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Reformed Literature
A Presbyterian Internet Journal

Colossians and Philemon

William Hendriksen

Banner of Truth

A couple of weeks ago in a sermon I was struck by the command to "study the scriptures". The speaker made the point that the instruction is to study rather than to just to read or skim and that the act of study should take time and effort. It was also commented on at the time that we should read our bible both morning and evening, this act too should involve study rather than a quick skim as a matter of course. As I reflected on these thoughts, it occurred to me that I was still not reading sufficient commentaries and that all too easily I get drawn into Christian biography and history.

There are some commentators, such as Matthew Henry that everyone has heard about! There are others that are popular in different denominations. Personally, I prefer a commentator that is more modern as this often means that they have reflected on the debates and points that have been finessed by others. However, a good modern commentator is hard to find as many of them can start from a wonky theological base. My favourite modern commentator is William Hendriksen, who was an American of Dutch extraction who was part of the Christian Reformed Church. He worked at Calvin Theological Seminary along with Louis Berkhof.

This commentary begins with the importance of Colossians to the ecumenical movement. The reason is its clear explanation of the errors of Romanism, he develops similar themes around the epistle in the space age and to a church being challenged about the doctrines of the last things. I also like his thorough demolition of the arguments against Pauline authorship (including the views of Andrew Morton) showing the consistency in style, language and structures.

The book begins with 23 pages of the background to the epistle. He exp,aims the geography of that part of Turkey and the approximate distances of the churches, showing how they each link with Paul's travels. A brief tour of its history shows how that whole area was important in the transition between the ancient and modern world. The Colossian church were recent converts and needed Paul's guidance and then we have his encouragements to put their faith in an all sufficient saviour.

The commentary itself is full of good instruction. He shows how much of the teaching of The Lord Jesus exemplifies his teaching on faith, hope and love. This triad then finds its way repeatedly into Pauline teaching and instruction. He carefully works through each passage and draws out that which is doctrinal, spiritual and practical. A great handbook to the epistle and well worth investing in..