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Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO COLOSSIANS\\

The Colossians, to whom this epistle is written, were not the Rhodians,
by some called Colossians, from Colossus, the large statue of the sun,
which stood in the island of Rhodes, and was one of the seven wonders
of the world; but the inhabitants of Colosse, a city of the greater
Phrygia, in the lesser Asia, near to which stood the cities of Laodicea
and Hierapolis, mentioned in this epistle. Pliny {a} speaks of it as
one of the chief towns in Phrygia, and {b} Herodotus calls it the great
city of Phrygia; it is said to have perished a very little time after
the writing of this epistle, with the above cities, by an earthquake,
in the year of Christ 66, and in the tenth of Nero {c}; though it was
afterwards rebuilt; for Theophylact says, that in his time it was
called Chonae. When the Gospel was brought hither, and by whom, is not
known, nor who was the founder of the church in this place; for the
Apostle Paul was not, since his face had never been seen by them,
\\#Col 2:1\\, though it is said that Epaphras, the same name with
Epaphroditus, was fixed by him pastor of this church; and others say
Philemon was set over it by him. The occasion of this epistle was this,
Epaphras, who had preached the Gospel to the Colossians, and very
likely was the first that did, came to Rome, where the Apostle Paul was
a prisoner, and gave him an account of them, how they had heard and
received the Gospel, and of their faith Christ, and love to the saints;
and also declared to him in what danger they were through some false
teachers that had got among them, who were for introducing the
philosophy of the Gentiles, the ceremonies of the law of Moses, and
some pernicious tenets of the followers of Simon Magus, and the
Gnostics; upon which the apostle writes this epistle to them, to
confirm them in the faith of the Gospel Epaphras had preached unto
them, and which was the same he himself preached; and to warn them
against those bad men, and their principles; and to exhort them to a
discharge of their duty to God, and men, and one another. It was
written by the apostle, when in bonds at Rome, as many passages in it
show, and about the same time with those to the Philippians and
Ephesians; and the epistle to the latter greatly agrees with this, both
as to subject and style. Dr. Lightfoot places it in the year of Christ
60, in the second of the apostle's imprisonment, and in the sixth of
Nero's reign.

{a} Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 32.
{b} Polymnia, l. 7. c. 30.
{c} Eusebius in Chron.

\\INTRODUCTION TO COLOSSIANS 1\\

This chapter contains the inscription of the epistle; the apostle's
usual salutation; his thanksgiving to God on behalf of the
Colossians for grace received; his prayers, that more might be given
them; an enumeration of various blessings of grace, which require
thankfulness, in which the glories and excellencies of Christ are
particularly set forth: and it is concluded with an exhortation to a
steadfast adherence to the Gospel, taken from the nature,
excellency, and usefulness of the ministry of it. The inscription,
and the salutation, are in \\#Col 1:1,2\\, and are the same with those
in the epistle to the Ephesians, only Timothy is joined with the
apostle here, and the Colossians have the additional character of
brethren given them. The thanksgiving is in \\#Col 1:3-5\\, the object
of it is God, the Father of Christ; the time when made, when in
prayer to him; its subject matter, the faith and love of the saints;
to which is added, their happiness secured for them in heaven, their
hope was conversant with: and whereas the Gospel was the means by
which they came to the hearing and knowledge of it, this is
commended from the subject of it, the doctrine of truth; from the
spread of it in the world; and from its efficacy in bringing forth
fruit in all, to whom it came in power, and that with constancy,
\\#Col 1:5,6\\, and also from the testimony of Epaphras, a faithful
minister of Christ, and theirs, who was dear to the apostle, and of
whom he had the above account of them, \\#Col 1:7,8\\. And then follow
his prayers for them, that they might have an increase of spiritual
knowledge, and that they might put in practice what they knew; and
for that purpose he entreats they might be blessed with strength,
patience, and longsuffering, \\#Col 1:9-11\\. And in order to excite
thankfulness in himself and them, he takes notice of various
blessings of grace; of the Father's grace in giving a meetness for
eternal glory and happiness, by delivering from the power of
darkness, and translating into the kingdom of his Son, \\#Col 1:12,13\\,
and of the Son's grace in obtaining redemption by his blood, and
procuring the remission of sins, \\#Col 1:14\\, which leads the apostle
to enlarge upon the excellencies of the author of these blessings,
in his divine person, as the image of God, and the first cause of
all created beings, \\#Col 1:15\\, which he proves by an enumeration of
them, as created by him, and for his sake, by his pre-existence to
them, and their dependence on him, \\#Col 1:16,17\\, and in his
office capacity, as Mediator, being the head of the church, the
governor of it, and the first that rose from the dead; by all which it
appears that he has, and ought to have the pre-eminence, \\#Col 1:18\\.
And this is still more manifest from his having all fulness
dwelling in him, to supply his body the church, of which he is the
head, \\#Col 1:19\\, and from the reconciliation of all the members of
it to God by him, \\#Col 1:20\\, which blessing of grace is amplified
partly by the subjects of it, who are described by their former
state and condition, aliens and enemies, and by their present one,
reconciled by the death of Christ in his fleshly body; and partly by
the end of it, the presentation of them holy, blameless, and
irreprovable in the sight of God, \\#Col 1:21,22\\. Wherefore it is a
duty incumbent on such to abide by the Gospel of Christ, which
brings the good tidings of peace and reconciliation, and is the
means of faith and hope; and the rather, since they had heard it
themselves, and others also, even every creature under heaven; and
the apostle was a minister of it, \\#Col 1:23\\, and on his ministration
of it he enlarges, by observing his sufferings for the church on
account of the Gospel, which he endured with pleasure; and therefore
they should, by his example, be encouraged to continue in it,
\\#Col 1:24\\. Moreover, he argues the same from his commission of God
to preach it for their sakes, \\#Col 1:25\\, and from the nature and
subject matter of it, being a hidden mystery, and containing riches
and glory in it; yea, Christ himself, the foundation of hope of
eternal glory, \\#Col 1:26,27\\, and from the end of preaching it,
which was to present every man perfect in Christ; which end the
apostle laboured and strove to obtain through the power and energy
of divine grace, which wrought in him, and with him, \\#Col 1:28,29\\.