on Colossians 2 :1
What great conflict - The word αγων, which we here render conflict, is to be understood as implying earnest care and solicitude, accompanied, undoubtedly, with the most fervent application to the throne of grace in their behalf. The αγωνιζομενος of the preceding verse gave the apostle occasion to use the word αγων here. He agonized with God, and his agony was for them.
Laodicea - A city of Asia Minor, on the borders of Caria, Phrygia, and Lydia. It was originally called Diospolis, or the city of Jupiter, and afterwards Rhoas; but obtained the name of Laodicea from Laodice, the wife of Antiochus. It is now called Ladik. It was formerly celebrated for its commerce, and the fine black wool of its sheep. Colosse, or the city of the Colossians, lay between it and Hierapolis. This Hierapolis was also a town of Phrygia, famous for its hot baths: it is now called Bambukholasi.
As many as have not seen my face in the flesh - From this it has been conjectured that St. Paul had never been at either Colosse or Laodicea, and this, from the letter of the text, appears probable; and yet, his having passed more than once through this country, preaching and strengthening the Churches, renders it very improbable. It is, therefore, most likely that we should understand the apostle as speaking collectively; that he had the most earnest concern, not only for the welfare of those Churches with which he was acquainted, such as Colosse and Laodicea, but also for those to whom he was not personally known.
on Colossians 2 :1
For I would that ye knew - I wish you knew or fully understood. He supposes that this would deeply affect them if they understood the solicitude which he had had on their account.
What great conflict - Margin, fear, or care. The Greek word is "agony" - ἀγῶνα agōna. It is not, however, the word rendered "agony" in Luke 22:44 - ἀγωνία agōnia - though that is derived from this. The word is rendered conflict in Philippians 1:30; contention, 1 Thessalonians 2:2; fight, 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; and race, Hebrews 12:1. It properly refers to the combats, contests, struggles, efforts at the public games; the toil and conflict to obtain a victory. It refers here to the anxious care, the mental conflict, the earnest solicitude which he had in their behalf, in view of the dangers to which they were exposed from Judaizing Christians and Pagan philosophy. This mental struggle resembled that which the combatants had at the public games; compare the 1 Corinthians 9:25, note, 27, note. And for them at Laodicea For Christians there, who were exposed to similar danger. Laodicea was the capital of Phrygia, in Asia Minor, and a little south of Colossae. See Introduction, Section 1. 6. Notes, Colossians 4:16. There was a church early planted there - the "lukewarm" church mentioned in Revelation 3:14. Being in the vicinity of Colossae, the church there would be exposed to the same perils, and the rebuke in Revelation 3:14, showed that the fears of Paul were well founded, and that the arts of the false teachers were too successful.
And for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh - That is, evidently in that region. He had, doubtless, a general solicitude for all Christians, but his remark here has reference to those in the neighborhood of the church at Colossae, or in that church. On the question which has been raised, whether this proves that the apostle Paul had never been at Colossae or Laodicea, see Introduction, Section 2, 4. This passage does not seem to me to prove that he had not been there. It may mean that he had great solicitude for those Christians there whom he knew, and for all others there, or in the vicinity, even though he was not personally acquainted with them. He may refer:
(1) to some churches in the neighborhood formed since he was there; or.
(2) to strangers who had come in there since he was with them; or.
(3) to those who had been converted since he was there, and with whom he had no personal acquaintance. For all these he would feel the same solicitude, for they were all exposed to the same danger. To "see one's face in the flesh," is a Hebraism, meaning to become personally acquainted with him.
on Colossians 2 :1
2:1 How great a conflict - Of care, desire, prayer. As many as have not seen my face - Therefore, in writing to the Colossians, he refrains from those familiar appellations, Brethren, Beloved.