Verse 18. "The salutation by the hand of me Paul." - The preceding part of the epistle was written by a scribe, from the mouth of the apostle: this, and what follows, was written by the hand of St. Paul himself. A similar distinction we find, 1 Cor. xvi. 21, and in 2 Thess. iii. 17; and this, it seems, was the means by which the apostle authenticated every epistle which he sent to the different Churches. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle, so I write.
"Remember my bonds" - See what proof ye have of the truth of the Gospel; I am in bonds on this account; I suffer patiently, yea, exult in the Lord Jesus, so perfectly am I upheld by the grace of the Gospel. Remember my bonds, and take courage. How eloquent were these concluding words! That such a man should be in bonds for the Gospel, was the fullest proof of the truth of the Gospel. A cunningly devised fable could not have imposed on Saul of Tarsus; he was fully satisfied of the truth of the doctrines of Christianity; he proclaimed them as truths from heaven; and for their sake cheerfully suffered the loss of all things. The bonds of such a man are a plenary proof of the truth of the doctrines for which he was bound.
Grace be with you.] May you still possess the favour and blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ: the apostle ends, as he began, this epistle. Without the grace of Christ they could not have become a Church; without this grace they could not continue to be one.
"Amen" - This is omitted by the most ancient and correct MSS.
The subscriptions, as usual, are various and uncertain:-
The common GREEK text has, To the Colossians, written from Rome by Tychicus and Onesimus.
The Epistle to the Colossians; written at Rome, and sent by the hand of Tychicus. SYRIAC.
To the Colossians. AETHIOPIC.
In the Vulgate there is no subscription.
The end of the epistle; and it was written from Rome, and sent by the hand of Tychicus and Onesimus. Praise be to God for ever and ever; and may his mercy be upon us. Amen. ARABIC.
Written from Athens by Tychicus, and Onesimus, and Mark, his disciples. COPTIC.
The MSS. are not less various than the versions: To the Colossians.
- That to the Colossians is completed; that to the Philippians begins.
- That to the Colossians is finished; the First Epistle to the Thessalonians begins.
- To the Colossians, from Rome.
- Written to the Colossians from Rome. - Written from Rome by Tychicus, and Timotheus, and Onesimus. - Written by Paul and Timothy, and sent by Tychicus, and Onesimus.
That the epistle was written from Rome there is little cause to doubt: that Timothy might be the scribe is very probable, because it appears he was at Rome with the apostle in the same year in which this epistle was written. See Phil. ii. 19. And that it was sent by Tychicus and Onesimus, seems evident from the 8th and 9th verses of this chapter. The common subscription has the consent of the greater number of the most recent and comparatively recent MSS., but this is not, in general, a proof of authenticity.
In the note on ver. 16, I promised to subjoin what is called the Epistle to the Laodiceans: I give it here from the best copies, and add a literal translation, that the curious, whether learned or unlearned, may have what some have believed to be authentic, and what has doubtless existed, in one form or other, from a very remote antiquity.
EPISTOLA PAULI APOSTOLI AD LAODICENSES,
1. Paulus, Apostolus, non ab hominibus, neque per hominem, sed per Jesum Christum. Fratribus qui estis (sunt) Laodiceae. 2. Gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre nostro, et Domino Jesu Christo. 3. Gratias ago Christo per omnem orationem meam, quod permanentes estis, et perseverantes in operibus bonis, promissionem expectantes in die judicii. 4. Neque disturbent (deficiunt) vos quorumdam vaniloquia insimulantium veritatem (insanientium) ut vos avertant a veritate evangelii, quod a me praedicatur. 5. Et nunc faciet Deus, ut qui sunt ex me ad perfectionem veritatis evangelii sint deservientes, et benignitatem operum facientes quae sunt salutis vitae aeternae. 6. Et nunc palam sunt vincula mea, quae patior in Christo; in quibus laetor et gaudeo. 7. Et hoc mihi est ad salutem perpetuam, quod (ipsum) factum est in orationibus vestris, et administrante Spiritu Sancto, sive per vitam, sive per mortem. 8. Est enim mihi vivere vita in Christo, et mori gaudium (et lucrum.) 9. Et ipse Dominus noster in vobis faciet misericordiam suam, ut eandem dilectionem habeatis; et sitis unanimes. 10. Ergo, dilectissimi, ut audistis praesentiam Domini, ita sentite (retinete) et facite in timore; (Domini;) et erit vobis vita in aeternum:
11. Est enim Dominus qui operatur in vobis:
12. Et facite sine peccato quaecunque faeitis, (sine reatu,) et quod est optimum. 13. Dilectissimi, gaudete in Domino Jesu Christo, et cavete omnes sordes (sordidos) in omni lucro. 14. Omnes petitiones vestrae sint palam apud Deum. 15. Estote firmi in sensu Christi et quae integra, et vera, et pudica, et casta, et justa, et amabilia sunt, facite. l6. Et quae audistis, et accepistis, in corde retinete; et erit vobis pax. 17. Salutant vos omnes sancti. 18. Salutate omnes fratres in osculo sancto. l9. Gratia Domini nostri Jesu Christi cum spiritu vestro. Amen. 20. Et hanc facite legi Colossensibus; et eam quae est Colossensium vobis. Ad Laodisenses scripta fuit e Roma, per Tychieum et Onesimum.
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE LAODICEANS.
1. Paul, an apostle, not from men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ, to the brethren which are in Laodicea. 2. Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. I give thanks to Christ in all my prayers, that ye continue and persevere in good works; waiting for the promise in the day of judgment. 4. Be not troubled with the vain speeches of certain who pretend to the truth, that they may draw away your hearts from the truth of the Gospel which was preached by me. 5. And may God grant that those who are of me, may be led forward to the perfection of the truth of the Gospel, and perform the benignity of works which become the salvation of eternal life. 6. And now my bonds are manifest, which I suffer in Christ, and in them I rejoice and am glad. 7. And this shall turn to my perpetual salvation, by means of your prayers and the assistance of the Holy Spirit, whether they be for life or for death. 8. For my life is to live in Christ; and to die will be joyous. 9. And may our Lord himself grant you his mercy, that ye may have the same love, and be of one mind. 10. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have heard of the coming of the Lord, so think and act in the fear of the Lord, and it shall be to you eternal life. 11. For it is the Lord that worketh in you. 12. Whatsoever you do, do it without sin, and do what is best. 13. Beloved, rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, and beware of filthy lucre. 14. Let all your prayers be manifest before God. 15. And be firm in the sentiments you have of Christ. And whatsoever is perfect, and true, and modest, and chaste, and just, and amiable, that do. 16. And whatsoever ye have heard and received retain in your hearts, and it shall tend to your peace. 17. All the saints salute you. 18. Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss. 19. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. 20. And cause this epistle to be read to the Colossians; and that to the Colossians to be read to you.
To the Laodiceans, written from Rome, by Tychicus and Onesimus. Such is the composition which pretends to be the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Laodiceans, and of which I have endeavoured to give a literal version; though even with the assistance of the various readings of the Anjou MS., which I have included in brackets, I found this difficult, so as to preserve any sense. Elias Hutter has published it after the Epistle to the Colossians, as if it were the genuine production of the apostle to whom it was attributed; and has taken the pains to exhibit it in twelve languages, viz.: Syriac, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, Bohemian, Italian, Spanish, French, English, Danish, and Polish. All, the Latin excepted, appear to be of his own composing. To criticise them would be lost labour; the Greek is too bald to be the production of any remote age, and as to the English, no Englishman can understand it. The editor deserves the strongest reprehension, because he has associated it with the genuine epistles of St. Paul, without a single note of its spuriousness.
As to its being a work of St. Paul, little or nothing need be said; its barrenness of meaning, poverty of style, incoherency of manner, and total want of design and object, are a sufficient refutation of its pretensions. It is said to be the work of some heretics of ancient times: this is very unlikely, as there is no heresy, ever broached in the Christian Church, that could derive any support from any thing found in this epistle. It is a congeries of scraps, very injudiciously culled, here and there, from St. Paul's epistles; without arrangement, without connection, and, as they stand here, almost without sense. It is a poor, wretched tale, in no danger of ever being denominated even a cunningly devised fable. It should keep no company but that of the pretended Epistles of Paul to Seneca, to which I have in other cases referred, and of which I have given my opinion.
Should it be asked: "Why I have introduced it here?" I answer: To satisfy the curious reader, and to show how little ground there is for the opinion of some, that this epistle is of any importance; and to prove how miserably forgery itself succeeds when it endeavours to add to or corrupt the word of God. The sacred writings are of such a peculiar character that it is utterly impossible to imitate them with any kind of success. They bear, deeply impressed, the seal of infinite wisdom-a seal which no human art can counterfeit. This is the criterion by which the spurious gospels and apocryphal writings in general have been judged and detected; and this heavenly stamp, under the care of Divine Providence, will continue to be their chief preservative, as long as the sun and moon shall endure.
Finished correcting for a new edition, Dec. 16th, 1831.
- A. C.