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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 1

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

Paul an apostle, … — This golden Epistle is an epitome, as it were, of that other to the Ephesians; like as that he writeth to the Galatians is an abstract of that other to the Romans.

Verse 2

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Which are at Colosse — A city in Phrygia, swallowed up by an earthquake not long after this Epistle was written. God’s judgments are sometimes secret, but ever just. It may be that these Colossians, being led away with the error of these false teachers (who sought to entangle them with many pharisaical observations and philosophical speculations, Colossians 2:16-23 ), had fallen from their own stedfastness, 2 Peter 2:17 , had suffered a heartquake, being shaken in mind, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 , and were sucked in by the whirlpool of divers and strange doctrines, μη περιφερεσθε , Hebrews 13:9 . I affirm nothing, but God sometimes speaks from heaven against heretics: as he did against Arius, Nestorius, Stephen Langton, Stephen Gardiner, Arminius (who craftily revived the Pelagian heresy), all which died miserably; that I speak not of those two monsters in New England brought forth by Mistress Hutchinson and Mistress Dyer, and the fearful end that the former of these two women came to, being burnt with her family by the savages of that country. Aliorum perditio tua sit cautio. Christ will have all the Churches know, Revelation 2:23 , that he is jealous of his glory, and will revenge the quarrel of his covenant. Those primitive Churches sinned away their light, and are therefore now given up to darkness. Infatuati seducebantur, et seducti iudicabantur, saith Austin; that is, being infatuated, they were seduced; and being seduced, they were justly punished. (Melancth.) They were first overspread with Arianism, and therefore now with Mahometism, which is nothing else but Arii stercus, the odour of Arius, as one rightly calleth it.

Verse 3

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

We give thanks-praying, … — Prayer and thanks (saith one) are like the double motion of the lungs; the air that is sucked in by prayer is breathed out again by thanks.

Verse 4

Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

And of the love, … — Faith in Christ Jesus maketh love to all the saints. Therefore they go commonly coupled in Paul’s Epistles. And therefore when the disciples heard how often they must forgive an offending brother, "Lord, increase our faith," say they,Luke 17:5; Luke 17:5 . See Trapp on " Luke 17:5 "

Verse 5

For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

For the hope — It is hope (saith an interpreter here) that plucks up the heart of a man to a constant desire of union by faith with God and of communion by love with man. But by "hope" is here meant the "object of hope."

Verse 6

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it , and knew the grace of God in truth:

As it is in all the world — Eusebius saith that the gospel spread at first through the world like a sunbeam, Αθροως οια τις ηλιου Βολη . The reformation begun by Luther in Germany went on abroad Christendom, as if he had been carried upon angels’ wings. That of the Church of England is such as former ages despaired of, the present admireth, and the future shall stand amazed at. It is that miracle, saith one, which we are in these times to look for. (Spec. Europ.)

Verse 7

As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

Who is for you a faithful minister — Epaphras was their city preacher; whom therefore the apostle here so highly commendeth. Luther is much blamed by his best friends for opposing and disparaging Carolostadius among his own charge at Orlamund, A.D. 1524. (Scultet. Annul.) A faithful minister should have all good respect, before his own people especially.

Verse 8

Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Who also declared unto us — His heart was over joyed with his people’s forwardness, and he could not but impart it to the apostle. It was a pride in Montanus to overly ween his Pepuza and Tymium, two pelting parishes not far from Colosse, and to call them Jerusalem, as if they had been the only churches in the world. But this was a commendable practice of Epaphras to relate to St Paul the good he found in his people, that he by an Epistle might further encourage and quicken them.

Verse 9

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it , do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

In all wisdom and spiritualSee Trapp on " Ephesians 1:8 " There you have the same expression. And indeed this Epistle hath many passages common with that, and seemeth to have been written soon after that, cum adhuc qua ad Ephesios scripserat, in animo haererent, while the things that he had written to the Ephesians were yet fresh in his mind and memory. (Grotius.)

Verse 10

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

That ye might walk worthy — By walking before God, with God, after God, according to God, as it is phrased in several Scriptures, all to one purpose. See the note on Ephesians 4:1 .

Unto all pleasing — As Enoch walked with God, and thereby got this testimony, that he "pleased God," Hebrews 11:5 . So David did all his wills, and was therefore a "man after his heart,"Acts 13:22; Acts 13:22 . The many alls here used in Colossians 1:9-11 show that he that will please God must be a "throughout Christian." Now he, and only he, is such, whose whole nature is elevated by the spirit of grace; and all whose principles, practices, and aims are divine and supernatural.

Verse 11

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

And longsuffering with joyfulness — The joy of the Lord is the strength of the soul, Nehemiah 8:10 , as true gold comforts and strengthens the heart, that alchemy doth not. At the death of Francis Gamba, a Lombard, that suffered martyrdom, the friars brought in their hands a cross for him to behold, to keep him from desperation at the feeling of the fire. But his mind, he said, was so replenished with joy and comfort in Christ, that he needed neither their cross nor them.

Verse 12

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Of the saints in light — So that though cast into a dark dungeon, the saints may clap their hands upon their bosoms, as Oecolampadius upon his death bed did, and say, Hic sat lucis, Here within is plenty of divine light.

Verse 13

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

And hath translated us — A word taken from those that plant colonies, and cause the people to translate their dwellings into another country, μετεστησεν . (Bishop Davenant.)

From the power of darkness — Every natural man is under the power of darkness, nay, of the devil, Acts 26:18 ; as the malefactor that goes bound and pinioned up the ladder is under the power of the executioner. Imagine (saith one) a man driven out of the light by devils, where he should see nothing but his tormentors, and that he were made to stand upon snares and gins with iron teeth ready to strike up and grind him to pieces, and that he had gall poured down to his belly, and an instrument raking in his bowels, and the pains of a travailing woman upon him, and a hideous noise of horror in his ears, and a great giant with a spear running upon his neck, and a flame burning upon him round about. Alas, alas, this is the state of every one that is out of Christ, as these places show, whence these comparisons are taken, Job 18:7-8 ; Job 20:24 ; Job 20:15 ; Job 15:20-21 ; Job 15:26 ; Job 15:30 .

Verse 14

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Even the forgiveness, …See Trapp on " Matthew 1:21 " Sin is the greatest evil; as that which sets us farthest from God the chiefest good; and as that which procureth and embittereth all other evils that befall us. Christ therefore redeemeth his "Israel from their iniquities," Psalms 130:8 ; he crosseth out of God’s debtbook the black lines of their sins with the red lines of his own blood, and so "redeemeth his Israel out of all their troubles," Psalms 25:22 .

Verse 15

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Who is the image — The express image of his person, Hebrews 1:2 . Milk is not so like milk as this Son is like the Father. By whom also God (otherwise invisible) is manifested to us. And here, he that would see God must set the eyes of faith upon the manhood of Christ; for he "that seeth the Son, seeth the Father." When a man looketh into a crystal glass, it casteth no reflex to him; but put steel upon the back of it, it will cast a reflex. So put the humanity (as a back of steel) to the glass of the Godhead, and it casteth a comfortable reflex to us. As without this, if we look upon God, we see indeed some small sparks of his glory to terrify and amaze us; but in Christ (God and man) we behold the lively and express face of God; not any more as a fearful and terrible Judge, but a most gracious and loving Father to comfort and refresh us.

The firstborn of every creature — As being begotten of the substance of the Father, after a wonderful manner, before all beginnings, and as being the heir of all his Father’s goods. And so this text is parallel to thatHebrews 1:2; Hebrews 1:2 .

Verse 16

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

For by him were all things — This is a high praise to Christ, Revelation 4:11 . See Trapp on " John 1:3 "

Whether they be thrones or dominionsi.e. angels with their several degrees or dignities. But what difference there is between these four words, let them tell us that are able (saith Austin), so they prove what they tell us; for my part, I confess I know it not.

Verse 17

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

By him all things consist — They would soon fall asunder, had not Christ undertaken to uphold the shattered condition thereof, by the word of his power.

Verse 18

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

And he is the head — See the note on Ephesians 1:22 . Angels are under Christ as a head of government, of influence, of confirmation, not of redemption, as we. (Elton.)

The firstborn from the deadsc. of those that rise to eternal life. Others rose, but to die again, and by virtue of his resurrection; as the firstborn among the Jews communicated his good things to his brethren.

Verse 19

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

In him should all fulness — In a vessel or treasury an emptiness may follow a fulness: not so here. See Trapp on " John 1:14 "

Verse 20

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say , whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

To reconcile all things — That is, all the saints, who are worth all, better than all, more worth than a world of wicked men, Hebrews 11:38 . The Jews have a saying, that those seventy souls that went with Jacob into Egypt, were as much as all the seventy nations in the world. What account God maketh of them in comparison to others, see Isaiah 43:3-4 .

Verse 21

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

Enemies in your mind — Haters of God, Romans 1:30 , and so, God slayers, 1 John 3:15 . Omne peccatum est Deicidium. All sin is a killer of God.

Verse 22

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

To present you holy and unblameable — By his righteousness imputed and imparted; though most interpreters expound this text of sanctification, and not of justification or future perfection.

Verse 23

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

If ye continue in the faith — All the promises are made to perseverance in grace. He that continueth to the end shall be saved. Be faithful to the death, and thou shalt have a crown of life. Matthew 24:13 ; Revelation 2:10 . But fugitivo nulla corona; by fleeing this is no crown, if any withdraw he falleth into hell’s mouth, Hebrews 10:39 .

Grounded and settled — When faith bears fruit upward, it will take root downward, and make a man as a tree by the river’s side, and not as the chaff in the fan, Psalms 1:3-4 , or as the boat without ballast.

Preached to every creature — That is, to every reasonable creature, Mark 16:15 . Though to many we preach to no more purpose than Bede did when he preached to a heap of stones: these are unreasonable creatures, 2 Thessalonians 3:2 .

Verse 24

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

And fill up that which is behind — Christ suffered much for Paul; it is but meet therefore that Paul should suffer somewhat for Christ. All our troubles are but the slivers and chips, as it were, of his cross. υστερηματα , non προτεπηματα . ανταναπλησω . Vicissim rursum impleo. When the Jews offered our Saviour gall and vinegar, he tasted it, but would not drink. He left the rest for his Church, and they must pledge him, not to expiate sin, but for their trial and exercise.

Of the afflictions of Christ — That is (say some) of the Church; the afflictions whereof are said to be the afflictions of Christ, by reason of the sympathy between the head and the members, Acts 9:4 ; 2 Corinthians 1:5 ; Hebrews 11:26 .

For his body’s sake — For the confirmation of men’s minds in the truth of the gospel.

Verse 25

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

According to the dispensation — What a horrid blasphemy therefore is that of the Jesuits, who stick not to tell the people in their pulpits that St Paul was not secure in his preaching, but by conference with St Peter, nor that he dared publish his Epistles till St Peter had allowed them! (Spec. Europ.)

Verse 26

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

But now is made manifest — God hath now opened his whole heart to his saints, Revelation 11:3 . See Trapp on " Romans 7:25 " See Trapp on " Matthew 4:16 "

Verse 27

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

The hope of glory — All the saints are said to worship in the altar, because they place all their hope of life in Christ’s death alone.

Verse 28

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Whom we preach — Ministers do not only preach of Christ, but preach Christ, that is, they give what they speak of. As the manna came down in the dew, so doth the Spirit in the ministry of the gospel.

Verse 29

Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

I also labour, striving — Labour to lassitude, strive even to an agony. Good ministers are great painstakers; and God that helped the Levites to bear the ark, 1 Chronicles 15:26 , will help his servants by his Spirit, working in them with power.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Colossians 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/colossians-1.html. 1865-1868.
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