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Colossians 2:1-7 - Homilies By R. Finlayson

Introduction to the polemical part of the Epistle.


1 . Paul's striving. "For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you. and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh." There is an advantage in the Revised translation, in carrying forward the word "strive" from the preceding verse. Having declared his striving in general, the apostle now shows ("for") how his striving was specially directed.

2 . The end of his striving. "That their hearts may be comforted." There are positions in which Churches and individuals stand in need of heart comfort. Our English word "comforted" is etymologically "being made strong." "Fortified" belongs to the same root. And the one meaning passes into the other. If our hearts are sad, we feel unnerved for work. But if, amid our trials, we have comfort, we feel strong for work.


1 . Exposure of the Colossians. "This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech." He directs himself specially to the Colossians. He has been telling them about his great striving for them, and about the key to the hidden treasures, in order to put them on their guard. They were in the presence of danger. There were teachers (of whom we shall hear more) that had designs on them, They used a persuasive form of speech (in a bad sense). They had not the persuasiveness that comes from the truth. They were conscious of no basis of reality for their speech. They taught a system for which there were not proofs. They pretended by their sophia and gnosis to open up hidden things; but it was only pretence. Their fine phrases, their plausible representations, their large promises, were delusive, leading away from reality, leading away from Christ in whom alone are the hidden treasures.

2 . Spiritual presence with them. "For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." The spirit is freer than the body. The apostle was present in the spirit, where he was absent in the flesh. This spoke to a certain cognizance of them, from all that he had heard of them, and especially from the intensity of his sympathy with them. Transferred, as it were, to Colossae, his feelings (and to this prominence is given) were those of joy. He was not repelled (as from what was disagreeable), but was rather enchained. It especially gave him joy to observe two points which were important in reference to his purpose.

III. EXHORTATION TO REMAIN TRUE TO THEIR STARTING POINT . He does not bestow praise without giving exhortation (in view of the danger). The spirit of the exhortation is given in the words of the Lord to the Church of Smyrna (where danger, however, had not been well met), "Remember therefore how thou hast received, and didst hear." In the force of the apostle's thought there is a certain disregard of metaphor ( walk, tree, building ) . It is, therefore, necessary to present the thought (in our division) without keeping to metaphor.

1 . We are to think and act from day to day in accordance with our first reception of Christ." As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him." There is an emphatic specification of the object. They received Christ (the person of Christ being in dispute). Whom did they receive as Christ? The historical Jesus (partaker of humanity). This Jesus they received and worshipped as the Lord (with supreme power over the universe and the Church). And the apostle holds rightly that they were bound by their past action. Having thus received Christ, they were not to cast him off. They were not to think and act according to their pleasure or according to the suggestion of heretical teachers. Bat their thoughts and actions (specially the former in the present instance) were to be controlled by Christ and his laws.

2 . What is added in our development is to be in accordance with its beginnings. "Rooted and builded up in him." The change of tense is not brought out in the translation. It is literally, "Having been rooted and being builded up in him? They got a rooting in Christ at the beginning, viz. under Epaphras, who presented Christ plainly to them, giving them line upon line and precept upon precept, until they came to a clear conception of the truth. This rooting was effectual in the subsequent development. To change the figure with the apostle, they got a grounding in Christ (as we get a grounding in a language or science). Every successive layer was to be in accordance with their grounding. The building was to rise up in, and to take form from, that Christ in whom they had been so well grounded.

3 . Our faith is to be established in accordance with our early teaching. "And stablished in your faith, even as ye were taught." All early teaching is not good, and the development is often hindered by imperfect or faulty grounding. The early teaching enjoyed by the Colossians was proved to be good by the subsequent development. There is a missing of the thought by Meyer and Ellicott, who interpret, "Taught to become established in [or, 'by'] the faith." The idea rather is that, under the teaching of Epaphras, they got a right hold of Christ. From him thus laid hold of by them they were not to be moved away, The whole carrying forward of their faith in the way of stability was to be toward no false Christ, but toward Christ Jesus the Lord. Subjoined exhortation to thanksgiving. "Abounding in thanksgiving." This comes in with a certain abruptness. But the duty of thanksgiving is so frequently (five times) introduced as to form a subordinate feature of the Epistle. An overflowing of thanksgiving to God for the faith by which they came in their early teaching, and for all the blessing opened up to them by faith (the hidden treasures in Christ), would be helpful to their faith being stablished in view of present danger.—R.F.

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