Super ad Colossenses
Commentary on Colossians
I Machabæorum 3:3
I Maccabees 3:3
3:3 Et dilatavit gloriam populo suo, et induit se loricam sicut gigas, et succinxit se arma bellica sua in praeliis, et protegebat castra gladio suo.
3:3 And he got his people great honor, and put on a breastplate as a giant, and girt his warlike armor about him in battles, and protected the camp with his sword.
1. Haec verba congruunt materiae huius epistolae ad Colossenses, quia totus status huius vitae est in pugnatione militantium, quorum habitacula castra dicuntur. Iob VII, v. 1: militia est vita hominis super terram. Ideo habitacula fidelium nomine castrorum figurantur. Unde Ecclesia similitudinem habet castrorum. Gen. XXXII, 2: castra Dei sunt haec.
1. This passage is appropriate to the subject matter of this letter to the Colossians, because this present life is a battle waged by soldiers who live in a camp: the life of man on earth is a war (Job 7:1). And so the place where the faithful live is called a camp. And the Church is like a camp: this is the camp of God (Gen 32:2).
Haec castra tripliciter impugnantur. A quibusdam quasi obsidentibus, qui manifeste se erigunt contra Ecclesiam. Apoc. XX, 8: ascenderunt super latitudinem terrae, et circuierunt castra sanctorum et civitatem dilectam. Ab aliis latenter decipitur, sicut ab haereticis. Rom.: per dulces sermones et benedictiones seducunt corda hominum, et cetera. II Tim. III, 13: mali autem homines et seductores proficient in peius, errantes et in errorem mittentes. A quibusdam, scilicet domesticis, per diversas corruptelas peccatorum quae sunt ex corruptione carnis. Gal. V, 17: caro concupiscit adversus spiritum, et spiritus adversus carnem. Eph. ult.: non est nobis colluctatio adversus carnem et sanguinem, sed adversus principes, et cetera.
This camp is attacked in three ways. First, by those aggressors who openly rise against the Church: they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city (Rev 20:9). Second, this camp is deceitfully undermined by heretics: by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded (Rom 16:18); evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived (2 Tim 3:13). Third, it is attacked by some of its own members who have become depraved from sins that spring from the corruption of the flesh: the desires of the flesh are against the spirit, and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh (Gal 5:17); for we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness (Eph 6:12).
Praelati Ecclesiae sunt duces, Ps. LXVII, 28: principes Iuda duces eorum, ad quorum officium pertinet contra omnia praedicta castra Ecclesiae munire. Contra peccata quidem, per exhortationes. Is. LVIII, 1: annuntia populo meo scelera eorum, et domui Iacob peccata eorum. Contra haereticos, per sanam doctrinam. I Tim. I: amplectentem eum, qui secundum doctrinam est, fidelem sermonem, et cetera. Contra persecutores, exemplo, scilicet patienter tolerando.
In this war the prelates of the Church are our leaders, according to the Psalm: the princes of Judah are their leaders (Ps 68:27). It is their duty to protect the camp of the Church against all these attacks. First, against sins, by encouraging the people: declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins (Isa 58:1). Second, against heretics, by their sound teaching: he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). Third, they should protect the Church against those who persecute it by giving an example of patient suffering.
Sic Paulus protexit gladio spirituali, quia in suis epistolis corripiebat peccata, confutabat haereses, animabat ad patientiam. De primo, Eph. V, 3: fornicatio autem et omnis immunditia aut avaritia nec nominetur in vobis, et cetera. De secundo, Tit. III, 10: haereticum hominem post primam et secundam correptionem devita, et cetera. De tertio, II Cor. XI per totum patet quomodo animabat ad patientiam.
This is the way Paul protected the Church with his spiritual sword, because in his letters he combated sin, refuted heresies, and encouraged patience. As to the first: but immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints (Eph 5:3). As to the second: as for a man that is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him (Titus 3:10). As to the third, the entire eleventh chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians shows how he encouraged them to be patient.
2. Et sic tanguntur duo in verbis propositis, scilicet Ecclesiae status, cum dicitur castra, et Apostoli studium, ibi protexit.
2. The passage quoted at the beginning mentions two of these matters: the condition of the Church, when it says, camp, and the zeal of the Apostle, when it says, protected.
In castris autem debet esse sollicitudo ad mala vitanda. Deut. XXIII, 14: ut sint castra tua sancta, et nihil in eis appareat foeditatis. Item ordo ad ducem et ad se. Cant. c. VII, 1: quid videbis in Sunamite, nisi choros castrorum? Gen. XXXII, 2: castra Dei sunt haec. Item terror ad hostes. Cant. VI, v. 3: terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata.
Now a camp has to be alert in order to avoid evil: your camp must be holy (Deut 23:14); and it should have a good relationship with its leader and in itself: what shalt thou see in the Sulamitess but the companies of camps? (Song 7:1); this is the camp of God (Gen 32:2). It should also be a threat to the enemy: terrible as an army with banners (Song 6:3).
Sed Apostolus circa protectionem erat sollicitus tamquam pastor, cuius est dirigere oves diligenter ne errent. Io. X, 4: ante eas vadit, et cetera. Et sic Apostolus faciebat. Phil. III: imitatores mei estote, sicut et ego Christi. Item pascere abundanter, ne deficiant. I Petr. V, 2: pascite, qui in vobis est, domini gregem, et cetera. Et sic Apostolus faciebat. I Cor. I, 2: tamquam parvulis lac dedi vobis.
Now the Apostle was alert in protecting them, like a shepherd, whose duty is to carefully lead his sheep so they are not lost. He goes before them, and the sheep follow him (John 10:4). The Apostle did act this way: be imitators of me, as I am of Christ (1 Cor 4:16). A shepherd should also feed his flock generously, so they do not become ill: tend the flock of God that is your charge (1 Pet 5:2). And the Apostle did this also: I fed you with milk (1 Cor 3:2).
Item defendere potenter, ne pereant. Eccli. c. VII, 6: noli velle fieri iudex, nisi valeas virtute irrumpere iniquitates. I Reg. XVII, 34: pascebat servus tuus patris sui gregem, et veniebat leo, vel ursus, et cetera. Et ideo dicit, quod Apostolus protegebat castra, id est Ecclesiam Dei, gladio, quod est verbum Dei, ut dicitur Eph. VI: vivus est enim sermo Dei et efficax et penetrabilior omni gladio ancipiti, et cetera.
A shepherd should also bravely defend his flock, so they will not be destroyed: do not seek to become a judge, lest you be unable to remove iniquity (Sir 7:6); your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and when there came a lion or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and delivered it out of his mouth (1 Sam 17:34). And so our beginning text says that the Apostle protected the camp, that is, God’s Church, with a sword, which is the word of God: the word of God is living and active, sharper then any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12).
Sic ergo materia huius epistolae est haec. Quia in epistola ad Ephesios ostendit modum ecclesiasticae unitatis; in epistola ad Philippenses ostendit eius profectum et conservationem; in hac autem agit de eius conservatione contra haereticos, qui depravaverant eos seducendo, et cetera.
Here, then, is the subject matter of this letter. In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle described the nature of the Church’s unity; and in the letter to the Philippians, he showed its growth and preservation. But in this letter he is dealing with its protection from those heretics who were corrupting and misleading the Colossians.
1:1 Paulus apostolus Jesu Christi per voluntatem Dei, et Timotheus frater: [n. 3]
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Timothy, a brother: [n. 3]
1:2 eis, qui sunt Colossis, sanctis, et fidelibus fratribus in Christo Jesu. [n. 6]
1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus who are at Colossa. [n. 6]
1:3 Gratia vobis, et pax a Deo Patre nostro, et Domino Jesu Christo. [n. 7] Gratias agimus Deo, et Patri Domini nostri Jesu Christi semper pro vobis orantes: [n. 8]
1:3 Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. [n. 7] We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. [n. 8]
3. Dividitur autem haec epistola in salutationem, et tractatum, ibi gratias, et cetera.
3. This letter is divided into its greeting and its message, at grace be to you.
Item primo ponuntur personae salutantes;
First, the persons sending the letter are mentioned;
secundo personae salutatae, ibi his qui sunt;
then, the ones to whom it is sent, at to the saints and faithful;
tertio bona optata, ibi gratia vobis.
and third, the good things desired for the latter, at grace be to you.
As to the first,
primo ponitur principalis persona;
the principal sender is mentioned;
secundo adiuncta, ibi et Timotheus.
and second, his companion, at and Timothy.
4. Principalis primo tangitur ex nomine Paulus, id est humilis. Tales enim percipiunt sapientiam. Matth. XI, 25: abscondisti haec a sapientibus et prudentibus, et revelasti ea parvulis. Et ideo docet eam.
4. The principal sender of this letter is first identified by his name, Paul, that is, one who is humble, for it is such persons who receive wisdom: you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes (Matt 11:25), and so Paul can teach this wisdom.
Secundo ab officio, scilicet apostolus, id est missus, scilicet ad procurandum salutem fidelium. Act. XIII, 2: segregate mihi Saulum et Barnabam in opus ad quod assumpsi eos. Io. XX, 21: sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos. Et apostolus, non cuiuslibet, sed Iesu Christi, cuius gloriam quaerit, non sui ipsius. II Cor. IV, 5: non enim nosmetipsos praedicamus, sed Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum, nos autem servos vestros per Iesum.
Second, the sender is described by his office, namely, an apostle, that is, one who is sent, to bring salvation to the faithful: set apart for me Saul and Barnabas for the work to which I have called them (Acts 13:2); as the Father has sent me, even so I send you (John 20:21). He is not the apostle of just anyone, but of Jesus Christ, whose glory he seeks, and not his own: for what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor 4:5).
Sed quidam aliquando perveniunt ad officium ex ira Dei propter peccatum populi. Iob XXXIV, 30: qui regnare facit hominem hypocritam propter peccata populi. Os. XIII, v. 11: dabo tibi regem in furore meo. Et ideo dicit per voluntatem Dei, scilicet eius beneplacitum. Ier. III, 15: dabo vobis pastores iuxta cor meum, et pascent vos scientia et doctrina.
But at times some reach their office because God is angry because of a people’s sins: who makes a man who is a hypocrite to reign for the sins of the people (Job 34:30); I have given you kings in my anger (Hos 13:11). And so Paul says that he has his office by the will of God, that is, by his pleasure: I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding (Jer 3:15).
5. Persona adiuncta est Timotheus, ut scilicet in ore duorum vel trium stet omne verbum, ut, dicitur Deut. XVII. Prov. XVIII, v. 19: frater qui iuvatur a fratre, quasi civitas firma.
5. The other person to send this letter is Timothy, a brother, so that there may be two or three witnesses (Deut 17:6). A brother helped is like a strong city (Prov 18:19).
6. Personae salutatae ponuntur, ibi his, et cetera. Sancti dicuntur maiores. Lc. I, 75: serviamus illi in sanctitate et iustitia coram ipso. Fideles dicuntur minores, qui saltem veram fidem tenent, quia sine fide impossibile est placere Deo, ut dicitur Hebr. XI, 6.
6. The persons to whom this letter is sent are the saints and faithful brethren. The greater ones are called saints: let us serve him in holiness and righteousness (Luke 1:75); and the lesser ones are referred to as the faithful, who have at least kept the true faith, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).
Vel sanctis, id est in Baptismo sanctificatis, et fidelibus, id est permanentibus in fide accepta. Prov. XXVIII, 20: vir fidelis multum laudabitur, et cetera.
Or we could say, to the saints, that is, to those sanctified by baptism, and faithful brethren, that is, those who have remained in the faith they accepted: a faithful man will be much praised (Prov 28:20).
7. Deinde ponuntur bona optata, scilicet gratia, quae est principium omnis boni. Rom. III, 24: iustificati gratis per gratiam ipsius. Pax quae est finale bonum omnium. Ps. CXLVII, 14: qui posuit fines tuos pacem. Et per consequens optat omnia bona media.
7. Then he mentions the good things he wishes them to have: that is, grace, which is the source of every good: justified by his grace as a gift (Rom 3:24); and peace, which is the last of all goods: he makes peace in your borders (Ps 147:14). As a consequence, he wishes them all the goods that lie between these two.
Et hoc a Deo, Ps. LXXXIII, 12: gratiam et gloriam dabit Dominus; Patre Domini nostri Iesu Christi, scilicet per naturam, sed nostro per gratiam, et Domino Iesu Christo, et sic Patre nostro, scilicet Deo in Trinitate, et Domino Iesu Christo, quantum ad naturam assumptam.
And he says from God: the Lord will give grace and glory (Ps 84:11). From the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, the Father of Christ by nature, and our Father by grace; and from the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, from our Father, that is, God in his Trinity, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, considering the nature God assumed.