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Book chapters «The Epistle of Paul to the Colossians»
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  • The background of this book is that culture had been mixed into the church life in Colossae. Originally, Christ was the unique element in the church life, yet at that time a disturbance was created because Christ was being replaced by culture. The constituent of the church should be Christ and Christ alone, yet the church had been invaded by certain elements of culture — especially religion, in the form of asceticism related to Judaic ordinances and observances (Col. 2:16, 20-21), and philosophy, in the form of mysticism related to Gnosticism and the worship of angels (Col. 2:8, 18). Hence, the central concept of this book is that nothing should be allowed to replace Christ.

    This book concentrates on Christ as the Head of the Body. It reveals the profoundness, all-inclusiveness, and unlimitedness of Christ to a fuller extent than any other book in the Bible.

  • I.e., the holy ones, those separated and sanctified unto God. They were living in Colossae, but they were separated from the world.

  • To have faith is to substantiate and receive what is in Christ, to love is to experience and enjoy what we have received of Christ, and to hope (v. 5) is to expect and wait for the glorification in Christ.

  • To have faith is to substantiate and receive what is in Christ, to love is to experience and enjoy what we have received of Christ, and to hope (v. 5) is to expect and wait for the glorification in Christ.

  • Hope, faith, and love, mentioned in vv. 4-5, are the three things that the apostle stressed in 1 Cor. 13:13. The emphasis there was on love because of the Corinthians' situation; the emphasis here is on hope, which, strictly speaking, is Christ Himself (v. 27), that Christ may be revealed as everything to us.

  • It is by living and experiencing Christ that we lay up hope in the heavens. The more we live and experience Christ, the more we lay up hope in the heavens. Hence, hope is being laid up now in our daily life.

  • The truth of the gospel is the reality, the real facts, not the doctrine, of the gospel. "The word" may be considered the doctrine of the gospel, but "the truth" must refer to reality. Christ, in His all-inclusive person and His multifaceted redemptive work, is the reality of the gospel.

  • The grace of God is what God is to us and what God gives to us in Christ (John 1:17; 1 Cor. 15:10).

  • Truth here means reality (see point 8 of note 1 John 1:66). To know the grace of God in truth is to know it experientially in its reality, not just mentally in vain words or doctrines.

  • A minister of Christ is not only a servant of Christ, one who serves Christ, but a serving one who serves others with Christ by ministering Christ to them.

  • Here God's will is His will regarding His eternal purpose, regarding His economy concerning Christ (Eph. 1:5, 9, 11), not His will regarding minor things.

  • Spiritual wisdom and understanding are of the Spirit of God in our spirit, in contrast to Gnostic philosophy, which is merely in the darkened human mind. Wisdom is in our spirit and is for us to perceive God's eternal will; spiritual understanding is in our mind, renewed by the Spirit, and is for us to understand and interpret what we perceive in our spirit.

  • Walking worthily of the Lord issues from having the full knowledge of God's will. Such a worthy walk is a walk in which we live Christ.

  • I.e., in all ways.

  • Here bearing fruit refers to living Christ, growing Christ, expressing Christ, and propagating Christ in every respect. This is the real essence of every Christian good work.

  • Not knowledge in letters in the mind but the living knowledge of God in spirit, by means of which we grow in life.

  • This power is not only the power of Christ's resurrection (Phil. 3:10) but Christ Himself as a dynamo that empowers us in all things (Phil. 4:13) unto all endurance and long-suffering with joy that we may have a living in which we experience and live Christ.

  • The might that expresses God's glory, glorifying God in His might.

  • God the Father has qualified us by the redemption of God the Son and through the sanctification of God the Spirit for a share of the all-inclusive Christ, the very embodiment of the processed Triune God, as the allotted portion of the saints.

  • This refers to the lot of the inheritance, as illustrated by the allotment of the good land of Canaan given to the children of Israel for their inheritance (Josh. 14:1). The New Testament believers' inheritance, their allotted portion, is not a physical land; it is the all-inclusive Christ. He is the allotted portion of the saints as their divine inheritance for their enjoyment.

  • Light here is in contrast to darkness in the next verse. When we were under Satan's authority, we were in darkness. But now we are in the kingdom of the Son of God's love, enjoying Him in light.

  • For Christ to be the Head of the Body, and for us, His believers, to be the members of His Body, God needed to deliver us out of the authority of darkness, the kingdom of Satan (Matt. 12:26b), and transfer us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. This is to qualify us to partake of the all-inclusive Christ as our allotted portion.

  • Lit., the darkness.

  • The Son is the expression of the Father as the source of life (John 1:4, 18; 1 John 1:2). The beloved Son as the object of the Father's love becomes to us the embodiment of life in the divine love.

  • Deliverance, mentioned in the preceding verse, deals with Satan's authority over us by destroying his evil power, whereas redemption, mentioned in this verse, deals with our sins by fulfilling God's righteous requirement.

  • The forgiveness of sins is the redemption that we have in Christ. Christ's death accomplished redemption unto the forgiveness of our sins.

  • God is invisible. But the Son of His love, who is the effulgence of His glory and the impress of His substance (Heb. 1:3), is His image, expressing what He is. The image here is not a physical form but an expression of God's being in all His attributes and virtues (see note Phil. 2:62b). This interpretation is confirmed by Col. 3:10 and 2 Cor. 3:18.

  • Christ as God is the Creator. However, as man, sharing the created blood and flesh (Heb. 2:14a), He is part of the creation. Firstborn of all creation refers to Christ's preeminence in all creation, because from this verse through v. 18 the apostle stresses the first place that Christ has in all things.

  • In Him here means in the power of Christ's person. All things were created in the power of what Christ is. All creation bears the characteristics of Christ's intrinsic power.

  • Thrones refers to those who are in authority on the throne.

  • Through Him indicates that Christ is the active instrument through which the creation of all things was accomplished in sequence.

  • Or, for Him. This indicates that Christ is the end of all creation. All things were created unto Him for His possession. In, through, and unto indicate that creation is subjectively related to Christ. The creation was created in Him, through Him, and unto Him.

  • This indicates Christ's eternal preexistence.

  • cf. Heb. 1:3

    Or, subsist together in Him. To cohere in Christ is to exist together by Christ as the holding center, just as the spokes of a wheel are held together by the hub at their center.

  • Verses Col. 1:15-17 unveil Christ as the first in creation, as the One who has preeminence among all creatures. Verse 18 shows that Christ is the first in resurrection as the Head of the Body. As such, He has the first place in the church, God's new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15).

  • All the fullness refers to the fullness in both the old creation and the new creation.

  • The word fullness has no modifier, indicating that this fullness is the unique fullness. It denotes not the riches of what God is but the expression of those riches. The full expression of the rich being of God, in both creation and the church, dwells in Christ. All creation and the whole church are filled with Christ as the expression of God's riches. Such a fullness is pleased with this. This is pleasant to Christ.

    The fullness in this verse refers to the image of God in v. 15, who is Christ, a living person. Such a fullness is pleased to dwell in the expression of God and to reconcile all things to the expression of God.

  • Through Him means through Christ as the active instrument through which the reconciliation was accomplished.

  • Not "all people" but "all things," referring not only to human beings but also to all creatures, which were created in Christ and now subsist, cohere, in Him (vv. 16-17) and are reconciled to God through Him.

  • Himself here refers to the fullness in v. 19.

  • To reconcile all things to Himself is to make peace with Himself for all things. This was accomplished through the blood of the cross of Christ.

  • Through Him means through Christ as the active instrument through which the reconciliation was accomplished.

  • Not only things on the earth but also things in the heavens needed to be reconciled to God. This indicates that things in the heavens also are wrong with God because of the rebellion of Satan, the archangel, and the angels who followed him. His rebellion has contaminated the heavens.

  • Because we were sinners, we needed redemption. Because we were also enemies of God, we needed reconciliation.

  • Our enmity toward God was mainly in our corrupted mind.

  • Both He and Him refer to the fullness in v. 19. It is the fullness that dwells in Christ (v. 19), it is the fullness that reconciles us to Himself (v. 20), and it is to the fullness that we will be presented. This fullness is God Himself expressed in Christ.

  • Not our act of believing but the object of our belief.

  • Christ in us the hope of glory (v. 27), from whom we should not be moved away.

  • The afflictions of Christ are of two categories: those for accomplishing redemption, which were completed by Christ Himself, and those for producing and building the church, which need to be filled up by the apostles and the believers.

  • Referring to the church in the preceding verse, indicating that Paul became a minister not of a certain teaching, preaching, or mission work but of the church, the Body of Christ, for its building up.

  • In Greek, the same word as that for deacon, meaning one who serves.

  • The word of God is the divine revelation, which had not been completed before the New Testament was written. In the New Testament the apostles, especially the apostle Paul, completed the word of God in regard to the mystery of God, which is Christ, and the mystery of Christ, which is the church, to give us a full revelation of God's economy.

  • According to Greek grammar, the mystery in this verse is in apposition to the word of God in v. 25, showing that the mystery is the word of God. This mystery concerns Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32), the Head and the Body. The unveiling of this mystery through the apostle Paul is the completing of the word of God as the divine revelation.

  • From the ages means from eternity, and from the generations means from the times. The mystery concerning Christ and the church was hidden from eternity and from all the times until the New Testament age, when it was manifested to the saints, including all of us, the believers in Christ.

  • The riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles are the riches of all that Christ is to the Gentile believers (Eph. 3:8).

  • Which refers to this mystery. This mystery, full of glory among the Gentiles, is Christ in us. Christ as life in us is mysterious as well as glorious.

  • Christ, who dwells in our spirit to be our life and person, is our hope of glory. When He comes, we will be glorified in Him. This indicates that the indwelling Christ will saturate our entire being that our physical body may be transfigured and conformed to the body of His glory (Phil. 3:21).

  • In this book a number of important phrases point to our experience of Christ: Christ in you (v. 27), full-grown in Christ (v. 28), walk in Him (Col. 2:6), according to Christ (Col. 2:8), made alive together with Him (Col. 2:13), died with Christ (Col. 2:20), holding the Head (Col. 2:19), out from whom (2:19), and grows with the growth of God (2:19). These expressions give us a complete picture of the proper experience of Christ.

  • Christ is the mystery that is full of glory now. This glory will be manifested to its fullest extent when Christ returns to glorify His saints (Rom. 8:30). Hence, it is a hope, the hope of glory. Christ Himself is also this hope of glory.

  • Or, perfect, complete, mature. Perfect denotes full in quality, whereas complete denotes full in quantity. The apostle's ministry, whether in announcing Christ or in admonishing and teaching men in all wisdom, was altogether to minister Christ to men that they might become perfect and complete by maturing with Christ as the element of the divine life unto full growth.

  • The preceding verse says that Christ is in us; this verse, that we are in Christ. First, we are put into Christ; then Christ is in us. The more we get into Christ, the more He comes into us, and the more He comes into us, the more we get into Him. It is by this cycle that we grow in life.

  • Or, contending (as in wrestling). So also in Col. 4:12.

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