Colossians 4:1-18 . EXHORTATIONS CONTINUED. TO PRAYER: WISDOM IN RELATION TO THE UNCONVERTED: AS TO THE BEARERS OF THE EPISTLE, TYCHICUS AND ONESIMUS: CLOSING SALUTATIONS.
11. Justus--that is, righteous; a common name among the Jews; Hebrew, "tzadik" ( Acts 1:23 ).
of the circumcision--This implies that Epaphras, Luke, and Demas ( Colossians 4:12 Colossians 4:14 ) were not of the circumcision. This agrees with Luke's Gentile name (the same as Lucanus), and the Gentile aspect of his Gospel.
These only, &c.--namely, of the Jews. For the Jewish teachers were generally opposed to the apostle of the Gentiles ( Philippians 1:15 ). Epaphras, &c., were also fellow laborers, but Gentiles.
unto--that is, in promoting the Gospel kingdom.
which have been--Greek, "which have been made," or "have become," that is, inasmuch as they have become a comfort to me. The Greek implies comfort in forensic dangers; a different Greek word expresses comfort in domestic affliction [BENGEL].
12. Christ--The oldest manuscripts add "Jesus."
labouring fervently--As the Greek, is the same, translate, "striving as in the agony of a contest."
in prayers--Translate as Greek, "in his prayers."
complete--The oldest manuscripts read, "fully assured." It is translated, "fully persuaded," Romans 4:21 , 14:5 . In the expression "perfect," he refers to what he has already said, Colossians 1:28 , 2:2 , 3:14 . "Perfect" implies the attainment of the full maturity of a Christian. BENGEL joins "in all the will of God" with "stand."
13. a great zeal--The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate have "much labor."
for you--lest you should be seduced ( Colossians 2:4 ); a motive why you should be anxious for yourselves.
them that are in Laodicea . . . Hierapolis--churches probably founded by Epaphras, as the Church in Colosse was. Laodicea, called from Laodice, queen of Antiochus II, on the river Lycus, was, according to the subscription to First Timothy, "the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana" ( 1 Timothy 6:21 ). All the three cities were destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 62 [TACITUS, Annals, 14.27]. Hierapolis was six Roman miles north of Laodicea.
14. It is conjectured that Luke "the beloved physician" (the same as the Evangelist), may have first become connected with Paul in professionally attending on him in the sickness under which he labored in Phrygia and Galatia (in which latter place he was detained by sickness), in the early part of that journey wherein Luke first is found in his company ( Acts 16:10 ; compare Note, is appropriate in writing to men of Phrygia. Luke ministered to Paul in his last imprisonment ( 2 Timothy 4:11 ).
Demas--included among his "fellow laborers" ( Philemon 1:24 ), but afterwards a deserter from him through love of this world ( 2 Timothy 4:10 ). He alone has here no honorable or descriptive epithet attached to his name. Perhaps, already, his real character was betraying itself.
15. Nymphas--of Laodicea.
church . . . in his house--So old manuscripts and Vulgate read. The oldest read, "THEIR house"; and one manuscript, "HER house," which makes Nymphas a woman.
16. the epistle from Laodicea--namely, the Epistle which I wrote to the Laodiceans, and which you will get from them on applying to them. Not the Epistle to the Ephesians. The Epistles from the apostles were publicly read in the church assemblies. IGNATIUS [Epistle to the Ephesians, 12], POLYCARP [Epistle to the Philippians, 3.11,12], CLEMENT [Epistle to the Corinthians, 1. 47], 1 Thessalonians 5:27 , Revelation 1:3 , "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear." Thus, they and the Gospels were put on a level with the Old Testament, which was similarly read ( Deuteronomy 31:11 ). The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, besides those extant, other Epistles which He saw necessary for that day, and for particular churches; and which were not so for the Church of all ages and places. It is possible that as the Epistle to the Colossians was to be read for the edification of other churches besides that of Colosse; so the Epistle to the Ephesians was to be read in various churches besides Ephesus, and that Laodicea was the last of such churches before Colosse, whence he might designate the Epistle to the Ephesians here as "the Epistle from Laodicea." But it is equally possible that the Epistle meant was one to the Laodiceans themselves.
17. say to Archippus--The Colossians (not merely the clergy, but the laymen) are directed, "Speak ye to Archippus." This proves that Scripture belongs to the laity as well as the clergy; and that laymen may profitably admonish the clergy in particular cases when they do so in meekness. BENGEL suggests that Archippus was perhaps prevented from going to the Church assembly by weak health or age. The word, "fulfil," accords with his ministry being near its close ( Colossians 1:25 ; compare Philemon 1:2 ). However, "fulfil" may mean, as in 2 Timothy 4:5 , "make full proof of thy ministry." "Give all diligence to follow it out fully"; a monition perhaps needed by Archippus.
in the Lord--The element in which every work of the Christian, and especially the Christian minister, is to be done ( Colossians 4:7 , 1 Corinthians 7:39 , Philippians 4:2 ).
18. Paul's autograph salutation (so 1 Corinthians 16:21 , 2 Thessalonians 3:17 ), attesting that the preceding letter, though written by an amanuensis, is from himself.
Remember my bonds--Already in this chapter he had mentioned his "bonds" ( Colossians 4:3 ), and again Colossians 4:10 , an incentive why they should love and pray ( Colossians 4:3 ) for him; and still more, that they should, in reverential obedience to his monitions in this Epistle, shrink from the false teaching herein stigmatized, remembering what a conflict ( Colossians 2:1 ) he had in their behalf amidst his bonds. "When we read of his chains, we should not forget that they moved over the paper as he wrote; his [right] hand was chained to the [left hand of the] soldier who kept him" [ALFORD].
Grace be with you--Greek, "THE grace" which every Christian enjoys in some degree, and which flows from God in Christ by the Holy Ghost ( Titus 3:15 , Hebrews 13:25 )