1
Salutation
1 From Paul,#tn Grk “Paul.” The word “from” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter. an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints, the faithful#tn Grk “and faithful.” The construction in Greek (as well as Paul’s style) suggests that the saints are identical to the faithful; hence, the καί (kai) is best left untranslated (cf. Eph 1:1). See ExSyn 281-82. brothers and sisters#tn Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” or “fellow Christians” as here (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 1, where considerable nonbiblical evidence for the plural ἀδελφοί [adelfoi] meaning “brothers and sisters” is cited). in Christ, at Colossae. Grace and peace to you#tn Or “Grace to you and peace.” from God our Father!#tc Most witnesses, including some important ones (א A C F G I [P] 075 Ï it bo), read “and the Lord Jesus Christ” at the end of this verse, no doubt to conform the wording to the typical Pauline salutation. However, excellent and early witnesses (B D K L Ψ 33 81 1175 1505 1739 1881 al sa) lack this phrase. Since the omission is inexplicable as arising from the longer reading (otherwise, these mss would surely have deleted the phrase in the rest of the corpus Paulinum), it is surely authentic.
Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Church
3 We always#tn The adverb πάντοτε (pantote) is understood to modify the indicative εὐχαριστοῦμεν (eucaristoumen) because it precedes περὶ ὑμῶν (peri Jumwn) which probably modifies the indicative and not the participle προσευχόμενοι (proseucomenoi). But see 1:9 where the same expression occurs and περὶ ὑμῶν modifies the participle “praying” (προσευχόμενοι). give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since#tn The adverbial participle ἀκούσαντες (akousante") is understood to be temporal and translated with “since.” A causal idea may also be in the apostle’s mind, but the context emphasizes temporal ideas, e.g., “from the day” (v. 6). we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. 5 Your faith and love have arisen#tn Col 1:3-8 form one long sentence in the Greek text and have been divided at the end of v. 4 and v. 6 and within v. 6 for clarity, in keeping with the tendency in contemporary English toward shorter sentences. Thus the phrase “Your faith and love have arisen from the hope” is literally “because of the hope.” The perfect tense “have arisen” was chosen in the English to reflect the fact that the recipients of the letter had acquired this hope at conversion in the past, but that it still remains and motivates them to trust in Christ and to love one another. from the hope laid up#tn BDAG 113 s.v. ἀπόκειμαι 2 renders ἀποκειμένην (apokeimenhn) with the expression “reserved” in this verse. for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel#tn The term “the gospel” (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, tou euangeliou) is in apposition to “the word of truth” (τῷ λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθείας, tw logw th" alhqeia") as indicated in the translation. 6 that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel#tn Grk “just as in the entire world it is bearing fruit.” The antecedent (“the gospel”) of the implied subject (“it”) of ἐστιν (estin) has been specified in the translation for clarity. is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing#tn Though the participles are periphrastic with the present tense verb ἐστίν (estin), the presence of the temporal indicator “from the day” in the next clause indicates that this is a present tense that reaches into the past and should be translated as “has been bearing fruit and growing.” For a discussion of this use of the present tense, see ExSyn 519-20. among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. 7 You learned the gospel#tn Or “learned it.” The Greek text simply has “you learned” without the reference to “the gospel,” but “the gospel” is supplied to clarify the sense of the clause. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context. from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave#tn The Greek word translated “fellow slave” is σύνδουλος (sundoulo"); the σύν- prefix here denotes association. Though δοῦλος is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force. – a#tn The Greek text has “who (ὅς, Jos) is a faithful minister.” The above translation conveys the antecedent of the relative pronoun quite well and avoids the redundancy with the following substantival participle of v. 8, namely, “who told” (ὁ δηλώσας, Jo dhlwsa"). faithful minister of Christ on our#tc ‡ Judging by the superior witnesses for the first person pronoun ἡμῶν (Jhmwn, “us”; Ì46 א* A B D* F G 326* 1505 al) vs. the second person pronoun ὑμῶν (Jumwn, “you”; found in א2 C D1 Ψ 075 33 1739 1881 Ï lat sy co), ἡμῶν should be regarded as original. Although it is possible that ἡμῶν was an early alteration of ὑμῶν (either unintentionally, as dittography, since it comes seventeen letters after the previous ἡμῶν; or intentionally, to conform to the surrounding first person pronouns), this supposition is difficult to maintain in light of the varied and valuable witnesses for this reading. Further, the second person is both embedded in the verb ἐμάθετε (emaqete) and is explicit in v. 8 (ὑμῶν). Hence, the motivation to change to the first person pronoun is counterbalanced by such evidence. The second person pronoun may have been introduced unintentionally via homoioarcton with the ὑπέρ (Juper) that immediately precedes it. As well, the second person reading is somewhat harder for it seems to address Epaphras’ role only in relation to Paul and his colleagues, rather than in relation to the Colossians. Nevertheless, the decision must be based ultimately on external evidence (because the internal evidence can be variously interpreted), and this strongly supports ἡμῶν. behalf – 8 who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
Paul’s Prayer for the Growth of the Church
9 For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you,#tn Or “heard about it”; Grk “heard.” There is no direct object stated in the Greek (direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context). A direct object is expected by an English reader, however, so most translations supply one. Here, however, it is not entirely clear what the author “heard”: a number of translations supply “it” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV; NAB “this”), but this could refer back either to (1) “your love in the Spirit” at the end of v. 8, or (2) “your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints” (v. 4). In light of this uncertainty, other translations supply “about you” (TEV, NIV, CEV, NLT). This is preferred by the present translation since, while it does not resolve the ambiguity entirely, it does make it less easy for the English reader to limit the reference only to “your love in the Spirit” at the end of v. 8. have not ceased praying for you and asking God#tn The term “God” does not appear in the Greek text, but the following reference to “the knowledge of his will” makes it clear that “God” is in view as the object of the “praying and asking,” and should therefore be included in the English translation for clarity. to fill#tn The ἵνα (Jina) clause has been translated as substantival, indicating the content of the prayer and asking. The idea of purpose may also be present in this clause. you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may live#tn The infinitive περιπατῆσαι (peripathsai, “to walk, to live, to live one’s life”) is best taken as an infinitive of purpose related to “praying” (προσευχόμενοι, proseucomenoi) and “asking” (αἰτούμενοι, aitoumenoi) in v. 9 and is thus translated as “that you may live.” worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects#tn BDAG 129 s.v. ἀρεσκεία states that ἀρεσκείαν (areskeian) refers to a “desire to please εἰς πᾶσαν ἀ. to please (the Lord) in all respects Col 1:10.” – bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of#tn The expression “for the display of” is an attempt to convey in English the force of the Greek preposition εἰς (eis) in this context. all patience and steadfastness, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share#tn BDAG 473 s.v. ἱκανόω states, “τινὰ εἴς τι someone for someth. Col 1:12.” The point of the text is that God has qualified the saints for a “share” or “portion” in the inheritance of the saints. in the saints’#tn Grk “the inheritance of the saints.” The genitive noun τῶν ἁγίων (twn Jagiwn) is a possessive genitive: “the saints’ inheritance.” inheritance in the light. 13 He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves,#tn Here αὐτοῦ (autou) has been translated as a subjective genitive (“he loves”). 14 in whom we have redemption,#tc διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ (dia tou {aimato" autou, “through his blood”) is read at this juncture by several minuscule mss (614 630 1505 2464 al) as well as a few, mostly secondary, versional and patristic witnesses. But the reading was prompted by the parallel in Eph 1:7 where the wording is solid. If these words had been in the original of Colossians, why would scribes omit them here but not in Eph 1:7? Further, the testimony on behalf of the shorter reading is quite overwhelming: {א A B C D F G Ψ 075 0150 6 33 1739 1881 Ï latt co as well as several other versions and fathers}. The conviction that “through his blood” is not authentic in Col 1:14 is as strong as the conviction that these words are authentic in Eph 1:7. the forgiveness of sins.
The Supremacy of Christ
15#sn This passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn#tn The Greek term πρωτότοκος (prwtotokos) could refer either to first in order of time, such as a first born child, or it could refer to one who is preeminent in rank. M. J. Harris, Colossians and Philemon (EGGNT), 43, expresses the meaning of the word well: “The ‘firstborn’ was either the eldest child in a family or a person of preeminent rank. The use of this term to describe the Davidic king in Ps 88:28 LXX (=Ps 89:27 EVV), ‘I will also appoint him my firstborn (πρωτότοκον), the most exalted of the kings of the earth,’ indicates that it can denote supremacy in rank as well as priority in time. But whether the πρωτό- element in the word denotes time, rank, or both, the significance of the -τοκος element as indicating birth or origin (from τίκτω, give birth to) has been virtually lost except in ref. to lit. birth.” In Col 1:15 the emphasis is on the priority of Jesus’ rank as over and above creation (cf. 1:16 and the “for” clause referring to Jesus as Creator). over all creation,#tn The genitive construction πάσης κτίσεως (pash" ktisew") is a genitive of subordination and is therefore translated as “over all creation.” See ExSyn 103-4.
16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions,#tn BDAG 579 s.v. κυριότης 3 suggests “bearers of the ruling powers, dominions” here. whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him.
17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together#tn BDAG 973 s.v. συνίστημι B.3 suggests “continue, endure, exist, hold together” here. in him.
18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn#tn See the note on the term “firstborn” in 1:15. Here the reference to Jesus as the “firstborn from among the dead” seems to be arguing for a chronological priority, i.e., Jesus was the first to rise from the dead. from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.#tn Grk “in order that he may become in all things, himself, first.”
19 For God#tn The noun “God” does not appear in the Greek text, but since God is the one who reconciles the world to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:19), he is clearly the subject of εὐδόκησεν (eudokhsen). was pleased to have all his#tn The Greek article τό (to), insofar as it relates to God, may be translated as a possessive pronoun, i.e., “his.” BDAG 404 s.v. εὐδοκέω 1 translates the phrase as “all the fullness willed to dwell in him” thus leaving the referent as impersonal. Insofar as Paul is alluding to the so-called emanations from God this is acceptable. But the fact that “the fullness” dwells in a person (i.e., “in him”) seems to argue for the translation “his fullness” where “his” refers to God. fullness dwell#tn The aorist verb κατοικῆσαι (katoikhsai) could be taken as an ingressive, in which case it refers to the incarnation and may be translated as “begin to dwell, to take up residence.” It is perhaps better, though, to take it as a constative aorist and simply a reference to the fact that the fullness of God dwells in Jesus Christ. This is a permanent dwelling, though, not a temporary one, as the present tense in 2:9 makes clear. in the Son#tn Grk “him”; the referent (the Son; see v. 13) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him,#tc The presence or absence of the second occurrence of the phrase δι᾿ αὐτοῦ (di’ autou, “through him”) is a difficult textual problem to solve. External evidence is fairly evenly divided. Many ancient and excellent witnesses lack the phrase (B D* F G I 0278 81 1175 1739 1881 2464 al latt sa), but equally important witnesses have it (Ì46 א A C D1 Ψ 048vid 33 Ï). Both readings have strong Alexandrian support, which makes the problem difficult to decide on external evidence alone. Internal evidence points to the inclusion of the phrase as original. The word immediately preceding the phrase is the masculine pronoun αὐτοῦ (autou); thus the possibility of omission through homoioteleuton in various witnesses is likely. Scribes might have deleted the phrase because of perceived redundancy or awkwardness in the sense: The shorter reading is smoother and more elegant, so scribes would be prone to correct the text in that direction. As far as style is concerned, repetition of key words and phrases for emphasis is not foreign to the corpus Paulinum (see, e.g., Rom 8:23, Eph 1:13, 2 Cor 12:7). In short, it is easier to account for the shorter reading arising from the longer reading than vice versa, so the longer reading is more likely original. whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Paul’s Goal in Ministry
21 And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your#tn The article τῇ (th) has been translated as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215). minds#tn Although διανοία (dianoia) is singular in Greek, the previous plural noun ἐχθρούς (ecqrous) indicates that all those from Colossae are in view here. as expressed through#tn The dative ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς (en toi" ergoi" toi" ponhroi") is taken as means, indicating the avenue through which hostility in the mind is revealed and made known. your evil deeds, 22 but now he has reconciled you#tc Some of the better representatives of the Alexandrian and Western texts have a passive verb here instead of the active ἀποκατήλλαξεν (apokathllaxen, “he has reconciled”): ἀποκατηλλάγητε (apokathllaghte) in (Ì46) B, ἀποκατήλλακται [sic] (apokathllaktai) in 33, and ἀποκαταλλαγέντες (apokatallagente") in D* F G. Yet the active verb is strongly supported by א A C D2 Ψ 048 075 [0278] 1739 1881 Ï lat sy. Internally, the passive creates an anacoluthon in that it looks back to the accusative ὑμᾶς (Juma", “you”) of v. 21 and leaves the following παραστῆσαι (parasthsai) dangling (“you were reconciled…to present you”). The passive reading is certainly the harder reading. As such, it may well explain the rise of the other readings. At the same time, it is possible that the passive was produced by scribes who wanted some symmetry between the ποτε (pote, “at one time”) of v. 21 and the νυνὶ δέ (nuni de, “but now”) of v. 22: Since a passive periphrastic participle is used in v. 21, there may have a temptation to produce a corresponding passive form in v. 22, handling the ὑμᾶς of v. 21 by way of constructio ad sensum. Since παραστῆσαι occurs ten words later, it may not have been considered in this scribal modification. Further, the Western reading (ἀποκαταλλαγέντες) hardly seems to have arisen from ἀποκατηλλάγητε (contra TCGNT 555). As difficult as this decision is, the preferred reading is the active form because it is superior externally and seems to explain the rise of all forms of the passive readings.tn The direct object is omitted in the Greek text, but it is clear from context that “you” (ὑμᾶς, Jumas) is implied. by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him – 23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm,#tn BDAG 276 s.v. ἑδραῖος suggests “firm, steadfast.” without shifting#tn BDAG 639 s.v. μετακινέω suggests “without shifting from the hope” here. from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body – for the sake of his body, the church – what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. 25 I became a servant of the church according to the stewardship#tn BDAG 697 s.v. οἰκονομία 1.b renders the term here as “divine office.” from God – given to me for you – in order to complete#tn See BDAG 828 s.v. πληρόω 3. The idea here seems to be that the apostle wants to “complete the word of God” in that he wants to preach it to every person in the known world (cf. Rom 15:19). See P. T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon (WBC), 82. the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints. 27 God wanted to make known to them the glorious#tn The genitive noun τῆς δόξης (ths doxhs) is an attributive genitive and has therefore been translated as “glorious riches.” riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him by instructing#tn Or “admonishing,” or “warning.” BDAG 679 s.v. νουθετέω states, “to counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct,, admonish, warn, instruct.” After the participle νουθετοῦντες (nouqetounte", “instructing”) the words πάντα ἄνθρωπον (panta anqrwpon, “all men”) occur in the Greek text, but since the same phrase appears again after διδάσκοντες (didaskontes) it was omitted in translation to avoid redundancy in English. and teaching#tn The two participles “instructing” (νουθετοῦντες, nouqetounte") and “teaching” (διδάσκοντες, didaskonte") are translated as participles of means (“by”) related to the finite verb “we proclaim” (καταγγέλλομεν, katangellomen). all people#tn Here ἄνθρωπον (anqrwpon) is twice translated as a generic (“people” and “person”) since both men and women are clearly intended in this context. with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature#tn Since Paul’s focus is on the present experience of the Colossians, “mature” is a better translation of τέλειον (teleion) than “perfect,” since the latter implies a future, eschatological focus. in Christ. 29 Toward this goal#tn The Greek phrase εἴς ὅ (eis Jo, “toward which”) implies “movement toward a goal” and has been rendered by the English phrase “Toward this goal.” I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully#tn The prepositional phrase ἐν δυνάμει (en dunamei) seems to be functioning adverbially, related to the participle, and has therefore been translated “powerfully.” works in me.
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