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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Colossians 3

Verses 1-4


Christian freedom in practice (2:16-3:4)

In view of the freedom that Christ has won for them, the Colossian believers must not listen to those who try to force them to obey the rules and regulations of the Israelite law. Practices taught in the law may be compared to shadows. They are not solid or permanent, but their existence enables the viewer to know that there is some real object that casts the shadows. That real object is Jesus Christ. Now that he has come, the shadows are of no further interest. The ceremonies of the law have no further use (16-17).
Neither should Christians listen to those who want to show their ‘superior’ knowledge by mixing their own philosophies with the gospel. Christian life and growth come from God through a direct relationship between the believer and Christ. There is no scale of angelic beings forming a ladder to link Christians with God (18-19).
Having been set free from the bondage of sin through Christ’s death, Christians should not get into bondage again by becoming slaves of religious regulations that people want to impose upon them. To make laws to live by is the way of the worldly person, not the way of the Christian. No matter how clever and religious those laws may appear, they will not succeed in controlling the desires of the body (20-23).
Because they have died to sin, Christians are not in bondage to things of the world as the Gnostics are. Christians have been raised with Christ to new life in a higher world, where their desires and conduct are like Christ’s (3:1-2). Through Christ they have life directly in God. In contrast to the Gnostics, they do not try to climb a ladder of countless intermediate spirit beings. Neither the Gnostics nor any other unbelievers can understand this life, because the life is ‘in Christ’ and therefore is hidden from their view. Its true character will be fully shown on the day when Christ’s glory is revealed (3-4).

Verses 5-17


3:5-4:6 THE CHRISTIAN’S NEW LIFE

Old and new habits (3:5-17)

Not only do Christians believe that through Christ’s death they have died to sin, but they must also show it to be true in their daily lives. They must make every effort to put away the old selfish habits that God hates, from obvious sins such as sexual immorality to hidden sins such as greed and other uncontrolled desires (5-7). They must control the tongue and discipline personal behaviour. This renewing of their lives is not something that happens only once. It must go on all the time, so that more of the old nature is conquered and the new person is more like God (8-10).
Since the goal of the Christian life is to become like Christ, there is no way that Christians can be divided into superior or inferior classes according to race, culture or social status. All are equal in him, united in him, and should strive to be like him (11).
Believers should put off old sinful habits as they would put off dirty clothes. They should put on new good habits as they would put on fresh clean clothes. They should have a new attitude, which thinks of others before thinking of self. It is as if the new ‘clothes’ they have just put on are bound together by love, so that their appearance is one of genuine beauty and completeness (12-14).
Within the church there are people of various personalities and social backgrounds, but they can all live together in harmony through allowing the peace-loving spirit of Christ to guide their actions. Through teaching and singing they can build one another up in the faith. At all times and in all places they should live and act as new people in Christ (15-17).

Verses 18-25


Life in the home and in society (3:18-4:6)

Harmony in the home depends on the husband’s showing understanding love to his wife, and the wife’s showing loyal submission to her husband (18-19). Children are to be obedient to their parents, but parents must treat their children with understanding and not be harsh or unreasonable (20-21). When slaves work for their masters as if they were working for the Lord Christ, they will produce work of good quality. Masters, on their part, must reward their slaves fairly, knowing that they too have a master, God, and he will treat them as they treat others (22-4:1).
Christians must be regular and persistent in prayer. They must keep alert as they pray, for they can be easily distracted (2). They should specifically pray for the servants of God with whom they are partners in the gospel, that God’s messengers may have opportunities to make known his message, and that they may do so clearly (3-4). Besides praying for the activity of others, Christians should be careful of their own conduct, and make sure their speech is pleasant to listen to and sensible. In this way they will attract, and not repel, those who are not believers (5-6).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Colossians 3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/colossians-3.html. 2005.