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I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 3:1-7:
I. Moral Ramifications Of Dying With Christ: 3:1-7
A. A New Master: 3:1
B. A New Focus: 3:2
C. A New Purpose In Life: 3:3-4
D. No Room Left For The Old Life: 3:5-7
II. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS:
'The Colossians are reminded that they not only died with Christ; they were raised from the dead with him too--as indeed they have already been told (2:12)....Since his people share his risen life, their interests are now centered in him; his interests, in fact, have become theirs . They must therefore pursue those things which belong to the heavenly realm where he reigns; their mind, their attitude, their ambition, their whole outlook must be characterized by their living bond with the ascended Christ...Their life is bound up with his.' (Bruce p. 131)
Many would say that this chapter begins the practical aspects of the Colossian letter. But in Chapter 2 we have already been given many practical doctrinal ramifications of the new life (2:16-23). In the third chapter, we find: (a) Moral ramifications of the New life (3:5-7). (b) Relational ramifications (3:9,12-14; 18-4:1). (c) And what one might call more personal ramifications (3:14-17).
I like what Barclay said about Paul and the same would apply to God's wisdom, since God is the real author of this letter: 'Here this letter makes the change that Paul's letters always make; after theology comes ethical demand...always at the end of his letters he turns to the practical consequences of it all. He always ends with an uncompromising and crystal clear statement of the ethical demands of Christianity..' (pp. 149-150)
I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 3:8-16:
I. Seeking Things Above Means:
A. Removing Specific Sinful Actions/Attitudes: 3:8-9
B. Putting On The New Self: 3:10-16
1. A Description Of The New Self: 3:10-11
2. Specific Moral Qualities Of The New Self: 3:12-13
3. How The New Self Acts In the Body of Christ: 3:14-16
II. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS:
Let us be impressed that "Setting your mind on the things above", isn't having your head in the clouds. It isn't spending your time in a daydream. Rather, a changed mind is to result in a changed life.
Also remember that God is demanding that people who were addicted to such things (3:7), to cease their practice, to remove them completely. God doesn't buy any argument which rests upon the assumption that too much time spent in sin results automatically in a hopeless case.
I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 3:16-25:
I. Ramifications of Putting On the New Man: 3:18-25
A. Worshipping God In Song of Solomon: 3:16
B. All Is Done To the Glory of God: 3:17
C. New Motives In Marriage/Home: 3:18-21
D. New Motives For Servants: 3:22-25
II. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS:
We should carefully note that Christianity didn't obliterate earthly relationships. Men are still men, women are still women, minors are still minors and slaves are still enslaved. But consider the new motives that the Christian is now to have in all of these relationships.
III. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER 3:1-7:
Col_3:1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.
'IF THEN' -The 'if' doesn't express any doubt (2:20). Rather is expresses a premise upon which a conclusion is to be based.
'YE WERE RAISED TOGETHER WITH CHRIST' -An obvious reference to baptism (2:12-13).
Points to Note:
1. Again, let it be noted that every member in Colossae had been baptized. In the New Testament we don't find a class of people known as "un-baptized Christians". Baptism is the line between Christian and non-Christian, lost and saved ( Mar_16:16 ).
2. Another argument for the essential nature of being baptized, is that baptism is likened to a death, burial and resurrection ( Rom_6:3-5 ). Obviously, if one hasn't been resurrected in baptism ("raised with Him"), then one is still dead in sin. For it isn't until one is baptized that the Bible says that one is "raised up with Him". (See Eph_2:1-6 ).
'SEEK' -2212. zeteo dzay-teh'-o; of uncertain affinity; to seek (literally or figuratively); specially, (by Hebraism) to worship (God), or (in a bad sense) to plot (against life): -be (go) about, desire, endeavour, enquire (for), require, (X will) seek (after, for, means). Compare 4441.
-'keep on seeking' (Wms); 'Then aspire to the realm above' (NEB).
'THE THINGS THAT ARE ABOVE' - Mat_6:19-20
Points to Note:
1. Everyone "seeks" something, i.e. everyone is expending energy, time and effort in "seeking" ( Rom_10:3 ; 1Co_1:22 ; Act_17:21 ; Mat_6:32 'For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek..').
2. Thus the requirement that the Christian expend energy, time and effort in their relationship with God isn't unreasonable, for even sinners willingly offer such to the Devil.
3. The false teachers (2:8,16-23) were doing their own diligent seeking, unfortunately, in the wrong things.
4. Carefully note the difference between God's cure and the cure offered by the false teachers: (a) The false teachers said, 'Master the body, by treating it in a severe manner' (2:20-23). (b) God says, 'Master the flesh, by rising above it, master the body, by first mastering the mind, the thoughts and the heart.'
5. This seeking the things above is a very practical endeavor, it isn't the attempt for some out-of-the-body experience. Rather, in the context the "things above" would include working on the godly virtues which God commands us to put on (3:12-17).
'WHERE CHRIST IS' -
Points to Note:
1. The Jehovah Witnesses claim that the vast majority of the saved, will spend eternity upon the earth. But if that is the case, then most Christians will never be "with" Christ, for they won't be in heaven. Obviously, something is wrong with that doctrine. Christians, all Christians, are always exhorted to fix their minds on heavenly things, for that is the hope and goal promised to every child of God ( Mat_6:19-20 ; Php_1:21-23 ; Php_3:20 ; 1Pe_1:4 ).
2. This verse should really make us think, especially those impressed with earthly heros. Why worship somebody that has risen to no higher plane than yourself? Even the greatest athlete is still bound to this earth!
3. And O'Brien correctly notes, 'Paul is not indicating an interest in some cosmic geography, nor is he encouraging the pursuit of "that which is above" for its own sake.' (p. 161)
'SEATED ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD' -
Points to Note:
1. Which gives us the assurance that His sacrifice did effectively atone for sin. Would He be seated at the right hand of the Father, the most preeminent position possible, if He had failed?
2. '"Seated" is placed with emphasis at the end of its clause, indicating the completeness of the Saviour's work and the dignity of his position .' (P.P. Comm. p. 148) ( Eph_1:20-22 ; Heb_1:3 ; Heb_10:12-13 ; Rev_3:21 ).
3. 'These facts supply the motive...Our home with Him is not simply in the region of the things above, but in the highest position there, at God's right hand.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 537)
4. And if Christ is seated at the right hand of God, then certain truths need to be appreciated: (a) Christ is reigning as King! He is ruling in the midst of His enemies ( Psa_110:1-4 ). He is seated on David's throne (which always was God's throne) ( Act_2:30-31 ). Thus the premillennial claim that Christ isn't presently reigning, is false. (b) Christ also then has all authority ( Mat_28:18 ). And if that is the case, then nothing, in this world or the next can prevent our access through Him to the Father (except our own refusal). (c) Thus, we don't need any angels, spiritual beings, or deceased "saints" to show us the way.
Col_3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.
'SET' -5426. phroneo fron-eh'-o; from 5424; to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication, to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience): -set the affection on, (be) care(-ful), (be like-, + be of one, + be of the same, + let this) mind(-ed), regard, savour, think.
-'lit., be minded, think.."Seek" marks the practical striving; set your mind, the inward impulse and disposition..."You must no only seek heaven, you must think heaven" (Lightfoot).' (Vincent p. 591)
-As one preacher said, 'Your attitude will determine your altitude.'
-'It embraces, as Meyer says, "the whole practical bent of thought and disposition.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 537)
'YOUR MIND' -For, you can only control your own thoughts. 'Practice occupying your minds with' (Wms); 'Give your heart to' (Phi); 'let your thoughts dwell on' (NEB).
Points to Note:
1. What a great truth! God believes that people, even people engaged in a previous life of sin, can learn to control their thoughts and change their whole mental outlook. Carefully note, that God is making these demands on former sinners, people who were formerly hostile in mind to God (1:21). People who hadn't been freed from sin for decades, but somewhat recent converts (i.e. people in Christ for some 7 years or so). We can change how we think! Are you tried to thinking only about yourself? Tried of being angry? Tried of feeling sorry for yourself? Tried to being controlled by lust?
2. Changing the mind, is the key to changing the life (3:5ff). What a great insight. The reason that we fail to change, isn't because some sin is inborn, rather, it is because for the time being, we are simply refusing to allow God to dictate to us what we should think about ( Php_4:8 ). As long as we refuse to accept what God tells us about sin, i.e. it will never make us happy, we won't be able to overcome any habitual sin.
3. Freewill is written all over this verse, 'Set your minds '. And everybody does! We all freely choose what we are going to set your hearts upon. Nobody forces us to "think" or "dwell" upon a particular thing. And nobody forces us to "think" in a certain way, i.e. in a certain frame of mind--we make that final decision.
'ON THE THINGS THAT ARE ABOVE' -3:1
'NOT ON THE THINGS THAT ARE UPON THE EARTH' -
Points to Note:
1. Carefully, note we must properly understand what Paul is saying. Paul isn't saying that we must have a contempt for material things. Eadie notes, 'The apostle does not urge any transcendental contempt of things below, but simply asks that the heart be not set upon them in the same way, and to the same extent, in which it is set upon things above. The pilgrim is not to despise the comforts which he may meet with by the way.' (p. 210) We are to appreciate the material things which God gives us ( 1Ti_4:1-4 ) The same truth is taught in Mat_6:24 ff. The things of this world are to be appreciated, but never elevated above Christ, never the primary object of our thoughts, aims and endeavors.
2. As Robertson said, 'The Christian has to keep his feet on earth, but his head in the heavens.' (p. 500)
3. Notice how realistic and practical the Bible is. God realizes that we must still live in this world, even after we have become Christians. And many of the "heavenly things" we are to dwell on, assist us in living better, here and now (3:9ff).
4. As Erdman notes, '"Not on the things that are upon the earth", does not imply a life of dreamy and sentimental inactivity.' (p. 87)
5. 'Don't let your ambitions be earthbound, set on transitory and inferior objects. Don't look at life and the universe from the standpoint of these lower planes; look at them from Christ's exalted standpoint. Judge everything by the standards of that new creation to which you now belong...' (Bruce p. 134)
6. Notice how God elevates the child of God. Christian, you have been risen with Christ. Human traditions and philosophy are an unworthy use of your time and attention (2:8). So are humanly devised religious practices and theories (2:18-23). And so is preoccupation with the material and physical things of life--that's the way pagans live ( Mat_6:32 ). You have been raised to a new life, and a new perspective. Use your mind to dwell on eternal truths and the really important things, dwell on reality!
Col_3:3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
'FOR' -Again emphasizing the reason for this new mental perspective.
'YE DIED' -3:1
'YOUR LIFE IS HID WITH CHRIST' -
Points to Note:
1. Other passages touch on the same thought ( Gal_2:20 ; 2Co_5:14-15 ).
2. I like how Bruce explains this expression, 'What, then are the practical implications of being raised with Christ? In the first place, believers have now no private life of their own. Their life is the life of Christ...Their interests must therefore be his interests ..' (p. 134)
3. The word "hid" is an interesting term in this verse: (a) Clearly, the people in Colossae would see that these Christians had changed. In addition, Jesus calls upon Christians to demonstrate to others their new life ( Mat_5:14-16 ). So, Paul isn't saying that they are "hide" this new life. And neither is he saying that nobody ever knows who is a Christian and who isn't. (b) To me Paul is saying that when you became a Christian, you completely handed over your whole life to God, self was completely given up ( Mat_16:24 ; Gal_5:24 ). In that sense your life was "hid", Christ and His will is now the predominant consideration in your life ( 2Co_5:9 ). Paul's statement in Gal_2:20 , 'it is no longer I who live', seems equivalent to the statement 'your life is hidden with Christ.'
'IN GOD' -If you have fellowship with Christ, if you belong to Him, then obviously you belong to God. Notice, one cannot be fellowshipped and one cannot be rejected with rejecting the other ( 2Jn_1:9 ). 'to emphasize the fact of the union of Christ with God, or perhaps to deepen the reader's sense of the sacredness of this life in Christ.' (P.P. Comm. p. 148)
Point to Note:
Unfortunately, some Calvinists have taken the above beautiful expression and tried to twist into meaning that the Christian has eternal security, i.e. once saved, always saved. But other clear statements, in this very letter, contradict such an idea (1:23; 2:19; 3:25).
Col_3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.
'WHO IS OUR LIFE' -
Points to Note:
1. Unfortunately, at times Christians will say that something else 'is their life'. We say things like, 'Music is his life...Sports are his life..He lives for his work.' Barclay says, 'Such a man finds life and all that is means in music, in sport, in work, ...For the Christian, Christ is his life.' (p. 149)
2. Christ is our life: (a) He delivered us from eternal destruction--Without Christ, each one of us would live knowing that we are simply one breath anyway from eternal damnation at any moment. (b) He gave real meaning and purpose to our lives. He delivered us from the mundane, or living on the level of animals ( Mat_6:32 ). (c) With Him we have eternal life. (d) He has given us hope, no matter how bad the physical circumstances may be ( Rom_8:18 ). (e) He has taught us how to treat others, and put new life in our relationships ( Mat_7:12 ). (f) He has shown us that "life" is much more than simply working, eating, sleeping, etc...
3. Before Christ came along--we were simply "existing". Now we have "life".
4. Now think about it. If Christ is my life, than I need to: (a) Be completely sold on His cause. (b) Eat, breathe and sleep His will. (c) Be constantly preoccupied with Him and His cause. (d) Be eager to do something for Him today. (e) Can't wait to worship Him and be with other Christians. Brethren, listen up, obviously if something is "your life", then you make every effort to get as much of it as possible. (f) Study His will with great enthusiasm--talk to others about Him constantly ( Act_17:17 ). (g) Proclaim His message with great confidence and without embarrassment or apology ( 2Ti_4:2 ). (h) Putting tremendous amounts of time and energy into serving Him.
'SHALL BE MANIFESTED' -'is revealed' (NASV). i.e. at His second coming ( 1Jn_2:28 ; 1Jn_3:2 ).
'THEN SHALL YE ALSO WITH HIM BE MANIFESTED IN GLORY' -'The followers of Christ shall surround Him in triumph, a dense and glorious retinue.' (Eadie p. 215)
'IN GLORY' -When Christ comes Christians shall be immediately changed, their physical bodies will be transformed into glorious heavenly bodies ( Rom_8:17 ; Php_3:20-21 ; 1Jn_3:1 )
Points to Note:
1. The Christian greatly gains by giving over their life to Christ. Carefully note, that when the Christian gives up "self", they give up something very small, very unimportant in the long run. In giving up "self", we gain "life" and we will eventually gain eternal glory ( Mat_16:24-25 ).
2. To the world, and sadly, even some members of the Church, the selfless Christian is viewed as missing out, a weakling and the accusation often made, 'Nobody can be happy living like that.' But the true reality of such a life will be completely revealed and manifested at the end of time--such a life is glorious, such a life was well lived, such a life pleased God. God has already revealed to us that selfishness even leads to present misery ( Tit_3:3 ).
3. Note that Paul doesn't set a date for this coming. Neither does he give us, what many men say will surround this event, i.e. impending signs. ( 1Th_5:1-3 )
In view of our glorious future (3:4). And the fact that we died with Christ to the old way of living and thinking, we cannot allow anything to draw us back into bondage. We have gained too much to squander it away. Not only are to we reject the bondage caused by doctrinal error (2:16ff); but we are to reject the bondage caused by the works of the flesh.
Bruce notes, 'But Paul emphasizes the logical connection between theology and practice. He does not inculcate Christian doctrine simply in order that his readers may have a firm intellectual grasp of it; he insists that it must find expression in Christian living.' (Bruce p. 138)
Col_3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;
'PUT TO DEATH' -'to treat as dead' (Robertson p. 501) 'The aorist implies a single decisive act.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 537)
Points to Note:
1. Habitual and chronic sins can be stopped! Even highly addictive habits can be ceased--for good ( 1Co_6:9-11 ).
2. Such phrases and words as "put to death", "crucify the flesh" ( Gal_5:24 ); "repentance" ( Act_2:38 ); and "put off the old man" ( Eph_4:22 ), demand the conclusion that no sin can ever be called "hereditary". For if something is "inherently" part of us, then there is no way we could "stop it". In fact, since God created us, we would have to accuse God of placing that moral weakness in us. You see, any argument using the "inherent" moral flaw reasoning, must accuse God of creating beings with evil desire, i.e. God is unethical ( 1Jn_1:5 ; Jam_1:17 ).
3. Freewill is again found in this context. The individual has the choice and the power to "put to death", cease such things ( Rom_6:11-12 '..do not let').
'THEREFORE' -For people who have died with Christ, such things are all part of a shameful past, a life not worth living, a level of existence that is far below the intented purpose for men and women created in the image of God.
'YOUR MEMBERS' -Note: Paul isn't saying, 'Kill your hand, etc..'
Bruce notes, 'What we have here is rather an extension of the ordinary sense of "members". Since these people's bodily members had been used as instruments of sin in their former life ( Rom_6:19 ), they are viewed here as comprehending the various kinds of sin which were committed by their means...what he really has in mind is the practices and attitudes to which his readers bodily activity and strength had been devoted in the old life..' (p. 141)
In other words Paul is saying, 'Stop using your bodily members (eyes, tongue, mind, etc..) for the following wicked activities. Consider all of you, body and mind as dead to the following things. 'Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to..' (NASV)
Point to Note:
We need to be impressed with the idea of "dying to these things". To me that means: (a) We have nothing in common with them--there is nothing in these sins which benefits us, which could even be called in our best interest. They do nothing good for us, in any sense of the word. They destroy our present and future happiness, they are the enemy. (b) There is nothing to be admired or respected about the following items ( Rom_6:21 ). They are shameful, selfish, abusive, foolish, unloving, unethical, they lack integrity. They are for people who desire to live below their Divine potential.
'WHICH ARE UPON THE EARTH' -'the members of your earthly body' (NASV)
'FORNICATION' -4202. porneia por-ni'-ah; from 4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry: -fornication.
-The generic word that covers all unlawful sexual relationships.
Points to Note:
1. Carefully note that Paul doesn't lapse into the error of severe bodily self-denial. The abuse of sex is condemned, but not the wholesome sexual desire built into us by God and which is given it's proper outlet in marriage ( 1Co_7:1-5 ).
2. The Biblical writers often condemned fornication ( 1Co_6:9 ; Gal_5:19 ; etc..). Not because they had any sexual hangups, but because the world had such a preoccupation with it.
3. In such verses the idea that the moral standards of the Bible were for that culture, falls completely on its face. For that culture didn't have a problem with fornication, i.e. they accepted it as normal. Barclay notes, 'In the ancient world sexual relationships before marriage and outside marriage were the normal and accepted practice.' (p. 150) Thus, the attitude which says, 'It's accepted by Society at large, therefore, it isn't a sin anymore'; is not only terrible logic, it's just plain unbiblical.
4. It is interesting to note that the primary meaning of the word "fornication" is to "traffic with harlots" (Bruce p. 143). The very origin of the word teaches us a number of lessons: (a) Sex outside of marriage is never motivated by true love. It is always a selfish thing, it is self-gratification. (b) In such sinful relationships, someone is being treated as an object to be used. (c) Healthy respect for the other person cannot be achieved in such situations. (d) "Free-love" is a myth. For you are always "trading" something for fornication. Fornication is all about bartering-trading in your self-respect, trading companionship for sex, etc...In such relationships, you always have to give something up, it's never free.
'UNCLEANNESS' -167. akatharsia ak-ath-ar-see'-ah; from 169; impurity (the quality), physically or morally: -uncleanness.
-'impurity' (Wms); 'dirty-mindedness' (Phi); 'moral uncleanness...it points to..the behavior of the man whose actions are determined by his commitment to his..lusts.' (O'Brien p. 182)
Point to Note:
The sin known as "uncleanness" may just condemn more people, even than fornication. For "uncleanness" would apply to the Christian to ceases to fornicate, but still secretly desires to do so. The person who has cleaned up their life, but has never cleaned up their mind. The person who doesn't have a pure heart ( Mat_5:8 ). The Christian male who still views women as objects. The person who refuses to give up their sinful fantasy life. Obviously then: (a) The person involved in pornography is guilty of uncleanness. (b) The person who still enjoys a good dirty joke or a joke with a double meaning. (c) The person who enjoys some "spice" in a Movie, book or T.V. show. Barclay says, 'it is the quality of that which is soiled and dirty. There is a kind of mind which is itself soiled and which soils everything which passes through it. It can reduce the finest action to a mean motive, and it can defile the purest things with a smutty jest.' (p. 30)
'PASSION' -3806. pathos path'-os; from the alternate of 3958; properly, suffering ("pathos"), i.e. (subjectively) a passion (especially concupiscence): -(inordinate) affection, lust.
-'uncontrolled passion' (Phi); 'lust' (NEB). 'When it appears in this kind of context it denotes "dishonorable passions" ( Rom_1:26 ).' (Bruce p. 143) Clearly, God wants us to be "passionate" in a good sense (i.e. zealous for truth) ( 1Co_15:58 ; 1Pe_1:22 ).
'EVIL DESIRE' -'unholy desire' (Wey) 'There is a kind of person who is the slave of his passions..and who is driven by the desire for the wrong things.' (Barclay p. 151)
Point to Note:
God gets down to the "root" cause. Not only is fornication wrong, but the inward evil desires that fuel it are also condemned ( Mat_5:28 ). God isn't satisfied with merely a new acting person, for that is the level of morality often practiced even by non-Christians ( Mat_5:20 ). God desires the total commitment of the whole person to His cause--including our desires and passions. God demands a new thinking man. God demands the man or woman with a clean heart, a good honest heart ( Luk_8:15 ). People filled with evil thoughts won't make it.
'COVETOUSNESS' -4124. pleonexia pleh-on-ex-ee'-ah; from 4123; avarice, i.e. (by implication) fraudulency, extortion: -covetous(-ness) practices, greediness.
'and all greed' (Wey).
Point to Note:
Often we connect this term purely to money. But it applies to greed for anything, i.e. material possessions, people, pleasures, intangible things like fame, prestige, etc..( Exo_20:17 ).
'WHICH IS IDOLATRY' -( Eph_5:5 ). 'Seeing it stands in the category of' (Vincent p. 502)
Points to Note:
1. Covetousness is idolatry, because it naturally places something or someone in a place which is only to be occupied by God, i.e. the most important possession in life, a relationship with God.
2. Gambling really doesn't have a leg to stand on: (a) Why would anyone risk their hard earned wages, fully knowing that the odds against winning are so great, unless they did have an unhealthy preoccupation with money. (b) People claim that such odds prove that they don't care if they lose their money or not--then why not give it to a good cause??? Obviously, money is very important to them. (c) I have looked long and hard at gambling, and personally I have been unable to get the greed motive out of such a practice.
3. Covetousness also includes taking unfair advantage for the pursuit of profit--unethical business practices, false advertising, etc..all fall into the same category.
Col_3:6 for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience:
'FOR WHICH THINGS' SAKE' -'It is on account of these very sins' (Wey); 'These are what bring down God's vengeance' (Knox).
'COMETH' -'The present tense denotes the certainty of the future event' (Vincent p. 502) ( 2Pe_3:10 ).
'THE WRATH OF GOD' -i.e. at the same time that faithful Christians will be glorified (3:4; 1Th_4:13-18 ; 1Th_5:1-3 ; Joh_5:28-29 ; 2Th_1:7-9 ). Carefully note that the Bible knows nothing about two separate comings of Jesus, one for Christians and then 1007 years later, one to judge the wicked. Rather, the Bible teaches one final coming, in which all are rewarded or punished at the same time.
Points to Note:
1. Since the text clearly says that God's wrath is coming upon, or because of such sins as these mentioned (see also Eph_5:6 ); the necessary inference is that such sins will remain sins--all the way until the end of time ( Rev_21:8 ; Gal_5:19-21 ). Time and culture do not change the moral standard revealed by God, and Paul wasn't merely defining truth for his own generation.
2. Since fornication is linked inherently with God's law concerning Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage ( Mat_19:9 ); it is also inferred that time and culture won't change that law either.
3. Many non-Christians and disgruntled members of the Church are under the fantasy that God's wrath is going to be directed primarily at all the Church hypocrites. They will get it--but so will every sinner!
4. No, God doesn't approve of the two people living together, no matter how much they claim to 'love the Lord'.
'UPON' -Yes, God's wrath will fall upon specific individuals. And, it won't fall upon others ( 1Th_1:10 ). Another fantasy that people need to get rid of, is this idea that we are all wrong, i.e. nobody is doing it right. So God is just going to chew all of us out and then save all of us.
'THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE' -'The expressive Hebraism by which a man is said to be a child or son of the dominant quality or influence of his life is frequent in the New Testament.' (P.P. Comm. pp. 149-150). That is, a person characterized by disobedience.
Point to Note:
The phrase "sons of disobedience" contradicts the popular idea that a person can be involved in sin and yet still be a "good person". Notice how God speaks. It is irrelevant how the sinner became involved in his or her sin--i.e. poor family influence, self-pity, ignorance, deception, etc..The very fact that the sinner has remained in the sin is proof that for now they would rather disobey than obey ( Joh_8:44 ). No one is keeping the sinner in his sin--expect that man's own choice.
Of course the question is always, how does one become involved in sin--born that way or freewilled choice. The next verse answers that question.
Col_3:7 wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things;
'WHEREIN' -i.e. in such sins.
'YE' -Members of this congregation.
Points to Note:
1. God placed a high ethical demand upon people who had gone into sin--farther than others. No allowance was made for their past (i.e. don't expect too much of me, my mind is filled with too many sinful thoughts). God doesn't believe that any sin, any depth of sin, can destroy the "image" of God that resides in every man and woman. If we end up as "hopeless cases" it is because we have chosen to act like hopeless cases. God didn't view the Corinthians as hopeless ( 1Co_6:11 ).
2. Many Christians in the First Century came from a rough background ( Rom_6:21 ; 1Co_6:9-11 ; Eph_2:1-3 ; 1Pe_4:1-4 ). Many came from just horrible upbringings ( 1Pe_1:18 ). And yet God expected "holiness" and purity from the formerly abused and the formerly perverted--a level of purity just like any other Christian ( 1Pe_1:14-15 ).
'ONCE WALKED' -'Walked, referring to their practice.' (Vincent p. 502) 'and you were once addicted to them' (Wey).
'WHEN YE LIVED IN THESE THINGS' -
Points to Note:
1. They hadn't been born in sin, rather such things had been learned by habit ( Eph_2:1-3 ). Again, let it be noted, something that is "inherent/inborn" cannot be repented of. Being told to repent of some alleged "inherent" sin, would be like God giving a command for people to change the color of their skin, or stop their hair from growing.
2. It is at times argued that one can't "live in sin". But God disagrees. Any sin can be "lived in", as long as you are practicing that sin, and as long as it remains unforgiven, you are in it. In fact, God often applies to the sinner, the specific name of his sin ( Rev_21:8 ), i.e. the person who lies, is a liar-now that is living in it. God identifies you with the sin. Jesus also taught that committing sin, makes you its slave ( Joh_8:34 ).
'IN THEM' -i.e. such things as fornication, uncleanness, etc... Now if one can "live in fornication", they can live in any specific sexual sin, including incest, homosexuality and adultery. For the word fornication includes ALL sexual sins. Neither Paul or Jesus agree with those who claim that adultery is a one time act when committed by an unlawfully married couple ( Rom_7:3 ; Mat_5:32 ; Mat_19:9 ).
Point to Note:
Such passages as the above infer: (a) God's love for the sinner won't overlook his or her sin, if they refuse to come to Jesus. (b) Grace isn't automatic, it has conditions. (c) Love and Wrath both exist in God. (d) When we say that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner, we must be careful to define what we mean. God loves the sinner in that Jesus died for all men ( Joh_3:16 ), and God wants all saved ( 2Pe_3:10 ). God loves the sinner in that God gives people, even sinners physical blessings ( Luk_6:35 ); time to repent ( 2Pe_3:9 ); opportunities to obey ( Rev_2:21 ); and stands ready to forgive upon their submission to His will. But we must impress people with the point that God's anger is directed specifically at people when they are engaged in sin ( Joh_3:36 ). God does "hate" the person who is sinning too ( Pro_6:16-19 ). I can make myself into a person that God (even though He always stands ready to forgive upon my submission) doesn't like!
Col_3:8 but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth:
'BUT NOW' -Since the wrath of God is coming to punish those involved in such things (3:6); they need to be departed from immediately. Note: God doesn't say, 'Maybe in a couple of years you can cease the practice.' God expects a complete cessation of such habitual practices "now".
'DO YE ALSO' -Again, freewill is stressed, 'you do it'.
'PUT THEM ALL AWAY' -'you must rid yourselves of every kind of sin' (Wey).
Points to Note:
1. The word rendered "put..away" means to lay aside like old clothes. 'So, he tells them, put off all those old habits, just as you would discard an outworn suit of clothes, which no longer fitted you . And a repulsive collection of habits they are, to be sure..' (Bruce p. 145)
2. The Biblical writers often exhort Christians to "put off" those habits and attitudes which are wrong ( Rom_13:12 ; Eph_4:22 ; Eph_4:25 ; Heb_12:1 ; Jam_1:21 ; 1Pe_2:1 ).
3. And note that the same moral standard is impressed on all Christians (compare 1Co_6:9-11 ; Gal_5:19-21 ; Eph_5:1-11 , etc..). No matter where Christians lived, the same exact moral standard applied. Again, proving that time and culture doesn't change eternal truth.
4. The word "put off" carries some wonderful lessons: (a) The life of sin is like an old stinky suit. Sin isn't "trendy", it is always out-of-date, it is like wearing high-water pants or white socks with a black suit. (b) Sin just doesn't fit the life of a Christian ( Eph_5:3 ). And really, it doesn't fit anyone--no one was destined to live in it. (c) The honest person realizes that sin isn't comfortable--these things are like a shirt with a collar that is too tight--sin chokes true human potential for goodness. Sin doesn't liberate us, it restrains us, it holds us back ( Luk_8:14 ). (d) And sin is also like a fancy but very cheap set of clothes--it looks nice, but very soon the poor quality of what it is offering you is discovered.
'ALL' -Which means that one vice, is one vice too many with God. What good news--every sin, every sinful attitude or habit can cease to be a habit-with anyone. Habitual sin can be whipped! In addition, here we see the wisdom of God. God realizes that nobody can engage or hold on to just one sinful practice or attitude. When I am engaged in sin--a number of sins are present, not just one. Too often we think, 'Well, I just have one real problem.' The truth is, if I am allowing a sin to dominate me, I am really allowing a number of sins into my life. For example, anger always includes more than just anger--along with anger usually come resentment, bitterness, self-pity, evil speech, an unwillingness to forgive, etc...
'ANGER' -3709. orge or-gay'; from 3713; properly, desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy,) violent passion (ire, or [justifiable] abhorrence); by implication punishment: -anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.
'WRATH' -2372. thumos thoo-mos'; from 2380; passion (as if breathing hard): -fierceness, indignation, wrath. Compare 5590.
Points to Note:
1. Barclay points out that the essential difference between the two words is, '"Thumos (wrath) is a blaze of sudden anger which is quickly kindled and just as quickly dies...Orge (anger) is anger which has become inveterate; it is long-lasting, slow-burning anger, which refuses to be pacified and nurses its wrath to keep it warm.' (p. 153)
2. Unfortunately, even some Christians feel that one of these is less serious than the other: (a) Some say, 'But when I get angry, it's only for a short time'. (b) Others justify themselves by saying, 'Well, at least I never blow up!' Both forms of anger are forbidden to the child of God. God is against both types of anger because neither one serves His purposes ( Jam_1:19-20 ). Jesus pointed out that a hidden, but settled anger is just as wrong as the vocal outburst ( Mat_5:22 ).
3. Barclay correctly notes, 'Many a person is well aware that he has a violent temper; and many a person claims that he cannot help it...Because he blazes and forgets he thinks that others should equally be able to forget the pain he has inflicted..' (Flesh and Spirit. p. 53)
4. We often tend to justify ourselves by citing what we haven't done yet, 'Well, at least I haven't beaten my wife or children...at least I never throw anything.'
5. Contrary to what the world says, sinful anger can be ceased.
'MALICE' -2549. kakia kak-ee'-ah; from 2556; badness, i.e. (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble: -evil, malice(-iousness), naughtiness, wickedness.
-'the attitude that wishes or does harm to another.' (Bruce p. 145). Thus malice is the outgrowth of anger. 'the feeling which prompts a man to injure his neighbor.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 538) 'spite' (Knox). 'is settled, cruel malignity, which rejoices in evil to others.' (Erdman p. 92)
Be warned that malice usually doesn't feel like "ill-will", often it feels very good. It feels like justified revenge. The longer you dwell on what others have done to you, the longer you focus on personal slights and real or imaginary wrongs, the better that malice feels. Malice needs an angry heart to survive in.
'RAILING' -988. blasphemia blas-fay-me'-ah; from 989; vilification (especially against God): -blasphemy, evil speaking, railing.
-'is insulting or slanderous speech in general; when that insulting speech is directed against God, it becomes blasphemy.' (Barclay p. 153) This would include slander, false accusations. Speech that is intended to injure.
'SHAMEFUL SPEAKING' -148. aischrologia ahee-skhrol-og-ee'-ah; from 150 and 3056; vile conversation: -filthy communication.
-'Railing', speech which is abusive, this word probably means speech which is obscene. Clearly, God doesn't believe that freedom of speech covers obscenity. Also note that God isn't as confused as some modern advocates of obscenity are. If some people are confused over what is and what isn't obscene--the vast majority of people aren't. And in the end, all the talk about 'we can't define obscenity', is a big dishonest smoke-screen. Direct some profanity at a defender of obscenity--and they will know exactly what you meant!
And let it be noted, that obscenity doesn't come from pure hearts and minds! ( Mat_15:18 ) Foul-mouthed people are angry people, they are people who have a heart-problem.
'OUT OF YOUR MOUTH' -Again, God is fair. God doesn't demand that we change the speech habits in others. God demands that we change, what we have control over, i.e. our own speech.
Abusive and evil speech are outward signs that we are not setting our minds on things above (3:1-2). ( Jam_1:26 ).
Col_3:9 lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings,
'LIE NOT ONE TO ANOTHER' -'do not tell lies at one another's expense' (Knox).
Points to Note:
1. Lying naturally follows for, 'falsehood is usually due to lack of love and is commonly an instrument of malice and hatred.' (Erdman p. 93)
2. Notice the emphasis upon "one to another". Falsehood and deception has no rightful place among Christians. We claim to follow the God of truth. If we can't even be truthful with those we claim to love, then we don't have the right to claim to be Christians. I owe the truth to others, for God has shared His truth with me. ( Eph_4:25 )
3. False promises, half-truths, deception, etc..are all deadly to the unity of any congregation.
4. People get very offended when anyone accuses them of dishonestly. And yet God is honest. He knows that many of us have a problem with stretching the truth, engaging in gossip and being too ready to believe some half-truth.
'SEEING THAT YE HAVE PUT OFF THE OLD MAN' -'the old self' (Knox). ( Rom_6:6 ; Eph_4:22-24 ).
Points to Note:
1. So many commentators want to make the "old man" into the "old sinful nature". But if the old man was inherently inborn in us, then there is no way that we could put it off.
2. The proof is in the life. If we are still doing these things, if we are still practicing them, then obviously we are still unwilling to part with the old life. John states that habitual sin is proof that we are serving the devil and not God ( 1Jn_3:6 ; 1Jn_3:9 ).
'WITH HIS DOINGS' -'your old self and its habits' (TCNT); 'the old man and all he did' (Phi).
THE NEW MAN:
Col_3:10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him:
'HAVE PUT ON' -
Points to Note:
1. Christianity is much more than just "getting rid" of evil habits and attitudes. Christianity has a very positive side. The old self is to be discarded, not because God is against "fun", but because God has a better life, a better character for us to develop into.
2. The phrase "put on" suggests a freewill choice. God will not force these changes upon us. The Holy Spirit will not overwhelm us. This is work that we cannot contract out. We must: (a) See the disgrace of the old life--we must recognize and accept that the things mentioned in 3:8-9 are marks of selfishness, immaturity, lack of character--i.e. people who act like that are real jerks! (b) We must love the qualities mentioned in 3:12ff. We must want to become a new man and we must be sold on the new life.
'NEW' -3501. neos neh'-os; including the comparative neoteros neh-o'-ter-os; a primary word; "new", i.e. (of persons) youthful, or (of things) fresh; figuratively, regenerate: -new, young.
Point to Note:
The word "new" is significant. The new self is a breath of fresh air, the new self is liberated, full of life. The old self was in bondage. The old self was self-destructing ( Eph_4:22 ). The old self was dirty, corrupted, and a life filled with a lot of garbage!
'THAT IS BEING RENEWED' -341. anakainoo an-ak-ahee-no'-o; from 303 and a derivative of 2537; to renovate: -renew.
Points to Note:
1. 'is being renewed..in process of continuous renewal'. (Vincent p. 503) ( 2Co_4:16 ) It is the same thing as being "transformed" ( Rom_12:1-2 ). This process demands our cooperation, for it begins with a renewing of the way that we think.
2. Note the contrast: The old self is progressively getting worse ( Eph_4:22 ). The person in sin is continually getting more preoccupied with self and more enslaved to evil habits and attitudes. ( 2Ti_3:13 ) But the Christian who embraces the new life, who really tries, is always getting better. What an encouraging thought, 'I am getting stronger everyday!'
'UNTO THE KNOWLEDGE' -'to a true knowledge' (NASV). 1922. epignosis ep-ig'-no-sis; from 1921; recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: -(ac-)knowledge(-ing, -ment).
-A full, complete and accurate knowledge.
'AFTER THE IMAGE OF HIM THAT CREATED HIM' -'which is being remoulded into full knowledge so as to become like Him who created it' (Wey); 'which is in the process of being made new in the likeness of its Creator' (Wms); 'so that the image of the God who created it is its pattern' (Knox).
Points to Note:
1. One very powerful statement! Compare with Eph_4:24 . The "new man", the Christian life, is the life that God intended that man would live all along. In Jesus Christ, imperfect men and women are given the opportunity to reach the potential for good which is found in the expression 'image of God'. We can become what God wanted us to become ( Gen_1:26-27 ). We can make of ourselves what God knows we are capable of!
2. Christianity is the ultimate human potential and self-help movement. Nothing else can even come close: (a) Christ takes all of us to a state of absolute purity-when converted. (b) The Bible completely tears down the old life. God wants everything wrong, habits and attitudes to be discarded. (c) And God starts from square one, at ground level, with the most basic issues of morality and integrity. (d) Nothing is overlooked, nothing has been left out of this process ( 2Pe_1:3-11 ). God gets down to the very root causes of sin.
3. The role model for the Christian, is God Himself. Now-beat that! The standard or yardstick of this renewal process, the image that we are to strive for, is the very moral nature of God Himself ( Mat_5:48 ; 1Pe_1:14-15 ; Eph_5:1-2 ).
POSITIVE PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF THIS IMAGE:
Col_3:11 where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
'WHERE THERE CANNOT BE' -'All racial bigotry..snobbery is condemned here.' (Hendriksen p. 151)
Points to Note:
1. The new man isn't prejudiced. There is nothing "Christian" about White Supremacy or the elevation of any race over another.
2. The Church, the body composed of people with the new self, is a place where people from all backgrounds, all cultures, all races, can serve Christ and find peace among themselves ( Eph_2:14-15 ; Isa_2:2-4 ).
3. The new man refuses to think like the rest of men. He or she struggles to have God's perspective, in which all are viewed as equal ( Rom_2:11 ). In which skin color, culture, social status, etc...isn't an issue. An outlook which says, if one serves Christ faithfully, then nothing else matters.
'BARBARIAN' -usually anyone who didn't speak the Greek language.
'SCYTHIAN' -4658. Skuthes skoo'-thace; probably of foreign origin; a Scythene or Scythian, i.e. (by implication) a savage: -Scythian.
-'Was simply the climax of barbarity' (Robertson p. 503). 'a savage, or even a Bushman. The Scythian races, represented by the modern Tartar or Cossack races of Asia and Eastern Europe, were regarded as at the bottom of the scale...Herodotus calls them cannibals.' (Eadie p. 231)
Barclay notes, 'The Greek was the aristocrat of the ancient world and he knew it. The Jew looked down on every other nation..and the other nations were fit only to be fuel for the fires of hell. The Scythian was notorious as the lowest of the barbarians..little short of being a wild beast...The slave was not even classified in ancient law as a human being; he was merely a living tool, with no rights of his own...There could be no fellowship in the ancient world between a slave and a free man..' (p. 155)
Points to Note:
1. Let us carefully note what Paul is saying. Christianity didn't destroy prejudice, for it still exists. And we aren't to pretend that no distinctions in culture, social strata, etc..exist-for they do. And either is the Christian to be blind to the short-comings of many cultures.
2. Paul is talking about what happens in Christ. Anyone can become a Christian. All cultures, races, social levels, and people from previous religious backgrounds can get along in Christ. The Scythian probably had some disgusting habits (Herodotus says of them, 'They drank the blood of the first enemy killed in battle, and made napkins of the scalps, and drinking bowls of the skulls of the slain. They had the most filthy habits and never washed with water.' (Hendriksen p. 154) --but I am to preach the gospel to him also, and if he shows interest in the truth, and becomes a Christian-he is my brother!
3. Paul is also saying, that there is no cultural, social, racial, national or economic disadvantage that can keep one from becoming a Christian. No person exists who already has three strikes against them-before they become a Christian.
4. What a lesson to our own time, when we are constantly hearing the excuse that one cannot serve God because of "how their parents raised them (do you think Scythians were raised in well-mannered homes?), because of their past, or their former environment. God doesn't buy the excuse that environment and upbringing constitute an unsurmountable obstacle that just can't be overcome.
5. Also note that Paul isn't saying that no social distinctions exist. We still must live in the world, a world in which authorities need to be respected ( Rom_13:1 ff); in which masters are still masters and slaves are still slaves ( Col_3:22-25 ; Col_4:1 ). But in our vertical relationship with God, all men and women are equal ( Gal_3:28-29 ), i.e. all have equal access, all faithful Christians stand before God on level ground.
6. These verses also make us feel ashamed. For if such huge distinctions are to be erased in Christ, how inexcusable we find ourselves today for letting lesser things alienate us from our brethren!
7. If God expects all races, cultures, social classes to find unity in His Son, then: (a) The Bible can be equally understood by people from all backgrounds. We cannot hide behind the excuse that "culture or preconceived ideas" are what prevent us from arriving at the same interpretation of God's truth. (b) God has ONE TRUTH FOR ALL CULTURES! (c) God has one level of morality for all cultures. (d) The one church is big enough for all cultures. Churches based on "culture" or an a specific ethnic group are wrong. (e) A church that isn't big enough for all cultures, isn't the true church.
Eadie makes a good comment when he says, 'Now, the meaning of the apostle is not that a man loses nationality on becoming a Christian..The rude manners of the Scythian might be refined by his faith, but he did not lose his peculiarity of colour or configuration...But the meaning of the apostle is---First, That such distinctions do not prevent the on-putting of the new man . In other words, such differences of nation, religion, culture, and social position, do not interfere with the adaptation, the offer, or the reception and the results of the gospel...Secondly,...prior and external distinctions, do not modify the possession of spiritual privilege and blessing....the barbarian is not degraded to a lower seat, nor is any outer court appropriated for the Scythian' (pp. 232-233)
None of these prior conditions are inherent hindrances to spiritual growth, purity and doing good works. Or even obeying the gospel in the first place.
'BUT CHRIST IS ALL, AND IN ALL' -'Christ is all that matters' (Phi); 'whether a person has Christ is what matters, and He is equally available to all' (Tay)
Points to Note:
1. 'Is all'-He is the center, the focus..'our common center, our standard of reference, and fount of honor, the sum of all we acknowledge and desire.' (P.P. Comm. p. 151) 'Christ is everything to all of them having the new man.' (Eadie p. 232)
2. 'And in all'-Influencing through His revelation all, regardless of background, who are putting on the new man. Every Christian, has acknowledged Christ as His master--the slave, just as much as his earthly master, the Scythian, just as much as the well-cultured Greek. The moral Jew, just as much as the pagan who had lived in the gutter. Background can't prevent a man or woman from living for Christ--if they so desire ( Gal_2:20 ).
3. O'Brien notes, 'contrast the centrality of Christ with the divisions that separate people in the world.' (p. 193) Christianity can never be blamed for the divisions found in the world. Unity can only be found in Christ, all other claims of peace are only temporary and false.
SPECIFIC QUALITIES TO PUT ON:
Col_3:12 Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering;
'PUT ON THEREFORE' -The statements in 3:10-11, demand a new life. If the New man is patterned after God, then let's see some serious changing. 'they must don the graces which are characteristic of him.' (O'Brien p. 197)
'AS GOD'S ELECT' -'Then put on the garments that suit God's chosen people' (NEB).
'HOLY AND BELOVED' -'his own, his beloved' (NEB); 'consecrated and dear to him' (TCNT).
Points to Note:
1. The "election" mentioned isn't some choice that God made concerning the salvation of specific individuals before the foundation of the world. For when the Biblical writers mention "elect" or "election" they also in the context say something about human accountability. The "elect" are required of their own freewill to "put off and put on" specific qualities. If Calvinistic Predestination were true, if would be irrelevant what type of life the "elect" lived. See 1Pe_1:2-8 ; 1Pe_2:9 ff.
2. The words "elect", "holy", "beloved" were all used in reference to the nation of Israel in the O.T. Therefore: (a) The church, Christians constitute the people of God since the cross of Christ ( 1Pe_2:9 ). (b) The physical nation of Israel has ceased to be God's people. Only Jews and Gentiles who become Christians are part of the chosen people ( Gal_3:28-29 ).
3. God really loves Christians, He doesn't merely tolerate them.
4. "Holy" means that we are separated from sin and dedicated to God and His purposes ( Eph_2:10 ; Tit_2:14 ). And God's work for us is important, serious, and challenging ( Mar_16:15 ). Great traits of character will be needed to succeed.
'A HEART OF COMPASSION' -'tenderness of heart' (Con); 'be merciful in action' (Phi). 'The Colossians were not to cherish a hard or unrelenting disposition.' (Eadie p. 235)
Points to Note:
1. 'It describes his (Jesus') feeling for the multitudes, for the poor, for the widow, for the blind. It is a sentiment which easily can be stifled by selfishness, by familiarity with distress..'(Erdman p. 96) ( Mat_9:36 ). This is a compassion that actually results in action, much more than a simple, 'Oh, the poor soul'.
2. Barclay notes, 'If there was no thing that the ancient world needed it was mercy...The maimed and the sickly went to the wall. There was no provision for the aged. The treatment of the idiot and simple-minded were unfeeling..' (p. 157)
3. It is very easy to lose compassion: (a) When others have abused our kindness, it is easy to think that everyone "in need", is lazy and only interested in scamming good hearted people. (b) When we invest time and effort into people, and they give up. Despite the bad-apples, we must always be willing to show compassion to those who are truly in need ( Jam_1:27 ).
'KINDNESS' -5544. chrestotes khray-stot'-ace; from 5543; usefulness, i.e. moral excellence (in character or demeanor): -gentleness, good(-ness), kindness.
-'The ancient writers defined...as the virtue of the man whose neighbor's good is a dear to him as his own.' (Barclay p. 157) ( Mat_7:12 )
-Notice that this is a goodness that is "useful". It is much more than just a smile or cheery disposition. It truly tries to help people with their problems. Note, it doesn't help a person continue in their sin--that is a false kindness. ( Luk_6:35 ; Rom_2:4 ). This kindness can have some teeth in it, i.e. insisting to those we are trying to help, that they help themselves, that they try. God always stands ready to help people out of sin, but never, to help them continue in it. This "kindness" will not give money or food to the person who refuses to work ( 2Th_3:10 ).
'LOWLINESS' -'humble in mind' (Phi). 5012. tapeinophrosune tap-i-nof-ros-oo'-nay; from a compound of 5011 and the base of 5424; humiliation of mind, i.e. modesty: -humbleness of mind, humility (of mind, loneliness (of mind).
-This isn't a false humility. This humility doesn't make ourselves small because we are great, rather, humility esteems itself as small-because we are small! False humility says, 'I can't do it because I am no good'. True humility says, 'I know my short-comings and flaws, but God commands me to do this or that, and I will obey.' ( 1Co_15:10 ) False humility uses personal failures as the reason why it can't. True humility uses personal failures as the reason why it must!
Points to Note:
1. Barclay makes a good point when he says, 'it is based on the awareness of the creaturelines of humanity. God is the Creator, man the creature, and in the presence of the Creator the creature cannot feel anything else but humility.' (p. 158)
2. Bruce notes, 'and a community in which this grace is cultivated is likely to be free from the tensions which spring from pride and self-assertiveness.' (p. 154) ( Php_2:3-4 )
3. Many note that humility was a quality that was despised in the ancient world (and it still is). For it requires: (a) That we accept that God is God and we are not. (b) That we admit and honestly see our own short-comings ( Rom_12:3 ). (c) That we admit that we aren't more "special" than other people ( Act_10:34 . (d) And humility applied means that many times in life, the needs of others will take precedence over our own ( Php_2:3-4 ).
'MEEKNESS' -4236. praiotes prah-ot'-ace; from 4235; gentleness, by implication, humility: -meekness.
-Often defined as the person completely under control. The meek person isn't lukewarm or apathetic. Meekness isn't being a slacker. This is the person who is God-controlled. Meekness is strength under control, all the desires and passions properly harnessed and channeled. The man who is angry at the right time and at the right thing. ( Eph_4:26 )
I like what Barclay said, 'It is when...we can rebuke without rancor..that we can face the truth without resentment, that we can be angry and sin not, that we can be gentle and yet not weak.' (Flesh and Spirit p. 121)
Points to Note:
1. Both Moses and Jesus are examples of meekness ( Mat_11:29 ; Num_12:3 ).
2. Check out the following passages ( Gal_6:1 ; Jam_1:21 ; 1Pe_3:15 ; 2Ti_2:25 ). Unfortunately, we are often too aggressive or too passive. Probably because we are still preoccupied with our feelings, our goals, and ourselves. The meek man has his mind off of self. He presses the issue as far as God wants it pressed. He first asks, 'How serious is this is the sight of God', and then properly adjusts his speech, emotions, etc..to meet the situation.
3. Sadly, we often think that doing nothing is "Christian". Meekness isn't spinelessness. But the person who stands ready to wave his rights--if that is what God wants. Ready to rebuke the sinner-if that is what God wants. Ready to forgive-if that is what God wants. Ready to remain silent--if that is what God wants.
4. Meekness also doesn't complain against God. Meekness believes that God is always good ( Jam_1:17 ).
'LONGSUFFERING' -3115. makrothumia mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah; from the same as 3116; longanimity, i.e. (objectively) forbearance or (subjectively) fortitude: -longsuffering, patience.
Points to Note:
1. The person who stays then all others have fled. Barclay notes, 'This is the spirit which never loses its patience with its fellow-men. Their foolishness and their unteachability never drive it to cynicism and despair; their insults and their ill-treatment never drive it to bitterness or wrath.' (p. 158)
2. Note the word "LONG". How long is our suffering? At times I don't see much length to our patience. God expected Christians to remain patient when provoked, when persecuted, when physically beaten, when slandered, etc...We seem to be ready to quit or write brethren off over a simple misunderstanding! A minor slight!
3. But we think that we are being really patient! Compare your patience to God's patience. Are you being more patience with others, than God is being with you? Are you having to forgive more--than being forgiven yourself?? (Read Mat_18:21-35 ).
Col_3:13 forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye:
'FORBEARING' -430. anechomai an-ekh'-om-ahee; middle voice from 303 and 2192; to hold oneself up against, i.e. (figuratively) put up with: -bear with, endure, forbear, suffer.
'ONE ANOTHER' -other Christians. And this is mutual. Lest one think that all the forbearing will be on their part, let us remember that we probably do things that irritate others too! Somebody is probably being very patient with us.
'FORGIVING EACH OTHER' -Which infers that sins, misunderstandings, slights, etc.. will happen between Christians ( Mat_5:23-24 ; Mat_18:15 )
Points to Note:
1. If we insist on perfection in the Church, we will be frustrated. This verses admit that problems will always pop up. No congregation will ever be free from things which have the potential to cause division and or hard feelings. The only way to prevent division in the body, is if each member of the body is resolved to apply these passages.
2. Obviously, God expects the person seeking forgiveness to repent ( Luk_17:3-4 ).
'IF ANY MAN HAVE A COMPLAINT AGAINST ANY' -God knows that we have the habit of thinking that we have been "really" mistreated. God knows that we have the tendency to feel that we have been "wronged"--beyond what anyone else has experienced ( Mat_18:21-35 ).
'JUST AS THE LORD FORGAVE YOU, SO ALSO SHOULD YOU' -'the Lord's generosity to you must be the model of yours' (Knox).
Points to Note:
1. 'Just as' means that when we forgive, it needs to be genuine and real. If we really forgave them, then let's be honest. When God forgives us, He doesn't hold any grudges, He doesn't harbor ill-will, and He doesn't act cold and stand-offish. And neither does God place a conditional time period on His forgiveness, i.e. if you lapse back into sin-then I have the right to pull up and hold you accountable for all your previously forgiven failures also.
2. While we need to hold people accountable and stress that repentance must be sincere ( 2Co_7:10-11 ). Brethren, let's be very careful about requiring people to jump through more hoops to be in our favor than God requires to remain in His favor.
3. We may think of 100 reasons where such instruction wouldn't be practical or in 100 situations where it hasn't supposedly worked before. But the magnitude of God's forgiveness directed to us, demands that we expend every effort to apply this command in our own lives. No price or personal sacrifice is too great to apply this passage, for just remember, no price could be paid to atone for our own sins. Instead of looking for excuses, let's remember our own forgiveness ( Mat_6:14-15 ).
4. This thought might help put everything in perspective: Would you rather wrestle with the particulars in trying to forgive your brother properly. Or would you rather wrestle with the fact that God won't forgive you?
Col_3:14 and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.
'AND ABOVE ALL THESE THINGS' -'And upon all' (Robertson p. 504) 'does not mean most of all, but "over all". Love is pictured as an outer garment, or more exactly, a belt, which not only completes the costume but also perfects and unites all the garments.' (Erdman p. 97)
'PUT ON' -Which infers that "love" isn't just inborn. True love must be learned and applied ( 1Co_13:4-8 ).
'WHICH IS THE BOND OF PERFECTNESS' -'which binds together and completes the whole' (Con); 'which binds everything together in perfect harmony' (RSV).
Points to Note:
1. Since even faith must have the proper motive of love behind it, to be effective and useful ( Gal_5:6 ; 1Co_13:1-3 ). It seems logical that all of these qualities can exist without the right motivation. For example, many people are patient, not because they love God or their fellowman, but because they are hoping that such patience will irritate their enemies. People demonstrate many of these qualities from the motivation of "see how good I am doing, obviously, I am better than you." And others simply want the praise of men ( Mat_6:1-4 ).
2. Eadie notes that without love, 'knowledge is but a selfish acquisition, purity an attempted personal gain, and zeal a defective struggle...'(p. 240)
3. And Barclay is probably right when he says that the tendency of any body of people is sooner or later to fly apart. We need the quality of love, for without it we are destined for division
4. "Perfection" for the Christian isn't some mysterious experience. Rather, it is practical, concrete and demonstrated. It is the life that is able to apply the above passages in harmony with the truth found in 1Co_13:4-8 .
'PERFECTNESS' -5047. teleiotes tel-i-ot'-ace; from 5046; (the state) completeness (mentally or morally): -perfection(-ness).
Jesus pointed out the same thing, when He stated that if one keeps before their mind two basic concepts--complete love for God and their fellow man ( Mat_22:37-40 ); that everything else will naturally fall into place. See Rom_13:9-10 .
So many people worry about so many things. Christian work on loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself--and you will be on track!
True love keeps the Christian from becoming unbalanced. And unbalanced religious people abound in our culture, and sadly too many are found in the Church.
Col_3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.
'AND LET' -You can't really blame anyone for your own lack of spiritual growth. Presently, you are exactly where you want to be. We have decided how faithful we want to be. Notice the word "let". (See Eph_4:28-29 ; Eph_4:31 )
'THE PEACE OF CHRIST' -The type and quality of peace that Christ enabled and that He talked about ( Eph_2:14 )
'RULE' -1018. brabeuo brab-yoo'-o; from the same as 1017; to arbitrate, i.e. (genitive case) to govern (figuratively, prevail): -rule.
-'lit., be umpire...The previous references to occasions for meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, forgiveness, etc.., indicate a conflict of passions and motives in the heart .' (Vincent p. 504)
Point to Note:
The question that we need to ask ourselves is, 'What rules us?' Does a love for God? ( 2Co_5:14 ) What guards the entrance way into our minds? What is the sentry on duty? Hate? Selfishness? Self-Pity? Pride? Or the Peace of God? ( Php_4:7 )
People whose minds are ruled by the peace of Christ, refuse any accept any idea, or course of action that doesn't harmonize with Christ's desire for unity among His people.
When we accept this as the final umpire--then: (a) We will start applying passages such as Mat_5:23-24 ; Mat_18:15 . (b) Then we will make every effort to keep unity, every effort just short of doctrinal compromise. (c) We will see ourselves as expendable, our feelings, emotions, etc..as of secondary importance. Unity in the one body is the most important thing--not my feelings! (d) And we will find brethren apologizing when they need to when the peace of Christ is finally allowed to be the umpire in their lives.
When our emotions clash, Jesus Christ must be allowed to settle any dispute, 'The way to right action is to appoint Jesus Christ as the arbiter...and if we accept his decisions, we cannot go wrong.' (Barclay p. 159)
'TO THE WHICH ALSO YE WERE CALLED IN ONE BODY' -'to which indeed' (NASV); 'that is why you have been called as members of the one body' (Mof).
Points to Note:
1. Unity doesn't happen by accident and it isn't maintained by a minimum amount of effort or sacrifice ( Eph_4:1-3 ). Things will try our patience, temptations will abound to say the wrong thing, to lash out, to divide, to become quarrelsome, to hold on to grudges, to roll over and over in our minds the short-comings of our brethren. At such a time we need to remember: (a) The tremendous price paid and effort put forth by God in bringing all of us into "one body". People who are impressed with the sacrifice of Christ, cannot treat the body of Christ lightly. (b) We must also remember Christ's prayer for unity among His disciples ( Joh_17:20-23 ). (c) And that the purpose for being in one body is peace with God and each other.
2. The sacrifice of Christ, the peace He has brought to our lives in forgiving us of our sins, should act as an umpire to restrain anyone of us from harming, from jeopardizing the peace we have found in the one body.
3. It is a sad fact that many hungering souls, longing for peace, have only found a lot of strife in what is professed to be the "one body". Bruce notes, 'Strife inevitably results when men and women are out of touch with him who is the one source of true peace.' (p. 157)
4. God believes in the "one body". He will not endorse and neither will He accept a divided Christianity. ( 1Co_1:10 )
'AND BE YE THANKFUL' -"Keep on becoming thankful." Continuous obligation.' (Robertson p. 505) 'Show yourselves thankful' (TCNT)
Points to Note:
1. Gratitude is a great defense against sin and strife. Gratitude is only possible when our minds shift from self to others. Ingratitude is a first step into sin ( Rom_1:21 ) Gratitude is a constant theme (1:3,5,12; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2; Eph_5:20 ).
2. Oh, what we have to be thankful for: (a) We are forgiven! We are the objects of God's longsuffering, mercy, compassion, love and favor. (b) We are in the body of Christ. (c) God hasn't held our past against us! (d) Look at the wonderful life (3:8-14) that God has designed for the Christian. Look at what I can become. Look at the qualities that even I can demonstrate. Look at the path to peace, contentment and happiness that God has allowed even a person like myself to walk on.
3. Hendriksen notes, 'When a person is overpowered by the feeling of warm and deep appreciation for benefits received from God he will hardly be able to grudge someone else...' (pp. 159-160)
At times we approach sections of Scripture like the above with the attitude of trying to find situations in which the above verses don't fit. We almost try to find a situation ethic, i.e. does God expect me to tell the truth if Nazi's are looking for Jews in my house??? We all know the familiar "what if's" that tend up come up in public and private classes. We dwell more on hypothetical situations, than applying these truths to the situation we are presently in. We tend to study more for the future or try to solve some assumed moral dilemna in the past, 'what if so and so happened...' Instead of thinking, 'how can I apply this right now? What situations, relationships, etc...in my life at this very moment need these qualities?
THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS
OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN
Col_3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.
'LET' -The language of freewill. Obviously then God doesn't force Himself upon anyone ( Rev_3:20 ).
'THE WORD OF CHRIST' -The word that Christ taught, the word spoken by Christ, and delivered by the Holy Spirit through the apostles ( Heb_1:1-2 ; Joh_14:26 ; Joh_16:13 ; Eph_3:3-5 ; 1Co_14:37 ).
'DWELL IN YOU RICHLY' -'Let His words enrich your lives' (Tay).
'DWELL' -1774. enoikeo en-oy-keh'-o; from 1722 and 3611; to inhabit (figuratively): -dwell in.
'RICHLY' -4146. plousios ploo-see'-oce; adverb from 4145; copiously: -abundantly, richly.
Points to Note:
1. We have the final say whether the Word of God will convict us of sin, change our lives and be our guide ( Psa_119:97-105 ; Rom_1:16 ; Heb_4:12-13 ).
2. Eadie notes, 'Let the Christian truth have its enduring abode "within you"--let it not be stranger or occasional guest in your hearts. Let it not be without you, as a lesson to be learned, but within you...let it be completely understood...Let it dwell not with a scanty foothold..' (p. 245)
3. The Word of Christ is dwelling in your richly, when it is viewed as the standard that all actions and attitudes must line up with and be governed by. When the Word of God is given complete freedom in my life, the freedom to convict me whenever I am straying, the freedom to influence change in areas where I need to change, the freedom to determine what I will believe and practice. The freedom to determine what I will think, and how I will think ( Joh_8:37 ; 2Ti_3:16-17 ; Psa_119:1-176 ; 2Co_10:5 )
4. Hendriksen describes it as, 'should govern every thought, word, and deed, yes even the hidden drives and motivations of every member, and thus should bear sway among them .' (p. 160)
5. The word "dwell" suggests: (a) We need to allow the Word of God to "settle down", "take up residence", "establish a local office" in our hearts. (b) 'Present active imperative.. to make one's home, to be at home .' (Robertson p. 505)
6. The word "richly" suggests: (a) We never can get enough of the Word, i.e. we never can say, 'I've already studied or read the Bible, I don't need to attend Bible classes anymore.' (b) That we develop a great thirst and hunger for the Word. That it is our continual preoccupation, never far from our minds, even when we are involved in our earthly tasks ( Mat_4:4 ).
'IN ALL WISDOM' -'Some connect with the preceding words, others with the following--"in all wisdom, teaching", etc..The latter seems preferable, especially in view of ch. 1:28, where the phrase occurs "teaching and admonishing in all wisdom".' (Vincent p. 506)
Points to Note:
1. 'Unless the word of Christ dwelt richly within them, they could not fulfill this duty; for they could not teach and admonish unless they knew what lessons to impart, and in what spirit alike were to be found in the gospel... Sparing acquaintance with Divine revelation would lead to scanty counsel and ineffective tuition.' (Eadie p. 246)
2. Again, Paul stresses that the Christian has access to "all wisdom" (1:28; 2:3). In contrast to the claims of the false teachers. Carefully note that this 'wisdom' is available to all Christians ("you"; "one another"). This isn't a wisdom reserved for some elite class, for the "professionals" or for the "clergy".
'TEACHING' -1321. didasko did-as'-ko; a prolonged (causative) form of a primary verb dao (to learn); to teach (in the same broad application): -teach.
'ADMONISHING' -3560. noutheteo noo-thet-eh'-o; from the same as 3559; to put in mind, i.e. (by implication) to caution or reprove gently: -admonish, warn.
-'teach and train one another' (Mof). ( Rom_15:14 'and able also to admonish one another'; Heb_10:24 ; 1Th_5:14 .)
'ONE ANOTHER' -The side reference says, 'or, yourselves'. Which would be true, when we study or sing, we do teach ourselves. But, in light of 1:28 'admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom'; the meaning of "one another" makes better sense.
Points to Note:
1. The Christian has access to "all wisdom" (2:3). And the Word of God is able to qualify and make one competent to tackle every good work, including the ability to warn, encourage and rebuke fellow Christians ( 2Ti_4:2 ); and help them out of a trespass ( Gal_6:1-2 ).
2. Recently I encountered an article entitled, 'Putting an End to Christian Psychology'. In the article, psychologist Larry Crabb said....'The church has bought into the idea that its spiritual role is a very limited one. If a woman struggles with depression...the immediate response is to send the woman to a professional counselor. The underlying assumption is that spiritual resources aren't sufficient to deal with what's going on--that only people with massive levels of professional training can help. Ultimately, we're saying the Scriptures and Christianity don't meaningfully address the core problems in our lives.' He was asked, 'You don't hold to the three-sided model that therapists are qualified to treat psychological problems, pastors spiritual problems....' 'I say no, for two reasons. First, as a professional, I know what we don't know. We can't diagnose what's really happening in people's souls--not the way my dentist can when he looks at x-rays and tells me what's wrong with my tooth . He's not pretending; he knows. He's an expert. But as a psychologist, I don't know, and it's not because I'm stupid or poorly trained; it's because there's no such thing as a scientifically trained expert on the soul . Second, theologically I am more comfortable with a dichotomist position--that human beings consist of spirit and body--This leads me to suggest that what we call emotional/psychological problems are really spiritual/theological ones; that nonorganic problems really stem from a troubled soul, not some damaged self, which psychotherapists claim to fix.' [Note: _ Christianity Today. August 14, 1995 p. 16. See Mark if you wish to have a copy of this article.]
Hence what Mr. Crabb is really saying, is that either you have a physical/organic problem which a doctor needs to treat ( Luk_9:12 ). Or, you have an inorganic, spiritual problem, which someone knowledgeable in the Scriptures can assist you with. And such must be true. For the same God who created the body, also created the soul. Nothing is "secular" about us. Nothing exists concerning us that God didn't create ( Zec_12:1 ). Hence, a secular counselor isn't the best resource to help us with our problems.
Clearly, Paul believed that the Church contains all the resources necessary to help someone with any personal, non-organic problem.
4. In comparing this verse with Eph_5:18-19 , we find a great parallel. Thus we learn that "be filled with the Spirit" ( Eph_5:18 ); is the exact same thing as "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly". Thus the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian not in any miraculous or mysterious sense. Neither does He indwell the Christian personally. Rather, He indwells the Christian through the word of Christ, i.e. God's word is the tool that the Spirit uses to convict, guide, influence, and lead the Christian ( Joh_16:8 = Act_2:37 ; Eph_6:17 ).
5. Notice the mutual obligations involved in being a Christian. Teaching, encouraging, admonishing doesn't belong to a certain elite in the church. Every Christian is under this obligation ( 1Th_5:14 ). Which should make us ask ourselves, 'Am I doing my fair share in encouraging my brethren?'
'WITH' -Note that psalms, hymns and spiritual songs aren't the only method of teaching and admonishing. But, they are a very important method, that is often forgotten.
Point to Note:
Since periods of congregational singing ("one another") give us the chance to teach others, be taught and admonished ourselves, it seems "basic" that we need to be present when such singing takes place. In other words, this command cannot be obeyed by the person who doesn't attend.
'PSALMS' -Possibly O.T. Psalms which were sung. A number of songs in our current songbook at actually O.T. psalms which are sung.
'HYMNS' -5215. humnos hoom'-nos; apparently from a simpler (obsolete) form of hudeo (to celebrate; probably akin to 103; compare 5667); a "hymn" or religious ode (one of the Psalms): -hymn. 'a song of praise' (Vincent p. 506)
'SPIRITUAL SONGS' -All three words demand that the songs we sing in worship to God: (1) Are in harmony with God's truth, i.e. we can't sing a song that teaches error. (2) That the overriding theme is spiritual things. In the First Century, this expression may also have applied to Spirit-inspired songs, i.e. compositions given to the early Church by God Himself ( 1Co_14:26 ).
Points to Note:
1. It has been argued that the word rendered "psalms" inherently means a song sung to the accompaniment of a instrument. But check a Lexicon and you will find that this isn't the inherent definition of the word. In addition, God has already specified the "instrument" of His choice, i.e. the human heart ( Eph_5:19 'making melody with your heart to the Lord').
2. Add to this, the following mountain of evidence: (a) For the first 600-700 years of the Church's existence, no instrumental music was used in worship. (b) How are we to explain this? Instruments did exist ( 1Co_14:7 ). The church did have the funds to purchase them with ( 1Ti_6:17 ). They weren't viewed as being inherently unspiritual, worldly or carnal, for God had commanded their use in the O.T. ( Psa_150:3 ). In fact, some of the O.T. "psalms" that they may have sung, would have called for such accompaniment ( Psa_144:9 ). Remember also that the members knew the Greek language, they knew the meaning of the word "psallo". And yet, they still didn't use or even advocate instrumental accompaniment. The church during the First Century was under the guidance of men directly inspired by God, but they never advocated such. So how are we to explain their absence? Anyone, who argues for the use of instrumental accompaniment in worship today, must at the same time condemn the apostles for being very poor instructors in the proper worship of God. To say that much accompaniment "helps the singing", "helps us praise God better", etc...must also argue that the apostles, inspired men, were blind to these basic facts.
The only logical conclusion, for why the Church didn't use instrumental music in worship, is that it was understood that God hadn't commanded it, i.e. it was unauthorized. That when God specified singing, that ruled out every other form of musical expression.
'WITH GRACE' -5485. charis khar'-ece; from 5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): -acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy).
-'thankfulness' (NASV); 'With gratitude raising song' (Rhm); 'singing God's praises with joyful hearts' (Phi)
'IN YOUR HEARTS' -Which is much more than merely singing the song with your lips. Eadie notes, 'These sacred songs, whether in the language of Scripture, or based upon it, could be sung in the right spirit only when the indwelling "word" pressed for grateful utterance' (p. 247)
'UNTO GOD' -In the parallel passage in Eph_5:19 , Paul says, 'and making melody with your heart to the Lord.' Which indicates that both Father and Son are the objects of our worship, which also infers that Jesus is God ( Mat_4:10 ).
Col_3:17 And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
'AND' -Indicating that this verse is connected with the previous thoughts. Erdman notes, 'Paul reaches the climax by one which is of the widest possible applications...Not only hymns of praise but every word spoken and every act performed may be transfigured into real worship of God.' (p. 101)
'IN WORD OR IN DEED' -Which teaches us that our "words" are just as important as our deeds ( Mat_12:36-37 ). Indicating the whole of our earthly activities.
'DO ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS' -'in dependence on the Lord Jesus' (Mof); 'as a representative of the Lord Jesus' (Tay); 'in the spirit of' (Robertson p. 506)
Points to Note:
1. 'means, accordingly, "in vital relation with him", that is, in harmony with his revealed will, in subjection to his authority ..' (Hendriksen p. 164) ( Mat_28:18-19 ). 'by his authority, or generally, in recognition of it. To speak in His name, or to act in His name, is to speak and act ...by His sanction and with the conviction of His approval. This is the highest Christian morality, a vivid and practical recognition of Christ in everything said or done...This is a high test. It is comparatively easy to do a professedly Christian act, but far more difficult to do every act in a Christian spirit...It is comparatively easy to engage in religious discourse, but far more difficult to discourse on everything in a religious spirit.' (Eadie p. 249)
2. 'thus everything he says or does ought to be in the light of the fact that Jesus is his Lord. His behavior should be entirely consistent with Jesus' character..' (O'Brien pp. 211-212)
3. We are thus reminded, that as Christians we are to act like Christians, not only when gathered for public worship, but in every aspect of our lives. Even what might be considered the most ordinary and mundane things of life, are to be done in a way that brings honor to God ( 1Co_10:31 ).
4. Many people forget this truth. We are to glorify God, acknowledge our dependence upon Him, and demonstrate our subjection to His authority, in every facet of our lives.
5. Even in the ordinary things of life, we need to approach those things asking, 'With what type of attitude would the Lord want me to perform this activity in?' This also reminds us, that when Jesus purchased us, He purchased every bit of us ( 1Pe_1:18-19 ). We have no "private life" that is not under His jurisdiction. We are obligated to praise Him in everything we do ( 1Pe_1:15 ).
6. The following verses apply this truth. In every relationship we have, God can be glorified, His will can be served, if we act in submission to His directives. And in every relationship we have, we can act in a way that doesn't bring any praise to God ( 1Pe_3:7 ).
Eadie makes the following comments, 'the apostle means, that such ought to be the habitual respect to Christ's authority, such the constant and practical influence of His word within us..Christianity should ever guard and regulate amidst all secular engagements...The senator may not discuss Christian dogmas in the midst of national interests, but his whole procedure must be regulated, not by faction or ambition, but by that enlightened patriotism, which, based on justice, is wise enough to know that true policy can never contravene morality...The merchant is not to digress into a polemical dispute while he is concluding a sale, but love of profit is not to supersede rectitude, nor is the maxim, that there is no friendship in trade, ever to lead him to take undue advantage, or accomplish by dexterity what equity would scarcely permit. The tradesman, as he lifts his tool, is not to say, in Christ's name I strike; but in the spirit of Him...is he faithfully to finish the labour assigned him, ever feeling himself to be under the "great taskmaster's eye".....' (p. 250)
7. And, especially for our own times, carefully note that the highest motive in life IS NOT TO LIVE IN HARMONY WITH "NATURE". Rather, it is to live in harmony with the will of God!
'GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM' -( Eph_5:20 )
Points to Note:
1. Which again emphasizes that Jesus is the only mediator between the Father and us ( 1Ti_2:5 ).
2. And again the Christian is admonished to be grateful.
3. Erdman notes, 'This does not mean that this holy name is to be used as a magic charm.' (p. 101)
4. Hendriksen notes, 'In connection with any and every word and deed the believer should ask himself, "Am I able to thank God the Father for having given me the opportunity to say or do this?"' (p. 164)
5. This infers that every day the Christian encounters something that they need to thank God for.
THIS TRUTH APPLIED TO SPECIFIC GROUPS:
Points to Note:
1. As we study the following human relationships, be impressed that Christianity has placed in every relationship the duty of mutual obligation. People try to make relationships one-sided. God disagrees, He says that in every relationship both parties have duties and privileges. 'It is never an ethic on which all the duties are on one side.' (Barclay p. 161)
2. Christianity has improved all human relationships. Barclay notes, 'In Greek society a respectable woman lived a life of entire seclusion. She never appeared on the streets alone, not even to go marketing. She lived in the women's apartments and did not join her menfolk even for meals. From her there was demanded complete servitude and chastity; but her husband could go out as much as he chose and could enter into as many relationships outside marriage as he liked without incurring any stigma. Under both Jewish and Greek laws and custom all the privileges belonged to the husband and all the duties to the wife.' (p. 161)
3. And such a double-standard still holds true, especially concerning the sexual activities of young men and young women. The sexually active male teenager is a "real man" (according to our enlightened society); and the sexually active teenage female is a tramp (according to the same enlightened society). Christianity didn't invent this double-standard (for it condemns both), rather this "fine ethic", is simply one example of the short-comings of unaided human wisdom.
4. Carefully note that Christianity didn't erase human relationships. The Christian woman, is still a woman and she is still in subjection to her husband. Even among Christians, God still expects us to respect male and female roles ( 1Ti_2:11-13 ).
'In this section the reference to the subject precedes that to the ruling parties, and the duty of obedience is emphasized to prevent false inferences from the doctrine that natural distinctions are done away in Christ..' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 542)
5. And also note that basically the same duties exist in all our relationships, even after we become Christians. But now, we have a much higher motive and purpose with which to perform such duties. No longer are these things mere human relationships, or just work. They are another means of serving and glorifying God.
6. Barclay also notes, 'The whole direction of the Christian ethic is not to ask: "What do others owe to me?" but, "What do I owe to others?"' (p. 162)
Col_3:18 Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
'WIVES, BE IN SUBJECTION' -Again note, that in addressing all these classes, God simply gives each their duty, and the proper motive for performing that duty. God doesn't say, 'Now wives, make sure that your husband is treating you right, or husbands, make sure that your wife is fulfilling all her obligations to you.' The emphasis is on serving the other person ( Php_2:3-4 ).
'BE IN' -i.e. Actually be in, be practicing. Don't merely wish that you could be in. Good intentions never take the place of actual performance.
'SUBJECTION' -5293. hupotasso hoop-ot-as'-so; from 5259 and 5021; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey: -be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.
'TO YOUR HUSBANDS' -
Points to Note:
1. No inferiority inherently resides in the word "subjection". And everyone is "in subjection" to someone. The woman's husband is in subjection to the governing authorities ( Rom_13:1 ); and to the needs of other Christians ( Eph_5:21 ).
2. Erdman notes, 'In such submission there is nothing humiliating or degrading. It is not inconsistent with intellectual and moral and spiritual equality. (For the same writer that wrote this, also wrote Gal_3:28 ). It is merely the recognition of an authority which is essential to social and domestic order and welfare. It is the natural expression of love which manifests itself in willing service ..' (p. 103)
3. Also carefully note that this "subjection" isn't some moral consequence that all women suffer because of Eve's sin. Female subjection was a reality in this world, even before sin entered ( Gen_2:18 ). Eadie notes, 'The early and biblical idea of a wife as that of a "help meet", implies that she was to be auxiliary--second and not principal in the household.' (p. 252)
'AS IS FITTING' -'as befits those who belong to the Lord' (TCNT). 433. aneko an-ay'-ko; from 303 and 2240; to attain to, i.e. (figuratively) be proper: -convenient, be fit.
Points to Note:
1. In that society, a woman was already to be in subject to her husband, even before she became a Christian. But notice that God supplies a new attitude, motive or perspective for such subjection.
2. This also infers that various types of "subjection" exist, which are not "in the Lord": (a) Some women are in subjection, because they either have been taught or they think that they are inferior to a man, not as smart or intelligent. (b) Others are in subjection--because they fear physical abuse. (c) The subjection offered by others is grudging, like an occupied country just waiting for the proper opportunity to cast off some oppressive government. None of these please God, and neither do they glorify him.
3. But when a woman realizes that she is just as intelligent and valuable as her husband. And that she has equal access to God. But that the Lord Jesus Christ wants her to be in subjection to her husband, to support him and to be by his side as a help-meet. And when a woman says, 'I will joyfully do that Lord', now that is a subjection that is "fitting" for someone who claims to be a Christian. That type of subjection, glorifies God.
Col_3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
'HUSBANDS' -In contrast to the views of ancient and even modern society, marriage isn't a one-sided relationship.
'LOVE YOUR WIVES' - 'Present active imperative, "keep on loving"' (Robertson p. 506)
Points to Note:
1. What a tremendous amount of truth is found in that simple statement. Consider: (a) The love under consideration is an unselfish giving of oneself, a sacrificial love, a love that always places the best spiritual interest of the other person, ahead of your own interests ( 1Co_13:4-8 ). (b) In contrast, the world teaches men and women to first and foremost, love themselves.
2. God assists us in obeying His commands. In order to make the subjection offered by the wife a pleasant experience, God commands husbands to unselfishly love their wives.
3. Bruce notes, 'This is not simply a matter of affectionate feeling or sexual attraction; it involves his active and unceasing care for her well-being.' (p. 164)
4. This command is designed to prevent the husband's authority from becoming uncaring, harsh and over-bearing. Unfortunately, some religious husbands think that being a "tyrant" or a "dictator" is "spiritual". There is a "headship", there is a type of authority in the home that is sinful. Not all husbands that are "in charge" of their families are pleasing to God. For many pagan husbands "wore the pants" in the family, but did so in an ungodly manner.
Eadie notes, 'Though the husband is to govern, he must govern in kindness' (p. 253) ( Eph_5:25-26 ).
Erdman comments, '(love) makes tyranny and unkindness, selfishness and cruelty, absolutely impossible. It removes from the submission expected of a wife all that is distasteful or difficult. Indeed it places a husband in a position of actual subjection, for he is compelled by love to obey every claim the wife may make for support, for sympathy, for protection, for happiness... A wife never need fear to obey a husband of whose love she is sure .' (pp. 103-104)
'AND BE NOT BITTER AGAINST THEM' -'Present middle imperative.."Stop being bitter" or "do not have the habit of being bitter".' (Robertson p. 506) 'don't let bitterness or resentment spoil your marriage.' (Phi) 'It denotes exasperation prompting to hasty severity.' (P.P. Comm. p. 156)
Points to Note:
1. This suggests that husbands face this particular temptation, i.e. to harbor resentment. This also suggests that no two people are ever 100% compatible. And the contention that 'if we have to work at it, then we aren't right for each other', is pure ignorance.
2. Carefully note that God is addressing these commands to people, many who married before they became Christians. God doesn't buy the argument that "too much water has passed under the bridge, or that too many unkind things have been said, to make marital happiness possible."
3. To fulfill this injunction, the Christian husband needs to be compassionate, forgiving, equally aware of his own short-comings, and his own need of forgiveness ( Col_3:13 ).
4. He also needs to realize, what at times husbands forget, that his wife does have a soul, and that she also faces eternity ( 1Pe_3:7 ). I need to help her make it to heaven too!
Col_3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.
'CHILDREN' -including all minors and all who are still at home or under parental care. 'Children' also need to realize that the obligation to honor one's parents, never ceases ( Mat_15:3-6 ).
'OBEY YOUR PARENTS' -Which is compassionate and fair. Please note that God doesn't buy into the commune concept of children being raised and disciplined by every adult around. God desires that children have specific parents.
'IN ALL THINGS' -That is all those things which would be in harmony with the will of God ( Eph_6:1 ). Such phrases are always subject to the limitation of Act_5:29 .
Points to Note:
1. God views children as accountable and as responsible individuals within the congregation. Specific commands have been directed to children, God is talking to children also ( Ecc_12:1 ).
2. God also views children as possessing a freewill and capable to making right choices. God doesn't view children as inherently depraved, having inherited the sins of their forefathers.
3. Note that God doesn't view disobedience to parents as "natural", "a stage", "to be expected", etc...Rather, disobedience to parents is one of the vices of paganism ( Rom_1:30 ). It is a sign of wickedness, and that one has really sunk to a low level of personal integrity ( 2Ti_3:2 ). It is a demonstration of extreme selfishness.
'FOR THIS IS WELL-PLEASING IN THE LORD' -(3:18; Eph_6:1 )
Point to Note:
Children were obeying their parents long before Jesus died for our sins. But this is a different type or quality of obedience. This isn't the grudging obedience found in the world. And neither is it, 'I will merely cooperate now, but once I turn 18, they can't tell me what to do anymore.' Rather, this is an obedience that pleases God, that finds favor with both God and men ( Luk_2:52 ).
Col_3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged.
'FATHERS' -The same type of warning would apply to mothers (for they can exasperate their children also). But fathers are addressed: (a) They are the final authority in the home, i.e. they are to see that they don't do this, and that neither does their spouse. (b) They might be prone to be the more critical or insensitive of the two parents in the home.
'PROVOKE NOT' -2042. erethizo er-eth-id'-zo; from a presumed prolonged form of 2054; to stimulate (especially to anger): -provoke.
-do not fret and harass' (Wey); 'don't overcorrect' (Phi); 'stop exasperating' (Wms).
'THAT THEY BE NOT DISCOURAGED' -'disheartened' (Rhm); 'lest their spirit should be broken' (Con); 'become discouraged and quit trying' (Tay)
Points to Note:
1. Notice how practical the Bible is. God knows that people can go overboard in both directions. They can be too lenient or they can become too strict. God knows that you can overcorrect a child, you can be too harsh. The Bible certainly doesn't endorse child-abuse.
2. 'i.e. irritate by exacting commands and perpetual fault-finding' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 542). Creating the climate in which a child feels that they can never please their parents, is a foolish and sinful abuse of authority.
3. Eadie notes, 'if they are teased and irritated by perpetual censure, if they are kept apart by uniform sternness, if other children around them are continually held up as immeasurably their superiors, if their best efforts can only moderate the parental frown, but never are greeted with the parental smile, then their spirit is broken..' (p. 256)
4. Unfortunately, some very zealous, but misguided religious parents have caused dishonor to the name of Christ, by breaking the spirit of their children. Carefully note: Overcorrection, discouraging my child, breaking my child's will to the point of soulless obedience--is a sin.
5. Hendriksen observes, 'In ancient times when things went wrong all the blame was heaped on wives, children, and slaves.' (p. 171) Carefully note: God holds parents, husbands and fathers as responsible for abuses of their authority.
THE SERVANT/MASTER RELATIONSHIP:
Points to Note:
1. Paul didn't command slaves to rebel. Coffman notes, 'True Christianity does not consist of any kind of attack upon social institutions..' (p. 382) It is not the purpose of the church to attack or undermine the government ( Rom_13:1 ff; 1Pe_2:13 ). And neither it is the purpose of the church to reform the various institutions of society.
2. Barclay points out that Paul's instructions to slaves and masters.... 'Paul says things which must have amazed both sides .' (p. 164)
3. Many note that God may have spent more space in this letter on the slave-master relationship, because of the case concerning Onesimus which this congregation was faced with.
4. The fact that God addresses both slaves and masters, is proof that: (1) Both stood on equal footing before God. (2) God believed that the slave was capable of the exact same level of spiritual growth as his master. God doesn't believe that economic disadvantage or lack of education creates an inherent hindrance to pleasing Him or obeying His will.
Col_3:22 Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord:
'SERVANTS' -In reading the letters to the various churches, it is clear that many Christians in the First Century were slaves ( 1Co_7:21 ; Eph_6:5 ; 1Pe_2:18 ).
'OBEY IN ALL THINGS' -The only exception being something that would violate the will of God ( Act_5:29 ).
'MASTERS ACCORDING TO THE FLESH' -Which infers that they also had a heavenly Master.
'NOT WITH EYE-SERVICE' -'service while the master's eye was on the slave and no longer' (Robertson p. 507) ( Eph_6:6 )
'AS MEN-PLEASERS' -'as if you had but to please men' (TCNT); 'like those who court human favor' (Mof); 'not with the idea of currying favor' (Phi)
Points to Note:
1. Christianity didn't remove the social distinction (the slave was still a slave, even after his conversion). 'He is in effect saying that his Christianity must make him a better and more efficient slave. Christianity never in this world offers escape from hard work ; it makes a man able to work still harder. Nor does it offer a man escape from difficult situations; it enables him to meet these situations better.' (Barclay pp. 164-165)
2. As Eadie says, 'Slaves have usually but one motive, and that is, to avoid punishment, and therefore they only labor to please the master when his eye is on them.' (p. 258) Carefully note: The slave is still a slave, even a slave to a cruel master ( 1Pe_2:18 ). Christianity supplies the slave with a higher ethic, a greater purpose, and expects him to be a better worker.
'BUT IN SINGLENESS OF HEART' -572. haplotes hap-lot'-ace; from 573; singleness, i.e. (subjectively) sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking), or (objectively) generosity (copious bestowal): -bountifulness, liberal(-ity), simplicity, singleness.
'without duplicity or doubleness' (Vincent p. 508). 'that is, "undivided purpose", aiming only to be faithful to duty and devoted to one's task.' (Erdman p. 106)
'FEARING THE LORD' -The real Master that they are working for.
Points to Note:
1. Singleness of heart demands a pure motive. Serving your earthly master, giving him the best service possible, being the most productive slave that he could ever own--because that is what the Lord Jesus Christ commands. That is the Lord's will.
2. Please note how God doesn't give the slave any slack. He doesn't pity him, He doesn't say, 'You poor soul, life has been so unfair'. He doesn't recount for the slave all the injustices that they have endured. And neither does God give him some political speech about the rights of the oppressed. God enforces a very high moral ethic upon the slave. God expects him to live an unselfish life. God expects the slave to serve others! ( Php_2:3-4 )
3. All of this infers that you are treating people with respect, you are treating people EQUALLY AND FAIRLY, when you demand that they live up to their responsibilities and obligations.
Col_3:23 whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men;
'WHATSOEVER YE DO' -i.e. in your daily tasks for your master, even including the most routine, lowest and mundane of physical tasks. Remember, the person who is faithful in very small things, is often the person who is also faithful in very big things ( Luk_16:10 ). This statement relates back to 3:17. 'This principle is to govern every detail of his varied service' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 543)
Carefully note that every task, can be done in a grudging spirit, which dishonors God. Or, it can be done whole-heartedly, cheerfully and in a way that brings honor to the God we serve. There is a right way to perform every human task --i.e. in the name of Jesus, in the attitude that Jesus would approve of.
'WORK HEARTILY' -'Lit., from the soul' (Vincent p. 508). 'Do it with all your heart' (Wms); 'with a will' (Knox); 'let your hearts be in your work' (Wey)
'AS UNTO THE LORD' -I like what Bruce said, 'If a Christian slave had an unbelieving master, he would serve him more faithfully now because the reputation of Christ and Christianity was bound up with the quality of his service .' (p. 168)
Points to Note:
1. Our relationship with Jesus is to even transform our work habits. A lazy man, or a poor worker, is also a man who is sinning against the Lord.
2. God isn't trying to make life harder for the slave. Rather, God is giving the slave a perspective that will make the slave's work, even menial work, much more enjoyable and meaningful. Hendriksen notes, 'In spirit people cease to be slaves as soon as they being to work for the Lord...this was...the most helpful advice anyone could have given a slave' (p. 174)
3. We can impress people with the wisdom and practicality of the religion of Jesus Christ, by working hard, by being a good worker ( Tit_2:9 ). 'The master would begin to think, "If the Christian religion does this for slaves, it must be wonderful."' (Hendriksen p. 174)
Col_3:24 knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ.
'KNOWING' -The right perspective can make all the difference in the world and in eternity.
'FROM THE LORD' -The Master who can punish or reward with eternal consequences ( Mat_10:28 ).
'RECOMPENSE OF THE INHERITANCE' -'the inheritance which is your due' (Mof). The recompense which consists of an inheritance ( 1Pe_1:4 ).
Points to Note:
1. 'Even though from his earthly master the slave may receive far less than he should, yet from his heavenly Lord he will receive the full amount...' (Hendriksen p. 174) This is why the slave isn't told to rebel, go on strike, flee, runaway, seek refuge, etc....God realizes that all earthly wrongs cannot be righted in an earthly fashion, i.e. rebellion causes another set of problems, the abused often become the abusers. The oppressed often become worse tyrants that those who oppressed them. The slave isn't to worry or fret concerning his pay, God will repay the faithful slave--far more than he has ever earned.
2. The word "inheritance" suggests that the slave, is a son, a child of God. While slaves had no legal earthly right of inheritance--God has His own inheritance stored up for them.
3. This should remind us, that there are certain things which may never happen here. Life here may not turn out the way in which we had hoped. But dashed dreams are not an excuse for unfaithfulness. Because our greatest hope can never be dashed by anyone outside of ourselves, i.e. our hope of eternal life.
'YE SERVE THE LORD CHRIST' -Something we all need to be constantly reminded of. Then, let them always live and work "under His eye". Let them then offer the work that He approves of.
Col_3:25 For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
Points to Note:
1. Precisely 'who' the above warning is directed at (in the context), is a matter of debate among commentators: (a) Is it a warning directed at lazy or rebellious slaves? (b) Does it introduce the instruction to masters? (c) Or it is a transition verse, which is directed at both parties? In the final analysis, it applies to both slaves and masters. In addition, it also applies to all the groups mentioned previously.
2. The verse reminds slaves: (1) God isn't inherently on the side of the oppressed (which is the contention of some Catholic theologians). God will punish the lazy slave. God doesn't buy the argument that human suffering, or a hard lot in life exempt one from the danger of going to hell. (2) It reminds the slave to stop worrying about what the master is or isn't doing--God will deal with him. (3) It should remind the slave that suffering isn't an excuse to do wrong, i.e. poor wages can never be used as a justification to steal from the master or vandalize his property. Wrongdoing is never excused by the circumstances. God doesn't believe in a situational ethic. 'as a warning to the Christian slave not to presume on his Christianity, so as to think that God will overlook his misdeeds or idleness.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 543)
Carefully note that this section also tells us that Paul is making it clear that God doesn't approve of what Onesimus initially did, i.e. runaway from his master. The rule is universal, it applies to every slave and every master. God is impartial ( Lev_19:15 ; Mal_2:9 ; Act_10:34 ).
O'Brien writes, 'They (slaves) must not suppose that wicked actions have no significance before God because they are slaves or that indulgence would be granted because of extenuating circumstances' (p. 231)
3. The verse reminds the master: (1) Social status, wealth, etc...doesn't impress God. (2) God cannot be bribed or bought off ( Rom_2:11 ). (3) Wrongdoing committed by "successful people", is just as wrong as that committed by those in the depth of poverty. All the "good" that a person has done for the community--can't be used to downplay the sins that they have committed.
Two questions are usually asked in reference to this section on the duties of Christian slaves:
1. Do such commands apply equally in different economic situations, i.e. an employee/employer relationship. In response, we must say yes: (a) If the Christian in the most difficult or the lowest possible social and economic position must adhere to these commands, then certainly Christians in any other economic arrangement are obligated also. If the hardest situation demands the maintaining of such a high moral standard, then all lesser situations demand the same thing. In addition, in the Ephesian letter, the statement is made that the Lord will repay both slave and free for what they have done ( Eph_6:8 ). Paul includes the freedman, what we call the employee, as being amendable to these commands.
2. Why didn't God just condemn slavery? (a) That is a very shallow perspective. For men have replaced slavery by social/economic systems that are just as cruel at times-i.e. communism, the sweat-shops that existed in this country--that still exist in many parts of the world. And I'm not impressed by the "enlightened" people who complain that the Bible doesn't condemn slavery--who at the same time are employing illegal aliens. (b) Slavery was never the real problem. In the Bible we find a number of instances where a slave-master relationship was a very good thing ( Exo_21:5 ). And the slave's biggest problem wasn't his "condition", rather it was the attitude of his heart. You see, God never promises absolute freedom to anyone. The slave who gained his freedom, was still a "slave" to God ( 1Co_7:22 ).
3. These verses reveal that the "circumstances" can never be blamed for the cause of our present unhappiness. God believed that a slave could be happy, fulfilled and content, even in the condition of slavery.
4. Too many people are under the impression that they would be happier, more productive, spiritually stronger, etc.... just if the circumstances were a bit different. That is a myth.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Colossians 3". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent