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

Bible Commentaries

Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible

Colossians 3

Verse 1

Col 3:1

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." Col 3:1

How many there are even of those who desire to fear God who are kept down by the world, and to whom it has not lost its attractive power; who are held fast, at least for a time, by worldly business, or entangled by worldly people or worldly engagements. Their partners in business or their partners in life; their carnal relatives or their worldly children; their numerous connections or their social habits; their strong passions or their deep-rooted prejudices, all bind and fetter them down to earth. There they grovel and lie amid, what Milton terms, "The smoke and stir of this dim spot which men call earth;" and so bound are they with the cords of their sins that they scarcely seek deliverance from them, or ever desire to rise beyond the mists and fogs of this dim spot into a purer air, so as to breathe a heavenly atmosphere, and rise up with Jesus from the grave of their corruptions. But if, as members of his mystical body, they are already risen with Christ, as it was not possible for the Head to be held by death when God loosed the pains thereof, {Ac 2:24} so neither shall they ever be buried in the grave of carnality and worldliness. They must rise spiritually if they rose mystically. If interested in the reality of Christ’s resurrection, they must know the power of Christ’s resurrection.

Verse 2

Col 3:2

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." — Col 3:2

Everything upon earth, as viewed by the eyes of the Majesty of heaven, is base and paltry. Earth is after all, nothing but a huge clod of dust, and as such, apart from its having been once the place of the Redeemer’s sufferings and sacrifice, being now the habitation of his suffering people, and to be hereafter the scene of his glory, as insignificant in the eyes of its Maker as the small dust of the balance, or the drop of the bucket.

What, then, are its highest objects, its loftiest aims, its grandest pursuits, its noblest employments, short of the grace of the gospel, in the sight of him who inhabits eternity, but base and worthless? No, even in our eyes is there not one consideration that when felt stamps vanity upon them all?—that all earth’s pursuits, whatever high accomplishments men may reach in this life, be it of wealth, rank, learning, power, or pleasure, end in death? The breath of God’s displeasure soon lays low in the grave all that is rich and mighty, high and proud; for "the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low" (Isa 2:12).

Thus that effectual work of grace on the heart, whereby the chosen vessels of mercy are delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, may well be termed a "high calling," for it calls them out of those low, groveling pursuits, those earthly toys, those base and sensual lusts in which the children of men seek at once their happiness and their ruin, unto the knowledge and enjoyment of those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.

"Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." Col 3:2

How are we to set our affections on things above? Can we do this great work of ourselves? No; it is only the Lord himself manifesting his beauty and blessedness to our soul, and letting down the golden cord of his love into our breast, that draws up our affections, and fixes them where he sits at God’s right hand. In order to do this, he captivates the heart by some look of love, some word of his grace, some sweet promise, or some divine truth spiritually applied. When he thus captivates the soul, and draws it up, then the affections flow unto him as the source and fountain of all blessings. We are not flogged into loving him, but drawn by love into love. Love cannot be bought or sold; it is an inward affection that flows naturally and necessarily towards its object and all connected with it; and thus, as love flows out to Jesus, the affections instinctively and necessarily set themselves "on things above, and not on things on the earth."

But what are these "things above?" They are all things stored up in Christ, that breathe of Christ, and come out of Christ. Pardon, peace, righteousness, love, "joy unspeakable and full of glory," with strength against sin, victory over death and hell; power against besetting lusts and temptations; in a word, every blessing with which God has blessed his people "in heavenly places in Christ;" these are the "things above," that the soul has to set its affections upon. But we must have some view by faith of the Person of Christ, the eternal Son of the eternal Father; he must be revealed to our soul by the power of God before we can see his beauty and blessedness, and so fall in love with him as "the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely." Then everything that speaks of Christ, savors of Christ, and breathes of Christ, becomes inexpressibly sweet and precious.

This is "the golden oil" that flows into the heart; this is the sweet-smelling myrrh which drops upon the handles of the lock; this is "the aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces;" this is "the love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown;" and by an experience of this the affections become set on things above.

And in no other way can they be lifted up from earth to heaven. We cannot control our affections; they will run out of their own accord. If then our affections be earthly, they will run towards the earth; if they be carnal and sensual, they will flow toward carnal and sensual objects. But when the Lord Jesus Christ, by some manifestation of his glory and blessedness, or the Holy Spirit, by taking of the things of Christ and revealing them to the soul, sets him before our eyes as the only object worthy of and claiming every affection of our heart, then the affections flow out, I was going to say naturally, but most certainly spiritually towards him; and when this is the case, the affections are set on things above.

Verse 3

Col 3:3

"Your life is hidden with Christ in God." Col 3:3

There is nothing so deep, nothing so hidden, as the life of God in the soul. It seems to be enshrined in the lowest depths of a man’s heart. It does not float upon the surface, like a cork upon the water, but sinks deep, very deep, into the very bottom of the soul. Therefore is it hidden from the eyes of a profane world; hidden from the professing world; and what is more, sometimes hidden from the subject of it himself. A child of God often cannot see his own faith, nor can he discern the life that is bubbling and streaming up in his own bosom. It is not a lake, spread abroad in the meridian sunshine to attract every eye; nor is it a brook that flows babbling on over the clear pebbles; but it is a well. "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life." Therefore it is hidden from view.

The best part of our religion is that which is least seen. The secret cries, groans, tears, confessions, supplications, and breathings after God do not for the most part come abroad; the despondency, heart sickness, trials, perplexities, and powerful temptations with which many a dear saint of God is exercised do not come to view. No; nor his fears, sinkings, guilt, misery, and self-condemnation. Yes, the best part of his religion is hidden from view, for the weightiest ever sinks the deepest. And as it is with the dealings of his soul with God, so it is with the dealings of God with his soul, making and keeping his conscience tender, reviving the fear of God, drawing the heart upward into prayer and meditation, watering his spirit and bedewing it with the secret dew and rain of his grace. Thus, the best part, because the spiritual part of a man’s religion, is hidden from the eyes of all, except as the fruits thereof are manifest.

Take your stand upon yon hill, and see that thread of verdure spreading itself through the barren plain. Whence comes that green strip which you see? Coming down to examine it, you find a little brooklet threading its way through the barren plain. It is this brooklet that, watering the roots of the grass, gives it that verdure; yet the brooklet itself is hidden until the eye is brought close to it. So it is with the life of God in the soul. We see the effects the verdure produced by the brooklet; but the brooklet itself, the life and grace of God in the innermost soul is hidden, "hidden with Christ in God."

And if not merely hidden, but hidden with Christ in God, what a sacred, what a holy, what a truly divine life it must be! If this be spiritual religion, that it dwells with Christ himself in the bosom of God, what a divine thing, what a heavenly possession! how full of eternal blessedness must the religion of a child of God be! It is locked up in two distinct places, yet united with each other by virtue of the humanity of Christ, and the faith that embraces it. If I may use the expression, one end is in the bosom of God, and the other in the believer’s breast! Compare man’s paltry, beggarly religion with this supernatural life of God in the soul, Christ himself formed in the heart the hope of glory. Words would fail to express the eternal distinction between them.

But the word "hidden" will carry another idea, out of reach, treasured up, therefore SAFE. What would have become long ago of the life of God in the soul, if it could have been robbed, trodden out, or lost? But this it never can be, for it is locked up in the Person of the Son of God. It is, therefore, out of the reach of Satan, sin, death, and hell; safe in Christ’s keeping, locked up in his eternal bosom. Were it otherwise, where should you and I long ago have been? Where would our religion have gone to, unless we had reason to believe that it had been kindled by the power of God, and was maintained by the same power which first gave it birth? This is the grand consolation of a child of God—to believe that he has the life of God in his soul; and to feel, day by day, that he who gave that life maintains it in firm and living exercise.

Verse 4

Col 3:4

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory." Col 3:4

If Christ be your life upon earth; if you have a living faith in his divine Majesty; if any drops of his love have ever bedewed your soul; if any sweet smile has ever comforted your heart, the Apostle would say to all such, "When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory." No longer pestered by sin and Satan, no longer carrying about a weak, infirm tabernacle, the seat of innumerable evils and maladies, but endued with a soul pure as he is pure, and a spiritual body capable of enjoying the bliss and blessedness of eternity, "then shall you appear," you suffering saints, who have set your affections on him whom you have not seen, and yet in whom you believe, "then shall you also appear with him in glory."

And is not this worth struggling for? Is not this a blessed goal at the end of the race? Is not this a worthy prize to run for? Is not this an ample reward of all your temptations, troubles, griefs and sorrows, to believe, and not in vain, that "when he shall appear," you "shall appear with him in glory?" The Lord, if it be his will, lead our souls into these divine and blessed realities! They are the substance of vital godliness; and so far as we feel them, and live under the sweet influences and bedewing operations of the Spirit of grace, these things will prove all our salvation, as they must be, if we be rightly taught, all our desire.

Verse 16

Col 3:16

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." — Col 3:16

This surely means something more than merely reading the word in a careless, formal manner. It is "to dwell in us," that is, take up its firm and lasting abode in our heart, and that "richly;" not poorly and niggardly, but copiously and abundantly, unfolding to us and putting us into possession of the wealth of its treasures; and that in "all wisdom," making us wise to salvation, opening up to us the manifold wisdom of God, and how it displays itself in the great mystery of godliness.

Now we shall not attain to this rich and heavenly wisdom unless we search and study the Scriptures with prayer and supplication to understand what the Holy Spirit has revealed therein, and what he is pleased to unfold therefrom of the will and way of God for our own personal instruction and consolation.

We very easily fall off from abiding in Christ; nor can we expect to keep up sensible union and communion with the Lord Jesus if we neglect those means of grace which the Holy Spirit has provided for the sustentation of the life of God in the soul. When we get cold, sluggish, and dead, to read the word of God is a task and a burden; but not so, when the life of God is warm and gushing in the soul. Then, to read his holy word with prayer and supplication, entering by faith into its hidden treasures, and drinking into the mind of Christ as revealed therein, is a blessed means of maintaining the life of God in the heart, and keeping up union and communion with Christ.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Colossians 3". Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jcp/colossians-3.html.