Colossians 1:6-8 Commentary

 

 

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Colossians 1:6-8 Commentary

Colossians 1:6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;  (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: tou parontos (PAPNSG) eis humas, kathos kai en panti to kosmo estin (3SPAI) karpophoroumenon (PAPNSN) kai auxanomenon (PPPNSG), kathos kai en humin, aph es hemeras ekousate (2PAAI) kai epegnote (2PAAI) ten charin tou theou en aletheia; 
Lightfoot: —the one universal unchangeable Gospel which was made known to you, even as it was carried throughout the world, approving itself by its fruits wherever it is planted. For, as elsewhere, so also in you, these fruits were manifested from the first day when you received your lessons in, and apprehended the power of, the genuine Gospel, which is not a law of ordinances but a dispensation of grace, not a device of men but a truth of God.
Phillips: that hope which first became yours when the truth was brought to you. It is, of course, part of the Gospel itself, which has reached you as it spreads all over the world. Wherever that Gospel goes, it produces Christian character, and develops it, as it had done in your own case from the time you first heard and realised the amazing fact of God's grace. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: which is present with you even as also it is in all the world constantly bearing fruit and increasing, just as it is also among you from the day when you heard it and came to know experientially the grace of God in the sphere of truth (
Eerdmans

REFERENCES

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Colossians 1:15-20 The Preeminence of Christ
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WHICH (gospel) HAS COME TO YOU JUST AS IN ALL THE WORLD ALSO: tou parontos (PAPNSG) eis humas kathos kai en panti to kosmo: (Col 1:23)

Which has come (3918) (pareimi) which means to arrive and be present here referring in context to the gospel message.  the gospel had not only come to them, it was an abiding force among them.

Wuest adds that the

"idea is, “which is being alongside you.” Lightfoot translates, “which reached you.” The idea is that the gospel has snuggled close up to the Colossian saints and they have taken it into their hearts." (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos)

World (2889) (kosmos [word study]) related to the verb kosmeo = to order or adorn, to put in order [Mt 25:7 = "trimmed"], to adorn literally [1Ti 2:9], to adorn figuratively [Titus 2:9-note]) means essentially something that is well-arranged, that which has order or something arranged harmoniously. Kosmos  refers to an ordered system or a system where order prevails.  Kosmos/kosmeo give us our English words cosmos (the ordered universe), cosmopolitan (literally a citizen of the world!) and cosmetics (those things we put on in order to bring order out of "chaos"!) English terms. A matter of "cosmic" significance, is something which is important for the whole world. When one speaks of a "cosmopolitan" city, it means a city which has citizens from many parts of the world.

The phrase "in all the world" is not be taken in an absolute sense for it does not mean that every man and woman in the world had heard the gospel.

Robertson writes that "all the world" is best understood as

"a legitimate hyperbole (extravagant exaggeration), for the gospel was spreading all over the Roman Empire."

Paul used a similar hyperbole informing the Roman saints that their

"faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world" (Ro 1:8-note)

Similarly, he wrote to the saints at Thessalonica that

"the word of the Lord (which in context is equivalent to the gospel) has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything." (1Th 1:8-note) (Compare to Acts 17:6)

Finally, in this same chapter Paul used a parallel phrase describing

"the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven..." (Col 1:23-note)

Other Scriptures clearly speak of the worldwide "leaven like" pervasive ability of the gospel:

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. (Mt 24:14)

"Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)

Vine explains

"in all the world" as "a hyperbolical usage...not intended to be taken literally. The apostle here probably purposed to imply that the gospel is a universal message, designed for all men and suitable to be preached among all nations, whereas the teachings of the false gospels were limited in origin and in the regions of their propaganda." (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

IT IS CONSTANTLY BEARING FRUIT: estin (3SPAI) karpophoroumenon (PAPNSN):

It - In context Paul is referring to the Gospel, which he says has inherent power to bring about salvation! This should take the pressure off of you! All you have to do is be faithful to proclaim the gospel (with you "life" which gives an entree for your "lips"). See similar truth in Ro 1:16-note.

Is - estin is the present tense and means continually (constantly).

Bearing fruit (2592) (karpophoreo [word study] from karpos = fruit, produce + phero = bear, bring)  literally means to bring forth fruit, to be fertile, productive. It is used figuratively to refer to bringing forth deeds or works (fruit), which depending on the context can be good fruit or bad fruit.

Karpophoreo - 8x in 8v - Matt 13:23; Mark 4:20, 28; Luke 8:15; Ro 7:4f; Col 1:6, 10. NAS = bear fruit(4), bearing fruit(2), bears fruit(1), produces crops(1).

In John 15 those who abide in the Vine Christ Jesus, will bring forth "much fruit" ("good works"). In this verse Paul says that they will continually (present tense) bear fruit in (every good work) every kind of activity undertaken for the name of Christ and in the operating power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, upon Whom the believer is entirely dependent.

Jesus used karpophoreo several times...

"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit (present tense) and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." (Mt 13:23)

The soil produces crops (present tense) by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. (Mark 4:28)

Comment: This is the only literal use of this verb in the NT

And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast (refers to ongoing obedience), and bear fruit (present tense) with perseverance. (Luke 8:15)

Comment: These hearer of the word (seed) not only received the word but allowed it to mold their lives. They were teachable and obedient, and developed true Christ-like character and produced fruit that glorified their Father in heaven. They bore genuine spiritual fruit which evidenced that they possessed genuine spiritual life. As J Vernon McGee says these fruit bearers "are the hearers who are genuinely converted by the Word of God."- Thru the Bible Commentary)

The present tense underlines the continuous effect of the gospel is to bear fruit.

Karpophoreo  is used in the natural sense (Mk 4:28) but here is used figuratively to describe the conduct that results from implantation and germination of the "seed" of the gospel. Stated another way, fruit bearing is the outward expression of the power of the gospel (and the Spirit) working inwardly. The gospel is not merely a stagnant system of ethics but is a living, moving, and growing reality which bears fruit and spreads.

The gospel is variously described as the "gospel of grace", "the word of truth", "the word of life", "the Word of the Cross" (1Cor 1:18) and is the power of God unto salvation (see note Romans 1:16) (Click to see various descriptions of the gospel as "the gospel of ____").

 

As the gospel goes all over the world, it breaks down all barriers: religious, cultural, and racial. The glorious gospel brings people to faith in Christ and bears fruit for God's glory. An excellent illustration of the inherent fruit bearing ability of the gospel is found in the Thessalonian believers where the

"gospel did not come...in word only (not just mere words of men), but also in (inherent) power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction (complete conviction of the veracity of the gospel message)" (1Th 1:5-note)

The resulting fruit was the Thessalonian believers who

 

"became imitators of (Paul, Silas & Timothy) and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit".

 

But the pervasive effect of the gospel did not stop there. These believers in turn

"became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia". And how did they become an example? They in turn became "light bearers" of the good news "for the word of the Lord (the gospel)...sounded forth from (them), not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place (their) faith toward God (went) forth, so that (Paul, et al had) no need to say anything." (1Th 1:6, 7, 8-see notes 1Th 1:6; 1:7; 1:8).

In other words, the testimony to the life changing power of the gospel was so evident in the lives and message of the Thessalonian believers ("fruit") that they in turn became fruit bearers as they proclaimed the divine message of the gospel. What's the message for us today? Don't be fearful to speak the truth in love beloved. You have the Spirit of Christ Who will prepare hearts of those who hear (cf Acts 16:14) and you have been entrusted with the treasure of the gospel "seed" to sow, a "seed" whose efficacy and power is independent of your eloquence or your formal theological training. This is good news indeed. Now go and bear fruit, fruit that will remain (Jn 15:16).

 

Let your life be a living epistle testifying to the transforming power of the gospel. You are now to be a

"letter...known and read by all men (2Co 3:2) ...a letter of Christ...written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts." (2Cor 3:3)

Wiersbe adds this note on the "word of truth the gospel"

"When it is planted in the heart, it can produce fruit...Near King’s Cross station in London, England, there is a cemetery containing a unique grave, that of the agnostic Lady Ann Grimston. She is buried in a marble tomb, marked by a marble slab. Before she died, she said sarcastically to a friend, “I shall live again as surely as a tree will grow from my body.” An unbeliever, Lady Ann Grimston did not believe that there was life after death. However, a tree did grow from her grave! A tiny seed took root, and as it grew, it cracked the marble and even tore the metal railing out of the ground! There is life and power in a seed, and there is life and power in the Word of God. When God’s Word is planted and cultivated, it produces fruit. Faith, hope, and love are among the firstfruits in the spiritual harvest. These spiritual graces are among the evidences that a person has truly been born again." (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)

AND INCREASING: kai auxanomenon (PPPNSN):  (Mk 4:8 Acts 6:7 12:24 19:20 1Pe 2:2)

Increasing (837) (auxano [word study]) (present tense = continually increasing, pervading, diffusing throughout) means to grow or cause to grow or increase. For someone or something to grow it must be acted upon by an outside power (passive voice indicates subject receives action from outside source) or have the element of life within him or it and indeed the gospel has the inherent

power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Ro 1:16-note).

It is important to remember that the gospel is not a stagnant system of ethics but is living, dynamic and growing truth. The living gospel is the power that transforms lives. As it does so, the witness of those transformed lives produces fruit, including new converts. So as the gospel produces fruit in individual lives, its influence spreads.

Auxano - 23x in 23v - Matt 6:28; 13:32; Mark 4:8; Luke 1:80; 2:40; 12:27; 13:19; John 3:30; Acts 6:7; 7:17; 12:24; 19:20; 1 Cor 3:6f; 2 Cor 9:10; 10:15; Eph 2:21; 4:15; Col 1:6, 10; 2:19; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18. NAS = causes the growth(1), causing the growth(1), full grown(1), grew(1), grow(8), growing(2), grows(2), increase(2), increased(2), increasing(2), spreading(1).

Jesus used auxano in Mt 13:32  to describe the kingdom of God as like a mustard seed although

"smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown (auxano) it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree."

In (Mark 4:8) Jesus in describing the Word of God taught that  the seed (the Word) that

"fell into the good soil...grew up and increased (auxano) and yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."

 Thus Jesus taught that when the gospel enters a divinely prepared heart, fruit would be evident. As someone has well said "No fruit. No Root!" This is not "works salvation" for salvation is by faith alone but Jesus and Paul both taught that genuine faith that truly saves is not alone!

Lightfoot adds that the gospel

increasing" is "not like those plants which exhaust themselves in bearing fruit. The external growth keeps pace with the reproductive energy.

Increasing shows the supernatural character of the gospel. In nature, a plant does not usually bear fruit and grow at the same time. In fact plants often have to be pruned in order to bear fruit, for if the plant is allowed to grow wild, the result is that all the life of the plant goes into leaves and branches rather than into fruit. The gospel gives life and grows at the same time bearing fruit in the salvation of souls and in the building up of the saints, as it spreads from city to city and from nation to nation.

EVEN AS IT HAS BEEN DOING IN YOU ALSO SINCE THE DAY YOU HEARD OF IT AND UNDERSTOOD THE GRACE OF GOD IN TRUTH: kathos kai en humin, aph es hemeras ekousate (2PAAI) kai epegnote (2PAAI) ten charin tou theou en aletheia:

The gospel (euaggelion [word study]) is not like earthly investments which require long term outlook to yield a good return. The "investment" of the gospel in the Colossian saints bore fruit (note phrase "even as it has been doing in you")  when it was heard and received (cp Jn 1:11, 12, 13) in their honest and good heart that held it fast and in turn bore fruit with perseverance. (Lk 8:15)

Robertson adds that

The growing and the fruit-bearing go on simultaneously as always with Christians (inward growth and outward expression).

Since the day you...understood the grace of God in truth - How did we understand it? How could we possibly have understood it? When we were in Adam (1Co 15:22, cp Ro 5:12), subject to the right and might of our spiritual father the Devil (1Jn 5:19, 1Jn 3:10 where "practice" = present tense = speaks of one's lifestyle!), the "eyes" of our heart (our "control center") were blinded to this spiritual truth, truth which only the sovereign God could supernaturally make visible as described by Paul...

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world (Satan, cp Lk 4:5, 6) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (the gospel intrinsically brings supernatural spiritual light - this truth is in itself "good news" - that is, the gospel's effectiveness does not depend on our eloquence or erudition! So what's your excuse? Just do it! Share it with someone you love - "Give the gift that keeps on giving!" Give it even if you stutter and stammer. It won't return void! [cp Is 55:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. You can count on that! [Nu 23:19] Remember, you are not responsible for how they respond to the light!), who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give (It is a precious gift) the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (Dear reader has He shone into your heart or are you still spiritually blind and unbelieving?). (2Co 4:3, 4, 5, 6, cp 1Co 2:12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

What is  the grace of God in truth? Is this not a beautiful description of God's glorious good news - the gospel! Hallelujah for grace and truth (cp Jn 1:16, 17)!

Understood (1921) (epiginosko [word study] from epí = upon, gives force of “fully” or in addition to what one already has+ ginosko = to know) means to recognize something for what it really is and in the present context indicates that the Colossians had personally come to know the grace of the gospel fully and experientially (they had experienced the power of the gospel in their lives). The noun form of epiginosko (epignosis [word study]) is used four times in this short epistle (Col 1:9, 10, Col 2:2-note, Col 3:10-note) clearly an emphasis directed to refute those who might teach that one needed a "higher or fuller knowledge" in order to be "saved", somewhat like the New Age movement teaches in our culture.

Epiginosko - 20x in 20v - Ro 1:28; 3:20; 10:2; Eph 1:17; 4:13; Phil 1:9; Col 1:9f; 2:2; 3:10; 1Ti 2:4; 2Ti 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1; Philemon 1:6; Heb 10:26; 2 Pet 1:2f, 8; 2:20

Grace (5485) (charis [word study]) is a word with a number of meanings in the NT, the specific nuance being dependent on the context.

(1) a quality that adds delight or pleasure or a winning quality or attractiveness that invites a favorable reaction = graciousness, attractiveness, charm, winsomeness  (Luke 4:22, Col 4:6-note)

(2) a beneficent disposition toward someone, and specifically in the NT defines God's attitude toward human beings = kindness, grace, favor, helpfulness, gracious care/help, goodwill (John 1:16, Eph 2:8-note)

(3) practical application of goodwill = (a sign of) favor, gracious deed/gift, benefaction (Acts 24:27, 25:9, 2Cor 8:4, Eph 4:29-note)

(4) exceptional effects produced by God's favor = ability, power to transform, enabling power (Ro 12:6-note, 1Cor 15:10)

(5) response to generosity or beneficence = verbal thank offering, thanks, gratitude (1Cor 15:57)

What is the "grace of God in truth"? It is nothing less than the heart of the gospel message. "Of God" expresses its source (as in Acts 20:24-note) and elsewhere is attributed to Christ (Gal 1:6).

We do not deserve nor can we earn salvation but it is

"by grace through faith you have been saved and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Eph 2:8-note)

The truth of the gospel is that salvation is through G.R.A.C.E. which has been summarized in the acrostic or acronym

G.od's R.iches A.t C.hrist's E.xpense

Paul wrote to Titus that

"the grace of God has appeared (in the Person of Jesus Christ and His gospel), bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (see notes Titus 2:11; Titus 2:12)

Salvation is

"to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."

Truth (225) (aletheia from alethes = true in turn from a + lêthô  = that which is hidden or lanthanô = conceal, this combination meaning out in the open, containing nothing that is hidden) describes the body of reality (facts, events, etc) or the content which is true, or which is in accordance to what actually occurred. Truth is the unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with an appearance; the manifested, the veritable essence of matter. Truth is the correspondence between a reality and a declaration which professes to set it forth. Words are true when they correspond with objective reality. Persons and things are true when they correspond with their profession. Hence a truth is a declaration which has corresponding reality, or a reality which is correctly set forth. Since God is Himself the great reality, that which correctly sets forth His nature is pre-eminently the Truth. Obviously whatever God says is "the truth", and in fact "the Truth" is actually embodied in the Person of Christ Jesus!

We must faithfully hold the truth of God’s word, but it is also necessary for the truth to hold us. We must apply it to our daily lives and test everything by comparing it to the plumbline of God's Word of truth.

Since Satan is a liar, we must oppose him with God’s truth. In Paul's day the people wore belts or girdles to bind up their flowing garments and hold everything together. It is God’s truth that must hold everything together in our lives. As Christians, we must love truth and live truth. It is therefore not surprising to see John write to his spiritual children...

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4)

In truth not a false gospel but genuine and real, free from adulteration such as characterized the false gospels. Some were preaching a “different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Gal 1:6, 7) because it is a gospel of faith plus works but the true gospel is one of grace alone.

The
grace of God is a beautiful description summarizing the glad tidings than the wonderful truth of God’s grace has been bestowed on guilty men who deserve God’s wrath! It doesn't get much better than that!

Commenting on "heard" Robertson adds that the tense of

"heard" is "definite aorist indicative. They heard the gospel from Epaphras and at once recognized and accepted (understood) (ingressive second aorist active of epiginosko, to know fully or in addition). They fully apprehended the grace of God and should be immune to the shallow vagaries of the Gnostics."

JESUS PAID IT ALL
Click Title & Praise God for His Gospel of Grace
Words by Elvina Hall Music by John Grape

Refrain:
     Jesus paid it all,
     All to Him I owe;
     Sin had left a crimson stain,
     He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy GRACE to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
Jesus died to my soul to save
Shall rend the vaulted skies

 

Colossians 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: kathos emathete (2PAAI) apo Epaphra tou agapetou sundoulou hemon, os estin (3SPAI) pistos huper humon diakonos tou Christou,
Lightfoot: Such was the word preached to you by Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant in our Master’s household, who in our absence and on our behalf has ministered to you the Gospel of Christ
Phillips: You learned these things, we understand, from Epaphras who is in the same service as we are. He is a most well-loved minister of Christ, and has your well-being very much at heart.  (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: even as you learned from Epaphras, the beloved, our fellow bondslave, who is faithful on your behalf as a servant of Christ  (
Eerdmans

JUST AS YOU LEARNED IT FROM EPAPHRAS: kathos emathete (2PAAI) apo Epaphra: (Col 4:12; Philemon 1:23; Ro 10:14)

You learned the gospel from Epaphras (NET)

You learned about this Good News from Epaphras (GWT)

You learned about God’s grace from Epaphras (NCV)

Salvation is by God's grace but He does use men like Epaphras to proclaim His gospel of grace. This principle is clearly taught in Romans where Paul writes that

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” but then follows with the question "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Ro 10:13, 14, 15-see notes Ro 10:13; 14; 15)

Epaphras had

shod (his) FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE (Ep 6:15-note)

Little wonder that Paul was willing to apply the precious title to Epaphras of "faithful" (see below). Would God describe your "spiritual feet" as "faithful" or "untrustworthy" feet?

Learned (3129) (manthano related to the noun mathetes = disciple, literally a learner!) means to acquire information as the result of instruction, whether in an informal or formal context and thereby to increase one’s knowledge or be instructed. Manthano  is not the term Paul normally used for communication or reception of the gospel.

Manthano - 25x in 24v - Matt 9:13; 11:29; 24:32; Mark 13:28; John 6:45; 7:15; Acts 23:27; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 4:6; 14:31, 35; Gal 3:2; Eph 4:20; Phil 4:9, 11; Col 1:7; 1 Tim 2:11; 5:4, 13; 2 Tim 3:7, 14; Titus 3:14; Heb 5:8; Rev 14:3. NAS = educated(1), find(1), learn(12), learned(9), learning(1), receive instruction(1).

Epaphras did not simply lead the Colossians to Christ and then abandon them. He taught them the Word and sought to establish their faith. In short he "discipled" them (see note in next paragraph). Every church needs an "Epaphras" to disciple the new converts, lest they

be carried away by varied and strange teachings" (He 13:9-note).

Have you been discipled? Are you discipling anyone? (cf our Lord's command to "make disciples" Mt 28:19) Note also that...

"Epaphras...a bond slave of Jesus Christ" was "always laboring earnestly for (the Colossian disciples) in his prayers, that (they) may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God." (Col 4:12-note)

Are you praying for your disciples?

The verb manthano  is the root word for mathetes, a learner, a pupil, one who follows the teaching of someone else, which is the essence of a disciple, a description of one who puts himself under the teaching of someone else and learns from him.  Note that the context is critical to determine whether the specific Scriptural reference is to a "saved disciple" or an "unsaved disciple". The Colossians were clearly "saved" but the context of Jn 6:66 indicates that these were "unsaved disciples" (study John 6 for yourself if you are not convinced).

The Life Application Bible has this poignant comment on Jn 6:66...

"Several followers decided to not follow anymore. Within sight of the kingdom of heaven, privileged with a taste of the Bread of Life, and watching the living water flow, they nevertheless walked away. In a short sentence, John captured one of the saddest moments in the ministry of Jesus."

Parenthetically, it is interesting to note that in the book of Acts, the most common word for believers is "disciples" (Study all 26 uses of "disciple" in Acts = Acts 6:1, 2, 7; 9:1, 10, 19, 25, 26, 36, 38; 11:26, 29; 13:52; 14:20, 21, 22, 28; 15:10; 16:1; 18:23, 27; 19:1, 9, 30; 20:1, 30; 21:4, 16)

It is also interesting to study how Jesus Himself defines a "disciple" (eg see Mk 8:34, 35, 36, Luke 14:26, 27, 33)

OUR BELOVED FELLOW BOND-SERVANT: tou agaphetou sundoulou hemon:

Beloved (agapetos - see study of verb - agapao) refers to a quality of love called out of one’s heart by preciousness of the object loved. What a description from the great apostle. The point is that there is no bitterness or jealousy in the Apostle Paul. It did not bother him to see another preacher receiving commendation. In fact, he was the first to express his appreciation for other servants of the Lord.

Fellow bondservant (sundoulos from sun/syn = with + doulos [word study] = servant is a bondservant with another person. A bondservant is one who surrendered wholly to another’s will and thus devoted to another to the disregard of his own interest. Paul and Timothy were not their own but had been bought with the price of the blood of Christ. They were now the property of our Lord Jesus Christ and were His slaves exclusively. No man can serve two masters (Mt 6:24-note). Paul and Timothy had been slaves of Sin (see note on "the Sin") by their birth into Adam's likeness, but now they are slaves of Christ by their new, second birth. They had no will of their own, no business of their own, no time of their own and were acting for their Master, Christ; dependent upon Him and obedient to Him.

A doulos was an individual bound to another in servitude and conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with his master, belonging to him, obligated to and desiring to do his will and in a permanent relation of servitude. In sum, the will of the doulos is consumed in the will of the master. 

In the Greek culture doulos usually referred to the involuntary, permanent service of a slave, but the use in the epistles of Paul and Peter elevates the meaning of doulos to the Hebrew sense which describes a servant who willingly commits himself to serve a master he loves and respects (cp Ex 21:5, 6 Dt 15:12, 13, 14, 15, 16 discussed below).  By Roman times, slavery was so extensive that in the early Christian period one out of every two people was a slave! From at least 3000BC captives in war were the primary source of slaves.

Doulos speaks of submission to one's master The doulos had no life of his own, no will of his own, no purpose of his own and no plan of his own. All was subject to his master. The bondservant's every thought, breath, and effort was subject to the will of his master. In sum, the picture of a bondservant is one who is absolutely surrendered and totally devoted to his master. What a picture of Paul and Timothy's relation to their Lord! What an example for all believers of every age to emulate!

This word provides an incredible word picture of those who bound to their Lord Jesus Christ, Who had bought them with a price to be His own possession (cf 1Cor 6:20-note, Acts 20:28, Gal 3:13, Heb 9:12, 1Pe 1:18-note, Re 5:9-note, Titus 2:14-note, 1Pe 2:9-note).

By using doulos Paul is saying

"I am a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely sold out to His will. I am willing to do whatever He tells me to do. I am willing to say whatever He tells me to say. I am willing to go wherever He leads me. I am a man who has made a choice. I am going to serve Him for all eternity."

Matthew Henry adds that...

"The highest honour of the greatest apostle, and most eminent ministers, is to be the servants of Jesus Christ; not the masters of the churches, but the servants of Christ."

Kenneth Wuest explains that a doulos as

 

 "the most abject, servile term used by the Greeks to denote a slave.  The word designated one who was born as a slave, one who was bound to his master in chords so strong that only death could break them, one who served his master to the disregard of his own interests, one whose will was swallowed up in the will of his master. Paul was born a slave of sin at his physical birth, and a bondslave of his Lord through regeneration. (Note: There was another word, andrapodon which was person taken prisoner in war and sold into slavery) The chords that bound him to his old master Satan, were rent asunder in his identification with Christ in the latter’s death (Ro 6). The chords that bind him to his new Master will never be broken since the new Master will never die again, and is Paul’s new life (Php 1:21-note, Col 3:3,4-note). He has changed masters because he has a new nature (2Cor 5:17-note, 2Pe 1:3,4-note), the divine, and the evil nature which compelled him to serve the Devil has had its power over him broken (Col 1:13-note, He 2:14, 15- note). Paul’s will, at one time swallowed up in the will of Satan, now is swallowed up in the sweet will of God.

 

The reader will observe how wonderfully God has watched over the development of the Greek language so that at the time it was needed as the medium through which He would give His New Testament revelation to the human race, its words were fit receptacles and efficient instruments for the conveyance of His message to man. Paul calls himself a bondslave of Christ Jesus... The apostle is proud of the fact that he is a slave belonging to his Lord. There were certain individuals in the Roman empire designated “Slaves of the Emperor.” This was a position of honor. One finds a reflection of this in Paul’s act of designating himself as a slave of the King of kings. He puts this ahead of his apostleship."  (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) (Bolding added)

WHO IS A FAITHFUL SERVANT OF CHRIST ON OUR BEHALF: os estin (3SPAI) pistos huper humon diakonos tou Christou:   

a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf" (NET)

He is taking your place here as a trustworthy deacon for Christ " (GWT)

Faithful (4103) (pistos [word study] from peitho [word study] = to persuade) is something or someone who is worthy of faith or keeps promises and is applied to God, humans, His Word, etc. It  means trustworthy, dependable, reliable

Vincent gives a nice summary (expanded in the discussion that follows) of the meaning of pistos, faithful, writing that it is used

"(1), of one who shows Himself faithful in the discharge of a duty or the administration of a trust (Mt 24:45). Hence, trustworthy (2Ti 2:2-note). Of things that can be relied upon (2Ti 2:11-note). (2), Confiding; trusting; a believer (Gal 3:9; Acts16:1; 2Cor 6:15; 1Ti 5:16)" (Word Studies in the New Testament)

Webster says that "Faithful" means firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance and implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted.

Servant (diakonos probably from the verb diakō = to pursue and  is the root of our English word "deacon" -- click study of related word diakonia) a term used in the New Testament to express service in general. Epaphras was a man Paul could trust to discharge his duties without compromise. What about you? How would your service to the body of Christ be described?

Faithful servant is used only one other time in Scripture where Paul describes Tychicus as

our beloved brother and faithful servant" (Col 4:7-note)

What's the opposite of a faithful servant? How would Paul this describe you if he were writing a letter to your home church?

On...behalf of (huper) means in place of or as a substitute for. Epaphras was Paul’s representative at Colossae, backed by his authority and that of the Lord Jesus. While Paul was imprisoned, unable to go to the Colossians, Epaphras ministered to the Colossians on Paul’s behalf. This pattern reminds one of Paul's exhortation to Timothy

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2Ti 2:2-note)

Paul puts his apostolic stamp of approval on this saint’s life, ministry, and gospel. The implication to the readers: Surely you will not forsake the word of truth spoken by Epaphras’ for the doctrine of the local heretics, will you?  Epaphras’ authority gave them good reason to not accept teachings that had come to them later and which were contradictory to Epaphras’ teaching.

 

Colossians 1:8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit  (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: o kai delosas (AAPMSN) hemin ten humon agapen en pneumati. 
Lightfoot:  and who now brings back to us the welcome tidings of the love which you show in the Spirit
NLT: He is the one who told us about the great love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.
Wuest: who also declared to us your love in the sphere of the Spirit.  (
Eerdmans
Young's Literal: 8 who also did declare to us your love in the Spirit.

AND HE ALSO INFORMED US: o kai delosas (AAPMSN) hemin:

Informed  (1213) (deloo [word study] from delos = manifest) means to make plain by words and thus to declare. It means to make some matter known that was unknown or not communicated previously. It means to show clearly, to signify, to make manifest, visible, clear, or plain and to make known.  When spoken of things past it means to tell, relate or impart information (as in 1Cor 1:11; Col 1:18-note). Although deloo is used most often in reference to declarations through articulate language, it is also used often (as in the present verse) of any kind of indirect communication.

The aorist tense indicates that at some point in time in the past Epaphras had given Paul a report, possibly on a visit to Paul in prison.

When spoken of things future or hidden, deloo means to reveal, show or bring to light.

Deloo is used 28 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Ex. 6:3; 33:12; Deut. 33:10; Jos. 4:7; 1 Sam. 3:21; 1Ki. 8:36; 2Chr. 6:27; Est. 2:22; Ps. 25:14; 51:6; 147:20; Isa. 42:9; Jer. 16:21; Da 2:5, 6, 9, 11, 16, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 47; 4:18; 7:16). Here are some uses in the  Septuagint (LXX)

Exodus 6:3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known (deloo) to them.

Exodus 33:12 Then Moses said to the LORD, "See, Thou dost say to me, 'Bring up this people!' But Thou Thyself hast not let me know (deloo) whom Thou wilt send with me. Moreover, Thou hast said, 'I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.'

Esther 2:22 But the plot became known (deloo) to Mordecai, and he told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai's name.

Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know (deloo) His covenant.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know (deloo) wisdom.

Psalm 147:20 He has not dealt thus with any nation and as for His ordinances, they have not known (deloo) them. Praise the LORD!

Isaiah 42:9 "Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim (Lxx = deloo = make them known) them to you."

Daniel 2:25 Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king's presence and spoke to him as follows: "I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known (deloo) to the king!"

Deloo is used 7 times in the NT...

1 Corinthians 1:11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.

1 Corinthians 3:13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

Colossians 1:8 (note) and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

Hebrews 9:8 (note)  The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing,

Hebrews 12:27 (note) And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

1 Peter 1:11 (note) seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.

2 Peter 1:14 (note) knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear (of something divinely communicated) to me.

OF YOUR LOVE IN THE SPIRIT: ten humon agaphen en pneumati:   (Ro 5:5 15:30 2Ti 1:7 1Pe 1:22)

Love in the Spirit - How else could we manifest a "God" like agape love, except by the supernatural enablement of His Spirit? Such love "grows" as the believer dwells in and surrenders to and is controlled by the Holy Spirit. The idea of the preposition "in" means in the sphere of or in a sense in the "atmosphere" of (the Spirit). Think of a fish. In what atmosphere are they most "alive"? The water of course. As long as they are "in" the sphere or "atmosphere" of the water, they function as God intended. By analogy, the same goes for believers who as they learn to dwell more and  more in the "atmosphere" of the Spirit, bring forth the fruit of the Spirit which includes love.

Love (26) (agape [word study]) is that supernatural love which God is and which God the Holy Spirit produces in the heart of the surrendered saint (Gal 5:22-note). This was not a merely human affection, but it was that genuine love for the Lord and for His people which is created by the indwelling Spirit of God. This is the only reference to the Holy Spirit in this Epistle.

In the Spirit - Some do not feel this should be capitalized as it is not directly a reference to the Holy Spirit. I disagree because in the context Paul describes that supernatural love that could only be the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-note). It is not possible for one not filled with and controlled by the Spirit. It is a love which is empowered by and grounded in the Holy Spirit.

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