Chapter Two Christ, The True Wisdom

The Mystery of God (Colossians 2:1-7) Men who know little of the deep convictions that stirred the heart of the apostle Paul will have difficulty realizing the intensity of his feelings when the truth of God was questioned and the people of the Lord were in danger of being corrupted by false doctrine and turned aside from the simplicity that is in Christ. He wrote to the Colossians, “I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you” (2:1). This verse could also be translated,

Chapter One Christ, The Head Of The Body

Salutation (Colossians 1:1-2) The Epistle to the Colossians opens with these words: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother.” Thirteen Epistles in the New Testament begin with the name “Paul.” A fourteenth letter, in spite of considerable dispute about its authorship, is generally accepted as having come from the same pen; that letter is the Epistle to the Hebrews. But the opening word of that Epistle is “God.” The thirteen beginning ...

Author's Introduction

No one familiar with the Pauline letters can fail to see that the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians are intimately linked. The apostle was anxious that both should be read by the same people. It is very likely that the letter “from Laodicea” referred to in Colossians 4:16 is really our Epistle to the Ephesians. Some people who do not accept the inspiration of the New Testament have supposed that Colossians was a crude attempt to rewrite Ephesians from memory, but a careful examination of both letters shows that the one is the correlative of the other.

Ephesians declares the great truth that was revealed to Paul and through him to all nations—the truth that he emphatically called the “mystery.” In that letter the apostle presented the church as the body of Christ in its heavenly aspect, just as in 1 Corinthians he set forth the responsibilities of the body down here on the earth. Ephesians of course does not overlook the importance of our responsibility on earth to fulfill our calling and demonstrate the unity of the Spirit. Doctrinally, however, the theme of that Epistle seems to be the body as the aggregate of believers from Pentecost to the rapture, all united to a risen Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Colossians, on the other hand, has to do with Christ as the Head of the body. This Epistle seeks to fix the hearts of the saints on Him as risen and glorified, known no longer after the flesh but in resurrection as the Head of a new order. And the letter seeks to impress on believers their responsibility in this world to acknowledge Him as the Head of the body. So we might say the headship of Christ is the theme of Colossians.

Introductory Notes by Arno C.Gaebelein

First Edition, 1929 Revised Edition, 1997

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from the King James version of the Bible.

Introductory Notes taken from Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible © 1970,1985 by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc.

Introductory Notes

By Arno C. Gaebelein

The City of Colossae

Colossae, a city of Phrygia (a district in Asia Minor), was pleasantly located in the valley of the Lycus, a branch of the Meander. Two other cities are also mentioned in this Epistle: Laodicea and Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13). Laodicea was only nine miles, and Hierapolis thirteen miles from Colossae. Laodicea was a very rich and influential city, while Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs. Colossae was the smallest of the three cities. Christian believers lived in all three. Later the Lord selected the church of the Laodiceans and addressed to it the final portion of the message to the seven churches (Revelation 3).

The region of Phrygia was well settled by Jews, some of whom were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). A Jewish sect that held evil doctrines flourished in the whole region; this sect was known as the Essenes, and the Spirit of God warned against their false teachings in this Epistle. Phrygia was also known as the seat of other heresies, especially an oriental-philosophical mysticism.

Chapter 4 Christ the Firstborn: Twofold Headship of Christ and Twofold Reconciliation

Colossians 1:15-22 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might hav...

Chapter 5 Paul's Twofold Ministry

Colossians 1:23-29

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God. (vv. 23-25)

The if with which verse 23 begins has been the occasion of much perplexity to timid souls who hardly dare to accept the truth of the believer’s eternal security, so conscious are they of their own weakness and insufficiency. But, rightly understood, there is nothing here to disturb any sincere believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are a number of similar ifs in the New Testament, and all with precisely the same object in view—the testing of profession. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 we read, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” Here the if is inserted in order to exercise the consciences of any who, having professed to believe the gospel, are in danger of forgetting the message, so proving that they have never really received the truth into their hearts. He would have them carefully examine their foundations. Many there are who readily profess to adopt Christianity and unite themselves outwardly with the people of God, who have never truly turned to the Lord in repentance and rested their souls upon His finished work. Such endure for a time but soon forget the claims of the gospel when satanic allurements would draw them away.

Chapter 16 Closing Salutations

Colossians 4:7-18 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here. Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received com...

Chapter 15 Concluding Exhortations

Colossians 4:2-6 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (vv. 2-6) One of the most common sins among Chris...

Chapter 14 The Earthly Relationships of the New Man

Colossians 3:18-4:1 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as...

Chapter 13 Practical Holiness by Conformity to Christ in Relation to Others

Colossians 3:12-17 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ...
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