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He sheweth how we should seek Christ; he exhorteth to mortification, to put off the old man, and to put on the new man; recommending charity, humility, and several other duties.
Anno Domini 62.
IN the 12th verse of the preceding chapter, the Apostle had told the Colossians, that theyhad been typically buried with Christ in baptism, in token of their relinquishing their former principles and practices: and that, in baptism likewise, they had been typicallyraised with Christ, as an emblem and pledge of the resurrection of the faithful saints withhim to a spiritual life here, and to eternal life hereafter. The former of these doctrines the Apostle had applied, chap. Col 2:20 to shew the Colossians the absurdity of subjecting themselves to the ritual precepts, from which they had been freed by their death with Christ: and now, as the application of the latter doctrine, he told them, in the first verse of this chapter, that if they were really raised with Christ to a spiritual life, they were bound to do their utmost, by faith and holiness, to obtain, through grace, the possession of the joys of heaven, where Christ now sitteth at the right hand of God, vested with full power to bestow these joys on all who are capable of receiving them, Colossians 3:1.—In particular, they were to set their affections on the joys of heaven, and not on the grandeur, the riches, and the pleasures of this earth, Colossians 3:2.—The rather, because, according to the present course of things, they were in danger of being put to death by their persecutors, for their faith, and of losing every earthly enjoyment: or, at any rate, they were to die at length, Colossians 3:3.—Yet the fear of death was no to disquiet them: their bodily life, being entrusted to Christ, will be gloriously restored at the resurrection, if they be faithful unto death: so that, in such case, when he shall appear to raise the dead, and judge the world, they shall appear with him in glorious immortal bodies, and be put in possession of the joys of heaven by his sentence of acquittal, Colossians 3:4.—Wherefore, that they might be capable of this great felicity, the Apostle exhorted them to mortify themselves, not after the Pythagorean manner, but by putting to death their inordinate carnal affections and actions, which he called their earthly members, Colossians 3:5.—Then told them, that however pleasing the heathens might think these things were to their gods, they were so provoking to the true God, as to draw down his wrath on the persons who were guilty of them, Colossians 3:6.—And that, though formerly, while heathens, they lived in the habitual practice of these vices, Colossians 3:7.—it now became them, in their christian state, to put them all away, together with anger, &c. Colossians 3:8.—because at their baptism they professed to put off the old man, with his deeds, Colossians 3:9.—By calling fornication, with the other vices, their old man, the Apostle insinuated that the Phrygians were much addicted to these vices.—Farther, he exhorted the Colossians to put on the new man, who is new-made, through the experimental knowledge of the truth, after the image of God, Colossians 3:10.—And to encourage them to acquire the new nature of which he spake, he told them, that it communicates such a dignity to the person who possesses it, that God does not regard whether he be a Greek or a Jew, &c. But that in the new creation every man is honourable according to the degree in which he possesses the nature of Christ, Colossians 3:11.—Withal, to shew them the excellence of the new-man, he described his qualities; bowels of mercies, &c. and exhorted the Colossians, as elect of God, to put them on, Colossians 3:12-13.—and over all to put on love, which he represented as a girdle, wherewith the spiritual dress is made perfect, or complete, Colossians 3:14.—Then prayed, that, in consequence of their putting on the qualities above mentioned, the peace of God might rule in their hearts; which was an implied promise that, in such case, so it should be, Colossians 3:15.
Next, because the worshippers of Cybele and Bacchus, feigning themselves to be inspired by these idols, ran through the streets and fields in a frantic manner, committingnumberless extravagancies, and singing lewd songs in honour of the gods whom they worshipped, the Apostle, to prevent the Colossians from joining in these madnesses, commanded them to have the word of Christ dwelling in them richly, that is, to call it frequently to their remembrance, and to speak of it to one another, and to get it realized in all its lovely powers in their souls; ands in their social meetings, when they felt themselves moved by the Spirit, instead of singing lewd songs, after the manner of the heathens, to teach and admonish one another by singing psalms, and hymns, and odes dictated by the Spirit; and to do so with true inward devotion, to the honour of the Lord, Colossians 3:16.—And whatever they said or did by inspiration, or at any other time, to do all in such a manner as to promote the honour of the Lord Jesus, whose disciples they called themselves. Farther,because the heathens offered solemn thanksgivings to Bacchus, as the giver of all the good things which mankind enjoy, the Apostle ordered the Colossians to ascribe the honour and praise of all blessings to God alone, who is the real Father, or author, of every thing good; and to give him thanks for his favours through the mediation of Christ, Colossians 3:17.
Having thus directed the Colossians to mortify, through grace, their corrupt earthly affections, and to acquire the holy dispositions of the new man, who is created after the image of God, and to avoid imitating the heathens in their lewd speeches and songs; the Apostle, in the remaining part of the chapter, inculcated the relative and social duties of life, that, in their behaviour as citizens, the Colossians might be as much distinguished from the heathens, as they exceeded them in the knowledge of true religion.—His account of relative duties, he began with explaining the duties of husbands and wives, Colossians 3:18-19.—From these he passed to the duties of children and parents, Colossians 3:20-21.—Then described the duties of servants; on which he insisted at greater length, on account of the difficulty of these duties, Colossians 3:22-25.—And, last of all, he inculcated the duties of masters, chap. Col 4:1 with which this chapter should have ended. See Ephesians 6:0.
Colossians 3:1. If ye then be risen, &c.— The Apostle here proceeds, upon the principles that he had laid down, to graft a most important practical exhortation on what he had said; than which nothing could more effectually tend to take them off from those bigotted attachments which he was so solicitous to root out;—a remarkable instance of that happy address which we have so often had an opportunity of observing. See the Inferences.
Colossians 3:2. Set your affection on things above,— The original is mind, regard: "Prefer and pursue the things that are above:" — Τα αω φρονειτε .
Colossians 3:3. For ye are dead, &c.— "For ye are, by profession and obligation, and all true believers really are, by communion with Christ in his death, dead in your hearts and affections as to the Mosaic law, and crucified with Christ to sin and the world; so as not to seek your portion, and place your happiness, in earthly things: and all the entertainments and enjoyments of your spiritual life are maintained, and carried on, in secret transactions between God and your own souls, by virtue of your mystical union with Christ, your Head, who himself is essentially united with God the Father, as he is in the Son, and the Son in the Father (John 14:11; John 17:21.) The things of this heavenly life are out of sight, they being hid, as much as Christ himself now is, from an eye of sense, and from the conceptions of a carnal mind: and, after all that believers themselves experience of them, they knew not what they shall be. (1 John 3:2.)"
Colossians 3:5. St. Paul, having concluded the principal design of his writing, comes now, according to his usual manner, to give the Colossians some rules and directions for their Christian behaviour and conversation. These rules are of four kinds: First, such as concerned themselves personally, and their own purity in abstaining from sensual lusts, Colossians 3:5-7.—Secondly, such as concerned them as Christians in society, and were to be observed by them with regard to, and in conversing with each other, Colossians 3:8-17. Thirdly, the duties resulting from the several relations that men stand in to each other, Col 3:18—ch. Colossians 4:1. Fourthly, such as had respect to their enemies, among whom they lived, ch. Colossians 4:2-6. Instead of covetousness, the English expositors in general, after Mr. Locke, render the word πλεονεξια, insatiable desire, or licentious intemperance. See Ephesians 4:19.
Colossians 3:7. In the which ye also walked— Amongst whom ye also once walked, [partaking in all their enormities,] when ye lived among them. Doddridge. Mr. Peirce paraphrases the verse as follows: "Among which children of disobedience you also some time had your conversation, when, being unconverted, you lived in the commission of those sins."
Colossians 3:8. Blasphemy,— The original word properly signifiesblasphemy; but it includes not only impious speeches with regard to God, which is the highest degree of malignant language, but all railing and reproachful speeches against ourbrethren. See Matthew 15:19. Ephesians 4:31. By filthy communication, obscene and lewd discourse is generally understood. Dr. Whitby explains the original word of reproachful language; but the former sense is, I think, rather to be preferred, as reproachful language seems abundantly forbidden in the former article; and as in the parallel Epistleto the Ephesians the Apostle expressly forbids such filthycommunication. See Ephesians 4:29.
Colossians 3:11. Where there is neither Greek, &c.— St. Paul's main design in this Epistle was, to establish the Colossians in theiradherence to the gospel mystery of the calling of the Gentiles, and maintaining their freedom against the Jewish dogmatizers; and though he had already concluded that matter, yet, having it very much at his heart, he takes an occasion here, in the midst of quite other things, to drop a word with relation to it. The sense of the verse is, that,in the point of obtaining acceptance with God, our regard must be paid solely to Christ; upon him alone we must depend, and not upon the Mosaic law, or any other person or thing whatever:—that cordial faith in Christ is the only term on which God insists for justification; and that this is the case in all, or among all men, let them be Jews, or let them be Gentiles; of whatever nation, or whatever condition, it matters not. Upon this term alone they should be received into favour, without submitting to the ordinances which the Judaizers would gladly obtrude upon them. The Apostle seems to make use of a kind of climax in mentioning the Scythians, as they were reckoned more barbarous than any other barbarous nation.
Colossians 3:12. Put on therefore, &c.— The exhortation in this verse is not inconsistent with what was said in Col 3:10 of their having already put on the new man; as the Apostle intended here to exhort them to advance more and more in those benevolent dispositions which did, through divine grace, in some considerable degree, already prevail in their hearts.
Colossians 3:14. Put on charity,— "Put on love, which is the bond of that perfect union which ought to reign in the body of Christ, and by which the whole church becomes perfect." See l John 4:12; John 4:18.
Colossians 3:15. And let the peace of God rule, &c.— See Philippians 4:7. The word Βραβευετω, rendered rule, is a term borrowed from the Grecian games, and alludes to the office of the master, who presided at those games, deciding all the controversies between the competitors, and determining who should have the preference; in which view the Apostle's meaning is, "Let the peace of God always preside, as the great umpire in your hearts."
Colossians 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, &c.— That is, "The gospel which you have received;" which the Apostle exhorts them to lay up in their hearts, to meditate upon continually, and to endeavour to improve wisely to the best purpose. But Peirce and others give a different interpretation, as follows: "It would be of good service to prevent the sins from which I have dissuaded you, and to promote the love that I have recommended, if, in your conversing together, you would take care that your discourse and talk should be much of Christ, in all wisdom; and that you entertain each other in conversing together in a Christian manner, teaching and admonishing, &c." See Ephesians 5:18-20. Beza, Schmidius, Bengelius, and Gataker point the verse thus: Let, &c. richly: in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another; in psalms, &c.
Colossians 3:20. Children, obey—in all things:— That is, "which are lawful, or to which the parental authority extends." This must be understood with some such limitation; and there can be no hurt in supplying the sense from Col 3:18 with εν κυριω, in the Lord; and so it is expressed, Ephesians 6:1. That is, "as the Lord requires you, and as far as is consistent with your duty to him."
Colossians 3:23. Do it heartily,— 'Εκ ψυχης, from the spirit, or "from a spiritual principle, and not from worldly motives." Heylin.
Inferences. How much the metaphorical language of scripture has been mistaken, and what errors and absurdities men have fallen into, under pretence of adhering to the literal sense, is well known. The words of the first verse of this chapter are, however, hardly capable of being so abused, being a plain inference from what had before been advanced, as is evident from the manner in which they are introduced; "If ye then be risen with Christ." It is plain, therefore, that they must refer to something which had been said of our resurrection with, or in Christ, since this conclusion supposes that doctrine already laid down and established. To find this connection, we must look back to the middle of the foregoing chapter, (Colossians 3:10. &c.) where the doctrine here referred to is plainly declared. And ye are complete in him, (that is, in Christ Jesus,) &c. and you—hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; whence the inference above drawn naturally follows, If ye then be risen with Christ, &c.
The better to explain this inference, it may be necessary to consider the representation which the scripture makes of the natural state of man, and of his gospel state, on becoming a real Christian.
1. The state of nature is fully represented, Ephesians 4:17-18; Ephesians 2:2-3; Ephesians 2:12. Rom 6:19-20 to which passages the reader may refer. And because, in the mere state of nature, abstractedly considered from every operation of divine grace, there is no goodness whatever in man, therefore this state of sinful nature is called likewise a state of death, Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5. While men were thus dead to God and to themselves, they lived only to sin and unrighteousness; and sin therefore is said to reign in them,—to have dominion over them. In this state of corruption, the natural passions and affections were but the instruments of sin, in all things subservient; on which account they are said to constitute the body of sin; that body over which sin, as the soul, or active principle, had entire rule and dominion; (see Romans 6:6. Colossians 2:11.) and whose members are described in the chapter before us, Col 3:5 and this body is elsewhere called by our Apostle, the body of death, for the same reason that the state of sin is called the state of death, Romans 7:24.
Now the body, together with the soul, which is the active principle of life, the influencer and director of the body, and all its motions, constitutes the man: hence, therefore, by an easy and natural metaphor, those depraved appetites and affections, which are the instruments, or members of sin, and which compose the body of sin;—together with the evil principle ruling in us, and directing the affections in the pursuit of all uncleanness and iniquity, and which is called sin,—are said in scripture to be the old man; the only man which lives before the regeneration by Christ Jesus. Comp. Romans 6:6. Ephesians 4:22.
2. This then is the state of nature according to the representation and language of Holy Writ; and it is easy to see what must become of this old man, this man of sin, upon the appearance of Christ Jesus, who came to destroy the works of the devil; to give life and light to those who sat in the shadow of darkness and death: he and his works must be destroyed, where Christ is fully revealed, to make way for the Spirit of righteousness and his holy works; and to introduce man to the second, or gospel state.
But thus to destroy the old man,—to root out all the corrupt affections of nature, and to implant a new principle of life and holiness, to restore the lost image of God,—to give new desires to the soul, new affections to the heart;—what is it, but to new-make the man, and, by a second creation, to restore him to those rights and privileges of the first, which were long since forfeited by sin and disobedience? For this reason the Christian is said to be a new creature, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Galatians 6:15.Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23-24. Nay, and we are said even to put on Christ, from the similitude of will and affections between Christ and his true members. Galatians 3:27.
From this account it is easy to understand the propriety of the phrases used to express these two conditions. Sometimes we read that we were dead before the knowledge of Christ: sometimes that we died and were buried with Christ: again, that we rose with Christ, and are alive in him. Now to be dead before the coming of Christ, and yet to die with Christ after his coming, and yet still to be alive in him, may seem to be assertions inconsistent, with respect to the same person; but if we take the same view of man that the scripture does, the inconsistency will soon vanish and disappear.
Man was at first created after the image and likeness of God, with a perfect rectitude of mind and will; with inclinations adapted to his true happiness, and entirely subject to the influence and direction of reason: but, upon his disobedience, man became a quite different person; his understanding was darkened, his will corrupted, his inclinations distorted to the pursuit of evil continually. This change was a real death of the man created after the image of God; he could no longer exercise any of the functions proper to his life, but lay buried under the ruins of sin.—And this was the death of the world before the knowledge of Christ.
What then was the life of the world at the coming of Christ?—It was the life of sin; of the earthly man, made not in the image of God, but after the likeness of the son of disobedience. To destroy this man of sin, Christ came into the world; and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts: Galatians 5:24. And thus, with respect to the life we had at the coming of Christ, which was the life of sin,—believers are said to die with Christ, and to be buried with him, because they renounce that life, and the affections proper to it. Thus dying to sin, we begin to live again unto God, and to true holiness: and this is a resurrection of the man made after the image of God, which before was dead in trespasses; and therefore we are said to be made alive to Christ, and to rise together with him.
But further: this change was what, by nature, we had not power so much as to wish for, or desire for ourselves: but Christ undertook our cause: he took our nature and our iniquities upon himself, and underwent death in behalf of all. He dying therefore upon the cross for all, all may be crucified with him, through the power of his grace and spirit. See Hebrews 2:9. 2 Corinthians 5:14. And the way to attain to the benefits of the death of Christ, is, as we learn from St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Philippians, to be, through his grace, conformable unto his death. This conformity consists, as we have seen, in dying to sin, and the affections of it; in putting off the old man, and in putting on the new man, who is created after righteousness: and this the Apostle stiles being planted in the likeness of his death, and being planted in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:5. To which likewise he plainly refers, ch. Rom 8:29 and there are many other precepts in scripture, founded upon this notion of our conformity with Christ.
Indeed, the very essence of Christianity consists in this conformity; and therefore baptism, which is our admission to the gospel, is a sacred emblem of this conformity. (See Romans 3:4.) To walk in newness of life, is our conformity to the resurrection of Christ, which was to new life and glory.
If we bear in mind the above account of the scripture language, and the reasons upon which it is founded, it will be a key to open to us the meaning of many, otherwise intricate, passages of scripture. For instance, we shall not be to seek, when we find mention made of two deaths, which we must undergo,—and of two resurrections, in which we must partake: we shall easily distinguish between the natural death of the body, and the death unto sin;—between the resurrection to life eternal hereafter, and the resurrection to holiness and righteousness in this present world. I am crucified to the world, says St. Paul, and the world to me.—Whoever is born of God, says St. John 1:0.e. whoever is begotten to this new life in Christ by the power of God,—overcometh the world. Again, St. Paul tells us, that the Spirit of God will quicken our mortal bodies, as well as our dead bodies, which is not to be understood, without having recourse to the first resurrection, which is to a new life of holiness, and which must be the forerunner and introducer of the second resurrection to glory. The Apostle, in his Epistle to the Philippians, tells us that he willingly suffered the loss of all things, that he might know Christ, and the power of his resurrection; and this he desired to know, that he might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Php 3:10-11 where, if we remember what has been said of our being made conformable to the death and resurrection of Christ, by rising to holiness and righteousness, we shall not be at a loss to understand what it is to know or feel the power of Christ's resurrection; or to understand how the knowing the power of Christ's resurrection should be a means of attaining the resurrection of the dead.
Such is the power of Christ's resurrection, that those who feel it, have (as the Apostle informs us, Philippians 3:20.) their conversation in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. This, which St. Paul calls knowing the power of Christ's resurrection, and having our conversation in heaven, the author to the Hebrews calls, tasting the powers of the world to come, Hebrews 6:5. This resurrection is, indeed, one of the powers of the world to come, which all partake in, and taste of, whose mortal bodies are quickened by the Spirit of God. In the verse after this, it is said, that those who fall from their faith, crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame. How does he who falls away, crucify Christ, or put him to open shame?—This cannot be understood but by having recourse to the scripture representation already explained: but if we remember that all who are baptized by the Spirit of God, who realize that spiritual baptism which is typified by the external ordinance, crucify the old man with his deeds; that they put on the new man, created after holiness; that the Apostle to the Galatians expressly says, that as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ; it will readily appear why it is that those who fall away crucify Christ afresh. For, by receiving the true faith, they have put on Christ, and crucified the old man and his deeds; but if they desert the true living faith, and return to their former deeds, and again put on the old man, they do then crucify Christ again with his deeds, and put him once more to open shame.
This notion of the different states and conditions of man,—of the death of the old man,—of a new creature in Christ,—runs through the precepts, exhortations, and doctrines of the gospel, which cannot be understood but with analogy to this notion. We have considered already our death, and burial, and resurrection with Christ; but the Apostle, in the passage now before us, carries the metaphor still one degree higher: If ye then be risen, &c. as if he had said, "It is not enough that ye are risen from the dead with Christ; you must also ascend after him into heaven, for there is our life hid in Christ; there are your true riches, and thither must you go to take care of them. You are dead to the world, and as such can no longer live to it; your life is spiritual and heavenly: as is your life, such must be the actions which flow from it,—the inclinations which attend it. Since, therefore, you are dead to the world, and alive to Christ, through the spirit of holiness, you must act like members of Christ, and set your affections on things above, where Christ your life is ascended."
Hence it is that St. Paul so often exclaims against the absurdity of a Christian's living in sin. You may just as well say, that all the actions of life may be performed in the grave, when a man is dead and buried, as say that a Christian may continue in sin: for a Christian has crucified and buried the body of sin. How then, as the Apostle cries out, how shall we, who are dead to sin, continue any longer therein? Sin is the only poison by which the life of Christ, which is in us, may be destroyed. It is a life which no man can take from us but ourselves. Those who kill the body cannot reach it: not all the powers of darkness, sin only excepted, can separate believers and their Lord; but every unmortified lust, every unsubdued vice, is a canker that eats into our very vitals, and, if we do not cut them off, will, in the end, destroy us quite. Holiness is as necessary to our spiritual life, as eating and drinking are to our natural; and therefore the Apostle's conclusion in the text is most obviously just; If we be risen with Christ,—if we live with him, we must seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Apostle having, in the former chapter, laid down the great fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and the invaluable privileges of true believers, proceeds in this to exhort the Colossians to those tempers and practices which became their holy profession.
1. He exhorts them to heavenly-mindedness. If ye then be risen with Christ, in virtue of his resurrection, and of your union with him, seek those things which are above; even the eternal blessedness provided for all the faithful in heaven, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, gone before to prepare a place for them, and ever living to make intercession for them. Therefore, set your affections on things above, with faith, hope, and love, aspire after them, realizing them to your mind by frequent meditation and fervent prayer, seeking those influences of grace which may conduct you to the glory that shall be revealed; and not on things on the earth, whether Jewish ordinances, or earthly advantages, and allurements; keep these under your feet, be weaned from them, and daily dying to them. Note; a worldly mind, and a heavenly hope, are utterly inconsistent; no man can serve two masters.
2. He supports his exhortation by the most powerful arguments. For ye are dead, by your profession in baptism, and your obligations to a crucified Jesus; and your life is hid with Christ in God, your spiritual life, with all its joys, is hid from the natural man, and is still maintained, by secret communications from your exalted Head: therefore, having such glorious expectations, look up, and live continually under the influence of them. And then, when Christ, who is our life, the author, support, and finisher of it, in all his faithful saints, shall appear in the great day of his second coming, then shall ye also appear with him in glory; and how much then does it behove us to have our affections placed there, where we hope to spend an eternity with Christ in blessedness inconceivable?
2nd, If we would set our affections on things in heaven, our sensual and earthly affections must be mortified; and hereunto the Apostle earnestly exhorts them. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, the remaining corruptions that still war against you; such as fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, with every thought, word, or action, which has the remotest tendency to excite impure desire; and covetousness, with every worldly lust, which is idolatry, as it engages the heart to the creature, drawing it off from the love and service of the Creator: for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience; and the consequences of these sins will infallibly be eternal death. In the which ye also, as other Gentiles, walked sometime, when ye lived in them. But now, since the light and grace of the blessed gospel has reached you, ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, speaking reproachfully of God or things sacred, or whatever would blast the reputation of others; and let no filthy communication, or immodest expression, proceed out of your mouth. Lie not one to another; but ever, in all your conversation, speak the truth from your heart, and be faithful to every promise and engagement; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, the native corruption which came with you into the world, and which works to bring forth fruit unto death, till subdued by the power of divine grace; and ye have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him; the heart, by the powerful operations of the Spirit, being renewed after the likeness of Jesus the Creator, in light and holiness; and his image defaced by the fall, being now restored by the grace of God. Where, in this new creation, there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; all distinction of nations, names, conditions, and external privileges is now abolished: but Christ is all and in all; in all who believe; there he dwells, their Prophet, to teach them; their Priest, to atone for them; and their King, to reign in them and over them. Note; (1.) We must mortify sin, or sin will eternally destroy us. (2.) Nothing is more dangerous than fleshly lusts, which war against the soul, unless it be the corroding canker of covetousness, which, though it may less shock the conscience, is as fatally ruinous. (3.) The longer we have lived in sin, the more urgently are we called to awake to newness of life; the time past may surely suffice to have wrought the will of the flesh. (4.) Anger, malice, slander, and lies, are the strongest lineaments of him who was a liar and murderer from the beginning. (5.) If we belong to Christ, we must prove it by the conformity of our temper and conduct to his; he that abideth in him ought himself to walk as Christ also walked. (6.) If Christ be to us all in all, then are we bound to ascribe to him the glory of all our salvation.
3rdly, The Apostle proceeds to enforce the practice of all godliness upon them, as the elect of God, called to be holy and beloved by him; who therefore should approve themselves before him.
1. Put on therefore bowels of mercies, such as were in Jesus Christ, towards the miserable and afflicted, kindness in every word and deed, humbleness of mind, being lowly in your own thoughts of yourselves, and condescending to others; meekness, quietly submitting to the dispensations of Providence, and enduring patiently every reproach and indignity; long-suffering under repeated and aggravated provocations; forbearing one another under your several infirmities, and forgiving one another every offence or injury, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye, whose amazing grace to us should powerfully engage our hearts to pass by each other's transgressions, and not only to forgive, but to blot out of our remembrance every past offence. And,
2. Above all these things, as that which is most singularly necessary, or over all these things, as what sets them off in their brightest lustre, put on love, that divine principle of all that is excellent, which is the bond of perfectness, uniting the whole body of the church together in pure love, and most effectual to preserve them until they arrive at the consummation of their happiness and union in glory.
3. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts; being at peace with him, carefully cultivate peace with each other; and let a sense of his reconciliation to you sway your hearts to mutual love and forbearance; to the which also ye are called in one body, as together united to Christ your common head; and be ye thankful for this invaluable blessing.
4. Let the word of Christ, his blessed gospel, dwell in you richly, abiding in your hearts, the subject of your constant meditations, and delightful converse; esteem it as your most invaluable treasure, and store up the knowledge of it in your hearts, in all wisdom, ready for use on every proper occasion.
5. As united in love, be teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord, building up each other thus on your most holy faith, and helping forward your mutual joy in God, and his blessed service. Note; It is not the music of the voice, but the singing with grace in the heart, which is the acceptable praise.
6. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, under the influence of his grace, with a regard to his will, and a single eye to his glory, expecting the acceptance of every service for his sake alone, giving thanks to God and the Father by him, in whom our praises and prayers come up before the throne as sacrifices of a sweet smell. Note; a Christian can never want matter of praise, whenever he turns his thoughts toward the Lord Jesus.
4thly, The Apostle passes on to inculcate the due discharge of the great relative duties; and he begins as before (Ephesians 5:22,) with the inferior relation, as subjection is peculiarly hard for creatures who are naturally under the power of a spirit of pride and independence. We have,
1. The duty of wives. Submit yourselves unto your own husbands; be under their government, as it is fit in the Lord, according to the law of creation, and the divine constitution; obedient in all things which are not inconsistent with your duty to the Lord Jesus.
2. The duty of husbands. Love your wives with all tenderness and singleness of affection, delighting in their company, and studying to make them happy in their relation to you; and be not bitter against them, cross, hasty, arbitrary, severe, making them afraid with frowns of wrath, or ill usage.
3. The duty of children. Obey your parents in all thing that are lawful, neither murmuring nor disputing against their commands, or disposals; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord, and a happy proof of your relation to the Father of mercies.
4. The duty of parents. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, by needless severities, arbitrary restraints, harsh commands, and unreasonable impositions; lest they be discouraged, their spirits broken with such treatment, and, through despair of pleasing, they should desist even from the attempt.
5. The duty of servants. Obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, whether Gentile or Christian; diligent to observe all their just commands, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, merely while they are looking on you, but in singleness of heart fearing God, and equally faithful in the discharge of your duty, when no eye seeth you but his, to whom it is your special care to approve yourselves: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, working with willingness and assiduity, as to the Lord, for his glory, and not unto men, merely with a view to their applause; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, if faithful, when the great Master shall appear, to recompence the fidelity of his servants, in whatever condition or rank they have been placed by him: for ye serve the Lord Christ; and whatever service ye do to them, with a view to his honour, he will regard it as immediately rendered to himself, and reward it accordingly. But he that doeth wrong to his master, by fraud, connivance, sloth, or negligence, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done the punishment due to his injustice: and there is no respect of persons with God; the meanest at his bar being accountable, as well as the greatest, and shall receive sentence according to their deeds.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Colossians 3". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30