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Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 3

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Col 3:1. Some translations render the first part of this verse as follows: "Since, then, ye have been risen with Christ." That is correct, for the first word is from the Greek term RI which is defined in the lexicons as a conditional term. It means a condition that something is based upon, and the condition in this case is that the Colossians had been risen with Christ. However, there is no doubt implied, for chapter 2:12 plainly states that they had done so, and says it was when they were baptized. That act entitled them to the things mentioned in our verse. The preceding chapter shows them the folly of depending on human elements, hence they should look elsewhere for something worth having and seeking for. The instruction is to seek the things which are above, and the word is defined by Thayer, "in a higher place." But the apostle leaves no place for uncertainty as to where that is, for he says it is where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Baptized believers, then, have a right to these things, but they must seek for them. Rom 2:7 and Rev 22:14 will tell us how the seeking is done.

Verse 2

Col 3:2. Set your affections are from the Greek word PHRONEO, and Thayer defines it, "to direct one's mind to a thing, to seek or strive for." The verse is virtually the same in meaning as the preceding one./

Verse 3

Col 3:3. Death means a separation, and when the disciples turned from a sinful life, they were separated from sin and thus died to it. The life or activity that had been devoted to a worldly practice then became devoted to Christ and so was hid with Him. Of course it was in God, because everything pertaining to righteousness and salvation, must be accomplished jointly with the Father and the Son.

Verse 4

Col 3:4. Christ who is our life. To be hid with Christ gives assurance of enjoying the provisions that He has made for his faithful servants. Those provisions include eternal life; and all of the interests of Christians that have been hid with Him will be re-vealed--will come out of hiding--when Christ appears at the last day. "When that illustrious day shall rise," it will be in a halo of eternal glory, betokening victory over the sinful world.

Verse 5

Col 3:5. In the preceding chapter Paul condemns the extremists who considered it a virtue to torture the body. In the present passage he instructs the disciples to mortify (put to death) certain evil things that are often practiced in the members or parts of the body. Fornication. According to Thayer's explanation of this word, it means unlawful intimacy in general, between the sexes, whether married or not. Uncleanness is a general term and applies to any kind of defilement whether of body or spirit. Inordinate affection is from PATHOS, which Thayer defines, "depraved passion; " it is the word for "vile affections" in Rom 1:26. Evil concupiscence is a term for evil desire, and it is described by Thayer as, "desire for what is forbidden, lust." Covetousness is from PLEONEXIA, and Thayer defines it, "greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice." Idolatry is from IDOLOLATREIA, and its primary meaning is as the King James Version renders it. Thayer explains it at this place to mean "avarice [greed], as a worship of Mammon." The last word is derived from the Chaldean lagnuage, and means "what is trusted in," which shows us why Paul says that covetousness is (not just as bad as) idolatry.

Verse 6

Col 3:6. The theory of predestination that many human creeds/ teach, is disproved by this verse. It shows that the wrath of God comes on people only who are guilty of the evils described in the preceding verse. Such conduct puts them in a class called children of disobedience. The first word is described in Thayer's lexicon as, "those who are connected with a thing by any kind of close relationship."

Verse 7

Col 3:7. The Colossians were once living in sin but are now disciples of Christ, having been baptized into Him. The words walked and lived are used in the same sense, showing that a man's walk is classified by the way he lives.

Verse 8

Col 3:8. When they obeyed the Gospel they were made free from all guilt and stood pure before God. However, being in the beginning of their service to Him, they were like children and would need to make further advancement in their contest against sin. Anger, wrath, malice. If used alone, these words would have virtually the same meaning. When used in one` sentence, they represent a growing of intensity of evil temper, finally becoming fixed in a deep feeling and evil intention called malice. Blasphemy is any kind of evil speaking, especially that which is prompted by the kind of heart just described. Filthy communication is foul and indecent language.

Verse 9

Col 3:9. The old man is a figurative name for the kind of life the Colossians had lived, which was put off when they ceased such a life of sin. One of the evils they formerly committed was falsehood, which is to be replaced with truth.

Verse 10

Col 3:10. When a person puts off one suit of apparel, it is usually for the purpose of putting on another. In like manner, after discarding their old garb of sin, the Colossians had put on the new one that was renewed (modeled) after a divine pattern like Christ who created or designed it.

Verse 11

Col 3:11. This verse does not mean that the groups named cannot be in Christ, but that in Him no distinctions are made for or against any of them. When Greek is used in contrast with Jew it means a Gentile. Circumcision and uncircumcision also mean Jew and Gentile, because that rite was a distinguishing mark between the two from a national standpoint. Barbarian means a foreigner, and Scythian means a class of people considered below the average in culture and intelligence. Bond and free refer to slaves, and those not under slavery. All of these classes have equal right to be in Christ upon obedience to the Gospel, and when they comply with it, they are united as one religious group in Him.

Verse 12

Col 3:12. What the Colossians had put on is mentioned in general in verse 10, and thi/s verse gives some items of that new attire. Elect of God means people who have obeyed the law of God and therefore are elected or chosen by Him, and are regarded as holy and beloved. Bowels is used figuratively in the New Testament, which Thayer explains as follows: "In the Greek poets the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections." Paul partly gives the same definition by adding the rest of the words of this verse. Humbleness and meekness are about the same in meaning, and long-suffering denotes patience under trials and unjust treatment.

Verse 13

Col 3:13. Forbearing one another is virtually the same as "longsuffer-ing" in the preceding verse, denoting a spirit of patience with the faults of others. This will be manifested by a willingness to forgive one who has trespassed against us. Quarrel means complaint that one feels he has against a brother. Even comes from KATHOS, which Thayer defines, "according as, just as, even as." The idea is that we should be willing to follow the example of Christ in forgiving those who have offended us.

Verse 14

Col 3:14. Charity is from AGAPE, which means love that is prompted by a genuine interest in another, which is manifested by a willingness to contribute to his welfare. Above all these things means that love is more important than all the other things that were mentioned in the preceding verses. That agrees with 1Co 13:13, where the last word is from the same Greek term. Bond of perfectness signifies that charity (or love) will make a perfect (complete) bond between brethren.

Verse 15

Col 3:15. Peace of God would be that calmness of mind provided by Him. To rule in their hearts means for such a state of mind to predominate in their minds. Such a condition can he had only in the one body which is the church (Eph 1:22-23). Such a blessedness with God is enough to cause them to be thankful.

Verse 16

Col 3:16. The body of this verse is the same in thought as Eph 5:19; a full explanation is given at that place, which the reader should see; some additional comments will be offered here. The word of Christ is recorded in the New Testament, hence a knowledge of that book is necessary for it to dwell in one's mind richly and in wisdom. Such a knoweldge will enable the disciples to teach and admonish each other. To teach means to impart instruction, and to admonishmeans to insist on doing one's duty, with an intimation of danger in neglecting it. Singing with grace indicates that the service is prompted by the grace (favor) of God.

Verse 17

Col 3:17. Word or deed. According to Luk 6:43-45, a man's words are the fruit of his heart or thoughts. Therefore, the phrase in italics includes one's entire conduct, and the command is that it must be all in the name of the Lord Jesus, otherwise it will be wrong. That cannot mean that merely professing the name of Christ in connection with a thing will make it right. Mat 7:22 Mat 24:5 shows persons doing things "in the name" of the Lord, who we know were not doing right. The phrase can mean only to do all by the authority of Christ. Since His authority is known only in the New Testament, it follows that Christians have no right to any thought, word or deed, that is not authorized by that volume.

Verse 18

Col 3:18. The relationship between God and Christians is a religious and spiritual one, yet He gives certain regulations regarding conduct of the disciples, in all of their relations and dealings with each other, in their various connections with social, political and industrial activities. The general law that should always prevail when a question is raised as to right and wrong in the cases to be mentioned soon, is stated in Act 5:29 as follows: "We ought to obey God rather than men." That is why our present verse instructs wives to submit themselves unto their husbands as it is fit in the Lord. As long as a wife can obey her husband without violating any law of the Lord, it is her duty to do so.

Verse 19

Col 3:19. Love is from AGAPAO, which Thayer defines, "to have a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of." It does not necessarily include the "romantic sentiments," although such a feeling should exist for a woman before a man seeks to make her his wife. Be not bitter means for him not to show an angry or irritated feeling toward his wife in ruling over her.

Verse 20

Col 3:20. In all things should be understood with the same proviso as "in the Lord" at Eph 6:1. A full explanation of this subject is given in that passage which the reader should consult. As long as the commands of parents are not in conflict with the law of the Lord, children must obey them, even though they are old enough to have obeyed the Gospel.

Verse 21

Col 3:21. The words to anger are not in the primary definition given by the lexicon. Provoke means to irritate one's children in a way that will discourage them. It does not oppose proper disciplining of them, even though such correction may be unpleasant. I/t should be considered in the light of Heb 12:11.

Verse 22

Col 3:22. It was not the purpose of the Lord to interfere with the relation of master and servant, for that is a temporal one. But He gave regulations for their conduct toward each other when either or both became disciples, which frequently occurred. Eye service means "service performed only under the master's eye."--Thayer. Singleness is another name for sincerity, and such service here termed eye service would not be sincere, and would not be prompted by the fear or respect for God.

Verse 23

Col 3:23. They were to serve their masters with the same sincerity that they do their service to the Lord. In truth, since He requires servants to obey their masters, such service could well be considered in a sense as having been done for the Lord.

Verse 24

Col 3:24. Reward of the inheritance merely denotes the Lord will see that a faithful servant will receive his due reward. The last clause is the same as the preceding verse; Lord Christ means the anointed ruler.

Verse 25

Col 3:25. As surely as the Lord will see that a faithful servant will receive his due reward, so He will see that an unfaithful one will be punished. No respect of persons. No unfaithful servant will be shown any partiality on account of some personal preference, as earthly masters sometimes do. (See the comments at Eph 6:9.)
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Colossians 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/colossians-3.html. 1952.
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