Attention!
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Colossians 3

Verses 1-11

  1. INTRO:
    1. Many stories circulate regarding the Sanci(y) Diamond: It was named after a French nobleman named Sanci, who sent the gem by a messenger to Henri IV of France; but the messenger was assassinated while on his journey. The corpse was afterward found & opened whereupon the diamond was discovered in the stomach, having been swallowed by the faithful servant!
      1. Mere religion is like carrying a gem on one’s person, and there are many robbers! But those who possess the inliving Christ have the glorious Jewel of the ages actually within them!
      2. The life is hid within us; it is also hid with Christ in God; so we’re doubly safe!
    2. We now move from doctrine to personal application.
      1. As Truth is something to live as well as to learn!
      2. All that Paul has said about Christ, & our relationship to Him, our lives should be different!
        1. How are our lives made different?
          1. In Our Minds(1-4); In Our Bodies(5-7); In Our Attitudes(8-11).
  2. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH!
    1. ​​​​​​​IN OUR MINDS! (1-4)
    2. Spiritual maturity begins in the mind, where our priorities & perspectives are formed!
    3. (1) Co-resurrected.
    4. If we’ve died to our old life, old ways, & old self; & have been raised to our new life, new way, new purpose; then the new life should have the focus of our attention.
      1. We must Seek & Set!
      2. Lightfoot put it, “You must not only seek heaven; you must also think heaven!”
    5. If your focus is on things heavenly, you will obey God in things on earth.
      1. We belong to the realm where He is, & we must focus our hopes, desires, & ambitions on that realm!
    6. (1,2) Above...above - A small girl was watching her mother working among the flowers. “Mother,” she said, “I know why flowers grow; they want to get out of the dirt!
      1. What is the mysterious force which causes a sprouting seed to grow up instead of down? You plant a bulb upside down in the ground, but it always comes out “right side up.”
      2. It’s obviously the sunlight above which attracts the plant to itself!
        1. Plants always seek the sunlight. (ex: house plants turn & bend to reach the light from the window; sunflowers trace the suns path East to West; Dandelions open only on sunny days, but remain closed on dark days) It’s the power of the sun!
        2. Ever throw a rug or sheet of plywood on your lawn & forget about it for a couple days? You remove it & notice the lawn turned a sickly yellow, which takes a few weeks for it to recover.
        3. As a plant, so are we to seek those things which are above.
    7. (3) Hidden - The idea of life being hidden in God suggests 3 thoughts: (Linguistic Key to the Greek NT; pg.578)
      1. Hidden in Secrecy - the believers life is nurtured by secret springs.
      2. Hidden for Safety - Christ in God marks a double protection. (doubly safe)
      3. Hidden in Security - we are hidden/secured w/Christ.
      4. And get this...the perfect tense views the completed state arising from a past action.
      5. We talk as if living a sanctified life were the most uncertain & insecure thing we could do. Yet it is the most secure thing possible, because it has Almighty God in & behind it.
        1. The most dangerous & unsure thing is to try to live w/o God. (My Utmost for His Highest; Dec.24)
    8. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Illustration: The sun is 93 million miles away from a flower on earth; yet is in the flower, or, the sun’s life is in the flower!
    9. (4) Christ who is our life - He is the source of our life, the substance, sustenance, & solace of our life.
      1. Robert Murray M’Cheyne used to say, “For every look you take at your sinful self, take ten looks at Christ!” {If you forget everything else hear this!}
      2. People are not changed by imposing legalistic restrictions on what they eat or drink(2:16). They are changed by the power of Christ!
    10. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A believers 3-directional promise: Past (you were raised in Christ); Present (you life is hidden in Christ); Future (you also will appear with Him in glory).
    11. (4b) When Christ...appears - Someday when He returns, our true selves “will be revealed w/Him in glory”, & we will step into the world of which we’ve only dreamed.
    12. IN OUR BODIES! (5-7)
    13. First we saw spiritual maturity began in the mind, where our priorities & perspectives are formed! Now, Paul moves from the mind to the body.
      1. And he demands its mortification & nothing less!!!
    14. (5) Put to death - mortify, or reckon as dead.
      1. If you want to grow in Christ you must take God’s view concerning immoral practices & put them to death!
      2. Death to self in order that sin might be rendered ineffective in the believers life
      3. Rom.6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that  the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
    15. ​​​​​​​Put to death you members - according to the Rabbis, there are as many commandments & restraints in the law, as the body has members. (S. Schweizer; LKGNT)
    16. Suckers on fruit trees must be constantly pruned off if there is to be fruit! (grow from base)
      1. Thus the same tree may bring forth 2 kinds of fruit, wild & tame.
      2. The more the tree produces of one kind, the less there will be of the other.
      3. We too are trees. By nature we are wild, due to our birth from father Adam.
      4. When we are born of the Spirit, a bud-graft of the divine life is introduced within us. This enables us to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
      5. The old nature is still there, & if left without pruning will stunt the new growth & render it fruitless.
        1. This is the reason for the battle in the Christian life(both natures in same body/plant).
        2. The secret of victory is getting rid of the suckers...i.e. the works of the flesh!
    17. These 5 are sins of personal aggression. The individual who commits them thinks more of himself than he does of others. (Shepherds Notes; pg.60)
      1. Then Paul gives 2 reasons why Christians should never practice them:
        1. They bring the wrath of God(6);
        2. They characterize the former life of sin & rebellion(7).
    18. When we talk about God’s wrath(7) we mean something different from man’s wrath(8).
      1. Man’s passionate anger is immediate & strong.
      2. God’s wrath is more settled in the long term. {suggests the continuing revulsion of the holiness of God against sin}
        1. Man’s is like a firecracker w/a short fuse; God’s is like slow boil/water on a stove.
    19. IN OUR ATTITUDES! (8-11)
    20. First we saw spiritual maturity began in the mind, where our priorities & perspectives are formed! Second, Paul dealt with the death of the members of our body. Now, he addresses our attitudes!
      1. ​​​​​​​Like clothes, some attitudes belong to the wardrobe of the old-self; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lying.
      2. Paul says, toss those old rags aside because, when God united us with Christ, He updated our style!
      3. He has given us new clothes to wear: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, & the golden crown of love!(see vs.12)
    21. Like Lazarus(Jn.11:44) you must get rid of the grave-clothes that belong to the old life.
      1. Put off the old sins that bound you. Christ has set you free.
      2. God wants you to wear the grace-clothes, not the grave-clothes!
    22. (11) Christ is all & in all - not like in some new age sense(God is in everyone & everything) but He is, in all His fullness, in each of those believers, in the categories just mentioned.
      1. He is everything to us amid life’s disappointments, amid sickness, trial & trouble. He is in every time of temptation & most of all in the hour of death!
      2. He is both loving & almighty. There are those who are loving but not mighty; & those who are mighty but not loving; but Jesus is both.
      3. His is love to the utmost, & His is the power which upholds the very universe! Yes, “Christ is ALL!”

Verses 12-17

  1. INTRO:
    1. What is the identifying mark of a Hindu? (Bindi/u; “a drop/dot”; Forehead decoration; Forehead is the exit point for kundalini energy; thus wear Bundi to help retain energy & strengthen concentration; & protect from demons & bad luck)

      What is the identifying mark of a follower of antichrist in trib? (mark on forehead) What is the identifying mark of the 144,000? (seal on forehead Rev.7:3)What is the identifying mark of a Punjabi/Sikh religion? (Turban) What is the identifying mark of a pious Jew? (phylactery on forehead)What is the identifying mark of a Mormon? (name badge w/1st name “elder”) What is the identifying mark of a JW? (Watch Tower magazine)What is the identifying mark of a Christian? (wears a cross? bumper sticker?) What is the identifying mark of a Genuine Believer? (Love!!!)
    2. Not only is the believer to put off the evils of the old life(vs.8,9), he is to put on the graces of the new life.
      1. Do we ever get past the putting off? We seem to only define ourselves, or be defined by, what we’ve put off & not by what we put on!
      2. We’ve advertised to the world what we “don’t do, don’t see, don’t read, don’t say”. Can we start showing them what we’ve put on? What we do...do!
  2. THE CHRISTIAN’S NEW CLOTHES!
    1. In 1837 Hans Christian Anderson wrote “The Emperor’s new clothes” about an emperor who unwittingly hires two swindlers to create a new suit of clothes for him.
      1. This cloth, they told him, is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime. The Emperor then goes on a procession through the capital showing off his new "clothes". During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, "But he has nothing on!" The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession.
      2. I believe name only Christians have tried to promote the same fraud. They prance down the runway of life, telling everyone they’re wearing new spiritual clothes, but no one can see them!
      3. Paul gives us the ability to spot The Christian’s New Clothes.
    2. Outline: Our Position; Our Principles(The New Clothes); Our Process; Our Progress.
    3. OUR POSITION! (12a)
    4. These 3 descriptions tell of what the Christian is in the sight of God.
    5. Elect, chosen of God! & Holy, consecrated for God! & Loved, by God!
      1. And all these come from our union with Christ!
      2. We belong to His redeemed community because of His saving initiative.
        1. So we must be clothed with a new kind of life.
    6. OUR PRINCIPLES! (12b-14)
    7. Often clothes are an indication of personality [Overly baggy pants; surf clothes; business suit; western; mini-skirt; Muslim women’s burka], so the impression & expression of these graces will show whose we are & whom we serve!
    8. Tender mercies - a heart of compassion.
      1. Because with the affections right...everything else should follow.
    9. Kindness - opposite of harshness & severity.
    10. Humility-recognizing of ones own weakness but also the recognition of the power of God.
    11. Meekness - gentle attitude, kind acts towards others, often in the face of opposition.
    12. Kindness - opposite of everything rude & overbearing.
    13. Longsuffering - a long holding out of the mind, before it gives room to action or passion.
      1. Those who are humble in mind will naturally be slow to resent wrongs & will won’t contemplate revenge.
    14. Bearing with one another - to endure, “to put up with someone”.
      1. Every social group has its set of problems, & the church is no exception!
      2. We must have Christian graces that enhance our relationships.
    15. Forgiving one another
      1. In all matters of complaint & blame, this readiness to forgive should be shown.
    16. Love - above all these things put on love.
      1. Love is regarded as that which holds together the various Christian graces already mentioned.
      2. The unbeliever makes himself the center of his life; the Christian makes “others” the center of his life.
      3. Love is the identifying mark of the genuine believer!!!
    17. What a wonderful picture of Christian living here!
    18. OUR PROCESS! (15,16a)
    19. The Peace of God rule in your hearts! (15)
      1. Rule = peace is to be the umpire or arbiter deciding & ruling the life.
        1. It settles the differences, especially where there is any conflict of thoughts & feelings.
        2. Under such circumstances the peace of Christ is to decide!
        3. It stresses harmony in the group rather than personal peace! (15)
    20. Be thankful - (Lightfoot) “forget yourselves in thanksgiving towards God”.
      1. How do I deal with our economy? “forget yourselves in thanksgiving towards God.”
      2. How do I deal with doubts & fears? “forget yourselves in thanksgiving towards God.”
      3. How do I deal with our future? “forget yourselves in thanksgiving towards God.”
        1. And what a great week to do it! (Thanksgiving) :-)
    21. Be thankful - (Pres. tense) “a continual action pointing to a habit of life.”
      1. Can you say you’re habitually thankful?
      2. {Invite out for Thanksgiving Eve Service}
    22. The Word of Christ dwell in you richly! (16)
      1. Yes, the Scriptures are derived from the inspiration of the H.S., but they are full of Jesus’ person, character, sufferings, & glory!
        1. He is the author & subject of their contents.
        2. Jesus told the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
        3. Take Him out of the bible & you take the sun out of our world, & the soul out of the body. (William Jay; Morning Exercises; pg.401)
      2. It’s not enough to be taught the truth; we must possess it as a present personal experience!
        1. Not just learning about God, but how to walk with Him!
        2. We about helping people become more Christian or to get to know Jesus better?
        3. Do we obligate people to a meeting rather than equip them to live in Him?
        4. Church life is not about an institution but about a family!
        5. Church life must not be about managing the machinery but about equipping followers! (by helping them find a real relationship w/the living God)
      3. The Word is to be in us as abiding there, dwelling in us as in a home.
      4. It should not be treated as a stranger or slave, at a distance; but received as an intimate guest. (Griffith Thomas pg.101)
      5. Its to abide in us plentifully(richly).
      6. Its to abide in us “in all wisdom” - so that we ma know how to help others live!
        1. Some put the punctuation(;) after one another; to separate it out.
    23. Teaching(central form the beginning of Christian history); Admonishing(Christians have a responsibility for the moral & spiritual lives of one another; we can’t say “I’m not my brothers keeper” like Cain); Singing(expression of gratitude & worship).
      1. It shows our response, Our Progress
    24. OUR PROGRESS! (16b,17)
    25. Psalms - Psalm with instruments.
    26. Hymns - Christian compositions.
    27. Spiritual songs - This word is a general term including the other 2, but goes further in referring to all forms of songs..so long as they are spiritual.
    28. Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord - Here is our deepest challenge.
      1. Speaks of our inner life in-tune w/God; our soul’s personal fellowship w/God
      2. When we put on love, have the peace of God, & have the Word of Christ hidden in our lives, the result...singing w/grace in our hearts to the Lord.
    29. The Name of the Lord Jesus do all! (17)
      1. Now he takes it outward to our entire life! Everything is included in this!
      2. Christianity is a religion of principles, not rules, & everything is to be done to the glory of God. [1 Cor.10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God]
        1. Illustration: I have a friend that installs flooring. The wood of the flooring went bad on a job. The manufacture wouldn’t take responsibility. He replaced the whole floor himself. There’s a man who doesn’t work for the almighty dollar, but works for His God...to bring Him glory! And, he won a beautiful friendship out of the job.
    30. Invite up worship team: focus, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Verses 18-25

  1. INTRO:
    1. Intro: A man once asked, “Is so-and-so a Christian?” & the reply was given, “I don’t know, I have never lived with him!”
      1. Christian commitment affects every area of life including family, or especially family!
      2. So Paul gives concrete advice about Christian living. Relationship Responsibilities!
    2. “Order is heaven’s first law” in every sphere of life. [Griffith Thomas; pg.104]
      1. 1 Cor.11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
      2. Paul believed there was an order to the family, & in society; and that this order was God-given!!!
    3. I make one apology: Time won’t allow me to hit on every marriage/family relationship.
      1. Please use your own imagination & reasoning skills to apply these points to your unique & specific situation. Grab the principles. Seize the standards.
    4. In 1975 Paul Simon wrote “50 ways to leave your lover”. It was after his divorce from first wife Peggy Harper. He wrote it to take a “humorous” look at ways to end a relationship: You just slip out the back, Jack; Make a new plan, Stan; You don't need to be coy, Roy; Just get yourself free. Hop on the bus, Gus; You don't need to discuss much; Just drop off the key, Lee; And get yourself free.
      1. There’s even more than 50 ways to leave your lover; but a Christian only needs 1 reason to stay with his/her lover, the analogy of Christ & His church!
  2. SWEET SURRENDER!
    1. WIVES! (18)
    2. Submit - to submit one’s self.
      1. Submission for Paul is a voluntary submission based on one’s own recognition of God’s order.
    3. Fitting - an expression of necessity, obligation, or duty.
      1. Between you & God; not you & husband.
    4. “We must never be naive enough to think of marriage as a safe harbor from the fall...the deepest struggles of life will occur in the most primary relationship affected by the fall: marriage.” (Dan Allender & Tremper Longman III)
    5. Not “desperate housewives” but devoted housewives.
    6. Enable & Encourage your husbands leadership!
    7. How you look at your husband will determine how you live with your husband! Respecting and submitting reflects how you look at him!
      1. Here’s an example: Do you look at your husband as someone that God has placed in your life as the leader of your family, that you’re going to respect and that you’re going to follow regardless of, or in spite of all his faults, or do you look at your husband and say to him, “I will respect you and I will follow you if I think you deserve it, or if you meet certain conditions!”
    8. HUSBANDS! (19)
    9. Love - The pres. Imp. calls for a continual attitude & positive expression.
      1. Love them: spiritually, sacrificially, sensitively.
      2. Agape - never occurred in secular households. The command was a distinctively Christian element of the marriage commitment.
      3. It is a love that is not mere feeling but fact; not emotion but devotion; not attitude but action; not sentiment but sacrifice. [Griffith Thomas; pg.105]
      4. Men have meant to attack their wives by saying, “I never loved you!” But if Jesus called us to love the unlovable, even our enemies, thus a man who says, “I never loved you” is simply saying, “I have never acted like a Christian.”
    10. Do not be bitter - being sharp, harsh, & bitter. [perpetual irritation, fault finding]
      1. The pres. Imp. w/the neg. forbids a habitual action.
      2. Sounds like its highly possible to become bitter or harsh toward them if we’re warned against this.
      3. If you don’t love properly, the marriage relationship can become an irritant.
    11. If you can’t respect this spouse because she is prone to certain weaknesses, you will never be able to respect any spouse. (Gary Thomas; Sacred Marriage; pg.69.)
    12. I must die to what I want from her, so I can center on what God wants from me. I must forget my expectations of her, and focus on God’s expectations for me.
    13. Marriage: a portrait of His love for His glory!
    14. Marriage is the operation by which a woman’s vanity & a man’s egotism are extracted without anesthetic. Helen Rowland
    15. “One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, “Heres to helping you discover what you’re really like!” Gary & Betsy Ricucci (Rick-ussi)
    16. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche suggested that marriage is a “long conversation,” urging us, therefore, to marry a friend.”
    17. Book: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
      1. What if God designed marriage to make us Holy more than to make us Happy?
      2. “If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there’s no question - stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise” (pg21)
    18. It looks beyond marriage:
      1. Spiritual growth is the main theme; marriage is simply the context.
      2. Just as celibates use abstinence & religious hermits use isolation, so we can use marriage for the same purpose - to grow in our service, obedience, character, pursuit, & love of God. (pg.26)
    19. CHILDREN! (20)
    20. The thought of giving pleasure to Christ is an incredible & inspiring reason for children/ youth to obey their parents.
    21. FATHERS! (21)
    22. Do not provoke - irritate, exasperate, excite, embitter, undue hardness.
    23. Discouraged - to be w/o courage or to become spiritless; to lose heart; leading to despair.
      1. They will give up because they can’t please you or because they feel they are not worthy to anybody.
    24. SERVANTS! (22-25)
    25. Eyeservice - going through the outward movements of the work w/o a corresponding keenness of will behind them. (LKGNT)
    26. Menpleasers - one who tries to please men at the sacrifice of principle.
    27. (23) Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord, & not to men - Believe that?
    28. One sailor in the British Merchant Navy turned potato peeling into an art. He was a man who believed in doing his best, no matter what the task. Finding himself on KP and facing a huge mound of potatoes, he peeled those potatoes with all the care of a sculptor carving in wood. The eyes and bruised spots were carefully cut away. Cooks on the ships he served began to boast about the clean, smooth spuds he peeled, until his reputation spread throughout the shipping lanes. The ex-sailor became a small businessman in London, supplying select potatoes, peeled to perfection, to the best restaurants in the city. His name will not go down in history. He may never enjoy more than a small but profitable business. But of the millions who have peeled potatoes all over the world, Gerald Pereth was one who saw his opportunity for achievement in doing the job better than anyone else.
      1. Do you think God cares about peeled potatoes? He absolutely cares about “whatever you do!”
    29. MASTERS! (4:1)
    30. Just & fair –
    31. The most striking feature of all of this is the way in which everything is related to God:
      1. 7 times everything is done in His sight:
        Wives submit “in the Lord”;
        Children obey “in the Lord”;
        Servants “fear the Lord”; “work as unto the Lord”; their reward is “from the Lord”; serve “the Lord Christ”;
        Masters are reminded they have a “Master in heaven”.

        Jesus gets candid! (by me)

        Wives, you’re going to have a problem submitting to your husbands, because more often then not “your right & he’s wrong”. You’ll feel a strong sense to lead, steer, or pilot the ship yourself, because you know you can. Plus, he’s been wrong before, and often you’re flat out just plain old smarter than him. But, I’m teaching him to lead. It will be a long process, a life-long process, but I know what’s best & you don’t. My order is right & fitting...even if you don’t understand it. You focus on the individual matter at hand, I see the big picture. I know what’s best for your marriage, & the portrait I seek to show the world, of a husband & wife. Matter of fact, I hate the idea of the Church leading My Son Jesus, but that is the picture of a wife leading her husband. And stop being so tricky, pretending to let your husband lead. He hasn’t figured it out yet, but do you know you’ve never deceived Me! Submit to him, even when its terribly hard.

        Husbands, I tried to make it really easy with one monosyllable word...love. Of course there will be times you won’t feel like it, but I don’t base My love towards you on feelings, but on action. I want you to love her spiritually, sacrificially, sensitively, just as I displayed. You are going to want to hold things against her. Let them go. Don’t breed bitterness, it will only eat you up from the inside out, & it’s pretty ugly when it comes out. Oh she’s irritating, look in a mirror. Why have you made fault finding a sport? Do you not trust that I can reveal those things to her on My own? Do you really think you can do a better job than Myself? Husbands, just love.

        Children, I know you think you understand it all already, but you have a long way to go. I know your parents seem outdated & antiquated, but they’ve walked many miles in their moccasins. I’ve personally shown them a lot of life lessons over the years. I have chosen your exact parents as a perfect fit for all I have planned for you. You wont understand it all now, but be obedient to them. If for no other reason...because it puts a smile in My heart & you don’t need any other reason than that.

        Fathers, what often starts as merriment ends in discouragement. You say you were just playing, but at someone else’s expense. Mine! You offend me when you discourage My kids. Remember they are my kids. At their baby dedication you understood they were only yours on loan. Kind of a manager over them, but they are truly Mine. Encourage, don’t discourage. Your job is to inspire, motivate, cheer on & spur on, stir up & fire up, stimulate & empower them. Teach them how to live, how to dream, how to risk, & how to truly live...for something bigger than themselves.

        Employees, show Me you know how to take directions from someone else. Show Me you are humble by taking orders & carrying them out. Show Me you’re aren’t so small as to only be able to take directions from someone older, wiser, & in higher rank than yourself. And did you know its pretty embarrassing explaining to all the angels what you’re doing when you only work when being watched. If you don’t love your boss, how can you say you love me? Remember you serve Me! That ought to get you through anything your boss throws at you.

        Employers, Do the right thing. Be just & fare with every employee. If they’re not performing deal with it with them, not by talking about it with others, or ignoring it, or by being bitter towards them. Did you know I desire to use you & your company in teaching them how to serve, & obey, & follow, so they’ll know how to do it spiritually with me. Yes, your business is simply a practical application to spiritual life. How you treat your employees is how I’ll treat you. Love them. Show them servant leadership.
    32. End Prayer: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Colossians 3". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/colossians-3.html. 2017.