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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
Colossians 3

 

 


Verses 1-4

Setting One’s Mind Above

Christians have died with Christ in baptism and been risen with Him to walk in a new life (Colossians 2:12; Colossians 2:20; Romans 6:3-4). Because the Christian has risen with Christ, he should seek spiritual things instead of sensual (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Christ rules in a spiritual realm, rather than a physical, and expects His followers to concentrate on spiritual living (John 18:36).

Since the one in Christ is no longer alive to sinful pursuits but is alive in Christ, he must set his sights on spiritual things and not worldly. Of course, it is impossible to go out of the world, but the true follower of Christ must strive to keep the world out of him (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). Paul placed great emphasis upon the proper frame of mind to live the Christian life (Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:1-2).

Men place the bodies of those who die physically in the earth and cover them up. Similarly, those who put to death the man of sin are just as surely buried in Christ, thus hidden. Christ gave the members of His church life by conquering sin for them (Ephesians 2:1). They are hidden in Him until He appears in His glorified form, when all His children will appear with Him (Colossians 3:1-4).


Verse 5-6

Putting to Death Earthly Thinking

Having shown how the Christian is alive, Paul next turned to show what each member of His body must put to death, or mortify. Thomas suggest mortify means "to dig out by the roots, and utterly destroy." Notice, Jesus’ followers die with Christ to become Christians and must continue to put to death wrongful desires that may come up in their lives. Fornication describes unlawful sexual relationships. Uncleanness is moral impurity which is brought on by lustful thinking. Thayer says the word translated “passion” refers in the New Testament to "depraved passion". A desire, craving or longing for that which is forbidden would be evil desire, according to Thayer. Covetousness might well be described as a lust for money. It makes the acquisition of material things the god of one"s life, thus it can be called idolatry.

Paul indicates all those who live in the above described ways and refuse to obey God will face a predetermined end. Notice, God"s wrath in judgment is reserved for those who will not obey him, not a group destined to be lost. Remember, Christians have quit living in worldliness and started living in Christ. When the Colossians lived in worldliness, they participated in some of the sins Paul had mentioned (Colossians 3:5-6).


Verses 7-11

Changing Clothes

Since the Colossian brethren were dead to the world in Christ, Paul said they should put sin out of their lives. Anger and wrath both describe passions aroused when one is insulted or otherwise hurt by someone else"s actions or statements. Apparently, one refers to short term and the other sustained anger. Malice is ill will which may result from anger and leads to the desire to injure. Blasphemy means "to speak against". Christians should not slander anyone and especially not God. Filthy language especially describes suggestive stories and cursing which should also be eliminated from the lives of Christians. One can lie by telling something that is not true or failing to tell the truth. That latter deceives people by allowing them to draw false conclusions from what has been left unsaid. Since members of Christ’s body have stripped off the old clothing of sin, all these things should be cast out of their newly cleansed lives.

In place of the old clothing of sin, Christ’s followers put on the new man in baptism. Their renewing is an ongoing process through growth in knowledge of Christ. The goal is to grow more and more like the Lord and the Father (1 Peter 2:21; John 14:9). The new creature is in Christ where there is no distinction between people. The Jews divided the world into Jew and Gentile, or circumcision and uncircumcision. The Greeks divided it into Greeks and Barbarians, who Weed says, were despised by Jew and Greek. Of course, there was also a social distinction between slaves and free men. All of these distinctions are meaningless in Christ, where the redeemed are many members but one body. Christ loves all categories of people and is in all those people who come to Him for salvation (Colossians 3:7-11).


Verses 12-14

The Christian’s New Clothes

The only way to keep sin"s clothing off is to replace it with the new clothes of the Christian life (Matthew 12:43-45). Elect, holy and beloved are all terms used in the Old Testament to describe physical Israel as God"s chosen people. Now, Christians comprise God"s chosen people. As such, they should develop hearts of compassion for the physical and spiritual needs of others. The Lord fed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead, wept with those that mourned and cried over the lost. To be like Him, one’s concern must extend to those today who are in similar circumstances. Compassion can only truly be shown in a gentle demeanor, or kindness. Jesus’ disciple will place selfish considerations behind the needs of others, thus exhibiting lowliness of mind and humility. Such will also cause one to put up with ill treatment and ingratitude from the very ones whose needs he has tried to meet.

The redeemed should endure wrongs they may suffer at the hands of brethren and have a forgiving spirit. Notice, the Lord"s prayer as He looked down from the cross at the mob that crucified Him (Luke 23:34). Of course, such a spirit cannot lead to full forgiveness without repentance on the part of the wrongdoer (Acts 2:23; Nahum 1:3; Exodus 23:7). The Lord came to earth to extend an offer of forgiveness, to those lost in sin, by His death on the cross. To be like Him, believers must extend an offer of forgiveness even when they are wronged (Matthew 18:15-17). Love is the outer garment that holds all the other garments in place. Love will cause one to keep God"s commandments and look out for the best interests of brethren and enemies (Colossians 3:12-14; 1 John 5:3; John 13:34-35; Matthew 5:43-45).


Verses 15-17

The Result of Putting on Spiritual Garments

The result of putting on the spiritual garments Paul has spoken of will be an inner peace that allows one to remain calm when all around him is in confusion. Christians are called by the gospel to such peace in a united body of believers. All of which should make each member of the body very thankful to God.

If Christians fill themselves up with the study of God"s word, they will find that true inner peace through the wisdom it gives them to face all circumstances. A means of acquiring the wisdom found in God" s word is congregational singing. In this manner, each member of the body teaches the other and encourages to greater service.

Just as Christians yielded to the authority of Jesus in baptism (Acts 2:38), they should yield to His authority in all that they do. This would include worship, family life, recreation, work and school (Matthew 4:10; Matthew 15:9). As in all things, Jesus is the perfect example of the life that submits to the authority of another (John 4:34; John 6:38; John 7:16; John 8:29; John 12:44; John 12:49; John 14:10; John 14:24; John 17:4; John 17:8). As one does all under Jesus" direction, he will be thanking God by the way he lives and thanking Him in his prayers (Colossians 3:15-17; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).


Verses 18-21

The Christian’s Home

It appears to this writer that Paul’s words on the family are a special application of doing all in the Lord"s name. In even the smallest of tasks, when two people work together someone must be in charge or direct the work. God ordained that the wife should yield to the authority of her husband (Genesis 3:16). Subjection is fitting under God"s law, but not if the husband directs his wife to do something unfit in God"s sight (Acts 5:29). While the wife is to be in subjection, the husband cannot be a thoughtless dictator. A man"s wife is to be his special love and she should receive the tender attention one would give to his own fragile, sensitive body parts (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:28-29; 1 Peter 3:7).

Children should submit themselves to their parents in obedience. Such teaches them appropriate submission to authority and will help them be prepared to yield to God. Again, submission is limited to doing those things which are right in God"s sight, for the Christian’s ultimate goal is to please Him. A father"s goal should be to encourage his children to do good. He should carefully direct and discipline so as to keep them on the path of righteousness (Colossians 3:18-21).


Verses 22-25

Instructions for Servants and Masters

Paul has been criticized by some for not openly condemning slavery. However, the instructions he gave to slave and master must have hastened that terrible system"s end. If a servant wanted to please the Lord, he would obey his master and do his work so as to be acceptable in God"s sight. Pleasing God can only be accomplished by doing things right through and through and not merely on the surface. Such service would quickly attract the master"s attention and might cause him to ask what was different about the slave.

Because Christians wear the name of Christ, they should give their very best in service. Everything believers do should first be done to please the Lord. Men might fail to give a proper reward for things one does but God will always reward appropriately. In Paul"s day, slaves could not receive an inheritance. In Christ, one is not a slave but a son and is thus eligible for an inheritance in heaven (Galatians 4:7). God’s children serve Christ Jesus and He will not have them go unrewarded.

Whether slave or master, the one who violates Christ"s law will be rewarded with punishment. God is impartial and will reward each according to his deeds (Galatians 6:7-8). Masters of slaves needed to remember that they had a Master in heaven. That Master will judge them in the same manner they have judged their slaves (Colossians 3:22-25; Colossians 4:1; Matthew 7:1-2; Ephesians 6:8-9).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Colossians 3:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/colossians-3.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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