5. There are three parts to the Epistle: I. Rejoicing concerning their faith received in Christ, and their charity toward the saints (Colossians 1:1-8). II. Exhortation to seek an increase of faith, and to beware of seduction from Christ (Colossians 1:9-2:23). III. Exhortation to the exercises of faith and piety (Colossians 3; 4). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
With the Introduction and Epilogue removed, the body has three parts. For, first, he congratulates the Colossians on their faith in Christ Jesus, and their love towards the saints (Colossians 1:1-8). Second, he exhorts them to seek an increase of faith, and to beware of seduction from Christ (Colossians 1:9-2:23). Third, he commends the exercises of true faith and love (Colossians 3; 4).
I. Congratulations concerning the faith received in Christ, and their love towards the saints, Chapter 1:1-8.
With an inscription and prayer going before, he gives thanks to God on account of the faith and love of the Colossians, because of the hope laid up for them in Heaven, which they heard from Epaphras in the word of the truth of the Gospel preached to them and the whole world (verses 1-8): chapter 1:1-8.
II. An exhortation to seek an increase of faith, and to beware of seduction from Christ, Chapters 1:9-2:23. See:
1. An exhortation to seek an increase of faith: chapter 1:9-29.
Paul prays and asks that the Colossians might be filled with the knowledge of the will of Christ in all wisdom and spiritual prudent (verse 9), giving thanks to God that He made them fit for a portion of the inheritance of the saint in light, and delivered them in the Kingdom of His Son (verses 10-13), who is described as the redeemer, the image of God, the creator of all things (verses 14-17), the head of the Church, having the primacy in all things, reconciling all things by making peace through the blood of the cross (verses 18-20), the Colossians also, having formerly been alienated (verses 21-23), where he also sets forth the ministry, sufferings, and mysteries entrusted to him (verses 24-29): chapter 1:9-29.
2. An exhortation to beware of seduction from Christ.
Setting forth his contest for the sake of the Colossians and others, that they might be joined together in love, and all the riches of the fullness of prudence unto the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ (verses1-3), he warns them not to allow themselves to be seduced through enticing speech (verses 4-7), philosophy, and vain deception, according to the tradition of men and the elements of the world (verse 8), to which he opposes Christ, in whom they are complete (verses 9, 10), circumcised, buried, and raised (verses 11-13), with their sins forgiven them, the handwriting blotted out, and power triumphed over (verses 14, 15); in particular he prohibits the Mosaic ceremonies and legal ordinances, and voluntary worship (verses 16-23): chapter 2.
III. An exhortation to the exercises of faith and piety, Chapters 3; 4. Where:
1. Saint Paul, opening the fount of piety, that they, being raised with Christ, ought to seek those things that are above (verses 1-4), commends the mortification of the old man, and the assumption of the new (verses 5-15), and abundant notice of the word of Christ (verses 16, 17); he declares the mutual duties of spouses (verses 18, 19), children and parents (verses 20, 21), of servants and masters (verses 22-25): chapter 3.
2. Paul, giving a sketch of prayer (verses 1-4), of behavior with those without (verse 5), and speech (verse 6), commends Tychicus and Onesimus (verses 7-9), dispatches greetings (verses 10-15), enjoins the sharing of the Epistle with the Laodiceans (verse 16), advises Archippus of his duty (verse 17), enjoins the memory of his bonds, and closes in prayer (verse 18).