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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Colossians 3

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 3

Colossians 3:4. Instead of ὑμῶν, which Griesb. approves, and Lachm. puts in the margin, but Tisch. 8 in the text, ἡμῶν is read by Elz. Scholz, and Tisch. 7, in opposition to C D* E* F P G א min. Arm. Slav. ed. Vulg. It. and many Fathers (not Origen). A is defective here. Considering this weighty evidence in favour of ὑμῶν, and seeing that the following καὶ ὑμεῖς suggested the change of person to the copyists, as indeed the beginning of a lesson with Colossians 3:4 could not but have favoured the insertion of the general ἡμῶν, we have stronger grounds for regarding ὑμῶν as original than as a repetition from Colossians 3:3.

Colossians 3:5. ὑμῶν] is wanting, indeed, in B C* א * min. Clem. Or. (five times) Eus., but has all the VSS. in its favour; hence the evidence against it is not sufficient to warrant its rejection, with Tisch. 8, as an inserted supplement.

διʼ ] C* D* E F G Clar. Germ. read διʼ or διό. Rightly; the Recepta, though strongly attested, is an alteration to correspond with the plurality of the preceding objects under comparison of Ephesians 5:6.

ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τ. ἀπειθείας] is wanting in B D* (?) Sahid. Aeth. Clem. Cypr. Ambrosiast., bracketed by Lachm. and omitted by Tisch. The evidence against it is too weak to justify its rejection, especially in the face of the agreement of the passage otherwise with Ephesians 5:6, and of the incompleteness of the thought which would remain, in case those words were omitted; Reiche properly defends them.

Colossians 3:7. Instead of τούτοις Elz. and Scholz have αὐτοῖς, in opposition to decisive Codd., although defended by Reiche.

Colossians 3:11. Before ἐλεύθ. Lachm. inserts καί; considerably attested, it is true (not by B C א ), but nevertheless an addition which crept in easily in consequence of the first two clauses of the verse; nearly all the same authorities (not A) have it also before σκύθης.

Colossians 3:12. Instead of οἰκτιρμοῦ Elz. has οἰκτιρμῶν, in opposition to decisive testimony.

Colossians 3:13. χριστός] Lachm. reads κύριος, following A B D* F G 213, Vulg. It. Aug. (once) Pel. Rightly; the Recepta is an interpretation, instead of which θεός ( א ) and Deus in Christo (Arm. Aug. once) are also found.

Colossians 3:14. ὅς] A B C F G P Vulg. It. Clem. Chrys. read , which is approved by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. ὅς ( א *) and the Recepta ἥτις ( א**) are emendations.

Colossians 3:15. Instead of τοῦ χριστοῦ Elz. has τοῦ θεοῦ, in opposition to decisive evidence, from Philippians 4:7.

Colossians 3:16. The καί before ὕμν. and ᾠδαῖς should in both cases be omitted (Scholz omits only the first), in accordance with preponderating evidence. Borrowed from Ephesians 5:19.

ἐν χάρ.] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἐν τῇ χάρ., which, on the authority of B D* E* F G א ** Clem. Chrys. Theodoret, is to be preferred. The article was passed over as superfluous.

Following far preponderant testimony (also א ), we must read subsequently with Lachm. and Tisch. 8: ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμ. τῷ θεῷ, not: ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμ. τῷ κυρίῳ (Elz. Reiche), or: ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμ. τ. θεῷ (Tisch. 7). Comp. Ephesians 5:19.

Colossians 3:17. κυρίου ἰησοῦ] Lachm.: ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, which is to be adopted on the authority of A C D* F G min. VSS. and Fathers; א has κυρ. ἰησοῦ χρ.

καὶ πατρί] καί is to be omitted, with Lachm. and Tisch., following A B C א min. VSS. and Fathers; from Ephesians 5:20.

Colossians 3:18. After τοῖς Elz. reads ἰδίοις, in opposition to decisive evidence; from Ephesians 5:22.

Colossians 3:19. After γυναῖκας Lachm. has ὑμῶν, which, with considerable evidence in its favour, is the more especially to be adopted, as in Ephesians 5:25 ἑαυτῶν is found. The omission easily occurred, because τοῖς ἀνδράσιν previously was also without genitival definition.

Colossians 3:20. Instead of ἐν κυρίῳ Elz. has τῷ κυρίῳ, which is to be regarded on decisive evidence as an omission of the apparently superfluous ἐν.

Colossians 3:21. ἐρεθίζετε] Lachm. and Scholz, as also Griesb, recommend: παροργίζετε, following, it is true, A C D* E* F G K L א ( παροργίζεται) min. Vulg. It. Theodoret, ms. Theoph.; but it comes from Ephesians 6:4.

Colossians 3:22. Elz. and Tisch. have ὀφθαλμοδουλείαις, which Reiche approves. But ὀφθαλμοδουλείᾳ (recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. and Scholz) is the reading in A B D E F G min. Damasc. Theoph.; and Chrysostom also by κατʼ ὀφθαλμοδουλείαν testifies in favour of the singular. The singular is to be preferred as preponderantly attested, and because the final syllable AI ( ) might very easily bring about the conversion into the plural. If the singular had come in from Ephesians 6:6, “Chrysostom’s reading, κατʼ ὀφθ., would be more frequent.

Instead of κύριον Elz. has θεόν, contrary to decisive witnesses.

Colossians 3:23. καὶ πᾶν , τι ἐάν] The reading , ἐάν, which Griesb. approves, and Lachm. Scholz and Tisch. have adopted, is decisively attested; the Recepta is from Colossians 3:17.

Colossians 3:24. τῷ γάρ] γάρ has so decisive witnesses against it (also א ), that, with Lachm. and Tisch. (Griesb. also condemns it), it is to be deleted as a current connective addition.

Colossians 3:25. δέ] γάρ is decisively attested (also by א ); it is approved by Griesb., and adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. The antithetical δέ crept in from misunderstanding.

κομιεῖται] The form κομίσεται (Lachm.) is found in B D *** E K L א ** min. Fathers. To these may be added F G, which have κομίζεται. The Recepta must give way to the more strongly attested κομίσεται. Comp. on Ephesians 6:8.

CONTENTS.

The generally hortatory second portion of the Epistle, preceded in Colossians 2:6 merely by a special exhortation against the danger of heresy, does not begin with Colossians 2:6 (Hofmann), but only now, and seeks to promote in the readers the essential moral direction of the Christian life (Colossians 3:1-4); after which they are encouraged to lay aside and abandon everything which is contrary to that direction (Colossians 3:5-11), and to adopt and follow all that is good and edifying in a Christian sense (Colossians 3:12-17). Then follow exhortations in reference to the various relations of the household (Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1).


Verse 1

Colossians 3:1 f. εἰ] does not make the relation problematical any more than in Colossians 2:20, but sets it forth as an undoubted fact (Colossians 2:12), from which the subsequent duty results, in syllogistic form, as is frequently the case in Paul’s writings (see Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 325), and also in the classics (Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 259 f.; Kühner and Herbst, ad Xen. Mem. i. 5. 1). The being risen with Christ, namely, is not meant in the sense of the regenerate moral life (see on Colossians 2:12), but as the relation of real participation in the resurrection of Christ, which involves as its ethical correlate the obligation τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖν. To be risen with Christ and not τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖν, would be a contradiction.

οὖν] therefore, points back to Colossians 3:20, and with logical propriety, since fellowship in the resurrection of Christ is the necessary consequence(138) of fellowship in His death,—a fact which Paul had in view also in Colossians 3:21, in writing ὡς ζῶντες ἐν κόσμῳ. The οὖν is not intended to be resumptive, namely, of what was said in Colossians 2:12 (Hofmann); otherwise what comes after that verse down to the present one must have had the nature of a parenthesis, or a digression.

τὰ ἄνω] the opposite to τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς: that which is in heaven (comp. John 8:23; Galatians 4:26; Philippians 3:14), by which is indicated the Messianic salvation which, with its future blessings (Colossians 2:17), is preserved in heaven to be manifested and communicated at the Parousia (Colossians 3:3-4). Comp. Matthew 6:33, and the conceptions of the treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:20), of the heavenly βραβεῖον (Colossians 2:18; Philippians 3:14), πολίτευ΄α (Philippians 3:20), Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26). It is substantially the same as δόξαν κ. τι΄ὴν κ. ἀφθαρσίαν ζητεῖν in Romans 2:7. As a philosophical analogy, comp. especially the ἄνω ὁδός in the beautiful close of Plato’s Republic, and the farewell of Socrates in the Phaedo. A liturgical colouring, which such expressions as τὰ ἄνω (also τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς κ. τ. λ. in Colossians 1:16; Colossians 1:20) are alleged to have (Holtzmann), is arbitrarily assumed as a criterion of a later age.

οὔ χ. ἐστιν κ. τ. λ.] furnishing a motive encouraging them to perfect the fellowship. “Par est enim illuc tendere studia curasque membrorum, ubi jam versatur caput,” Erasmus. The event of the bodily ascension (but not a definite form of the process) is here, as in every case where the exalted Christ is the subject of discourse, presupposed. Comp. especially Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:48. Notwithstanding the local οὗ, Hofmann thinks that Paul has conceived the supramundane existence of Christ not at all locally. Comp., however, on Ephesians 1:20 and Mark 16:19; and see the frequent and significant ὅπου ἐγὼ ὑπάγω and ὅπου εἰ΄ὶ ἐγώ from the lips of Jesus in John.

Colossians 3:2. τὰ ἄνω] repeated with emphasis, and then still further strengthened by the negative contrast. The φρονεῖτε is more comprehensive than ζητεῖτε, expressing not only the striving (comp. Romans 2:7), but the whole practical bent of thought and disposition (comp. Beck, bibl. Seelenl. p. 62), the moral meditari, Philippians 2:5.

τὰ ἐπὶ τ. γῆς] e.g. money and estate, honours, comforts, etc. Comp. Philippians 3:19 : οἱ τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες, also 1 John 2:15, et al. Neither the contrast nor the subsequent text warrants us in finding here a further reference to the requirements of the false teachers. So Theophylact: τὰ περὶ βρωμάτων κ. ἡμέρων; Calvin: “adhuc persequitur suam disputationem de ceremoniis, quae similes tricis facit, quae nos humi repere cogant;” comp. Beza, Michaelis, and others. The hortatory portion of the Epistle proceeds no longer at all in the form of statements opposed to the false teachers, but in that of general moral exhortations.

We have to observe, further, that the earthly is not of itself placed under the point of view of the sinful, which would be quite un-Pauline (1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 10:23), but is so as the contents of the striving which is opposed to the τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖν. Comp. the idea in Matthew 6:21.


Verse 3

Colossians 3:3. Assigning a reason for the requirement of Colossians 3:2.

For ye are dead; how then could your mind be directed towards earthly things! and your life does not belong to the realm of the visible world, but it is hidden with Christ in God: how should you not then τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖν! It is a guide to a correct and certain interpretation of the passage, that this statement of a reason must affirm the same thing as was already contained, only without special development, in εἰ συνηγέρθ. τ. χ. of Colossians 3:1. This special exposition Paul now gives. Whosoever is risen, namely, has died and lives, and these are the two points to which Colossians 3:3 refers.

ἀπεθάνετε] namely, by your having entered into the fellowship of the death of Christ. This being dead has dissolved in the consciousness of the Christian the ties that hitherto bound him to earthly things. He finds himself still in the realm of the earthly, but he no longer lives therein, Colossians 2:21. Comp. Philippians 3:20; Galatians 2:20.

ζωὴ ὑμῶν] must necessarily be the life, which has followed the being dead; consequently the eternal life, comp. Colossians 3:4, which set in through the resurrection (of which Christians, in fact, have become partakers with Christ, Colossians 3:1)—a life which the believer has, prior to the Parousia, as a possession that has not yet been manifested but is still in secret ( οὔπω ἐφανερώθη, 1 John 3:2), a treasure in heaven, possessed in hope and still unrevealed, destined to appear in glorious manifestation only at the Parousia.

σὺν τῷ χριστῷ] For Christ Himself, apart from fellowship with whose life the ζωή of His believers cannot have its being and essence, is hidden till the Parousia; and only then sets in His φανέρωσις (Colossians 3:4), ἀποκάλυψις (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13), ἐπιφάνεια (1 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14), with which also the ἀποκάλυψις τῶν υἱῶν τ. θεοῦ (Romans 8:19) will take place, Colossians 3:4. Comp. 2 Timothy 2:10 f.; 1 John 3:2.

ἐν τῷ θεῷ] in God, in so far, namely, as Christ, who, according to John (Colossians 1:18), is εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός, remains hidden in God till the Parousia, as σύνθρονος of God (Colossians 3:1), living united with God in His glory hitherto unseen, in order thereafter to proceed from God and to manifest Himself with the full divine glory. But, as with Christ, so also with our life, which is hidden σὺν τῷ χριστῷ, and therefore can only issue forth at His second coming from God, and be received by us in real glorious communication and manifestation through our συνδοξασθῆναι (Romans 8:17, comp. Romans 5:2; Romans 5:10). If the coherence of the relation expressed by κέκρυπται was asserted by σὺν τῷ χ., so also is its inherence by ἐν τῷ θεῷ. The essential part of our explanation, viz. that ζωὴ ἡμ. is eternal life, is held also by Chrysostom, Theodoret ( ἐκείνου γὰρ ἀναστάντος πάντες ἠγέρθημεν, ἀλλʼ οὐδέπω ὁρῶμεν τῶν πραγμάτων τὴν ἔκβασιν), Oecumenius ( τῶν γὰρ ἀληθῶς χριστιανῶν ζωὴ ἔστιν μένουσα, μέν τοι πάρουσα εἰκόνα μᾶλλον θανάτου ζωῆς ἔχει), Theophylact (Paul wished to show αὐτοὺς καθημένους ἄνω καὶ ἄλλην ζῶντας ζωὴν, τὴν ἐν τῷ θεῷ, τὴν μὴ φαινομένην), Calvin, Beza, Erasmus Schmid, Grotius, and others, including Baumgarten-Crusius. The accurate contextual connection of this view with what precedes, and with Colossians 3:4 (see above), excludes the explanation adopted by many, of ζωή in the ethical, spiritual sense. So Erasmus, Vatablus, Calovius, Bengel, Flatt (“the inner, new, blissful life of true Christians”), Bähr, Böhmer, Steiger, Olshausen,(139) and others, including Huther,(140) Bleek, and de Wette, who apprehends this life as being hidden in two respects: namely, as regards the disposition and striving, it is, because directed to the heavenly, internal and ideal, whereas the life of worldly men in the common sense is real or manifest; as regards the imputation or recompense, it lacks outward happiness, but enjoys internal peace, and is therefore in this respect also hidden or ideal, whereas the worldly life, in unison with the outer world, leads to external peace or to happiness, and is so far, therefore, real or manifest also; the σὺν τῷ χ. denotes not merely the spiritual fellowship, but is “at the same time to a certain extent” to be understood in a local sense (comp. Colossians 3:1), and ἐν τῷ θεῷ denotes the sphere of the Christian life, or “its relation to the system of the universe, that it belongs to the invisible world, where God Himself lives.” Of all this there is nothing in the words, the historical sense of which neither requires nor bears such a spiritualistic idealisation with more senses than one, but, on the contrary, excludes it as caprice. The ζωὴ ὑμῶν does not refer to the ethical life of Christians at all, neither alone nor along with eternal life (Cornelius a Lapide, Estius; comp. Bleek and Ewald). On the contrary, it is aptly said by Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων. not. p. 93: “vitam enim piam et honestam, quam homo Christianus in hac terra vivere possit ac debeat, P. dicere non poterat nunc cum Christo in Deo (in coelis puta, in quibus Christus nunc est) reconditam esse, atque olim in splendido Jesu reditu de coelo revelatum iri; haec non nisi vitae coelesti conveniunt.” Hofmann’s distinction is less clear and definite: the ζωή is meant as the blessing, in which Christians have an advantage over the world, by their having participated in the death and resurrection of Christ,—a life, which is indeed life in the full sense of the word, but which does not appear before the world as what it is, so long as Christ is hidden from the world and in God. Notwithstanding, Hofmann properly rejects the explanations referring it to the holy life of the Christian, and to the holy and blissful life together.

Observe, further, the difference in the tenses, the aorist ἀπεθάνετε denoting the accomplished act of dying at conversion, by which they entered into the fellowship of the death of Christ; and the perfect κέκρ., the continuous subsisting relation in reference to the present up to the (near) Parousia.


Verse 4

Colossians 3:4. And what a blissful future is connected with the ζωὴ ὑμῶν κεκρ. κ. τ. λ.! This bright, favourable side of the previous thought is the continuation of the proof of Colossians 3:2 begun in Colossians 3:3, detaching them thoroughly from earthly pursuits and elevating them to the courage of victory; vividly introduced without connecting particle ( καί): “repentina luce percellit,” Bengel, which Hofmann fails to perceive, when he objects to the absence of δέ. The relation is not antithetical at all.

φανερωθῇ] shall have become manifest, have come forth from His present concealment, namely, by His Parousia. See on Colossians 3:3.

ζωὴ ὑμῶν] your life. Christ Himself is thus designated (comp. ἐλπίς in Colossians 1:27), because He is the personal author, possessor, and bearer of the eternal life of His believers (comp. John 14:6; John 11:25), and this, according to the context, inasmuch as they have entered into the fellowship of His resurrection: they are alive(141) with Him ( σὺν τ. χ., Colossians 3:3); His life is their life. The definite object of this apposition, moreover, is argumentative, for the following τότε κ. τ. λ.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] as Christ, so also ye with Him. The two subjects have the emphasis.

φανερωθ. ἐν δόξῃ] Comp. συνδοξασθῶμεν in Romans 3:17. It means nothing else than the glory of the Messianic kingdom, in which believers (also glorified bodily, 1 Corinthians 15:43; 2 Corinthians 5:1 ff.; Philippians 3:21) shall be manifested visibly. The offence which Holtzmann takes at the use of φανεροῦσθαι (instead of ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι, Romans 3:17 ff.) and ζωή, presupposes a too limited range for Paul’s manipulation of language. Our passage has nothing to do with 2 Corinthians 4:10 f. Nor does it even “almost look” (Holtzmann) as if the author were conceiving the readers as already dead at the Parousia. The φανερωθῆναι ἐν δόξῃ takes place in the case of those still alive through their being changed, as the reader was aware.


Verse 5

Colossians 3:5.(142) οὖν] draws the inference from Colossians 3:3-4, in order now to lead to that which must be done with a view to the carrying out of the μὴ τὰ ἐπὶ τ. γῆς. The inference itself is: “Since, according to Colossians 3:3-4, ye are dead, but have your life hidden with Christ in God and are destined to be glorified with Christ, it would be in contradiction of all this, according to which ye belong no longer to the earth but to the heavenly state of life, to permit your earthly members still to live; no, ye are to put them to death, to make them die” (Romans 4:19; Hebrews 11:12; Plut. Mor. p. 954 D)!

νεκρώσατε] prefixed with emphasis as the point of the inference; the term is selected in significant reference to ἀπεθάνετε and ζωὴ ὑμῶν, Colossians 3:3-4.

τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν] means nothing else, and is not to be explained otherwise than: your members (hand, foot, eye, etc.). That these were not to be put to death in the physical sense, but in an ethical respect (comp. Colossians 2:11)—seeing, namely, that they, as the seat and organs of sinful lusts (Romans 7:23), which they still are even in the case of the regenerate (Galatians 5:17; Galatians 5:24), are to lose their vigour of life and activity through the Christian moral will governed by the Holy Spirit, and in so far to experience ethical deadening (comp. Romans 7:5; Romans 7:23; Romans 8:13, and the analogous representation by Jesus as to plucking out the eye, etc., Matthew 5:29 f., Matthew 18:8 f.; comp. also Matthew 19:12)—was self-evident to the reader, as it was, moreover, placed beyond doubt by the following appositions πορνείαν κ. τ. λ. Hence there was neither ground nor warrant in the context to assume already here (see Colossians 3:9) the conception of the old man, whose desires are regarded as members (Beza, Flacius, Calvin, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Calovius, and others, including Böhmer, Olshausen, and Bleek), although the required putting to death presupposes that the old man is still partially alive. Nor is sin itself, according to its totality, to be thought of as body and its individual parts as members (Hilary, Grotius, Bengel, Bähr, and others; comp. also Julius Müller, v. d. Sünde, I. p. 461, ed. 5, and Flatt),—a conception which does not obtain even in Colossians 2:11 and Romans 6:6, and which is inadmissible here on account of ὑμῶν. The view of Steiger, finally, is erroneous (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius), that the entire human existence is conceived as σῶμα. We may add that the νέκρωσις of the members, etc., is not inconsistent with the death ( ἀπεθάνετε, Colossians 3:3) already accomplished through conversion to Christ, but is required by the latter as the necessary, ever new act of the corresponding morality, with which faith lives and works.(143) And in view of the ideal character of this obligation the command νεκρώσατε κ. τ. λ.—this requirement, which is ever repeating itself, of the ethical mortificatio—is never superfluous.

τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς] which are upon the earth, corresponds to the τὰ ἐπὶ τ. γ. in Colossians 3:2; in contrast, not to the glorified human nature of Christ (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, I. p. 560), but to the life hidden with Christ in God. In this antithetical addition is involved an element which justifies the requirement νεκρώσατε τ. μ. ὑμ., not expressing the activity of the μέλη for what is sinful (de Wette, comp. Flatt and others, in connection with which Grotius would even supply τὰ φρονοῦντα from Colossians 3:2), which the simple words do not affirm, but: that the μέλη, as existing upon earth, have nothing in common with the life which exists in heaven, that their life is of another kind and must not be spared to the prejudice of that heavenly ζωή! Comp. also Hofmann’s present view. The context does not even yield a contrast of heavenly members (Huther), i.e. of a life of activity for what is heavenly pervading the members, or of the members of the new man (Julius Müller), since the ζωή is not to be understood in the sense of the spiritual, ethical life.

πορνείαν κ. τ. λ.] Since Paul would not have the members slain as such absolutely and unreservedly, but only as regards their ethical side, namely, the sinful nature which dwells and works in them (Romans 7:23), he now subjoins detailed instances of this sinful nature, and that with a bold but not readily misunderstood directness of expression appositionally, so that they appear as the forms of immorality cleaving to the members, with respect to which the very members are to be put to death. In these forms of immorality, which constitute no such heterogeneous apposition to τὰ μέλη ὑμ. as Holtzmann thinks, the life of the μέλη, which is to be put to death, is represented by its parts. Paul might have said: λέγω δὲ πορνείαν; but by annexing it directly, he gave to his expression the form of a distributive apposition (see Kühner, II. 1, p. 247), more terse and more compact after the σχῆμα καθʼ ὅλον καὶ μέρος. It is neither a sudden leap of thought nor a metonymy.

ἀκαθαρσ.] in reference to lustful uncleanness; comp. on Romans 1:24; Galatians 5:19; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3. Paul gives, namely, from πορν. to κακήν, four forms of the first Gentile fundamental vice, unchastity, beginning with the special ( πορνείαν), and becoming more and more general as he proceeds. Hence follows: πάθος, passion (the ἡττᾶσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς ἡδονῆς, Plat. Prot. p. 352 A Dem. 805. 14; Arist. Eth. ii. 4), heat; Romans 1:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:5; and Lünemann in loc. Comp. also Plat. Phaed. p. 265 B: τὸ ἐρωτικὸν πάθος, Phaedr. p. 252 C. And finally: ἐπιθυμ. κακήν (Plat. Legg. ix. p. 854 A), evil desire, referring to unchaste longing. Comp. Matthew 5:28; Breitenbach, ad Xen. Hier. 6. 2. Unnatural unchastity (Romans 1:26 f.; 1 Corinthians 6:9) is included in ἀκαθ., παθ., and ἐπιθ. κακ., but is not expressly denoted (Erasmus, Calovius, Heinrichs, Flatt, Böhmer) by πάθος (comp pathici, Catullus, xvi. 2; παθικεύεσθαι, Nicarch. in Anth. xi. 73), a meaning which neither admits of linguistic proof, nor is, considering the general character of the adjoining terms ( ἀκαθαρσ. ἐπιθ. κακ.), in keeping with the context. ἐπιθ. κακ. is to be distinguished from πάθος as the more general conception; the πάθος is always also ἐπιθυμία and relatively ἐπιθ. κακή, but not the converse, since a ἡγεῖσθαι or κρατεῖν τῆς ἐπιθυμίας may also take place.

κ. τὴν πλεονεξίαν] After the vice of uncleanness comes now the second chief vice of the Gentiles (comp. on Ephesians 4:19): covetousness. Hence the connection here by means of καί, which is not even, but (in opposition to Hofmann) the simple and, and the article, which introduces the new category with the description of its disgraceful character,(144) associating this descriptive character as a special stigma with the vice of πλεονεξία. In opposition to the erroneous interpretations: insatiable lust (Estius, Michaelis), or: the gains of prostitution (Storr, Flatt, Bähr), see on Eph. l.c., and Huther. The πλεονεξία is not separated by the article from the appositional definitions of the μέλη, and co-ordinated with τὰ μέλη, so that the latter would only be “the members which minister to unchaste lust” (Huther); for τὰ ΄έλη ὑ΄. can only denote the members generally, the collective members; and ἐν τοῖς ΄έλεσιν (Romans 7:5; Romans 7:23) understood generically, and not as referring to particular individual members, sin is operating with all its lusts, as, in accordance with this ethical mode of viewing the matter, the collective members form the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός of Colossians 2:11. Bengel remarks aptly that the article indicates totum genus vitii a genere commemoratarum modo specierum diversum.

ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρ.] quippe quae est, etc., further supports the νεκρώσατε specially in reference to this vice, which, as the idolatry of money and possessions, is κατʼ ἐξοχήν of a heathen nature. It has been well said by Theodoret: ἐπειδὴ τὸ μαμωνᾶ κύριον σωτὴρ προσηγόρενσε, διδάσκων, ὡς τῷ πάθει τῆς πλεονεξίας δουλεύων ὡς θεὸν τὸν πλοῦτον τιμᾶ. In 1 Corinthians 5:11, the εἰδωλολατρ. is to be taken differently (in opposition to Holtzmann). Moreover, see on Ephesians 5:5. Observe, further, that the addition of the πλεονεξία to unchastity (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:11) can afford no ground for supposing that the author of the Ephesians borrowed this combination from 1 Thessalonians 2:3, and that it was taken into our present Epistle from that to the Ephesians (Holtzmann). Comp. also 1 Corinthians 6:9 f.


Verse 6

Colossians 3:6. This relative affirmation stands in a confirmatory reference to the νεκρώσατε κ. τ. λ. above, the omission of which would draw down upon the readers, instead of the φανερωθῆναι ἐν δόξῃ of Colossians 3:4, a fate such as is here described.

διʼ (see the critical remarks) has the significant stress of the relative clause: on account of this immorality mentioned in Colossians 3:5. The Recepta διʼ is to be taken just in the same way, and not to be referred to the μέλη (Bähr), since it is not the latter themselves, but their life activities specified by πορνείαν κ. τ. λ., which call forth the wrath of God.

ἔρχεται] namely, at the judgment. Comp. Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 : ὀργὴ ἐρχομένη; Matthew 3:7 : μέλλουσα ὀργή. Hence: ἡμέρα ὀργῆς in Romans 2:5; Revelation 6:17. Chrysostom well says: Paul warns διὰ τῶν μελλόντων ἐξ ὧν ἀπηλλάγημεν κακῶν. See also on Ephesians 5:6. The frequent reference to the manifestation of the divine wrath (comp. Romans 1:18 ff.) in the course of this temporal life (Huther and many others) overlooks the correlation with Colossians 3:4, and the apostle’s conception of the nearness of the Parousia. Hence, also, the combination of the two references (Theophylact and others, also Flatt) is to be rejected.

Respecting the υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθ. (the Jews and Gentiles, who reject the gospel and thereby disobey God), comp. on Ephesians 5:6, and as to this mode of expression generally, Steiger on 1 Peter 1:14.


Verse 7

Colossians 3:7. Transition to the following exhortation; and how touching through the effect of the contrast!

ἐν οἷς] is, with the reading διʼ in Colossians 3:6, necessarily to be referred to the υἱοὺς τ. ἀπειθ.: among whom ye also walked once, by which is meant, not external association (which in fact was not cancelled by conversion, 1 Corinthians 5:10), but the fellowship of moral conduct. But, even with the reading διʼ in Colossians 3:6, ἐν οἷς is to be taken (comp. Ephesians 2:2 f.) as inter quos (Vatablus, Rosenmüller, de Wette, Schenkel, Bleek), and not to be referred, as it commonly is (Chrysostom, however, seems to understand it as masculine) to the vices named in Colossians 3:5, because the relative most naturally attaches itself to what immediately precedes, in order to continue the discourse, and because, if ἐν οἷς refer to the sins, then ἐζῆτε ἐν τούτοις once more asserts substantially the same thing, so that the discourse gains nothing in thoughtfulness through the two verbs, as in Galatians 5:25, but is unduly amplified. The distinctions which in this case have been attempted between περιπατεῖν and ζῆν still make the one or the other appear as self-evident. See e.g. Calvin: vivere and ambulare are distinguished from each other like potentia (comp. Grotius: “moveri”) and actus, the former preceding and the latter following; Beza (and Estius): vivere denotes naturae habitum, ambulare, ἐνέργειαν ipsam; Bähr (comp. Olshausen and Reiche): the former refers more to the disposition, the latter to the outward conduct; Hofmann: the state of life ( ἐζῆτε), with which the conduct in detail ( περιεπατ.) harmonized.

ὅτε ἐζῆτε ἐν τούτοις] ἐζῆτε stands emphatically and pregnantly first: when ye lived in these, i.e. when ye were alive therein, inasmuch as the ἀπεθάνετε of Colossians 3:3 had not yet set in in your case, the requirement of the νεκροῦν in Colossians 3:5 was still strange to you, and these disgraceful things formed the element and sphere of activity of your life. On ζῆν, to be alive, in contrast to the being dead, comp. Romans 7:9; 2 Corinthians 13:4; also Colossians 2:20; ἐν τούτοις(145) is neuter, grouping together demonstratively, and setting forth contemptuously, the states of vice spoken of. According to Flatt, Böhmer, and Huther, it is masculine: “then, when ye belonged to the children of disobedience,” so that ζῆν ἐν κόσμῳ (Colossians 2:20) and ἀναστρέφειν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ (2 Corinthians 1:11) would have to be compared. In opposition to this view it may be urged that ὅτε ἐζῆτε ἐν τούτοις, in this sense, would be a very meaningless and superfluous more precise designation of the ποτέ, whereas, according to the view above adopted, it is thoughtful and characteristic.(146)

On the change from the merely historical aorist to the descriptive imperfect, lending a lively colour to the representation, and claiming the closer attention of the reader who had passed more rapidly over the περιεπατ., comp. Kühner, II. 1, p. 133, and Reisig, ad Soph. O. C. p. 254 f.


Verse 8

Colossians 3:8. νυνὶ δέ] In contrast to the past, which has just been described: but now, when ye are no longer alive in those things.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] does not refer to the fact that the Ephesians also are thus exhorted (Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 4:31), as Holtzmann here contrives critically to suggest; but as καὶ ὑμ. in Colossians 3:7 reminded the readers of the immoral pre-Christian society, which they also had formerly resembled, so this καὶ ὑμεῖς reminds them of the moral Christian society, which they also ought to resemble now.

τὰ πάντα] the whole of these, i.e. the things indicated by ἐν τούτοις without any exception; ye shall retain nothing of them, “ne quid veneni resideat” (Grotius). To this τὰ πάντα the apostle then annexes directly and in rapid asyndetic continuation yet other sins, which are likewise to be left off. Bleek erroneously takes ὀργὴν κ. τ. λ as in apposition to τὰ πάντα; for the latter can only be retrospective (comp. Hofmann), and cannot, consistently with the text, be taken as meaning, “everything that belongs to the old man.”

ἀπόθεσθε] like garments (see on Ephesians 4:22); a lively change of figures; the conception of members is laid aside.

θυμόν] distinguished from ὀργήν as the ebullition, the effervescing of the latter (Eustath. ad Il. i. p. 7. 17). See on Romans 2:8; comp. Ephesians 4:31; Revelation 16:19; Sirach 48:10; 1 Maccabees 2:49; Hom. Il. ix. 629; Plat. Phil. p. 47 E: τοῖς θυμοῖς κ. ταῖς ὀργαῖς.

κακίαν] wickedness, malicious nature. Comp. on Romans 1:29; Ephesians 4:31.

βλασφημίαν] slander, not against God, but against others, as oral outbreak of the evil dispositions mentioned. Comp. Eph. l.c.; 1 Corinthians 4:13; Romans 3:8; Titus 3:2; frequently in classic writers; in Dem. 312. 19 joined with συκοφαντία.

αἰσχρολογίαν] only used here in the N. T.: shameful discourse, which, in accordance with the category of all the sins here named, is not to be understood of unchaste discourse, as, following the Fathers (see Suicer, Thes. I. p. 136), it has commonly been taken (Hofmann: “obscene” discourse); comp. Epictet. Enchir. 33. 16; Xen. de Lac. rep. 5. 6; αἰσχρολογοῦντας in Plat. Rep. p. 395 E Pollux, iv. 105; and the passages in Wetstein; also αἰσχροεπέω in Athen. xiii. p. 571 A and respecting the αἰσχρολογία ἐφʼ ἱεροῖς, see Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 689. Rather: railing speech (Polyb. viii. 13. 8, xxxi. 10. 4), forming one genus with βλασφημίαν, but a wider idea. Comp. αἰσχρὰ ἔπεα, Hom. Il. iii. 38, xxiv. 238. All the elements in Colossians 3:8 specify the malevolent and hostile disposition; and the two last, especially the oral manifestation thereof; hence the addition of ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμ., which, without arbitrariness, cannot but be referred to both words (so also Bleek), not to αἰσχρολ. alone, and is, with Grotius, to be conceived as depending on the still operative idea of ἀπόθεσθε, so that it may not be characterized as a “secondary malformation” (Holtzmann). The readers are to lay aside, generally, ὀργὴν, θυμὸν, κακίαν; and to lay aside from their mouth βλασφημίαν, αἰσχρολογίαν. We are not to suppose any special purpose in connection with the addition; it serves merely for the concrete representation; but, if we should regard it as the more precise definition of αἰσχρολ. (Hofmann), or should even, as is often done, by supplying an ἐκπορευομένην, join it with αἰσχρολογ., or with βλασφ. and αἰσχρολογ., it would be utterly void of meaning. The special idea of that which defiles (Chrysostom), or of the opposite of Christian praise to God (Hofmann), does not form the basis of the ἐκ τ. στόμ. ὑμ.; on the contrary, it is the conception in general of what is unsuited and foreign (comp. on νυνὶ δέ) to Christian fellowship and intercourse, which serves as the presupposition for the entire exhortation. Comp. Ephesians 4:29.


Verse 9

Colossians 3:9. ΄ὴ ψεύδεσθε εἰς ἀλλ.] i.e. lie not one to another, so that εἰς expresses the direction of the ψεύδεσθαι (comp. ψ. κατά τινος in the sense of the hostile direction, Plat. Euthyd. p. 284 A, al.; James 3:14), like πρός in Xen. Anab. i. 3. 5; Plat. Legg. xi. p. 917 A Leviticus 6:2. It is different in Susann. 55. 59. It connects itself with what precedes, and hence it is to be separated only by a comma from Colossians 3:8 (with Lachmann and Tischendorf); the following ἀπεκδυσάμενοι κ. τ. λ. adds a determining motive for the whole ἀπόθεσθεἀλλήλους: since ye have put off the old man … and put on the new, etc., with which the retaining of wrath, etc., and the farther lying (observe the present ψεύδ.) would not be consistent; on the contrary, this transformation which, in principle, has taken place in and with the conversion to Christ, must manifest itself practically by the laying aside of those vices. Accordingly, the aorist participles are not synchronous with the foregoing (exuentes, etc., so Vulgate, Luther, Calovius, and others, including Flatt, Olshausen, Huther, de Wette, Ewald, and Bleek), but precede it; they are not included in the exhortation, for which reason 1 Peter 5:6 f. is inappropriately appealed to, but assign a ground for it. This is clear, even in a linguistic point of view, from the fact that ψεύδεσθε is the present; and also, as regards the sense, from the circumstance that if the words be regarded as part of the exhortation itself, as a definition of the mode of what is required, the exuentes only, and not the induentes, would correspond with the requirement to lay aside and to abstain from lying. Besides, Colossians 3:11 is inappropriate as a constituent part of an exhortation, but suits well as an argumentative enlargement. Finally, the assumed figurative exhortation only comes in expressly at Colossians 3:12, and that by way of inference ( οὖν) from what had been said previously from ἀπεκδυσάμ. onwards in the same figure, though not yet in paraenetic form. Without any sufficient reason, and out of harmony with the simple paraenetic form of the entire context, Hofmann begins with ἀπεκδυσάμ. a new period, whose protasis ends in Colossians 3:11, and whose apodosis begins with οὖν in Colossians 3:12 (comp. on Romans 2:17 ff.); by this we gain only a more clumsy complication of the discourse, especially as the supposed apodosis has again participial definitions. The entire practical part of the Epistle proceeds in plain sentences, not dialectically joined together. Comp., moreover, on Colossians 3:12.

Respecting the double compound ἀπεκδυσ., comp. on Colossians 2:11.

The terminus ante quem for παλαιός is the adoption of Christianity, so that, by the whole expression παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος generically the collective pre-Christian condition in a moral respect(147) is presented as personified.(148) Comp. on Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22.

σὺν ταῖς πράξεσιν αὐτοῦ] not generally: with his doing (Hofmann), but in the bad sense: along with his evil practices, with his bad tricks. Comp. on Luke 23:51 and Romans 8:13.


Verse 10

Colossians 3:10. The positive aspect of the transformation (regeneration) wrought by God through conversion to Christ; and since ye have put on, etc.

τὸν νέον] The collective new Christian-ethical condition, conceived as personified and set forth objectively, so that it appears as becoming individually appropriated by the putting on. It might, with equal propriety, be designated from the point of view of time as the homo recens in contrast to the decayed and worn-out nature of the pre-Christian moral condition (comp. the νέον φύραμα in 1 Corinthians 5:7), as from the point of view of the new, altogether different, and previously non-existent quality as the homo novus. It is the former here,(149) the latter in Ephesians 4:23 (comp. also Colossians 2:15), where καινὸς ἄνθρ. is used. See regarding the difference between the two words, Tittmann, Synon. p. 59 ff. The specification of quality is then further added by τὸν ἀνακαινούμ. κ. τ. λ. The notion of not growing old (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus) is not implied in νέον.

τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον] The homo recens, so far, namely, as the converted person has appropriated it as his moral individuality, is not something ready-made and finished, but (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:16) in a state of development (through the Holy Spirit, Romans 7:6; Romans 8:2; Titus 3:5), by means of which there is produced in him a new character and quality specifically different from that of the old man. Comp. Romans 12:2. Hence the present participle, which is neither to be taken as imperfect (B.-Crusius), nor as renewing itself (Bleek); and ἀνα does not refer to the relation of re-establishment,(150) namely, of the justitia originalis (since τοῦ κτίσαντος does not directly mean the first creation), but only to the old constitution, the transformation and new-moulding (renewal) of which forms the process of development of the νέος ἄνθρωπος. Comp. Winer, de verb. c. praepos. compos. p. 10 f. The καινότης of the νέος ἄνθρ. is relative. In Greek authors ἀνακαινόω is not found, but ἀνακαινίζω is (Isocr. Areop. 3, App. 2, p. 13; Plut. Marcell. 6), Hebrews 6:6; also in the LXX.

εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν] is to be taken along with the following κατʼ εἰκ. τ. κτίσ. αὐτόν, and with this expresses the end aimed at by the ἀνακαινοῦσθαι. Through the latter there is to be produced a knowledge, which accords with the image of God. Comp. Beza. God, as respects His absolute knowledge, i.e. a knowledge absolutely adequate to its objects, is the model, with which the relative knowledge of the regenerate to be attained in the course of their being renewed, i.e. their increasing penetration into divine truth, is to be accordant. And the more it is so—the more fully it has developed itself in accordance with the divine ideal—the more is it also the determining power and the living practical agent of the whole conduct, so that all those vices enumerated in Colossians 3:8 are excluded by it, and even become morally impossible. Hofmann rightly takes κατʼ εἰκ. τοῦ κτίσ. αὐτόν as the more precise description of ἐπίγνωσιν, though defining the sense to this effect, that the new man “everywhere looks to, and estimates everything by the consideration, whether he finds the stamp of this image.” But, in that case, an object ( πάντων) would necessarily stand with ἐπίγνωσιν, and the idea of ἀνακρίνειν or δοκιμάζειν would be substituted for that of ἐπίγνωσις. The κατʼ εἰκόνα κ. τ. λ. is usually connected with ἀνακαινούμ. and εἰς ἐπίγν. taken by itself, in connection with which Steiger, Huther, de Wette, and Bleek (comp. also Ewald) arbitrarily adopt the view, that the prominent mention of the knowledge was occasioned by a polemic opposition to the false teachers and their tendencies to false gnosis. But how abrupt, isolated, and indefinite would the εἰς ἐπίγν. thus stand! No; the subsequent κατʼ εἰκόνα κ. τ. λ. just serves as a more precise characteristic definition for the—in theory and practice so extremely important—point of Christian knowledge. The expression of this definition in this particular way comes very naturally to Paul, because he is speaking of the homo recens creatus, in connection with which, after the analogy of the creation of Adam, the idea of the image of God naturally floated before his mind,—the image which that first-created man had, and which the recens creatus is to attain and present by way of copy in that towards which he is being developed, in the ἐπίγνωσις. This development is only completed in the αἰὼν μέλλων, 1 Corinthians 13:12; for its aim before the Parousia, see Ephesians 4:13 f.

τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν] A description of God, harmonizing with the conception of the νέος ἄνθρωπος, who is God’s creature. Comp. on Ephesians 4:24. It is erroneous, with Chrysostom, Theophylact, Ewald, and others, to understand Christ(151) as referred to; for creating is invariably represented in Scripture as the work of God (even in Colossians 1:16), and especially here where a parallel is instituted with the creation of Adam after God’s image. Comp. Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:24. Olshausen, indeed, understands τοῦ κτίσ. αὐτ. to mean God, but would have the image of God, in accordance with Colossians 1:15, taken of Christ, who is the archetype of man. There is no ground for this view in the context, which, on the contrary, reminds us simply of Genesis 1:27; comp. κατὰ θεόν, in Ephesians 4:24, a simpler expression, which has found here a significant more precise definition out of the riches of the apostle’s store of ideas (not a fanciful variation, as Holtzmann thinks) in vivid reproduction.

αὐτόν] must refer to the νέος ἄνθρωπος, whom God has created by regeneration, not to τ. ἄνθρωπον alone (“which is the substance, on which the old and new qualities appear as accidents,” de Wette), as the orthodox explanation is forced to assume contrary to the text; see e.g. Calovius: “Per imaginem ejus, qui creavit ipsum, imago Dei, quae in prima creatione nobis concessa vel concreata est, intelligitur, ad quam nos renovamur, quaeque in nobis reparatur per Spiritum sanctum, quae ratione intellectus consistebat in cognitione Dei, ut ratione voluntatis in justitia et sanctitate, Ephesians 4:24. Per verbum itaque τοῦ κτίσαντος non nova creatio, sed vetus illa et primaeva intelligitur, quia in Adamo conditi omnes sumus ad imaginem Dei in cognitione Dei.” Rather, the divine creation of the new man had that primaevam creationem for its sacred-historical type, and is the work of salvation antitypically corresponding with it, which the Creator has done in Christ; hence also Paul has not written κτίζοντος (as Philippi, l.c. p. 376, thinks might have been expected), but κτίσαντος, comp. Colossians 1:24, Colossians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; also James 1:18.


Verse 11

Colossians 3:11. Where all the separating diversities have ceased, by which those phenomena of malevolence and passion mentioned in Colossians 3:8 were occasioned and nourished. Comp. Galatians 3:28, of which passage Baur indeed sees here only an extended and climactic imitation.

ὅπου] where there is not, etc.; namely there, where the old man has been put off, and the νέος κ. τ. λ. put on, Colossians 3:10. It represents the existing relation according to local conception, like the Latin ubi, i.e. qua in re, or in quo rerum statu, like the local ἵνα; comp. Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. iii. 5. 1; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 331 f. The relation is one objectively real, historically occurring (comp. Galatians 3:28; Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13), present in renewed humanity. Consequently ὅπου is not to be referred to the ἐπίγνωσις, and to be interpreted within which, i.e. in the Christian consciousness (Schenkel); but just as little is the relative clause to be joined immediately with εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατʼ εἰκόνα κ. τ. λ. so that it affirms that there, where this image is found, all contrasts, etc., have vanished; so Hofmann in connection with his erroneous explanation of εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατʼ εἰκόνα κ. τ. λ., see on Colossians 3:10.

Respecting ἔνι, equivalent to ἔνεστι, see on Galatians 3:28.

ἕλλην κ. ἰουδ.] national diversity, without taking ἕλλην, however, with Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others, in the sense of proselyte.

περιτ. κ. ἀκροβ.] theocratic diversity.(152)

βάρβαρος κ. τ. λ.] In the increasing vividness of conception the arrangement by pairs is dropped, and the nouns are placed beside each other asyndetically. Paul does not couple with βάρβαρος, as he does again in the case of δοῦλος, its opposite, which was already adduced ( ἕλλην, comp. on Romans 1:14), but proceeds by way of a climax: σκύθης. Bengel (comp. Grotius) well says: “Scythae … barbaris barbariores;” they were included, however, among the barbarians (in opposition to Bengel, who thinks that the latter term indicates the Numidians). For instances in which the Scythians are termed βαρβαρώτατοι (comp. also 2 Maccabees 4:47; 3 Maccabees 7:5), see Wetstein. We may infer, moreover, from the passage, that among the Christians there were even some Scythians, possibly immigrants into Greek and Roman countries.

ἀλλὰ τὰ πάνταχριστός] the dividing circumstances named, which, previous to the putting on of the νέος ἄνθρωπος, were so influential and regulative of social interests and conduct, have now—a fact, which was beyond doubt not recognised by the Jewish prejudice of the false teachers—since the Christian renovation (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:17) ceased to exist in the fellowship established by the latter (ideal expression of the thought: their morally separating influence is abolished); whereas Christ is the sum total of all desires and strivings, and that in all individuals, without distinction of nations, etc.; He “solus proram et puppim, ut aiunt, principium et finem tenet” (Calvin). All are one in Christ, Galatians 3:28; Galatians 5:15; Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:14. Comp. on this use of the τὰ πάντα in the sense of persons, who pass for everything, 1 Corinthians 15:28; Herod. iii. 157, vii. 156; Thuc. viii. 95. 1; Dem. 660. 7; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 727.

χριστός] the subject put at the end with great emphasis. He, in all His believers ( ἐν πᾶσι) the all-determining principle of the new life and activity, is also the constituent of the new sublime unity, in which those old distinctions and contrasts have become meaningless and as it were no longer exist. The Hellene is no longer other than the Jew, etc., but in all it is only Christ, who gives the same specific character to their being and life.


Verse 12

Colossians 3:12. οὖν] for these virtues are in keeping with the νέος ἄνθρωπος, according to what has been said in Colossians 3:11; it would be a contradiction to have put on the new man, and not to have put on these virtues. The new moral condition, into which ye have entered by your conversion, passing thereby into the fellowship of equality and unity in Christ described in Colossians 3:11, binds you to this by the necessity of moral consistency. The οὖν therefore serves for the introduction of the direct summons by way of inference from its foregoing premisses, just like the οὖν in Colossians 3:5, but not for the introduction of the apodosis (Hofmann; see on Colossians 3:9), as if it were resumptive.

ἐνδύσασθε] for, although the putting on of the νέος ἄνθρ. has taken place as a fact historically through the conversion to Christ, nevertheless it has also, in accordance with the ethical nature of the νέος ἄνθρ. (comp. τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον κ. τ. λ. in Colossians 3:10), its continued acts, which are to take place, namely, by appropriation of the virtues which the new man as such must have.

ὡς ἐκλεκτοὶ κ. τ. λ.] as it becomes such; ἐκλ. τ. θεοῦ is the subject, and ἅγ. κ. ἀγαπ. its predicates. The consciousness of this distinguished bliss, of being the elect of God—chosen by God from profane humanity for eternal Messianic salvation (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:33; Titus 1:2, al.), who as such(153) are holy (through the ἁγιασμὸς πνεύματος, 2 Thessalonians 2:13), and beloved of God (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:6),—how could it fail to touch the consciences of the readers, and incite them to the very virtues, corresponding to so high a position,—virtues of that fellowship described in Colossians 3:11, which are required from them as renewed men! Observe, moreover, that the ἐκλογὴ τ. θεοῦ is the presupposition of what is said by ἀπεκδυσάμενοι κ. τ. λ. in Colossians 3:10-11, and that therefore ὡς ἐκλεκτοὶ κ. τ. λ. is not inserted without significant connection with what goes before. It is likewise admissible to take the words ἅγιοι κ. ἠγαπ. substantively, either as co-ordinate with the ἐκλεκτοὶ τ. θ. and explanatory of this idea (“as the elect of God, holy and beloved,” Luther, Calvin, Grotius, and the majority, including Bähr, Böhmer, Huther, de Wette, Hofmann), or so that ἐκλεκτ. τ. θεοῦ stands in adjectival relation to them (Bleek: “elect holy and beloved ones of God”); but it is more in keeping with the purposely chosen order of the words to concentrate the whole stress on ἐκλεκτοὶ θεοῦ. Bengel, connecting as we do, aptly observes: “Ordo verborum exquisite respondet ordini rerum: electio aeterna praecedit sanctificationem in tempore; sanctificati sentiunt amorem et deinceps imitantur.” Theophylact (comp. also Steiger) took ἅγιοι as the chief word, which is more precisely defined by ἐκλ. τ. θεοῦ and ἠγαπ. ( ἐγένοντο μὲν γὰρ ἅγιοι, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐκλεκτοὶ οὐδὲ ἠγαπημένοι· ὑμεῖς δὲ ταῦτα πάντα). Neither supported by the position of the words nor by the context, which does not suggest any contrast.

σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ] οἰκτ. is the genitive of quality, and the expression is quite similar to that in Luke 1:78, σπλάγχνα ἐλέους; see in loc. Hence σπλάγχνα is not to be taken here in the abstract sense (love, so usually), but in its proper sense: viscera, as the seat of sympathy; consequently: a heart, the moving feeling of which is sympathy. Comp. Ewald and Hofmann. The two are separated in Philippians 2:1. As to the conception of οἰκτιρμ., comp. on Romans 9:15

χρηστότητα] kindliness, the opposite is ἀποτομία, Romans 11:22. Comp. Ephesians 4:32. See generally, Tittmann, Synon. p. 140 ff.

ταπεινοφρ., humbleness, which is meant here, however, according to the entire context, not towards God (Böhmer), but (see Colossians 3:11) in relation to others, as the opposite of haughtiness ( ὑψηλοφρονεῖν); Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3.

On πρᾳοτ., gentleness (opposite: Ephesians 4:31, and ἀγριότης, Plat. Conv. p. 197 D), and μακροθ., long-suffering, bearing with immoral opposition (comp. Ephesians 4:2, and on Galatians 5:22), Colossians 3:13 throws fuller light.


Verse 13

Colossians 3:13. Neither the second part of the verse, καθὼςὑμεῖς, nor ἀνεχόμενοιμομφήν, is to be parenthesized; for the whole is an uninterrupted continuation of the construction.

ἀνεχόμ. ἀλλ.] modal definition of the ἐνδύσασθαι of the last two virtues, informing us how the required appropriation of them is to manifest itself in active conduct: so that ye, etc. This conduct is conceived as developing itself in and with the completion of the required ἐνδύσασθε; hence ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλ. is not to be regarded as only “loosely appended” (Hofmann) to μακροθ.

καὶ χαριζόμενοι κ. τ. λ.] for the endurance (comp. Ephesians 4:2) is to advance to positive forgiveness, and not to remain a mere passive attitude. Observe here the alternation of ἀλλήλων (one the other) and ἑαυτοῖς (yourselves each other); the latter is used, because to the χαρίζεσθαι of the Christians, which they are to show to themselves mutually, there is proposed as pattern the χαρίζεσθαι which they have experienced from above, from Christ. Comp. Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 6. 20.

μομφήν] blame, reproach, only here in the N. T., not found at all in the Apocrypha and LXX., but very common in the classics, especially the poets, also with ἔχειν, to find fault with something, Eur. Phoen. 780, Alc. 1012, Or. 1069; Soph. Aj. 179, and Schneidewin in loc.; Pind. Isthm. iv. 61.

καθὼς καὶ κ. τ. λ.] The duty of the χαρίζεσθαι ἑαυτ. is so essentially Christian and important, that Paul goes on further to hold up before the readers the great motive and incitement for its fulfilment, namely, the forgiveness which they themselves have experienced, which Christ ( κύριος, see the critical remarks) has bestowed upon them. Comp. Ephesians 4:32, where, however, the principal subject of the χαρίζεσθαι is indicated, namely, God (comp. Colossians 2:13), who has pardoned in Christ. To the expression in our passage—and a consideration of the circumstances of the Colossian church naturally prompted the emphasizing of the merit of Christ—corresponds the frequent χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, Romans 16:20; Romans 16:24; 1 Corinthians 16:23; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 1:6; Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23. There is no trace here of “an advanced Christology” (Holtzmann). The divine pardon obtained for us by Christ in His work of atonement (Romans 5:6 f., 15), and continuously procured through His intercession (Romans 8:34), is in so far His (in the sense that He is the pardoning subject) as He is the procurer, bearer, and accomplisher of the divine grace (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:19 f.), and God’s love is His love (Romans 8:35; Romans 8:39; Ephesians 3:19; Romans 5:7 f.). The pardon received from Christ, however, binds us by moral necessity (Matthew 18:33; and generally, Romans 8:9) to forgive also upon our side;—anything beyond this, namely, what is contained in Matthew 6:12, as de Wette thinks, is not conveyed in the words, but results as a consequence.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] sc. χαριζόμενοι. The context suggests this, and not the imperative; hence the orderly connection is not broken, and the whole verse contains accompanying participial definitions, after which, in Colossians 3:14, the discourse continues uninterrupted.

Respecting the double καί of the comparison, see on Romans 1:13.

It is to be observed, moreover, that καθώς refers only to the pardon itself, and does not concern the service by which Christ has procured the pardon, the death, namely, which the Christian ought to be ready to undergo for the brethren, John 13:34, as Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others think, but which would be here an irrelevant importation.


Verse 14

Colossians 3:14. In addition to all this, however, put on love, by which Christian perfection is knit. In making τ. ἀγάπην dependent on ἐνδύσασθε, Paul abides by his figure: becoming added (Kühner, II. 1, p. 433) to all those virtues (regarded as garments), love is to be put on like an upper garment embracing all, because love brings it about, that the moral perfection is established in its organic unity as an integral whole. Thus love is the bond of Christian perfection, its συνδετικὸν ὄργανον; without love, all the individual virtues, which belong in themselves to that perfection, would not unite together into that necessary harmonious entirety, in which perfection consists. Not as if the latter were already existent without love (as Schenkel objects to this view), but love is the σύνδεσμος constituting its perfection; apart from, love there is no τελειότης, which has its conditio sine qua non only in the inclusion of its other factors in love; how love accomplishes this, no one has better shown than Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 13.(154) Nor is it as if the genitive would necessarily be a plurality (as Hofmann objects); on the contrary, the τελειότης according to its nature and to the context is a collective idea, with which the conception of a σύνδεσμος well corresponds. It might, moreover, occasion surprise, that love, which is withal the principle and presupposition of the virtues enumerated, is mentioned last, and described as being added; but this was rendered necessary by the figurative representation, because love, from its nature, in so far as it includes in principle the collective virtues and comprehends them in itself, necessarily had assigned to it in the figure of putting on garments the place of the upper garment, so that Paul rightly proceeds in his description from the under garments to the upper one which holds all the others together, and with whose function love corresponds. Accordingly the absolute ἀγάπη is not to be taken in any other sense than the general and habitual one of Christian brotherly love (Colossians 1:8, Colossians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 1:9); nor yet in any sort of reference limiting it to special qualities, e.g. as by de Wette: “as active, beneficent, perfecting love.”

(see the critical remarks), which, namely love, conceived of as neuter, as in our “that is.” Comp. on ἐξ οὗ, Colossians 2:19.

σύνδεσμος τῆς τελειότ.] bond of perfection, i.e. what binds together the Christian moral perfection into the totality of its nature, συνδεσμεύει, Polyb. iii. 42. 8; ξυνδεῖ καὶ ξυμπλέκει, Plat. Polit. p. 309 B. Chrysostom (though mingling with it the foreign figure of the root) aptly says: συγκράτησις τῶν τὴν τελειότητα ποιούντων. Comp. Theophylact: πάντα ἐκεῖνά, φησιν, αὕτη συσφίγγει παροῦσα· ἀπούσης δὲ διαλύονται καὶ ἐλέγχονται ὑπόκρισις ὄντα καὶ οὐδέν. The genitive, which is that of the object, denotes (it is otherwise in Ephesians 4:3; comp. Acts 8:23; LXX. Isaiah 58:6) that which, is held together by the bond. Comp. Plat. Rep. p. 616 C: εἶναι γὰρ τοῦτο τὸ φῶς ξύνδεσμον τοῦ οὐρανοῦπᾶσαν ξυνέχον τὴν περιφοράν, also p. 520 A: τὸν ξύνδεσμον τῆς πόλεως, Polit. p. 310 A: τὸν ξύνδεσμον ἀρετῆς μερῶν φύσεως ἀνομοίων. Taken as the genitive of quality, it would yield the adjective sense: the perfect bond, “animos sc. conjungens,” Grotius. So also Erasmus, Vatablus, Calovius, Estius, Wolf, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Flatt, and others. But how arbitrary this would be in itself, and especially in view of the fact that, in the event of τ. τελειότ. being disposed of as an adjective, the more precise definition of σύνδεσμος would have to be gratuitously introduced! Taken as the genitivus causae (Schenkel), it would not correspond with the figure, though it is in substance correct that that, which as a bond envelopes perfection, only thereby brings about its existence (comp. above). According to Huther, the sense is: “by man’s putting on love he is girt with perfection; whosoever lives in love is perfect.” Thus the genitive would have to be conceived as genitive of apposition, which would yield an incongruous analysis of the figure, induced by the opinion that does not refer to the ἀγάπη itself, but to the ἐνδύσασθαι τὴν ἀγάπην.(155) According to Hofmann (comp. Ellicott), the genitive is meant to be that of the subject, and the τελειότης is to indicate the completeness of the Christian state, of which love is the bond, inasmuch as it binds Christians together among themselves, wherever that completeness exists (John 13:35). This is erroneous; for if in some curious fashion the abstract τελειότης (consequently an aggregate of attributes) were to be the acting subject, which makes use of love as a bond (consequently for the purpose of binding), yet the Christians among themselves could not be conceived as the object of that binding, but only the πάντα ταῦτα in accordance with the immediate context ( ἐπὶ πᾶσι δὲ τούτοις). The apostle would have been able to express the tenor of thought forced upon him by Hofmann simply and clearly by some such phrase as (or ὅς, or ἥτις) ἐστι σύνδεσμος τῶν ἐν χριστῷ τελείων (comp. Colossians 1:28). Others take it as the sum of perfection. So Bengel, Zachariae, Usteri, Böhmer, Steiger, de Wette, Olshausen (“inasmuch as it comprehends in itself—bears, as it were, bound up in itself—all the individual aspects of the perfect life, all virtues”). Comp. on the subject-matter, Romans 13:10. This explanation cannot be justified linguistically (not even by Simplic. Epictet. p. 208, according to which the Pythagoreans termed friendship: σύνδεσμον πασῶν τῶν ἀρετῶν, i.e. the bond which knits all the virtues together), unless we take σύνδεσμος in the sense of a bundle, as Herodian uses it, iv. 12. 11 ( πάντα τὸν σύνδεσμον τῶν ἐπιστολῶν), which, however, even apart from the singular form of the conception in itself, would be unsuitable to the context, since love is to be added to all the previously enumerated elements of perfection, and may therefore well be termed the bond that holds them together, but not their bundle, not the sum of them. The word σύνδεσμος itself, which except in our two parallel epistles does not occur in Paul’s writings, is too hastily assigned by Holtzmann “to the range of language of the Auctor ad Ephesios.” As if we had the whole linguistic range of the copious apostle in the few epistles which bear his name! Indeed, even ἐπὶ πᾶσι δὲ τούτοις (comp. Ephesians 6:16) is alleged to betray the auctor in question.

In opposition to the Catholic use of our passage to support the justificatio operum, it is enough to observe that the entire exhortation has justification as its presupposition (Colossians 3:12), and concerns the moral life of those who are already justified. Irrelevantly, however, it is urged in the Apol. Conf. Aug. 3, p. 104 f. (comp. Calovius and others), in opposition to the Catholics, that τελειότης is the integritas ecclesiae, and that through love the church is kept in harmony, as Erasmus, Melanchthon, and others also explained it.


Verse 15

Colossians 3:15. All these virtues, however, along with the love which binds them together, must have their deep living foundation in the peace of Christ, which reigns in the heart, and their abiding incitement in gratitude towards God for the salvation received in Christ. Hence now the further summons—appended by the simple καί—to the readers, to let that peace reign in their hearts and to be thankful. The εἰρήνη τοῦ χριστοῦ is the holy satisfaction of mind wrought by Christ through the Spirit, the blessed inner rest, of which the atonement and justification appropriated in faith (Romans 5:1) are the presupposition and condition. See on Philippians 4:7. Comp. Luther, Bengel, and others, including Flatt, Bähr, Olshausen, Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Bleek, Hofmann. To understand the peace of mutual concord (the Greek Fathers, Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, and many others, also Reiche, Comm. Crit. p. 297), is less in accordance with the universality of the connection, which here descends to the deepest ground of the Christian life in the heart; and besides, the concord in question already follows of itself on the virtues recommended. Moreover, there is implied in βραβ. the determining and regulating power, the supreme authority, which the peace of Christ is to have in the Christian heart, which suits most fully the above interpretation alone.

βραβευέτω] βραβεύειν only found here in the N. T., but as little un-Pauline as καταβραβ. in Colossians 2:18 (in opposition to Holtzmann); it means primarily: to arrange and conduct the contest (Wisdom of Solomon 10:12, and Grimm in loc.); then: to confer the prize of victory, to be βραβεύς, i.e. umpire (Plut. Mor. p. 960 A Diod. Sic. xiii. 53); finally: to govern(156) generally. See for the last signification especially Dem. 36. 7, 1231. 19; Eur. Hel. 1079; Isocr. Areop. p. 144 B Polyb. vi. 4. 3, xiii. 1. 5, xxvii. 14. 4, et al.; passages from Josephus in Krebs, and from Philo in Loesner. Considering its very frequent occurrence in the latter sense, and its appropriateness in that sense to ἐν τ. καρδ. ὑμ., and seeing that any reference to the Messianic βραβεῖον (comp. Colossians 2:18) is foreign to the context, the majority of modern expositors have rightly interpreted it: the peace of Christ must rule, govern in your hearts. So Luther (“let it be master and keep you in all tribulation”), Castalio, Beza, Bengel, and many others, including Flatt, Bähr, Olshausen, Steiger, Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Dalmer, and Bleek. The conception involves the superintending, arranging, and administering activity, and that in supreme deciding competence (comp. Ewald and Hofmann), as it ought to be exercised by the εἰρήνη τ. χ. in the heart, quite like the German verfügen [to dispose of]. Bremi says aptly, ad Dem. Ol. p. 179, Goth.: it is not simply equivalent to διοικεῖν, “sed pleno jure et ex arbitrio διοικεῖν.” Chrysostom and his followers have retained the meaning: to confer the prize of victory, but with ideas introduced to which nothing in the text points. Theophylact: ὑβρίσθημεν πολλάκις ὑπό τινος· ἀγωνίζονται παρʼ ἡμῖν λογισμοὶ δύο, μὲν εἰς ἄμυναν κινῶν, δὲ εἰς μακροθυμίαν. ἐὰν εἰρήνη τ. θεοῦ στῇ ἐν ἡμῖν, ὥσπερ τις βραβευτὴς δίκαιος, τουτέστι κριτὴς καὶ ἀγωνοθέτης, καὶ δῷ τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς νίκης τῷ κελεύοντι μακροθυμεῖν, παύσεται ἀνταγωνιστής. Comp. also Erasmus, Vatablus, and Calvin, who, however, explain it erroneously: palmam ferat. Grotius: “dijudicet, nempe si quid est inter vos controversum.” So also, substantially, Hammond, Kypke, and others; similarly, Melanchthon: “gubernet omnia certamina.” Comp. βραβεύειν ἔριν (Plut. Romans 9) and the like. See Dorville, ad Charit. p. 445. But the context points to deeper matters than disputes, upon which the peace of Christ in the heart is to decide.

εἰς ἣν κ. ἐκλ. κ. τ. λ.] argumentative, supporting the exhortation just uttered; for which ye also ( καί expressing the corresponding relation) were called, etc.; εἰς ἥν, in behalf of which, i.e. to possess which peace, is not the final aim of the calling, which is rather participation in the Messianic kingdom, but a mediate aim. Comp. 1 Peter 2:21.

ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι] not instead of εἰς ἓν σῶμα (Grotius, Flatt, and many others); nor yet: “as growing to be members of a single body” (Hofmann, gratuitously importing), but (comp. Ellicott and Bleek) as the result of ἐκλήθητε, announcing the relation of fellowship, into which the individuals are translated through their calling, and in which they now find themselves continuously. This abiding condition was the predominant conception; hence the pregnancy of the expression (Kühner, II. 1, p. 469); so that ye are in one body, namely, as its members. The element of unity, added with emphasis, and that quite in Pauline form (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; in opposition to Holtzmann), stands in appropriate reference to the entire requirement. To have become by the calling one body with those who share in that calling, and yet not to let the holy moral disposition, for the sake of which we are called, be the common ruling power of life—what a contradiction! In that case there would be wanting to the ἓν σῶμα the ἓν πνεῦμα accordant with the calling (Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

The mention of this calling—the great blessing which makes everything, that is at variance with what has hitherto been demanded (Colossians 3:12 ff.), appear as ingratitude towards God—induces the apostle to add still further the highest motive of all for every Christian virtue (comp. Colossians 2:7, Colossians 1:12): κ. εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε: and become ye thankful (comp. on Ephesians 4:32); in which the γίνεσθε (not equivalent to ἐστέ) requires the constant striving after this exalted aim as something not yet attained; comp. e.g. John 15:8. It was nothing but a misconception of that inner connection and of this significance of γίνεσθε, which led to the taking εὐχάρ. as amabiles, friendly, and the like (comp. Ephesians 4:32; Proverbs 11:15). So Jerome, Erasmus (not in the Paraphr.), Calvin, Vatablus, Beza, (benefici), Cornelius a Lapide, Wolf, Krebs, and many others, including Bähr, Steiger, Olshausen, and Reiche. The linguistic use of εὐχάριστος in this sense in the classical writers is well known (Xen. Cyr. ii. 2. 1, Oec. v. 10), but equally so is also its use in the sense of thankful (Xen. Cyr. viii. 3. 49; Herodian, ii. 3. 14; Diod. Sic. xviii. 28); and the N. T., in which, moreover, the adjective is nowhere else found, has, like the Apocrypha, εὐχαριστεῖν and εὐχαριστία only in the latter signification (comp. Colossians 3:17), the reference of which in our passage to God after εἰς ἣν κ. ἐκλήθ. (it is God who calls) is self-evident, but not (in opposition to Grotius and Calovius) the mutua gratitudo. The ascription of the words κ. εὐχάρ. γίν. to the interpolator, who is also supposed to have inserted ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ in Colossians 4:2 (Holtzmann), is destitute of ground either in the language or in the matter of the passage. It is not at all easy to see why εὐχάριστος should be “as un-Pauline as εὔσπλαγχνος in Ephesians 4:32.”


Verse 16

Colossians 3:16 f. The series of exhortations begun in Colossians 3:12 is now closed,(157) and Paul proceeds to give, before going on in Colossians 3:18 to the duties of particular callings, an encouraging allusion to the Christian means of grace for furthering the common life of piety, namely, the word of Christ. This ought to dwell richly among them, so that they might by means of its operation (1) instruct and admonish each other in all wisdom with psalms, etc.; (2) by the divine grace sing to God in their hearts; and (3) let all that they do, in word or deed, be done in the name of Jesus with thanksgiving to God. Accordingly, the previous paraenesis by no means ends in a “loose aggregation” (as Hofmann objects), but in a well-weighed, steadily-progressive, and connected conclusion on the basis of the λόγος of Christ(158) placed at the very beginning. According to Hofmann, Colossians 3:16 f. is only meant to be an amplification of the εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε in Colossians 3:15. This would be a disproportionate amplification—especially as εὐχ. γίν. is not the leading thought in the foregoing—and could only be plausibly upheld by misinterpretations in the details; see below.

λόγος τ. χριστοῦ] i.e. the gospel. The genitive is that of the subject; Christ causes it to be proclaimed, He Himself speaks in the proclaimers (2 Corinthians 13:3), and has revealed it specially to Paul (Galatians 4:11 f.); it is His word. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 6:1. The designation of it, according to its principal author: λ. τοῦ θεοῦ, is more current.

ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν] not: among you (Luther and many others), which would not be in keeping with the conception of indwelling; nor yet: in animis vestris (Theodoret, Melanchthon, Beza, Zanchius, and others, including Flatt, Böhmer, and Olshausen), so that the indwelling which depends on knowledge and faith would be meant, since the subsequent modal definition is of an oral nature: but in you, i.e. in your church, the ὑμεῖς, as a whole, being compared to a house, in which the word has the seat of its abiding operation and rule (comp. Romans 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:5).

πλουσίως] in ample measure. In proportion as the gospel is recognised much or little in a church as the common living source and contents of mutual instruction, quickening, discipline, and edification, its dwelling there is quantitatively various. De Wette explains it, not comprehensively enough, in accordance with what follows: “so that many come forward as teachers, and often.” In another way Hofmann limits it arbitrarily: the letting the word of Christ dwell richly in them is conceived as an act of gratitude. How easy it would have been for Paul to have indicated this intelligibly! But the new point which he wishes to urge upon his readers, namely, to let the divinely-powerful means of Christian life dwell richly in them, is placed by him without any link of connection, and independently, at the head of his closing exhortation.

The following ἐν πάσῃτῷ θεῷ is the modal definition of the foregoing; so that ye, etc.; construction according to the logical subject, as in Colossians 2:2.

ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ] Since what precedes has its defining epithet in πλουσίως, and that with all the emphasis of the adverb put at the end, and since, moreover, the symmetry of the following participial clauses, each of which begins with ἐν ( ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳἐν τ. χάριτι), ought not to be abandoned without some special reason, the ἐν τ. σοφ. is to be referred to what follows (so Bos, Bengel, Storr, Flatt, Bähr, Steiger, Olshausen, Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Dalmer, Reiche, Bleek, Hofmann, and others; Böhmer hesitates, and Beza permits this reference), and not to what precedes (so Syriac, Chrysostom, Luther, and many others). Comp. Colossians 1:28. Every sort of (Christian) wisdom is to be active in the mutual instruction and admonition. Regarding the details, see on Colossians 1:28.

ἑαυτούς] mutually, among yourselves, comp. Colossians 3:13.

ψαλμοῖς κ. τ. λ.] modal definition of the mutual διδάσκειν and νουθετεῖν, which are to take place by means of (see below, ἐν χάρ. ᾄδοντες κ. τ. λ.) psalms, etc. It is all the more arbitrary to refer it merely to νουθετ. (de Wette), seeing that the position of ἑαυτούς binds the two participles together, and seeing that inspired songs by no means exclude a doctrinal purport. The conceivableness of a didactic activity in mutual singing (in opposition to Schenkel and Hofmann), and that without confounding things radically different, is still clearly enough recognisable in many of our best church songs, especially in those born of the fresh spirit of the Reformation. Storr and Flatt, Schenkel and Hofmann join the words with ᾄδοντες, although the latter has already a definition both before and after it, and although one does not say ψαλμοῖς κ. τ. λ., ᾄδειν (dative), but ψαλμοὺς κ. τ. λ. (accusative), as in Exodus 14:31; Plat. Symp. 197 E, Rep. p. 388 D, and in all Greek authors. The dative of the instrument with ᾄδειν would be appropriate, if it had along with it an accusative of the object praised (as e.g. Eur. Ion. 1091). See, moreover, on Ephesians 5:19. Concerning the distinction between ψαλμοί (religious songs after the manner of the Psalms of the O. T., to be regarded partly as Christian songs already in use, partly as improvised effusions, 1 Corinthians 14:15; 1 Corinthians 14:26) and ὕμνοι (songs of praise), to both of which ᾠδαὶ πνευματικαί (i.e. songs inspired by the Holy Spirit) are then added as the general category,(159) see on Ephesians 5:19. Observe, moreover, that Paul is here also (comp. Eph. l.c.) speaking not of divine worship(160) in the proper sense of the term, since the teaching and admonition in question are required from the readers generally and mutually, and that as a proof of their abundant possession of the word of Christ, but rather of the communication one with another in religious intercourse (e.g. at meals, in the agapae and other meetings, in family circles, etc.)—in which enthusiasm makes the fulness of the heart pass from mouth to mouth, and brotherly instruction and admonition thus find expression in the higher form of psalms, etc., whether these may have been songs already well known, or extemporized according to the peculiar character and productive capacity of the individual enthusiasm, whether they may have been sung by individuals alone (especially if they were improvised), or chorally, or in the form of alternating chants (Plin. Ep. x. 97). How common religious singing was in the ancient church, even apart from divine service proper, may be seen in Suicer, Thes. II. p. 1568 f. The existence of a multitude of rhythmic songs, composed ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς by Christians, is attested by Eus. H. E. ii. 17, v. 28. Regarding singing in the agapae, see Tertullian, Apol. 39: “post aquam manualem et lumina, ut quisque de scripturis sanctis vel proprio ingenio potest, provocatur in medium Deo canere.” See generally, Augusti, Denkw. II. p. 110 ff.

The asyndetic (see the critical remarks) juxtaposition of ψαλμ., ὕμν., and ᾠδαῖς πν. renders the discourse more urgent and animated.

ἐν τῇ χάριτι ᾄδοντες κ. τ. λ.] is commonly regarded as subordinate to what goes before; as if Paul would say: the heart also is to take part in their singing, οὐχ ἁπλῶς τῷ στόματι, ἀλλʼ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ, ἐστι μετὰ προσοχῆς, Theophylact. But Paul himself has not in the least expressed any such contrasting reference; and how superfluous, nay, even inappropriate, would such an injunction be, seeing that the διδάσκειν and νουθετεῖν takes place in fact by the ψαλμοὶ κ. τ. λ., and this is to be the outcome of the abundant indwelling of the gospel; and seeing, further, that there is no mention at all of a stated common worship (where, possibly, lip-service might intrude), but, on the contrary, of mutual edifying intercourse! The entire view is based upon the unfounded supposition of a degeneracy of worship in the apostolic age, which, even though it were true in itself, would be totally inapplicable here. Moreover, we should expect the idea, that the singing is to be the expression of the emotion of the heart, to be represented not by ἐν τ. καρδ., but by ἐκ τῶν καρδ. (comp. 2 Timothy 2:22; Matthew 12:34) or ἀπὸ τ. κ. Comp. Wisdom of Solomon 8:21, also classical expressions like ἐκ φρενός and the like. No, the participial clause is co-ordinate with the preceding one (as also at Ephesians 5:19, see in loc.), and conveys—after the audible singing for the purpose of teaching and admonition, to be done mutually—as a further element of the pious life in virtue of the rich indwelling of the word of Christ, the still singing of the heart, which each one must offer to God for himself inwardly; i.e. the silent praising of God, which belongs to self-edification in the inner man. Chrysostom already indicates this view, but mixes it up, notwithstanding, with the usual one; Theophylact quotes it as another ( ἄλλως), giving to it, moreover, the inappropriate antithesis: μὴ πρὸς ἐπίδειξιν, but adding with Chrysostom the correct illustration: κἂν γὰρ ἐν ἀγορᾷ ᾖς, δύνασαι κατὰ σεαυτὸν ᾄδειν μηδενὸς ἀκούοντος. Bengel well describes the two parallel definitions ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ κ. τ. λ. and ἐν χάριτι κ. τ. λ. as distributio of the πλουσίως, and that mutuo et seorsim.

ἐν τῇ χάριτι] does not belong to ᾠδαῖς πνευμ. (Luther: “with spiritual pleasant songs,” also Calvin), but to ᾄδοντες as the parallel element to ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ. In the same way, namely, as the teaching and admonition above mentioned are to take place by means of every wisdom, which communicates and operates outwardly through them, so the still singing of the heart now spoken of is to take place by means of the divine grace, which stirs and moves and impels men’s minds,—a more precise definition, which is so far from being useless and idle (as Hofmann objects), that it, on the contrary, excludes everything that is selfish, vain, fanatical, and the like. Chrysostom says rightly: ἀπὸ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ πνεύματος, φησὶν, ᾄδοντες κ. τ. λ.; comp. Oecumenius: διὰ τῆς παρὰ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος δοθείσης χάριτος, also Estius and Steiger. Hofmann’s view is erroneous: that ᾄδειν ἔν τινι means to sing of something, thus making the grace experienced the subject-matter of the songs. This it does not mean even in the LXX. Psalms 138:5, where בִּ is taken in a local sense.(161) The subject-matter of the singing would have been expressed by an accusative (as μῆνιν ἄειδε), or with εἰς.(162) Inappropriate as to sense (since the discourse concerns singing in the heart) is the view of others: with gracefulness. So Theophylact (who, however, permits a choice between this and the true explanation), Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon (“sine confusione, εὐσχημόνως”), Castalio, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Calovius, Cornelius a Lapide, Wetstein, Bengel, and others, including Bähr, Baumgarten-Crusius, Schenkel, Reiche. Even though the singing in public worship were spoken of, the injunction to sing gracefully, and especially with the emphasis of being placed first, would touch on too singular an element. Anselm, and in more modern times Böhmer, Huther, de Wette, and Bleek take it: with thankfulness, in which case the article, which Bleek rejects (see the critical remarks), would denote not the gratitude already required in Colossians 3:15 (so Huther), but that which is due. But the summons to general thanksgiving towards God (in Colossians 3:15, grateful conduct was meant by εὐχάρ. γίν.) only follows in Colossians 3:17; and inasmuch as the interpretation which takes it of the divine grace is highly suitable both to the connection and to the use of the article (which sets forth the χάρις as a conception formally set apart), and places an admirably characteristic element in the foreground, there is no reason for assuming here a call to thanksgiving.

As ἐν ταῖς καρδ. ὑμ. was contrasted with the preceding oral singing, so is τῷ θεῷ contrasted with the destination for others; the still heart-singer sings to God. It is just for this reason that the otherwise superfluous τῷ θεῷ is added. Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:28.


Verse 17

Colossians 3:17. The apostle having announced in Colossians 3:16 the first way in which the abundant indwelling of the word of Christ must manifest itself by ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντεςπνευματικοῖς, and having set forth as the second the ἐν τῇ χάριτι ᾄδοντες κ. τ. λ., now adds the third, and that, indeed, as one embracing the entire conduct of life; the καί, and, attaches it to the two participial clauses in Colossians 3:16, not, however, introducing another participial mode of expression conformed to the foregoing, but leading over, through the verb to be supplied, into the direct form of discourse: And whatsoever ye do by word or by work, do all in the name of Jesus. The πᾶν , τι ἂν ποιῆτεἔργῳ is the absolute nominative, placed at the beginning with rhetorical emphasis, and syntactically independent. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 42; Winer, p. 534 [E. T. 7I8].

ἐν λόγῳ ἐν ἔργῳ] Comp. Aesch. Prom. 659: τί χρὴ δρῶντʼ λέγοντα δαίμοσιν πράσσειν φίλα. See Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 373: “Dictis factisque omnis continetur actio.” For instances of λόγος and ἔργον associated in that order and conversely, see Bornemann, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 3. 6; Lobeck, Paral, p. 64 f.

πάντα] again emphatically prefixed, not, however, taking up again the previous πᾶν, but rather: in the case of everything which is done by word or deed, all is to take place in the name of Jesus;(163) no element of the doing is to be out of this sphere! The imperative ποιεῖτε is to be supplied from the context. Comp. on Ephesians 5:21.

ἐν ὀνόμ.] Not: with invocation of (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Melanchthon, and others), but: so that the name is the holy moral element, in which the action proceeds, inasmuch, namely, as this name, as the sum of the faith which moulds the new life, fills the consciousness, and gives to the action its specific Christian quality and consecration. ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ would not be substantially different. Comp. on Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 2:10; John 14:13. “Illum sapiat, illum sonet, illum spiret omnis vestra vita,” Erasmus. The ideal character of the requirement is misapprehended, when, with Cornelius a Lapide, it is lowered to a mere consilium. See, on the contrary, Calovius.

εὐχαρ. τῷ θεῷ κ. τ. λ.] accompanying definition: whilst ye at the same time give thanks, etc. Comp. ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ in Colossians 2:7, Colossians 4:2, Colossians 1:12; Philippians 4:6. In the apostle’s view, there belongs essentially to the devoutness of Christian life the self-expressing piety of thankfulness for all Christian bliss, in the consciousness, assurance, and experience of which one does everything in the name of Jesus. Since εὐχαρ. denotes thanksgiving, Grotius ought not to have taken the participle in a declaratory sense (“quid sit in nomine Christi omnia facere et loqui”); a misinterpretation, which Hofmann rightly rejects, but substitutes another explanation which neglects the verbal import of εὐχαριστεῖν: namely, that Paul declares the doing here required to be a thanksgiving, etc., doing, which is practical thanks. εὐχαριστεῖν is never in the N. T. equivalent to χάριν ἀποδοῦναι, gratias referre.

πατρί] Father of Jesus.

διʼ αὐτοῦ] For Jesus, as the personal historical mediator of Messianic bliss through the work of atonement, is therewith for the Christian consciousness the mediator of thanksgiving; He it is, through whose benefit the Christian can and does give thanks. Comp. Romans 1:8; Romans 7:25, al. Hence in Ephesians 5:20 : ἐν ὀνόματι κ. τ. λ. Both the thought and expression were so habitually in use and belonged so essentially to the circumstances of the case, that the hypothesis of a contrast to the mediation of angels (Theodoret, Bengel, and many others, including Bähr) is unfounded, more especially seeing that the entire context has no polemical reference.


Verse 18

Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1.(164) Instructions for the different portions of the household. Why Paul should have given to the churches such a table of household rules only in this Epistle and in that to the Ephesians (comp. also 1 Tim. and Tit.), must be left wholly undecided (Chrysostom exhausts himself in conjectures). They are not polemical; but possibly, in the presence of a theosophico-ascetic atmosphere, the practical rules of healthy domestic life seemed to him the more seasonable. They do not contain traces of a later development of church-life (Holtzmann). The circumstance that the precepts for the several forms of domestic society uniformly (Colossians 3:18; Colossians 3:20; Colossians 3:22 ff.) begin with the subordinate party, as also at Ephesians 5:21 ff., is to be regarded as having occurred without any set purpose; the idea of obedience was primarily present to the writer’s mind. If Paul’s aim had been to counteract the abuse of Christian freedom and equality, or in other words, perverse desires for emancipation, he would not have considered so weighty a purpose sufficiently met by the mere mode of arrangement, but would have entered upon the matter itself (in opposition to Huther and de Wette); and this we should have to assume that he would have done also in the event of his having had in view an attitude of resistance on the part of those bound to obedience as the thing most to be feared (in opposition to Hofmann). Just as much might such an attitude be a thing to be feared from the stronger party. Respecting the nominatives in the address, see especially Stallbaum, ad Plat. Symp. p. 172 A.

ὡς ἀνῆκεν] not the perfect (with present signification), as Huther thinks and Bleek does not disapprove, but the imperfect, which has its logical reference in the ἐν κυρίῳ to be connected with it: as was fitting in the Lord, i.e. as was becoming in the relation of the ἐν χριστῷ εἶναι (Philemon 1:8), as was appropriate to the Christian state, but had not yet been in this way realized. The imperfect (comp. Acts 22:22) denotes, therefore, as also in χρῆν and ἔδει, the incomplete condition, which extends even into the present. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 176 f.; Bernhardy, p. 373. Similarly, Winer, p. 254 [E. T. 338]. Comp. also Buttmann, p. 187 [E. T. 216]. We are not to think of an omission of ἄν; see Kühner, l.c. The connection of ἐν κυρίῳ with ὑπότασσεσθε (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Estius, Rosenmüller, Hofmann, and others)—in which case Hofmann imparts into ὡς ἀνῆκεν the abstract idea: as was already in itself fitting—is opposed by the position of the words themselves, as well as by the parallel in Colossians 3:20 : εὐάρεστόν ἐστιν ἐν κυρίῳ.


Verse 19

Colossians 3:19. Comp. Ephesians 5:25 ff., where this love is admirably characterized according to its specifically Christian nature.

πικραίνεσθε] become not embittered, description of a spitefully cross tone and treatment. Plat Legg. v. p. 731 D Dem. 1464. 18: μήτε πικραίνεσθαι μήτε μνησικακεῖν. Philo, Vit. Mos. II. p. 135. Comp. πικρῶς διακεῖσθαι πρός τινα, Polyb. iv. 14. 1; LXX. Exodus 16:20; Ruth 1:20; Ruth 3 Esdr. 4:31; ἐμπικραίνεσθαί τινι, Herod. v. 62.


Verse 20

Colossians 3:20 f. Comp. Ephesians 6:1-4, where likewise is given a characteristic development in fuller detail of what is here only succinctly stated.

κατὰ πάντα] not to be restricted; for Paul is quoting the rule, that which holds good principaliter in the relation of children, while possible exceptional cases obviously come under the principle of obeying God rather than man (Oecumenius: δίχα τῶν εἰς ἀσέβειαν φερόντων). Comp. Ephesians 5:24.

εὐάρεστόν ἐστιν ἐν κυρίῳ] In connection with this reading (see the critical remarks), to supply τῷ θεῷ to εὐάρ. is arbitrary (in opposition to de Wette and Baumgarten-Crusius), since this is not suggested by the context as in Romans 12:1-2; nor is ἐ̓ ν κυρίῳ to be taken as instead of the dative (Flatt, Bähr, Bleek), or in the sense: coram Domino (Böhmer), but rather as in Colossians 3:18. We have to leave εὐάρ. without any other more precise definition than what is contained in ἐν κυρ., so that it is affirmed of childlike obedience, that it is well-pleasing, and that indeed not in a worldly fashion apart from Christ, οὐκ ἀπὸ τῆς φύσεως μόνης (Chrysostom), but in a definite Christian character; consequently the Christian ethical beauty, in which the δίκαιον (Ephesians 6:1) of that virtue manifests itself. Comp. προσφιλῆ in Philippians 4:8. It would be a perfectly groundless violence to couple, with Hofmann, ἐν κυρίῳ with ὑπακούετε τ. γ. κ. π., notwithstanding the clause which is introduced by γάρ.

Colossians 3:21. οἱ πατέρες] they, and not the mothers, are addressed as holding the government of the household, also in reference to education. Comp. on Ephesians 6:4.

ἐρεθίζετε] irritate, very frequent in the classics and LXX., especially in connection with anger, as here (comp. Ephesians 6:4). This irritation takes place through unjust or over-severe ( ἐστὶν ὅπου καὶ συγχωρεῖν ὀφείλετε, Chrysostom) treatment, which the child, provoked thereby to anger, must bear without being able to get satisfaction for its injured sense of justice; whereby it becomes liable to a spiritless and sullen, and therefore immoral, resignation, a despair paralysing all moral power of will; hence ἵνα μὴ ἀθυμῶσιν. This verb is only found here in the N. T., but frequently in LXX., also Judith 7:22; 1 Maccabees 4:27; and in classic writers from the time of Thucydides (v. 91. 1, vii. 21, al.). Its opposite is θαῤῥεῖν. Bengel aptly says: “fractus animus pestis juventutis.”


Verse 22

Colossians 3:22. Comp. Ephesians 6:5 ff. The minuteness with which Paul enters into this point in comparison with the others, may naturally have been caused by the flight and conversion of Onesimus, who was a Colossian slave.

τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις] the masters, who are so after a fleshly manner, i.e. in respect to material-human nature; a description, which presupposes another relation belonging to the higher pneumatic sphere, in which, namely, Christ is (Colossians 3:24) the master. Comp. Romans 9:3.

μὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμ. ὡς ἀνθρωπάρ.] See on Ephesians 6:6. The obedience of Christian slaves becomes men-pleasing, and, to appearance, eye-service, when it is not subordinated to, and normally conditioned by, the fear of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:11) as the higher Master. See below, where ἐν ἁπλότ. καρδίας (see on Ephesians 6:5) corresponds to the ἐν ὀφθαλμοδουλ., and φοβούμ. τ. κύριον to the ὡς ἀνθρωπάρ. Eye service presupposes insincerity of heart, and men-pleasing takes for granted a want of the fear of Christ. Comp. on the latter, Galatians 1:10.


Verse 23

Colossians 3:23 f. More precise explanation of the ἐν ἁπλότ. καρδ., φοβούμ. τ. κύρ. just required.

ποιῆτε] in your service.

ἐκ ψυχῆς] μετὰ εὐνοίας, μὴ μετὰ δουλικῆς ἀνάγκης, ἀλλὰ μετὰ ἐλευθερίας καὶ προαιρέσεως, Chrysostom. Comp. on Ephesians 6:6.

ἐργάζεσθε] execute, carry out, not equivalent to ποιεῖτε, but correlative with it, hence also not in the narrower sense: labour (as e.g. in Xen. Oec. iii. 4 with reference to slaves).

ὡς τῷ κυρ.] Point of view of the ἐργάζ.; this is to be regarded as taking place for Christ, rendered as a service to Him. Comp. Ephesians 6:6 f. And the relation to the human masters, to whom the slaves belong, is in this higher aspect of the service thrown so much into the background as not to be taken into account at all, in accordance with the principle that no man can serve two masters; hence οὐκ is not relatively, but absolutely negative. Respecting the contrast of ἀνθρ. and χριστός, see on Galatians 1:1.

εἰδότες κ. τ. λ.] Ground of the obligation in one’s own consciousness for the ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ κ. οὐκ ἀνθρ.: since ye know that ye shall receive from the Lord, etc. On εἰδότες, comp. Colossians 4:1.

ἀπὸ κυρίου, excluding the human recompense, stands first with emphasis, and ἀπό (on the part of) denotes, not expressly the direct giving ( παρά), through which the recompense is received, but generally the issuing, proceeding from the Lord, who is the possessor and bestower, although the receiving of the recompense at the judgment will be in reality direct (Ephesians 6:8; 2 Timothy 1:18). Comp. on 1 Corinthians 11:23; Winer, p. 347 [E.T. 463].

τῆς κληρον.] In the Messianic κληρονομία, i.e. in the future possession of eternal bliss (see on Galatians 3:18; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 1:12; Romans 4:13), the reward consists. The motive for its purposely-chosen designation by this particular term lies in the fact, that in human relations slaves are not usually heirs, comp. Genesis 21:10. Hence also this closing word, next to the ἀπὸ κυρ., has special emphasis: from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance. Comp. as to substance, Ignat. ad Polyc. Colossians 4 : ἵνα κρείττονος ἐλευθερίας ἀπὸ θεοῦ τὺχωσιν.

On ἀνταπόδοσις (only found here in the N. T.), comp. Thuc. iv. 81.1 (where, however, the sense is different); Plut. Mor. p. 72 F Polyb. vi. 5. 3, xx. 7. 2, xxxii. 13. 6; passages from Diod. Sic. in Munthe’s Obss. p. 390; and from the LXX. in Schleusner, I. p. 296; also ἀνταπόδομα in Romans 11:9.

τῷ κυρίῳ χ. δουλεύετε] without γάρ (see the critical remarks) embraces succinctly the whole summary of the Christian duty of slaves in accordance with the principle already laid down in the ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ κ. οὐκ ἀνθρώποις; χριστῷ is not to be taken as appositionally equivalent to ὅς ἐστι χριστός (Hofmann), but in accordance with the quite common usage; hence: to the Lord Christ be serviceable! It is properly rendered thus imperatively in the Vulgate; also by Ewald, Dalmer, Schenkel, and Bleek. The whole significant emphasis lies upon τῷ κυρ. χριστῷ; His slaves they are to be in the relation of human service. Where the γάρ is regarded as not genuine,(165) the indicative interpretation (the usual one) makes the utterance—which, moreover, would be superfluous after Colossians 3:23—vapid, especially without the addition of an οὕτως.


Verse 25

Colossians 3:25. Ground of encouragement ( γάρ, see the critical remarks) to fulfil the precept τῷ κυρ. χ. δουλεύετε: for he who does wrong shall carry off (the penal recompense of) what wrong he has done,—a locus communis, of which the slaves were to make the application, that the unjust treatment which they experienced from their masters would not go unpunished; hence they could not but feel themselves the more encouraged to be in their relation of servitude slaves of no other than Christ, and to permit no unjust treatment to make them deviate from that principle. Paul therefore adds for their further encouragement:(166) καὶ οὐκ ἔστι προσωποληψία, and there is no partiality, of which likewise general proposition the intended application is, that in that requital the impartial Judge (Christ, comp. Colossians 3:24) will not favour the masters, and will not injure the slaves, comp. Ephesians 6:9. The correct view is held substantially by Theodoret, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Zachariae, Ewald, and others. Others have understood ἀδικῶν as referring to the slave who violates his duty, in which case ἀδικεῖν is taken either in the strict sense of the trespass of him who intentionally injures his master (Hofmann, comp. Philemon 1:18), or loosely and generally in the sense of doing wrong, comp. Revelation 22:11 (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Bengel, Heinrichs, Storr, Flatt, Steiger, and others). But against this view the κ. οὐκ ἔστι προσωπολ. may be decisively urged, which assumes that the subject to be punished is higher, of superior rank; for the idea which has been imported into the passage is purely fanciful: “Tenues saepe putant, sibi propter tenuitatem ipsorum esse parcendum; id negatur,” Bengel, in connection with which Theophylact appeals to Leviticus 19:15. And if on account of οὐκ ἔστι προσωπολ. the unjust masters must be taken as meant by αδικῶν in the application of the sentence, the reference to both parties, to the masters and the slaves (Erasmus, Grotius, and others, including Bähr, Huther, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Bleek, following Jerome and Pelagius), is thereby excluded, since προσωπολ. is appropriate only to the masters.

κομίσεται] shall carry off for himself (sibi), refers to the Messianic judgment, and ἠδίκησε to that which he, who is now ἀδικῶν (present), has (shall have) then done. On the expression κομίζεσθαι κ. τ. λ., used to express the idea of a recompense equivalent to the deed in respect of its guilt, comp. Ephesians 6:8, and on 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Respecting προσωποληψία, see on Galatians 2:6.

 


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Colossians 3:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/colossians-3.html. 1832.

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