1. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
1. Domini, quod iustum est, servis exhibete, mutuamque aequabilitatem, scientes quod vos quoque Dominum habeatis in coelis.
2. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
2. Orationi instate, vigilantes in ea, cum gratiarum actione.
3. Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
3. Orate simul et pro nobis, ut Deus aperiat nobis ianuam sermonis ad loquendum mysterium Christi, cuius etiam causa vinctus sum.
4. That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
4. Ut manifestem illud, quemadmodum oportet me loqui.
1. Masters, what is just. He mentions first, what is just, by which term he expresses that kindness, as to which he has given injunction in the Epistle to the Ephesians. (Ephesians 6:8.) But as masters, looking down as it were from aloft, despise the condition of servants, so that they think that they are bound by no law, Paul brings them under control, because both are equally under subjection to the authority of God. Hence that equity of which he makes mention.
And mutual equity. Some understand it otherwise, but I have no doubt that Paul here employed isoteta to mean analogical or distributive right, as in Ephesians, ta auta, (the same things.) For masters have not their servants bound to them in such a manner as not to owe something to them in their turn, as analogical right to be in force among all ranks.
2. Continue in prayer. He returns to general exhortations, in which we must not expect an exact order, for in that case he would have begun with prayer, but Paul had not an eye to that. Farther, as to prayer, he commends here two things; first, assiduity; secondly, alacrity, or earnest intentness. For, when he says, continue, he exhorts to perseverance, while he makes mention of watching in opposition to coldness, and listlessness.
He adds, thanksgiving, because God must be solicited for present necessity in such a way that, in the mean time, we do not forget favors already received. Farther, we ought not to be so importunate as to murmur, and feel offended if God does not immediately gratify our wishes, but must receive contentedly whatever he gives. Thus a twofold giving of thanks is necessary. As to this point something has also been said in the Epistle to the Philippians. (Philippians 4:6.)
3. Pray also for us. He does not say this by way of pretense, but because, being conscious to himself of his own necessity, he was earnestly desirous to be aided by their prayers, and was fully persuaded that they would be of advantage to them. Who then, in the present day, would dare to despise the intercessions of brethren, which Paul openly declares himself to stand in need of? And, unquestionably, it is not in vain that the Lord has appointed this exercise of love between us -- that we pray for each other. Not only, therefore, ought each of us to pray for his brethren, but we ought also, on our part, diligently to seek help from the prayers of others, as often as occasion requires. It is, however, a childish argument on the part of Papists, who infer from this, that the dead must be implored to pray for us. For what is there here that bears any resemblance to this? Paul commends himself to the prayers of the brethren, with whom he knows that he has mutual fellowship according to the commandment of God: who will deny that this reason does not hold in the case of the dead? Leaving, therefore, such trifles, let us return to Paul.
As we have a signal example of modesty, in the circumstance that Paul calls others to his assistance, so we are also admonished, that it is a thing that is replete with the greatest difficulty, to persevere steadfastly in the defense of the gospel, and especially when danger presses. For it is not without cause that he desires that the Churches may assist him in this matter. Consider, too, at the same time, his amazing ardor of zeal. He is not solicitous as to his own safety; he does not ask that prayers may be poured forth by the Churches on his behalf, that he may be delivered from danger of death. He is contented with this one thing, that he may, unconquered and undaunted, persevere in a confession of the gospel; nay more, he fearlessly makes his own life a secondary matter, as compared with the glory of Christ and the spread of the gospel.
By a door of utterance, however, he simply means what, in Ephesians 6:19, he terms the opening of the mouth, and what Christ calls a mouth and wisdom. (Luke 21:15.) For the expression differs nothing from the other in meaning, but merely in form, for he here intimates, by all elegant metaphor, that it is in no degree easier for us to speak confidently respecting the gospel, than to break through a door that is barred and bolted. For this is truly a divine work, as Christ himself said,
It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:20.)
Having, therefore, set forward the difficulty, he stirs up the Colossians the more to prayer, by declaring that he cannot speak right, except in so far as his tongue is directed by the Lord. Secondly, he argues from the dignity of the matter, when he calls the gospel the mystery of Christ. For we must labor in a more perfunctory manner in a matter of such importance. Thirdly, he makes mention also of his danger.
4. As I ought. This clause sets forth more strongly the difficulty, for he intimates that it is no ordinary matter. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, (Ephesians 6:20,) he adds, hina parresiasomai, (that I may speak boldly,) from which it appears that he desired for himself an undaunted confidence, such as befits the majesty of the gospel. Farther, as Paul here does nothing else than desire that grace may be given him for the discharge of his office, let us bear in mind that a rule is in like manner prescribed to us, not to give way to the fury of our adversaries, but to strive even to death in the publication of the gospel. As this, however, is beyond our power, it is necessary that we should continue in prayer, that the Lord may not leave us destitute of the spirit of confidence.