of the triumphal arch of the pope of Rome is pulled out; this building, therefore, of his supremacy, cannot stand.

Jamieson, fausset, and Brown
Col 4:11
Justus — that is, righteous; a common name among the Jews; Hebrew, “tzadik” (Act_1:23).

of the circumcision — This implies that Epaphras, Luke, and Demas (Col_4:12, Col_4:14) were not of the circumcision. This agrees with Luke’s Gentile name (the same as Lucanus), and the Gentile aspect of his Gospel.

These only, etc. — namely, of the Jews. For the Jewish teachers were generally opposed to the apostle of the Gentiles (Phi_1:15). Epaphras, etc., were also fellow laborers, but Gentiles.

unto — that is, in promoting the Gospel kingdom.

which have been — Greek, “which have been made,” or “have become,” that is, inasmuch as they have become a comfort to me. The Greek implies comfort in forensic dangers; a different Greek word expresses comfort in domestic affliction [Bengel].

John calvin
Col 4:12
12Always striving.Here we have an example of a good pastor, whom distance of place cannot induce to forget the Church, so as to prevent him from taking the care of it with him beyond the sea. We must notice, also, the strength of entreaty that is expressed in the word striving. For although the Apostle had it in view here to express intensity of affection, he at the same time admonishes the Colossians not to look upon the prayers of their pastor as useless, but, on the contrary, to reckon that they would afford them no small assistance. Lastly, let us infer from Paul’s words, that the perfection of Christians is, when they stand complete in the will of God, that they may not suspend their scheme of life upon anything else.

Adam Clarke
Col 4:12
Epaphras, who is one of you – A native of some part of Phrygia, and probably of Colosse itself.

A servant of Christ – A minister of the Gospel.

Labouring fervently for you – Αγωνιζομενος· Agonizing; very properly expressed by our translators, labouring fervently.

That ye may stand perfect and complete – Ἱνα στητε τελειοι και πεπληρμενοι. That ye may stand firm, perfectly instructed, and fully persuaded of the truth of those doctrines which have been taught you as the revealed will of God: this I believe to be the meaning of the apostle.

Instead of πεπληρωμενοι, complete or filled up, almost all the MSS. of the Alexandrian rescension, which are considered the most authentic and correct, have πεπληροφορημενοι, that ye may be fully persuaded. The word πληροφορια signifies such a complete persuasion of the certainty of a thing, as leaves the mind which has it neither room nor inclination to doubt; and πληροφορεω, the verb, has the same meaning, viz., to be thus persuaded, or to persuade thus, by demonstrative argumentation and exhibition of unquestionable facts.

This is such a persuasion as the Spirit of God, by means of the Gospel, gives to every sincere and faithful man; and from which arises the solid happiness of the genuine Christian. They who argue against it, prove, at least, that they have not got it.

Marvin Vincent
Col 4:12
Laboring fervently (ἀγωνιζόμενος)
Rev., striving. See on Col_1:29; see on Col_2:1. Compare Rom_15:30.

Perfect (τέλειοι)
See on 1Co_2:6, 1Co_2:7; see on 1Co_1:28.

Complete (πεπληροφορημένοι)
See on most surely believed, Luk_1:1; and compare full assurance, Col_2:2. Rev., fully assured.

In all the will (ἐν παντὶ θελήματι)
Lit., in every will. Will means the thing willed, as Luk_12:47; James 5:30; 1Th_5:18. Hence used sometimes in the plural, as Act_13:22, shall do all my will (θελήματα), i.e., perform all the things willed by me. Eph_2:3, desires, strictly willings. So here the sense is, everything willed by God. The connection is apparently with σταθῆτε ye may stand. For a similar construction see Joh_8:44; Rom_5:2; 1Co_15:1; 1Co_16:13. As Meyer observes, this connection gives stand both a modal definition (perfect and fully assured) and a local definition (in all the will).

Adam Clarke
Col 4:13
He hath a great zeal for you – Instead of ζηλον πολυν, much zeal, ABCD**, several others, with versions and fathers, read πολυν πονον, much labor; they are here nearly of the same meaning, though the latter appears to be the better and genuine reading.
Laodicea, and – Hierapolis – These were both cities of Phrygia, between which Colosse, or the city of Colassa, was situated. See Col_2:1. The latter was called Hierapolis, or the holy city, from the multitude of its temples. Apollo, Diana, Esculapius, and Hygeia, were all worshipped here, as appears by the coins of this city still extant.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Col 4:13
a great zeal — The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate have “much labor.”

for you — lest you should be seduced (Col_2:4); a motive why you should be anxious for yourselves.

them that are in Laodicea … Hierapolis — churches probably founded by Epaphras, as the Church in Colosse was. Laodicea, called from Laodice, queen of Antiochus II, on the river Lycus, was, according to the subscription to First Timothy, “the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana” (1Ti_6:21). All the three cities were destroyed by an earthquake in a.d. 62 [Tacitus, Annals, 14.27]. Hierapolis was six Roman miles north of Laodicea.

Albert Barnes
Col 4:13
For I bear him record – Paul had had abundant opportunity to know what were his feelings in regard to these churches.

A great zeal for you – A great desire to promote your welfare.

And them that are in Laodicea – Laodicea was the capital of Phrygia, and not far from Colossae, There was a church there. See the Introduction, and the notes at Col_4:16.

And them in Hierapolis – This was also a city in Phrygia, and not far from Laodicea and Colossae. It was situated under a hill to the north, and had on the south a large plain about five miles over. On the south of that plain, and opposite to Hierapolis, was Laodicea, with the river Lycus running between them, nearer to Laodicea than to Hierapolls. This place is now called by the Turks Pambuck-Kulasi, or the Cotton-Tower, on account of the white cliffs which lie round about it. It is now utterly forsaken and desolate, but the ruins are so magnificent as to show that it was once one of the most splendid cities in the East. It was celebrated for the hot springs in its vicinity; and on account of the numerous temples erected there, it received the name of Hierapolis, or the holy city. The principal deity worshipped there was Apollo. See Travels by T. Smith. B. D. 1678. Compare the notes at Col_4:16. From the allusion to it here, it would seem that there were Christians there in the time of Paul, though there is no mention of a church there. It is nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament.

John Calvin
Col 4:17
17Say to Archippus.So far as I can conjecture, this Archippus was, in the mean time, discharging the office of pastor, during the absence of Epaphras; but perhaps he was not of such a disposition as to be sufficiently diligent of himself without being stirred up. Paul, accordingly, would have him be more fully encouraged by the exhortation of the whole Church. He might have admonished him in his own name individually; but he gives this charge to the Colossians that they may know that they must themselves employ incitements, if they see their pastor cold, and the pastor himself does not refuse to be admonished by the Church. For the ministers of the word are endowed with signal authority, but such at the same time as is not exempt from laws. Hence, it is necessary that they should shew themselves teachable if they would duly teach others. As to Paul’s calling attention again to his bonds, he intimates by this that he was in no slight degree afflicted. For he was mindful of human infirmity, and without doubt he felt some twinges of it in himself, inasmuch as he was so very urgent that all pious persons, should be mindful of his distresses. It is, however, no evidence of distrust, that he calls in from all quarters the helps that were appointed him by the Lord. The subscription, with his own hand, means, as we have seen elsewhere, that there were even then spurious epistles in circulation, so that it was necessary to provide against imposition.

Adam Clarke
Col 4:17
Say to Archippus – Who this person was we cannot tell; there have been various conjectures concerning him; some think he was bishop, or overseer of the Church at Colosse, in the absence of Epaphras. Whatever he was, it has been supposed that he had been remiss in discharging the duties of his office; and hence this direction of the apostle, which appears here in the light of a reprehension. But if the same person be meant as in the Epistle to Philemon, Phm_1:2, whom St. Paul calls his fellow laborer and fellow soldier, it cannot be supposed that any reproof is here intended; for, as the Epistle to the Colossians, and that to Philemon, were evidently written about the end of the year 62, Archippus could not be a fellow laborer and fellow soldier of the apostle at Rome, and yet a delinquent at Colosse at the same time. It is more likely, therefore, that the words of the apostle convey no censure, but are rather intended to stir him up to farther diligence, and to encourage him in the work, seeing he had so much false doctrine and so many false teachers to contend with.

Jamieson, fausset, and Brown
Col 4:17
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_1:2). 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; Phi_4:2).

Albert Barnes
Col 4:17
And say to Archippus – Archippus is mentioned also in Phm_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 Act_1:17, Act_1:25; Act_6:4; Act_20:24; Act_21:19; Rom_11:13; 1Co_12:5; 2Co_3:7-9; 2Co_4:1; 2Co_5:18; 2Co_6:3; Eph_4:12), that he was not a deacon, properly so called, but that he was a preacher of the word. In Phm_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 Act_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.

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