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15. The beginning of the gospel means the apostle's begin. ning to preach the gospel in Greece, Philippi being the first place in which he preached after he left the Continent of Asia.
16. Both at Thessalonica and at Corinth, Paul had subsisted chiefly by the labour of his hands. This the Christians at Philippi had probably beard of, and on that account had sent to his relief.
17. This is a sentiment worthy of an apostle, negligent with respect to himself, and attentive only to others. He rejoiced not that his own wants were relieved, but in the generosity and virtue which had been manifested in that relief.
18. We see how familiar to the Jews were the rites of their religion, and how they supplied them with a constant source of figures of speech. If a present of money was called a sacrifice well pleasing to God, can we be surprised that so heroical an act of virtue as that which Christ manifested in his death, should also be called a sacrifice well pleasing to God? How then can we be authorized from such phrases as these, to suppose that the death of Christ was a sacrifice, in any other sense than that in which this contribution of the Christians at Philippi to Paul was called a sacrifice, or than prayer, or any other part of our duty, may be called a sacrifice; and yet the death of Christ has been considered so much a sacrifice, as by this means alone, the anger of God against sin has been appeased, and that by this means only, he has become propitious to offending sinners.
19. That is, his glorious riches, or that glory and happiness which God reserves for the righteous in a future state, to which Christ will receive all his followers, when he shall come with power and great glory at the last day.
20.* Here again I would observe, what is conspicuous through all the New Testament, that God and the Father are synonymous terms, neither Christ nor any other person being so much as called God; and that to the Father alone is glory in the highest sense ascribed, he being the author of all good, and Christ his minister or servant, in communi. cating blessings to mankind.
22.7 By saints, in this place, we are not to understand * "Unto God, even our Father." Clarke (S. D.), 489.
† “ Some of the Emperor's domestics. Liberti quidam, ut credibile est, says Grotins. It is agreeable to find Christianity in the Emperor's palace, even in the second century. Irenæus, who flourished in the year of Christ 178, mentions this. Hi, qui in regali aulâ sunt fideles. Opera, p. 351. Edit. Grabé. Oxon." Här.
wood, N. T. Gr.
what was meant by that term in after ages, persons of greater sanctity than others, and least of all, persons abstracted from the world and the duties of it; but simply Christians, persons professing Christianity, and thereby constituting the church and people of God, as the Jews had been before, who were called an holy and peculiar people, as standing in a nearer relation to God than other nations.
33. That is, may you partake of all the blessings of the gospel, here and hereafter, and may this be the happy lot of us all; and this we may be assured will be the case, if we diligently study the principles of Christianity, and above all, be careful to practise the duties which it incul. cates.
Colosse was a considerable city of Phrygia, in Asia Minor, where there appears to have been a Christian church pretty early ; but by whom it was planted is unknown; but it was probably by some of Paul's fellow-labourers, during his long residence at Ephesus, in that neighbourhood. This epistle to the Christians in that place, appears to have been written sometime before the end of the year 62, and to have been sent, along with that to Philemon, by Tychicus and Onesimus, while Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome, but when he had a prospect of being released.*
The general strain of this epistle is very much the same as that to the Ephesians. In both of them, the object of the apostle is to establish those to whom he wrote, in the true faith of the gospel, in opposition to the corruptions of it by the Jewish Gnostics, and to urge the practice of moral duties, which the Gnostics, too much occupied as it might seem in matters of speculation, probably neglected, and some of which they explained away.
CHAP. I. 2,7 3. We see how in each of these verses the term God is appropriated to the Father, when Christ is mentioned at the same time, which is a clear proof that the writer did not consider Christ himself as God, or in any sense entitled to that appellation. In the last of these
See Lardner, VI. pp. 377, 378; Doddridge's Introd. V. pp. 291, 292; Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxxxiv. cxxxvi.), pp. 296_300.
+ And our Lord Jesus Christ. “Not in the Syriac, Bthiopic, &c. Erasmus sayı, do doubt 'tis an interpolation.” N.T. 1729.
God and the Father ; " or the Godd Father." Clarke (S.D.), 213, 490.
verses God is called the God and Father* of Christ himself. What more could have been said by any Unitarian? It is the same being that is called God our Father, and to whom our Saviour biinself always prayed under the character of his God and Father. Where, therefore, is the evidence of Christ having any nature superior to ours?
4. It does not follow from this expression, that Paul had not himself been at Colosse, or that he had not even planted the gospel there, for the same language is found in the epistle to the Ephesians [i. 15]; but it appears from other circumstances. Paul had been long absent from that part of the world, and therefore required to be informed by others of the state of the churches in it, some of them ad. hering to the pure faith of the gospel, and others deviating from it, by adopting the notions of the Judaizing Gnostics.
5. The meaning probably is, that the apostle gave God thanks, or rejoiced in the prospect of the great happiness that was reserved for the faithful disciples of Christ; the fourth verse and part of the third being to be read as in'a parenthesis.
6. That is, were instructed in the true principles of the gospel.
7. Epaphras appears to have been of Colosse, and sent to Rome to visit the apostle in his imprisonment, and perhaps for his officious zeal in his behalf to have been confined himself, for in the epistle to Philemon  Paul calls bim his fellow-prisoner.
9. It is not necessary to distinguish nicely between the meaning of these different words, as the apostle does not appear to have given much attention to his language. He meant only to express his wish that those Christians might have a perfect knowledge of the gospel in all its extent. This is called spiritual wisdom, in opposition to that which is carnal, or has no connexion with Christian virtue.
10. The great object of this wisdom or spiritual understanding, was to lead them to a life of virtue and boliness, having such a knowledge of God and of the gospel, as would produce the fruits of righteousness, with which God is always well pleased.
11. That is, may your knowledge of Christianity, and your steady faith in the great principles of it, enable you to bear with cheerfulness all the sufferings to which you may be exposed.
* As Doddridge corrects the common Translation, which mentions, “God and the Father, as if they were different persons." See his Note.
12.* The object of prayer and thanksgiving we see is the Father, even in things relatiog to the gospel, with respect to which, prayer would, no doubt, have been addressed to Christ, if he had been the proper object of prayer at all. The apostle here thanks God for giving the Colossians such a share or portion as all sincere Christians will have in a future state of glory and happiness, alluding probably to the divi. sion of the land of Canaan aniong the Israelites, in which each tribe had its respective share or portion allotted to it.
13.Vice and ignorance are very aptly in the Scriptures called a state of darkness, in opposition to which Christianity is called a state of light, as the apostle elsewhere says, [Ephes. v. 8,] “Now are ye light in the Lord.”
14. Redemption means deliverance. To deliver man. kind froin a state of Heathen darkness, in which they were abandoned to vice here, and consequently to misery hereafter, and to bring them into a state of gospel light, in which they would be made virtuous and happy, Christ submitted even to death.
This is the most natural meaning of this passage, which is far from implying that Christ redeemed mankind from the punishment due to sin, by dying in their stead, becoming the object of God's wrath for us. God, the righteous judge, can never so confound the innocent and the guilty.
15.8 All men in one sense bear the image of God, but Chrisť in a more perfect manner, as making a nearer approach to the perfections of the Divine character. The first-born means the most excellent and distinguished, enjoy. ing certain privileges and prerogatives above those children which were born afterwards. But though Christ is called our first-born or elder brother, it is so far from implying that he is of a rank superior to ourselves,* that it even clearly implies that he is of no higher rank at all, being only the first of the same family, and consequently a creature and a man. Being such, he could not at the same time be the creator of all things, which, however, some have inferred from the verse following, though expressly contradicted in this verse.
• See on Ephes. v. 8, 9, supra, p. 281. In light. "Who has renewed us to a participation." Bentley. “ Has by illumination, made us to be partakers of the juheritance." Anon. in Bowyer.
• Dans la véritable connoissance de Dieu, et dans une conduite qui lui soit conforme. C'est ce que les apôtres appellant communément lumidre : comme ténèbres tout ce qui leur est contraire, l' ignorance et la mauvaise vie,” Le Clerc.
+ Gr. “ The son of his love." Clarke (S. D.), 936.
I Through his blood. “ Not found in some versions,—That omission is of ancient date." Blackwall (S.C., II p. 267. See Impr. Vers.
$ " La plus favorisée de toutes les créatures." Le Cene, p. 748. Essay, 1727, p. 209. See Wakefield's Enquiry, pp. 201—204; Belsham's Inquiry, pp. 147, 148. “ Pelagius was an orthodox Homoüsian. And when Paul styles our Lord the first. born of erery creature, or of the whole creation, he supposeth him to intend Christ's human nature, and not that he was first in point of time, but in point of honour and dignity: as Israel is called God's first-born, or best beloved, and most favoured." Lardner, V. p. 180. See ibid. (Logos), XI. pp. 118-120.
|| See Crellins (B. 1. Sect. ii. Ch. xxx.), pp. 189, 140; (Ch. XXXV.) pp. 169, 170. See Belsham's Inquiry, p. 146; Clarke (S. D.), 937. + Doddridge having assumed that things in heaven, and things in earth, must here mean, “the sun, the moon, and the stars ;-all things in the celestial, as well as terrestrial regions," easily satisfies himself
16. The countenance which this passage has given to the notion of Christ being, under God, the creator of all things, has arisen from not attending to the meaning of the word which we render creation. In the Scriptures it is often used to express a renovation, or a happy change in the consti. tution of things, such as was brought about by the gospel. Isaiah (Ixv. 18) evidently uses the term in this sense: Behold I create all things new, behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, &c. This did not mean that they would be first annihilated, and then created again.t Besides, the things that are here said to be created, are not the heavens and the earth, but things in heaven and things in earth, called thrones, domi. nions, principalities and powers, and therefore, they probably refer to that power in heaven and on earth, which was given to Christ after his resurrection, whatever that power be. For, as to the nature of that power, and also the mode of exercising it, we are, and no doubt wisely, left in the dark.
17. That is, he is the chief or head of all, and by him every thing in the gospel constitution was established. The meaning of the phrase, all things, must be limited in the cir. cumstances wherein it was used.
18. As this verse sums up all that the apostle says, to the honour of Christ, and this implies nothing more than his being the head of the gospel dispensation, and the first who
, that “10 interpret this, as the Socinians do, of the new creation, in a spiritual sense, is unnatural." See bis Expos. and Note; Lindsey's Sequel, pp. 479–481; Impr, Vers. ; Belsham's Inquiry, p. 281. On vers. 15-18, see ibid.
280-289. I “ Which are evidently parts, and principal parts, of the political world. St. Paul is sufficiently cautious to prevent all persons from mistaking him, by avoiding all such words or terms, as might mislead his readers into a wrong notion or opinion of Jesus Christ.” Haynes (Pt. ii. Ch. iv.), pp. 188, 189. See on vers. 15, 16, Garnham in Theol. Repos. V. pp. 276, 279.
“ Crediderim apostolos per concessionem potius has voces, quibus Hebraei varios gradus inter angelos significabant, posuisse, quam quod certo noverint, rem ita se habere." Zanchius in Farmer on Demon. (Ch. ii. Sect. jji.), p. 195, Note. Lindsey on Robinson, pp. 54-61.
On vers. 16, 17, see Theol. Repos. II. pp. 93, 94; Lindsey's Sequel, pp. 478 -482; Wakefield's Enquiry, pp. 200, 207-223.