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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will
of God, and Timothy our brother,
to the holy ones and faithful brothers in
Christ in Colossae: grace to you and peace from God our Father.
2 We always give thanks to God, the Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and the love that you have for all the holy ones
because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.
Of this you have already heard through the word of truth, the gospel,
that has come to you. Just as in the whole
world it is bearing fruit and growing, so also among you, from the day you
heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth,
as you learned it from Epaphras 3
our beloved fellow slave, who is a trustworthy minister of Christ on your
and who also told us of your love in the
4 Therefore, from the day we heard this, we do
not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge
of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as
to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the
knowledge of God,
strengthened with every power, in accord with
his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy
5 giving thanks to the Father, who has made you
fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness and
transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of
6 He is the image 7 of the
invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For in him 8 were created
all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether
thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through
him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things
He is the head of the body, the church. 9
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself
might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness 10
was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for
him, making peace by the blood of his cross 11 (through him),
whether those on earth or those in heaven.
12 And you who once were alienated and hostile in
mind because of evil deeds
he has now reconciled in his fleshly body
through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable
provided that you persevere in the faith,
firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you
heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I,
Paul, am a minister.
13 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking 14 in the
afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,
of which I am a minister in accordance with
God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from
generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of
the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for
It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone
and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in
For this I labor and struggle, in accord with
the exercise of his power working within me.
1 [1-2] For the epistolary form used
by Paul at the beginning of his letters, see the note on
⇒ Romans 1:1-7. On holy ones or "God's
people," see the note on ⇒ Romans 1:7. Awareness
of their calling helps this group to be faithful brothers and sisters in
Christ, i.e., dedicated to the tasks implied in their calling.
2 [3-8] On thanksgiving at the start
of a letter, see the note on ⇒ Romans 1:8. The
apostle, recalling his own prayers for them and the good report about them he
has received (⇒ Col 1:3-4), congratulates the
Colossians upon their acceptance of Christ and their faithful efforts to live
the gospel (⇒ Col 3:6-8). To encourage them he
mentions the success of the gospel elsewhere (⇒ Col
1:6) and assures them that his knowledge of their community is
accurate, since he has been in personal contact with Epaphras
(⇒ Col 1:7-8), who likely had evangelized Colossae
and other cities in the Lycus Valley of Asia Minor (cf ⇒ Col
4:12, ⇒ 13; ⇒ Philippians
1:23). On faith, love, and hope (⇒ Col 1:4,
5, 8), see the note on
⇒ 1 Cor 13:13; cf ⇒ 1 Thes
1:3; ⇒ 5:8.
3  Epaphras: now with Paul but a
Colossian, founder of the church there.
4 [9-14] Moved by Epaphras' account,
the apostle has prayed and continues to pray fervently for the Colossians that,
in their response to the gospel, they may be filled with the knowledge of God's
will (⇒ Col 1:9; cf ⇒ Col
3:10). Paul expects a mutual interaction between their life according
to the gospel and this knowledge (⇒ Col 1:10),
yielding results (fruit, ⇒ Col 1:10; cf
⇒ Col 1:6) in every good work: growth, strength,
endurance, patience, with joy (⇒ Col 1:11), and the
further giving of thanks (⇒ Col 1:12).
5 [12-14] A summary about redemption
by the Father precedes the statement in ⇒ Col
1:15-20 about the beloved Son who is God's love in person
(⇒ Col 1:13). Christians share the inheritance . . .
in light with the holy ones, here probably the angels (⇒ Col
1:12). The imagery reflects the Exodus (delivered . . . transferred)
and Jesus' theme of the kingdom. Redemption is explained as forgiveness of sins
(cf ⇒ Acts 2:38; ⇒ Romans
3:24-25; ⇒ Eph 1:7).
6 [15-20] As the poetic arrangement
indicates, these lines are probably an early Christian hymn, known to the
Colossians and taken up into the letter from liturgical use (cf
⇒ Philippians 2:6-11; ⇒ 1 Tim
3:16). They present Christ as the mediator of creation
(⇒ Col 1:15-18a) and of redemption
(⇒ Col 1:18b-20). There is a parallelism between
firstborn of all creation (⇒ Col 1:15) and firstborn
from the dead (⇒ Col 1:18). While many of the
phrases were at home in Greek philosophical use and even in gnosticism, the
basic ideas also reflect Old Testament themes about Wisdom found in
⇒ Proverb 8:22-31; ⇒ Wisdom
7:22-⇒ 8:1; and ⇒ Sirach
1:4. See also the notes on what is possibly a hymn in
⇒ John 1:1-18.
7  Image: cf ⇒ Genesis
the man and the woman were originally created in the image and likeness of God
(see also ⇒ Genesis 1:26), Christ as image
(⇒ 2 Cor 4:4) of the invisible God
(⇒ John 1:18) now shares this new nature in baptism
with those redeemed (cf ⇒ Col 3:10-11).
8 [16-17] Christ (though not
mentioned by name) is preeminent and supreme as God's agent in the creation of
all things (cf ⇒ John 1:3), as prior to all things
(⇒ Col 1:17; cf ⇒ Hebrews
9  Church: such a reference
seemingly belongs under "redemption" in the following lines, not
under the "creation" section of the hymn. Stoic thought sometimes
referred to the world as "the body of Zeus." Pauline usage is to
speak of the church as the body of Christ (⇒ 1 Cor
12:12-27; ⇒ Romans 12:4-5). Some think
that the author of Colossians has inserted the reference to the church here so
as to define "head of the body" in Paul's customary way. See
⇒ Col 1:24. Preeminent: when Christ was raised by God as firstborn from the dead (cf
⇒ Acts 26:23; ⇒ Rev 1:5),
he was placed over the community, the church, that he had brought into being,
but he is also indicated as crown of the whole new creation, over all things.
His further role is to reconcile all things (⇒ Col
1:20) for God or possibly "to himself."
10  Fullness: in gnostic usage
this term referred to a spiritual world of beings above, between God and the
world; many later interpreters take it to refer to the fullness of the deity
(⇒ Col 2:9); the reference could also be to the
fullness of grace (cf ⇒ John 1:16).
11  The blood of his cross: the
most specific reference in the hymn to redemption through Christ's death, a
central theme in Paul; cf ⇒ Col 2:14-15;
⇒ 1 Cor 1:17, ⇒ 18,
⇒ 23. [Through him]: the phrase, lacking in some
manuscripts, seems superfluous but parallels the reference to reconciliation
through Christ earlier in the verse.
12 [21-23] Paul, in applying this hymn
to the Colossians, reminds them that they have experienced the reconciling
effect of Christ's death. He sees the effects of the cross in the redemption of
human beings, not of cosmic powers such as those referred to in
⇒ Col 1:16, ⇒ 20 (all
things). Paul also urges adherence to Christ in faith and begins to point to
his own role as minister (⇒ Col 1:23), sufferer
(⇒ Col 1:24), and proclaimer (⇒ Col
1:27-28) of this gospel.
[⇒ 1:24-⇒ 2:3] As the
community at Colossae was not personally known to Paul (see Introduction), he
here invests his teaching with greater authority by presenting a brief sketch
of his apostolic ministry and sufferings as they reflect those of Christ on
behalf of the church (24). The preaching of God's word (⇒ Col
1:25) carries out the divine plan (the mystery,
⇒ Col 1:26) to make Christ known to the Gentiles
(⇒ Col 1:27). It teaches the God-given wisdom about
Christ (⇒ Col 1:28), whose power works mightily in
the apostle (⇒ Col 1:29). Even in those communities
that do not know him personally (⇒ Col 2:1), he can
increase the perception of God in Christ, unite the faithful more firmly in
love, and so bring encouragement to them (⇒ Col 2:2).
He hopes that his apostolic authority will make the Colossians perceive more
readily the defects in the teaching of others who have sought to delude them,
the next concern in the letter.
14  What is lacking: although
variously interpreted, this phrase does not imply that Christ's atoning death on
the cross was defective. It may refer to the apocalyptic concept of a quota of
"messianic woes" to be endured before the end comes; cf
⇒ Mark 13:8, ⇒ 19-20,
⇒ 24 and the note on ⇒ Matthew
23:29-32. Others suggest that Paul's mystical unity with Christ
allowed him to call his own sufferings the afflictions of Christ.
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