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Paul's Epistle to the Colossians Part 1: Rescued from the Authority of Darkness
Colossae was a city of Phrygia on the Lycus River, one of the branches of the Maeander, and 3 miles from Mount Cadmus, which is 8,013 feet high. It stood at the head of a gorge where the two streams unite, 13 miles from Hierapolis and 10 from Laodicea. Colossae, which was situated along the great highway that crossed Anatolia from Ephesus to the Euphrates valley, was mentioned by Herodotus, where he described it as being along the route of the Persian invasion of Greece by Xerxes. It was also mentioned in Xenophon's Anabasis, where he described it as being along the route taken by Cyrus when he marched against his brother, the Persian king Artaxerxes II, around 401 BC.
According to William Smith's Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography, Colossae was “a city of Great Phrygia in the plain on the river Lycus, once of great importance [citing Strabo and others], but so reduced by the rise of the neighbouring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis, that the later geographers do not even mention it, and it might have been forgotten but for its place in the early history of the Christian Church. A fortress called Chonae was formed (probably by Justinian) on a precipitous hill 8 miles S. of Colossae, the position of which was not not defensible; and in the course of the 8th cent. [B.C.] A.D. altogether absorbed its population, so that its name passed away, and the village near its site bears the name Khonae.” While Smith, whose dictionary was published in 1904, believed the site of ancient Colossae to have been 8 miles north of Chonae (the modern Khonos), another site has since been discovered, 3 miles north of Chonae, where the remains of the ancient Greek city of Colossae have been located. There have been found extensive ruins of an ancient city, large blocks of stone, foundations of buildings, and fragments of columns. For a long time the ruins were known, but the site was not excavated. Recently, within the past 20 years, the site has been excavated and many inscriptions and other discoveries have been made and published.
While Colossae seems to have been an important city in ancient times, by the time of the Geographer Strabo the cities Apameia Cibotus, or Apameia on the Maeander, and Laodicea, which was on the Lycus river, were the largest cities in this part of Phrygia. Paul also mentioned Hierapolis, which was near to Laodicea, in chapter 4 of this epistle. Laodicea was at that time the chief town of a league of cities to which Colossae and more than twenty other cities had belonged. Both Laodicea and Colossae were famous for their wool, and the people of Colossae derived great profits from their skill in dyeing wool. The upper valley of the Maeander was a sheep-feeding country, and in the lamentation for Tyre given by Ezekiel (27:18) as it reads in the Septuagint, there is a reference to wool from Miletus, the famous port city of ancient Caria where the Maeander emptied into the sea.
In Strabo's account of the area, from book 12 of his Geography, we read:
13. Above Phrygia Epictetus towards the south is Greater Phrygia, which leaves on the left Pessinus and the region of Orcaorci and Lycaonia, and on the right the Maeonians and Lydians and Carians. [To Strabo, “above” means inland, and he is looking from the north.] In Epictetus are Phrygia 'Paroreia,' as it is called, and the part of Phrygia that lies towards Pisidia, and the parts round Amorium and Eumeneia and Synnada, and then Apameia Cibotus, as it is called, and Laodiceia, which two are the largest of the Phrygian cities. And in the neighbourhood of these are situated towns, and [at this point there is a lacuna in the text, and Horace Jones, the translator of the Loeb Classical Library edition, suggests that it be filled with the words 'places, among others'] Aphrodisias, Colossae, Themisonium, Sanaüs, Metropolis, and Apollonias; but still farther away than these are Peltae, Tabae, Eucarpia, and Lysias. (Geography 12.8.13)
Then, after describing Phrygia Paroreia, which Strabo said had “a kind of mountainous ridge extending from the east towards the west”, and which may have been part of what Luke had called the “upper coasts” of Paul's journey through Galatia and Phrygia to go to Ephesus in Acts chapter 19, a little further along Strabo says:
15. Apameia is a great emporium of Asia, I mean Asia in the special sense of that term, and ranks second only to Ephesus; for it is a common entrepôt [center of trade] for the merchandise from both Italy and Greece. Apameia is situated near the outlets of the Marsyas River, which flows through the middle of the city and has its sources in the city; it flows down to the suburbs, and then with violent and precipitate current joins the Maeander. The latter receives also another river, the Orgas, and traverses a level country with an easy-going and sluggish stream; and then, having by now become a large river, the Maeander flows for a time through Phrygia and then forms the boundary between Caria and Lydia at the Plain of Maeander, as it is called, where its course is so exceedingly winding that everything winding is called "meandering." And at last it flows through Caria itself, which is now occupied by the Ionians, and then empties between Miletus and Prienê. It rises in a hill called Celaenae, on which there is a city which bears the same name as the hill; and it was from Celaenae that Antiochus Soter made the inhabitants move to the present Apameia, the city which he named after his mother Apama, who was the daughter of Artabazus and was given in marriage to Seleucus Nicator. And here is laid the scene of the myth of Olympus and of Marsyas and of the contest between Marsyas and Apollo. Above is situated a lake which produces the reed that is suitable for the mouth-pieces of pipes; and it is from this lake that pour the sources of both the Marsyas and the Maeander.
16. Laodiceia, though formerly small, grew large in our time and in that of our fathers, even though it had been damaged by siege in the time of Mithridates Eupator. However, it was the fertility of its territory and the prosperity of certain of its citizens that made it great: at first Hieron, who left to the people an inheritance of more than two thousand talents and adorned the city with many dedicated offerings, and later Zeno the rhetorician and his son Polemon, the latter of whom, because of his bravery and honesty, was thought worthy even of a kingdom, at first by Antony and later by Augustus. The country round Laodiceia produces sheep that are excellent, not only for the softness of their wool, in which they surpass even the Milesian wool, but also for its raven-black colour, so that the Laodiceians derive splendid revenue from it, as do also the neighbouring Colosseni from the colour which bears the same name. [These are the Colossians, and the purplish or perhaps madder-reddish wool which they dyed was mentioned by Pliny in his Natural History.] And here the Caprus River joins the Maeander, as does also the Lycus, a river of good size, after which the city is called the "Laodiceia near Lycus." Above the city lies Mt. Cadmus, whence the Lycus flows, as does also another river of the same name as the mountain. But the Lycus flows under ground for the most part, and then, after emerging to the surface, unites with the other rivers, thus indicating that the country is full of holes and subject to earthquakes; for if any other country is subject to earthquakes, Laodiceia is, and so is Carura in the neighbouring country. (Geography 12.8.15-16)
Apameia is not mentioned in Scripture. However Laodiceia is mentioned here in Paul's epistle to the Colossians, and Laodiceia was also the home of one of the seven assemblies addressed in the early chapters of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. But while these cities were in the land originally called Phrygia, it is not very likely that many of the latter inhabitants of the region were actually Phrygians. In early times, the Carians, who were Phoenicians, had a strong presence in the area, especially in the southeast where Colossae was located, and it was close to the borders of ancient Caria. But by the end of the 8th century BC the Carians had been conquered by the Ionians, and both Dorian and Ionian Greeks had long been establishing settlements throughout the region. This part of Phrygia was also close to the ancient kingdoms of Lydia and Pisidia. All of these areas had a strong Greek presence long before the wars with the Persians. Phrygia itself was for the most part destroyed by the Kimmerians in the late 7th century BC, who had also ravaged and pillaged much of Lydia, Ionia and the surrounding countries. After the Kimmerian invasions, the kingdom of Phrygia ceased to exist and it never recovered as a political entity. Then a century later, the lands of Phrygia and Lydia fell under the control of the Persians, who conquered and destroyed the cities of the Lydians, and held the region from the time of Darius and Xerxes to the time of Alexander the Great. Colossae must have had a significant Persian presence during this period, as it was the city to which the Persian general Tissaphernes repaired after he was defeated by the Lacedaemonians in 396 BC, and in that same place he then lost his head to another Persian general, Tithraustes, on orders from the Persian king Artaxerxes II. This is recorded in Book 14, chapter 80, of Diodorus Siculus' Library of History.
While near the close of the 3rd century BC much of ancient Phrygia to the east was acquired by the Galatae and was called after them Galatia, the south-western parts of Phrygia containing Colossae and Laodiceia remained under the control of the Seleucids, the Greek kings of Syria, and the Greek presence in the area only grew stronger. Likewise, the north-western parts, including Mysia and the Troad and along with Thrace, fell to Lysimachus after the death of Alexander. However Mysia had also been inhabited by Aeolian Greeks for many centuries already. In the description of Laodicea which we have just heard from Strabo, the Greek presence in that city is clear, and the growth of the region which he describes is attributed to Greeks. Upon the defeat of Antiochus “the Great” by the Romans in 190 BC, this western region of ancient Phrygia containing Colossae, Laodicea, Apameia and Hierapolis, became a part of the Greek Kingdom of Pergamos, for which reason it was called Phrygia Epictetus, or “acquired Phrygia”. After the death of Attalus III it was then incorporated into the Roman province of Asia. Like many of the other cities in the region, Colossae and Laodiceia, cities with Greek names, had also had Greek characteristics. While the name Laodiceia can mean just people, the name Colossae (Κολοσσαί) must be derived from the Greek word κολοσσιαῖος, or colossal, as in the colossal statue called the κολοσσός of Rhodes.
The video below exhibits the ancient sites of Hierapolis and Aphrodisias, mentioned by Strabo above. Note that the video says things from a perspective with which we do not agree, but it is here for informational purposes only.
So at this time, in the first century, Colossae was a part of Roman Asia. However where he wrote of Galatia, Luke had used the ancient Greek names for the various lands incorporated by the Romans into Galatia, distinguishing that part of the Roman province of Galatia inhabited by the Galatae, which was properly Galatia, from the parts inhabited by the Lycaonians, for example, in Acts chapter 14 where he mentioned Lycaonia. So where Luke mentions Phrygia, he is more than likely distinguishing the lands of ancient Phrygia apart from the Roman provinces of Asia or Galatia, as some regions of ancient Phrygia became part of each province. So it is likely, where Luke mentions Paul's travels through Phrygia, that he is including cities such as Colossae, Laodiceia and Hierapolis. But ancient Phrygia covered a large area, and it is not certain that Paul had ever visited these cites, or that he had traveled through this part of Phrygia, as we shall see while we present this epistle to the Colossians.
Paul had traveled on foot through Phrygia and Galatia on two occasions. The first is recorded in Acts chapter 16, as Paul was traveling from east to west through Anatolia, starting from Antioch in Syria and passing through Cilicia. There it is clear that where Luke mentioned Phrygia, he referred to the northern part of the ancient kingdom, since the apostles “were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia”, and were instead being led to Macedonia. Doing that, it would have been necessary to go north through northwest Phrygia, where they passed through Mysia, which was adjacent to the Troad. Therefore on this first journey through Phrygia, Paul did not go through the area where Colossae and Laodicea were located.
The second time that Paul is described as going through Galatia and Phrygia, he is also traversing Anatolia on foot after leaving Antioch in Syria, as it is described in Acts chapter 18. But here Luke says that Paul “passed through the upper coasts” en route to Ephesus. The text of Acts says of Paul in Antioch that “And spending some time he departed, passing through successively the land of Galatia and Phrugia, confirming all of the students” in Acts 18, and then in Acts 19 it says that “Paul had passed through the highlands to come down into Ephesos”. If these highlands mentioned by Luke include Phrygia Paroreia, the part of Phrygia that Strabo describes as consisting of mountains which span from east to west, then it is possible that in neither of his journeys through Phrygia did Paul visit Colossae or Laodicea. Here, in Colossians chapters 2 and 4, we will see evidence that perhaps Paul never did actually visit either Colossae or Laodicea in person.
Several times in Paul's epistle to the Philippians, we see him mention a fellow-worker with the name Epaphroditos. In reference to the Philippians Paul had called this Epaphroditos “your apostle”, in Philippians 2:25. So Epaphroditos must have been especially selected by the Philippians to bear their message to Paul in Rome.
Here we see a man named Epaphras, who is also mentioned in another epistle written at this same time, which is the epistle to Philemon. While we did not mention this in our presentation of the epistle to the Philippians, it is evident that Epaphras and Epaphroditos are references to the same man, since even James Strong in his Concordance informs us that the word Epaphras is only a contraction of the word Epaphroditos. So here we learn that Epaphras, who is almost certainly Epaphroditos, is a native of Colossae where in Colossians 4:12 Paul says in his salutation that “12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers”. In verse 9 of that same chapter, we learn that Onesimus, the slave on whose behalf Paul had written the epistle to Philemon, was also a Colossian, and therefore Philemon was probably a Colossian. There we are also informed that Tychicus, who was evidently an Ephesian, together with Philemon, had delivered this epistle to the Colossians, and therefore they also must have delivered the epistle to Philemon at this same time, since Onesimus was an escaped slave of Philemon and in that letter Paul begs for his freedom.
We have asserted that these last epistles written by Paul were written in 61, or perhaps in early 62 AD. Around this same time, there was a great earthquake in the area, which is said to have decimated the cities of Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis. However Colossae was supposedly hit the hardest, and as a result, the city was said by Eusebius to have been reduced to a small village. According to some sources, the chronicles of Eusebius date the earthquake to the 10th year of Nero, or 63-64 AD. In Book 14 of The Annals of Imperial Rome, the historian Tacitus wrote that “In the Asian province one of its famous cities, Laodicea, was destroyed by an earthquake in this year, and rebuilt from its own resources without any subvention from Rome.” (Annals, 14:27) Evidently Hierapolis was also destroyed, and then rebuilt, but the historian does not mention that city. Laodicea was only ten miles from Colossae, and Hierapolis was near to Laodicea. Tacitus was writing about a period no later than the 7th year of Nero, or 60-61 AD, and he says that the uprising of the Iceni in Britain, which is also generally dated to 60 or 61 AD, happened in the following year.
This epistle attests that Epaphras had come to Paul with a report from Colossae, and Paul makes no mention of any earthquake in his return epistle to the Colossians. But if the earthquake had already occurred, we may not imagine how he avoided making such a mention. If Tacitus is correct, then perhaps Paul's letter was written before the earthquake occurred, in as well as the accompanying epistle to Philemon and his slightly earlier epistle to the Philippians. But if Eusebius is correct, these epistles may have even been written a little later, as late as the Spring of 62 AD.
However if the invasion of the Iceni happened in 60-61 AD, and the earthquake, as Tacitus states, happened a year sooner, then the earthquake may have happened in 59 AD, which was possibly even before the Colossians had received the Gospel. If the earthquake happened in 59 AD, Paul need not have mentioned it at all, writing his epistle in 61 AD.
In any event, it seems to be quite unlikely, with the chronology that we developed in our presentation of the Book of Acts, and with what we could deduce from the times and markers that Luke provides for us there, that these letters could have been written earlier than 61 AD. Paul's trial before Nero had already occurred, and Luke informed us that Paul was in Rome for two years. So if the trial happened so soon after Paul arrived in Rome in the Spring of 60 AD, then we would have to imagine that Paul was left to wait for a decision from Nero and to be executed nearly two years after his trial. Of course, that may be possible, but does not seem plausible. For this reason we have imagined the trial to have occurred some time in 61 AD, after which the second epistle to Timothy was written and Timothy arrived to be with Paul. Then the last of his known epistles were written, including this one, and that Paul was executed in 62 AD, after two years of house arrest in Rome. As Luke had attested, Paul was in Rome for two years, and we can deduce the sequence of events, but of course we could be wrong about the details of the timing of the events within the two year period since we are wanting so much information.
With this we will begin our presentation of the epistle to the Colossians:
1 Paul, ambassador of Christ Yahshua by will of Yahweh, and Timotheos the brother, 2 to those in Kolossaia [P46, A, and I have “Kolassaia”, the text follows א, B, and D], holy and faithful brethren among the number of the Anointed: favor to you and peace from Yahweh our Father and Prince Yahshua Christ.
Of course, the phrase “among the number of the Anointed” may have been simplistically rendered “in Christ”, as most translations have done. The Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Claromontanus (D) have the word for Jesus interpolated into the text, where we may have written “among the number of Christ Yahshua”. At the end of the verse, the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Claromontanus (D) want the words “and Prince Yahshua Christ”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), Freerianus (I), and the Majority Text.
As we had explained at length while presenting our epistle to the Philippians, which was evidently written a short time before this epistle, Paul had written his second epistle to Timothy from Rome, asking the young apostle to join him. After Timothy arrived, the epistles to the Philippians, Colossians and Philemon were written. Chronologically, these are the last of Paul's surviving epistles. As we will see here later, a fourth epistle was also written at this time, addressed to the Laodiceans, which was apparently lost at an early time, and its contents are completely unknown to us.
The King James Version has Paul addressing this epistle “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ”, however here the Greek words ἅγιος and πιστός are both adjectives modifying the noun for brethren. They refer to one and the same group of individuals, where in the King James translation the words may be mistaken as describing two different groups. The saints are defined in Scripture as those children of Israel, who were sanctified by Yahweh their God. As it says in Psalm 37: “28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” Likewise we read in chapter 27 of the Gospel of Matthew “52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” If those saints slept before the Crucifixion, and arose before the Resurrection, then they certainly had not yet heard the Gospel of Christ, but they were saints nevertheless, simply because they were of the children of Israel.
3 We are grateful to Yahweh, the Father of our Prince Yahshua Christ, at all times praying for you, 4 hearing of your faith in Christ Yahshua and that love which you have for all the saints,
The Codex Vaticanus (B) and the Majority Text want the phrase “which you have”, which the King James Version translators marked as having been added to their translation; the text here follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Claromontanus (D), which all have the phrase.
5 by which you are storing up expectation for yourselves in the heavens, which you heard beforehand in the Word of the truth of the good message 6 which is coming to you, and just as among all the society it is bearing fruit and growing, likewise also among you from that day in which you heard and acknowledged the favor of Yahweh in truth,
So here Paul professes that expectation is stored up in heaven by Christians who exhibit a love “for all the saints”. The expectation must be a reference to that “treasure in heaven” which Christians may accumulate by caring for one another and seeking to build the Kingdom of God in this life. Paul referred to this treasure in Philippians chapter 3 where he said that “14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He referred to it again in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 where he said: “24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
The King James Version has verse 6 to read, concerning the Gospel: “6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth”, and here we see that Paul had esteemed the Gospel to have already been preached in “all the world”, just as Luke had used the term world where he said that Caesar decreed “that all the world should be taxed”, in Luke chapter 2. All the world referred to the world of the Greeks and Romans, and not to the planet and all of the aliens it contains.
Here Paul also says that the Colossians had acknowledged the favor of Yahweh, or, as the King James Version has it, they “knew the grace of God”. The Greek word γιγνώσκω (Strong's # 1097) by itself is to know. But the word here is ἐπιγιγνώσκω (Strong's # 1921), and it has a stronger meaning, to look upon, witness, observe, to recognize or to acknowledge, etc. (Liddell & Scott).
In the Old Testament prophets, the children of Israel, having been condemned by the law, were promised grace in place of that condemnation. In Jeremiah chapter 31 we read that “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” This promise of grace relates only to the circumstances of the punishment and mercy which Yahweh God had promised to the children of Israel, and all other peoples are outside of that context, having no part in it, and for them there is no possible application for it, never having been under the law.
Here Paul informs us that the Colossians had received the Gospel, which is the message to Israel of the grace of God which they were receiving, from Epaphras:
7 just as you have learned from Epaphras our beloved fellow bondman, who is a trusted servant of the Anointed on our behalf [C and the MT have “on your behalf”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, and D], 8 who also disclosed to us your love in Spirit.
Or “...in the Spirit”, as we neglected to add the article which is not found in the Greek.
Epaphras is only mentioned here and in the epistle to Philemon. As we have already mentioned, we esteem him to be the same as Epaphroditos, who by that name is mentioned only in the epistle to the Philippians. In much the same manner, Silas was more fully referred to as Silvanus, and Priska as Priscilla. We are informed in Colossians chapter 4 that Epaphras is a Colossian, and ostensibly, he is the first to have preached the Gospel to the Colossians.
Here it is evident, as we shall also see in chapters 2 and 4 of this epistle, that Paul of Tarsus did not himself bring the Gospel of Christ to the Colossians, but rather it was Epaphras who first brought it to them, and then he had reported their acceptance of the Gospel back to Paul. This is substantiated in Colossians chapter 2 where Paul says to them “For I wish you to know that as great a struggle as I have for you, and those in Laodikeia, and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,” and with that we may also be led to understand that neither had Paul been to Laodicea, because neither had they seen his face in the flesh. So here, in one of the last surviving substantial letters of his ministry, Paul is seeing the fruits of his own labors, that others are bringing the Gospel to places where he himself could not.
9 For this reason we also, from the day in which we heard, do not cease from praying and requesting [B wants “and requesting”] on your behalf that you would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
The example Paul sets here, is that once our brethren who are in the world hear and accept the reconciliation to God which is in Christ, that we pray that they are strengthened and remain steadfast in their newly-found belief, which is accomplished through the acquisition of knowledge and understanding. Where Paul mentions “spiritual wisdom”, we must understand that the law is spiritual, so spiritual wisdom comes from studying the Word of God.
As David is recorded as having said to his son Solomon, in 1 Chronicles chapter 22: “11 Now, my son, the LORD be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the LORD thy God, as he hath said of thee. 12 Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God. 13 Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.”
10 to walk worthily of the Prince in all complaisance, in every good deed bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of Yahweh,
The knowledge of reconciliation in Christ leads one to understand the need for obedience to Christ. Complaisance is a willingness or inclination to comply, or to be obedient. This complaisance then leads the Christian to voluntarily perform deeds that produce good fruit: edification and sustenance both spiritual and temporal for his Christian brethren, as Christ had said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
As Christ had also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and we see that this message is consistent throughout all of Paul's epistles. This is “the obedience to the faith among all nations” which Paul had mentioned in Romans chapter 1, and the “sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” which Peter described in his first epistle, where he had explained that such obedience was the call for them who were “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”, which also refers to the children of Israel.
11 with all power being strengthened according to the might of His honor for all endurance and long-suffering with joy,
The words “with joy” may just as well belong to the beginning of the sentence which follows. It is God who strengthens us when we are obedient to Him, as we read in Psalm 147: “11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. 12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion. 13 For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.”
12 being thankful [P46 has “and while being” B has “while being”] to the Father [א has “thankful to God”; the text follows P46, A, B, C, D, and the MT; some later mss. have “thankful to God, even the Father”], who qualifies [D has “who calls”; B “who calls and qualifies”; the text follows P46, א, A, C, I, and the MT] us [א and B have “you”; the text follows A, C, D, and the MT] for that share of the inheritance of the saints in the light, 13 who has rescued us from the authority of darkness, and instead gave us [or “and has transferred us”] into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption: the dismissal of errors.
Several late Greek manuscripts of the Majority Text have the words “through His blood” interpolated after the word for redemption in verse 14. However none of these are dated prior to the 9th century, and the words are not found in any earlier Greek manuscripts, although they do appear in the King James Version. The words do, however, appear in certain earlier Latin and Syriac manuscripts. Where the same phrase appears in Ephesians 1:7, the words are found in all surviving manuscripts. Variations such as this do not impact any particular doctrine, but they are nevertheless quite significant, because we may see how few and late were the manuscripts from which the King James Version was translated, and it has many other interpolations in other places which are significant.
The share of the inheritance of the saints in the light is for those same people who in the Old Testament prophets were promised a rescue from darkness. The prophet Micah, speaking of the sin of the ancient children of Israel, in chapters 6 and 7 of his prophecy had written in part: “16 For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people…. 2 The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net…. 6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.” We see later in the Gospel that Christ had warned that these same things would befall those who were turning to Him. Micah continues: “7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. 8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” The prophet is speaking for the children of Israel, and because they had transgressed from their God, they would be removed from His light and set in darkness in the time of their captivity. Micah portrays the pious as looking towards their God once again, that they may see the light. Thus in Isaiah chapter 5 we read: “20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
The prophet Isaiah speaks again concerning those same children of Israel, in chapter 9 of his prophecy, and he says, in part: “2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” So it is prophesied that those walking in darkness are a nation greatly multiplied, but which had no joy, and to them a great light is offered. Isaiah continues by relating this darkness to a yoke, representing captivity: “4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.” Although the children of Israel would be freed from their yoke, they would suffer a great battle in order to attain that freedom. Isaiah continues by announcing the coming of their Saviour: “6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” The interpretation of the prophecy is ascertained in the verse of Isaiah which follows: “8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.”
Now the words of Isaiah had an apparent immediate fulfillment, as Israel was temporarily delivered from the Syrians. But there was also a meaning which far transcended the immediate events, as in Isiah chapter 7, Israel was already promised destruction and captivity, where Isaiah had before said “and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.” While Isaiah foresaw the light offered to the children of Israel, that light did not come until the advent of the Christ, of whom the apostle John had said “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”, in reference to Christ, whom he described as “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” So as the children of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrians, Isaiah looked to a future time when the blind would be made to see, and brought out of darkness, as he wrote in chapter 29: “18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. 19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” Christ is the Holy One of Israel, and He was the Word made flesh, therefore only with Him do the deaf hear the words of the Book.
We see another promise that the captive children of Israel would be brought out of darkness and into the light, in another Messianic prophecy in Isaiah chapter 42: “1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Nations. 2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. 5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Nations; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house…. 16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them…. 18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant? 20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. 21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. 22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. 23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come? 24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. 25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” As Isaiah chapter 43 continues, we see the entire purpose of all of these warnings of punishments and promises: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” The balance of the prophecy of Isaiah is filled with analogies depicting the children of Israel in darkness, who were to be called into the light of their Messiah for their salvation.
So where Paul has told the Colossians that they had a “share of the inheritance of the saints in the light”, that they had been “rescued ... from the authority of darkness”, and that they “have redemption: the dismissal of sins”, none of this is relevant, unless the Colossians to whom he writes are descended from those same children of Israel who were sent forth into captivity for their disobedience in the Old Testament. As it says in the Psalm 147: “19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.” If these Colossians were not at one time under the law, they would have no sin, yet Paul professes here in verse 14 that they had been granted the dismissal of their sins. Paul must have known that these Colossians were indeed descended from the ancient children of Israel, just as he told the Galatians that the law was their schoolmaster, to bring them to Christ, and they too had descended from the ancient Israelites.
The ancient children of Israel praised Yahweh, that the other nations were not given His law, and that they alone had known them. On the other hand, when they themselves had transgressed His law, they alone were punished for their transgression, and the other nations are used as the method of that punishment, as Yahweh had proclaimed through Isaiah where He said: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.” So in Amos the Word of Yahweh says to the children of Israel “2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” In turn, Yahweh has destroyed every nation which He had used as a scourge for which to punish Israel, and the children of Israel have that same promise today, where they await a future gathering in Christ, and while it is also mentioned elsewhere, it says in Jeremiah chapter 30: “2 Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. 3 For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. 4 And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. 5 For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. 8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: 9 But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. 10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. 11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.”
In the Gospel of Luke we read from the account of the seizure of Christ leading up to the Crucifixion, where it says in chapter 22: “52 Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? 53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. 54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.” Darkness is rebellion against God, and all of the enemies of God remain in it. The children of Israel became captive to the enemies of God when they too rebelled against Him, and departed from His law. In the Gospel of Christ, only the children of Israel are given the opportunity to emerge from that darkness and into His light, as it is professed in the Prophets.
Speaking of the nation of Israel as the wife of Yahweh, and individuals as the children of the nation, the Word of God says in Isaiah chapter 50: “1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. 2 Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.”
The purpose of the Christ is to be that Redeemer, and that Deliverer, and therefore it says later in that same chapter, in yet another Messianic prophecy and a dialogue attributed to the Messiah: “5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. 7 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. 8 He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. 10 Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God. 11 Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.”
The last passage is in reference to those who pretend to light their own way. And the point is that in Christ, no man walks in darkness. So we see in the words of Christ, in John chapter 12, the fulfillment of these things described : “35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth…. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”
Once Christians understand the truth concerning the “authority of darkness”, they are free from it, so long as they separate themselves from the sins of the “world”. Describing the enemies of Christ, who are of the “authority of darkness”, the apostle Jude called them “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 13) Likewise Peter had said: “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.” (2 Peter 2:17) In those same epistles, both Peter and Jude associate those same enemies of Christ with the fallen angels of Genesis, who attempted to corrupt the Adamic race at the beginning, and who are also bound in chains of darkness awaiting not salvation, but destruction.
This is the darkness into which the children of Israel had sold themselves in sin, and from which the children of Israel therefore required a Saviour. Thus we read in the purpose of the Messiah as it was expressed by Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist: “68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life…. 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Throughout our presentations of these epistles of Paul, we have many times now discussed this same theme in different ways. That is because Paul himself has persistently described this same theme in different ways. There is no end to the explanation of this topic, because this is the Bible and the Word of God. This is Covenant Theology, which is the only valid theology. From Genesis to Moses to David to Isaiah and the prophets then to Yahshua and then to Paul, and back again to Yahshua in the Revelation (because only God could have the last word in the matter), the message is the same: out of all of the world's races, Yahweh has chosen the children of Israel, the children of Israel were put off in their disobedience, and Yahweh will punish them until they choose to be obedient, returning to Him in Christ. There is no other choice, and those who resist only prolong the days of their punishment. Thus is the state of the White race today, who for the most part, are the descendants of the ancient children of Israel. The universal churches completely ignore this message, which is the entire theme of and reason for the Scriptures. Doing so, they attempt to make a mockery out of God, but God will not be mocked.
The inheritance of the saints in the light, rescue from the authority of darkness, redemption and the dismissal of errors are exactly what Paul informs the Colossians that they have received here, and they too must have descended from the ancient children of Israel, all of these things being explicitly promised to Israel in the Old Testament prophets.
We will continue here in part two of this presentation, next week, where Paul professed to these Colossians that Yahshua Christ is God, as Yahweh had proclaimed in Isaiah, “I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”