December 3.—Morning. [Or November 3.]
“It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.”
IN the epistle to the church at Colosse Paul had to deal with many dangerous errors and mischievous practices, hence it is more distinguished for earnest warning than for those tender expressions which abound in the epistle to the Philippians.
1, 2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3–6 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 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, 8 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. (It is delightful thus to hear one servant of God praise another. There is far too little of this in our day. True soldiers of Christ set high store by their comrades and are glad to advance their repute. Paul does not point out the failings of Epaphras to the Colossians; this would have been destructive of the influence of that worthy brother, and so would have injured the cause of Christ.)
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; (The Colossian church needed understanding as much as that of Philippi needed unity; the brethren were too easily duped and decoyed from the gospel. We need in these days to know the gospel well, and hold it firmly; for many deceivers are abroad who will mislead us if we permit them to do so.)
10, 11 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (To labour, to suffer, and in both to rejoice, is the peculiar mark of a Christian. For this we need the all-sufficient grace of God; nothing short of the glorious power of God can create a Christian, or maintain him when created.)
12–14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Now that the apostle has touched this string we may expect sweet music, for never is his master-hand so much at home as when he is magnifying the Lord Jesus. Hear how he sounds forth the praises of the Son of God.)
15–18 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 have the pre-eminence.
19, 20 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (If Jesus be not indeed God, such language as this is far-fetched, not to say blasphemous. What more could be said? Is not language put to its utmost tension to set forth the Redeemer’s glories? Blessed be his name, he is all in all to us. We adore him as Creator, Head, Fulness, and Peacemaker; and let others say what they will of him, we shall never cease to sing his praises. Happy will the day be when all those in heaven and earth for whom the Saviour died shall join in one happy band around his throne, united in one body through the atoning sacrifice. Even now we anticipate their victorious song, and sing, “Worthy the Lamb.”)
December 3.—Evening. [Or November 4.]
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
PAUL continues to glorify the Lord Jesus, and to stir up his brethren to faithfulness. He shows how the death of Jesus has reconciled us to each other and to God.
21, 22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: (Thus the work of grace produces in us the highest degree of holiness: to be unblameable in man’s sight is much, but to be unblameable even in the sight of God is absolute perfection. This will be the condition of every believer when the Lord’s designs are accomplished in him.)
23 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;
Steadfastness in the faith is an essential of true religion: a tree often transplanted cannot thrive. Since the gospel is assuredly the truth of God, it is foolishness in the extreme to be enticed from it by the novel teachings of men. Paul gloried in being a minister of the old unchanging gospel.
24 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: (All the body must suffer in order to have sympathy with the Head; and in order to gather in all the Lord’s chosen the church must undergo a measure of suffering and persecution; in this Paul was glad to take his share. The atoning sufferings of Jesus were finished long ago, his sufferings in his mystical body are not for the expiation of sin, but arise out of our conflict with the powers of evil.)
25–27 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; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
PAUL a second time declares his call to the ministry.
1–3 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
What wisdom, therefore, it is to know Christ: however simple the gospel may appear to be, it is in very truth far superior in wisdom to all the systems of philosophy, or schools of “modern thought.”
4, 5 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
6, 7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (May the Lord grant us so to do. The gospel which has saved us will do to live by and to die by. To turn from it would be to forsake fulness for emptiness, the substance for the shadow, and the truth for falsehood. May the Holy Spirit continue to lead us yet further into the knowledge of Christ crucified, and never may we in any degree cease from earnest belief of the truth, or lose our thankfulness for it.)
I rest upon thy word,
The promise is for me;
My succour and salvation, Lord,
Shall surely come from thee.
But let me still abide,
Nor from my hope remove,
Till thou my patient spirit guide
Into thy perfect love.