on Colossians 1 :29
Whereunto I also labor - In order to accomplish this end, I labor with the utmost zeal and earnestness; and with all that strength with which God has most powerfully furnished me. Whoever considers the original words, αγωνιζομενος κατα την ενεργειαν αυτου την ενεργουμενην - εν δυναμει, will find that no verbal translation can convey their sense. God worked energetically in St. Paul, and he wrought energetically with God; and all this was in reference to the salvation of mankind.
1. The preceding chapter contains the highest truths in the Christian religion, conveyed in language peculiar to this apostle; a language never taught by man, clothing ideas as vast as the human mind can grasp, and both coming immediately from that inspiration of the Almighty which giveth understanding.
2. What the apostle says on the Godhead of Christ has already been distinctly noted; and from this we must conclude that, unless there be some secret way of understanding the 16th and 17th verses, which God has nowhere revealed, taken in their sober and rational sense and meaning they must for ever settle this very important point. Let any man of common sense and reason hear these words, whose mind had not been previously warped by any sentiment on the subject, and who only knew, in religious matters, this one great truth, that there is a God, and that he made and governs all things; and then let him be asked, Of whom doth the apostle speak this? Would he not immediately answer, He speaketh of God? As to the difficulties on this subject, we must consider them difficulties rather to our limited intellect, than as belonging to the subject. We can know but little of an infinite and eternal Being; nothing, properly speaking, but what himself is pleased to reveal. Let us receive, this with gratitude and reverence. See my discourse on the sum and substance of apostolic preaching.
on Colossians 1 :29
Whereunto I also labour - See the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:10.
Striving - Greek agonizing. He taxed all his energies to accomplish this, as the wrestlers strove for the mastery in the Grecian games.
According to his working - Not by my own strength, but by the power which God alone can give; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:10.
Remarks On Colossians 1
Among the truths of practical importance taught by this chapter are the following:
1. We should rejoice in the piety of others; Colossians 1:2-8. It should be to us a subject of unfeigned gratitude to God; when others are faithful to their high calling, and when they so live as to adorn the blessed gospel. In all their faith, and love, and joy, we should find occasion for thankfulness to God. We should not envy it, or be disposed to charge it to wrong motives, or suspect it of insincerity or hypocrisy; but should welcome every account of the zeal and faithfulness of those who bear the Christian name - no matter who the persons are, or with what denomination of Christians they may be connected. Especially is this true in relation to our friends, or to those for whose salvation we have labored. The source of high, est gratitude to a Christian, in relation to his friends, should be, that they act as becomes the friends of God; the purest joy that can swell the bosom of a minister of Christ, is produced by the evidence that they to whom he has ministered are advancing in knowledge and love.
2. We should earnestly pray that they who have been much favored should be prospered more and more; Colossians 1:9-11.
3. It is a good time to pray for Christians when they are already prosperous, and are distinguished for zeal and love; Colossians 1:9-11. We have then encouragement to do it. We feel that our prayers will not be in vain. For a man that is doing well, we feel encouraged to pray that he may do still better. For a Christian who has true spiritual joy, we are encouraged to pray that he may have more joy. For one who is aiming to make advances in the knowledge of God, we are encouraged to pray that he may make still higher advances; and if, therefore; we wish others to pray for us, we should, show them by our efforts that there is some encouragement for them to do it.
4. Let us cherish with suitable gratitude the remembrance of the goodness of God, who has translated us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son; Colossians 1:12-13. By nature we, like others, were under the power of darkness. In that kingdom of sin, and error, and misery, we were born and reared, until God, in great compassion, brought us out from it, and made us heirs of light. Now, if we are true Christians, we belong to a kingdom of holiness, and knowledge, and happiness. No words can express appropriately the goodness of God in thus making us heirs of light; and not an hour of our lives should pass without a thoughtful remembrance of his mercy.
5. In the affections of our hearts let the Saviour in all things have the pre-eminence; Colossians 1:15-18. He is the image of God; and when we think of him, we see what God is - how holy, pure, benevolent. He is the first-born of all things; the Son of God; exalted to the highest seat in the universe. When we look on the sun, moon, and stars, let us remember that he created them all. When we think of the angels, let us remember that they are the workmanship of his hands. When we look on the earth - the floods, the rivers, the hills, let us remember that all these were made by his power. The vast universe is still sustained by him. Its beautiful order and harmony are preserved by him; and all its movements are under his control. So the church is under him. It is subject to his command; receives its laws from his lips, and is bound to do his will. Over all councils and synods; over all rule and authority in the church, Christ is the Head; and whatever may be ordained by man, his will is to be obeyed. So, when we think of the resurrection, Christ is chief. He first rose to return to death no more; he rose as the pledge that his people should also rise. As Christ is thus head over all things, so let him be first in the affections of our hearts; as it is designed that in every thing he shall have the pre-eminence, so let him have the pre-eminence in the affections of our souls. None should be loved by us as Christ is loved; and no friend, however dear, should be allowed to displace him from the supremacy in our affections.
6. In all our wants let us go to Christ; Colossians 1:19, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." We do not have a need which he cannot supply; there is not a sorrow of our lives in which he cannot comfort us; not a temptation from which he cannot deliver us; not a pain which he cannot relieve, or enable us to hear. Every necessity of body or mind he can supply; and we never can go to him, in any circumstance of life in which we can possibly be placed, where we shall fail of consolation and support because Christ is not able to help us. True piety learns day by day to live more by simple dependence on the Saviour. As we advance in holiness, we become more and more sensible of our weakness and insufficiency, and more and more disposed to live by the faith of the Son of God."
7. By religion we become united with the angels; Colossians 1:20. Harmony is produced between heaven and earth. Alienated worlds are reconciled again, and from jarring elements there is rearing one great and harmonious empire. The work of the atonement is designed to remove what separated earth from heaven; men from angels; man from God. The redeemed have substantially the same feelings now, which they have who are around the throne of God; and though we are far inferior to them in rank, yet we shall be united with them in affection and purpose, for ever and ever. What a glorious work is that of the gospel! It reconciles and harmonizes distant worlds, and produces concord and love in millions of hearts which but for that would have been alienated forever.
8. By religion we become fitted for heaven; Colossians 1:12, Colossians 1:22. We are made "meet" to enter there; we shall be presented there unblamable and unreprovable. No one will accuse us before the throne of God. Nor Satan, nor our own consciences nor our fellowmen will then urge that we ought not to be admitted to heaven. Redeemed and pardoned, renewed and sanctified, the universe will be satisfied that we ought to be saved, and will rejoice. Satan will no longer charge the friends of Jesus with insincerity and hypocrisy; our own minds will be no longer troubled with doubts and fears; and holy angels will welcome us to their presence. Not a voice will be lifted up in reproach or condemnation, and the Universal Father will stretch out his arms and press to his bosom the returning prodigals. Clothed in the white robes of salvation, we shall be welcome even in heaven, and the universe will rejoice that we are there.
9. It is a privilege to suffer for the welfare of the church; Colossians 1:24. Paul regarded it as such and rejoiced in the trials which came upon him in the cause of religion. The Saviour so, regarded it, and shrank not from the great sorrows involved in the work of saving his people. We may suffer much in promoting the same object. We may be exposed to persecution and death. We may be called to part with all we have - to leave country and friends and home, to go and preach the gospel to benighted people. On a foreign shore, far from all that we hold dear on earth, we may lie down and die, and our grave, unmarked by sculptured marble, may be soon forgotten. But to do good; to defend truth; to promote virtue; to save the souls of the perishing, is worth all which it costs, and he who accomplishes these things by exchanging for them earthly comforts, and even life, has made a wise exchange. The universe gains by it in happiness; and the benevolent heart should rejoice that there is such a gain, though attended with our individual and personal suffering.
on Colossians 1 :29