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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Colossians

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

2.1–10 : The old life contrasted with the new life (cf. Col 1.21–23 ).

1–5 :

Both Gentile (you) and Jewish Christians (all of us) formerly engaged in a lifestyle of sin and lacked God's protection and blessings (were dead/children of wrath).

5,8–9 :

By grace … saved, deliverance to a new life is due solely to God's mercy and benevolence, and precludes any human boasting (Rom 3.21–30 ).

6 :

Raised … places, believers have been exalted like Christ himself ( 1.20 ).

10 :

Good works … life, a new, divinely designed lifestyle is the appropriate result of salvation.

3.1–13 : Paul reveals God's plan (cf. Col 1.24–29 ).

1 :

A prayer is interrupted by vv. 2–13 and resumed in v. 14 .

3 :

Mystery, see 1.9 n. ; here God's plan is the uniting of Jews and Gentiles into a single community. Above, in 1.9–10 and 2.11–22 or perhaps “previously” and thus a reference to an earlier Pauline letter.

8 :

Least, 1 Cor 15.8–9 .

10 :

Wisdom of God … heavenly places, the church in turn reveals God's plan (wisdom) to the spiritual powers.

13 :

Sufferings … glory, imprisonment on behalf of the Gentiles (v. 1 ) has secured their life and future glorification (2 Cor 1.6; 4.12; Col 1.24 ).

1.1–2 : Salutation.

1 :

Timothy, Paul's fellow missionary and emissary (Philem 1; 2 Cor 1.1; Phil 1.1;2.19–24 ).

2 :

Brothers and sisters, see note a and Eph 6.23n. Grace … peace, see Eph 1.2n .

1.3–8 : Thanksgiving for Colossians' obedience.

3–5 :

Faith, love, and hope, a summary of Christianvirtues (1 Cor 13.13; 1 Thess 5.8 ).

6 :

The whole world, hyperbole reflecting the numerous Christiancommunities in cities of the Roman empire; see also 1.23 .

7 :

Epaphras, founder of the church in Colossae,whose ministry the author endorses ( 4.12–13; Philem 23 ).

1.9–14 : Prayer for Colossians' growth

in knowledge (v. 9 ), moral maturity (v. 10 ), and endurance( v. 11 ).

12–14 :

Perhaps a fragment of a baptismal hymn.

12–13 :

Light/darkness, apocalyptic imagery forthe domains of God and Christ and of malevolent spiritual beings (see 1.16n.; 1 Thess 5.5 ); believers havebeen rescued from the latter kingdom and transferred to the former.

14 :

Release from slavery to the demonic powers (redemption) comes from the forgiveness and reconciliation available through Christ'sdeath (vv. 20,22 ).

1.15–20 : The supremacy of Christ

over the cosmos (vv. 15–17 ) and the church (vv. 18–20 ), taken from a hymn based on the figure of Wisdom (Prov 8; Sir 24; Wis 6–9; see also Jn 1.1–18; Phil 2.6–11 ).

15 :

Image, the perfect, visible manifestation of God. Firstborn expresses priority and supremacy over allcreation (v. 17 ).

16 :

Thrones … powers, spiritual beings, probably hostile ( 1.13; 2.15; Eph 6.12 ).

18 :

Head, ruling authority or originator; see Eph 1.22; 5.23 . The body, the church, see Rom 12.4–5; 1 Cor 12.27 . Firstborn from the dead, Christ is preeminent among the children of God (Rom 8.29; Rev 1.5 ),and his resurrection is the prelude to the final resurrection (1 Cor 15.23; Acts 26.23 ).

19 :

The fullness of God, the power and presence of God ( 2.9–10 ).

20 :

Reconcile/making peace, the enslavement ofhumanity to demonic powers is presupposed here ( 1.13; 2.15 ).

1.21–23 : Assurance and warning.

22 :

To present you … before him, reconciliation culminates in Christ's approval at the eschatological judgment (v. 28 ).

23 :

Continued allegiance to Christ alone, however, is necessary for eschatological salvation.

1.24–2.5 : Paul's mission and pastoral commitment.

24 :

Sufferings, imprisonment ( 4.3,10,18 ) andhardships experienced while preaching the gospel (2 Cor 4.7–12; 11.23–28 ). Completing … afflictions,not a denigration of Christ's death, but a reflection of the apocalyptic belief that God's people must sufferbefore the culmination of history (1 Cor 4.9; Rev 6.9–11 ).

26–27 :

Mystery, the previously hidden planof God; here, the gospel proclaimed to Gentiles ( 2.2; 4.3; Rom 16.25–26; cf. Eph 1.10; 3.2–6 ).

2.1 :

Laodicea, see 4.13n .

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