Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
EARTHLY, ON THE
UNION TO THE
MAN, AND TO
PUT ON THE
1. If . . . then--The connection with
Col 2:18, 23,
is, he had condemned the "fleshly mind" and the "satiating to the full
the flesh"; in contrast to this he now says, "If then ye have been once
for all raised up (Greek, aorist tense) together with Christ"
(namely, at your conversion and baptism,
seek those things . . . above--
sitteth--rather, as Greek, "Where Christ is, sitting on the
right of God"
The Head being quickened, the members are also quickened with Him.
Where the Head is, there the members must be. The contrast is between
the believer's former state, alive to the world but dead to God, and
his present state, dead to the world but alive to God; and between the
earthly abode of the unbeliever and the heavenly abode of the believer
(1Co 15:47, 48).
We are already seated there in Him as our Head; and hereafter
shall be seated by Him, as the Bestower of our bliss. As Elisha
said to Elijah when about to ascend, "As the Lord liveth
. . . I will not leave thee"; so we must follow the ascended
Saviour with the wings of our meditations and the chariots of our
affections. We should trample upon and subdue our lusts that our
conversation may correspond to our Saviour's condition; that where the
eyes of apostles were forced to leave Him, thither our thoughts may
[PEARSON]. Of ourselves we can no more ascend than
a bar of iron lift itself up' from the earth. But the love of Christ
is a powerful magnet to draw us up
(Eph 2:5, 6).
The design of the Gospel is not merely to give rules, but mainly to
supply motives to holiness.
2. Translate, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the
Contrast "who mind earthly things"
Whatever we make an idol of, will either be a cross to us if we be
believers, or a curse to us if unbelievers.
3. The Greek aorist tense implies, "For ye have died once for
It is not said, Ye must die practically to the world in order to become
dead with Christ; but the latter is assumed as once for all
having taken place in the regeneration; what believers are told is,
Develop this spiritual life in practice. "No one longs for eternal,
incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this
temporal, corruptible, and mortal life" [AUGUSTINE].
and your life . . . hid--
like a seed buried in the earth; compare "planted,"
Mt 13:31, 33,
"like . . . leaven . . . hid." As the glory
of Christ now is hid from the world, so also the glory of believers'
inner life, proceeding from communion with Him, is still hidden with
Christ in God; but
when Christ, the Source of this life, shall manifest Himself in glory,
then shall their hidden glory be manifest, and correspond in appearance
to its original [NEANDER]. The Christian's secret
communion with God will now at times make itself seen without his
(Mt 5:14, 16);
but his full manifestation is at Christ's manifestation
"It doth not yet appear (Greek, 'is not yet manifested')
what we shall be"
As yet Christians do not always recognize the "life" of one another, so
hidden is it, and even at times doubt as to their own life, so
weak is it, and so harassed with temptations
in God--to whom Christ has ascended. Our "life" is "laid up for" us
and is secured by the decree of Him who is invisible to the world
4. Translate, "When Christ shall be manifested who is our life
(Joh 11:25; 14:6, 19),
then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory"
The spiritual life our souls have now in Him shall be extended
to our bodies
then--and not till then. Those err who think to find a perfect Church
before then. The true Church is now militant. Rome errs in trying to
set up a Church now regnant and triumphant. The true Church shall be
visible as a perfect and reigning Church, when Christ shall be visibly
manifested as her reigning Head. Rome having ceased to look for Him in
patient faith, has set up a visible mockhead, a false anticipation of
the millennial kingdom. The Papacy took to itself by robbery that glory
which is an object of hope, and can only be reached by bearing the cross
now. When the Church became a harlot, she ceased to be a bride who goes
to meet her Bridegroom. Hence the millennial kingdom ceased to be
looked for [AUBERLEN].
5. Mortify--Greek, "make a corpse of"; "make dead"; "put to death."
Follow out to its necessary consequence the fact of your having once
for all died with Christ spiritually at your regeneration, by daily
"deadening your members," of which united "the body of the sins of the
flesh" consists (compare
"The members" to be mortified are the fleshly instruments of lust, in
so far as the members of the body are abused to such purposes.
Habitually repress and do violence to corrupt desires of which the
members are the instruments (compare
Ro 6:19; 8:13;
Ga 5:24, 25).
upon the earth--where they find their support
"things on earth"). See
Eph 5:3, 4.
inordinate affection--"lustful passion."
evil concupiscence--more general than the last
[ALFORD], the disorder
of the external senses; "lustful passion," lust within
covetousness--marked off by the Greek article as forming a whole
genus by itself, distinct from the genus containing the various species
just enumerated. It implies a self-idolizing, grasping spirit; far worse
than another Greek term translated "the love of money"
which is--that is, inasmuch as it is "idolatry." Compare
Note, see on
on its connection with sins of impurity. Self and mammon
are deified in the heart instead of God
6. (See on
walked . . . when ye lived in them--These sins were
the very element in which ye "lived" (before ye became once for
all dead with Christ to them); no wonder, then, that ye "walked"
in them. Compare on the opposite side, "living in the Spirit,"
having as its legitimate consequence, "walking in the Spirit"
The "living" comes first in both cases, the walking follows.
8. But now--that ye are no longer living in them.
ye also--like other believers; answering to "ye also"
like other unbelievers formerly.
put off--"Do ye also put away all these," namely, those just
enumerated, and those which follow [ALFORD].
anger, wrath--(See on
blasphemy--rather, "reviling," "evil-speaking," as it is translated
filthy communication--The context favors the translation,
"abusive language," rather than impure conversation. "Foul language"
best retains the ambiguity of the original.
put off--Greek, "wholly put off"; utterly renounced
the old man--the unregenerate nature which ye had before conversion.
his deeds--habits of acting.
10. the new man--(See on
Here (neon) the Greek, means "the recently-put-on
nature"; that lately received at regeneration (see on
Eph 4:23, 24).
which is renewed--Greek, "which is being renewed"
(anakainottmenou); namely, its development into a perfectly renewed
nature is continually progressing to completion.
in knowledge--rather as the Greek, "unto perfect
knowledge" (see on
Col 1:9, 10).
Perfect knowledge of God excludes all sin
after the image of him that created him--namely, of God that created
the new man
(Eph 2:10; 4:24).
The new creation is analogous to the first creation
As man was then made in the image of God naturally, so now spiritually.
But the image of God formed in us by the Spirit of God, is as much more
glorious than that borne by Adam, as the Second Man, the Lord from
heaven, is more glorious than the first man.
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." The
"image" is claimed for man,
[On First Principles, 3:6] taught, the image was
something in which all were created, and which continued to man after
The likeness was something towards which man was created,
that he might strive after it and attain it. TRENCH thinks God in the double statement
contemplates both man's first creation and his being "renewed in
knowledge after the image of Him that created Him."
11. Where--Translate, "Wherein," namely, in the sphere of the renewed
neither . . . nor . . . nor . . . nor--Translate as Greek, "There
is no such thing as Greek and Jew (the difference of privilege
between those born of the natural seed of Abraham and those not, is
abolished), circumcision and uncircumcision
(the difference of legal
standing between the circumcised and uncircumcised is done away,
--bondman, freeman." The present Church is one called out of the
flesh, and the present world-course
wherein such distinctions exist, to life in the Spirit, and to the
future first resurrection: and this because Satan has such power now
over the flesh and the world. At Christ's coming when Satan shall no
longer rule the flesh and the world, the nations in the flesh, and the
word in millennial felicity, shall be the willing subjects of Christ
and His glorified saints
(Da 7:14, 22, 27;
Lu 19:17, 19;
Re 20:1-6; 3:21).
Israel in Canaan was a type of that future state when the Jews, so
miraculously preserved distinct now in their dispersion, shall be the
central Church of the Christianized world. As expressly as Scripture
abolishes the distinction of Jew and Greek now as to religious
privileges, so does it expressly foretell that in the coming new order
of things, Israel shall be first of the Christian nations, not for her
own selfish aggrandizement, but for their good, as the medium of
blessing to them. Finally, after the millennium, the life that is in
Christ becomes the power which transfigures nature, in the time
of the new heaven and the new earth; as, before, it first transfigured
the spiritual, then the political and social world.
Scythian--heretofore regarded as more barbarian than the barbarians.
Though the relation of bond and free actually existed, yet in relation
to Christ, all alike were free in one aspect, and servants of Christ in
Christ is all--Christ absorbs in Himself all distinctions, being to
all alike, everything that they need for justification, sanctification,
(1Co 1:30; 3:21-23;
in all--who believe and are renewed, without distinction of person;
the sole distinction now is, how much each draws from Christ. The unity
of the divine life shared in by all believers, counterbalances all
differences, even as great as that between the polished "Greek" and
the rude "Scythian." Christianity imparts to the most uncivilized the
only spring of sound, social and moral culture.
12. the elect of God--There is no "the" in the Greek, "God's elect"
The order of the words "elect, holy, beloved," answers to the order of
the things. Election from eternity precedes
sanctification in time; the sanctified, feeling God's
love, imitate it [BENGEL].
bowels of mercies--Some of the oldest manuscripts read singular,
"mercy." Bowels express the yearning compassion, which has its seat
in the heart, and which we feel to act on our inward parts
humbleness of mind--True "lowliness of mind"; not the mock "humility"
of the false teachers
Eph 4:2, 32).
13. Forbearing--as to present offenses.
forgiving--as to past offenses.
quarrel--rather as Greek, "cause of blame," "cause of complaint."
Christ--who had so infinitely greater cause of complaint against us.
The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read "the Lord."
English Version is supported by one very old manuscript and old
versions. It seems to have crept in from
14. above--rather "over," as in
Charity, which is the crowning grace, covering the multitude of others'
must overlie all the other graces enumerated.
which is--that is, "for it is"; literally, "which thing is."
bond of perfectness--an upper garment which completes and
keeps together the rest, which, without it, would be loose and
disconnected. Seeming graces, where love is wanting, are mere
hypocrisy. Justification by faith is assumed as already having taken
place in those whom Paul addresses,
"elect of God, holy . . . beloved," and
so that there is no plea here for Rome's view of justification by
works. Love and its works "perfect," that is, manifest the full
maturity of faith developed
(Mt 5:44, 48).
Love . . . be ye perfect, &c.
(Jas 2:21, 22;
"If we love one another, God's love is perfected in us"
As to "bond," compare
"knit together in love"
"keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
15. peace of God--The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "The
peace of CHRIST" (compare
"The peace of GOD." Therefore Christ is God. Peace
was His legacy to His disciples before He left them
"MY peace I give unto you." Peace is peculiarly
His to give. Peace follows love
Eph 4:2, 3).
rule--literally, "sit as umpire"; the same Greek verb
simple, as appears compounded
The false teacher, as a self-constituted umpire, defrauds you of
your prize; but if the peace of Christ be your umpire ruling in your
hearts, your reward is sure. "Let the peace of Christ act as umpire
when anger, envy, and such passions arise; and restrain them." Let not
those passions give the award, so that you should be swayed by them,
but let Christ's peace be the decider of everything.
in your hearts--Many wear a peaceful countenance and speak peace
with the mouth, while war is in their hearts
(Ps 28:3; 55:21).
to the which--that is, with a view to which state of Christian peace
"God hath called us to peace."
ye are called--Greek, "ye were also called." The "also" implies
that besides Paul's exhortation, they have also as a motive to
"peace," their having been once for all called.
in one body--
The unity of the body is a strong argument for "peace" among the
be ye thankful--for your "calling." Not to have "peace ruling in
your hearts" would be inconsistent with the "calling in one body," and
would be practical unthankfulness to God who called us
(Eph 5:4, 19, 20).
16. The form which "thankfulness"
ought to take.
Let the word of Christ--the Gospel word by which ye have been
in all wisdom--ALFORD joins this clause
with "teaching," &c., not with "dwell in you," as English
Version, for so we find in
"teaching in all wisdom," and the two clauses will thus correspond, "In
all wisdom teaching," and "in grace singing in your hears" (so the
and . . . and--The oldest manuscripts read "psalms,
hymns, spiritual songs" (see on
At the Agapæ or love-feasts, and in their family circles,
they were to be so full of the Word of Christ in the heart that
the mouth should give it utterance in hymns of instruction, admonition,
and praise (compare
TERTULLIAN [Apology, 39], records that at
the love-feasts, after the water had been furnished for the hands and
the lights had been literally, according as any had the power, whether
by his remembrance of Scripture, or by his powers of composition, he
used to be invited to sing praises to God for the common good. Paul
contrasts (as in
Eph 5:18, 19)
the songs of Christians at their social meetings, with the bacchanalian
and licentious songs of heathen feasts. Singing usually formed part of
the entertainment at Greek banquets (compare
with grace--Greek, "IN
grace," the element in which your singing
is to be: "the grace" of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This clause
expresses the seat and source of true psalmody, whether in private or
public, namely, the heart as well as the voice; singing (compare
"peace . . . rule in your hearts"), the psalm of love
and praise being in the heart before it finds vent by the lips, and
even when it is not actually expressed by the voice, as in
closet-worship. The Greek order forbids English Version,
"with grace in your hearts"; rather, "singing in your hearts."
to the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read, "to God."
17. Literally, "And everything whatsoever ye do . . .
do all," &c.;
this includes words as well as deeds.
in the name of the Lord Jesus--as disciples called by His
name as His, seeking His guidance and help, and desiring to act so
as to gain His approval
Compare "in the Lord,"
and "Christ is all,"
God and the Father--The oldest manuscripts omit "and," which seems
to have crept in from
by him--Greek, "through Him" as the channel of His
grace to us, and of our thanksgiving to Him
18. unto your own husbands--The oldest manuscripts omit "own," which
crept in from
as it is fit in the Lord--Greek, "was fit," implying that
there was at Colosse some degree of failure in fulfilling this duty, "as
it was your duty to have done as disciples of the Lord."
be not bitter--ill-tempered and provoking. Many who are polite
abroad, are rude and bitter at home because they are not afraid to be so
unto the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read, "IN the Lord," that is,
this is acceptable to God when it is done in the Lord, namely, from
the principle of faith,and as disciples in union with the Lord.
It is a different Greek verb, therefore translate here,
"irritate not." By perpetual fault-finding "children" are
"discouraged" or "disheartened." A broken-down spirit is fatal to youth
(Eph 6:5, 6.)
This is to fear God, when, though none sees us, we do no evil:
but if we do evil, it is not God, but men, whom we fear.
singleness--"simplicity of heart."
fearing God--The oldest manuscripts read, "the Lord."
23. And--omitted in the oldest manuscripts (compare
Eph 6:7, 8).
Compare the same principle in the case of all men, Hezekiah
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.
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
for ye serve--The oldest manuscripts omit "for," then translate as
Vulgate, "Serve ye the Lord Christ;" compare
"To the Lord and not unto men"
(1Co 7:22, 23).
25. But--The oldest manuscripts read, "for," which accords with "serve
the oldest reading: the for here gives a motive for obeying the
precept. He addresses the slaves: Serve ye the Lord Christ, and leave
your wrongs in His hands to put to rights: (translate), "For he that
doeth wrong shall receive back the wrong which he hath done (by
just retribution in kind), and there is no respect of persons" with the
Great Judge in the day of the Lord. He favors the master no more than