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Colossians 1:3-8

Context
Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Church

1:3 We always 1  give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 1:4 since 2  we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. 1:5 Your faith and love have arisen 3  from the hope laid up 4  for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel 5  1:6 that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel 6  is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing 7  among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. 1:7 You learned the gospel 8  from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave 9  – a 10  faithful minister of Christ on our 11  behalf – 1:8 who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

1 tn The adverb πάντοτε (pantote) is understood to modify the indicative εὐχαριστοῦμεν (eucaristoumen) because it precedes περὶ ὑμῶν (peri Jumwn) which probably modifies the indicative and not the participle προσευχόμενοι (proseucomenoi). But see 1:9 where the same expression occurs and περὶ ὑμῶν modifies the participle “praying” (προσευχόμενοι).

2 tn The adverbial participle ἀκούσαντες (akousante") is understood to be temporal and translated with “since.” A causal idea may also be in the apostle’s mind, but the context emphasizes temporal ideas, e.g., “from the day” (v. 6).

3 tn Col 1:3-8 form one long sentence in the Greek text and have been divided at the end of v. 4 and v. 6 and within v. 6 for clarity, in keeping with the tendency in contemporary English toward shorter sentences. Thus the phrase “Your faith and love have arisen from the hope” is literally “because of the hope.” The perfect tense “have arisen” was chosen in the English to reflect the fact that the recipients of the letter had acquired this hope at conversion in the past, but that it still remains and motivates them to trust in Christ and to love one another.

4 tn BDAG 113 s.v. ἀπόκειμαι 2 renders ἀποκειμένην (apokeimenhn) with the expression “reserved” in this verse.

5 tn The term “the gospel” (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, tou euangeliou) is in apposition to “the word of truth” (τῷ λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθείας, tw logw th" alhqeia") as indicated in the translation.

6 tn Grk “just as in the entire world it is bearing fruit.” The antecedent (“the gospel”) of the implied subject (“it”) of ἐστιν (estin) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Though the participles are periphrastic with the present tense verb ἐστίν (estin), the presence of the temporal indicator “from the day” in the next clause indicates that this is a present tense that reaches into the past and should be translated as “has been bearing fruit and growing.” For a discussion of this use of the present tense, see ExSyn 519-20.

8 tn Or “learned it.” The Greek text simply has “you learned” without the reference to “the gospel,” but “the gospel” is supplied to clarify the sense of the clause. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

9 tn The Greek word translated “fellow slave” is σύνδουλος (sundoulo"); the σύν- prefix here denotes association. Though δοῦλος is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.

10 tn The Greek text has “who (ὅς, Jos) is a faithful minister.” The above translation conveys the antecedent of the relative pronoun quite well and avoids the redundancy with the following substantival participle of v. 8, namely, “who told” (ὁ δηλώσας, Jo dhlwsa").

11 tc ‡ Judging by the superior witnesses for the first person pronoun ἡμῶν (Jhmwn, “us”; Ì46 א* A B D* F G 326* 1505 al) vs. the second person pronoun ὑμῶν (Jumwn, “you”; found in א2 C D1 Ψ 075 33 1739 1881 Ï lat sy co), ἡμῶν should be regarded as original. Although it is possible that ἡμῶν was an early alteration of ὑμῶν (either unintentionally, as dittography, since it comes seventeen letters after the previous ἡμῶν; or intentionally, to conform to the surrounding first person pronouns), this supposition is difficult to maintain in light of the varied and valuable witnesses for this reading. Further, the second person is both embedded in the verb ἐμάθετε (emaqete) and is explicit in v. 8 (ὑμῶν). Hence, the motivation to change to the first person pronoun is counterbalanced by such evidence. The second person pronoun may have been introduced unintentionally via homoioarcton with the ὑπέρ (Juper) that immediately precedes it. As well, the second person reading is somewhat harder for it seems to address Epaphras’ role only in relation to Paul and his colleagues, rather than in relation to the Colossians. Nevertheless, the decision must be based ultimately on external evidence (because the internal evidence can be variously interpreted), and this strongly supports ἡμῶν.



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