Apologetics-Oriented Biblical Commentary on Colossians (RSV)

Apologetics-Oriented Biblical Commentary on Colossians (RSV) July 7, 2015


Folio from Papyrus 46,  (dated between 175 and 225) containing 2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9 [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


Chapter 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colos’sae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–so among yourselves, from the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 as you learned it from Ep’aphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. 9 And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his willin all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; 16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. 19 For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, 23 provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me.

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apostle: Gr. apostolos=sent one or ambassador: Mt 10:2; Lk 22:14; Ac 2:37; 8:18; 15:2-6,22-23; Rm 1:1; 11:13; 1Co 1:1; 9:1-5; 12:28-29; 2Co 1:1; 12:11-12; 1Pt 1:1; 2Pt 3:2; Jd 17; Rv 21:14

God, the Father: Is 9:6; 64:8; Jr 31:9; Ma 2:10; Mt 5:45-48; 6:1-32; 11:27; Jn 3:35; 5:18; 6:27; Rm 1:7; 8:15; 1Co 8:6; Gl 1:1-4; 4:6; Ep 5:20; Ph 2:11; Cl 3:17; 1Th 1:1; Hb 1:5; Jm 1:27; 1Pt 1:2-3; 1Jn 2:1,14-24

grace of God: Lk 1:28; Jn 1:17; Ac 4:33; 6:8; 11:23; 13:43; 14:26; 15:11,40; Rm 5:15; 16:20; 1Co 3:10; 15:10; 16:23; 2Co 8:1; 9:14; 13:13; Gl 2:21; Ep 3:2,7-8; Ph 1:2,7; 1Th 5:28; 1Tm 1:14; Ti 2:11; Hb 2:9; 1Pt 5:5,10,12; 2Pt 3:18; Jd 4; Rv 22:21

good work(s): Jn 10:32; 14:12; Ac 9:36; 2Co 9:8; Gl 6:4,10; Ep 2:10; Ph 1:6; 2Th 2:17; 1Tm 2:10; 5:10,25; 6:18; 2Tm 2:21; 3:17; Ti 1:16; 2:7; 3:1,8,14; Jm 2:14-26; Rv 20:12

redemption: Lk 21:28; Rm 3:24; 1Co 1:30; Ep 1:7,14; 4:30; Hb 9:15

his body, that is, the church: Rm 7:4; 12:5; 1Co 10:17; 12:12-27; Ep 1:22-23; 4:4,12,16; 5:30; Cl 1:18; 2:19; 3:15

Christ in you: (the indwelling): Jn 14:17-18,20,23; 15:4; 16:7; 17:23; Rm 8:9-11; 1Co 2:12; 3:16; 6:19; 2Co 6:16; Gl 4:6; 1Jn 3:24; 4:12-13

Image of the invisible God: God the Father is invisible, and can’t be seen, as He is a Spirit (cf. Ex 33:20,23; Jn 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; Cl 1:15; 1Tm 1:17; 6:16; 1Jn 4:12). But Jesus reveals, and is the eikon=image of, the Father (cf. Jn 1:18; 12:45; 14:7-9; 2 Co 4:4; Cl 1:15; Hb 1:3; Rv 22:1-4). Thus, the passages about the invisible God are adequately explained in a non-contradictory manner. Only trinitarianism can make sense out of, and harmonize all the biblical teaching about God’s nature.

First-born of all creation: Gk. prototokos=firstborn: here means preeminence and eternal preexistence, not first-created as some Arian sects hold. OT usage is instructive. David is called first-born in Ps 89:27, not because he was the literal first child of Jesse (for he was the youngest), but in the sense of his ascendancy to the kingship of Israel. Likewise, Jr 31:9 refers to Ephraim as the first-born, whereas Manasseh was chronologically first (Gn 41:50-52). The nation Israel is called my first-born son by God (Ex 4:22). The Jewish rabbinical writers even called God the Father Bekorah Shelolam, meaning firstborn of all creation, precisely as St. Paul uses the phrase here. Prototokos is also used as a title for Jesus in Hb 1:6. In context, Jesus is described as omnipotent (1:3), the reflection (image) of God’s glory (1:3), Creator (1:10), worthy of worship (1:6), and is called God by the Father (1:8). All of these characteristics can only apply to God.

In him all things were created: Jesus is both eternal and the Creator (cf. Is 9:6; Mc 5:2; Jn 1:1,3,10; 8:58; 13:19; 1Co 8:6; Cl 1:15-17; Hb 1:2,8,10; 13:8; 1Jn 1:1; Rv 1:17-18; 22:13). Besides the above direct indications, Holy Scripture also says that only God is the Creator (cf. Gn 1:1; Ps 33:6; Is 40:28; 44:24; Rm 11:36; 1Co 11:12; Ep 3:9; Hb 2:10; CCC 295-308).

Beginning: Gk. arche, from which is derived the word architect. Its literal meaning, according to Greek scholars, is origin, active cause, source, uncreated principle. So Jesus is the architect, or Creator of the Universe, as Cl 1:16-17 make clear (and see entry immediately above). He was in the beginning (arche) with God the Father (Jn 1:2; Hb 1:10). He created all things, and is before all things, so He Himself cannot possibly be a thing (i.e., a created entity). In Rev 1:8 (often rendered Alpha) and 21:6 (cf. Is 41:4; 44:6; 48:12) arche is applied to the Lord God, the Almighty (God the Father), so it can’t possibly mean created being, as Arian-influenced sects maintain. Similar terminology (first and last, Alpha and Omega) is applied to Jesus in Rv 1:17-18; 2:8; 3:14, and 22:13,16. Thus, both Father and Son are God. Scripture teaches the Holy Trinity: the one God exists eternally in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In my flesh I complete what is lacking . . .: This is the most striking example in Scripture of what Catholics call redemptive suffering or vicarious atonement, whereby the sufferings of a Christian, as fellow workers with God (1Co 3:9) can be applied – like prayer or fasting or evangelism – to the benefit of another, either on earth, or in purgatory (2Mc 12:39-45 with 1Cor 15:29; CCC 1032). Our sufferings (Mt 16:24) can be literally offered up to God (Rm 12:1), meritoriously and redemptively on behalf of others or ourselves. Explicit biblical indications of this teaching – much disputed by non-Catholic Christianity – are numerous (cf. Ex 32:30-32; Nm 16:46-48; 25:6-13; Rm 8:13,17; 1Co 12:24; 2Co 1:4-9; 4:10; Gl 2:20; Ep 3:13; Ph 2:17; 3:10; 2Tm 4:6; Hb 11:39-40; 1Jn 3:16). Paul even serves as a co-redeemer or co-mediator of God’s grace, since he was a steward of grace and salvation (Ep 3:2; cf. 1Co 9:22) – precisely as Catholics teach concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary. He informed Timothy that he, too, could be a savior of sorts, for himself and his hearers (1Tm 4:16). All grace comes from God, but creatures have a share in its dispensing and application, in God’s Providence (e.g., Rv 1:4). See related commentary for Ph 1:29; 3:10, and cross-references for libation, Ph 2:17; also CCC 307,618,1508,1521.

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Chapter 2

1 For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at La-odice’a, and for all who have not seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. 6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. 17 These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.

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wisdom: Gr. sophia: Mt 13:54; Lk 2:40; 21:15; Ac 6:3,10; Rm 11:33; 1Co 1:17-24; 2:4-7; 3:19; Ep 1:8,17; 3:10; Cl 1:9,28; 3:16; Jm 1:5; 3:13,15,17; 2Pt 3:15

knowledge: Gr. gnosis: Lk 1:77; Rm 2:20; 11:33; 15:14; 1Co 1:5; 8:1,7,10-11; 12:8; 13:2,8; 14:6; 2Co 2:14; 4:6; 6:6; 8:7; 10:5; 11:6; Ep 3:19; Ph 3:8; 1Tm 6:20; 1Pt 3:7; 2Pt 1:5-6; 3:18

human tradition: cf. Mt 15:3,6; Mk 7:7-9,13; Ac 20:29-30; 1Pt 1:18; 1Jn 4:1-3 – in contrast to Apostolic, Christian Tradition, which is regarded entirely positively by the biblical writers. See commentary for Ph 1:4 (“Gospel”)

principalities and powers: Rm 8:38; 1Co 15:24; Ep 1:21; 2:2; 3:10; 6:12; Cl 1:13,16; 2:10; Ti 3:1; 1Pt 3:22; Rv 13:4-5,7,12

world: Gr. kosmos (as world-system, hostile to God): Jn 1:10; 7:7; 8:23; 12:31; 14:27; 15:18-19; 16:11,33; 17:6,14,16,25; 18:36; Rm 3:6,19; 5:12; 12:2; 1Co 1:27-28; 2:6-12; 11:32; 2Co 5:19; 7:10; Gl 6:14; Hb 11:38; Jm 1:27; 4:4; 1Jn 3:13; 4:3-4; 5:4-5,18-19

Fulness of deity dwells bodily: (cf. Cl 1:19). This is a remarkable proof for the divinity of Christ. The Father and the Son are presented as fully and essentially in union (monotheism), yet the distinctiveness of Divine Persons (trinitarianism) is also evident. Jesus is fully God, yet God Who has taken on human flesh (the incarnation). Ph 2:6-8 offers a similar description of the incarnate God (cf. Jn 1:1,14; Ac 20:28; 1Tm 3:16). St. Augustine wrote:

The same One who is God is Man, not by a confusion of nature but by a unity of person . . . He that is the Son of God by being generated and who is coeternal always with the Father, – that same One begins to be Son of Man from the Virgin. And so too humanity is added to the Son’s divinity; and yet, no quaternity of Persons results, but the Trinity remains (Sermons, 186, 1).

Buried with him in baptism: St. Paul here connects baptism – which regenerates – with justification. This is a common teaching of Holy Scripture – though denied by many Christians. Ac 2:38 speaks of being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. 1 Pt 3:21 says baptism . . . now saves you (cf. Mk 16:16; Rm 6:1-6). Paul recalls how Ananias told him to be baptized, and wash away your sins (Ac 22:16). In 1Co 6:11 the Apostle seems to imply an organic connection between baptism (washed), sanctification, and justification. Ti 3:5 informs us that he saved us, . . . by the washing of regeneration (cf. Mt 28:19; Jn 3:5; Gl 3:26-27; Ep 4:5; 5:26; Hb 10:22; 1Pt 3:20).Cl 2:11-13 also establishes a connection between baptism and circumcision. Israel was the church before Christ (cf. Ac 7:38; Rm 9:4). Circumcision, given to 8-day old boys, was the seal of the covenant God made with Abraham, which applies to us also (Gl 3:14,29). It was a sign of repentance and future faith (Rm 4:11). Infants were just as much a part of the covenant as adults (cf. Gn 17:7; Dt 29:10-12; also Mt 19:14). Likewise, baptism is the seal of the New Covenant in Christ. It signifies cleansing from sin, just as circumcision did (cf. Dt 10:16; 30:6; Jr 4:4; 9:25; Rm 2:28-9; Ph 3:3). Infants are wholly saved by God’s grace just as adults are, only apart from their rational and willful consent (see, e.g., Mk 2:1-6; 1Co 7:12-14). Their parents act in their behalf. Infant baptism is taught by Scripture (cf. Ac 16:15,33; 18:8 with 11:14; 1Co 1:16). See CCC 405,628,683,977-978,1113,1210-1213,1220,1250-1252,1263-1270,1992

Sabbath: (cf. similar texts about excessive legalism with regard to observance of days: Gl 4:9-11; Rm 13:8-10; 14:4-13). Cl 2:12-17 is a disproof of the belief of some that Christians ought to observe Saturday as the Sabbath / Lord’s Day (Rv 1:10). From the beginning, Christians met and worshiped on Sunday, due to the Resurrection of Christ (cf. Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:1-2; vast patristic testimony: e.g., Didache 14; St. Ignatius, Magn 9:1; St. Justin Martyr, Apol 1:67; CCC 2168-2175,2190).

Worship of angels:The Bible forbids all creature worship (cf. Ac 10:25-26; 14:11-15; Rv 19:10; 22:8-9). God alone is to be worshiped (cf. Nh 9:6; Mt 4:10; Lk 4:8; Rv 4:9-11). Jesus – being God – often receives (and fully accepts) worship in the NT (cf. Mt 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17; Mk 5:6; Lk 24:52; Jn 5:23; 9:38; 20:28). The Apostles also teach that Jesus is to be worshiped (cf. Ph 2:9-11; Hb 1:6; Rv 5:8,12-14; 7:9-12,15-17).

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Chapter 3

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you once walked, when you lived in them. 8 But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices 10 and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scyth’ian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, 13 forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

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raised with Christ: Mt 10:8; 22:31; 27:52; Mk 12:26-27; Lk 10:27; 20:36; Jn 5:21,29; 11:24-25; Ac 23:6,8; 24:15,21; 26:8; Rm 6:5,8-11; 8:11; 1Co 6:14; 15:12-13,21,29-52; 2Co 1:9; 4:14; Ep 2:6; Ph 3:10-11; Cl 2:12; Hb 6:2; 11:19,35; Jm 5:15; Rv 20:5-6

right hand of God: Ex 15:6,12; Ps 16:11; 48:10; 60:5; 63:8; 98:1; 110:1,5; 118:15-16; Is 41:10; 62:8; Mt 19:28; 22:44; 25:31; 26:64; Mk 14:62; 16:19; Lk 22:69; Ac 2:33-34; 5:31; 7:55-56; Rm 8:34; Ep 1:20; Hb 1:3,8,13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pt 3:22; Rv 5:1-14; 7:17; 22:1-4

you have died (i.e., spiritual or metaphorical death)Rm 5:15; 6:2,8,13,16,21,23; 7:4,6,9-10,13,24; 8:2,6,13; 1Co 15:22,31; 2Co 5:14; Gl 2:19; Cl 2:20; 2Tm 2:11; Rv 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8

old nature: Mk 2:21-22; Jn 8:44; Rm 5:12-14; 6:6; 7:5-6,8-11,14-25; 8:5-8,19-23; 1Co 5:7-8; 15:53; Ep 2:3; 4:22; 2Co 4:16

new nature: Ez 11:19; 18:31; Mk 14:25; Lk 5:36-39; Jn 3:3; Rm 6:4; 7:6; 8:1-17,21,23,29-30; 12:2; 13:14; 1Co 5:7; 2Co 3:3,18; 4:16; 5:17; Gl 6:15; Ep 2:15; 4:23-24; 6:11; Hb 8:10; 9:15; 10:20; 1Pt 1:3; 2Pt 1:4; 1Jn 3:2

inheritance: Mt 5:5; 19:29; 25:34; Mk 10:17; Lk 10:25; 18:18; Ac 20:32; Rm 8:17; 1Co 6:9-10; 15:50; Gl 3:18,29; 4:7; 5:21; Ep 1:11,14,18; 5:5; Cl 1:12; Ti 3:7; Hb 1:14; 6:12,17; 9:15; 11:7; Jm 2:5; 1Pt 1:4; Rv 21:7

reward: Mt 5:12; Lk 6:23,35; Hb 11:26; 2Jo 8; Rv 22:12

Forgiving each other: Forgiveness is, of course, a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian life. We are to lovingly forgive others (cf. Mt 5:24; 6:12-15; 18:21 ff.; 18:35; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:37; 17:4; 2Co 2:7,10; Ep 4:32), because God has forgiven us (cf. Mt 6:14-15; 9:6; Mk 2:7,10; Ac 10:43; 13:38; Rm 5:10-11; 2Co 5:18-19; Ep 1:7; 4:32; Cl 1:14,20,22; Hb 9:22; Jm 5:15). The recipient must repent, however, in order to ask for, and obtain true forgiveness, which is not absolutely unconditional, as many falsely teach (cf. Mt 3:11; 11:21; 12:41; Mk 1:4,15; 6:12; Lk 3:3; 5:32; 13:3,5; 17:3-4; 24:47; Ac 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 13:24; 14:15; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:18,20; Rm 2:4; 2Co 5:20; 7:9-10; 12:21; 1Th 1:9; 2Tm 2:19,25; Hb 6:1,4; 1Pt 3:11; Rv 2:5,16,21-22; 3:3,19; 9:20-21). True repentance is a heartfelt acknowledgement of one’s sin (Lk 7:36-50; 15:7), a firm resolve to try to do better (Mt 3:8; Lk 3:8; 22:32; Ac 26:20), and a determination to cease engaging in that sin (Jn 5:14; 8:11; Gl 4:9; Cl 1:21-23; 2Pt 2:21). Our willingness to mercifully forgive anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness ought to be unconditional. The Catholic notion of priestly absolution is grounded in Holy Scripture (cf. Mt 16:19; 18:18; Lk 24:47; Jn 20:21-23; 2Co 2:5-11; Jm 5:15). The unforgivable sin or sin against the Holy Spirit is a rejection of God’s offer of salvation (cf. Mt 12:31-32; Mk 3:28-29; Lk 12:10). This provides further evidence that even God cannot and will not forgive a person who doesn’t repent and accept the forgiveness (in this case, salvation itself – see 2Pt 3:9). For to forgive everyone unconditionally would reduce to universalism, whereby everyone is saved, with no one being consigned to hell – itself a most unbiblical doctrine (see commentary for Ph 1:28).

Wives, be subject to your husbands: In his Apostolic Letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women (1988), Pope John Paul II wrote:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife (Eph 5:22-23) . . . to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ (cf. Eph 5:21). This is especially true because the husband is called the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church; he is so in order to give himself up for her (Eph 5:25) (section 24).

The greatest among you will be your servant (Mt 23:11; cf. Ep 5:28-31). The highest of God’s created beings, according to Catholicism, is a woman (the Blessed Virgin Mary), and a woman – Mary Magdalene – first saw the risen Jesus (Jn 20:11-18). Wives are equal to husbands in the same way that Jesus is equal to the Father (Jn 10:30; Cl 2:9), even though in subjection to Him (Ph 2:5-8). Analogously, marriage, by nature, creates a spiritual oneness (Mt 19:5-6) which nevertheless incorporates male headship and differential gender roles. Masculinity and femininity are ontological realities created by God, not human culture (cf. 1Co 11:3,7-9; 1 Tm 2:12-14; 1Pt 3:7), thus accounting for marriage roles and exclusively male ordination. Yet men and women are fundamentally equal, according to St. Paul: there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gl 3:28).

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Chapter 4

1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; 3 and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, 4 that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak. 5 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one. 7 Tych’icus will tell you all about my affairs; he is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Ones’imus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of yourselves. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. 10 Aristar’chus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions–if he comes to you, receive him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Ep’aphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always remembering you earnestly in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in La-odice’a and in Hi-erap’olis. 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. 15 Give my greetings to the brethren at La-odice’a, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the La-odice’ans; and see that you read also the letter from La-odice’a. 17 And say to Archip’pus, “See that you fulfil the ministry which you have received in the Lord.” 18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my fetters. Grace be with you.

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watchful: Mt 24:42-43; 25:13; Lk 12:37; Ac 20:31; 1Co 10:12; 16:13; 1Th 5:6; 1Pt 5:8; Rv 3:2-3; 16:15

open to us a door: Ac 14:27; 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12; Rv 3:8

mystery: Mt 13:11; Mk 4:11; Lk 8:10; Rm 11:25; 16:25; 1Co 2:7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Ep 1:9; 3:3-4,9; 5:32; 6:19; Cl 1:26-27; 2:2; 2Th 2:7; 1Tm 3:9,16; Rv 1:20; 10:7; 17:5,7

Let your speech always be gracious: Jb 27:4; Ps 19:14; 39:1; 141:3; Pr 10:11; 15:26; 21:23; 22:11; 31:26; Ec 10:12; Mt 5:22; 12:34-37; Lk 4:22; 6:45; 1Co 13:1; 16:10; Ep 4:29-31; 5:4; Ph 1:27; 2Tm 2:14; Ti 3:2; Jm 1:19,26; 3:2,5-10; 4:11; 1Pt 2:1,12; 3:9-10,15-16; Rv 14:5

assured: Jn 14:20; 15:11; 16:24; Ac 2:28; Rm 2:18; 8:16,28,38-39; 15:13-14; 2Co 7:4; Ep 1:18; 3:12,19; Cl 2:2,10; 1Th 1:4-5; 2Tm 1:12; Hb 6:11,19; 10:22; 11:1; 1Jn 3:2,14,19,24; 4:18; 5:13

ministry: Gr. diakonia: Ac 1:17,25; 6:1,4; 12:25; 20:24; 21:19; 1Co 12:5; 16:15; 2Co 3:6; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3-4; Ep 3:7; 4:12; Cl 1:7,23,25; 1Th 3:2; 1Tm 1:12; 2Tm 4:5,11

Continue steadfastly in prayer: (cf. 1Ch 16:11; 2Ch 7:14; Ps 5:1-3; 27:8; 109:4; 116:2; Mt 7:7-8; 21:22; Lk 2:37; 11:1-13; 18:1; 21:36; Jn 14:13-14; Ac 2:46-47; 6:4; 10:2; 12:2; Rm 1:9; 12:12; Ep 1:15-16; 6:18; Ph 4:6; Cl 1:9; 1Th 3:10; 5:17; 1Tm 2:8; 5:5; 2Tm 1:3; Hb 4:16; 10:25; Jm 5:16; CCC 2564-2565,2592,2607,2612,2621,2659-2669, 2725,2738-2745,2752,2779-2802). Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, in his sermon The Daily Service (1836), exclaimed, with typically magnificent eloquence:

Stated and continual prayer, then, and especially united prayer, is plainly the duty of Christians. And if we ask how often we are to pray, I reply, that we ought to consider prayer as a plain privilege, directly we know that it is a duty, and therefore that the question is out of place . . . When thoughts such as these are set before the multitude of men, they appear to some of them strained and unnatural; to others, formal, severe, and tending to bondage. So must it be. Christ’s commands will seem to be a servitude, and His privileges will be strange, till we act upon the one and embrace the other. To those who come in faith, to receive and to obey, who, instead of standing at a distance, reasoning, criticising, investigating, adjusting, hear His voice and follow Him, not knowing whither they go; who throw themelves, their hearts and wills, their opinions and conduct, into His Divine System with a noble boldness, and serve Him on a venture, without experience of results, or skill to defend their own confidence by argument: who, when He says ‘Pray,’ ‘Continue in prayer,’ take His words simply, and forthwith pray, and that instantly; these men, through His great mercy and the power of the Holy Ghost working in them, will at length find persevering prayer, praise, and intercession, neither a bondage nor a barrenness . . . May He lead us on evermore in the narrow way, who is the One Aid of all that need, the Helper of all that flee to Him for succour, the Life of them that believe, and the Resurrection of the dead!

Will of God: (cf. Mt 6:10; 7:21; 12:50; 26:42; Mk 3:35; Jn 5:30; Ac 21:14; 22:14; Rm 1:10; 2:18; 9:19; 12:2; 1Co 1:1; 2Co 1:1; 8:5; Gl 1:4; Ep 1:1,5,9,11; 5:17; 6:6; Ph 2:13; Cl 1:1,9; 1Th 4:3; 5:18; Hb 2:4; 10:7-10; 1Pt 2:15; 3:17; 4:2,19; 1Jn 2:17; 5:14; CCC 2611).

Men do not take for the object towards which they act, God’s will, but certain maxims, rules, or measures, right perhaps as far as they go, but defective because they admit of being subjected to certain other ultimate ends, which are not religious. Men are just, honest, upright, trustworthy; but all this not from the love and fear of God, but from a mere feeling of obligation to be so, and in subjection to certain worldly objects (Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman: sermon Obedience Without Love, 1838).

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