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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Colossians 3

Verses 1-4

Christ Our Life

Colossians 3:1. The last verses of the last chapter dealt mainly with the fact that you died with Christ. You saw how important that was. Now we see the other side of the coin. Not only you died with Christ but you also rose with Him.

If you have been raised with Him, (the word “if” is not to be understood as an option, but as an absolute certainty) then you are transported into a new world. Previously you were living in a world which had only a cross and the grave for Christ. There you served sin. Now you live in a world where everything is about Christ and where you are serving Him. Now you are freed from every form of slavery. This certainly does not mean that you are free to do anything you wish. Perhaps you have learnt through trial and error where such experiences lead to. You certainly do not want it at all. No, you are given this Christian freedom to serve Christ.

Serving Christ begins with the fact that you are seeking those things which are above. Why? It is because Christ is there. Keep seeking the things that are above does not mean that you should always be dreaming of heaven. It means to be centered on Christ and represent Him on earth. You compare this with an ambassador in a foreign country. He promotes the interests of his own country. He is not sitting there on a comfortable chair thinking about his beautiful homeland.

It is a constant exertion using all ones resources. By seeking after things that are above your life is formed here. It is more and more showing the character of your life that is above and that promotes your service and testimony. It is a quest to know all the attributes of the glorified Christ. Your knowledge of all His glory will keep you from all the doctrines and commandments of men.

One of the essential elements of the Christian faith is that Christ sits at the right hand of God. This faith determines our Christian position. We have much in common with the faithful of Israel; but we have a big difference here. They did not know a glorified Man in heaven with Whom they were made one. But we do.

Colossians 3:2. This knowledge therefore determines our life and position on earth. The fact that Christ is there determines where our interests are and where we must focus our attention.

Unfortunately many Christians are not aware of this and they live as an earthly people of God – looking for things on the earth. In such cases they consider it right to enjoy all the beauty that is found on the earth. It also can happen that they campaign for the equitable distribution of all the beautiful things on earth. The first look for a good job and a high standard of life and the second gets involved in politics to obtain the desired things. Both categories of people ignore the fact that they are united with Christ in heaven.

When one considers the things that are above, we can only be conscious of the fact that our real wealth is found there. Then you can no longer think of the things on the earth. Here you are only a steward of those things. You must leave behind everything when your time on earth is over. You cannot take them to heaven. Therefore it is stupid that you cram your head and heart with earthly things. You are warned in many places in the Bible about setting your heart on earthly possessions (Mark 10:24; 1 Timothy 6:17). One who is engrossed in earthly things expresses the fact that the Lord Jesus has no place in his life (Matthew 16:23; Romans 8:5; Philippians 3:19).

Earthly things do not necessarily have to be sinful or worldly. Earthly things are often the things that God has given. Marriage, job and rest are all good things. But if life consists only of those things then your view on Christ is blocked and you no longer live with Him. Then you are like someone who looks for copper instead of gold because you think copper is as valuable as gold. We do not consider someone like that as being wise, yet many Christians are living like that.

Faith transfers many future things to the present, and the present things to the past or the future. Faith sees things that cannot be seen and lives in it. Earthly mindedness caused sadness in Paul (Philippians 3:18) and also in the Lord Jesus.

Colossians 3:3. Again it is said that “you have died” to this world and that your new life does not have a single link with this world. In this world Christ is not only absent but He is also hidden (John 8:21-Isaiah :; John 13:33). Your new life is also hidden to the world because Christ is your life. It is unknown to the world.

What was the last thing the world saw of Christ? It was that He hung dead on the cross and was in the grave. With that everything seemed to be over. But faith looks beyond the grave and sees the resurrection and glorification. If He is your life, then the world gives you the same place it gave Him. The world understands nothing of the motives which guide you because it does not know the source; it is hidden to it. You are still here to bear witness to Him Who is hidden to the world.

The world itself has nothing to improve upon. Any attempt to improve anything in the world overlooks the fact that Christ is rejected by the world and is now hidden to the world. Among the Corinthians there were believers who felt the need to exert political influence. They desired even to be rulers (1 Corinthians 4:8). But for the faithful who belong to the church the time of ruling is still future.

Colossians 3:4. The mark of the believer’s life is that it is with God and that it will be revealed soon. Now the world does not know us; but it certainly will later (1 John 3:1-Exodus :). Change does not happen by the acceptance of Christian principles, thanks to political efforts, which could create an environment in which Christ can feel at home. No, when Christ is revealed in glory, He will judge the evil in the world in righteousness. He thus creates the perfect conditions for His government which would enable the thousand year long reign in justice and peace.

His public appearance in the world will highlight your relationship with Him. You are made one with Him in His death, in His resurrection, in His present obscurity and in His appearance before the entire world. When Christ is revealed, you also will be revealed with Him. Then the world will see the hidden source of the life you lived on the earth. For He Who will be revealed then, is already your life on the earth now.

Now you live in this world as someone who died to the world. By this you prove that you do not have any expectation from this world. This means for the here and now it is only rejection and suffering, but that will change the moment you are revealed with Christ in glory. Then the times of rejection and suffering will be over and you will certainly have a responsibility and a position. You will reign with Him and share in His glory.

This revelation of Christ with all His own is something different from His return for His church; of the latter the world will not notice anything (1 Thessalonians 4:15-Esther :). After the Lord Jesus has taken the church away for Himself as His bride, the marriage of the Lamb will take place in heaven (Revelation 19:7). Then He will reveal Himself to the world with His bride following Him (Revelation 19:11-Nehemiah :). This is His appearance in glory. Then every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7) including you along with all those who will come with Him (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

Now read Colossians 3:1-4 again.

Reflection: How do you seek and what do you think of the things that are above?

Verses 5-11

Christ Is All and in All

Colossians 3:5. After the magnificent view of the last verse you find yourself with both your feet on the earth again. There is something you must do. If you enjoyed the glory of Christ and your part in it because you are in Him, you will have no desire to indulge in sinful desires. They hinder you from seeking the things that are above. In view of this you have already been told what things you should not seek. Now you read of things you must put to death.

You may ask how to put them to death. It is not that you should kill yourself or your flesh. The old man is dead; he has been made powerless. God condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3). The mechanism which made use of the sin, the old self, the old man is dead (Romans 6:6). Consequently you need to consider yourself dead to sin (Romans 6:11). That means you no longer allow the members of your body to be used for sin, but place yourself in the service of God (Romans 6:12-1 Chronicles :).

When sin attracts, you must immediately cut off its work on you. A more radical solution than considering as dead does not exist. Putting to death is a stronger and a more meaningful expression. You have to act uncompromisingly with immoral things. This is what you do when sin is denied any authority. Just say to yourself, ‘I do not give any room for that sin’. You assign sin its appropriate place – the old self; it has no more say in your life.

With this determined attitude you prevent thinking on it. As soon as you begin to think on sin you are lost and the sin in question grabs its chance to get hold of you. To put to death means to take the life out of sin. As a result sin is denied all chances to reveal itself.

Paul is very clear about the particular “members” of the body. The members are identical with sins:
1. The list begins with “immorality” (as in Galatians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:3). This sin is a serious threat to holiness.
2. “Impurity” is closely related but more general; it means any kind of uncleanness.
3. “Passion” refers to erotic desires that lead to immorality in thought and action.
4. “Evil desire” in this context seems to refer to sexual desires.
5. “Greed” means wanting to have more and more, and seems in this context connected to sexual offences.
6. Sexual desire that dominates to the extent that it has taken the place of God becomes “idolatry”.

Colossians 3:6. Maybe you have heard of the view that the only sin upon which God’s judgment comes is unbelief. This is a misconception as you see in this verse. There are other sins upon which the “wrath of God will come”. The wrath of God comes upon all sins. The wrath of God comes from His hatred for sin. God’s wrath is not the expression of His temperament but of His government. That wrath will be revealed and is described in Revelation 6-19.

The wrath of God meets people who do not know new birth and who remain in their unbelief. The characteristic of such a life is disobedience. It is presented as if disobedience is their father and they its children with all their rebellious characteristics. It is unbearable when believers imitate them. The motivation to put to death the members which are on the earth will be present with you.

Colossians 3:7. That does not mean that you can now arrogantly look down upon the sons of disobedience. As a believer you must be aware that you are not standing over them. You too were resistant and lived exactly like them before (Titus 3:3). Now it is not so. This life came to end when you died with Christ.

Colossians 3:8. Therefore you must put off all these habits and traits which people saw in you before. It can be described as though you put off the piece of clothing you wore before. It is about the attitude that once marked your life. This attitude was particularly evident in your speech. The things that are mentioned here have to do with the tongue, and consequently with the heart, because what you say comes forth from the heart (Matthew 15:18).

1. The first sin expressed by the heart is called “anger”. Definitely anger is the expression of our temperament. An expression of anger need not necessarily be sinful (Ephesians 4:26), however in this context it is.
2. “Wrath” emphasizes the sudden outburst of emotions about a thing; anger refers more to a state or condition of mind.
3. “Malice” is an attitude that is intended to harm or damage others.
4. “Slander” is the deliberate utterance of falsehood about another person in order to place him in a bad light.
5. “Abusive speech” can be a ranting or slovenly or nasty talk.

Colossians 3:9. Lying is a sin of the tongue, which characterizes the old self. It is not in vain said that every person is a liar (Romans 3:4). Since the believer has put off the old self (or: old man) with his deeds he must also end his unsavory comments. Relationship with the old man is torn down. The old man is the essence of the first Adam as he is expressed in the totality of his progeny.

Colossians 3:10. You no longer belong to the first Adam but to the last Adam – Christ. He features the new man you have put on. The new man is characterized by Christ as expressed in all believers. Only all believers put together can express the hallmarks of Christ as no single person possesses all of Christ. Something of Christ can be seen in each person.

Putting on does not mean to be clothed from the outside but this new man is seen outside from the inside. The new man is what you are inwardly after your conversion. You will show this in your life. You have put on the new man in your conversion. The more you know of God, the more you will exhibit the new man in you.

“Renewed to a true knowledge” means that God brings the new man to the full knowledge of His counsel. This is a process of development. The model God always has before Him is Christ. God wants to teach this new man in the knowledge of Christ in order to shape him in the image of “the One who created him” (see Colossians 1:15; Genesis 1:26-Daniel :). The more He works in you the more you will walk as the Lord Jesus did (see 1 John 2:6).

Colossians 3:11. Every difference disappears in the new self or the new man (Galatians 3:28-Joel :). Only Christ is seen and He fills everything with His glory:
1. In the new man there is no difference between “Greek and Jew” and that means all difference in race, national origin, or nationality is gone.
2. Also there is no difference between “circumcised and uncircumcised” which points to the religious difference, the external relationship with God.
3. The difference between “barbarian” and “Scythian” has vanished. Among these lowest cultures the Scythians were given by the Greeks a place lower than the barbarians. In Christ Jesus such difference is no longer there.
4. With the abolition of the distinction between “slave and freeman” the social difference in the new man is no longer present.

The only position that counts is our position in Christ. He is everything in this new man; yes you can now say, He is the new Man.

While you are waiting for the glory of the Lord where God will be all and in all Christ already lives in His saints. He has formed the new man in them in whom He is all in all. The old man might have statutes and philosophies, but for the new man Christ is everything.

Now read Colossians 3:5-11 again.

Reflection: What are the characteristics of the new man and what are not?

Verses 12-15

Put On Then …

Colossians 3:12. You know what to put to death and what to put off. If you have done that, then nothing more is expected of you since you do not want to do anything with the old man. The way is now free that you can put on something else. The aim is that you show your new clothing to people around you, in all that you say and do.

Now do not think: Who am I that I could do that? Listen to the kind of appeal made to you:
1. Firstly you are one of the “chosen of God”. That is because of the special act of God’s grace. He has chosen you to be His and for Him. Why should He do this to you is a question which could overwhelm you. But exalt Him for this unmerited favor.
2. Secondly you are a “holy” one. He has chosen you and separated you from all people who live without Him. He gave you a special place in order that you may be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4). You are called a saint.
3. Thirdly you are one of His “beloved”. He loves you. Everything has come from God. How ungrateful you would be if you refused to accept this love in its entirety on grounds of false humility.

It is great to think that these three names are also used for the Lord Jesus (Luke 9:35; John 6:69; Matthew 3:17).

This is your position. God declares that He sees you like that. Now Christ can be made visible in your life. The life of Christ is expressed in your life in its different aspects as mentioned here. If we go through them separately you will see that every time it is connected to some form of self-denial. You can exhibit these characteristics only when you are able to bow down and humble yourself. The Lord Jesus Christ showed all these features in His life in perfection:
1. “A heart of compassion” is in contrast to passion that seeks its own gratification. It is the kindness out of which flows forgiveness (Luke 1:78); it is the affection of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:8).
2. “Kindness” is the abundance of goodness that comes out of the tender mercies.
3. “Humility” is an attitude that is proper for you before God and people. The Lord Jesus calls us to learn this from Him (Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:3).
4. “Gentleness” is an expression in which you put up with injustice and do not insist on your rights and privileges (Numbers 12:3). In the world meekness means not being able to push through and run everything. Meekness is the opposite of a self-assertive behavior.
5. “Patience” is the patient endurance of evil. It is the spiritual ability to bear evil without direct retaliation.

Colossians 3:13. You find opportunities everywhere in the world to exhibit these characteristics in which Christ is visible. The following characteristics will be shown more clearly in your relationship with believers who can make things difficult for you. The word “one another” also involves you. Sometimes you too might be an uncomfortable fellow believer to someone else.

“Bearing with one another” means that you do not pass comments on about someone else when you think he makes or does something in a strange way. Be restrained or cautious towards others.

If bearing is more passive “forgiving each another” is more active. When you deal with people it is inevitable that you get to know their mistakes. It can quickly create a situation where accusations fly back and forth. The peace within the community disappears quickly. The solution is to have an attitude of forgiveness. Then you will not answer an accusation in the same manner.

The standard of forgiveness is Christ. Look at Him and at all that He has forgiven you. Think of His parable on forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-Habakkuk :). You will discover that you are ready to forgive anything.

Colossians 3:14. Paul is not yet ready with accumulating the pieces of clothing. There is something more which holds all these garments together like a belt and that is “love”. Love is the virtue which not only holds together all the other virtues but brings them to maturity and thus perfects them.

The virtues mentioned here are not acquired characteristics but they spring from love. Nothing in our behavior towards others is complete without the love of God which is expressed in brotherly love (2 Peter 1:7). Therefore love is the bond of perfection. You are in a position to tie this band around because you have received the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and the nature of God is love (1 John 4:8). When this bond of love is carried by every believer, it will bind the believers with one another.

Colossians 3:15. The clothes are put on. Everything is in its place. Now you can go out of the door, and show your dress to the believers and to the world. You are not called to flaunt your dress but to show your life as a witness for Christ. In order to give this testimony in the right way, it is necessary that the “peace of Christ” reigns in your heart. All your actions, words and thoughts will take place in an atmosphere of peace – the kind of peace that is of Christ.

The Lord spoke about this in the upper room and called it “My peace” (John 14:27). It is the peace of heart and mind that emerges from a complete trust in the love of the Father in complete submission to His will. He walked in this peace on earth.

When this peace reigns in your heart and in the hearts of your fellow believers with whom you are associated, then this meets the requirement for the call to be “one body”. The absence of the definite article before body suggests that the local church is meant here.

The emphasis therefore is not personal peace which you can experience when you walk with the Lord. It is more about the peace that determines your attitude and your goodwill in dealing with others. It is all about the one body. When the members are subordinate to Him, the peace that He proffers determines your dealings with one another. You will not do anything that disturbs this peace. By the way and the means these things are described it is clear that it does not mean that you should draw yourself into isolation so that you do not get into any kind of dispute with anyone.

Thankfulness is an important ‘trade mark’ of the Christian who sees the hand of God in all things. This should always characterize him and should come to expression by every opportunity. It is an obligation to be thankful. You must practice this.

Of all the people on earth, Christians definitely have the most reason to be thankful. Anyone who is not thankful is far from God. Thankfulness is not dependent on circumstances. Paul himself shows this here and calls for it from imprisonment. I think, after writing all these things, his heart also overflowed with thankfulness.

After you have understood your position before God, the forgiveness that you received in Christ, the peace of Christ which is your portion, and the attributes of the Lord it will not be difficult to comply with the call to be thankful.

Everything stands in relation to Christ. The point is to show Him in everything. You have received in Christ Jesus all that is necessary for this. What a joy should fill the heart of God when He sees Christ in your life and in the life of believers with whom you are related.

Now read Colossians 3:11-15 again.

Reflection: Learn by heart what you should wear and ask the Lord to help you to display these characteristics.

Verses 16-18

Do All in the Name of the Lord Jesus

Colossians 3:16. The peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15) is followed by the “word of Christ” which is the Word of God. In this Word everything speaks of Christ. The Word of God is also the Word of Christ. He gave it. He is the source of it. As the exalted Christ, He gives you the necessary instructions for the way, through His Word. The voice of the Word of God is the voice of Christ. As you have seen so many times in this letter, all the focus is on Him again.

The whole Word of God as the Word of Christ must dwell in you and indeed richly. Dwell means that the Word of Christ feels at home in you and therefore that nothing in your life is not in line with the Word. Richly means that your heart and mind are full of it so that your conversation with believers and unbelievers is dominated by it. You have to not only know the Word but you must apply it to everything that you face in life.

You cannot keep the Word to yourself. When you are full of something or overflowing with it you can and you want to share it with others. The big question however is whether you have something that you can share with others. When you are filled with other things then those are the things you would like to tell others of. “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34). The fact that Christians are sharing the things of Christ with each other is seen by their interactions with one another.

In their day to day life and in their common gatherings they are in a position to teach each other what is the will of God. Sometimes it can even be an admonition. However this should be done with wisdom and not with emotional agitation. Otherwise this will cause to pull down rather than build up.

Another remarkable instrument for teaching and admonishing is singing. I think this gives direction to lead one another to Christ in a lovely way. By the singing of a song, the voice of Christ is heard more than when one attempts to teach another about God tactlessly or with a raised voice. The voice of Christ will be heard when your heart is fully filled with the awareness of the grace of God.

Grace is the space and the atmosphere in which singing takes place. The sense of grace is brought to expression through singing and is the result of what grace has done internally. In this frame of mind you can get into the presence of the triune God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is the God of all grace.

If the word of Christ dwells in us, there will be constant praise in our hearts (Hebrews 13:15). This can manifest itself in various forms of songs:
1. “Psalms” are songs in which emotions are expressed by the psalmist when he went through certain experiences, especially suffering.
2. “Hymns” are more a response to Divine revelation. Admiration of God and the worship of the Lord Jesus are expressed in the hymns.
3. “Spiritual songs” are more, like a prayer, expressing a particular desire of the soul. It is the most general expression for the content of the song: it is about a spiritual topic.

The similarity among these song patterns is that they flow from having their roots in the Word. If the songs are good it is because they are from the Word. Only when the indwelling Word fills the heart, can songs be sung with a grateful admiration and adoration in the right spirit.

Colossians 3:17. Not only our singing must be to God, but “whatever you do” should be for the glory of God. All things “whatever you do in word or deed” includes any area of your life. Everything in our life should be under the rule of the Lord Jesus. It should not only be for the Lord Jesus to approve our actions. If you do something in His Name you must be convinced that it is His will. Only then can you prove His authority.

You can certainly have a desire to do something for the Lord but what is important is that you do what the Lord expects from you. You don’t need to think of doing a big work or a great sermon before a large crowd. It is all about the day to day things like friendly actions or an encouraging word. Only do it when you can do it “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. When it cannot be done in the Name of the Lord then you should not do it.

One of the indicators that you are in agreement with the Lord in word or deed is that you are able to giving thanks to the Father. Again the emphasis is on giving thanks (Colossians 1:3; Colossians 1:12Colossians 2:7; Colossians 3:15Colossians 3:17; Colossians 4:2). You can only do that if you are sure that He is with you in the way you are going. Then you will not ask Him to go with you in the way you think is right – you ask Him which way He wants you to go.

Giving thanks happens here through Him. Our giving thanks to God the Father always finds its reason in Christ in whom He has given all things to us – in the Son. You will find how the whole practice of life is related to the Father and the Son. This raises your daily life to quite a high level.

Colossians 3:18. Subsequently Paul mentions certain areas in which your daily life and the relationships in which you are placed take place. After the plea not to dwell on things that are on the earth you could think that all the earthly things are no longer important. But all the great truths which have to do with your relationship to Christ do not undermine the earthly relationships. On the contrary these relationships are there so that you show what you have become in Christ.

You cannot live in this world without any relationship with your fellow human beings. In these social contacts you experience the most trials and temptations. It is God’s will that after your conversion you let the light of heaven shine forth in the circle of your old friends and acquaintances. Your conversion does not change anything in your marriage, or in your family situation, or your position in society. What has changed is yourself.

In each of these relationships there are two parties: husband and wife, parents and children, employers and employees. Each is addressed according to one’s vulnerability. The word is always firstly addressed to the subordinate who is also always related with the Lord. The relationship with the Lord lifts the position of the subordinate to a higher level.

The first relationship in which both the parties receive a responsibility is marriage. This good bulwark is attacked violently everywhere in the world. It is always necessary to understand God’s original plan, not to be carried away by the world’s view of marriage. In a marriage, two different sexes are interconnected. In the light of the Word of God the suggestion of a marriage between people of the same sex cannot be approved and must not even be considered, but must be discarded right away.

The woman is instructed to recognize her husband as the head, and should be submitted to him. Submission is the recognition of the God-given ordinance. This attitude is appropriate and it redounds to her honor; she gets the strength for this from the Lord. When she submits herself to the authority of her husband she recognizes the authority of the Lord.

In our age of feminism a submission of this kind is not easy; this rule is predominantly impractical and outmoded. Women who are conscious of their relationship with Christ are not disturbed by this and they are able to swim against the tide. They can learn from Him what submission is; for His life on earth was the model of submission to God.

Now read Colossians 3:16-18 again.

Reflection: Does the Word of Christ dwell in you richly?

Verses 19-25

Men, Children and Slaves

Colossians 3:19. Men are given instructions about some positive and some negative things. The positive for a man is to love his wife. Here it does not state that he should wait for a certain feeling or a certain act of his wife to reciprocate his love. There is no excuse to evade this obligation to love his wife.

Men can learn love from Christ. We can see His caring love, which is sacrificial and unselfish. When men treat their wives like that many marital problems can be solved. It is also easy for a woman to submit herself to such a husband.

The negative is the admonition not to be bitter against her. This will keep the husband from being moody, ruthless and hard against her. The latter is certainly a risk if the woman is not converted and is in the habit of unlocking such reactions. It does not say that he should subdue his wife or to constrain her to obey him.

Colossians 3:20. Children should obey their parents, not just in things useful or desirable but in all things. They must learn to listen and be prepared to follow instructions from the parents. Children are not the highest authority and cannot determine to what extent they have to obey their parents. The Lord Jesus on the earth is the model for children also (Luke 2:51).

Colossians 3:21. In this passage the family is held together by two principles – authority and obedience. After obedience which is expected from children, comes authority. This word is not addressed to the parents, what might be expected, but to the fathers. They are the ones mostly responsible for education.

Here the fathers are warned not to abuse or use their authority irresponsibly. This happens by inappropriate and even unfair treatment. It appears the apostle points to a constantly inappropriate or unfair correction for the slightest reason.

Fathers have the great model in God the Father. From God they learn that God never handles His children in such a way that they lose heart or feel rejected. When a child is constantly criticized they get the feeling that they always do things the wrong way. They will be discouraged and lose motivation. Believing fathers should avoid this carefully and absolutely.

How sad it would be if a child rejected the truth of God because of an overly strict father. When a father gives a distorted image of God the Father, the child no longer wants God. Certainly a child needs correction and discipline. If need arises for punishment the following three basic rules must be observed: never punish in anger; never punish unjustly; never punish without an explanation.

Parents can alienate their children from God in another way. Many parents say full of sadness about their delinquent son or daughter: “While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone” (1 Kings 20:40). They used their time for everything except for their children. They were left to their fate. Perhaps it is not without care but without attention. Lack of attention will make the child depressed and make it go its own way but not the way of the Lord.

Colossians 3:22. The word for slaves is the same as for the children. Obedience is expected from them in all things. The faithful slave is not governed by the eye of his master but by the fear (reverence) to the Lord.

“With external service” means that you are working hard when the boss is after you; but once he disappears from the scene you relax again or you do things for yourself. As a Christian slave (Christian employee) you should really serve whether or not your earthly master (employer) is watching because the Lord in heaven is always watching. Nothing escapes His eyes.

This awareness might cause you to do your best and then you will not fall out of favor with the Lord. This however is not mentioned here, but it points to the attitude of the heart. “Sincerity of heart” is the heart which is honest, innocent, and unambiguous, and free from base motives (1 Chronicles 29:17). This is in contrast to hypocrisy. The Lord Jesus on earth is the model for the slave also.

Colossians 3:23. The slave is expected to perform all his duties with all his energy. It is expected that he whole heartedly does what is commanded of him. This means that he is fully committed to any work, pleasant or unpleasant. The secret behind it is that he works as though the Lord is the employer.

Paul always focuses the eyes of the slave on the Lord. If pleasing the Lord is above all your work, you will fulfill your responsibility in the power He gives. You will not be rewarded in heaven for the number of people who enjoyed your service, or for the success you had, or for your talents, but for your faithfulness.

Colossians 3:24. And do you know what the reward is? In those days the slaves knew it well – the inheritance. With the word “knowing” Paul couples them with a teaching they already knew – he just reminds them. They should always think of it when they do their work. The slave who serves well to the honor of Christ will receive his reward in a place where nothing that he did for the honor of Christ will be forgotten. In this place slaves and masters stand alone before Him Who is no respecter of persons. The slave is always conscious of what lies in the future. This is the motive for him to do all his work faithfully.

Here on earth a master will never share his inheritance with his slave. In the future the slaves will have a share in the inheritance of the Lord whom they serve now. Such a great reward is waiting for them because they serve the Lord Jesus. It is an inheritance which at the same time is also seen as a reward. Our feeble attempts to serve the Lord will be rewarded with a reward that far exceeds all parameters. What a Lord we serve!

Colossians 3:25. After all the encouragement the slave receives, there is also a warning. A slave gets no preferential treatment for any unfortunate situations. He is also not specially rewarded because he went through severe afflictions. He indeed gets a special warning because the flesh can be at work in him like in any other person. He can do something to wrong his master by discrediting him, with the aim that it gives him an advantage in which he sees profit for himself. Therefore he needs to know that God is no respecter of persons.

If the injustice is not detected on the earth it will surely appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). The slave will discover that this will have a negative influence on his inheritance. Infidelity will bring a corresponding loss of reward. The point is for the Lord to say one day: “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things” (Matthew 25:21). Here you also see that for everyone who serves the Lord Jesus as a slave, even if the service is considered great, it is still only a little that has been entrusted to him.

You notice that Paul does not speak about how a slave can be free. When you serve such a Lord and have such a reward in view, the question is if you want to! Christendom does not change social structures, but people. And these changed people in their unchanged circumstances can be tremendous witnesses of the change (Titus 2:9-2 Samuel :). They serve a Person Who delivered them from a much heavier slavery: the slavery to sin (Romans 6:17).

Now read Colossians 3:19-25 again.

Reflection: In what respect does this passage touch you? What more can you do to come into accordance to what is said here?

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Colossians 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.