EPISTLE OF S. PAUL, THE APOSTLE,
TO THE COLOSSIANS.
Colosse was a city of Phrygia, near Laodicea. It does not appear that S. Paul had preached there himself, (see C. ii. 1.) but that the Colossians were converted by Epaphras, a disciple of the apostles. However, as S. Paul was the great apostle of the Gentiles, he wrote this epistle to the Colossians when he was in prison, and about the same time that he wrote to the Ephesians and Philippians. The exhortations and doctrine it contains, are similar to those which are set forth in his epistle to the Ephesians. S. Chrys. takes notice, that the epistles he wrote in prison seem even more spiritual than the rest: the chief design of which was to hinder them from being seduced by false teachers. Ch. Wi.
--- The Colossians were first instructed in the faith by Epaphras, who is considered their first bishop. He was a prisoner, at Rome, with S. Paul, when this epistle was written. The intent of it was to disabuse the Colossians of worshipping the Angels; for Cerinthus and others, had taught them to look upon Angels as superior to Christ, whom they looked upon as a mere man; to observe the law of Moses, with all its legal rites and ceremonies. He begins his epistle by insisting chiefly on the exalted state of Christ, saying that he is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature, by whom all things visible and invisible were created, whether thrones, principalities, or powers, and that in him the divinity essentially exists. From this he proves the inutility of the ceremonies of the law, &c. (Fleury and Calmet) and takes great pains to prevent their relapsing either into paganism or Judaism. V.
Ver. 6. In the whole world; i.e. a great part of it. Wi.
--- This epistle was written in the year 62, at which time the gospel had spread itself through the whole world by the preaching not only of the apostles, but of their disciples, and by the noise which this new religion made. Calmet.
--- S. Austin sheweth with S. Paul, that the Church and Christ's gospel was to grow daily, and to spread all over the world; which cannot stand with what heretics allude of the failure of the Church, nor with their own obscure conventicles. ep. lxxx. ad finem.
Ver. 7. Of Epaphras, who seems to have been their first apostle, and their bishop. Wi.
Ver. 8. Your love. Your charity for all men, founded on the love of God. Others understand it of the affection which they had for S. Paul. S. Chrys.
Ver. 9. In all wisdom. He begins by an admonition against false teachers, who it is likely, says S. Chrys. with their philosophical notions mixed errors and fables. Wi.
Ver. 10. Worthy of God: axiwV tou kuriou. So S. Ambrose and the Greek doctors; or thus, worthily, pleasing God, and this not by faith only, but fruitful in every good work. Ibid.
--- God, in† all things pleasing him. This is the construction of the Latin by the Greek. Wi.
[†] V. 10. Ut ambuletis dignè Deo per omnia placentes; axiwV tou Kuriou eiV pasan areskeian.
Ver. 14. It is through the blood of Christ, and not by the law of Moses, that we are freed from the power of death. If the law could have saved us, the coming of Christ would have been useless. See then, he says, if it be proper to engage under a law which is so inefficacious. Calmet.
--- From this verse and from v. 12, et alibi passim, we are taught that we are not only by imputation made partakers of Christ's benefits, but are by his grace made worthy thereof, and deserve our salvation condignly, ex condigno. B.
Ver. 15. The first† born of every creature. S. Chrys. takes notice against the Arians, that the apostle calls Christ the first-begotten, or first-born, not the first created, because he was not created at all. And the sense is, that he was before all creatures, proceeding from all eternity from the Father; though some expound the words of Christ as man, and that he was greater in dignity. See Rom. viii. 29. Wi.
[†] V. 15. Primogenitus omnis creaturæ; prwtotokoV pashV ktisewV. S. Chrys. log. g. p. 103. ou prwtoktistoV, alla prwtotokoV . . . oukoun ektistai.
Ver. 16. Thrones, &c. are commonly understood to refer to the celestial hierarchy of Angels, though as to their particular rank, &c. nothing certain is known. We may here observe, that the Holy Spirit proportions itself and speaks according to our ideas of a temporal kingdom, in which one authority is subject to another. In the same manner the Angels seem subordinate to one another. S. Dionysius in Calmet.
--- All things were created by him, and in him, and †consist in him. If all things that are were made by him, he himself was not made. And his divine power is also signified, when it is said all things consist or are preserved by him. Wi.
[†] V. 16. In ipso constant; en autw sunesthke. See S. Chrys.
Ver. 18. He is the head of the body, the church. He now speaks of what applies to Christ as man.
--- The first-born from the dead; i.e. the first that rose to an immortal life. Wi.
Ver. 19. In him it was pleasing, that all fulness should dwell.† The greatest plenitude of graces was conferred on him as man, and from him, as he was our head, derived to all the members of his Church. The Prot. translation, followed by Mr. N. by way of explanation adds, it hath pleased the Father; but, as Dr. Wells observes in his paraphrase, there is no reason to restrain it to the Father, seeing the work of the incarnation, and the blessings by it conferred on all mankind, are equally the work of the blessed Trinity, though the Second Person only was joined to our nature. Wi.
[†] V. 19. In ipso complacuit. We may rather understand Deo than Patri. So S. Chrys. p. 105. thn qelesin tou Qeou, touto gar estin oti en autw hndokhse.
Ver. 20. To reconcile all things unto himself, . . . through the blood of his cross, (i.e. which Christ shed on the cross) both as to the things on earth, and . . . in heaven: not that Christ died for the Angels, but, says S. Chrys. the Angels were in a manner at war with men, with sinners, as they stood for the cause and glory of God; but Christ put an end to this enmity, by restoring men to his favour. Wi.
--- In heaven. Not by pardoning the wicked angels did Christ reconcile the things in heaven, but by reconciling good Angels to man, who were enemies to him before the birth of Christ. S. Austin.
Ver. 24. And fill up those things . . . in my flesh for his body, which is the church.† Nothing was wanting in the sufferings or merits of Christ, for a sufficient and superabundant redemption of mankind, and therefore he adds, for his body, which is the church, that his sufferings were wanting, and are to be endured by the example of Christ by the faithful, who are members of a crucified head. See S. Chrys. and S. Aug. Wi.
--- Wanting. There is no want in the sufferings of Christ himself as head; but many sufferings are still wanting, or are still to come in his body, the Church, and his members, the faithful. Ch.
--- S. Chrysostom here observes that Jesus Christ loves us so much, that he is not content merely to suffer in his own person, but he wishes also to suffer in his members; and thus we fill up what is wanting of the sufferings of Christ. S. Chrys.
--- The wisdom, the will, the justice of Jesus Christ, requireth and ordaineth that his body and members should be companions of his sufferings, as they expect to be companions of his glory; that so suffering with him, and after his example, they may apply to their own wants and to the necessities of others the merits and satisfaction of Jesus Christ, which application is what is wanting, and what we are permitted to supply by the sacraments and sacrifice of the new law.
[†] V. 24. Adimpleo quæ desunt; ta usterhmata. See S. Chrys. and S. Aug. in Ps. lxxxvi. tom. 4. p. 922. B. restabant Christi passiones in corpore, vos autem estis Christi Corpus, et membra. Vide S. Chrys. om. d. p. 109.
Ver. 25. According to the dispensation of God; i.e. to the appointment of his divine providence. Wi.
Ver. 26. The mystery of Christ's incarnation, which hath been hidden, &c. See Ephes. i. 12. and v. 4, &c. Wi.