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of Sabatier (Paul, pp. 229-234) and Klopper (Der Brief an die Kolosser, 1882). Recently the support has become even more extensive. Among others, the Pauline authorship is accepted by L. Schultze (Handbuch der theolog. Wissentchaften, Band. i. Abth. 2, pp. 91-95), Schafer (Einl. pp. 132-136), Oltramare (Commentaire sur les rfpttres de S. Paul aux Col. Ephes. (1891), vol. i. pp. 66-91), Clemen, Harnack, Julicher (Einl. § 11; EBi, i. 860f.), Blass (Ada Apost. prolegomena, p. 1), M'Giffert (AA, pp. 366-374), E. H. Hall (Papias (1899), pp. 283-286), Bartlet (AA, p. 186 f.), T. K. Abbott (ICC, pp. 1-lix) Adeney, BI, pp. 389-391, Zahn (Einl. i. pp. 347-368), and with exceptional ability by Haupt (-Meyer)1 and von Soden (JpTh (1885), pp. 320 f., 497 f.. 672 f.; KG, iii. 1, pp. 1-18). Also Bacon, INT, p. Ill f.

The determining factor in this recognition of Colossians as an authentic work of Paul2 has been the recognition of Gnosticism in its pre-Christian sources, Persian, Phrygian, and Philonic. Investigation into theosophic ideas early in the first century has revealed symptoms and developments of what is called at a later period "Gnosticism" (cp. Kriiger, BTK, vi. pp. 728-734). The Essenes, especially, represent aptitudes which can be taken as precursors of the tendencies s combated in Colossians; in fact, the widely diffused and popular forms of theosophy among Jewish (Ac 1913) communities give a religious climate for the seventh decade of the century, amply sufficient to explain the ideas and language * of this epistle. Gnosticism was the word originally for an atmosphere rather than for a theory. It stood for a syncretism, a mental temper whose incipient and elementary forms can be detected in various quarters during the earlier half of the first-century.* Indeed, at

theology. It would connote any transcendental theory of God and the world, especially among Jewish Christians. With the appeal to human traditions and the significance attached to questions of food (Col 2=Ro 14), Paul was already familiar.

i Haupt is dissatisfied with both the Essene and the Alexandrian theories of the Colossian heresy. He prefers to regard it as a phase of contemporary Judaism, which in the Phrygian atmosphere of theosophy and mystic cults attempted to erect a religious system by means of angel-worship and asceticism, with the aid of oral teaching imparted to the initiated. Julicher again is unable to detect any specifically Jewish element of prominence in the Colossian heresy.

* Evidently Epaphras and the other teachers at ColossS were unable to cope with the ramifications of the local theosophy. The predominance of abstract teaching in Paul's letter over personal references is natural when it is remembered (i.) that the readers were not directly converts of Paul, and (ii.) that the letter was to be supplemented by Tychicus' (47) oral information upon the writer's situation and prospects.

3 Grammatical usage and the inherent probabilities of the case are, upon the whole, against the suggestion that the term prMit (218 etc.) and the use of the singular denote a person—some teacher of marked influence and authority as in the case of the Galatians (Gal 3l 57- •). The reference seems purposely vague and general. Had Paul heard of some particular individual, his treatment would in all likelihood have been of a different character.

4 On the novelties of style and vocabulary, cp. especially Haupt's serviceable analysis (Meyer, pp. 27-32). As he points out, most of the peculiarities—the occurrence of strange expressions, and the absence of distinctively Pauline terms—are to be found in the hrst half of the epistle. Both Haupt and von Soden agree that "Colossians " is an example of the truth that the style is not always the man; it is frequently to be explained by his mode and circumstances at the time of writing. Paul's "theology as a whole never became fully rounded and complete in such a sense as to exclude fresh points of views or new expressions " (Julicher).

"Cp. besides the candid and final discussion in Klopper, op. cit. pp. 58-119, Sanday, Smith's hid. B. (1893), i. pp. 624-631, and Zahn, Einl. i. pp. 310-36S. After making allowance for some exaggerations (with Schurcr, ThLz (1899), 167 f.), any time after 40 A,d., early Christianity was upon the edge of those tendencies which came afterwards to be named "Gnosticism." A discussion such as that presented in "Colossians" is unprecedented, so far as regards Paulinism,1 but it is a long way from being historically a prolepsis.

one must also admit that Friedlander has proved the existence of an incipient preChristian Gnosticism in some form or other within Judaism (Der vorchristlichr. Jiidische Gnostictemus, 1898). Holtzmann is in agreement with the main points of this theory (NTTh, i. pp. 476-486, "Die Gnosis ira NT"), but he still adheres substantially to the rather mechanical hypothesis already noted (ibid. ii. pp. 225-258), which has recently been favoured in a tentative way by J. Weiss (ThLz, 1900, pp. 553-556). The latter critic rejects Ephesians in Mo, but accepts Colossians as an interpolated production of the apostle ; e.g. passages like Vs (el ixnrtm . . . »/«»•»), 2l (««) iru . . . mfxi), 22 («iTi>), etc., are insertions made by an editor who wrote at the time when the Pauline epistles were being collected and used for catholic ends. It must be admitted that such changes in the text of a letter like this were not improbable in the second century, especially as scribes had always the temptation of conforming Colossians to Ephesiaus. But I do not think it likely that any glosses which may be detected in Colossians were due to the author of Ephesians (when that writing is taken as sub-Pauline), or that they affect the Pauline authorship and primitive Gnosticism of the former epistlo, whose coefficients of age and situation are best supplied by the seventh-decade date and the impact of Asiatic theosophy upon the apostle's mind.

1 In addition to what has been said (pp. 58 f.), and remains to be said (p. 230 n.) upon the influence exerted by Paulinism on the subsequent literature and religious trend of early Christianity, it may be pointed out that while doctrines such as that of justification by faith were not taken up and reproduced in any genuine succession, there were certain elements in Paul's system, and particularly some of those developed in his later epistles (Col-Phil), which turned out to be more akin to the popular Christianity of the sub-Pauline era. For example, conceptions such as that of Christ the Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1-3) were in many ways congenial to the later and wider religious standpoint of the Roman world ; so that, if Col and Eph (or indeed either) be accepted as Pauline, the transition from Paulinism to the common Catholicism of the next age does not seem quite so difficult as otherwise and on a superficial glance it might appear. One hardly cares to go as far as Weiuel (ZNW, 1901, pp. 32f.), who displaces justification from its position as the premier topic of Paulinism, and argues that Paul's chief ideas revolved round yrSni and «•»?«'«, C«ij and <t?0«ir/s. But, as Romans and Corinthians prove, these conceptions had a role in Paulinism, a r61e, too, which did not lessen as the years passed (to judge even from his extant correspondence). Often, as at Corinth, they had to be practically ignored in his average preaching. But this cannot have been more than a temporary and compulsory expedient; for 1 Co 2-3 is an implied reproach almost as much as Heb 5n_tji2. "Wisdom we do speak among the mature." Paul hints that he too has his high and cosmic speculations, his Christian philosophy; and not impossibly it bulked more largely in his average teaching than the exigencies of his extant letters permit us to observe. If such was the case, one can see how it was through the less technical, or (if we choose to say so) the less distinctly Pauline, qualities, such as are partially exhibited in the later epistles, that the later phases of popular belief could reproduce the influence and teaching of the great apostle, even when his subtle and profound theses failed to win their sympathies. Kattenbusch points out this filiation in the case of the Roman Symbol. But it applies to the synoptic gospels and to Acts especially; and no piece of evidence can be safely ignored which may throw some light upon the vexed and obscure question of the relation between these documents and the earlier epistles of the premier apostle.


Historically, the epistle to the Colossians is of great interest. It shows how during his imprisonment Paul was actually regarded as an authority in wide circles, even in circles to which he was not personally related ; and how for his own part he had no hesitation in considering that the sphere of his mission embraced offshoots of those churches which he had planted himself. It shows how varied wore the forms in which the ideals of Jewish Christianity embodied themselves; how in Paul's case the divergences of practical religion led to the development of dogmatic conceptions; and how, with that in view, the apostle turned the Jewish doctrine of the Messiah to account, presupposing along with it the Jewish cosmology. Finally the epistle gives us the first sketch of Christian ethics as applied to the various elementary forms of social life.—von 8odon.

I1"3 Greeting:

I1"12 Thanksgiving; and Prayer

for the progress

and advance of Colossians in God's knowledge and service, through

lu-34 Dogmatic i Christ the redeemer.

1"-" Christ the head of the creation,

l18-23 the Church—the experience of

the Colossians. \a-2s Paul tho apostle of this gospel—his anxiety

for them, need of adherence to Christ and the faith in spite of a new and false philosophy: 2n"u a statement of the life after Christ: spiritual and supreme.

218—3* „ ,, ,, the flroixficz: ritual observances

and angel-worship, the free and risen life in communion with Christ,

3'-4" Ethical I

individual ethics—negative: against pagan vices.

positive: call to the morality of Christ, social ethics—wives and husbands, children and fathers, slaves and masters, general. 47-17 Personal: the coming of Tychicus and Oncsimus. greetings. 4,s Farewell.


1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothcus the brother,

2 to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ, who are at Colossae: grace to you and peace from God our Father.

3 We always give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

4 for you in our prayers, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and

5 of the love that you have for all the saints, owing to the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens—of which you have already heard in the

6 word of the truth of the gospel, which has reached you even as it covers all the world, with fruit and growth; so is it also among yourselves from the day that you learned and fully know the grace of God in truth,

7 even as you were taught it by Epaphras, our beloved fellow-slave, who

8 is a faithful minister of Christ for you,1 who has also given us the news

9 of your love in the Spirit. For this reason, from the day that we heard of it, we also have not ceased to pray for you and ask that you may be filled with the full knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and intelli

10 gence, to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to please him in every way, by bearing fruit and growing in all good conduct through the full

11 knowledge of God ; as you are strengthened with all power, through the

12 might of his majesty, for all endurance and longsuffering, giving thanks with joy to the Father who has qualified you to have part in the lot of

13 the saints in light, who has rescued us from the power of darkness and

14 removed us into the realm of the Son of his love—in whom we have

15 the redemption, the remission of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,

16 Since in him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth

Things visible and things invisible,
Be it thrones or lordships or principalities or powers:
All things have been created through him and for him,

17 Before all things he is, in him all tilings cohere.

18 He is also the head of the body, of the Community, in that he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that he might come to hold the

19 firet place among all. For it was the good pleasure of the Fulness to

20 dwell in him, and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross—* be it the things on the

21 earth or the things in the heavens. And as for you, aliens as once you were and of hostile intent amid your evil deeds, yet he has reconciled

2-2 you now in the body of his flesh by means of his death, to present you holy

■Si and faultless and irreproachable before him—that is, if you continue in

the faith, founded and firm and unmoved from the hope of the gospel

which you have heard, which has been preached in all creation under ihe

sky, of which 1 Paul was made a minister.

1 Reading iftit. - Omitting [[hi »ir«D]].

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake. Yea, so far as Christian distresses in ray flesh are incomplete, I would on my part supply the

25 deficiency for the sake of his body, that is, the Community; of which I was made a minister according to the stewardship of God given to me for

26 you, that I should fully preach the word of God, the secret which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations—but now it has

27 been disclosed to his saints, to whom God willed to display what are the riches of the majesty of this secret among the Gentiles; it is "Christ

28 among you! the hope of majesty!" Him we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may

29 present every man perfect in Christ; an end for which also I labour and wrestle keenly in virtue of his force which is powerfully at work in me.

2 1 For I would have you know how keen is my concern on your behalf and on behalf of those in Laodicea and all who have not seen my face in

2 the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, as they themselves are knit in love together and brought to all riches of intelligent assur

3 ance, to the full knowledge of that secret of the God of Christ, in which

4 exist all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. I say this to

5 prevent anyone from deluding you by specious persuasion. For although absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit, rejoicing to behold your orderly array and the solid front of your faith in Christ.

6 As therefore you received the Christ, even Jesus the Lord, walk in

7 him: be fixed, be built up in him, be confirmed in the faith even

8 as you were taught it, abound' in thanksgiving. See that there is no one who makes you his prey by means of his theosophy, which is a vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world

9 and not after Christ. For it is in him that all the fulness of the Deity 10 dwells bodily, and in him you are mode full, who is the head of every ] 1 principality and power; in whom also you were circumcised with a

circumcision which no hands made, as you stripped off your fleshly body

12 in the circumcision of Christ, when you were buried with him in that baptism in which you were also raised with him, through your faith in

13 the force of God who raised him from the dead. And as for you, dead as you were with the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he

14 made you live together with him by forgiving us all our trespasses, cancelling the contract consisting of statutes, which stood against us2—he

15 put that away, when he hung it as a trophy on the cross, when he stripped the principalities and powers and exposed them openly, triumphing there

16 in over them. Let no one take you to task, then, for eating

17 or drinking, or in the matter of festival or new-moon or Sabbath. These are merely the shadow of what is to be, whereas the substance belongs to

18 Christ. Let no one disparage you with his devotion to so-called humility and to angel-worship, speculating in airy nothings,8 puffed up in vain by

19 the mind of his flesh, and discarding the Head from whom all the body through its joints and ligaments is supplied and knit together and grows with growth divine.

20 If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why be

21 subject to statutes as though you still were living in the world, (" Handle

22 not, touch not, taste not!"—things that are all destined to perish by

23 use !) after human precepts and doctrines?—Such like things have indeed a reputation for wisdom, with their self-imposed worship and so-called

1 Omitting f[i> «»»?]]. - Omitting ! h i»i>«r/« ifHt.

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