Colossians 3:1. : “if then [as is the case] you were raised together with Christ”. It is not their resurrection when Christ rose of which he speaks, but their personal resurrection with Him at the time of their conversion and baptism. This is the counterpart to death with Him, and as that breaks off the old relations, so this initiates them into the new. They must now work out to its consequences that which they then received in union with Christ. Alford denies that there is any ethical element in this resurrection, on the ground that if there were there would be no need to exhort to ethical realisation. But this is to misunderstand Paul’s idealistic language. Resurrection implies that the death has already taken place, and the death is ethical.— . The reference is not, as Meyer characteristically makes it, eschatological. It is present fellowship with the exalted Lord, a life in heaven, of which he speaks. The true explanation is suggested by Ephesians 2:6, (cf. ). Those who have risen with Christ must realise ascension with Him.— , : “where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God”. Two statements are made: Christ is in the region of the things above, and He is seated at the right hand of God. These facts supply the motive for . . 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.
Colossians 3:1-17. RESURRECTION WITH CHRIST MUST BE COMPLETED BY PARTICIPATION IN HIS HEAVENLY LIFE, WHICH THOUGH AT PRESENT CONCEALED, WILL NOT ALWAYS REMAIN SO. THIS LIFE WITH CHRIST IN HEAVEN DEMANDS THE DEATH OF THE MEMBERS ON THE EARTH, THE HEATHEN VICES OF IMPURITY AND COVETOUSNESS, WHICH BRING DOWN THE WRATH OF GOD. ALL SINS OF MALICE, ANGER AND ABUSE AND ALL LYING MUST BE GIVEN UP, FOR THESE BELONG TO THE OLD NATURE, AND ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE NEW, WITH ITS EVER-GROWING CONFORMITY TO THE DIVINE IMAGE, AND THE CANCELLING OF ALL THOSE DISTINCTIONS WHICH MAKE MEN ALIENS TO EACH OTHER.—With Colossians 3:1 Paul passes to the hortatory portion of the Epistle, the attack on the false teachers ending with Colossians 2:23, and there is no break between Colossians 3:1-4 and Colossians 3:5. The ethical exhortation has its basis in the dogmatic exposition already given, and is therefore connected with it by .
Colossians 3:2. . “Set your mind on the things above.” . is wider in its sense than . It embraces, as Meyer says, “the whole practical bent of thought and disposition”.— . “The things on the earth” are not in themselves sinful, but become so if sought and thought on in preference to the things above (cf.Matthew 6:19-21). There seems to be no reference to the false teachers here.
Colossians 3:3. : “for ye died,” that is to their old life, at the time of their conversion. It gives the reason for Colossians 3:2. The exhortation is justified because they have died with Christ.— ’ . This risen life ( not ) which they now enjoy through union with Christ is concealed with Him in God. By the fact that it is hidden is not meant that it is secure (Kl), for the contrast to . is . (Colossians 3:4), but that it belongs to the invisible and eternal, to which Christ belongs; perhaps not precisely “shrouded in the depths of inward experiences and the mystery of its union with the life of Christ” (Ell.). asserts Christ’s own union with God, and emphasises our union with God in Him. Meyer thinks is the “eternal life,” now hidden, but to be manifested at the second coming (Colossians 3:4). But this does not suit so well the language of the verse. Our life in God is opposed to life in the world (Colossians 2:20). The transition from the aorist to the perfect is to be noticed.
Colossians 3:4. This life is not always to remain hidden, it will be manifested at the second coming. And that not merely in union with Christ, for it is Christ Himself who is our Life. This is not to be toned down to mean that Christ is the possessor and giver of eternal life. Paul means quite literally what he says, that Christ is Himself the essence of the Christian life (cf.Philippians 1:21, , also Galatians 2:20). His manifestation therefore includes that of those who are one with Him. And this can only be a manifestation in glory (cf.Romans 8:17).
Colossians 3:5. Partially parallel to Ephesians 5:3-5.— . “Put to death, therefore” (cf.Romans 8:13). The aorist implies a single decisive act. Perhaps . is chosen as a weaker word than (Cremer, Haupt), implying the cessation of functions during life, is interesting. It seems strange that the assertions in the previous verses, of their death and resurrection with Christ and hidden life with Him in God, should be followed by the exhortation to put their members to death. Clearly these assertions are idealistic. The death and resurrection potentially theirs are to be realised in the putting to death of their members,— . The members are referred to in so far as they are the instruments of the , and are included in the “things on the earth,” with which the Christian has no more concern (Colossians 3:2). Lightfoot places a stop at , and regards . . . as governed by (Colossians 3:8). He thinks Paul intended to make these accusatives directly dependent on ., but, owing to the intervening clauses, changed the form of the sentence. It is true that the apposition of and the list of sins that follows is strange, but not so strange as to make this very forced construction preferable. We should have expected . at the beginning of the sentence.— : “and covetousness,” not “impurity”. It comes fitly here, for gold provided the means for indulging these lustful passions. For the noun with the article at the end of a series without it, see Winer-Moulton,9 p. 145.— : “inasmuch as it is idolatry”. refers simply to ., not to the whole series of vices enumerated, nor to , by attraction for . The lust for wealth sets riches in the place of God (cf.Matthew 6:24).
Colossians 3:6. Parallel to Ephesians 5:6, from which has been added in most MSS. The sentence is abrupt without them, and Colossians 3:7 is more easily explained if they are retained (as by Mey., Kl, Ol.), yet their omission in , combined with their presence in the parallel Ephesians 5:6, is too strong to admit of their retention. The verse may refer to a general principle which acts in human life, or the reference may be eschatological. The latter seems to be more in accordance with Paul’s usage. is here the outward manifestation of the anger which God even now feels at sin.
 Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.
Colossians 3:7. : in which vices. If . . . be retained, the probable translation is “in whom”. Lightfoot thinks in any case the reference to the vices is to be preferred, the chief reason being that Paul could not blame his readers for living among the Gentiles. But, as Meyer points out, . implies participation in conduct.— : you as well as those who still practise these vices.— : a Hebraistic metaphor expressing moral conduct.— : “ye were living in them,” i.e., in these vices. The reference is to their pre-Christian state, in which sin was the atmosphere of their lives. The change of tense should be noticed.
Colossians 3:8. Colossians 3:8-10 are largely parallel to Ephesians 4:22-25; Ephesians 4:31.— : “but now,” emphatic contrast to , now that you have passed from that life of sinful conduct, see that you strip yourselves of these vices.— : “do ye also put away all of them”.— . .: obviously not you as well as the Ephesians (Holtzm.), but you as well as other Christians. It is not clear whether . refers exclusively to the preceding sins, to which then . . . . forms a loose apposition, or whether it includes the latter also. It seems less harsh to give the injunction a forward as well as a backward reference.— , : usually the former is regarded as the settled anger, of which the latter is the sudden and passionate outburst. Cremer, however, followed by Haupt, regards . as the inner emotion, of which . is the external expression. . is certainly used of the external manifestation of wrath in Colossians 3:6.— : “malignity,” the feeling which prompts a man to injure his neighbour.— : as the other sins are against men, so this, “slander” not “blasphemy”.— . The word may mean “filthy speech” or “abusive speech”. Here the context decides for the latter. Lightfoot, combining both senses, translates “foulmouthed abuse,” but such combinations are generally to be distrusted.— : probably this should be connected both with . and . Whether it is dependent on ., “banish from your mouth” (Mey., Ol., Abb.), is more doubtful, since the interpolation of sins which are not sins of speech makes such a connexion awkward. Probably, then, the meaning is “proceeding out of your mouth”. . is emphatic, and recalls the readers to their Christian profession.
Colossians 3:9. : “lie not to one another”. The imperative changes its tense from aorist to present, the exhortation to the decisive act being followed by a rule for their daily life. expresses the direction of the utterance. It should not be translated “against” (Kl, Fr.).— ’ . These participles may be translated as part of the exhortation, “lie not one to another putting off ’ and putting on,” in other words, “put off ’ and put on ’ and lie not”. Or they may give a reason for the exhortation, “lie not, seeing ye have put off ’ and put on”. In favour of the former is the addition . . ., for if the practices had been put off at conversion the warning might seem superfluous. . (pres.) also points to a continuous process. Either view harmonises with Paul’s theology, for he speaks of death to the old and life to the new either as ideally complete in the moment of conversion or as realised gradually in actual experience. But the latter, which is taken by most commentators, is preferable; for the reference is much wider than in the foregoing words. They refer only to the discarding of vices. Paul now emphasises the positive side also, the putting on the new as well as casting off the old.— : i.e., the old non-Christian self (cf.Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22).— : “practices,” such as those already enumerated.
Colossians 3:10. . In Ephesians 4:24 we have , “fresh” (as opposed to “worn out”); is new as opposed to old. The idea contained in . is here expressed by . Some (including Sod.) regard “the new man” as Christ, according to which “the old man” will be Adam. But this is negatived by the next verse, for if the new man is Christ, would be a strange tautology. . is also against it, though we have ., Galatians 4:19. It is the regenerate self, regenerate, of course, because united with Christ.— : “being renewed,” the present expressing the continuous process of renewal (cf.2 Corinthians 4:16). There is no reference to a restoration to a former state.— : not to be connected (as by Mey. and Hofm.) with , which would give a strange and obscure thought, but to be taken as the object of the renewal. The knowledge is ethical rather than theoretical in this connexion.— : to be taken with . There is a clear allusion to Genesis 1:26-28, the new self grows to be more and more the image of God. There may perhaps be a side reference to “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” in .— : i.e., God, not (as Chrys. and others) Christ. Some take . . . . to mean “according to Christ”. It is true that Christ is the image of God, but the parallel , in Ephesians 4:24, makes this improbable, and we should have expected the article before .
Colossians 3:11. Cf.Galatians 3:28. He has been speaking of sins inconsistent with brotherly love, anger and falsehood. Such sins are incompatible with Christianity, which has abolished even those deep distinctions that divided mankind into hostile camps. In the splendid sweep of the great principle, which has cancelled the most radical differences of nationality, ceremonial status, culture and social position, all minor causes of strife are necessarily included. The solvent of national, racial and even religious hate cannot be powerless before the petty strifes of a Christian church.— : “where there cannot be”, . seems to refer to “the new man,” not to “knowledge” or “the image”. In the new man created by God all these distinctions vanish. seems not to be for , as used to be said, but, as Buttmann maintained, a form of . Winer-Schmiedel says “ is the older form of , and has the significance of ”.— . . . The first two pairs contain opposites, in race and then in religion. For the third pair Paul cannot employ an antithesis, since ., the contrast to ., has already been used in the sense of Gentile. He therefore adds to barbarian the Scythian as the extreme example—Scythae barbaris barbariores (Beng.)—but reverts to the method of opposition in the last pair. The order . . . is unusual, and perhaps due to the fact that he is writing to Gentiles, but in Galatians 3:28 he is writing to Gentiles too. The usual order is resumed in . . . In . . he may have a reference to Philemon and Onesimus, but the terms occur also in the Galatian list.— . This expresses the thought that Christ is all, and that He is in all the relations of life; is neuter, and . is placed at the end for emphasis. Since He is all, and all things are one in Him, He is the principle of unity, through whom all the distinctions that mar the oneness of mankind are done away.
Colossians 3:12. This verse and Colossians 3:13 are parallel to Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:32. The ethical consequences of having put on the new man are now drawn out in detail.— : not since Christ has become all and in all to you (Lightf.), but since you have put on the new man.— : i.e., as conformity to your position as God’s elect demands. The election is God’s choice of them in Christ before creation (Ephesians 1:4).— qualify ., and are not vocatives. . means, as elsewhere in N.T., beloved of God; he is speaking of their position as Christians.— : “a heart of compassion,” the . being regarded as the seat of emotion.— : almost “sweetness of disposition”. It is opposed to “severity” (of God) in Romans 11:22.— , : both virtues towards fellow-men, and quite different from . in Colossians 2:18. Neither has reference to man’s relation to God. Each is a specifically Christian virtue.
Colossians 3:13. : “forgiving yourselves,” but while the variation from . is probably intentional, the practical difference is very slight. The thought that Christians are members one of another may underlie the choice of expression (cf.1 Peter 4:8). It may be chosen to correspond to .— may have reference to the case of Philemon and Onesimus.— : whether this or be read the reference is to Christ. In the parallel Ephesians 4:32 we have “God in Christ,” which is Paul’s usual way of putting it. But that is no reason for referring . to God, for Jesus when on earth forgave sins. The forgiveness they have received is used to enforce the duty of forgiving others. The best illustration is the parable in Matthew 18:23-25.
Colossians 3:14. : probably “over all these,” carrying on the metaphor of clothing, not “in addition to all”. These virtues are manifestations of love, but may be conceivably exhibited where love is absent, so that the mention of it is not superfluous.— : probably “that is,” though for criticism of Lightfoot’s examples see Abbott. The relative cannot mean . ., for love itself is the .— . Generally . is explained as that which binds together all the virtues. The genitive is variously interpreted. It has been taken as genitive of the object, but the objection (Luther, Ol., Haupt) that the bond binds the virtues into a unity but does not bind together the unity itself is forcible. It has also been taken as a genitive of quality, “the perfect bond,” which Paul would have said if he had meant it. Ellicott regards it as a subjective genitive, the bond possessed by perfectness; but this seems unlikely. Again, it is explained as the bond which produces perfection in these virtues (Ol.), or as the bond which binds these virtues together and so produces Christian perfection (Sod). If, however, we do not take . as an objective genitive, there is no ground for assuming that the bond is that which binds the virtues together. The function of love as a bond is to bind Christians together, and Haupt explains the word in this way. The genitive he regards as one of apposition, the bond in which perfection consists. When love binds all Christians together, the ideal of Christian perfection is attained. This gives a natural and appropriate sense, and is probably right. The view that . is the sum total gives a sense to the word which it does not bear; nor does it suit the context.
Colossians 3:15. : “the peace which Christ gives”. It might be the peace between the members of the Church bestowed by Christ (Calv., Ol., Sod.). This suits the preceding, but not the following words so well, especially, perhaps, . .— : “rule” (cf.Colossians 2:18). The word has lost its old sense “to act as umpire,” and there is no reference to a contest or a prize. The meaning is: in deciding on any course of action, let that be chosen which does not ruffle the peace within you.— : i.e., to the enjoyment of which ye were called.— : “so that ye are in one body,” result rather than aim being expressed. Disunion in the body is incompatible with the peace of individual members.— : “and become thankful,” i.e., to God for calling you, or more probably for the peace in your hearts, which is the main thought. . might mean “gracious” (a rare sense), but this would not be weighty enough to end these exhortations.
Colossians 3:16. : probably, as usually explained, “the Gospel,” so called because He proclaimed it and speaks it through His messengers. Lightfoot interprets it as “the presence of Christ in the heart as an inward monitor”. The phrase occurs only here, but cf.1 Thessalonians 1:8, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.— : according to Pauline usage must mean within you, and probably not collectively (Mey., Alf., Abb.) “in you as a Church,” but individually.— : to be taken with the following words (Beng., Mey., Alf., Ell., Ol., Haupt, Abb.), since . is sufficiently qualified by , and . suits . much better than . The balance is better preserved, as . . is then parallel to . Lightfoot meets the last point by taking . with ., but even if this were probable the other arguments are decisive for the connexion with the following words.— : cf.Colossians 1:28. Lightfoot regards the participles as used for imperatives, which Ellicott thinks impossible. There is a slight, but quite intelligible, anacoluthon here.— , as in Colossians 3:13.— , , : to be connected with . . ., not with (Hofm., Kl, Weiss), with which the accusative should have been used. The precise distinctions intended are not certain, and perhaps they should not be sharply drawn. The meaning is, whatever kind of song it may be, let it be made the vehicle of religious instruction and admonition. . may be restricted to the Old Testament Psalms, but this is improbable, . are songs of praise to God. . has a wider sense, and was used of any class of song. Hence . is added to it, and not to the others, for . is used exclusively and . usually in a religious sense. The word of Christ is to dwell in them so richly that it finds spontaneous expression in religious song in the Christian assemblies or the home.— . Not with sweetness or acceptableness (Colossians 4:6), which does not suit . or the emphatic position. It may be “by the help of Divine grace,” but more probably the meaning is “with thankfulness” (De W., Sod., Haupt, Abb.), on account of the reference to thankfulness in Colossians 3:15; Colossians 3:17. Thankfulness finds expression in song.— . The reference is to the inner song of praise, which is to be the counterpart of the audible singing. What is meant is probably not singing from the heart, though cf.Matthew 22:37.
Colossians 3:16-17. Partially parallel to Ephesians 5:19-20.
Colossians 3:17. ’ : a nominative absolute.— is governed by (not , as Sod.), supplied from .— . This is not something additional to actions done in the name of Christ; but these actions are themselves expressions of thankfulness.
Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1. ENFORCEMENT OF THE RECIPROCAL DUTIES OF WIVES AND HUSBANDS, CHILDREN AND PARENTS, SLAVES AND MASTERS, WITH FREQUENT REFERENCE TO THESE DUTIES AS INVOLVED IN THEIR DUTY TO CHRIST.—In this section the reference to the subject precedes that to the ruling parties, and the duty of obedience is emphasised to prevent false inferences from the doctrine that natural distinctions are done away in Christ. Holtzmann, Oltramare and Weiss think these precepts are added in protest against the false teachers’ asceticism. The fact that we have similar, and fuller, injunctions in Ephesians tells against this. Ephesians 5:22sq. and 1 Peter 3:6 may be compared.
Colossians 3:18. has been taken as a perfect in sense of present (Luther, Bleek, Ol.), a view said by Winer to be “as unnecessary as it is grammatically inadmissible” (Winer-Moulton,9 p. 338). Usually it is taken as an imperfect, “as was fitting,” and is thought (but this is very dubious) to imply a reproach. Probably . is to be joined to it, not to . (cf.Colossians 3:20).
Colossians 3:19. : i.e., do not be harsh or irritable. Bengel defines as “odium amori mixtum,” which is acute, but “odium” is too strong.
Colossians 3:20. is omitted in Ephesians 6:1.
Colossians 3:21. : i.e., irritate by exacting commands and perpetual faultfinding and interference for interference, sake. The consequence of such foolish exercise of authority is that the child becomes discouraged; in other words, his spirit is broken, and since what he does leads to constant blame, he loses hope of ever being able to please. “Fractus animus pestis juventutis” (Beng.).
Colossians 3:22. The case of slaves is treated at greater length than that of the other family relations, probably on account of Onesimus. But Paul was much possessed with the need for keeping Christianity free from the suspicion it naturally created of undermining the constitution of society. So while , is a distinction which has vanished for Christianity, in the interests of Christianity as a spiritual power social freedom had to be cheerfully foregone till the new religion was able to assert its principle with success. An instructive parallel is the exhortation to submission to constituted authority in Romans 13. In Paul’s time slaves probably made up the larger part of the population of the empire.— : opposed to their spiritual Lord.— : acts of eye-service (singular in Ephesians 6:6), i.e., service which is most zealous when the eye of the master or overseer is upon them. The word was perhaps coined by Paul.— . It is the Christian’s first duty to please the Lord, and this he can do only by conscientious performance of his tasks quite apart from the recognition he receives from men. If the principle of his conduct is the pleasing of men, he will neglect his duty where this motive cannot operate.— : “singleness of heart,” opposed to the double-dealing of eye-service.— : in significant contrast to the masters according to the flesh.
Colossians 3:23. Not only must the slave’s work be done in the fear of the Lord, but done as if it were actually for the Lord that he was doing it, and not for a mere human master. And this principle is to govern every detail of his varied service.— : heartily and with good will.— : their service, Paul would say, is not to be rendered at all ( not ) to their earthly master, but exclusively to Christ.
Colossians 3:24. However their earthly master may reward their service, there is a Master who will give them a just recompense; although they cannot receive an earthly, He will give them a heavenly inheritance.— : in Ephesians 6:8 . The absence of the article is noteworthy. It emphasises the position rather than identifies the Person of Him who gives the reward (cf. the anarthrous , Hebrews 1:1). Haupt thinks that there is no significance to be attached to its omission; but, as Lightfoot says, “it is studiously inserted in the context”.— : the “just recompense consisting in the inheritance”. . is a genitive of apposition.— . This may be taken as an indicative (Lightf., Findl., Moule, Haupt) or as an imperative (Mey., Ell., Alf., Abb.). The indicative is defended on the ground that it is needed to explain who is meant by (but this was surely obvious), and that the imperative seems to require . But Lightfoot himself quotes Romans 12:11, where is absent. On the other hand the indicative gives a somewhat flat sense, and the imperative seems to yield a better connexion with Colossians 3:25. It is best then to take it as an imperative.
Colossians 3:25. This verse provides the reason ( ) for . It is disputed whether . means the master who treats his slave unjustly, or the slave who by his idleness wrongs his master. To include both (Lightf., Findl., Ol.) is highly questionable, not only because a double reference is on principle to be avoided in exegesis, but because the connexion with . implies that one side of the relation only is being dealt with. It is commonly thought that the verse is an encouragement to the slave, based on the assurance that the master who ill treats him will receive his recompense in due course. In favour of this . is urged, since it implies that they are in a social position which might influence earthly courts, but cannot mitigate the judgment of God. But while a Christian writer could dissuade from vengeance by the thought that vengeance belonged to God alone, it is not credible that Paul should console the slave or encourage him in his duty by the thought that for every wrong he received his master would have to suffer. And, as Haupt says, we should have expected after and instead of . There is also a presumption in favour of an exhortation to the slave here. If it referred to the masters it would have come more naturally after Colossians 4:1. Nor does . necessarily imply that the wrongdoer is socially more highly placed. It equally well applies to favouritism that might be expected from God on the ground of religious position. So we should interpret the verse (with Weiss and Haupt) 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.
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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Colossians 3". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/
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