I. Introduction (1:1-14)

Structure

A. Introductory Greeting (1:1-2)

1

Παύλος

ἀπόστολος

Χριστοῦ

διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ

καὶ

Τιμόθεος

ὁ ἀδελφός

2

τοῖς

ἁγίοις

καὶ

πιστοῖς ἀδελφοῖς

ἐν

Χριστῴ

χάρις

ὑμῖν

καὶ

εἰρήνη

ἀπὸ θεοῦ

Verse 1

Παύλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ

In epistolary salutations proper names (here Παύλος and Τιμόθεος) are regularly anar. (cf. R 759). On the name Παύλος, see Wilson 65-66; Harris, 2 Cor. 128. Ἀπόστολος is in appos. to Παύλος and is therefore in the same case (nom.; cf. T 206; but see also Z §§13-14). It is anar. ("an apostle") since Paul did not claim to be "the (one and only) apostle" of Christ Jesus. "Apostle" is used in three senses in the NT: (1) in a general, nontechnical sense, of a messenger or emissary commissioned by people for a specific, temporary task (Phil 2:25, Epaphroditus; 2 Cor 8:23, Titus's two companions); (2) in a semitechnical sense, of a Christian with a particular, permanent commission from Christ or the local church (Rom 16:7, Andronicus and Juniἅς]; 1 Cor 15:7 and Gal 1:19, James the brother of Jesus; 1 Cor 9:5-6, Barnabas by implication [cf. Acts 14:4,14]); (3) in a technical sense, of the Twelve (Matt 10:2; 1 Cor 15:5,7) and Paul (1 Cor 9:1; 15:9), as commissioned directly by Christ for permanent and distinctive leadership in the universal church. See below, For Further Study 1, "Apostleship in the NT (1:1)."

The gens. Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ are dependent on ἀπόστολος, and express a relationship (cf. BDF §162)—poss. ("belonging to," poss. gen.) and possibly also one of agency ("sent by," subj. gen.; cf. Gal 1:1). In the NT names of persons are sometimes art., sometimes anar. (BDF §260; R 791; T 165-69) but the NT epistles usually omit the art. with Χριστὀς when (as here, with Ἰησοῦς) it is a proper name (cf. BDF §260[1]; R 760; T 167). On the name "Christ Jesus" (also found in 1:4; 2:6; 4:12; Phlm 1,9,23), see W. Kramer, Christ, Lord, Son of God (London: SCM, 1966), 203-206. But BarthBlanke regularly translate Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς by "the Messiah Jesus" (1:1,4; 2:6; 4:12), and Χριστὀς usually by "Messiah" (1:2,7,27; 2:2,5,8,11,17; 3:1 bis,3-4,11,15-16,24; 4:3) but sometimes by "Christ" (1:24,28; 2:20) (see Barth-Blanke 137).

The διά phrase qualifies ἀπόστολος, "an apostle … by the will of God (θεοῦ, poss. gen.)." God's will was the means by which (διά + gen.; BDAG 224d, "efficient cause") Paul was chosen and commissioned to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. The art. is often omitted in common, stereotyped prep. phrases (cf. BDF §255).

καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφός

The art. here (cf. anar. ἀπόστολος after Παύλος above) indicates that Timothy was well known: either "our brother" (most EVV) or possibly "your brother" (Cassirer) or "my brother [in Christ]" (cf. Heb 13:23). Timothy (Τιμόθεος, -ου, ὁ) was an ἀδελφός —both a fellow Christian (see BDAG 18d; MM 8-9; Turner, Words 56) and a coworker ("our colleague," REB; see references to E. E. Ellis's articles in O'Brien 3)—but not a fellow apostle. On Christian brotherhood, see Barth-Blanke, Philemon 423-46. In Colossians and in three other epistles where Timothy's name is also linked with Paul's in an opening greeting (viz., Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians), he may have served as the apostle's amanuensis—see For Further Study 2, "The Ancient Letter (1:1-2)"; F. F. Bruce, The Letters of Paul: An Expanded Paraphrase (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 10; BarthBlanke 137, 142-44.

Verse 2

τοῖς ἐν Κολοσσαῖς ἁγίοις

The addressees (indicated by the dat.) are οἱ ἅγιοι, rendered variously by EVV: "the saints" (RV, JB, NRSV, NASB², HCSB, ESV), "the holy ones" (NAB²), "God's people" (GNB, REB, CEV), "God's holy people" (NJB, NLT, TNIV), "those who are consecrated to God" (Cassirer), "Christ's People" (TCNT). Here οἱ ἅγιοι stands where we find ἡ ἐκκλησία in 1 Thess 1:1 and 2 Thess 1:1 and the pl. αἱ ἐκκλησίαι in Gal 1:2 (cf. Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1). In 1 Cor 1:2 κλητοῖς ἁγίοις ("called to be saints") is in appos. to τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ κτλ. On this verbless epistolary introduction ("x to y"), see For Further Study 2, "The Ancient Letter (1:1-2)"; but cf. Acts 15:23; 23:26; Jas 1:1, where χαίρειν ("greetings!") is added.

Κολοσσαί, -ῶν, αἱ, Colossae. For this idiomatic pl. in nouns, see R 408. On the geography and history of Colossae, see Barth-Blanke 7-10; O'Brien xxvi-xxvii; Wilson 3-6; on the history and archaeology of the Lycus Valley region, see S. E. Johnson, "Laodicea and its Neighbours," Biblical Archaeologist 13 (1950): 1-18; C. J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in their Local Setting (Sheffield: JSOT, 1986), 178-82.

καὶ πιστοῖς ἀδελφοῖς

If πιστοῖς (dat. pl. masc. of πιστός, -ή, -όν, agreeing with τοῖς … ἀδελφοῖς) meant simply "believing" (so BDAG 821b; cf. NEB, "brothers in the faith"), it would be tautologous with ἁγίοις and ἀδελφοῖς. Here it means "trustworthy," "true," or "faithful," so it is unlikely that ἐν Χριστῷ is dependent on πιστοῖς ("[the consecrated brothers] who believe in Christ"), a sense that would seem to demand τοῖς … ἁγίοις ἀδελφοῖς τοῖς πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ (see further Moule, 81n1, 108).

If ἁγίοις is a noun and the single art. τοῖς qualifies both ἁγίοις and ἀδελφοῖς, the meaning will be "the saints and [the] faithful brothers" (cf. T 181). In this case the ἁγίοι and the ἀδελφοί are the same persons (see Z §184), and epex. καί introduces a description: "(the people of God at Colossae), who are faithful brothers" (sim. TNIV). Alternatively, ἁγίοις may be an adj. and, along with πιστοῖς, may qualify τοῖς … ἀδελφοῖς: "the holy and faithful brothers" (NIV). The former view is preferable since whenever ἁγίοι is used in an epistolary greeting elsewhere in the NT, it clearly is a noun.

The plural ἀδελφοί may legitimately be rendered "brothers and sisters" (NRSV, NLT, TNIV, NET), i.e., siblings in God's family (see Luke 21:16; BDAG 18c; J. Beutler, EDNT 1.29-30) for the term is not gender specific; "women… would have understood that the term included them" (Dunn 43n4, who argues, however, that "in a historic text… it is better to retain the original usage"). See further R. Aasgaard, "My Beloved Brothers and Sisters!" Christian Siblingship in Paul (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2004).

ἐν Χριστῷ

This phrase relates either to the whole expression τοῖς … ἀδελφοῖς, or *simply to ἀδελφοῖς (as though Paul had written τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς τοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ). On the range of meaning of this Pauline formula, see Harris 1192. Here, as generally in Paul, the ἐν is more likely to express incorporation ("incorporate in [the Body of] Christ"; sim. NEB) or union ("in union with [the risen] Christ"; sim. GNB) than agency ("through [the power of] Christ"). The ambiguous Eng. paraphrase "in the fellowship of Christ" perhaps catches these two predominant meanings. See For Further Study 3, "The 'In Christ' Formula (1:2)."

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη

A vb. such as εἴη ("may it be," 3 sg. opt. of εἰμί) or πληθυνθείη ("may it be multiplied," 3 sg. aor. pass. opt. of πληθύνω, multiply) may be understood (cf. 1 Pet 1:2; 2 Pet 1:2; Jude 2, where three coordinate subjects are followed by a sg. vb.; see T 313-14). This distinctively Christian formula is related to the traditional Gk. greeting (χαῖρε or χαίρειν, "greetings!") and the customary Jewish greeting (šalôm, "peace!"; see Dunn 50-51. Both nouns are anar. because this expression was stereotyped. See For Further Study 4, "NT Benedictions (1:2)." The apparently unusual position of ὑμῖν is normal in Pauline greetings.

ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν

Some mss. ( A C G I Byz Lect al) add καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ after ἡμῶν. This addition is clearly a secondary variant since: (1) it conforms to normal Pauline usage (e.g., Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2); and (2) it would be difficult to account for its intentional or accidental omission if this longer rdg. were original. Cf. the textual variants in 2 Thess 1:1. See Metzger 552, 567.

If a pers. pron. (here ἡμῶν) follows the noun on which it is dependent (here πατρός), that noun generally is art., but here this stylized formula, "from God our Father," common in Pauline salutations, accounts for anar. θεοῦ and the anar. phrase (πατρὸς ἡμῶν) that follows in appos. (BDF §268[2]; T 206). Unless the context makes it impossible (as in, e.g., Jn 1:1; 20:28; Phil 3:19), (ὁ) θεός everywhere in the NT denotes the Father (see M. J. Harris, Jesus as God. The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992], 40-47, 270-71, 282-83). Paul here views "God, who is our Father," as the source or origin (ἀπό + gen.) of Christian grace and peace. Cf. NAB¹, NLT, "May God our Father give you grace and peace"; Cassirer, "May grace and peace be yours, sent out to you by God who is our Father." See For Further Study 5, "The Fatherhood of God (1:2)."

For Further Study
1. Apostleship in the NT (1:1)

Agnew, F.H. "On the Origin of the Term Apostolos." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 38 (1976): 49-53.

———. "The Origin of the New Testament Apostle-Concept: A Review of Research." Journal of Biblical Literature 105 (1986): 75-96.

Ashcraft, M. "Paul's Understanding of Apostleship." Review and Expositor 55 (1958): 400-412.

*Barnett, P. W. DPL 45-51.

Barrett, C. K. The Signs of an Apostle. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972. Bühner, J.-A. EDNT 1.142-46.

Geldenhuys, J. N. Supreme Authority. London: Marshall, 1953. 46-97.

Kirk, J. A. "Apostleship since Rengstorf: Towards a Synthesis." New Testament Studies 21 (1974-75): 249-64.

Müller, D., and C. Brown. NIDNTT 1:126-37.

Rengstorf, K. H. TDNT 1:407-47.

Schmithals, W. The Office of Apostle in the Early Church. Nashville: Abingdon, 1969.

Schnackenburg, R. "Apostles Before and During Paul's Time." Pages 287-303 in Apostolic History and the Gospel. Edited by W. W. Gasque and R. P. Martin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.

Spicq 1.186-94. Turner. Words 23-25.