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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 3

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Colossians 3:1-4 The apostle exhorteth to be heavenly-minded,

Colossians 3:5-11 to mortify carnal lusts, and to put away all malice and ill dealing in respect of one another, as becometh Christians.

Colossians 3:12-17 He recommendeth brotherly kindness, charity, and other general duties,

Colossians 3:18 the relative duties of wives,

Colossians 3:19 and husbands,

Colossians 3:20 of children,

Colossians 3:21 and parents,

Colossians 3:22-25 and of servants towards their masters.

Verse 1

If ye then be risen with Christ: having refuted superstitious observances placed in things earthly and perishing, and called them off from shadows to mind the substance; he doth, upon supposition of what he had asserted before, Colossians 2:12,Colossians 2:13, here infer that, since they were risen again with Christ, it did behove them to set about the duties required of those in that state: not of the proper resurrection of the body, which, while here below, can only be in our Head by virtue of the mystical union, as in regard of right the members of Christ are said to sit with him in heavenly places, Ephesians 2:6, signified and sealed by baptism: but the metaphorical and spiritual resurrection from spiritual death, which is regeneration, Romans 6:4; Titus 3:5, wrought by the same Spirit which raised Christ, and whereby renewed Christians live in certain hope of that proper resurrection of their bodies, which Christ hath procured.

Seek those things which are above: hereupon he urgeth them, (in the same sense our Saviour doth command to seek his kingdom, Matthew 6:33), with diligence to pursue heaven and happiness as the end, and holiness as the means to the attaining of it; to have their conversation in heaven, Philippians 3:20.

Where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God: while the apostle speaks of God after the manner of men, we must take heed of the gross error of the Anthropomorphites, who did imagine God to sit in heaven in the shape of a man. Some indeed, who abhor such a gross imagination, yet conceive that because more generally the heaven is God’s throne, and shall be so for ever, Jeremiah 17:12; Lamentations 5:19; Matthew 5:34, that he hath a particular throne in heaven, whereon he doth show himself specially present, as in his temple, 1 Kings 22:19; Psalms 11:4; and so, though Christ is set properly on the right hand of this throne, Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 3:21; but because the conception of such a particular material throne, with extension of parts and proper dimensions, may (besides other inconveniences) misguide our apprehensions, and occasion adoration to the creature, which should be terminated on God alone, who is a pure Spirit; and whereas sitting is not taken properly, since Stephen saw Christ standing, Acts 7:55, and is opposed to the ministration of angels, which have no bodies or bodily parts, Hebrews 1:13; by most it is taken metaphorically, importing that Christ hath all real power and dominion put into his hands, connoting his authority and security from his enemies, who are put under his feet, Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 15:25, is crowned with majesty, glory, and honour, Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9, enjoying all blessedness in a most transcendent way, Psalms 16:11; Psalms 110:1; Acts 2:33,Acts 2:36; having the human nature filled with abilities to execute all when he entered into glory, Isaiah 16:5; Luke 22:29,Luke 22:30; Luke 24:26 1 Corinthians 15:43; Revelation 19:6; where he resides possessed of all in safety, Acts 3:21; Revelation 3:21. It was above whither Christ ascended by a local motion from a certain where here below into a certain where above; so that whatever the Lutherans argue from Christ’s glorious ascension and session, to prove Christ’s body a ubiquitary, or every where present, is inconsequent, since it is in heaven where he wills that believers should be to behold the glory that his Father hath given him, John 17:24; wherefore,

Verse 2

Set your affection on things above: that the hearts of believers here might be where their treasure is, the apostle here repeats his exhortation, using another word, importing they should intensely mind things above, Romans 8:5, viz. the inheritance reserved in heaven for us, 1 Peter 1:4, with heart and affections, together with all that Gcd hath appointed to be a furtherance to the enjoyment of it; not curiously to search the deep things of God, which cannot be found out, but to mind things above with sobriety, Romans 12:3.

Not on things on the earth; taking off the mind and heart from all that is opposite to heavenly things, viz. not only those human, carnal ordinances and ceremonies, Colossians 2:22, with Philippians 3:18,Philippians 3:19, but also from the eager pursuit of the pleasures, profits, and honours of this world, which the men of it do inordinately desire, Colossians 3:5, with Matthew 6:33; Galatians 5:24, and are carried away with, Titus 2:12; James 4:4; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 2:17. Christians should not be, to the neglect of things spiritual; however, they are obliged, in a due subordination, to take care of themselves and families for these things below, so far as to put them into a capacity of raising them more heavenward.

Verse 3

For ye are dead; the apostle adds another reason why the believing Colossians should not be earthly-minded, because they were dead, not absolutely, but in a certain respect, viz. of sin, and the world.

1. In regard of that carnal, corrupted, sin-infected life, received from our first parents by carnal generation, the life of the old man, altogether depraved, the real members of Christ are dead: see Colossians 2:11,Colossians 2:12,Colossians 2:20; Romans 6:2,Romans 6:4,Romans 6:6-8,Romans 6:11; Romans 7:9; 2 Corinthians 5:14,2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:24.

2. In regard of the world, by communion with Christ their Head, Psalms 22:15; Isaiah 26:19; Galatians 6:14; 2 Timothy 2:11; 1 Peter 4:1,1 Peter 4:2.

And your life is hid with Christ in God; and their spiritual life, (opposed to the life of sin), which is received by their receiving of Christ, the life they now live by faith, quickened together with Christ, Colossians 2:13; John 11:25,John 11:26; John 14:6; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 10:38; 1 John 5:11,1 John 5:12; this is hid with Christ by virtue of their union with him, as Christ is in God by union with the Father; Christ in God, and our life in Christ, John 17:21, because in him the the springs of our spiritual life, which in and by our regeneration, renovation, and sanctification is communicated to us; and its progress in fruitfulness till it arrive to perfection, Philippians 3:10,Philippians 3:14.

Verse 4

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear; which will be, according to the purpose and promise of God, with whom it is laid up, Colossians 1:5, when Christ by whom they live shall so appear that they shall be like him, 1 John 3:2, and be taken to be with him in the heavenly inheritance, 1 Peter 1:4; then their conformity to him, began here, partly in holiness and partly in sufferings, Romans 8:18, shall be completed at last in glory and felicity, Philippians 3:21; Hebrews 11:26,Hebrews 11:35.

Then shall ye also appear with him in glory; and then shall these adopted children be brought into glory with him, Hebrews 2:10, out of whose hands none shall be able to pull them, John 10:28; but however the world look upon them as despicable, John 16:2, and sometimes they are so in their own eyes, wherein ofttimes there be tears, so that they can see but as through a glass, darkly, Psalms 31:22; 1 Corinthians 13:12; but then they shall see Christ face to face, all tears shall be wiped away from their eyes, Revelation 7:17, and at the last day they shall shine as the sun in glory, Matthew 13:43; 1 Corinthians 15:43,1 Corinthians 15:53; 2 Thessalonians 1:7,2 Thessalonians 1:10,2 Thessalonians 1:12.

Verse 5

That they might not think he, who had given check to superstitious abstinences, was for the indulging of any carnal affections, he infers here, how the exercise of truly Christian mortification was incumbent on those who were dead to sin and had their life hid in Christ. Neither is it any incongruity, that they who are in a sort already dead should be exhorted to mortification, if we do but distinctly consider of mortification, and what they are to mortify, or endeavour to make dead.

1. As to mortification; which may be considered either as to its inchoation, when, upon effectually calling, a mortal wound is by the Spirit of God given to the old man, or to the habit of sin, which will in the end or consummation be a total privation of its life, though as yet it be but partial. It is not in regard of this inchoative mortification, which was begun upon their effectual calling, that the apostle exhorts the saints at Colosse in this verse to mortify. But mortification may be considered as to its continuation, and the carrying on the life of grace, in the making dead all that is contrary to it; even the renewed person should be continually solicitous to have the old man killed outright without any reprieve. This is it that the apostle put the believing Colossians upon, not to spare any remaining ill dispositions or depraved habits of the old man; but by the assistance of the Spirit, (for it is not a natural, but spiritual work), Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:24, continually to resist to the killing of it, or putting it to death: never to desist in this war.

2. As to the earthly members of it. The apostle expresseth the object of mortification, or what they are to mortify, by their members upon the earth; not as if he designed to put them upon a dismembering of their bodies, or a deadening of those bodily natural parts whereby the sex is distinguished, Romans 6:13, (though, agreeably to his own practice, he would have the body kept under and brought into subjection, 1 Corinthians 9:27), but upon subduing inordinate motions and carnal concupiscences, as is evident from the particular vices following, which, taken as collected and heaped up together, may well pass under the notion of a body. He had before in this Epistle mentioned the body of the sins of the flesh, Colossians 2:11; this he might say not only metonymically, by reason such lusts do reside in the natural body and members of it, Romans 6:6,Romans 6:12,Romans 6:19; but (and that chiefly) metaphorically, the mass of corrupt nature dwelling in us is compared to a person, the old man, or old Adam, or body of sin, Colossians 3:9; Romans 6:6; Romans 7:24; Ephesians 4:22; and, continuing the metaphor, the parts of this corrupt body are called members, and our members, the whole body of the old man being made up of them, which are said to be upon the earth, as being inclined to earthly things and employed about them, taking occasion from sensual objects here below to get strength, unless we be continually upon our watch to abolish all that contributes to the life of the old man in the particular members; viz. fornication: see the parallel place, Ephesians 5:3, with 1 Corinthians 6:9, where he begins with this, as most turbulent, understanding by it not only the outward act, but the inward affection, which the heathens were apt to reckon no fault, though the Spirit of God in the Scripture do greatly condemn it, Matthew 5:28; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Corinthians 10:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:3.

Uncleanness: see Ephesians 5:3; impurity which is more unnatural, whereby they dishonour their own bodies, Romans 1:24,Romans 1:27; Galatians 5:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Revelation 17:4.

Inordinate affection; that passion which some render softness, or easiness to receive any impression to lust, i.e. the filthy disposition of a voluptuous, effeminate heart, delighted with lascivious objects, Psalms 32:9; Romans 1:26,Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, with 1 Thessalonians 4:3,1 Thessalonians 4:5.

Evil concupiscence; that concupiscence which in nature and measure is excessive, being an irregular appetite, and an undue motion against reason, especially against the Spirit, Galatians 5:17.

And covetousness; and an immoderate desire after and cleaving to the things of this world, either in progging for them, or possessing of them to the feeding of other lusts, and so estranging the heart from God, Ecclesiastes 5:10; Luke 12:18; trusting in riches rather than in the living God, Job 31:24; Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:17.

Which is idolatry; upon which account it may pass under the title of idolatry, as the covetous person is an idolater; see Ephesians 5:5; and further he might reckon covetousness to be idolatry, because nothing was more execrable in the judgment of the Jews than idolatry was, it being ordinary with the Hebrews to note sins by the names of those most detested; as rebellion against God by witchcraft, 1 Samuel 15:23, not that it is so formally, but that the Spirit of God may show how odious an incorrigible obstinacy of mind against God is unto him. Hence, considering the odiousness of these vices, the apostle would have us not to content ourselves to cut off some branches of them, but to grub them up by the roots.

Verse 6

Especially remembering how the indulging or sparing any of them will be of dreadful consequence; see Ephesians 5:6; for however they may by carnal men be looked upon as little faults, which God will overlook of course, yet they do certainly incur Divine displeasure, and will bring most inevitable judgments upon those unpersuadable, rebellious, and contumacious ones, who would be thought God’s children and yet remain incorrigible, Matthew 24:38,Matthew 24:39; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21.

Verse 7

In the which; some render it, amongst whom; but, alas! They lived amongst such disobedient ones still; therefore we do better render it in which, i.e. sins or vices.

Ye, the now believing Colossians, also walked some time; had heretofore practised and exercised; and had not only been infected with the venom of them, in descending from polluted parents, but lived in them, were servants to them, Romans 6:17,Romans 6:19, while in a sensual course of life they were carried away with them, 1 Corinthians 12:2, before their conversion, when they did live and reign in their mortal bodies, Colossians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 2:3,Ephesians 2:11,Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 5:8.

Verse 8

But now ye also put off all these: having minded them of their former condition under paganism in a state of sin, while they served various sensual lusts, he doth here in their present circumstances under Christianity in a state of grace, show them that, now they professed to walk as children of light, Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8, with 1 Thessalonians 5:5,1 Thessalonians 5:8, they were more strongly obliged to lay aside those inordinate affections which were more spiritual Ephesians 4:22; some of which he doth instance in, viz. anger; whereby he doth not mean the passion itself, Ephesians 4:26, with Ephesians 4:31, but the inordinacy of it, being a vindictive appetite to hurt another unjustly for some affront conceived to be given or occasioned by him.

Wrath; indignation, Romans 2:8, a sudden, hasty, and vehement commotion of the offended mind apprehending an injury, when it shows itself in the countenance in a manner and measure unbecoming a Christian, as in them who with rage thrust Christ out of the city, Luke 4:28,Luke 4:29, with Ephesians 4:31.

Malice; connoting both the evil habit and the vicious act: now though this word be taken oftentimes more generally, for that mischievous vitiosity and venom which runs through all the passions of the soul, reaching to all sins, 1 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 14:20; yet here it seems to be taken more specially, for a secret malignity of rooted anger and continued wrath, remembering injuries, meditating revenge, and watching for an occasion to vent it, being much the same with that which the apostle in a parallel Epistle calls bitterness, Ephesians 4:31, compared with other places, Genesis 4:5; Romans 1:29; Titus 3:3; 1 Peter 2:1. After he had urged the laying aside of heart evils as the cause, he moves to the laying aside those of the tongue, viz.

blasphemy, which in a like place we render evil speaking, Ephesians 4:31; the original word, according to the notation of it, doth signify the hurt of any one’s good name, which when it respects God we do more strictly call blasphemy. When it respects our neighbour, though more largely it be so, defamation, Romans 3:8; 1 Corinthians 4:13; Titus 3:2; yet more strictly, if it be done secretly, it is detraction or backbiting; more openly, reviling or slandering, Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:22; 1 Timothy 6:4.

Filthy communication out of your mouth: obscene discourse, dishonest talk, should not come into the Christian’s mouth, Colossians 4:6; see on Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:4; wanton, lewd, and unclean speeches should not proceed from a Christian’s tongue, 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Verse 9

Lie not one to another: here he puts them upon laying aside that vice which violates the ninth commandment, being opposite to truth in word and work: see Ephesians 4:25, where he doth more fully urge the putting away lying, from the same argument that follows here: a lie being no other than that voluntary expression by word or deed, which accords not with the conception of the mind and heart, on purpose to deceive those with whom we do converse; contrary to the principles of a new creature, because God, after whose image he is renewed, hates it more than any vice, since it is contrary to truth, and proceeds from the father of lies, Psalms 5:6; Psalms 15:2; Proverbs 12:22; John 8:44; Revelation 21:8,Revelation 21:27. They who in conversation do most stomach to be told of it, are most ordinarily guilty of it. But the apostle requires Christians indeed to put away all fraud and fallacy in commerce with men and one another, (as well as converse with God), that there may be in all due circumstances a just representation of that without which is conceived within, Ephesians 4:15; James 3:14.

Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds: the apostle subjoins his reason from the parts of regeneration or sanctification, viz.

1. Mortification, which he reassumes under an elegant metaphor, (intimating his solicitude to have the foregoing and the like vices to be wholly laid aside, as much as was possible in this life), borrowed from the putting off old and worn garments, which did as it were crawl with vermin; intimating that if the old man, as the cause, were put off with loathing, then those inordinate affections and actions which did proceed from it would also be removed; see on Romans 6:6,Romans 6:11, with Ephesians 4:22; if that which is born of the flesh and contrary to the Spirit, John 3:6, with Galatians 5:17, then inordinate affections and lusts, Galatians 5:24.

(To see number 2: See Poole on "Colossians 3:10").

Verse 10

And have put on the new man: (To see number 1: See Poole on "Colossians 3:9").

2. Vivification, or renovation; this he connecteth with the former, continuing the metaphor. As in natural generation the expulsion of the old form is attended with the introduction of the new, so in spiritual regeneration, having put off the old Adam they had put on the new, i.e. Christ, not only sacramentally, Colossians 2:12,Colossians 2:13; Galatians 3:27, but really, being new creatures in Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10, renewed in the inward man, Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; See Poole on "Ephesians 3:16", See Poole on "Ephesians 4:24"; and endowed with a new frame of heart and a new spirit, Ezekiel 11:19; John 3:5,John 3:6, new qualities and affections.

Which is renewed in knowledge; the understanding being savingly enlightened, and the will powerfully inclined by the victorious working of the Spirit, Ephesians 1:18-20; See Poole on "Ephesians 4:23", with Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13,2 Thessalonians 2:14; and brought to more than a speculative, even to a lively and effectual knowledge, 1 John 2:3.

After the image of him that created him; agreeable to the impress of him that had new framed or created them in Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 Peter 1:15,1 Peter 1:16, by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, Titus 3:5; for as the natural image of God consisted in knowledge and righteousness; so it was requsite that the spiritual image restored by grace should consist in the rectifying of the faculties of the soul, the understanding with spiritual knowledge, and the will with a spiritual inclination to embrace the things that please God; in communion with whom sanctified souls do take in hand a new course of life, and move therein, in a spiritually natural way.

Verse 11

He prevents the reasoning of those, who did not neglect regeneration, and place religion in more externals, showing that in the new man, or true sanctification, and real Christianity, there was sufficient to save us, in communion with Christ, without those external observances false teachers did stickle for as necessary.

If there there is neither Greek nor Jew; God, in effectually calling persons into a state of regeneration, had no regard to those known distinctions then in the world, of those who were born of the Gentiles or the seed of Abraham, Matthew 3:9; John 8:39 Romans 2:11; Romans 10:12; Romans 11:7,Romans 11:11,Romans 11:12; See Poole on "Galatians 3:28".

Circumcision nor uncircumcision; he works upon those who are not circumcised, as well as on those who are circumcised, now Christ is come, Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15, since which the posterity of Japheth, constituting the greater part of the Gentile church, do dwell in the tents of Shem, according to Noah’s prophecy, Genesis 9:27, compared with Balaam’s, Numbers 24:24. Shem and Ham are not excluded, yet (a learned man observes) the faith of Christ from the ages of the apostles hath flourished most hitherto in Europe, and the parts of Asia where Japheth’s lot lay; and as of old some of the latter might, so we know of the former many of late have passed into America. Upon the apostle’s adding

Barbarian, Scythian, without conjunction either compulative or disjunctive, some have inquired whether these two should be balanced in the like opposition with the former? And it may be said, there is no more necessity for such exactness here, than elsewhere in the like form of speech, Romans 8:39; 1 Corinthians 3:22; and the most think here is an increase of the oration, understanding by

Scythian (which is now more strictly the Tartarian) the most barbarous of the Barbarians. Yet, because the Grecians sometime accounted the world, besides themselves, (who were polished with human learning and philosophy), Barbarians, if any think there ought to be an opposition between the Barbarian and Scythian, then by Barbarian (i.e. in the philosophers’ reckoning) may be understood the Jews; by Scythian, the Gentiles. So Jew, circumcision, Barbarian, as in a parallel, are opposed to Gentile, uncircumcision, Scythian. For Scythians being numerous, thereby some used to express the nations, ( as Symmachus translates Genesis 14:9, Tidal king of the Scythians), and so reckon the whole world might be divided into the Jews and Scythians, no otherwise than into circumcised and uncircumcised.

Bond nor free; as to acceptance with God in Christ, the distinctions of people were abolished with their observances and polities, because, some where they were more free, having milder laws; some where they were more servile, having more severe laws, which was an indifferent thing now as to their being in Christ, concerned to submit to certain honest laws, ordinances of magistrates, 1 Peter 2:13, though not Judaic or judicial ones. In every condition, high or low, whether of service or freedom, Acts 10:34,Acts 10:35; 1 Corinthians 7:20-22, whosoever hath put on the new man in Christ is accepted. Neither the eloquence of the philosopher nor the rudeness of him who is uncultivated, neither the liberty of the freeman nor the bondage of the slave, doth further or obstruct the work of the new creation.

But Christ is all, and in all; but they that are truly interested in Christ, have really put him on, they are certainly privileged with that which answers all, they are indeed the blessed with faithful Abraham, whether they be of his seed according to the flesh, yea or no, Psalms 32:2; Galatians 3:7-9; having put on Christ, Romans 13:14, they are all complete in him, Colossians 2:10. He is all things to and in all those who are renewed, both meritoriously and efficaciously, 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 2:20; being by fiath one with him who hath all, they have all, Ephesians 3:17, either for their present support or their eternal happiness, Acts 4:12.

Verse 12

Put on therefore: as he had mentioned some particular vices of the old man they were to put off, Colossians 3:8, he doth here infer, that they might be complete in Christ, there be particular virtues and graces of the new man they are to put on, or, being new creatures, continually to exercise themselves in.

As the elect of God, holy and beloved; chosen of God before all time, and effectually called in time from the rest of mankind; see John 15:16; Romans 8:29,Romans 8:30; Ephesians 1:4,Ephesians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; saints not only by obsignation, but renewed by the sanctifying Spirit, Colossians 1:2; 1 Peter 1:2; beloved with a gratuitous and special love of complacency, John 14:21; Romans 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:4.

Bowels of mercies; he would have us put on, i.e. exercise, (being sanctified by the Spirit), mercy, not simply, but according to the Hebrew phrase, bowels of mercies, i.e. tendernesses of compassions, resenting the miseries of our brethren, as sharing with them in their sufferings, from our very heart: see Luke 6:36; Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Peter 3:8.

Kindness; courtesy and goodness, Galatians 5:22; endeavouring to succour one another in all offices of benignity, 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Peter 5:14.

Humbleness of mind; a sincere (not an affected) lowliness of spirit: See Poole on "Ephesians 4:2", See Poole on "Philippians 2:3".

Meekness; gentleness and mildness, receiving one another with an open heart and pleasant countenance: see Galatians 5:13,Galatians 5:23; Galatians 6:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:7.

Long-suffering; patience, bearing affronts and outrages, with other vexatious afflictions, without exasperation, abiding sedate after many wrongs offered, Colossians 1:11; Acts 5:41; 2 Timothy 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 4:16.

Verse 13

Forbearing one another; clemency towards each other, not only in undergoing affronts, but a suspending to take advantage from the infirmities of others, so as not to irritate them to passion, or to take them tripping, so as to aggravate their failings, Proverbs 16:32; 1 Corinthians 4:12; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:4.

And forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; yea, and if one hath any just complaint against another, mutually passing it by amongst ourselves: we render forgiving one another, that which in the Greek is forgiving ourselves; and indeed he that doth see the need he hath of pardon himself, will pass by the fault of his brother, (so ourselves here is put for one another), Mark 10:26; Luke 23:12.

Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye; considering the exemplar cause here added as a motive to mutual forgiveness, viz. our Head the Lord Jesus Christ forgiving of us, who are bound to conform to him in forgiving others; See Poole on "Matthew 6:14". See Poole on "Matthew 18:32", See Poole on "Matthew 18:33". See Poole on "Mark 11:25", See Poole on "John 13:14". See Poole on "Ephesians 4:32", See Poole on "1 Peter 2:21", yea, the strong to indulge and gratify their weak brethren in smaller matters for their good, Romans 15:1-3.

Verse 14

And above all these things put on charity: that which we render above, as surpassing all, some read upon, or over, and some, for all these things, viz. the graces he exhorted them to be clothed with. Both agree, that mutual Christian love or charity is the chiefest garment the new man can put on, being the livery of Christ’s disciples, John 13:35. But in prosecuting the allegory under the former notion, there is some danger of being over fine; and therefore it may be very pertinent to understand the putting on or exercising of charity, for the performance of the other graces and exercises, this being that which sets them on work with reference to their several objects, engaging to sincerity in their actings, without which the motions of the new man are no way acceptable; this links them together, and so is in a sort, as the apostle says elsewhere, a fulfilling of the whole law, Romans 13:8,Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14, with Matthew 22:39,Matthew 22:40; being the subjects of this hearty and regular affection of love to God and our neighbour, are inclined by it to do good continually, and to avoid the injuring of another in any respect. Not that there is any fulfilling of the law perfectly in this state, as the papists argue impertinently from what follows of charity, that it is

the bond of perfectness, or, by an hypallage or Hebraism, the most perfect bond, therefore we are justified by it, and so by the works of the law before God. For:

1. Love, or charity, itself is not perfect, and so the very best of the new creatures who have put it on, however they may be perfect with a perfection of integrity or parts, yet not with a perfection of maturity or degrees, absolutely, while in this life; See Poole on "Ecclesiastes 7:20". See Poole on "Romans 7:18", See Poole on "Romans 7:19". See Poole on "Galatians 5:17". See Poole on "Philippians 3:12", See Poole on "Philippians 3:15". See Poole on "James 3:2", &c.

2. Upon supposition that charity in a new creature doth in some sort perfectly fulfil the law, from the time he is endowed with it of God’s grace, and a man hath put it on; he could not by it be justified from the breach of God’s law before, he being a transgressor of it in time past, 1 John 1:8,1 John 1:10.

3. That perfection of which charity here is said to be the bond, doth most likely respect the integrity and unity of the members of the church, holding the Head, being knit together in one body;

See Poole on "Colossians 2:2", See Poole on "Colossians 2:19". See Poole on "Ephesians 4:16": the Greek word we translate bond here, noting such a collection and colligation of parts whereof a body is composed; and in one Greek copy it is found written, the bond of unity. As a prevailing love to God, and to those who bear his image, for his sake, doth bind up the other graces in every regenerate soul, so it doth the true members of the body of Christ one to another, being the best means for the perfecting of them under Christ their Head, who hath upon that account expressly required mutual love amongst his followers, John 15:12; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:21; and the cogent reason hereof is, (as above in John 4:10,John 4:11), God’s loving of us; and then indeed, when we entirely love God and his children, we show our love to be the bond of perfectness in returning love to him and his; when by this reciprocal affection both ends of the band of love do meet and are knit together, we become one with God, and in him, through Christ, as one soul amongst ourselves, walking in love according to his commandment, Acts 4:32; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:9.

Verse 15

And let the peace of God; he doth not say the peace of the world, but the peace of God, or, as some copies, the peace of Christ; be sure, without the mediation of Christ we can have no peace with God; he alone hath made peace, Colossians 1:20, with Colossians 2:14; he is our peace, making it with God and amongst ourselves, to whom he hath preached it, Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:14-17, and whom he hath brought into the bond of it, Ephesians 4:3; the Lord of peace himself, who always gives it where it is enjoyed, John 14:27; 2 Thessalonians 3:16. It is then the peace of God through Christ; see Philippians 4:7,Philippians 4:9; by faith in whom we have peace in our own hearts with God, Isaiah 32:17; Romans 5:1, and Romans 14:17, and with one another, John 17:21; Romans 15:6,Romans 15:7,Romans 15:13. That the members of Christ may live in this peace, 2 Corinthians 13:11, the apostle here enjoins, as we render the word, let it rule in your hearts: the Greek word (both simple here, and compound, Colossians 2:18) is no where else to be found in the New Testament but in this Epistle, and it may signify either to arbitrate, or to mediate: our translation and the generality of interpreters take it in the former notion, for to arbitrate, or to rule, govern, sway, or moderate by way of arbitration, as he who sat judge, or umpire, to adjudge the reward in the agonistics. So the import of the apostle’s injunction is, let it regulate, govern, superintend, or give law to the rest of the affections of the new man; let it be mistress and governess of all your motions, to keep them in due respect, and withhold them from attempting any thing disorderly, and to oversway disinclinations to the Divine pleasure or the good order of Christian community. The Arabic version is, let it be as the centre. Yet one learned man, conceiving the apostle doth here, as before, Colossians 2:18, glance upon the false apostles, (who would insinuate the mediation or intercession of angels), thinks because the word signifies also to mediate, intercede, or interpose, the apostle’s meaning may be, let the peace of God be to you instead of all conceited angelical mediators or intercessors, which would derogate from him that made peace, Colossians 1:20, nailing what hindered to his cross, Colossians 2:14; let that preponderate with you in your hearts to overbalance any thing that can be suggested to the contrary.

To the which also ye are called in one body; considering the Divine vocation, or the call of God, Romans 12:18; 1 Corinthians 7:15, and the condition or unity of the body into which ye are called under Christ your Head, 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 12:12,1 Corinthians 12:13,1 Corinthians 12:25,1 Corinthians 12:26; Ephesians 4:4. He adds,

and be ye thankful; be ye gracious, or amiable, of an obliging temper (as some render the word, passively); or rather, as we take it, actively, be ye thankful, i.e. to God and Christ, and Christians; be mindful of the benefits ye have received, giving thanks to God always for all things, Ephesians 5:20, and behaving yourselves as becomes the gospel.

Verse 16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom: one learned man conceives Paul to have written this first clause of the verse as in a parenthesis, joining in the sense what next follows to be ye thankful in the foregoing verse; another would have the parenthesis to begin from Colossians 3:14. The thing here exhorted to, is the plentiful inhabitation of the doctrine of the Bible, more especially of the gospel, that it may take up its residence and abode in our souls, which comes from the spiritual incorporation or mixing of it with faith, Hebrews 4:2; without which it may enter in as a stranger, but will not abide; it may cast a ray, or shine, but is not comprehended and doth not enlighten, John 1:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4; it may afford some present delight, Mark 6:20, but not lasting. The apostle would have the word to be diligently searched, heartily received, and carefully observed; a child may have it in his memory, that hath it not in his heart: this indwelling of the word imports a regarding, as well as a remembering of it, Psalms 1:2; John 5:39; John 20:31; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15-17. If all the saints at Colosse were concerned in this exhortation, the papists oppose the Spirit of God in excluding (those they call) the laity from familiarity with the Scriptures in their mother tongue, being that all Christians are; here indispensably obliged to instruct and warn themselves, (according to the original word), as well as each other mutually, see Ephesians 5:19. Then the use of the word, and the manner of expressing their thankfulness to God amongst themselves, is in singing to his praise

psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs. He doth not say, teaching and admonishing from these, (as elsewhere, Acts 8:35; Acts 28:23), but in them; implying it is a peculiar ordinance of Christ for Christians to be exercised in holy singing, as James 5:13, with an audible voice musically, Psalms 95:1,Psalms 95:2; Psalms 100:1,Psalms 100:2; Acts 16:25, as foretold, Isaiah 52:8, with Romans 10:14. Some would distinguish the three words the apostle here useth from the manner of singing, as well as the matter sung; others, from the Hebrew usage of words expressed by the seventy, in the book of Psalms; yet, whoever consults the titles of the Psalms and other places of the Old Testament, they shall find the words used sometimes promiscuously; compare Judges 5:3; 1 Chronicles 16:8,1 Chronicles 16:9; 2 Chronicles 7:6; 2 Chronicles 23:13; 2 Chronicles 29:30; Psalms 39:3; Psalms 45:1; Psalms 47:1; Psalms 48:1; Psalms 65:1; Psalms 105:1,Psalms 105:2; Isaiah 12:2,Isaiah 12:4; Isaiah 42:10; or conjunctly to the same matter, Psalms 30:1-12; Psalms 48:1-14; Psalms 65:1-13; Psalms 66:1-20; Psalms 75:1-10; Psalms 83:1-18; Psalms 87:1-7, titles. Hereupon others stand not open any critical distinction of the three words, yet are inclined here to take psalms by way of eminency, Luke 24:44; or more generally, as the genus, noting any holy metre, whether composed by the prophets of old, or others since, assisted by the Spirit extraordinarily or ordinarily, Luke 24:44; Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:15,1 Corinthians 14:26; James 5:13. Here for clearness’ sake two modes of the psalms, viz. hymns, whereby we celebrate the excellencies of God and his benefits to man, Psalms 113:1-9; Matthew 26:30; and odes or songs, which word, though ordinarily in its nature and use it be more general, yet here synecdochically, in regard of the circumstances of the conjoined words, it may contain the rest of spiritual songs, of a more ample, artificial, and elaborate composure, besides hymns, Revelation 14:2,Revelation 14:3; Revelation 15:2,Revelation 15:3; which may be called spiritual or holy songs from the efficient matter, or end, viz. that they proceed from the Holy Spirit, or in argument may agree and serve thereto; being convenient they be so called from the argument, as opposed to carnal, sensual, and worldly ditties.

Singing with grace in your hearts; and then that this holy singing be not only harmonious and tunable to the ear, but acceptable to God, it is requisite it do proceed from a gracious spirit, or grace wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and the inhabitation of the word, Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8.

To the Lord; to the honour of God through Christ our Lord, Luke 1:46,Luke 1:47; John 5:23; 1 Peter 4:11.

Verse 17

And whatsoever ye do: here the apostle give a universal direction how in every capacity, both personal and relative, in every motion, a Christian may do all so as to find acceptance with God.

In word or deed; and that is in his expressions and actings, viz. comprehending his internal as well as external operations; his reasonings and resolutions within, as well as his motions without; the thoughts of his heart, as well as the words of his tongue and the works of his hand; to take (care as much as possible that all be

in the name of the Lord Jesus: elsewhere writing the same thing, the apostle adds Christ, Ephesians 5:20. Plato could say: Not only every word, but every thought, should take its beginning from God; but he understood nothing of the Mediator, of the love of him and the Father: but Christians know, as there is salvation in no other name, Acts 4:12, so there is no acceptance of their persons and performances in any other name than in his in whom they believe, Philippians 2:10; Hebrews 10:19,Hebrews 10:20; 1 John 5:13; and therefore in all their desires they are to respect him, John 14:13,John 14:14; John 15:3,John 15:16; John 16:23,John 16:26; looking for his authority and warrant, Matthew 18:18-20; Mark 11:9; 1 John 5:14; following his example, Matthew 11:29; Matthew 16:24; John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 John 2:6; in all they set about, desiring strength from him, Psalms 71:17; Acts 4:7,Acts 4:10; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:1; living by faith upon him, Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 10:38; 2 Peter 1:2,2 Peter 1:3; waiting upon him, worshipping and serving of him, according to his prescription, Micah 4:5; Matthew 28:19,Matthew 28:20; Acts 2:42,Acts 2:43; 2 Timothy 2:19; for his sake, Matthew 19:29; Matthew 24:9; Acts 9:16; Revelation 2:3,Revelation 2:13; Revelation 3:8; to his honour and glory, Psalms 31:3; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Revelation 4:9,Revelation 4:11; Revelation 5:12,Revelation 5:13; Revelation 11:13. Endeavouring to render hearty thanks unto God and the Father, i.e. to God the Father: the Syriac and Arabic do omit the conjunction copulative; however, it is to be understood expositively of God the Father of Christ, and our Father, who doth embrace us as his children.

By him; by or through Christ, Ephesians 5:20; Hebrews 13:15, the only Mediator.

Verse 18

The apostle, entering upon an exhortation to relative duties, begins first with that which wives owe to their husbands to whom they are married, by reason this relation is the first in nature, and the fountain whence the rest do flow, Genesis 2:22; Psalms 127:3; Psalms 128:3; Proverbs 5:15,Proverbs 5:16. That which he requires is self-submission in every thing, see Ephesians 5:22, expressing a subjection with reverence, Ephesians 5:24,Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:1. The God of order made the woman inferior, Genesis 2:18,Genesis 2:22; Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:7-9; 1 Timothy 2:13; Titus 2:5; yet her submission is not to be servile, as that of a handmaid, but conjugal, as of a meet companion.

As it is fit in the Lord; suitable to God’s institution, in a becoming manner, agreeable to the mind of Christ, Acts 5:29; 1 Peter 3:7.

Verse 19

The husband’s duty is love, which the apostle doth ever inculcate from the most obliging considerations when he speaks of this relation; see Matthew 19:6; 1 Corinthians 7:3, with Ephesians 5:25,Ephesians 5:33; to sweeten on the one hand the subjection of the wife, and to temper on the other hand the authority of the husband.

And be not bitter against them; who, that upon his authority he may not grow insolent, the apostle forbids him frowardness with his wife, thereby requiring a conversation with her full of sweetness and amity: wrath and bitterness is to be laid aside towards all others, Colossians 3:8, with Ephesians 4:31, much more towards his own wife, in whom he is to joy and delight, Proverbs 5:15,Proverbs 5:18,Proverbs 5:19; 1 Peter 3:7.

Verse 20

By children he understands both males and females.

Obey your parents; he requires them to yield humble subjection to those that brought them forth, or have just authority over them; see Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1; paying reverence to them, Leviticus 19:3; Hebrews 12:9; observing their holy and prudent prescriptions, Luke 2:51; showing piety and kindness to them in all grateful offices, 1 Timothy 5:4, and submitting to their parental discipline, Jeremiah 35:6; Hebrews 12:9.

In all things; in whatsoever is agreeable to the mind of the supreme Governor, who is absolute Sovereign, Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29.

For this is well pleasing unto the Lord; and this upon the most cogent reason imaginable, because it is not barely pleasing, but

well pleasing, or very acceptable, to the Lord, who arms parents with authority over their children, Ephesians 6:1-3.

Verse 21

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger: and to moderate the parental authority, that they may exercise it Christianly, he allows not parents to do that which is in a direct tendency to irritate or move the passions of their children merely for their own pleasure, without a principal regard to God’s glory, and their children’s profit, Hebrews 12:10. Indeed, he seems here more strictly to guard fathers against mal-administration of their power in this extreme than he doth elsewhere, when writing upon the same subject, Ephesians 6:4, considering the original word he here puts the negative upon, to engage them to lay aside rigour in their government, (as well as unwarrantable indulgence), and that upon a very weighty reason, drawn from the end, viz.

lest they be discouraged; lest some children, who might with a moderate hand be reduced to obedience, should be (as it were) dispirited, by the roughness of their father’s discipline, and even pine away with grief, or grow desperate.

Verse 22

Servants: the apostle knowing how hard the condition of servitude was, both under the Jews and Gentiles, lest any believers in that mean condition should disgust so strict a subjection, especially to unbelieving masters, and cast off the yoke by breaking their covenants, to the disturbance of human society, and the disparagement of the Christian institution, he takes a special care to sweeten the harshness of it to all those indefinitely whose lot it was, by recommending the duties of it to them from the consideration of the acceptableness of them to God, who of his unconstrained grace would vouchsafe to them the noblest reward.

Obey in all things your masters according to the flesh: wherefore Christianity requires that servants of all sorts should readily receive and cheerfully execute all the commands, {see Colossians 3:20} in things lawful and honest, of those of both sexes, whom God in his wise providence hath given a just authority over them according to the flesh; ( see also Ephesians 6:5); which expression is not only for distinction from the Father and Master of spirits, Hebrews 12:9, but for mitigation of their servitude, in that their earthly master’s power reacheth only things corporeal and temporal, not the conscience and things that are eternal, which might be some comfort, that the servitude would not last long, and in the mean time they were God’s free-men, 1 Corinthians 7:22, whom they might serve with the spirit in the gospel of his Son, Romans 1:9.

Not with eye-service; yet their masters after the flesh, in those civil things wherein they had power to command, were not lightly to be respected or served to the eye, or only to be observed while their eye was upon them, Ephesians 6:6.

As men-pleasers; as if regard were to be had to the pleasing of men, and not to the pleasing of God, who searcheth the heart, and by his gospel (which they should adorn) expects they should remember his eye is ever upon them, Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18.

But in singleness of heart, fearing God; and expects that, in a holy awe of him, they should do all that is incumbent on them, in the sincerity of their souls, {see Ephesians 6:5,Ephesians 6:6} with more regard to God than man.

Verse 23

Yea, courageously and cheerfully, from the very soul, not constrainedly and murmuringly, though they be froward and their commands harsh; making account it is Jesus Christ, (who hath power over soul and body, Matthew 10:28), not mortal men only, or in and for themselves, whom you serve, {see Ephesians 6:7} have an eye unto this Sovereign Lord, in the servile office your masters on earth do employ you.

Verse 24

Knowing, being fully persuaded of this undoubted truth,

that of the Lord, who superintends all your services, (not for any merit of yours), Ephesians 6:8, the recompence which your Master in heaven hath purchased, Ephesians 1:14,Ephesians 1:18, shall be freely settled upon you whom he hath adopted into his family, Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 1:5; for in those duties you Christianly perform to masters of the same mould with yourselves, he really looks upon you as his own servants, {see Ephesians 6:6} yea, and free-men, 1 Corinthians 7:22; so that, as Onesimus, Philemon 1:10, ye may more cheerfully submit to your masters’ yoke, according to the command and for the sake of Christ, who reckons what you do upon that account as done to himself, Matthew 25:40, and will instate you in that eternal inheritance, to which neither you nor any mortal man had naturally any right at all.

Verse 25

But he that doeth wrong; but if the reward will not engage to a right discharge of these relative duties, the injurious person,

whether he be bond or free, Ephesians 6:8, an inferior servant or a domineering master, who doth violate the rules of right, agreeing with the law natural and eternal,

shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; shall have the just recompence of that injury, whereby he wrongs his correlate; the penalty apportioned to his fault, Romans 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Peter 2:13.

And there is no respect of persons; from the impartiality of Divine justice, there is no respect of persons with God, Romans 2:11, or with Christ, in the place parallel to this, Ephesians 6:9, who is so righteous a Judge that he is not swayed by the outward circumstances and qualifications of men, whether potent or poor, Leviticus 19:15; Job 34:19; he seeth not as man seeth, he looketh not on the outward appearance, but on the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7; in the distribution of justice, he will put no difference between the mightiest monarch and the most enslaved peasant; the purloining servant, and oppressing master shall certainly receive answerable to their doings from his impartial hand: the mean one who is at present abused without relief, and the great one who doth tyrannize without control, shall one day have right, and be reckoned with by the righteous Judge, 2 Timothy 4:8, who will show to all the world that he will honour those that honour him, and lightly esteem those that despise him, 1 Samuel 2:30, and that he is the avenger of all those that are wronged, 1 Thessalonians 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Colossians 3". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/colossians-3.html. 1685.
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