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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Colossians 3

Verse 1

Colossians 3:1 . τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖτε , seek the things that are above ) Christ, after the resurrection, immediately directed His eager thoughts towards heaven, John 20:17 , note. [20] So also believers, Ephesians 2:6 .

[20] Comp. note, Luke 9:51 . Jesus ever kept His eye fixed on the goal to which He was hastening. So, in John 20:17 , He says, as if a present thing, I ascend , not, I will ascend: He hastened in feeling over the intermediate forty days to His actual entering heaven. ED.

Verse 2

Colossians 3:2 . Φρονεῖτε , Have a relish for, set your mind , or affections ) They who truly seek the things that are above , cannot but relish or set their affections on the things that are above . The apostle says, relish in the second place, not seek; for there is an anti-thesis to earthly things ( τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ), which we are said to relish or set our affections upon, to care for , but which we could not properly be said to seek , because they are present with us.

Verse 3

Colossians 3:3 . Ἀπεθάνετε , ye are dead ) to the earth and to the world, spiritually, ch. Colossians 2:20 . ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν κέκρυπται , your life is hid ) An abbreviated expression in this sense: ye are dead to the world, that ye may live to God; but that life is as yet hid . κέκρυπται σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ , is hid with Christ ) The world knows neither Christ nor Christians, and Christians do not even know distinctly themselves, i.e. one another.

Verse 4

Colossians 3:4 . Ὅταν , when ) This word, used absolutely, strikes (flashes upon) the whole mind of the reader, as if he had been unmindful of the preceding words, with a sudden light, so that it is doubtful whether and or but should be supplied. φανερωθῇ , shall be manifested ) in glory , 1 Peter 4:13 . ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν , your life ) This expresses the aspect (in relation to you), under which He will be manifested. τότε , then ) We should not demand it sooner. καὶ ὑαεῖς , ye also ) This hope draws men off from the earth. ἐν δόξῃ , in glory ) a glorious life.

Verse 5

Colossians 3:5 . Νεκρώσατε , Mortify [21] ) [ not knowing to spare . [22] V. g.] τὰ αέλη , your members ) of which united the body of sin consists, ch. Colossians 2:11 . [ Here all impurity, without exception, is repelled and excluded . V. g.] ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς , upon the earth ) where they find their support. These things are presently enumerated. πορνείαν , κ . τ . λ ., fornication , etc.) Ephesians 5:3-4 . πάθος , passion [ inordinate affection ]) the disorder of lust within. ἐπιθυμίαν , concupiscence ) the disorder of the external senses. τὴν πλεονεξίαν , covetousness ) The article has the effect of Epitasis [an emphatic addition], and includes the whole genus of vice, which is different from the genus of the species just now enumerated. Avarice most of all makes men cling to the earth.

[21] Lit. Punish with every kind of death .

[22] Strangers to all tender-heartedness, such as would lead you to spare the flesh. ED.

Verse 6

Colossians 3:6 . Διʼ ἅ , for which things ) Ephesians 5:6 .

Verse 7

Colossians 3:7 . Ἐζῆτε , in which ye lived ) as if in your essential first principle, origin, [ i.e. these sins were the very air which you breathed from your birth, they were your] native element. Comp. Galatians 5:25 , on the spiritual life.

Verse 8

Colossians 3:8 . Καὶ ὑμεῖς , ye also ) This answers to the ye also , Colossians 3:7 . In Col 3:7 it was, ye also , as well as the other “children of unbelief” (‘disobedience’). In Col 3:8 it is, ye also , as well as other believers. τὰπάντα ) all old things, especially anger , etc. So in the antithesis, above all , Colossians 3:14 . ὀργὴν , θυμὸν , anger, harshness or cruelty [Beng. translates θύμον , sœvitia , Engl. Vers., wrath ]) Ephesians 4:31 [where also θυμον is sœvitia , harshness]. κακίαν ) faults connected with the mind [ evil-disposition ]; for example, suspicion, perversity, impatience [Engl. Vers. renders it malice ]. βλασφημίαν , αἰσχρολογίαν , blasphemy, filthy communication ) The words, Out of your mouth , have respect to these two.

Verse 9

Colossians 3:9 . Μὴ ψεύδεσθε , Lie not ) Ephesians 4:25 . εἰς ) to , or against . See History of Susanna, 3:55, 59, ἐψεύσω εἰς τὴν σεαυτοῦ κεφαλήν , thou hast lied against thy own head . ἀπεκδυσάμενοι , having put off ) Ephesians 4:22 .

Verse 10

Colossians 3:10 . Τὸν νέον τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον , the new man renewed ) lb., Colossians 3:24 , note. εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν , to [or in ] knowledge ) of the truth (ch. Colossians 1:6 ; Col 1:9-10 ), by which all love of lying is destroyed. κατʼ εἰκόνα , according to the image ) This image consists in perfect truth. τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτον , of Him that created him [viz. the new man ]) i.e. of God, Ephesians 4:24 : compare ib., ch. Colossians 2:10 . Regeneration is indicated by the word ‘creation,’ from which the image results.

Verse 11

Colossians 3:11 . Ὅπου ) where , i.e. in whom , or in which thing . οὐκ ἔνι , there is not present ) In the estimation of God and of believers there is present neither Jew, etc. Ἕλλην καὶ Ἰουδαῖος , Greek and Jew ) The concrete for the abstract, as afterwards also Christ is used: for circumcision and uncircumcision , which occur presently, are abstract nouns. ἀκροβυστία , uncircumcision ) Even the Greek might have been circumcised. Therefore the mention of uncircumcision renders the expression more distinct. Βάρβαρος , Σκύθης , Barbarian, Scythian ) These two words, put by Asyndeton without a conjunction, make equally a pair ( συζυγίαν ) as bond, free . The Greeks were on the west, the Jews on the east; the Barbarians on the south (for Scaliger shows that the term Barbarians is an Arabic word properly applied to the Numidians), the Scythians on the north, more barbarous than the barbarians (properly so-called). And with this impression Anacharsis, as Galen relates, was reproached by, I know not whom, ὅτι βάρβαρος εἴη καὶ Σκὐθης , that he was a barbarian, and [what is tantamount to] barbarous, a Scythian . Every nation, as it prefers some one other nation to itself, so again, under whatever pretext, prefers itself to all the rest. Therefore the Barbarian, as occupying the middle place between the Greeks and Scythians, gave the palm to the Greek, but at the same time considered himself superior to the Scythian. Faith takes away this distinction. Perhaps at Colosse there were one or two Scythian Christians. τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσι Χριστὸς , Christ is all and in all ) The apposition is Χριστὸς ( ὤν ) τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσι . A Scythian is not a Scythian, but Christ’s. A barbarian is not a barbarian, but Christ’s. Christ is all , and that too in all , who believe. The new creature is in Christ, Colossians 3:10 ; Galatians 6:15 .

Verse 12

Colossians 3:12 . Ἐκλεκτοὶ , elect ) This is equivalent to a substantive; its epithets are, holy and beloved . He calls them the elect of God , as Romans 8:33 . The order of the words admirably corresponds to the order of the things [‘elect’ before ‘holy,’ and ‘holy’ before ‘beloved’]: eternal election precedes sanctification in time. The ‘sanctified’ feel the love of God, and then in consequence afterwards imitate it. σπλάγχνα , bowels ) Ephesians 4:32 . ταπεινοφροσύνην , humility of feeling, humbleness of mind ) ib. Colossians 4:2 [ ταπεινοφροσύνης , “with all lowliness”]. These virtues are kept in exercise by ‘forbearing’ and ‘forgiving.’ [See next ver.]

Verse 13

Colossians 3:13 . Ἀυεχόμενοι , forbearing ) in regard to present offences. χαριζόμενοι , forgiving ) past offences. On these depends the clause, so also ye [ i.e. the ὑμεῖς is construed with ἀνεχόμενοι ]. ὁ Χριστὸς , Christ ) who had the greatest cause of complaint against us.

Verse 14

Colossians 3:14 . Ἐπὶ , above ) Here the climax reaches its highest point; love, superior to all things, 1 Peter 4:8 . τὴν ἀγάπην , love ) viz. put on . σύνδεσμος , the bond ) Love comprehends the whole range of the virtues (graces), 2 Peter 1:7 . τελειότητος , of perfection ) תם , τελειότης , Judges 9:16 ; Proverbs 11:3 . He who has love, wants nothing: he is not kept bound by the elements of the world. Particular duties are also derived from this source, Colossians 3:19 ; Colossians 3:21 .

Verse 15

Colossians 3:15 . Καὶ ) and , so. The connection may be inferred from Ephesians 4:3 . [23] ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Θεοῦ , the peace of God ) Philippians 4:7 . βραβευέτω ) a remarkable word. Hesychius has, βραβευέτω , μεσιτευέτω , μηνυσάτω , ἰθυνέσθω , Wis 10:12 : Wisdom [ gave Jacob the victory , Eng Vers.] was the guide and director of Jacob in a sore conflict: therefore βραβεὐειν , is to regulate or direct a person running, until he reaches the goal. Keep in safety ( φρουρήσει ), Philippians 4:7 , is nearly akin to it. Give yourselves up to the peace of God, that directs and regulates all things . An imperative after an imperative involves the signification of a future indicative. [24] Antithetical to βραβεύειν here, is καταβραβεύειν , ch. Colossians 2:18 (where see the note), having in it the notion of excess. ἐκλήθητε , you have been called ) Ephesians 4:4 . εὐχάριστοι , thankful ) for that calling. This stands as a statement of subject (Propositio) in relation to what follows. The same duty is commanded, Ephesians 5:4 .

[23] Where “forbearing one another in love ” is followed by “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ,” as the consequence. ED.

[24] “Put on charity, and let the peace of God regulate:” equivalent to, “put on charity, and then the peace of God shall regulate ” or, be the regulator . ED.

Verse 16

Colossians 3:16 . Ὁ λόγος , the word ) by which ye have been called. ἐνοικείτω , have its indwelling in you) as in a temple, for ever. ἐν ὑμῖν , in you ) in your inner man; comp. full , Romans 15:14 . πλουσίως , richly ) The distribution follows: in all wisdom [25] one another [ ἑαυτοὺς , admonishing yourselves ]: with grace in [26] your heart, i.e. mutually and apart. In wisdom, with grace , occur again, ch. Colossians 4:5-6 . ἐν πάσσοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες , teaching in all wisdom ) So it must be construed, comp. ch. Colossians 1:28 . The nominative, by Syllepsis, [27] depends on ἐνοικείτω , “ let the peace dwell in you,” i.e. have ye it dwelling in you [and therefore διδάσκοντες , agreeing with ὑμεῖς , is put]; and this construction is the more suitable on this account, that γίνεσθε , be ye , which occurs a little before, has possession of the reader’s mind. ἑαυτοὺς , yourselves ) ἀλλήλους , one another . There are parallel expressions at Colossians 3:13 . ψαλμαῖς , in Psalms ) Ephesians 5:19 . ἐν χάριτι , with grace ) χάρις , חן , Psalms 45:3 .

[25] Engl. Vers. loses this ‘distribution’ of the rich indwelling of the word of Christ, by putting a semicolon after wisdom , “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;” Lachm. rightly puts ( ὁ λογος τοῦ Χριστου ἐνοικίτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως ) in a parenthesis, and thus ἐν πάσσοφίᾳ διδασκουτες , etc., is joined with the previous ἐυχάριοτοι γινεσθε . ED.

[26] The 2d Ed. prefers, and the Germ. Vers. distinctly expresses the plural, ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις , which is not approved in the margin of the older Ed. E. B.

[27] Where the concord of the parts of speech is regulated not by strict syntax, but by the meaning in the mind, as here, ἐν ὑμῖν διδάσκοντες , for διδάσκουσιν . But Lachmann’s punctuation makes this needless. See my note above. ED.

ABCD( Δ )G fg Vulg. read ταῖς καρδίαις . So Lachm. Tisch., without any of the oldest authorities, reads as Rec. Text, τῇ καρδίᾳ . ED.

Verse 17

Colossians 3:17 . Ποιῆτε , ye do ) The word is used in a wide sense, so as also to include the act of speaking . πάντα , all things ) viz. do ye. ἐν ὀνόματι , in the name ) so that it may be just the same as if Christ were doing it, Colossians 3:11 ; or at least that you may be able to prove all things to Christ [to do all things so as to gain His approval]. The man who can say, O Jesus Christ, I have done this in Thy name , certainly proves his conduct to Christ. In the name of Christ, i.e. for the sake of Christ: comp. the following verses. διʼ αὐτοῦ , by Him ) not by angels . Theodoritus.

Verses 18-25

Col 3:18 to Colossians 4:1 . Αἱ γυναῖκες , κ . τ . λ ., wives , etc.) Eph 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9 . ἐν Κυρίῳ , in the Lord ) These words are construed with ὑποτάσσεσθε , submit yourselves; comp. Ephesians 6:1 : or else with ὡς ἀνῆκεν , as it is fit; comp. in this view Colossians 3:20 , unless ὑπακούετε , obey , Colossians 3:20 , be there likewise construed with ἐν Κυρίῳ . It may be construed either way.

Verse 19

Colossians 3:19 . Μὴ πικραἰνεσθε , be not bitter ) Πικρία , hateful conduct (offensive behaviour) mixed with love. Many, who are polite to all abroad, notwithstanding without scruple treat their wives and children at home with covert bitterness, because they do not fear them; and when this feeling is vanquished, it affords a specimen of great softening of natural ruggedness of temper.

Verse 21

Colossians 3:21 . [28] Ἵνα μὴ ἀθυμῶσιν , lest they be discouraged ) ἀθυμία , despondency (a broken-down spirit), the bane of youth.

[28] οἱ πατέρες , the fathers ) The husband is the head of the wife; wherefore power is principally attributed to the fathers . V. g.

Verse 22

Colossians 3:22 . Θεὸν , God ) who knows the heart .

Verse 23

Colossians 3:23 . Ὄτι ἐὰν ποιῆτε , whatsoever ye do ) in your service. ὁ ἐάν τι , Ephesians 6:8 .

Verse 24

Colossians 3:24 . Τῆς κληρονομίας , of the inheritance ) Although you have no inheritance in the world, but are part of an inheritance passing from your Master to His children. Χριστῷ , Christ ) who rewards them that serve Him. δουλεύετε , ye serve ) while you thus serve.

Verse 25

Colossians 3:25 . Ἀδικῶν , he that doeth wrong ) In actual deed and from the heart. οὐκ ἔστι προσωποληψία , there is no respect of persons ) Men of low rank and poor circumstances often think that they should be spared on account of their humble condition. That is denied.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Colossians 3". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.