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Julian Pe-
$ 12. Phil. iv. 21. to the end.

Rome. riod, 4775. Vulgar Æra, The Apostle sends Salutations to every Christian at Phi62.

lippi-He concludes with his usual apostolical Benedic-
tion, sealed with an Amen, to shew his sincerity in all the
Things he had written them.

21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren
which are with me greet you.

22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Cesar's household.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

SECTION XII.

St. Paul writes his Episile" to the Colossians in reply to the

Messsage by Epaphras, to prove that the Hope of Man's

17 This epistle was written about the same time with that to the Philippians, towards the end of the year 62, and in the ninth of the emperor Nero.

That the two epistles were written about the same time, is rendered probable by the following circumstance: in the Epistle to the Philippians, cbap. ii. 19. St. Paul purposes to send Timothy to Philippi, who was then with him at Rome, that he might know their state. As Timothy joins in the salutation in the beginning of this epistle, it is evident that he still continued at Rome, and had not yet been sent to Philippi ; and as St. Paul wrote the former epistle nearly at the close of his first imprisonment at Rome, the two epistles must have been written a short space from each other.

By whom Christianity was first planted at Colosse, there is no certain information. To prove that St. Paul was not the first preacher, two passages are adduced. The first (chap. i. 4.)

baving heard of your faith in Christ Jesus,” is supposed to imply that he had only heard of their being converted by some other teacher. But the apostle might express himself in that manner, and still have been the minister of their conversion ; for it was his constant practice to make inquiries concerning the faith of those whom he bad brought to the knowledge of the Gospel; being particularly anxious to ascertain the influence, the Judaizing teachers had gained over his converts. It is therefore only probable that when Epaphras came from Colosse to the apostle, that he would inquire concerning their state, and being informed that the greater part of them remained stedfast, that he would address them as “ having heard of their faith.” The apostle used the same language to otber persons and churches, of whose conversion there can be no doubt but that he was the instrument.

The second passage from this epistle, which is thought to prove that he never preached the Gospel in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, is chap. ii. 1. “I wish you to know how great a combat I have for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.” But this by no means implies that the brethren in Colosse and Laodicea had not scen thc apostle, when he thus addressed them; for,

EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS-CHAP. XIV.

491

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and by the Establishment of opposite Truths, to eradicate
Vulgar Æra,
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as Theodoret has observed, the apostle's meaning is, that his
combat was not alone for the converted Gentiles in these places,
but “for as many as had not seen his face in the flesh ;" for all
the converted Gentiles every where, and in every age of the
world. That this is the true meaning of the expressions, is fur-
ther evident (he remarks) from the next verse, where the
apostle does not say, “ that your heart may be comforted,” as
he would have done, if the Gentiles of Colosse and Laodicea
had been of the number of those who had not seen bis face in
the flesh, but that their hearts, namely, those who have not seen
my flesh, may be comforted, as well as yours. It is further ad-
vanced, that the apostle himself speaks of Epaphras as the spi-
ritual father of the Colossians, chap. i. 7. "As ye have also
learned it from Epaphras. But this seems ratber to intimate
that they had been taught the knowledge of the Gospel, not
from the apostle alone, but also by another, by Epapbras, a
faithful minister of Christ, and fellow-labourer with the apostle.
Besides, if Epaphras had alone converted them, the aposlle, as
Lardner remarks, instead of saying, chap. iv. 12. “Epaphras,
who came from you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you," would
bave said, “ Epaphras in whom ye believed,” or some expres-
sion to the like purport.

Dr. Lardner, Bishop Tomline, and others, are of opinion
that the Church at Colosse was founded by St. Paul ; and they
ground their suppositions on the following considerations: that
St. Paul was twice in Phrygia, in which country were the cities
of Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis--that he does in effect
say that he had dispensed the Gospel to the Colossians, (chap.
i. 21-25.) and that it appears, from the terms of affection and
authority discoverable in this epistle, that he did not address
them as strangers, but as acquaintances, friends, and converts.
(chap. ii. 5. iv. 7, 8.) The apostle also wrote the salutation
with bis own band, as he did to the other Churches planted by
himself, and who knew his own writing-whereas in the Epistle
to the Romans, who were strangers to him, the salutation was
written by Tertius.

Dr. Lardner observes, that the Colossians were converted by an apostle is further proved from chap. ii. 6, 7. “ Seeing then ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in him; rooted in him, and built upon him, and made firm in the faith, even as ye have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” This the apostle could not bave written to them, if their only teacher had been Epaphras, or any other who was not an apostle. See also chap. i. 6. which things, Dr. Lardner observes, demonstrate that the Colossians were converted by an apostle, and in that capacity he bears testimony to the fidelity of their own pastor. (chap. i. 7.) It is most probable, therefore, that the Churches in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, were planted by St. Paul, with the assistance of Timothy, for which reason be is joined in the salutation of this epistle. Macknight supposes that, before their conversion, some of the Colossians had embraced the doctrines of Pythagoras, and others those of Plato, and that the Judaizers, to recommend the law of Moses, affirmed that the former derived his discipline, and the latter his dogmas, from the Jewish laws. It is certain that the abstinence from animal food, and the fastings and severities practised on the body, recommended by the Pythagorean precepts ;

Julian Pe- the Errors of the Judaizers, who not only preached the Rome. riod, 4775.

Mosaic Law; but also the Opinions of the Heathen,
Vulgar Era,
62.

and the doctrines of Plato, concerning the agency of angels in
human affairs, and the honour which is on that account due to
them, are expressly condemned by the apostle in this epistle.
As the Jewish teachers artfully suited their arguments to the
opinions and characters of those they addressed, they might
have pressed on the minds of the Colossians, to prove the mi-
nistry of angels, that angels conducted the Israelites into Ca.
naan, and that the law of Moses was given by their ministry.
To those who were tinctured with the Platonic philosophy, they
affirmed that it was arrogance in sinners to worsbip God with-
out some mediator, and therefore they exhorted them to offer
up their prayers to God through the mediation of angels, which
was more acceptable to him than the mediation of Christ; who
could not be supposed to have the same power with God as the
angels, who were employed by him in the government of the
world; and as the Heathens and Jews were particularly attached
to propitiatory sacrifices, we may conjecture, although not men-
tioned by the apostle, that these false teachers, since there were
no sacrifices appointed by the Gospel, taught that the Jewish
sacrifices and purifications were to be continued as the means
of justification. The whole scope of the apostle's letter is to
show the folly and vanity of these errors, by establishing the
contrary truths. Lardner remarks, that in the epistle which
John wrote, by the command of our Lord, to the Church of tho
Laodiceans, traces of the same errors may be found, which the
false teachers endeavoured to disseminate throughout Phrygia.
For example, to shew that angels are not superior to Christ in
dignity and power, and that they are not to be worshipped, he
asserts his own power as governor of the world, in nearly the
șame words as St. Paul in his Epistle to the Colossians. (Rev.
iii. xiv. Coloss. i. 18.) Sce also the condemnation of the false
teachers, who were puffed up with their pretended kuowledge,
and a corruption of the law of Moses, Coloss. ii. 18. Rev. iii.
17; and whereas St. Paul said to the Colossians, chap. ii. 10.
“ Ye are made complete by him, who is at the head of all go-
vernment and power,” Christ said to the Loadiceans, Rev. iii.
18. “ I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire,' &c. &c.
Althougb the worship of angels was repressed for a time by the
apostle's Epistle to the Colossians, it afterwards prevailed
among them to such a degree, tbat the council which met at
Laodicea, the capital of Phrygia, found it necessary to condemn
that idolatry by their thirty-fifth canon, as Theodoret informs
us, in his note on Coloss. ii. 18. wbich thus stands: “Chris-
tians ought not to leave the Church of God, and go and name
angels, or gather assemblies. If, therefore, any one is found to
practise this secret idolatry, let him be anathema, because he
has left our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and has turned
to idolatry.". This council is supposed to have been held A.D.
363. Its last two canons declared what sacred books were to be
publicly read in the Cburches.

From the similarity in the doctrine and phraseology of this
epistle to that of the Ephesians, many have considered it as an
epitome of the former ; yet, though there is a great similarity,
which may give us reason to suppose the apostle considered the
two Churches in some things nearly in the same state, the
Epistle to the Colossians relates to corruptions which arc nob
even hinted at in the other epistle.

ST. PAUL'S PRAYER FOR THE COLOSSIANS.

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ship of Angels, on Account of their supposed Agency in 62.

Human Affairs, and the Necessity of abstaining from
Animal Food.

$1. Coloss, i. 1-14.
St. Paul begins his Epistle by assuring the Colossians that

he was appointed an Apostle of Christ by the Will of God
- The Salutation of Paul and Timothy who do not cease
praying, that the Colossians may be filled with a perfect
Knowledge of divine Things, comprehending the spiritual
Wisdom of God, fruitful in every good Work, increasing in
Experience of the Knowledge of God's Love and Truth;
spiritually strengthened according to his glorious Power
so that they may be able to bear all Things with the great-
est Patience and Long-suffering, and even with Joy, feel-
ing that by so doing they please God-giving Thanks to
God, who of his own free Mercy, by the sanctifying In-
fluences of his Spirit, has qualified them to be partakers of
the spiritual Inheritance prepared for those who dwell in
the Light of the Gospel-who has delivered them from the
power of Sin and Ignorance, and hath translated us from
the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light,
governed by his dear Son-who has paid down the Price
of Redemption in his own Blood, even the Remission of
Sins.

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God,
and Timotheus our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which

The general agreement of expression and sentiment between these two epistles, and their having been forwarded by the same messenger, (Eph. vi. 21. Coloss. iv. 7.) have induced many to siippose they were written at the same time. In their arrangement I have been guided by Dr. Lardner, who considers this argument as not decisive, because Tychicus may have been sent twice from Rome into Asia by the apostle, with letters, during a confinement of two ycars; and because other reasons may have induced him to have written the same things to these Churches. He considers, as has been already observed, that as Timothy, who was joined with St. Paul iu the Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, is not united with him in his Epistle to the Ephesians, he had left Rome, and did not return to that city till after the Epistle to the Ephesians bad been written.

Epaphras, who was sent by the Colossians to comfort the apostle by the assurances of their affectionate regard under his imprisonment, and to bring then back word how matters went with him, became so obuoxious to the Roman magistrates, that he was imprisoned by them, (Philemon, 23.) on account of his exertions in the cause of the Gospel ; on this account Tychicus and Onesimus, whom the apostle bad converted and sent back to Colosse, were made the bearers of this epistle.

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our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 62.

8 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 fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ ;

8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

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 long-suffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;

18 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son ;

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood,
even the forgiveness of sins.

COLOSS. i. 15-23.
To prove to them the Efficacy of Christ's Death in obtaining

pardon for the Sins of Man, the Apostle describes the
Divinity and supereminent Dignity of Christ, who was the
Image or counterpart of the Invisible God; the Creator
and Cause of all Things that had a beginning, visible and
invisible; who created every Thing both by and for himself;
he existed before the Creation of all created Things;
and must have been therefore the true and self-existing
God; and as his Power created all Things, so does
it also preserve them--for as from him all being was de-
rived, so also by him must it subsistand he is the Head
of the Church, which he considers his spiritual Body-
By his Incarnation he is the First Cause, or beginning of
the Church, and the first who rose from the Dead in a
glorified Human Form--that in all things, both in his

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