Commentary On Colossians
By Jonathan Mitchell

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four

Chapter One

Paul's letter to the called-out community in Colossae contains a wealth of beauty and truth. This commentary will not be exhaustive, but will discuss what I see as its highlights, from his unveiling of reality to us.

In ch. 1, vs. 1, he identifies himself as "one sent with a mission pertaining to Christ Jesus (or: an envoy of [the] Anointed Jesus) through God's will..." This was his personal mission statement, the life-path which God had chosen for him. The Greek word "apostolos" is normally transliterated into the word "apostle," instead of being translated: one sent with a mission (or: an envoy; an emissary). The institutional church made this word a technical word signifying an "office" in their hierarchy, but as Paul elsewhere styled himself as a "slave of Jesus Christ" (Rom. 1:1), and even though he elsewhere presented his credentials in defense against those who would repudiate him (e.g., Phil. 3:5-6; 2 Cor. 11:5), I doubt that he was describing himself with this word in any way other than the function which it indicates. Through God's will he had become a person with a mission that had its origin in Christ Jesus. He was mandated by Jesus, on the road to Damascus. Each of us can likewise receive direction from God to perform some function in His reign.

Note that Paul speaks on behalf of the Father, sending God's grace, favor, peace and harmony to the set-apart folks in Colossae (vs. 2). I suggest that this was not just a nice formality, or a well-meaning wish, but an impartation to those folks, and now to us who read this – for it is God's Word, to them and to us. The Spirit of those words brings the content into our spirits. We should speak to others in the same way. Our words should also be spirit and life.

Now look at Paul's and Timothy's relationship to them, and his affirmation of them in vs. 3-5:

3. We habitually express gratitude for the goodness in grace, and give thanks to God, the Father [other MSS: to the God and Father] of our Lord, Jesus Christ, at all times continually thinking and speaking goodness concerning (or: praying about) you folks,

4. hearing of your faith and trust [being, resident, or having its source] within Christ Jesus (or: in union with [the] Anointed Jesus) and the love which you folks habitually have and hold [which is extended and given] into all the set-apart folks (or: holy ones; saints)

5. because of the expectation (or: hope) – the one continuously lying stored away as a reserve – resident within the atmospheres (or: heavens), which you folks already heard (or: heard before) within the word (message; discourse; or: Logos) concerning the Truth (or: the word of truth; the idea belonging to and having its source in Reality; the message which is truth and reality) which originates in and pertains to the message of ease, goodness and well-being (or: which belongs to the good news).

In vs. 3, I have expanded the phrase normally rendered "give thanks" to show the literal meaning of the Greek from its elements: to express gratitude for the goodness in grace. Grace and God's goodness were the heart of the good news which Paul proclaimed. And the word normally rendered "praying," in the latter part of this verse, means literally to "think and/or speak goodness and for things to be well." Consider Paul's attitude toward the folks to whom he was writing: goodness and grace (or: favor), peace and harmony. What better context is there from which to speak? What better forces to send forth, from his spirit, toward those folks?

Consider what is said in the first clause of vs. 4: the faith and trust which they had was faith and trust that existed within Christ Jesus. It had its source or was resident with (the meaning of the preposition "en") Christ Jesus. Another way of rendering this phrase is: in union with Christ Jesus. The source of their faith was Christ, and the actualization of it was union with Him.

Paul has also heard of the love which they constantly had and which was continuously extended into all the set-apart folks (vs. 4b). This was "because of the expectation [that was] resident within the atmospheres (or: heavens)," and this was an expectant hope which had come to them within the words, or message, concerning the Truth (Christ) and Reality (the New Being that was brought through Christ). This was the good news, or literally: the message of ease, goodness and well-being (vs. 5).

The message that Paul (presumably) had proclaimed to them brought them trust (or: faith), love and an expectation concerning Truth and Reality. It was not the message of a heavy burden, as brought by the Pharisees – of all the things which must either be done, or not done. It was a message of ease, goodness, and well-being. It was in their "bank account," continuously stored away as a reserve, resident within the atmosphere which surrounded them: the realm of God's Spirit, also know as "heaven."

So look at the next verse, and what Paul stated as fact:

6. This [word] is being continuously present alongside [and proceeding] into you folks, just as it is also continuously existing within all the ordered System (within the entire world of culture, religion, economics and government; or: in the entire universe), repeatedly bearing fruit of itself and constantly being grown and caused to be increasing, just as also within you folks, from [the] day in which you heard and at once fully experienced – in intimate knowing and accurate realization – the grace of God, within Truth (or: God's favor resident within [the] truth; God's grace in the midst of reality; or: the favor which, in reality, is God).

That word, or message, "is being continuously present alongside [and proceeding] into you folks." What a wonderful thing of which to be aware! But look at the next clause: "just as it is also continuously existing within ALL the ORDERED SYSTEM (or: within the entire world of culture, religion, economics and government)"! The Word, Christ, His message, is continuously existing in our atmosphere (resident, with expectation) – alongside us. It is available for us and for the whole world.

Not only this, it is "repeatedly bearing fruit OF ITSELF (middle voice), and [is] constantly being grown and caused to be INCREASING," and it is "the grace of God, within Truth (Christ)," or, "the favor which, in reality, is God!"

What an opening for his letter! And Paul says that they had heard it and at once fully experienced it, in intimate knowing and accurate realization. They realized that the new creation had come in the New Being that was in Jesus Christ, and that they were a part of it.

9. And because of this (or: So that is why) we, from the day on which we heard, are not ceasing constant praying (thinking and speaking toward things being well) over your [situation] and asking (or: making a request) on behalf of you folks, to the end that you may (or: would) be filled full with the entire contents of the accurate, full, experiential, intimate knowledge and insight of His will (His design, purpose, plan and intention; or: so that you may know and experience all that He wants you to know and experience) within the sphere of all wisdom and spiritual understanding (comprehension; a junction of that which is sent together; discernment; being able to make the pieces fit together).

In vs. 9 we see that this new creation involves a process, in solidarity with which Paul was not ceasing to constantly think and speak with a view to things going well for them: "to the end that [they] may (or: would) be filled full with the entire contents of the accurate, full, experiential, and intimate knowledge and insight of His will..." Then he expands this thought, praying that this knowledge and insight would be "within the sphere of all wisdom and spiritual understanding."

Paul did not want them to just know the basics, and be satisfied with a simple knowledge of the Christ event. Consider those words: "all wisdom and spiritual understanding!" He did not want them to be satisfied with the milk of the message (1 Cor. 3:2). This may seem beyond us, but recall that Paul also said in 1 Cor. 2:16 that "we have the mind of Christ."

Vs. 10 continues his thoughts with a further end in view:

10. [Thus we pray for you] to walk about (i.e., to live your life) worthily (with corresponding value) with regard to the Lord (the Owner; [= Yahweh or Christ]) [progressing] into all pleasing (or: into every desire to please; into entire pleasure) within every good work or virtuous action, while habitually bearing fruit and constantly being folks [that] are being progressively caused to grow and increase in the full, accurate, experiential and intimate knowledge of God (or: with God's full experience of intimate knowledge and insight; or: by the added insight and experiential knowledge which is God),

11. being continuously empowered in every ability (being ones progressively enabled within all power) corresponding to the strength of His glory (or: down from and in the sphere of the might pertaining to and having its source in His reputation or His manifestation of that which calls forth praise; or: = the strength coming from His manifested presence [= Sh'khinah]) [leading] into every [situation of] persistent remaining under [difficulties] to humbly give patient support (or: unto all relentless endurance) and long-waiting before rushing into emotions (or: long endurance; a long time before breathing violently with passion; or: perseverance; tolerance towards others), accompanied by (or: together with) joy.

Now Paul adds in a practical side of this new reality: that we should live our lives in a manner that is worthy (or, of equal value) with regard to the Lord, our Owner. And he sets the bar high: it is to be walking into all pleasing (or: into entire pleasure) WITHIN every good work or virtuous action, while habitually bearing fruit. This sounds like a hard task, if you try to do it on your own, but read on, you will come to vs. 13, and you will see that all has changed – our position and standing has been transferred: we are in the midst of His reign, and vs. 16 tells us that the whole new creation is now within, and in union with, Him, and you will see that vs. 19 & 20 confirm the matter.

But here, I want you to notice the voice of the verb "grow" in the second half of vs. 10: "... and constantly being folks [that] are BEING progressively CAUSED to grow and increase..." That, folks is the passive voice, and it means that God is doing the work, causing the growth, so that we are able to live our life in an equal value, with regard to the Lord. Good news! Nonetheless, we should never forget or disregard His purpose for this growth: it is not to build the ego; it is to live a life worthy of Him, attended by good works and virtuous actions. It is His life in us that makes all this possible. We bear fruit and grow as a branch by remaining in the Vine (see John 15:1-13, and heed the warning, but also keep in mind that He said these things to make our joy full – it's all good news).

As we look at vs. 11, note that this is a continuation of vs. 10, and that once more the passive voice is used, "BEING continuously EMPOWERED in every ability..."

And this "every ability" is "corresponding to the strength of HIS glory." So it is by His power, His ability and by the strength of His glory. Still, again we see that Paul is not just loading us with blessings for nothing: it is "[leading] into every [situation of] persistent remaining under [difficulties] to humbly give patient support," and into "long-waiting before rushing into emotions (etc.)," but then we see that this is "accompanied by joy!" Recall that His joy is our strength.

We now begin a passage that focuses on the Father and the Son, and which speaks to the work of the Father, to whom we constantly give thanks (vs. 12), and of the relationship of the Son to all of creation. Here Paul presents us with one of the most universal and all-inclusive pictures of the new Reality, the new creation that is within the Christ of the universe.

12. [We are folks who are] constantly giving thanks to the Father: the One calling you [other MSS: us] – as well as making [you; us] competent (sufficient; qualified; fit; suitable) – into the divided share of the lot of the inheritance (or: into the part and portion of the allotted possession) of the set-apart folks (or: pertaining to the holy ones; belonging to the saints) within the Light;

Note that it is the Father that calls us and that makes us competent, sufficient, fit, qualified and suitable. He is the Actor, the One doing the deed, in both vs. 12 and 13. These verses give the human no place in what is done: it is the work of God. The calling is for us to be a partaker of the inheritance that pertains to and belongs to His sacred folks, those set-apart unto Him. The location, or sphere of existence and relevance, of this allotted possession is within, and in union with the Light – a figure of Christ and the Life which brought knowledge and understanding to mankind (John 1:4-5) – but the inheritance itself is the ethnic multitudes, unto the boundaries of the earth (Ps. 2:8). This was given to the Son, but the Father invites us to have a part, to be God's fellow-workers (1 Cor. 3:9) in "enlightening every person" (John 1:9).

13. Who drags us out of danger (or: rescued us) forth from out of the midst of the authority of the Darkness (Darkness's jurisdiction and right; = the privilege of ignorance), and changes [our] position (or: transported [us], thus, giving [us] a change of standing, and transferred [us]) into the midst of the kingdom and reign of the Son of His love (of the Son Who has the characteristics and qualities of His love; the Son Whose origin is His love; or: the Son of the love which is Him; the Son which is His love),

Recall what Paul said in Eph. 2:1, "And you folks [who were] continuously existing being dead one by and in your stumblings aside (offences; wrong steps) and failures to hit the mart (mistakes; errors; sins; times of falling short)." It is because we were dead that He had to DRAG us out of danger. And where were we? In the midst of the authority of the Darkness. Darkness represents ignorance, lack of Light. Mankind was like dead bodies that had to be dragged out of the lake of sin and death. He first breathed into us the breath of life, and then we truly became LIVING souls. He gave birth to us from above, and gave us faith and the ability to believe.

But what was this "authority and privilege of the darkness"? What had the authority over Israel and the Jews? The Law. It contained that which was a shadow (darkness) of the impending good things (Heb. 10:1). The religious beliefs and superstitions of the pagans held authority over their lives. In both cases it was ignorance of the Truth, of Reality – which is Christ.

The Father changed our position, transported us, from out of the midst of Darkness's jurisdiction, into the midst of the kingdom and reign (the sovereign influence and sphere of activity) of the Son, which is His love. It is a kingdom of Love, which is God, folks. Paul does not say that it was our decision, or the implementing of our wills, to do this. God just did it. That, my friends, is grace.

14. in Whom (or: in union with [which Son]) we continuously have and hold the redemption (the release and liberation procured by payment of a ransom) [which results in] the sending away of the failures (or: the dismissal of the errors pertaining to falling short and straying to the side of the target; the flowing away of the sins; the divorce from the mistakes),

Now it is being within Him, by being placed in union with the Son, that we have and hold the redemption, which is the release and liberation which He procured for us. Now look at what this bought: the sending away of our failures (no more guilt); the dismissal of our errors (no more carrying the burden or the results of our lacks of attainment); the flowing away of the sin (we are now clean and turned in the right direction); the divorce from our mistakes (we are no longer bound to what we did that was wrong). This, my friends, is freedom! This is all because the Father transferred us into the Son, the Second Humanity (1 Cor. 15:47)

15. [and] Who is the Image (the Exact Formed Likeness; the Figure and Representation; visible likeness; portrait) of the not-seen God (or: the unable to be seen God; the invisible God), the Firstborn of all creation (or: of every creature; or: of every framing and founding; of every act of reducing from a state of disorder and wildness; or: pertaining to the whole creation; or: = the Inheritor of all creation Who will also assume authority over and responsibility for every creature [note: this is the duty of the firstborn]),

Recall that Jesus said to Philip, "The one having seen Me has seen, and now perceives, the Father!" (John 14:9). And now we, too, can reflect the Father as we are changed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18). But not only was Christ "the Exact Formed Likeness" of God, whom we do not see, but He is the Firstborn of all creation. This is an all-inclusive, universal statement. But what does it mean to be the firstborn? The first one? Yes. The preeminent one? Yes. But in the Hebrew culture, to be a firstborn son meant something more: he was the one who had the duty and responsibility to assume authority over and responsibility for the rest of the family, if need be to be the kinsman redeemer. He was also next in line to receive the inheritance, when the father died. Being "Firstborn of all creation/every creature" means that He has the duty and responsibility to redeem the whole creation; to set free every creature. And this He will do.

16. because within Him was created (or: in union with Him is founded and settled, is built and planted, is brought into being, is produced and established) the whole (or: all things) – the things within the heavens (or: skies), and the things upon the earth (or: land); the visible things, and the unseen (or: unable to be seen; invisible) things: whether thrones (seats of power) or lordships (ownership systems) or governments (rulers; leadership systems; sovereignties) or authorities – the whole (or: all things) has been created and continues founded and stands framed through means of Him, and [proceeds, or was placed] into Him (or: = He is the agent and goal of all creation).

Now the first phrase in vs. 16 is shocking – so much so that many translators decide to translate the Greek "en" by the word "by." But the core meaning of the word is "in; within; within the midst of; or: in union with (where one is actually also within another)." So the whole of creation (all things – nothing left out!) was created, built, caused to be planted and settled and is produced and established WITHIN HIM. I am reminded of Rom. 11:36,

"Because, forth from out of the midst of Him, and through the midst of Him (or: through means of Him), and into the midst of Him, [is] the whole (everything; [are] all things; or: = Because He is the source, means and goal of all things – everything leads into Him)! By Him (In Him; To Him; For Him) [is] the glory (the manifestation of that which calls forth praise; the reputation; the notion; the opinion; the credit; the splendor) on into the ages. It is so (Amen; So be it)!"

And then there is Acts 17:28,

"For you see, within the midst of and in union with Him we continuously live (or, as a subjunctive: could be constantly living), and are constantly moved about and put into motion, and continue existing (experiencing Being)."

The list of all that is included in vs. 16 is quite inclusive: all that exists. Then Paul proceeds to say that this whole of the universe "has been created and continues founded through means of Him," and also "[proceeds, or was placed] INTO Him," or, as the parenthetical paraphrase words it, "He is the agent and the goal of all creation." The universality of this verse is inescapable. We also have here an echo of John 1:3, "All things (or: All people; [The] whole) come to be (or: are at some time birthed; occur; or: came to be; were birthed; or: suddenly happened) through and by means of It (i.e., the Word; or: Him), and apart from It (or: Him) not even one thing comes into being (occurs; was birthed; came into being; happens) which has come into being (which has occurred; which has happened)."

17. And He is before (prior to; or: maintains precedence of) all things, and the whole has (or: all things have) been placed together and now continues to jointly-stand (stands cohesively; is made to have a co-standing) within the midst of and in union with Him,

This shows that He was prior to the "all things" which He created and maintains the preeminence, and then Paul uses the perfect tense to show that it was a completed action and now so exists, restating that "all things" continue jointly-standing within the midst of, and in union with Him! What solidarity; what union!

18. and so He is the Head (or: Source) of the body – which is the called-out community (the ecclesia; the summoned congregation) – Who is the Beginning (or: the Ruler; the Originator), a Firstborn forth from out of the midst of dead folks, to the end that He would be birthed (may come into existence; or: could come to be) within all things and in all people: He continuously holding first place (or: constantly being preeminent; or: habitually being the First One; or: continuing being the First Man [note: this phrase has in Greek literature been used as a title]),

So we can logically see that He is the Source and Head of the body, since He is the Source and Head of all things! He is the beginning power, as well as the power of continued existence. He is also the Firstborn from out of the midst of dead folks – referring both to His resurrection, and to His place as Originator of the new creation. Then note the purpose statement: "to the end that He would be birthed, may come into existence and could come to be WITHIN ALL THINGS and IN ALL PEOPLE!" (note: the Greek "pasin" is both neutral and masculine) Paul goes beyond himself here to make his point clear and beyond question.

19. because WITHIN Him all – the entire contents (that which fills everything; all the full measure [of things]) – delights to settle down and dwell as in a house (or: because He approved all the fullness to permanently reside within Him)

Again, he expresses the inclusiveness and universality of all existence dwelling within what we might call the "Cosmic Christ." This is a statement of God's purpose of the ages. Jesus said something similar in John 17:21,

"to the end that all mankind may (or: everyone would) continuously exist being one, correspondingly as You, O Father [other MSS: Father], [are] within the midst of Me, and I [am] within the midst of You – so that they, themselves, may and would also continuously exist being within the midst of Us..."
20. and THROUGH Him at once to transfer the whole, away from a certain state to the level of another which is quite different (or: to change all things, bringing movement away from being down; to reconcile all things; to change everything from estrangement and alienation to friendship and harmony and move all), INTO Him – making (constructing; forming; creating) peace and harmony through the blood of His cross (execution stake): through Him, whether the things upon the earth (or: land) or the things within the heavens!

So vs. 20 makes a beautiful summation of Paul's presentation here: "and THROUGH Him at once TO TRANSFER THE WHOLE, away from a certain state to the level of another which is quite different (or: to change all things, bringing movement away from being down; to reconcile all things; to change everything from estrangement and alienation to friendship and harmony and move all), INTO Him." This is the work of the cross. Anything less simply devalues that work.

He is the Way of peace and harmony. This peace exists within Him in all realms – on earth, as it is in heaven. He is the expression of God's kingdom come, and nothing exists outside His reign of sovereign action and influence.

21. And you folks, being at one time people having been alienated away (being estranged; being rendered as belonging to another; = having been put out of the family) and enemies (or: hated ones) by the divided thoughts (in the dualistic perceptions and things going through the mind in every direction) and by (or: in) the miserable deeds (gushes of wicked actions; laborious and painful works) –

Here Paul describes the human condition as it is before being made alive in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22). The folks at Colossae had been such folks, having been "dead people in and by offences and failures to hit the goal" (Eph. 2:1). He has just painted a black back-drop for what he is about to say in the next verse:

22. yet now He at once reconciled (or: changed and transferred to a different state [p46 & B read: you folks were reconciled]) within the body of His flesh (= His physical being), through His death, to place you folks alongside, down before Him and in His sight: set-apart (holy) folks and flawless (unblemished; blameless) ones, even people not accused, with nothing laid to your charge (or: unaccusable ones; unimpeachable ones; folks without reproach),

A great change has taken place. These folks are now reconciled, which literally means that they were suddenly "changed and transferred to a different state of being; moved away from and established condition of being down, and changed to be other than they were." This was done through the work of the cross, for it says that it happened within the body of His flesh. His death and resurrection transferred them from the old creation into the new, placing them alongside Him and in His sight. It was this transfer that set them apart from the rest of the alienated mass of humanity. It also transformed them into being other than they were (the word "reconciled" is "apo-kata-allasso": to change away from a place or condition of being down; or: to fully make otherwise from what one was), for now they are "flawless (unblemished; blameless)" – through His blood (1 John 1:7). He does not "account to them their offences" (2 Cor. 5:19) and so they are "people not accused, with nothing laid to [their] charge." No one can accuse them! What a turnaround from how they were formerly described in vs. 21!

23. since in fact (or: inasmuch as) you folks are continually remaining on (or: are constantly persisting) by trust and in the faith, being ones having been provided with a foundation so as to continue grounded, even seated so as to be settled ones, and not people being repeatedly moved elsewhere (shifted; removed; or, as a middle: shifting yourselves) away from the expectation (or: hope) pertaining to, belonging to and having its source in the message of ease, goodness and well-being of which you hear (or: heard): the [message] being heralded (announced; publicly proclaimed and preached) within all creation which is under the sky (or: heaven) – of which I, Paul, am myself come to be a herald, an emissary, and an attending servant (or: a dispenser).

Vs. 23 continues with their happy condition, noting that they are in fact continually remaining on and constantly persisting by trust and in faith, "being ones having been provided with a foundation so as to continue grounded..." Look what Christ has done for them (and us!)! The foundation is Christ Himself. He provided Himself (via His word and spirit) so that they would "continue grounded." What a firm promise from God.

Paul goes on to say that they are "even seated so as to be settled ones," – seated where? "Upon the heavens, within and in union with Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6) – and now they are "not people being repeatedly moved elsewhere, or shifted, or even shifting themselves, away from the expectation that pertains to, belongs to, and has its source in, the message of ease, goodness and well-being." Then he assures them that this same message is being publicly announced and proclaimed WITHIN ALL CREATION under the sky (or: heaven)! This message is universal, for everyone. Paul was a dispenser of this good news. He was a herald. The news came from and was about the King and His present reign over all creation. Jesus was his Authority for preaching it, as he was His emissary and attending servant.

24. I am at this moment continuing to rejoice within the experiences and my sufferings over your [situation] (or: on your behalf), and I am progressively filling up in turn – so as to supply what is lacking and create a balance – within my flesh (or: = with the means of my natural situation) the deficiencies (or: the results from what is lacking) with regard to the pressures (squeezings; tribulations; tight spots) that pertain to the Anointed One (or: that belong to and affect Christ) over [the situation of] His body, which is the called-out community (the summoned-forth congregation; the ecclesia),

What an attitude to have for our fellow members of the body: constantly rejoicing in our sufferings (or, other experiences) over their situation. And here Paul reveals that this suffering is actually supplying what is lacking and creating a balance, within his flesh (both his body, and his human nature), in regard to whatever is lacking with regard to the pressures and tight spots that the body of Christ was presently going through. This is solidarity; this is being a fellow worker with Jesus, and with His body – the called-out folks. Where there is a lack, or an imbalance, even at a distance we can make a difference, for we are joined in spirit as one body. Our experiences and any suffering which we may undergo has a positive effect upon the rest of the body. From what Paul has said here, there must be a need for the body to have pressures and squeezings, and there is a need for us to be joined with others as they, and we, go through this.

25. of which I am come to be an attending servant (or: a dispenser), corresponding to (or: down from; in the sphere of) God's household administration (or: God's directives for the tasks of a household manager; the stewardship whose source is God and pertains to His house; God's economy; God's scheme and arrangement which He planned for His household) – the [detailed plan] being given by me unto you (or: to me [and infused] into you) – to fulfill God's Word (or: to make full the message pertaining to God; to make a full presentation of God's message; to deliver God's thought and idea in full):

26. the Secret (or: sacred mystery) having been hidden away and remaining concealed from the ages (or: from [past] eons), as well as from the generations, yet now (at the present time) is set in clear light for His set-apart folks (or: was manifested to His holy ones; is caused to be seen by His saints; is shown for what it is, in His sacred people),

In these two verses Paul first sets himself as an example of this solidarity, for he views himself as an attending servant and a dispenser in the sphere of and commensurate to God's household and its administration. He sets himself in line with the directives from God with a view to the tasks of the management of God's house, and the purposes of His economy. This plan was given to the folks at Colossae by Paul, and he infused it into them, so as to fulfill God's Word and to deliver God's thought and idea in full to them.

God's idea and message is described as "the Secret" – a plan and an arrangement (the new covenant) that God had hidden away and concealed from those that lived in the past ages, but in Paul's time was now set in clear light for His set-apart folks, and manifested in His sacred people (of whom the saints of Colossae were a part).

27. to whom God wills (or: purposed; intends) to make known by intimate experience, what [are] the riches of the glory of this Secret (or: the wealth which has it source in this sacred mystery's manifestation which calls forth praise) within the multitudes (among the nations; in the Gentiles; among the swarms of ethnic groups), which is (or: exists being) Christ within you folks, the expectation of the glory (or: which is [the] Anointed in union with you people: the hope of the manifestation which calls forth praise; or: which is [the] Anointing within the midst of you folks – the expectation which is the glory),

Note that in vs. 27 that is to them, as well as the rest of the multitudes (ethnic groups among the nations) and to us, that God purposed, wills and intends to make know – by intimate experience – just what this Secret entails, and the riches of the glory which has its source in that manifestation (Christ) which calls forth praise. Then he explains that it is "Christ within [them], the expectation of the glory." The term "christos" is a noun that can either mean "Christ," or "the anointing," and it is through the anointing from His Spirit that He dwells within us, and among us. Christ Himself, and the flow of His Spirit, is in union with us: that is the glory, which was the expectation of the Promise (the Secret), from ages past.

28. Whom [other MSS: which] we ourselves habitually proclaim down the line (or: announce in accord with the pattern), constantly putting [Him] into the minds of every person (or: human) and repeatedly teaching every person (or: human), within the sphere of all wisdom, to the intent that we may place every person (or: human) finished (mature; perfect with respect to purpose; complete; as having reached the goal) by [our] side, within and in union with Christ [other MSS add: Jesus],

29. unto which [goal] I habitually work hard (or: progressively toil on) and become weary, constantly struggling as in a contest, corresponding to (or: down from and on the level of) His inward working (or: energy and operation): the One continuously operating (energizing and inwardly working) within me – within power (or: in ability).

Thus it is, as he says in 28 & 29, that this Secret – both His anointing, and Christ Himself – was being habitually proclaimed: in accord with the pattern (the directives of His household administration). Paul was putting this plan and purpose into their minds; he was inserting Him into their minds, repeatedly teaching every human. The sphere of his teaching was wisdom; the intent of his announcing was to "place every human" as a finished, mature and complete person that had reached the goal by their side (along with the firstfruits) – and this was to place them "within and in union with Christ."

This was the goal of his continuous work, his progressive toil. He related it to being in a contest, but his struggle corresponded to, and was on the level of, Christ's inward working (His energy; His operation) Whom he acknowledged as being that continuous operation and powerful ability. As with Paul, it is Christ, and His power and His ability, inwardly working within us: this is the glory; this is the riches of the Secret.

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four

Commentary On Colossians
Chapter Two
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. You see, I continue wanting you folks to have seen and thus perceive (realize; know) [the] size of and how extensive a contest I am having and how intense a struggle I constantly hold (or: continue to have) over [the situation of] you and the folks in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in [the] flesh,

Here we see Paul's actual solidarity with the folks to whom He ministers Christ. He compares it to a contest in the games, perhaps a wrestling match in which he is struggling along with them as they encounter opposition in their lives. He does not say what it is that he struggles with, on their behalf, but that it is intense, and that perhaps he is facing off many of those who oppose them. In his spirit he is right there with them, as he was with those at Corinth, "present in spirit" even if "absent in body" (1 Cor. 5:3).

Those in Colossae were benefiting from Paul's strength in the Lord. He was having an effect upon their situation, just as if he was physically there. He was wrestling with them against the Domination System that was hostile to them.

2. to the end that their hearts may be called near, alongside, for comfort, relief, aid and encouragement – being joined cohesively (jointly knitted; welded together; literally: mounted together in copulation) and united in love – even into all the riches (or: wealth) pertaining to the state of having been brought to fullness (or: of the full assurance) whose source is comprehension (discernment; a junction of that which is sent together for a person to be able to catch on and understand); into full, accurate, intimate and experiential knowledge of God's Secret: Christ (or: of the secret of the God who is Christ; or: the secret from God, which is [the] Anointing; [with other MSS: of the sacred mystery of the God and Father, in relation to the Christ {or: having its source in [the] Anointing; or: belonging to Christ}]),

His performing as a paraclete for them (as expressing in the first clause of vs. 2) was actually giving them aid, relief, comfort and encouragement. The end in view was for their hearts to be joined cohesively (welded or knitted together, in union as lovers). This would bring them into all the riches that come with the condition of having been brought to fullness through comprehension – where things just fall together to give understanding – which leads into full, accurate, intimate and experiential knowledge of and insight into (i.e., gnosis) God's Secret, which is Christ. As you see above, this last phrase can also be rendered: "the secret from God, which is [the] Anointing."

Now consider: this beautiful result comes from their being intimately joined together as a unit. See the fruit of the knowledge of Christ which comes from such solidarity in spirit. Such wealth and fullness ensues.

3. within Whom (or: in which) are (continually exist) all the hidden-away (or: concealed) treasures (or: treasure chests or vaults; storehouses) of the wisdom and experiential, intimate knowledge and insight.

Here, the antecedent of the first phrase is either Christ, or, the secret (thus: Whom/which). In this, in Him are ALL the hidden-away and concealed treasures (or: storehouses) of Wisdom and experiential Knowledge/intimate Insight. What an inclusive statement! You can leave behind all the wisdom literature, all the Gnostic writings, all the mystic religions, even all the Law of Moses and the Prophets: the riches from all of these (and they all do have some riches of insights – Father is gracious and bountiful to all) are now manifested in Christ. The goal has arrived, folks: just abide in Him (John 15:4).

4. Now I am presently saying this so that no one may be derailing you in a persuasive discourse or reasoning, by logic and reasoning that are off to the side and thus cheats by false reckoning,

Don't be bumped off the Track by legalistic thinking from the old creation, the old covenant. Don't be lured off the Path by fascinating trinkets from some hidden source. These will cheat you by their false reckoning: stay with Jesus Christ! Recall what He said to the "sheep and the kids" in Matt. 25 – this is a real life, meeting real needs in the lives of the lost and the dead (who, incidentally, He regards as being Himself – even if they are in prison, or destitute). Keep in mind those with whom He spent His time – the outcasts!

5. for though (or: even if) I am presently absent (or: being away), in the flesh, nevertheless I continue being together with you folks in the spirit (or: by the Spirit; in union with the Breath-effect), constantly rejoicing and seeing (or: observing) your arranged succession (or: drawing up of rank and file for an ordered disposition in battle array; or: post and place in line; also: = a body of soldiers or militia) – as well as the solid body having a backbone which is the result of strengthening unto firmness – of your trust and faith (or: pertaining to your faithfulness and loyalty; which have the qualities of confidence and conviction of you folks) [which is being placed] into Christ (or: [which flows] into [the] Anointing).

Again affirming his actual solidarity with them, his being a part of them, in union with the Breath-effect – by the Spirit and in his spirit. Note that although he has been intensely struggling (vs. 1), he is "constantly rejoicing" as he sees their arranged succession, post and place in line, which "as the solid body having a backbone" shows strengthening unto firmness (part of this due to Paul's participation with them). Now note the last clause where he defines this strength and firmness: their trust and faith; their faithfulness and loyalty which have the qualities of confidence and conviction! But is this their own good qualities? No, it is the fact that their disposition of strength, compared to a battle array, and their backbone is due to all of this having been placed into Christ, flowing into the Anointing. It all comes from our awareness of the Secret: our participation in the knowledge of Him, and our union with Him. Placing out trust into Him, where He guards and keeps this faith and trust, is also the secret.

6. Therefore, as you folks receive (or: took to your side and accepted) the Christ – Jesus, the Lord (the Owner; the Master) – continue walking about (i.e., ordering your life) within Him (and: in union with Him),

7. being people having been rooted (or: having been caused to take root) – even ones being constantly built upon The House (i.e., added to the structure) – within Him; also being folks repeatedly made steadfast and stabilized with good footing within the faith (or: confirmed by the conviction; made secure for trust), just as you are taught (or: were instructed), continuously superabounding (being surrounded by more than enough) within it – within gratitude and thanksgiving (or: in an expression of the ease and goodness of grace, as well as the well-being of favor).

Now note in vs. 6 how specific Paul is when he speaks of their receiving the Christ and of their taking Him to their side. He does not just say "the god in you; the Christ- consciousness in you;" He says "Jesus, the Lord, Owner and Master." It is within Him, the Person of God, within Whom, and in union with Whom, that we are to continue walking about, ordering and living our lives. He remains our Source and Head; He is our Owner and Master! We cannot leave Him behind as though we have advanced beyond what the Scriptures show us.

Vs. 7 combines two metaphors: agriculture/vegetation, and construction. We have been caused, by the Spirit of the Life of Christ, to take root down into Him (He is the Ground of our being); we are His planting, His vineyard, His crop of grain. At the same time we have been built upon the House of God (God's Temple); we are an added room on the Father's House (John 14:2). All this "within/in union with Him."

Paul goes on to emphasize that they/we are folks that are repeatedly made steadfast (in case we slip or stumble) and progressively stabilized with good footing within the faith – confirmed by conviction; made secure for trust! He does it all. Note that this came through instruction and teaching, within which they were continuously superabounding. Consider what this means concerning the importance of teaching. Many want to say, "Just having Christ is enough for me," but Jesus spent years of intensive instruction to His disciples, and then they continued to learn by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. (In the natural life you do not become a doctor just by knowing one.) And all this "within gratitude and thanksgiving – or in an expression of the ease and goodness of grace, as well as the well-being of favor.

8. Keep watching out for and beware that someone will not be the one progressively (or: repeatedly) carrying you off captive (as booty or a prey) through the philosophy and empty seduction (or: a trick having no content) being handed down from and being in line with the tradition of the people (or: corresponding to the thing handed along from humans), down from (or: in line with and corresponding to) the elementary principles (or: rudimentary teachings and fundamental assumptions) of the organized System (the world of culture, religion, government, secular society or economy), and not down from Christ (or: in accord with the sphere of and in line with Christ),

This vs. begins by repeating the caution given in vs. 4; it must have been a real concern to Paul. History shows us how real a threat it was. Here he shows how "the philosophy and empty seduction from the tradition of the people" can take us into captivity – which means that we lose our freedom. This is the state of the institutional church today. Their minds are held captive to church traditions; they are afraid to think for themselves or be led by the Spirit into all truth. It is "the elementary principles and rudimentary teaching/fundamental assumptions of both society and the organized church (the world of which Paul warns us not to be conformed to – Rom. 12:2) that is their captors, their adversaries.

It is the instruction and teaching of Jesus and the Spirit (vs. 7) which come to us via His Word and His Spirit/Anointing – and which are in accord with the sphere of Christ, and in line with Christ – to which we are to adhere.

9. because within Him all the fullness of the Deity (the Godship and feminine aspect of the Divine Nature) is bodily settling down and taking up permanent residence (= is continuously dwelling in person),

This is a foundational statement. Who is the Him of this verse? Vs. 6 told us: "Jesus, the Lord." Not just the "cosmic Christ," but the individual, Jesus, Who is our Owner and Master. This is a critical concept, for Jesus is God having become human. He is the Second Humanity, the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47). He is both an individual, and corporate humanity. As a human, in Him "all the fullness of the Deity continues bodily settled, in permanent residence."

But let us remember that we are joined to Him. He and the Father have taken up residence in us (John 14:23). When we think of fullness, in this verse, we should not think quantity, but quality. All that He is, is within us – and thus are we His body, the organism within which He lives and moves and Has His Being. Can we receive this? Just keep in mind, it is Him, not us, for Paul tells us elsewhere that we/he no longer live(s), but Christ lives within us (Gal. 2:20). Yet, we are not obliterated by His presence in us – we are joined to Him and are now one spirit/Spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). You may be wondering why I rendered the word "Deity" also as "Godship and the feminine aspect of the Divine Nature." That is because the Greek word "theotes" is feminine.

So we are not to be captured by the assumptions and teachings of organized religion, or of society, BECAUSE all God's fullness dwell in the Christ: He is the source for what we are to believe, and for how we are to live our lives – He is the Way.

10. and you folks, being ones having been filled up (or: made full), are (or: exist) continuously within Him, Who is (or: exists being) [other MSS: the One being] the Head of (or: = Source of) all government and authority (or: of every beginning and right; of all rule and privilege),

Oh, now what is Paul saying? All the fullness is within Him, yet WE are folks that have been filled up! Filled up with what? With Him. Yet, we continuously exist WITHIN Him. This is immersion (baptism), to the point of saturation (think of a cloth that is immersed into a bowl of dye). This thought should not have been broken away from vs. 9 – it is a continuous thought.

Next he gives us another clue: Christ is the Source (like the head of a river) and Head of ALL government and authority. Wow! Sounds like His kingdom has been actualized. His sovereign reign is in place here and now. The buck stops with Him. Can you accept this?

11. within Whom you folks were also circumcised (or: in union with Whom you are cut around and off) by (or: in; to; with) a circumcision not done by hands (not handmade): in the sinking out and away from (or: the stripping off and undressing of; the going out and away from) the body of the flesh (= the corporate body of the Jewish religion and national heritage; or: = the natural body, or, the body pertaining to the natural realm; or: = the estranged human nature and alienated self) – in the circumcision of the Christ (in Christ's circumcision; in the circumcision which pertains to and has its source in Christ; or: in the circumcision which is the Anointing),

By being placed into Christ, even the non-Jews (goyim; Gentiles; ethnic multitudes) become the true Circumcision. Paul is using a metaphor that symbolized those who were set-apart to, for and in Him – to be His People. These non-Jews are now figuratively Israel, and the seed of Abraham – the only folks in the Scriptures to whom circumcision belonged. It is the same as being God's Temple – a figure taken from the shadow of the old covenant.

Now the last part of this vs. give pause for thought (as if every vs. did not!) – "in the sinking out and away from the body of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ." He is obviously not speaking of physical circumcision here. I have offered three different paraphrases, parenthetically, at the end of the verse:
a) that this body refers to the corporate body of the Jewish religion and culture;
b) that this has in view our natural body or the body which pertains to the natural realm;
c) that "flesh" here refers to the estranged human nature and the alienated self.

Any or all of these may apply. And in the last phrase of this verse, I particularly like the idea expressed in the rendering "the circumcision which is the Anointing."

It was both a work done by Christ via His cross – once for all – but also, switching metaphors, the progressive work of the Spirit within us as His fire "purifies the sons of Levi" (Mal. 3:3).

12. being buried together (jointly entombed) in Him – within the placing into (in the immersion and saturation; in the plunging for permeation; within the overwhelming; in the dipping into; within the baptism) – within Whom you folks were awakened and caused to rise up together through the faith having its source in (or: coming from) the inward operation of God (or: the trust belonging to the effectual energizing from and which is God): the One awakening and raising Him up, forth from out of the midst of dead folks.

Here Paul focuses on the work of Christ: His death and burial, figured by immersion (baptism), and then His resurrection within which we were awakened to life and were caused to rise up together "through the faith having its source in (or: coming from) the inward operation of God..." This trust both belongs to "the effectual energizing from" God, and it is the "energizing which is God." God was the One awakening and raising up Christ, and is the One who did the same for us, we being within Christ and having been buried together with Him.

13. And you folks – continuously being dead ones within [other MSS: by] the falls to the side, and in (or: by) the uncircumcision of your flesh (= physical bodies or national heritage; or: = estranged human nature and alienated self) – He makes (or: made) alive together: you [other MSS: us] jointly together with Him, gracing us and granting favor to us [for; in] all the effects of the falls and stumbling to the side (= false steps),

Here he continues the metaphor by contrasting their "uncircumcised flesh" to the life in the spirit, i.e., in Christ – "alive together: you/us jointly together with Him." In their physical bodies they were still dying; in their national heritage they were "the uncircumcision" – with regard to the "olive tree" of Rom. 11; they were dead as far as the estranged human nature or the "alienated self" was concerned (as Paul suggests, in Rom 7). Yet He made, and makes, them/us alive together with Him and gives them/us grace in and for all the effects of our false steps and of our falls and stumbling to the side of the path. Being filled up with Him, we yet find ourselves stumbling and falling to the side. But His favor continues, and we find grace for the failures.

14. anointing and wiping out the handwriting in the decrees (bonds; bills of debt; ordinances; statutes) put down against us, which was continuing to be under, within and set in opposition to us, and He has picked it up and lifted it from out of the midst, nailing it to the cross (or: on the execution stake),

This is another description of the work of the cross, and its effects for us. He became the Law personified, and the Law was nailed to His cross, in His body. Here is where He became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), for it was the Law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2) that He nailed to His cross: He put the Law to death, in His body, nailing it to the execution stake. Thus was He the end of the Law for us (Rom. 10:4). He also freed us from slavery to sin, wiping out the bonds and bills of debt, as well as the ordinances and statutes (i.e., the necessity for keeping the Law). With His death the old heaven and earth passed away; with His resurrection the new heaven and earth were birthed into existence.

15. after Himself causing the sinking out and away of (or: stripping off and away [of power and abilities]; undressing [them of arms and glory]; putting off and laying away [of categories and classifications]; or: divesting Himself of) the governments and the authorities (or: the ruling folks or people of primacy, and the privileged folks). And then He made a public exhibit, in a citizen’s bold freedom of speaking the truth, leading them in a triumphal procession within it [i.e., the cross]. (or: Undressing Himself {or: Stripping [them] off from Himself}, He also made a public display of the rulers and the authorities, with boldness leading them as captives in His victory procession in it {or: in union with Him}.)

So notice here what happens to the governments and ruling folks, as well as those folks of privilege (this could be a reference to the Jews), they were caused to sink out and away, or, put in other words:
a) He stripped off and away their [power and abilities];
b) He undressed them [of their arms and glory];
c) He put off and laid away [categories and classifications];
c) He divested Himself of folks that rule others, as well as the People who had been in the position of primacy (Greek: "archas"), and those who had lived with privilege from out of who they were (Greek: "ex-ousia": out of being).

Through their killing Him, He publically exhibited both who they were, and the Domination System [Walter Wink's term] out of which they operated. The parenthetical optional renderings at the end of this verse speak for themselves. Through the cross He triumphed over the systems of government, society, religion and culture. He now took them and made all things new – a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwells fairness and equity, in rightwised relationships.

16. Therefore, do not let anyone habitually pass judgment on you (or: make decisions for you) in [matters of] eating and drinking, nor in a part of a festival, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths (= concerning things that are of a religious nature),

This is a beautiful statement demonstrating the freedom that Christ has brought. These are examples that represent being free from religion, freedom from dietary laws, freedom in regard to participating in special functions or to setting certain days apart as holy, and freedom from the Law of Moses, of which sabbath-keeping was a symbol. Recall that this was one of the most frequent complaints of the Pharisees against Jesus.

17. which things are a shadow of the things being about to be (or: of the impending), yet the body belongs to the Christ (or: So we see, the body is Christ; or: Now the body has its origin in the Christ; or: Yet the body has the character and qualities of [the] Anointed;

[note: A.T. Robertson sees in this construction "the body" {figure of: "the substance"} as casting the shadow; Vincent is similar]).

That they are termed by Paul "a shadow" calls to mind the references to the Law, as being such, in the book of Heb. See Heb. 8:5, and also 10:1, which says:

"For the Law (= Torah), having and holding a shadow of the impending good things..."

– which is almost the same as what is said here.

The contrast could also be between the body – which signified people, and is that which actually matters – and religious behavior, which has no substance and is really insignificant.

18. Let no one be acting as an umpire, or an arbiter in the public games, so as to decide down against you, or to disqualify you, in regard to the prize – in lowness of understanding, intellect, frame of mind and deportment, continuously wanting [you] also [to be] in ritual-relating to the agents (or: in religious activity originating from the messengers [note: e.g., old covenant rituals]; or: by cultic religious service or external worship of or through the "angels"), while continuously stepping randomly and rashly (or: to no purpose; thoughtlessly; feignedly) into things which he has [or, with other MSS: he has not] seen [note: this may refer to being initiated into cultic secrets or mysteries], progressively being made natural and instinctual by the inner senses and perceptions of his flesh (or: habitually being puffed up under [the influence of] the mind of his flesh [= his natural abilities and conditions, or by his alienated self, or by the human nature that has been conformed to the System]),

Paul here speaks against some general categories of religious involvement, beginning by using participation in the stadium games of his day as a metaphor for not letting anyone detract them from the goal of life (Christ, God's will for them, living in love, etc.), which he represents as "the prize" of winning the games. Those who pay special attention to a person's way of understanding (in this case, selecting against use of the mind and intellect to understand the things of God, or stressing humility), or to maintaining a specific frame of mind (e.g., detachment), or to the specific manner in which one is to conduct himself, or to doing some kind of ritual which relates to the agents (in religion, called "angels") – these folks are to be ignored and not followed in their ritualistic behaviors.

He also warns against rash religious behavior or random participation in that which comes from visions or spiritual experiences (things that someone has either seen, or pretends to have seen), which behavior and participation leads to a life that is more and more concerned with natural things rather than truly spiritual concerns – even as far as just leading a life from instinct, rather than being led of the Spirit, and following "perceptions of his flesh" or the conditioning of the System, rather than discerning by the Spirit.

19. and thus not continuously (or: terminating the continuum of) getting strength from (or: apprehending and becoming strong by) the Head (or: the Source), from out of Whom all the body (or: the entire body), being constantly fully furnished and supplied to excess with funds and nourishment, and progressively joined cohesively (welded together; knitted and compacted together; united and made to go together as in mounting for copulation) through the instrumentality of the joints (connections; junctures; fastenings) and links (things bound together, as by ligaments), goes on growing and increasing God's growth (or: the growth of God; the growth having its source in God; the growth pertaining to God; the growth and increase which is God; or: the growth from God).

The involvements of vs. 18 are here contrasted to being strengthened by the Head and from the Source (Christ) and being in proper relationship to the rest of the body of Christ, each member receiving nourishment through its connection to other members in a continuum of flow (as with a circulation system) and being "progressively joined cohesively through the instrumentality of the joints (connections in the body) and links." Paul uses a human body as a metaphor for the knitted and compacted union of each person to Christ, and to each other person, with the desired end being continuous "growing and increasing God's growth (the growth of God, and the individual's growth from God)." These final parenthetical options represent different function of the genitive case in the last phrase of the verse, "from God" being sometimes called the ablative case, all having the same spelling in Greek.

"The increase and growth of God" is a startling concept, and even more so since it happens through people, the "body" of Christ. Here we see a certain fluidity and expansion in the aspects of God. In Himself there seems to be a kind of openness which He creates as He expands and directs His own creation – all, I suggest, in accord with His purpose (Eph. 1:9-11).

20. Since (or: If) you folks died together with Christ, away from the world's elementary principles (or: the rudimentary teachings and fundamental assumptions of the organized System [e.g., of religion, secular society, education or culture]), why, as living in [the] world (in an organized system), are you constantly being subjected to (or, as a middle: submitting to; binding yourself to) rules (decrees; commands; thoughts or imaginations; "dogmas" [of the system]):

21. "You should not (or: may not) touch (handle; light or kindle), nor yet should you (or: may you) taste by sipping (= partake of or enjoy), nor yet should you (or: may you) come into contact!"

In 20 and 21 he gives more arguments for staying away from religion and the teachings of the organized System, in its various forms. The examples he chooses are primarily from the Law, but we can see the same in institutional Christianity (most of which has adopted much from the Law as their particular rules of behavior, within the various sects). All such things are contrary to the freedom which we have in Christ and a life of growth which He characterized as being organic (e.g., as with the Vine and His branches). We should not be subjected to "rules," or decrees, or commands, or "thoughts or imaginations," and especially to "dogmas" of the System.

Note the clear and firm statement of vs. 20 that we "died together with Christ." This is a central concept of Paul's theology. We need to affirm this in our own thinking, and take on his own point of view, and attitude, "that [some MSS add: since] One Person (or: Man) died over [the situation of] all mankind (or: for the sake of all); consequently all died (or: accordingly, then, all humanity died)" – 2 Cor. 5:14. Can we accept that all humanity died in Christ? Believe it! Paul repeats the fact that the Colossians are dead below, in ch. 3:3. And our personal outlook and view of ourselves should be,

"I was crucified together with Christ, and thus it remains (or: I have been jointly put on the execution stake in [the] Anointed One, and continue thus), yet I continue living! [It is] no longer I, but it is Christ continuously living and alive within me! (or: No longer an "I" – now Christ constantly lives in the midst of, and in union with, me). Now that which I, at the present moment, continue living within flesh (= a physical body), I am constantly living within faith – in and by that [faith] which is the Son of God (or: in union with trust and confidence that is from God’s Son [with other MSS: in the confidence belonging to God and Christ]), the One loving me and giving Himself over to another for the sake of me (or: even transmitting Himself, over my [situation and condition]; or: also passing Himself along for me)." (Gal. 2:20)

Vs. 21 describes things which the Pharisees would demand, as well as some sects of Christianity.

22. – which are all things [that are proceeding] into decay and ruin (thus: corruption) by consuming and being used up or misused – down from and corresponding to the commands (or: on the level of directives and instructions), as well as teachings and trainings, of humans (whose source is mankind; from people)?

23. – which things, indeed, having a message (a word; an expression; may = a promise or reputation) of wisdom in self-imposed observance of ritual or self-willed form of worship, and in humility (= self-abasement), even in asceticism (unsparing) of [the] body, [yet are] not of any value or worth [and lead] toward a filling up of the flesh to the point of satiation (= a gratification of the alienated self; = a satisfying of the estranged human nature; or: = a bringing of religious works to the full; or: [and have] no honor, facing a fullness and plenty which are flesh; or: = are worthless, with a view to having enough in the natural realm)!

In 22-23 he shows the transitory aspects of such behaviors, as well as their legalistic and human characteristics, which simply come from traditions. Their so-called virtues are "not of any value or worth, and lead toward a filling up of the flesh to the point of saturation." As such they are contrary to the Spirit of Life. I have offered five possible paraphrases, parenthetically above, as potential interpretations of what Paul is saying in the final clause of vs. 23.

I think that his message is clear: stay away from religion and a legalistic lifestyle.

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four

Commentary On Colossians
Chapter Three
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. Since, therefore, you folks were awakened and raised up together in the Christ (or: If, then, you are aroused and raised with the Anointed One), be constantly seeking and trying to find the upward things (or: the things being above), where the Christ is (exists being), continuously sitting within the right [side] (or: at the right [hand]; = at the place of receiving, and in the place of honor and the power) of God.

The verb "raised" is in the aorist tense, so could either be a simple past tense in English, or, a simple present. – thus the two options. Either way, we are aroused and raised. When? When Christ was raised. It was "together with Him." We have been a part of the first resurrection (the Corporate Christ, the Firstfruit from among dead folks). Therefore we are seated with Him in the heavenlies (realms having authority upon the heavens, or the realm of spirit) – Eph. 2:6 – and we should seek out and try to find the "upward things," or the things being above, as opposed to the things below. Our focus and attentions should be on Christ, and His position of reigning at God's right "hand." We are participating in the reign, or kingdom, of the heavens.

2. Be constantly minding (thinking about; setting your disposition toward) the upward things (or: the things above), not the things upon the earth,

3. for you folks died, and your life has been hidden (concealed) together with the Christ, within the midst of God (or: in union with God).

Vs. 2 is a restatement of the admonition in vs. 1, expanding it, then vs. 3 restates the fact of the Christ event given in vs. 1, from the perspective of the past event of our dying "together with the Christ." Then he explains that our life has now been hidden – concealed – together with the Christ. So Christ is also concealed. Where? Within His body, His house, which is at the same time both within the heavenlies and upon the earth. And all of this is "within the midst of God, and in union with God!" And so Paul tells those at Athens "within the midst of and in union with Him we continuously live..." (Acts. 17:28).

4. Whenever the Christ, our life [other MSS: your life], may be brought to light (or: may be manifested), you folks, also, will be brought to light (will be manifested), together with Him, within the midst of glory (or: in union with a manifestation which calls forth praise; or: in a good reputation).

So the entire Christ (Jesus and His body) have been hidden and concealed, but vs. 4 speaks of both Him and us being brought to light, manifested together. This manifestation comes within the midst of glory – i.e., in union with a manifestation which calls forth praise and establishes a good reputation. Note that Paul says, "Whenever..." This can be interpreted as saying, "At any time where Christ may be brought to light, we also will be brought to light together with Him." This happens during the proclamation of the good news. The light is a figure of knowledge, of understanding. He is the Light of the ordered system (John 8:12); we are the light of the ordered system (Matt. 5:14) – we are now light, in the Lord (Eph. 5:8), being "living epistles." His glory is manifested when He is manifested, for His presence is the glory. When we manifest Him, bring Him to light, we bring Him glory and manifest His glory, or, His good reputation.

5. Make dead (Put into a state of deadness; Deaden; = Kill), therefore, the [other MSS: your] members (body parts; = aspects of your life) upon the earth (= that pertain to this earthly existence): prostitution (fornication; sexual immorality), uncleanness, [unbridled] passion ([uncontrolled] feeling or [excessive] emotion), worthless over-desire (rushing upon bad things; obsessive evil cravings), and the desire to have more and gain advantage over another (or: greedy, grasping thoughts and behavior) – which is idolatry (the worship of forms, shapes, images or figures; or: service to pagan concepts)

Here Paul returns to his imperatives, based upon the indicative statements of vs. 1, 3 and 4 of their having died and been hidden with Christ in God, the awakened and raised with Christ, and that they themselves will be brought to light whenever He is brought to life. So it follow that they should act accordingly: deaden, or kill their own body parts that pertain to this earthly existence!

But before we jump to conclusions, he gives a list of what he was talking about, some of which we would not necessarily think of as being members of our body, but perhaps "aspects" of our lives!? E.g., prostitution – yes, we should let that go, along with our sexual immorality and uncleanness. Today we would not normally think of these as part of the average Christian life. But he is writing to an established called-out community that has been given deep spiritual truths.

So it seems obvious to me that when he first preached the message of goodness, it was not a moralistic religion that he was presenting. It is here, in this letter, that he is fine-tuning their lives, as if to say, "Considering all of the above, you should probably clean up your lives: no more [unbridled] passion, [uncontrolled] feelings or [excessive] emotions." Note my interpretation by adding bracketed words to qualify the things that are not of themselves bad things. Then there are the worthless over-desires (or: obsessive evil cravings and rushing upon bad things): now that will get you in trouble with the men's accountability group! And next is greedy, grasping thoughts and behavior in your desire to have more and gain advantage. Here we are getting closer to what may be frowned on today, but wouldn't get you excommunicated.

The last in this list is idolatry, which everyone today knows that you should not do. In Paul's day this often involved the first on the list, prostitution – in the pagan temples. But how can we, today, relate to this? The word also means the worship of forms, shapes and images. We do have a lot of that: at the check-out counter, at the movies, in the fashion industry – most of which is also very common in the churches and everyday society, so we should not too quickly check this off as not a concern for us. But the final aspect of idolatry which has been directly imported into Christianity is the service to pagan concepts – like worshiping a concept of a god that would eternally torment his enemies: not quite like what Jesus said about loving our enemies, which the true God does (recall John 3:16 from your Sunday school class!).

6. – because of which things God's inherent fervor (natural impulse and propensity; internal swelling and teeming passion of desire; or: anger; wrath) is repeatedly coming [other MSS add: upon the sons of The Disobedience (or: those having the condition of being unpersuaded; or: the stubbornness); note: “the disobedience” could refer to Adam and Eve eating from the tree, and thus, the “sons of the disobedience” could refer to all of mankind] –

This verse is parenthetical, so I marked it off with dashes. Here Paul is letting them know what God thinks about the behaviors listed in vs. 5. This word is usually translated "anger" or "wrath," which it can mean, but that is on one extreme of its semantic range of meanings. The other extreme is "natural impulse" or "propensity" (both of which sound rather harmless). "Internal swelling and teeming passion of desire" would probably be in the middle of the range. Eddie Browne arrived at the term "inherent fervor" as probably the best phrase to cover all the bases of this broadly used word, "orge," from which we get our English "orgy." So with all this information, what do you think Paul means in this verse – about what God causes to repeatedly come in response to the activities of vs. 5? The answer lies in your view of Who God is, and What He is like.

This word obviously can have sexual connotations, and "internal swelling or teeming passion of desire" can describe the arousal of a lover. So is God just angry (as Christianity has usually painted Him), or do these behaviors arouse His natural impulse and propensity against them? Does He so love the world, and even the church, that His love arouses Him to intervene with corrective measures? The answer lies in your heart.

Steve Dohse responded, "What does God do in response to these natural, earthly desires? Perhaps "giving them over to it" is His pouring it out thicker until they come to the end of it, realizing sooner or later it does not fulfill; His "orge" could be a double portion . Sort of like; You want quail, I'll give you quail!”

Rebecca Mitchell comments, "It seems to me that, in addition to the usual things a Kingdom-living believer would consider applicable, would be the personal things His spirit reveals to us about ourselves, e.g., our individual weak areas, that lead to actual unbelief in practice and a bad report within our lives instead of affirmation of the Good News and Love Himself.

It could be pride in attainment spiritually, avarice or envy in this area, displays of feelings of not measuring up or of not getting recognition where we think we ought among the brothers and sisters, what some might call a 'stinking attitude' that brings discord in the assembly; worshiping of persons and dearly held beliefs that stumble others and inhibit the free flow of the Word of Truth; stubbornness and lack of teachability when corrections come, whether from the Spirit directly, from one in the body trying to assist us in our growth, or from a word from the pulpit. There could be a myriad of such personal areas that 'clothesline doctrine' would not normally identify but that Father sees as dark blemishes and will work to correct in our hearts, till we are 'whiter than snow.'"

7. within which things you folks also at one time (once; formerly) walked about (= lived your lives), when you were living within these things.

So here Paul gives them the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they have made some progress, from the life of Love within them, but just in case not, he continues in vs. 8.

8. But now, you folks as well, at once put all these things away from you (as of clothes put off and laid away): inherent fervor (or: So at this time you yourselves in one stroke set away and get rid of all the [following]: even natural impulse, propensity, internal swelling and teeming desire; or: Yet now, you people at once lay aside all intense anger, rage and wrath), strong passion (rushing of emotions; outbursts of rage), worthlessness (poorness of quality; influence of the bad; hateful intentions), [and] from out of you mouth: blasphemy (abusive and injurious talk; slander) [and] foul-mouthed abuse (obscenity; ugly words; deformed and shameful language).

There is a practical aspect of life in the Kingdom: showing good form; demonstrating Spirit-ordered behavior; living out the Love of God that is within. Vs. 9 continues his admonitions:

9. Do not keep on (or: Stop) lying unto one another! [Be] folks at once stripping off from yourselves (undressing yourselves from) the old humanity (the old man; = the old Adam), together with its practices,

The last clause, here, is a positive admonition which really says it all. But it seems that he assumes that they will know what he means. He is obviously speaking metaphorically, but he does not give them a list of actual things to do. I suspect that this is on purpose, as he is not trying to get them back into works, or into religious practices. In Rom. 12:2 he gives a more concrete example:

"And stop constantly conforming yourself to (or, as passive: And quit being repeatedly fashioned or patterned together by) this age [or, with other MSS: and not to be continuously configured to this age; and to not constantly remodel yourself for this age], but on the contrary, be continuously transformed (transfigured; changed in shape, form and semblance) by the renewing (or: in the renewal; for the making-back-up-new again) of your mind into the [situation and condition for] you to be habitually examining in order to be testing and, after scrutiny, approving what [is] God's will (design; purpose; resolve; intent): the good and well-pleasing, even perfect (finished and complete)! (or: the thing [that is] virtuous, satisfying and able to succeed.)"

So it seems to be a thing of the mind and attitude; perhaps where we put our focus: on ourselves, our want, our needs, or on Christ – both in ourselves and in others. Eph. 6:11 he says,

"you folks must enter within (or: clothe yourselves with) the full suit of armor and implements of war (panoply; the complete equipment for men-at-arms) which is God (or: which comes from and belongs to God), in order for you to be continuously able and powerful to stand (or: to make a stand) facing toward the crafty methods (stratagems) of the adversary (or: that which throws folks into dualism with divided thinking and perceptions; or: the person that throws something through the midst and casts division; the one who thrusts things through folks; the slanderer who accuses and deceives; or, commonly called: the 'devil'),"

So just "enter within... God." And do that however He so leads you.

10. and then [be] suddenly clothing yourselves with (or: entering within) the new one (the fresh one which existed only recently), the one being continuously (or: repeatedly; progressively) renewed (made back up new again, in kind and character) into full, intimate and experiential knowledge and insight which is down from and corresponds to the image (an exactly formed visible likeness) of its Creator (of the One framing and founding it from a state of wildness and disorder),

Sounds like Eph. 6:11, doesn't it. The "new one" is the new humanity of the new creation – being a part of the Second Human (1 Cor. 15:47); clothe yourself with Christ. Put on, as your apparel – that which covers you, protects you and presents you to society – the character and qualities of Christ (basically, love, and all which that entails). This puts you in right relationship with others and points your life in the right direction: toward the goal of maturity in Christ.

Note that this is not a static condition: it is the New Being that is being continuously and progressively renewed, and which leads you into "full, intimate and experiential knowledge and insight – all of which has its source in and corresponds to the image of our Creator, which of course is the image of Christ.

11. wherein (or: in which place) there is no Greek [figure of the multitudes who are non-Jews, and of those who are cultured and civilized] and Jew [figure of a covenant people of God], circumcision and uncircumcision [figure for religious in-groups and out-groups; there is no longer a covenant people versus non-covenant people], barbarian [foreigner who speaks a different language], Scythian [figure or example of wild, uncivilized groups], slave, freeman, but to the contrary, Christ [is] all, and within all (or: Christ [is] all humanity, and within all mankind; or: Christ [is] everything or all things, and within everything and all things; [note: the Greek is plural, and is either masculine, signifying “mankind,” or neuter, signifying all creation, in these phrases]).

Ah, the beauty of the New Creation: the sphere and realm of Christ. No more divisive distinctions; no more religious separations; no more elite people or groups; no more "us and them;" no more class levels. Yet, this is a picture of the corporate Christ, the reality of God's reign, pictured as the New Jerusalem, which is above. It is "the image of its Creator" (vs. 10) where the New Humanity is One.

Wherever we do not see this situation, we are not observing Christ or His kingdom. This is why you do not see the Truth or the new Reality in the institutional churches; you simply see religion and a code of morality. This is why the Spirit still says, "Come out of her, My people..."

In the parenthetical alternate rendering of the last phrase of this verse, you will note how I present the Greek "panta" and "pasin" as masculine: "Christ [is] all humanity, and within all mankind." This reflects what Paul called "the Second Humanity" in 1 Cor. 15:47 (or: "the Last Adam" in vs. 45). Too often we have simply read over the word "all in all" without thinking of their far-reaching and all-inclusive implications. This is a startling statement! Think what this means! Let it sink into your spirit; digest it; absorb it; let it become you!

12. Therefore, as God's chosen, set-apart and beloved ones (or: God’s sacred, loved and chosen people), clothe yourselves with (or: enter within) bowels (internal organs; = the tender parts; seat of deep feelings) of compassion, kindness (adaptable usefulness), humility (the minding and disposition of things of lowness or of low station), gentleness (meekness; mildness), waiting long before rushing with emotions (even-tempered; long-suffering; = putting up with people and situations for a long time),

Recall what he had just said in vs. 10: clothe yourself with the new humanity. So this is what our new reality, our new being, looks like: our inner life and core of being is compassion, kindness/adaptable usefulness, humility/being disposed to the lower levels of life and tending to them, waiting long before rushing with emotions/being even-tempered and patient with people and our living environment. This is not a list of things to do! It is a picture of our new inner reality! Not only that, vs. 10 told us that this is a picture of God Himself! Now think about that! You will become just like that which, or He Who, is your God.

Vs. 13 continues His description for us.

13. being folks continuously holding up [things or situations] pertaining to one another (or: habitually holding yourselves up, belonging to one another; constantly putting up with one another) and incessantly giving grace or doing a favor to (for; among) yourselves, if ever anyone may continue having (or: holding) a complaint toward someone. Just as the Lord [= Christ or Yahweh; some MSS: Christ; Aleph* & some Vulgate MSS read: God] also gave (or: gives) grace and favor to you (for you; in you; among you folks), thus also you folks [do the same].

You see, HE is continuously holding us and our situation up and is constantly putting up with us. If we are joined to Him, we will be doing the same – just doing it naturally, out of our new nature, the New Being in Christ. Incessantly giving grace – is this not what He does? Yes, that is what Paul goes on to say. We are called to reproduce Him, to reproduce God and be the channel of His increase.

14. Now upon (= on top of) all these things [put on; superimpose] the Love, which continues being (or: is) a joining link of perfection (a tie which binds together and pertains to the goal of maturity, being the result of fruitfulness; [the] fastening connection of the finished product; [the] bond producing perfection; a binding conjunction which brings union, which is the goal).

This is the summation, that which God actually is: Love. It is to bind all of our situations and all parts/experiences of our being together into a unified whole, which is love, which is God. This is what Paul meant when he said that the person that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit, or attitude; one Being (1 Cor. 6:17 – where the metaphor is sexual union; but consider that this is the situation spoken of in Gen. 2:24, where God spoke of those thus joined being one flesh – now it is being one Spirit)

15. Furthermore, let the peace [= shalom] of the Christ (belonging to and originating in the Christ; the harmony which is the Anointing [other MSS: God]) continuously umpire (act as a judge in the games) within your hearts (= in union with the core of your being) – into which [peace] you folks are called (were called; were invited), within one body. And progressively come to be thankful people (or: continue becoming folks expressing gratitude for the goodness, ease and well-being that comes in grace).

If we follow Paul's admonition in this first clause, not only will we be guided by His peace, but we will become people of Peace, for this is a call to a continuous way of being. Furthermore, this is the goal of our calling, and it is another characteristic of that which binds us together "within one body." None of us were called into war, hostility, violence or any use of force. Those should not be aspects of our character. The path of God's reign is the cross: laying down our lives for our friends. "God’s kind and gentle usefulness (benevolence with a sweet disposition) is continuously leading [people] into a change of mind and purpose (= repentance with a change of heart and a return to God)" – Rom. 2:4.

16. Let Christ's Word (or: the Logos, which is the Christ; the Idea which is the Anointing; or: the message of the Christ [other MSS: of God; of {the} Lord]) be continuously making its home within you folks (constantly indwelling you) richly, within the midst of and in union with all wisdom, habitually teaching [it] and placing [it] in the minds of yourselves by psalms, in hymns, by spiritual songs and odes, within grace and amidst favor constantly singing within your hearts to God (or: habitually singing to God [other MSS: to {the} Lord], in union with the grace resident within your hearts {= the core of your being}).

That Word can come from reading Scripture, but I think a better understanding of what Paul meant is the allowing of the "Thought and Idea" (Logos), which comes via His message, or what He "lays out in arranged order" (a logos) in your heart, to be constantly living in your heart, mind and spirit – along with His wisdom – in an abundant, wealthy manner. From this your life, your words and your actions will be teaching folks and placing His Word, His Peace, His Wisdom and His Spirit into the minds of one another. A spirit of creativity will bring forth psalms, hymns, poems and spiritual songs within the grace that He has given – and there will be a song in your heart which continuously sings to Him.

This is not a religious activity, but a way of being.

17. And everything – whatsoever you may be habitually doing, in word or in action (within a message, or within a work or deed) – [do] everything (all; all things) within and in union with [the] Name of [the] Lord, Jesus [other MSS: of Jesus Christ; others: of {the} Lord, Jesus Christ], constantly giving thanks (expressing gratitude) to Father God (or: in union with God, [the] Father) through Him.

Neither is this a religious practice, but a life of identity with our Lord Jesus, a life lived that shows forth and represents Him, a life that is produced from out of the midst of His Being (His authority: ex-ousia) – all of which is meant by doing everything in union with His Name. Furthermore, we should be constantly giving thanks to the Father, expressing gratitude as you live in God, and this "through Him." He is the means and the environment through which all this can be.

18. Wives, be habitually aligned to humbly support (or, as a middle: place yourselves under) [your] husbands (or: Women, continue subjecting yourselves to the adult males [note: this was culturally appropriate at that time]), in the same way as there has progressively come again to be a connection in [the] Lord (or: since there has been an arrival back in union with [our] Master and Owner).

In this group of verses from 18-22 it would at first glance seem that he had forgotten what he had just said in vs. 11. He seems to reintroduce the traditional categories of their society. Here I suggest that like vs. 5-9a, he is drawing his readers back to their daily lives in practical admonitions addressed to their outward station in life. As in our day as well, these divided perceptions and roles still continued, even though there was a new creation, a new heavens and a new earth (symbols for the world of culture and religion that was their environment).

But note the last part of vs. 18, for he points out the change that had come in relation to the existing status of a wife. He says "in the same way as there has progressively come again to be a connection in [the] Lord, an arrival back in union with the Master." In the Ephesian letter, 5:21, He says,

"while continually setting and arranging yourselves under (placing yourselves in humble alignment; subordinating yourselves; being submissive) so as to support one another, in respect for Christ (or: in union with the reverence which is Christ; within Christ's fear; in reverence pertaining to, and the source of which is [the] Anointed One [other MSS: God])."

Here he says the same thing, but it is addressed "to... one another, in respect for Christ." Keep in mind the situations which he addressed in vs. 5-9a, which began with prostitution and obsessive evil cravings. He is addressing a rough-cut audience with a long history of male dominance. But a change is happening; things are not like they used to be. This advice is loving, and practical for the existing situation.

19. Husbands, habitually love [your] wives (or: Adult males, be constantly showing love to the women), and do not become repeatedly sharp toward them (or: stop being rough, bitter or insensitive to them).

For the men, this is a new reality, a new world. The males had been raised to view the females as property, on the level of children and slaves, in most cultures. Things are changing, as the reign of God begins to bring change to culture as well as to religion. Was this a seamless, steady advance in the years that followed? No, the kingdom is spreading as yeast through the dough, but in times and areas we see that there were set-backs, just as legalism regained its hold on the message of goodness. But this admonition remains, and is a light in the darkness.

20. Children, continue submissively hearing (or: paying attention), being constantly obedient to the parents in regard to all things (corresponding to every situation), for this continues being well-pleasing, within the Lord.

21. Fathers, do not constantly excite (or: continuously incite or stimulate; repeatedly irritate, vex or provoke) your children, so that they may not become habitually without strong passion (discouraged and timid; without motivation).

This advice, concerning children and their Fathers' relationship to them and manner of raising them up, is as good today as it ever was. Note that in vs. 20 he points out that paying attention and obedience "continues" well-pleasing to the Lord. This was not a change. But vs. 21 was a change for many fathers, it seems. Some men apparently did not realize that they could break the spirits of their children, and this was not a good thing. And especially, such behavior was not love – did not properly represent "our Father which is in heaven."

22. Slaves, in regard to all things continue submissively hearing, paying attention and being constantly obedient to those [being] owners (masters; lords) on the level and the sphere of flesh (= human, or "earthly," masters) – not within eye-slavery (bondage to eyes; = slavery to doing in order to be seen, or working only when someone is watching), as desiring to please people (or: wanting to be pleasing to people so as to win their favor; human-pleasers), but rather within simplicity (or: singleness) of heart (or: single-hearted sincerity), constantly being folks reverenced by the fear of (or, as a middle: being ones habitually engendering reverence because of respectful fear toward) the Lord [= Yahweh or Christ; p46 & other MSS: God].

The coming of the kingdom of God was not an outwardly observable event (Lu. 17:20), it was a creation of the Spirit. Neither the Lord, nor the sent-forth folks, made an outward attempt to change culture and society at that time. Slavery remained. Like His Law had been in the past, it was "here a little, there a little, line upon line..." Paul took upon himself the concept of slavery and ownership, regarding himself as a slave to Christ (e.g., Rom. 1:1).

Nevertheless, he plants seeds of the kingdom into this system, admonishing them to be people of character that exhibit reverence toward and by the Lord. The witness of Christ was especially to come from the lower levels of society, just as Jesus came primarily to serve the outcasts. His reign was to begin from the bottom (planted in the earth) and grow up – completely inverted as compared to a natural kingdom that came via conquest and violence.

23. Everything – whatever you folks may be habitually doing – be constantly working (doing business; practicing a trade; earning a living) from out of soul (from the whole being: intellect, emotions, will), as to (for; in) the Lord [= Yahweh or Christ] and not for people (to mankind),

24. having seen, and thus, knowing that you folks will receive back from the Lord [Yahweh or Christ] and take away the corresponding compensation of and from the allotted inheritance. Be constantly slaving for Christ, the Owner (Lord; Master) [or, with other MSS, and as an indicative: For you are constantly performing as a slave in (or: by) the Lord, in {the} Anointed One].

Vs. 23 is a marvelous statement of the reality of the New Being. It is a restatement of vs. 17. There was no longer a separation between the sacred and the profane: all activity was to involve the whole being, and was to be done as to, for and IN the Lord – not just for people. The new earth had come; all had changed. They were now servants of God, while they served others (cf Matt. 25:40). And vs. 24 assures them that it is from the Lord that they will receive corresponding compensation – even from an allotted inheritance (Matt. 5:3). Therefore, they were to see the Lord in their masters, and slave for Him. The alternate reading of other MSS is also good: they were in fact constantly performing as slaves for the Lord.

25. Certainly, the person habitually doing wrong (constantly acting unjustly or inequitably; repeatedly being unfair and walking contrary to the Way pointed out) will receive in himself what he wrongly does (or: will take for his own dealing what inequity and unfairness he did) – and there is no partiality (favoritism; consideration because of personal appearance or of the face presented; receiving of a facade; taking of personage into account).

His rule is just and fair; His judging will be in accord to our works – he has no favorites. This was welcome news then, and it is now. In Him we find our equity, as well as the corrections we may need. He is faithful.

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four

Comments On Colossians Chapter Four
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. Owners (Masters; Lords), continuously hold at your side and present the right (the just; the fair; the equitable) and the equal (what is the same as something else) to and for [your] slaves – [from] having seen, and thus knowing, that you folks also continuously have an Owner (Master; Lord) within heaven (or: [the] atmosphere; [other MSS: {the} heavens {or: atmospheres}]).

Paul here concludes his imperatives to the societal categories that he began in 3:18. He stresses fairness and equity and even a sense of solidarity, showing that there was a continuum of relationship from slave, to owner, to Owner. He also points out the reality of the rule/reign/kingdom of God's atmosphere, or heaven – His kingdom was indeed present then and there. The present tense of the verb, rendered "continuously have," makes it clear that this was not some reference to a future relationship, but an ongoing one. Paul is simply reminding them of the fact that then existed.

2. Be habitually occupied diligently in prayer (or: Be constantly stout toward thinking with a view to well-being; Be continuing persistent and persevering by speaking toward goodness [in situations]) within an expression of gratitude (or: thanksgiving), continuously watching and remaining awake and alert in it,

3. at the same time also progressively praying (speaking to goodness) about us, to the end that God may open a door of the Word for us to speak the secret of the Christ (or: may open a door pertaining to the message, for us to speak the mystery which has its origin in the Christ – the secret which is the Christ), because of which, also, I have been bound (or: tied; = imprisoned),

4. so that I may set it [i.e., the secret] in clear light (may bring it to light; may manifest it), as it is continuously binding me (making it necessary for me) to speak.

In vs. 2-4, Paul has returned to general admonitions for us all. The word "prayer" is literally "toward having it well." To be habitually or constantly occupied diligently (or, in a strong way) means to be continually thinking, speaking and acting with a view to goodness, ease and well-being. Again, this means doing this as a way of life. It means by the Spirit setting even our sub-conscious directed toward that goal. The environment of such is an expression of gratitude, and in a spirit of thanksgiving. He adds to this the need to be continuously watching, remaining awake and being alert. Why? Well, being awake and alert are the opposite of being drowsy and sleeping. This was a common admonition that began with Jesus. They were expecting things to happen on the political and religious scene, and Paul is also repeating what he had said in ch. 2:8, on a personal level.

But further, it is always easy to become self-centered or preoccupied with family or job concerns, and to forget that we are a part of His reign and are integral to the growth of His kingdom in the earth. The Jews, and at times the Romans, were their outward adversaries; the law of sin (Rom. 7) was the inward one. Being awake to our lives is necessary to live in His overcoming of the System. Paul elsewhere compared this to running a race in the stadium games. It requires focus.

5. Be habitually walking about within wisdom (= living your lives in union with Wisdom): toward those outside (or: to outsiders; = those not a part of the called-out community), being ones constantly buying for yourselves – as from out of the market place – the fitting situation (or: redeeming the season within yourselves; purchasing the fertile moment for yourselves; or: = making the best use of the opportunity in the public concourse),

Here is more admonition to living with wisdom and being aware of good situations (as we would of good buys at the store, taking advantage of sales, etc.). We should be aware of fertile moments both with ourselves, and with others, for implanting life. We should seize the moment, as the Spirit reveals it to us, to let the rivers of living water flow forth to the thirsty. We should scatter His Seed in fitting situations and appropriate seasons.

6. [with] your word (your conversation; your message) – at all times within grace (or: = always favorable) – being one having been prepared and fitted by salt (or: seasoned in salt; or: = one being interesting and not insipid), [and for you] to have seen, and thus be aware, how it continues binding for you folks to be habitually answering each person with discernment (or: making a decided reply to or separating [issues] away in order to respond with a decision for each individual).

Our thoughts, words, ideas, conversations and our message should always be favorable, and should be in the sphere of grace, not law. Our lives and interactions with others should not be insipid or boring. We should be full of life (like a meal that is seasoned) and have a habit of responding to folks with discernment – for we are filled with the Spirit – and be willing to make decided replies for the hope and life that is within us, and within which we live.

Paul now addresses personal issues, as with regard to the soon coming of Tychicus (vs. 7-8) and Onesimus (vs. 9) and Aristarchus (vs. 10), etc. Paul was concerned about people and relationships, not just teachings and doctrines.

7. Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful (or: loyal) attending servant and fellow slave within [the] Lord [= Christ or Yahweh], will personally make known all the things with reference to me,

8. whom I send toward you folks unto this very thing, so that you might intimately become acquainted with the things about (or: concerning) us [with other MSS: so that he may come to intimately experience and know the things about and concerning you], and that he may call your hearts to his side for comfort, relief, aid and encouragement (or: so he can be a paraclete for you folks).

9. Together with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother – who is from among you folks – they will personally and intimately acquaint you with (make known to you) all the things here.

10. Aristarchus, my fellow captive (the one taken at spear-point, together with me), continues embracing and greeting you folks, as does Mark, cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you received goal-oriented directions [that] if he should ever come to you, receive (accept and hospitably welcome) him,

11. and Jesus, the one habitually being designated (or: termed) Justus – these being the only folks from among (or: out forth from) the Circumcision (= Jews) [who are] fellow workers [laboring] into God's reign and kingdom – which folks came to be a soothing emollient (a consoling exhortation; a solace) to me (for me; in me).

Vs. 11 contains a revealing comment: there were a few Jews who were laboring with Paul, sowing into God's present reign and kingdom. It is obvious that Paul's work was involved with the kingdom, contrary to what some folks teach.

12. Epaphras, the one from among you folks, a slave of Christ Jesus, continues embracing and greeting you folks, at all times (or: always) in constant struggle as in a contest over [the circumstances of] you folks, within prayers (speaking to goodness and well-being), to the end that you can stand [as] mature folks (or: complete people; finished ones; those having reached the goal; perfect ones) and people having been brought to fullness (or: carried to the full measure) within all God's will (intent, design and purpose).

13. You see, I am presently bearing witness for him that he constantly has (or: continuously holds) toil-caused pain (misery; travail) over you folks and those within Laodicea, and the people within Hierapolis.

The witness of vs. 12-13 express the intense solidarity within the body of Christ in Paul's day and circumstances. There was actual response from the situation at Colosse, that came from the intercession by Epaphras as he struggled together with them (as did Pau, ch. 2:1), in his spirit, to the point of pain concerning either their ordeals, or perhaps their growth – Paul does not say, but is perhaps the same subject as discussed in ch. 2:2. His thoughts and words projecting goodness and well-being into them (his prayers), that they would stand as mature folks with fullness within all God's will and intent (design and purpose), was to the point of personal pain. He was one with them. May we also have this vision of solidarity and union.

14. Luke, the beloved healer (or: physician) continues embracing and greeting you folks – also Demas.

15. Embrace and greet the brothers within Laodicea, also Nympha and the called-out gathering (or: community) that corresponds to her house.

16. And whenever the letter (or: epistle) may be read (caused to be known again) beside you (= in your presence and to you), you folks make an arrangement to the end that it may also be read within the set-apart community of the Laodiceans; and so that you folks may also read the one from out of Laodicea.

17. And say to Archippus, "Be constantly observing and seeing to the attending service which you received and took to your side, within [the] Lord [= Christ or Yahweh], to the end that you may make it full (or: fulfill it)."

18. The embrace and greeting [is] by my hand – Paul's. Call to mind (Remember; Be mindful of) my bonds (= chains; = imprisonment). Grace and favor [are] with you folks! It is so (Amen).

And so ends this beautiful letter. May these truths be absorbed into our hearts. May we remember those that are in any way bound – especially those being so for the sake of the message of Goodness.

[Colossians was written circa AD. 58 - based on the critical analysis of John A.T. Robinson]

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