Colossians One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colosse. Colosse was a small city of Asia Minor not too far from Laodicea (see Colossians 4:16). Paul had never visited there, and so addressed them a little more formally than he did the church at Ephesus, even though the doctrinal content of the two epistles is often similar. He apparently wrote while he was in prison at Rome (note Colossians 4:18) and sent the letter to them by Tychicus (Colossians 4:7), by whom he also sent the Ephesian letter, presumably at the same time (note Ephesians 6:21-22), as well as that to Philemon.

Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Colossians 1:4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Colossians 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

hope. Note the mention of faith, love and hope (see in Colossians 1:4). These three words are noted also in 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8; Romans 5:1-5; Galatians 5:5-6; Ephesians 4:2-5; Hebrews 6:10-12; 10:22-24; 1 Peter 1:3-8, 21-22.

truth of the gospel. The “word of the truth of the gospel” thus includes the promise of heaven, as well as the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). It also includes recognition of the Creator and His great creation (Revelation 14:6-7).

Colossians 1:6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

all the world. Christ had commissioned His followers to go “into all the world” with the gospel (Mark 16:15), and wherever they went, it bore (and still bears) spiritual fruit.

Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

Epaphras. Epaphras evidently had been the man who first preached the gospel and established the church there. At the time of writing, he was with Paul (Colossians 4:12), having brought word to him of the state of the Colossian church with its need for doctrinal guidance from Paul. He is also mentioned in Philemon 23, where it is indicated that Epaphras may also have been imprisoned with Paul for a time.

Colossians 1:8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

filled. “Filled” is the same word in the Greek as “fulfilled.” A Christian who knows and obeys God's will is like a fulfilled prophecy, completed and giving strong testimony to the truth of God and His Word. A fulfilled believer will not only be “filled with the knowledge of His will,” but also “filled with the fruits of righteousness” (Philippians 1:11), filled “with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13), “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), “filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), “perfect and complete [same word as 'filled'] in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12), and “complete in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10).

knowledge. “Knowledge” is the same as “science.” The “knowledge of His will” could be considered as the science of God's will; perhaps one could call this science thelemology (the Greek word for “will” is thelema)! God has indeed given us guidelines for knowing His will. The principles of “thelemology” could be grouped in two categories: God's general will for all His people; and God's specific will for each individual believer. His general will includes knowledge and acceptance concerning creation (Revelation 4:11, the last occurrence of “will” in the Bible, there translated “pleasure”), redemption (Hebrews 10:7-10), salvation (2 Timothy 1:9), regeneration (John 1:13; Ephesians 1:5), security (John 6:39; 17:24), sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18; 1 Peter 2:15), and our eternal presence with Christ (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:9-11). The knowledge of His particular will is conditioned on willingness to follow it (John 7:17; Romans 12:1-2), obedience when known (James 1:22; Matthew 7:21), prayer for guidance (xTerm 5:14-15), obedience to the relevant Scriptures (Psalm 119:105), recognition of relevant circumstances (1 Corinthians 12:4, 11; Romans 8:26-28), and inner confidence (Philippians 4:6-7; Psalm 32:8; Proverbs 3:5-6).

his will. It is noteworthy that forty-nine of the sixty-four occurrences of thelema (“will”) in the New Testament refer directly to God's will, not man's. Of the other fifteen, three refer to Jesus in His humanity and three to the Father as represented in parables by a human father. Thus, only nine (or fourteen percent) refer to man's will. Based on this relative frequency of occurrence in the Spirit-inspired Scriptures, it would seem that He considered the will of God far more important than that of man.

Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

walk worthy. Among Paul's prayer requests—and evidently the normal results of being fulfilled with the knowledge of God's will—were a “worthy walk,” “fruitful in every good work,” an “increasing knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10), strength and joy in suffering (Colossians 1:11), and a thankful heart (Colossians 1:12).

Colossians 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

power of darkness. The “power of darkness” (note Luke 22:53) is nothing less than the kingdom of Satan, in which we all once were captive slaves. Note, for example, Ephesians 2:1-3. However, we have now been set free from this bondage and carried into a new kingdom of light rather than darkness (note Colossians 1:12).

Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

through his blood. The blood of Christ shed on the cross in substitution for us who deserved to die was the redemption price necessary to secure our freedom and forgiveness. See also Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-20.

Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

image. This is a clear affirmation of the absolute deity of Jesus Christ. Christ is whatever God is—spiritual, omnipotent, omniscient, holy—all the attributes of the eternal God. The word “image” (Greek eikon) conveys this meaning. Jesus Christ represents—indeed is—“very God of very God.” Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). God in His essence is invisible (John 1:18) but we see all His attributes in Christ.

firstborn. Christ is “the firstborn,” not in the sense that He ever came into existence from a prior condition of non-existence, but rather as eternally proceeding from the Father, the only begotten Son, always manifesting the Father. This truth can be called the doctrine of eternal generation. He is from eternity to eternity in relation to the Father as a Son. Some are sons of God by creation (e.g., angels; see Job 1:6), and we can become sons of God by adoption (e.g., Romans 8:14-15), but He is the Son, by eternal generation (or eternal relation) the only-begotten of the Father. He also has the right of inheritance of the firstborn (Hebrews 1:2) and is “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18).

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

all things created. Jesus Christ certainly is not a created being—not even the first created being—as many have argued, for the obvious reason that He Himself is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, material and spiritual, visible or invisible. Only God can create, and God did not create Himself! Note also John 1:1-3; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2-3.

powers. The “thrones, dominions, principalities and powers” clearly are in reference to the spiritual creation of the vast host of heaven. The pagan world, whether of the ancient Greeks or of the modern New Agers, has always believed in angels, demons or spirit beings of various types and powers, and it is vital for us to understand that such beings do exist and can wield great influence in the visible world as well as the invisible. Even these, however, were created by Jesus Christ! Many have rebelled against Him, both men and angels, always justifying themselves by maintaining they are the products of some cosmic evolutionary process instead of creation by the eternal, transcendent God.

for him. All things were not only created by God in Christ, but also for Him (see also Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:10). We cannot comprehend all this now, but even the evil that God has allowed will somehow eventually redound to His glory (Romans 9:21-23).

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

before all things. Note the frequent occurrence in Colossians 1:16-20 of the words “all things” and “by Him” (or “in Him”). By Him all things were created in the past, by Him all things consist in the present, by Him all things are to be reconciled in the future. Therefore, in Him all fullness dwells. “Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things” (Romans 11:36). He is Alpha and Omega, all and in all.

consist. The Greek word translated “consist” is sunistano, from which we get “sustain.” The things created by Christ are now being sustained, or conserved, or held together, by Him. He is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). “In Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). The most basic of all scientific principles is implied in these two verses (Colossians 1:16-17), that is, the principle of conservation of mass/energy, or “all things.” According to this principle, nothing is now being either created or annihilated—only conserved, as far as quantity is concerned. One state of matter can be changed to another (e.g., liquid to solid); one type of energy can be converted to another (e.g., electrical energy to light energy); and under some conditions, matter and energy can be interchanged (e.g., nuclear fission); but the total quantity of mass/energy is always conserved. This law—also called the First Law of Thermodynamics—is the best-proved law of science, but science cannot tell us why it is true. The reason nothing is now being created is because Christ created all things in the past. The reason why nothing is now being annihilated is because all things are now being sustained by Him. If it were not so, the “binding energy” of the atom, which holds its structure together, would collapse, and the whole universe would disintegrate into chaos.

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

made peace. Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). He did not say: “Blessed are the pacifists,” those who give in to evil just to avoid fighting for the right. But how does one make peace? God “made peace through the blood of His [i.e., Christ's] cross.” Man has utterly alienated himself from His Maker by his rebellion against Him, and it took nothing less than His own Son's atoning blood to reconcile sinful man to a holy God. Because of His shed blood, God in Christ can forgive sins and save sinners. Thus, Christ is the great Peacemaker between man and God. Before peace can truly prevail between man and man, there must be peace between man and God. But although God has now been reconciled to man, man still needs to be reconciled to God. Therefore, the best way Christians can be peacemakers on earth is to beseech men to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

reconcile all things. Christ's death on the cross not only paid the price for man's redemption, but also for that of the whole universe. Because of sin, the creation is under the great curse, as it “groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:22), so it also must be reconciled to God. Again, note the past, present and future aspects of the work of Christ with respect to the entire universe. First, by Him all things were created. Note that creation was a completed work of the past (Genesis 2:1-3); He is not now creating anything, as theistic evolutionists would suppose. Whenever the Bible mentions the creation of the heaven and the earth, it is always in the past tense. Secondly, He is now conserving what He created. Finally, He will reconcile everything back to God. creation, conservation, consummation: that is the cosmic scope of the work of Christ.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

Colossians 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

the gospel. The “gospel” which Paul preached evidently encompassed the whole scope of the person and work of Jesus Christ, from creation to consummation (Colossians 1:15-20; note also the reference to “the word of the truth of the gospel” in Colossians 1:5). Thus, this great Christological passage in Colossians 1:12-23 is both introduced and concluded by calling it all “the gospel.” See also notes on Matthew 4:23; notes on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; notes on Revelation 14:6-7.

every creature. It seems to be impossible that the gospel could have been “preached to every creature which is under heaven” in just the thirty or so years since Christ had given the disciples the commission to do just that (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). However, the preposition “to” is the Greek “en,” more commonly translated simply by “in.” Also, the word “creature” is the same as “creation” and is commonly so translated. Thus the clause may read: “ ... which was preached in every creation which is under heaven,” a statement which is defensible and true. The Old Testament reminds us that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). The New Testament assures us that “the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). For those who have eyes and ears to see and hear with their hearts, there can be found in every part of God's creation abundant testimony to His power and wisdom in creating and upholding all things. There is evidence of His curse upon the creation because of sin, evidence of His love in conserving and saving His creatures, and evidence of His purpose and future consummation. Truly the gospel is being preached in every creation under heaven!

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

dispensation. On “dispensation,” see note on Ephesians 1:10; note on Ephesians 3:2.

Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

mystery. See notes on Ephesians 3:3-11.

Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Christ in you. Some interpret this majestic statement as referring merely to the fact that Christ is now being preached among the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The greater truth, however, is that Christ is now in you—that is, He has come to dwell in the heart of each believer, whether Jew or Gentile, through the Holy Spirit. See John 14:17; Galatians 2:20. His spiritual presence in us now assures us of His glorious physical presence with us in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:4-7).

Colossians 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Colossians 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.