Commentaries on Colossians

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Philippians  ⇐ ⇒  1 Thessalonians


For more great commentaries on Colossians check:
Commentaries on the Epistles, Commentaries on the Whole New Testament
Whole Bible Commentaries



Order of Contents  35+

Best  8
Commentaries  23
Early & Medieval  7



The Best Commentaries on Colossians


Byfield, Nicholas – An Exposition upon the Epistle to the Colossians  (1615)

***  “The author lived in intense pain, and died at 44, yet he produced quite a mountain of literature.  He writes like an earnest, faithful man, resolved to keep back nothing of the counsel of God; but he too little studies brevity, and consequently he wearies most readers.  He is always worth consulting.” – Spurgeon

Davenant, John – An Exposition of Colossians, vols. 1, 2  (d. 1641; London: Hamilton, 1831)

Davenant was of the reformed tradition, though a hypothetical universalist.

***  “I know no exposition upon a detached portion of Scripture (with the single exception of Owen on the Hebrews) that will compare with it in all points.  Leighton is superior in sweetness, but far inferior in depth, accuracy, and discursiveness.” – Charles Bridges, as quoted by Spurgeon

Dickson, David – ‘…Colossians Analytically Expounded’  in An Expositon of all St. Paul’s Epistles…  (1659), pp. 134-45

Dickson was a prominent Scottish covenanter.

*** – ‘Dickson is a writer after our own heart.  For preachers he is a great ally.  There is nothing brilliant or profound; but everything is clear and well arranged, and the unction runs down like the oil from Aaron’s head.  In this volume the observations are brief.’

Elton, Edward – An Exposition of the Epistle of St Paul to the Colossians delivered in Sundry Sermons  (London: Kyngston, 1615)  726 pp.

Elton (d. 1624) was a reformed minister near London.

***  “A Puritan work; strongly Calvinistic, popular, and very full.” – Spurgeon

Fergusson, James – ‘The Epistle to the Colossians’  in A Brief Exposition of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians & the Thessalonians  (1656-1674; London: Ward, 1841), pp. 327-77

Fergusson was a Scottish covenanter.

*** – ‘He who possesses this work is rich.  The author handles his matter in the same manner as Hutcheson and Dickson, and he is of their class–a grand, gracious, savory divine.’


Simple, Practical & Devotional

Spence, James – Sunday Mornings with my Flock, on St. Paul’s Latter to the Colossians, a Series of Discourses forming an Exposition of that Epistle  (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1875)  438 pp.  ToC

***  “A good specimen of honest, popular expounding.  Intended for a congregation, but useful to the student.” – Spurgeon



Eadie, John – Commentary on Colossians  Reformed, Scottish

***  “Very full and reliable.  A work of the utmost value.”

“Expositions on several of Paul’s letters to the churches of the New Testament era followed [by Eadie], and it is significant that Dr. C.J. Ellicott considered them to be superior to anything in England up to that time.” – Cyril J. Barber

“A rich and inspiring exposition which preachers who have a knowledge of Greek will appreciate for its insights and detailed explanations.” – Cyril J. Barber

Lightfoot, J.B. – ‘Epistle to the Colossians’  ToC  in St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians & Philemon: A Revised Text, with Introductions, Notes & Dissertations  (1875), pp. 1-300

***  “Deservedly regarded as a standard work.  The more instructed student will appreciate it.”  “…Lightfoot writes for scholars.” – Spurgeon

“Valuable studies which admirably illuminate the text of both epistles. Of particular interest are the essays on the epistle from Laodicea, the origin and affinities of the Essenes, and the Essenes and Christianity.” – Cyril J. Barber

Note: any similarity between the early Jewish sect of the Essenes and Christianity is purely superficial; the two groups of thought are substantially different from each other, even where there may appear to be some overlap.





ed. Tomlin, Graham – Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Philippians, Colossians  Buy

Calvin, John – Commentary on Colossians

** – Spurgeon

Ridley, Lancelot – An Exposition in English upon the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians, wherein the Letter is purely declared, with many good exhortations to flee vice a& to take virtue  (London: 1548)  275 pp.

Ridley (d. 1576) was a reformed Anglican.

Rollock, Robert – Lectures on Colossians  EEBO  (†1599; London: Kyngston, 1603)  442 pp.  41 Lectures

** – ‘It is said that when this great divine died the entire population of Edinburgh attended his funeral.  His Lectures on Colossians were once very popular, but are now extremely scarce.  The style is very simple and colloquial, and the matter far from profound.’ – Spurgeon



Cartwright, Thomas – An Exposition of Colossians in Sundry Sermons  in Airay on the Epistle to the Philippians & Cartwright on the Epistle to the Colossians  in Nichol’s Series of Commentaries  (d. 1603; Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864)  independently paginated

Cartwright (1534-1603) was an influential and leading English presbyterian.

**  “This is but a small affair, consisting of scanty and second rate ‘notes’ by a hearer.  Yet what there is of it has the true ring, and is rich in spirituality.” – Spurgeon

Dod, John & Robert Cleaver – ‘A Profitable Metaphrase upon the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians’  in Ten Sermons, tending Chiefly to the Fitting of Men for the Worthy Receiving of the Lord’s Supper…  whereunto is annexed a plain & learned Metaphrase on the Epistle to the Colossians…  (1634), pp. 265-288

Daille, John – 49 Sermons upon the Whole Epistle of the Apostle St. Paul to the Colossians  (d. 1670; London: White, 1672)  173 pp.

Daillie (1594-1670) was of the reformed tradition, though a hypothetical-universalist.

On his work on the Philippians:  **  “Written in a deliciously florid style.  Very sweet and evangelical: after the French manner.” – Spurgeon


Simple, Practical & Devotional


Gisborne, Thomas – A Familiar Exposition & Application of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians, in a course of 8 Sermons…  (London: Cadell, 1816)  194 pp.  ToC

Gisborne (1758-1846) was a clergyman in the Anglican Church.

**  “Sermons which very much remind us of those of Henry Melvill, but with less of the Gospel in them.  Gisborne was a preacher of considerable repute, but he was more at home upon moral than spiritual topics.” – Spurgeon

Milner, Joseph – Sermons on Colossians, 1 Thessalonians 5, and James 1  (1841)

Milner (1744–1797)

**  “Respectable sermons by the Church historian.” – Spurgeon

Moule, H.C.G. – Colossian & Philemon Studies: Lessons in Faith & Holiness  in The Expositor’s Library  (Revell, 1861)  325 pp.  ToC

“Moule was known for his saintliness and evangelical fervor. These studies bear testimony to his ability as an expositor. They deal adequately with the text and deftly apply the message of these epistles.” – Cyril J. Barber



Nicholson, William Rufus – Popular Studies in Colossians: Oneness with Christ  (1903; Kregel, 1973)  284 pp.  ToC

“”Formerly published under the title Oneness in Christ. Combines outstanding scholarship with a deeply devotional spirit.” – Cyril J. Barber

English, Eugene Schuyler – Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians  (NY: Publication Office, “Our Hope”, 1944)  135 pp.  ToC

“A devotional and practical study which combines doctrinal orthodoxy with loyalty to the Word. The exposition unfolds the meaning and theme of the epistle.” – Cyril J. Barber

King, Guy Hope – Crossing the Border: an Expositional Study of Colossians  (1957; Christian Literature Crusade, 1974)  140 pp.  ToC

“A lucid study which emphasizes the spiritual truths of a believer’s position in Christ, and shows how the reality of this truth affects everyday living.” – Cyril J. Barber

Morris, Leon – ‘Colossians’  in ed. Carl Henry, The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book with General & Introductory Essays & Exposition  1 vol. ed.  (1960; A.J. Holman, 1973), pp. 1106-1115

This little known commentary set by leading evangelicals (many of which were reformed) is brief (think airplane view) but helpful.

Harrison, Everett F. – Colossians: Christ All Sufficient  in Everyman’s Bible Commentary  (Moody Press, 1971)  115 pp.  ToC

Harrison was a Presbyterian and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.

“Good things frequently come in small packages. This is one of them.” – Cyril J. Barber




MacLaren, Alexander – Colossians & Philemon  in The Expositor’s Bible, ed. Nicoll

This is different than MacLaren’s expositions on the whole Bible.

MacPhail, S.R. – The Epistle of Paul to the Colossians  (1911)  in Bible-Handbooks for Bible Classes, ed. Dods & Whyte

Wilson, Daniel – Expository Lectures on Colossians, being an Attempt to Apply the Apostle’s Argument Respecting the Errors on the Subject of the Mediation of Christ at Colosse to the Present Circumstances of the Church  (1845)

**  “By a famous modern evangelical, who shows much ability in wielding this Scripture against Tractarians and others.  The work contains little original exegesis.” – Spurgeon



Robertson, A.T. – Paul and the Intellectuals: the Epistles to the Colossians  (1928)  145 pp.  The substance of these 12 chapters were the 1926 Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary

“A verse-by-verse treatment of the letter expounded in the light of its historic setting and the emergence of an incipient form of Gnosticism.” – Cyril J. Barber

Hendriksen, William – Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians  ToC  in Exposition of Colossians & Philemon  in New Testament Commentary  (Baker, 1964), pp. 39-206

“Contains an extensive introduction, a new translation of the text, an informative commentary, a valuable summary of the data covered in the book, and a series of critical notes dealing with problems which are of a more specialized nature.” – Cyril J. Barber

Clark, Gordon – Colossians  Buy




Meyer, H.A.W. – Critical & Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to the Colossians

**  “No doubt wonderfully learned, but we cannot get on with it.  Quotations from heretics we have happily never heard of before are of no great use to simple believers like ourselves.” – Spurgeon

Westcott, Frederick Brooke – A Letter to Asia, being a Paraphrase & Brief Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Believers at Colossae  (1914)  224 pp.  This was reprinted by Klock & Klock

Westcott was one of the more conservative liberals.

“The son of the renowned B.F. Westcott provides his readers with an informative paraphrase and a brief exposition of Paul’s letter to the believers at Colossae.” – Cyril J. Barber



Moule, Charles Francis Digby – ‘The Epistle to the Colossians’  in The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians & to Philemon  in The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary  (Cambridge University Press, 1957), pp. 45-139

Part of the new edition of the Cambridge Greek Testament. An exegetical commentary particularly valuable for its treatment of the theological terms and linguistic points of interest.” – Cyril J. Barber



The Early Church on Colossians


ed. Gorday, Peter – The Epistle to the Colossians  in Ancient Christian Commentary: Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon  (IVP Academic, 2007), pp. 1-58


Individual Fathers


Commentary on Colossians  in Commentaries on Galatians-Philemon  trans. Gerald Bray  in Ancient Christian Texts  Pre  Buy  (IVP Academic, 2009), pp. 81-100

Ambrosiaster (c. 366-384)

Question on Col. 2:3  at Patristic Bible Commentary

Chrysostom – Homilies on Colossians  ToC  in NPNF1, vol. 13, pp. 257-321  HTML

Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407)

**  ‘Enough of solid truth and brilliant utterance will be found here to justify this father’s title of ‘Golden Mouth’; but still all is not gold which fell from his lips, and to modern readers Chrysostom is not so instructive as he was to his own age [A.D. 349-407].’ – Spurgeon

Theodore of Mopsuestia

‘On Colossians’  in Theodore of Mopsuestia: The Commentaries on the Minor Epistles of Paul  trans. Rowan Greer  in Writings from the Greco-Roman World  Pre  (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), pp. 363-438

Theodore (c. 350 – 428) was a bishop of Mopsuestia and is also known as Theodore of Antioch, from the place of his birth and presbyterate. He is the best known representative of the middle Antioch School of hermeneutics.

‘Selections from Theodore’s Commentaries on the Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians & Colossians’  in The Early Church Fathers  Pre  (Routledge, 2009), pp. 118-25

Theodoret of Cyrus – Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, vol. 2: Galatians–Hebrews  Ref  (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2007)

Theodoret (c. 393 – c. 458/466) was an influential theologian of the School of Antioch, biblical commentator and bishop of Cyrus.



The Medieval Church on Colossians

Ishodad of Merv – On Colossians  at Patristic Bible Commentary

Ishodad (fl. 850) was a bishop of Hdatta during the Abbasid Caliphate (near current-day Mosul, Iraq) and prominent theologian of the Church of the East, best known for his commentaries on the Syriac Bible.

Aquinas, Thomas – Commentary on Colossians  at Isidore

Aquinas (1225 – 1274)



Colossians 1


Bayne, Paul – Commentary on Colossians 1 & 2  (London: Badger, 1634)  378 pp.

***  “…Edifying and very rare.” – Spurgeon

Lockyer, Nicholas – England Faithfully Watched with in her Wounds: or, Christ as a Father Sitting up with his Children in their Swooning State, which is the sum of Several Lectures Painfully Preached upon Colossians 1  (1646)  Here are his sermons on Col. 1:11-12

***  “Rich, full, simple.  A fair specimen of plain Puritan preaching.” – Spurgeon

Manton, Thomas – Christ’s Eternal Existence & the Dignity of his Person Asserted & Proved, in Opposition to the Doctrine of the Socinians  8 sermons on Col. 1:14-20  89 pp.  in Works, vol. 1, p. 415 ff.



Guthrie, Thomas – Christ the Inheritance of the Saints, Illustrated in a Series of Discourses from Colossians  (1859)  only covers ch. 1

Guthrie was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland.

**  “Not so much an exposition as a series of brilliant discourses, or prose poems.  Dr. Guthrie has only touched upon the first chapter.” – Spurgeon

“A Presbyterian preacher of the last century, Guthrie pastored the Edinburgh Church of Old Greyfriars for nearly thirty years. These expository discourses cover Colossians 1:12-20.” – Cyril J. Barber



Colossians 2

Bayne, Paul – Commentary on Colossians 1 & 2  (London: Badger, 1634)  378 pp.

***  “…Edifying and very rare.” – Spurgeon




Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries