Paul's Thanksgiving for the Colossians. A. D. 62.
3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus,
and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is
laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth
of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and
bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of
it, and knew the grace of God in truth: 7 As ye also learned of Epaphras
our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8
Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Here he proceeds to the body of the epistle, and begins with thanksgiving
to God for what he had heard concerning them, though he had no personal
acquaintance with them, and knew their state and character only by the
reports of others.
I. He gave thanks to God for them, that they had embraced the gospel
of Christ, and given proofs of their fidelity to him. Observe, In his prayers
for them he gave thanks for them. Thanksgiving ought to be a part of every
prayer; and whatever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter
of our thanksgiving.
Observe, 1. Whom he gives thanks to: To God, even the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ. In our thanksgiving we must have an eye to God as God
(he is the object of thanksgiving as well as prayer), and is the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and through whom all good comes to us. He
is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as our Father; and it is
a matter of encouragement, in all our addresses to God, that we can look
to him as Christ's Father and our Father, as his God and our God, John
Observe, 2. What he gives thanks to God for--for the graces of God
in them, which were evidences of the grace of God towards them: Since we
heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love you have to all the
saints; for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, v. 4, 5. Faith,
hope, and love, are the three principal graces in the Christian life, and
proper matter of our prayer and thanksgiving.
(1.) He gives thanks for their faith in Christ Jesus, that they were
brought to believe in him, and take upon them the profession of his religion,
and venture their souls upon his undertaking.
(2.) For their love. Besides the general love which is due to all men,
there is a particular love owing to the saints, or those who are of the
Christian brotherhood, 1 Pet. ii. 17. We must love all the saints, bear
an extensive kindness and good-will to good men, notwithstanding smaller
points of difference, and many real weaknesses. Some understand it of their
charity to the saints in necessity, which is one branch and evidence of
(3.) For their hope: The hope which is laid up for you in heaven, v.
5. The happiness of heaven is called their hope, because it is the thing
hoped for, looking for the blessed hope, Tit. ii. 13. What is laid out
upon believers in this world is much; but what is laid up for them in heaven
is much more. And we have reason to give thanks to God for the hope of
heaven which good Christians have, or their well-grounded expectation of
the future glory. Their faith in Christ, and love to the saints, had an
eye to the hope laid up for them in heaven. The more we fix our hopes on
the recompence of reward in the other world, the more free and liberal
shall we be of our earthly treasure upon all occasions of doing good.
II. Having blessed God for these graces, he blesses God for the means
of grace which they enjoyed: Wherein you heard before in the word of the
truth of the gospel. They had heard in the word of the truth of the gospel
concerning this hope laid up for them in heaven. Observe, 1. The gospel
is the word of truth, and what we may safely venture our immortal souls
upon: it proceeds from the God of truth and the Spirit of truth, and is
a faithful saying. He calls it the grace of God in truth, v. 6. 2. It is
a great mercy to hear this word of truth; for the great thing we learn
from it is the happiness of heaven. Eternal life is brought to light by
the gospel, 2 Tim. i. 10. They heard of the hope laid up in heaven in the
word of the truth of the gospel. "Which has come unto you, as it hath to
all the world, and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, v. 6.
This gospel is preached and brings forth fruit in other nations; it has
come to you, as it hath to all the world, according to the commission,
Go preach the gospel in all the nations, and to every creature." Observe,
(1.) All who hear the word of the gospel ought to bring forth the fruit
of the gospel, that is, be obedient to it, and have their principles and
lives formed according to it. This was the doctrine first preached: Bring
forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, Matt. iii. 8. And our Lord
says, If you know these things, happy are you if you do them, John xiii.
17. Observe, (2.) Wherever the gospel comes, it will bring forth fruit
to the honour and glory of God: It bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also
in you. We mistake, if we think to monopolize the comforts and benefits
of the gospel to ourselves. Does the gospel bring forth fruit in us? So
it does in others.
III. He takes this occasion to mention the minister by whom they believed
(v. 7, 8): As you also learned of Epaphras, our dear fellow-servant, who
is for you a faithful minister of Christ. He mentions him with great respect,
to engage their love to him. 1. He calls him his fellow-servant, to signify
not only that they served the same Master, but that they were engaged in
the same work. They were fellow-labourers in the work of the Lord, though
one was an apostle and the other an ordinary minister. 2. He calls him
his dear fellow-servant: all the servants of Christ ought to love one another,
and it is an endearing consideration that they are engaged in the same
service. 3. He represents him as one who was a faithful minister of Christ
to them, who discharged his trust and fulfilled his ministry among them.
Observe, Christ is our proper Master, and we are his ministers. He does
not say who is your minister; but who is the minister of Christ for you.
It is by his authority and appointment, though for the people's service.
4. He represents him as one who gave them a good word: Who also declared
unto us your love in the Spirit, v. 8. He recommends him to their affection,
from the good report he made of their sincere love to Christ and all his
members, which was wrought in them by the Spirit, and is agreeable to the
spirit of the gospel. Faithful ministers are glad to be able to speak well
of their people.
Paul's Prayer for the Colossians. A. D. 62.
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease
to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge
of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might
walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good
work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all
might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering
The apostle proceeds in these verses to pray for them. He heard that
they were good, and he prayed that they might be better. He was constant
in this prayer: We do not cease to pray for you. It may be he could hear
of them but seldom, but he constantly prayed for them.--And desire that
you may be filled with the knowledge, &c. Observe what it is that he
begs of God for them,
I. That they might be knowing intelligent Christians: filled
with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
Observe, 1. The knowledge of our duty is the best knowledge. A mere empty
notion of the greatest truths is insignificant. Our knowledge of the will
of God must be always practical: we must know it, in order to do it. 2.
Our knowledge is then a blessing indeed when it is in wisdom, when we know
how to apply our general knowledge to our particular occasions, and to
suit it to all emergencies. 3. Christians should endeavour to be filled
with knowledge; not only to know the will of God, but to know more of it,
and to increase in the knowledge of God (as it is v. 10), and to grow in
grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, 2 Pet. iii. 18.
II. That their conversation might be good. Good knowledge without
a good life will not profit. Our understanding is then a spiritual understanding
when we exemplify it in our way of living: That you may walk worthy of
the Lord unto all pleasing (v. 10), that is, as becomes the relation we
stand in to him and the profession we make of him. The agreeableness of
our conversation to our religion is pleasing to God as well as to good
men. We walk unto all well-pleasing when we walk in all things according
to the will of God. Being fruitful in every good work. This is what we
should aim at. Good words will not do without good works. We must abound
in good works, and in every good work: not in some only, which are more
easy, and suitable, and safe, but in all, and every instance of them. There
must be a regular uniform regard to all the will of God. And the more fruitful
we are in good works the more we shall increase in the knowledge of God.
He who doeth his will shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God,
John vii. 17.
III. That they might be strengthened: Strengthened with all might
according to his glorious power (v. 11), fortified against the temptations
of Satan and furnished for all their duty. It is a great comfort to us
that he who undertakes to give strength to his people is a God of power
and of glorious power. Where there is spiritual life there is still need
of spiritual strength, strength for all the actions of the spiritual life.
To be strengthened is to be furnished by the grace of God for every good
work, and fortified by that grace against every evil one: it is to be enabled
to do our duty, and still to hold fast our integrity. The blessed Spirit
is the author of this strength; for we are strengthened with might by his
Spirit in the inward man, Eph. iii. 16. The word of God is the means of
it, by which he conveys it; and it must be fetched in by prayer. It was
in answer to earnest prayer that the apostle obtained sufficient grace.
In praying for spiritual strength we are not straitened in the promises,
and therefore should not be straitened in our own hopes and desires. Observe,
1. He prayed that they might be strengthened with might: this seems
a tautology; but he means, that they might be mightily strengthened, or
strengthened with might derived from another.
2. It is with all might. It seems unreasonable that a creature should
be strengthened with all might, for that is to make him almighty; but he
means, with all that might which we have occasion for, to enable us to
discharge our duty or preserve our innocence, that grace which is sufficient
for us in all the trials of life and able to help us in time of need.
3. It is according to his glorious power. He means, according to the
grace of God: but the grace of God in the hearts of believers is the power
of God; and there is a glory in this power; it is an excellent and sufficient
power. And the communications of strength are not according to our weakness,
to whom the strength is communicated, but according to his power, from
whom it is received. When God gives he gives like himself, and when he
strengthens he strengthens like himself.
4. The special use of this strength was for suffering work: That you
may be strengthened unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.
He prays not only that they may be supported under their troubles, but
strengthened for them: the reason is there is work to be done even when
we are suffering. And those who are strengthened according to his glorious
power are strengthened,
(1.) To all patience. When patience hath its perfect work (Jam. i.
4) then we are strengthened to all patience--when we not only bear our
troubles patiently, but receive them as gifts from God, and are thankful
for them. To you it is given to suffer, Phil. i. 29. When we bear our troubles
well, though ever so many, and the circumstances of them ever so aggravating,
then we bear them with all patience. And the same reason for bearing one
trouble will hold for bearing another, if it be a good reason. All patience
includes all the kinds of it; not only bearing patience, but waiting patience.
(2.) This is even unto long-suffering, that is, drawn out to a great
length: not only to bear trouble awhile, but to bear it as long as God
pleases to continue it.
(3.) It is with joyfulness, to rejoice in tribulation, to take joyfully
the spoiling of our goods, and rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer
for his name, to have joy as well as patience in the troubles of life.
This we could never do by any strength of our own, but as we are strengthened
by the grace of God.
The Redeemer's Dignity; The Work of Redemption; Paul's Preaching.
A. D. 62.
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Here (verses 12-29) is a summary of the doctrine of the gospel concerning
the great work of our redemption by Christ. It comes in here not as the
matter of a sermon, but as the matter of a thanksgiving; for our salvation
by Christ furnishes us with abundant matter of thanksgiving in every view
of it: Giving thanks unto the Father, v. 12. He does not discourse of the
work of redemption in the natural order of it; for then he would speak
of the purchase of it first, and afterwards of the application of it. But
here he inverts the order, because, in our sense and feeling of it, the
application goes before the purchase. We first find the benefits of redemption
in our hearts, and then are led by those streams to the original and fountainhead.
The order and connection of the apostle's discourse may be considered in
the following manner:--
I. He speaks concerning the operations of the Spirit of grace upon us.
We must give thanks for them, because by these we are qualified for an
interest in the mediation of the Son: Giving thanks to the Father, &c.,
v. 12, 13. It is spoken of as the work of the Father, because the Spirit
of grace is the Spirit of the Father, and the Father works in us by his
Spirit. Those in whom the work of grace is wrought must give thanks unto
the Father. If we have the comfort of it, he must have the glory of it...