Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Colossians 4:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Cause that it be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans - That is: Let a copy be taken, and sent to them, that it may be read there also. This appears to have been a regular custom in the apostolic Church.

That ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea - Some suppose that this was an epistle sent from Laodicea to the apostle, which he now sent by Aristarchus to the Colossians, that they might peruse it; that thereby they might see the propriety of sending a copy of his epistle to them, to the Laodicean Church. Many eminent critics are of this opinion, which appears to me to be both forced and far fetched. Others think that the Epistle to the Ephesians is the epistle in question, and that it was originally directed to them, and not to the Ephesians. See the notes on Ephesians 1:1, etc. But others, equally learned, think that there was an epistle, different from that to the Ephesians, sent by St. Paul to the Laodiceans, which is now lost. There was an epistle under this direction in the times of Theodoret and Jerome, for both of them mention it; but the latter mentions it as apocryphal, Legunt quidam et ad Laodicenses Epistolam, sed ab omnibus exploditur; "Some read an Epistle to the Laodiceans, but it is exploded by all." The seventh Ecumenic council, held in 787, states that the ancients allowed that there was an epistle with this direction, but that all the orthodox rejected it as supposititious.

An epistle ad Laodicenses is still extant in the Latin language, a very ancient copy of which is in the library Sancti Albani Andegavensis, St. Alban's of Anjou. Hutter has translated it into Greek, but his translation is of no authority. Calmet has published this epistle, with various readings from the above MS. I shall subjoin it at the end of this epistle, and give my opinion relative to its use and authenticity. A copy of this epistle stands in this place as a portion of Divine revelation in one of my own MSS. of the Vulgate.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And when this Epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans - Laodicea was near to Colossae, and the church there was evidently exposed to the same dangers from philosophy and false teachers as the at Colossae. The counsels in this Epistle, therefore, would be equally applicable to both. In 1 Thessalonians 5:27, the apostle also charges those to whom that Epistle was addressed to see that it be “read unto all the holy brethren.” It is evident that the apostles designed that the letters which they addressed to the churches should be read also by others, and should become the permanent source of instruction to the friends of Christ. Laodicea, here referred to, was the seat of one of the “Seven churches” of Asia Revelation 3:14; was a city of Phrygia, and was its capital. It was situated on the river Lycus (hence, called Λαοδίκεία ἐπὶ Λύκῳ Laodikeia epi Lukō- Laodicea on the Lycus) and stood at the southwestern angle of Phrygia. Its early name appears to have been Dios polis, changed subsequently to Rhoas. The name Laodicea was given to it by Antiochus Theos, in honor of his wife Laodice. Under the Romans it became a very flourishing commercial city.

It was often damaged by earthquakes, but was restored by the Roman emperors. It is supposed to have been destroyed during the inroad of Timur Leng in 1402. The ruins are called by the Turks Eski Hissar. These ruins, and the ruins of Hierapolis, were visited by Mr. Riggs, an American Missionary, in 1842, who thus speaks of them: “These spots, so interesting to the Christian, are now utterly desolate. The threatening expressed in Revelation 3:10, has been fulfilled, and Laodicea is but a name. In the midst of one of the finest plains of Asia Minor, it is entirely without inhabitant. Sardis, in like manner, whose church had a name to live, but was dead, is now an utter desolation. Its soil is turned up by the plow, or overgrown by rank weeds: while in Philadelphia, since the day when our Saviour commended those who had there “kept the word of his patience,” there has never ceased to be a nominally Christian church. The ruins of Laodicea and Hierapolis are very extensive. The stadium of the former city, and the gymnasia and theaters of both, are the most complete which I have anywhere seen. Hierapolis is remarkable also for the so-called frozen cascades, a natural curiosity, in its kind probably not surpassed for beauty and extent in the world. It consists of a deposit of carbonate of lime, white as the driven snow, assuming, when closely examined, various forms, and covering nearly the whole southern and western declivities of the elevation on which the city was built. It is visible for many miles, and has procured for the place the name by which alone Hierapolis is known among the Turks, of the Cotton Castle.”

And that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea - In regard to this Epistle, see Introduction, Section 6.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Paul had differed with Barnabas, on the account of this Mark, yet he is not only reconciled, but recommends him to the churches; an example of a truly Christian and forgiving spirit. If men have been guilty of a fault, it must not always be remembered against them. We must forget as well as forgive. The apostle had comfort in the communion of saints and ministers. One is his fellow-servant, another his fellow-prisoner, and all his fellow-workers, working out their own salvation, and endeavouring to promote the salvation of others. The effectual, fervent prayer is the prevailing prayer, and availeth much. The smiles, flatteries, or frowns of the world, the spirit of error, or the working of self-love, leads many to a way of preaching and living which comes far short of fulfilling their ministry. But those who preach the same doctrine as Paul, and follow his example, may expect the Divine favour and blessing.
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