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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Colossians 3

 

 

Verse 1

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

If (Seeing that) ye then. In Colossians 2:18; Colossians 2:23 he condemned the "fleshly mind:" in contrast he now says, 'If then ye were once for all raised (Greek, aorist) together with Christ' (namely, at your conversion and baptism, Romans 6:4): for death with Him implies also resurrection with Him (Colossians 2:20).

Seek those things which are above (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 3:20).

Sitteth - `where Christ is, sitting on the right hand of God' (Ephesians 1:20): involving 'indisturbance, dominion, and judicature' (Pearson). The Head being quickened, the members are so with Him. Where He is, there they must be. The contrast is between the believer's former state, alive to the world, dead to God, and his present state, dead to the world, alive to God; and between the unbelievers earthly abode and the believer's heavenly abode (1 Corinthians 15:47-48). We are already seated there in Him as our Head; and hereafter shall be seated by Him, as the Bestower of bliss. As Elisha (2 Kings 2:2) said to Elijah, about to ascend, "As the Lord liveth ... I will not leave thee:" so we must follow the ascended Saviour with the wings of our meditations and the chariots of our affections. We should trample upon our lusts, that our conversation may correspond to our Saviour's condition; that where the eyes of apostles were forced to leave Him, there our thoughts may follow Him (Matthew 6:21; John 12:32) (Pearson). Of ourselves we can no more ascend than a bar of iron lift itself from the earth. But Christ's love is the magnet to draw us up (Ephesians 2:5-6). The design of the Gospel is not so much to give rules, as to supply motives to holiness.


Verse 2

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

[ Ta (Greek #3588) anoo (Greek #507) phroneite (Greek #5426)] 'Set your mind on (stronger than seek) the things above, not on the things,' etc. Contrast "who mind earthly things," Philippians 3:19, with 20: Galatians 4:26. Whatever we make an idol of will either be a cross, if we be believers, or a curse, if unbelievers.


Verse 3

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

(Greek aorist) 'For ye died once for all,' in your Head, Christ (Romans 6:4; Romans 6:7; Romans 6:10), with whom ye are one by faith (Colossians 2:12; Colossians 2:20). Not, Ye must die practically to the world in order to become dead with Christ; but the latter is assumed as once for all accomplished by Christ, our Representative, with whom we become identified in regeneration: then, develop this spiritual life in practice. 'No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal life' (Augustine).

Your life (hath been and) is , [ kekruptai (Greek #2928): perfect, expressing the continuous state consequent on the previous aorist]

Hid (Psalms 83:3) - like a seed buried in the earth (cf. "planted," Romans 6:5). Compare Matthew 13:31; Matthew 13:33, "like unto leaven ... hid." Since Christ's glory now is hidden from the world, so the believer's real inner life, in communion with Him, is hidden with Christ in God (the element and sphere in which the life is hid: 'in God,' at whose right hand Christ sitteth, Colossians 3:1, the express image of His person); but (Colossians 3:4) when Christ, its Source and Essence, shall manifest Himself in glory, then shall their hidden life be manifest. The Christian's secret communion with God now at times makes itself seen without his intending it (Matthew 5:14; Matthew 5:16); but his full manifestation is at Christ's (Matthew 13:43; Romans 8:19-23): his manifested life will be the natural development of his present inner life; "glory" will be its prominent characteristic (1 Corinthians 15:43). 'It is not yet manifested what we shall be' (1 John 3:2; 1 Peter 1:7). As yet Christians do not always recognize the "life" of manifested what we shall be' (1 John 3:2; 1 Peter 1:7). As yet Christians do not always recognize the "life" of one another, and even at times doubt as to their own, (Psalms 51:1-19; Romans 7:1.)


Verse 4

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

'When Christ shall be manifested, who is our life (John 11:25; John 14:19; Galatians 2:20), then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory' (1 Peter 4:13). His non-manifestation is the pretext of unbelievers (2 Peter 3:4). The Spirit-imparted life our souls have now in Him shall be extended to our bodies (Romans 8:11; Romans 8:17).

Then - and not until then. Those err who expect a perfect church before then. The true Church is now militant. Rome errs in trying to set up a church now regnant. The Church shall be visible as perfect and reigning, when Christ shall be visibly manifested as her reigning Head. Rome, ceasing to look for Him in patient faith, has set up a visible mock-head, ante-dating the millennial kingdom. The papacy took to itself by robbery that glory which is an object of hope, and can only be reached by bearing the cross. When the Church became a harlot, she ceased to be a bride going to meet her Bridegroom. Hence, the millennial kingdom ceased to be looked for (Auberlen).


Verse 5

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Mortify , [ nekroosate (Greek #3499)] - 'make a corpse of.'

Therefore (note, Colossians 3:3) - follow out to its consequence your having once for all died with Christ spiritually at your regeneration, by daily 'deadening your members,' of which, united, "the body of the sins of the flesh" consists (Colossians 2:11): kill the bodily "members," in so far as they are made the fleshly instruments of lust, the deadly foe of your new life (cf. Matthew 5:29-30; Romans 6:19; Romans 7:5; Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:24-25).

Upon the earth - where they find their support (cf. Colossians 3:2, "things on the earth"). See Ephesians 5:3-4.

Inordinate affection , [ pathos (Greek #3806)] - 'lustful passion.'

Evil concupiscence - more general (Alford), the disorder of the external senses: 'lustfulness,' lust within (Bengel).

Covetousness , [ teen (Greek #3588) pleonexian (Greek #4124)] - marked by the article as forming a genus by itself, distinct from the genus containing the various species just enumerated. A self-idolizing, grasping spirit; worse than [ filarguria (Greek #5365)] "the love of money" (1 Timothy 6:10).

Which is , [ heetis (Greek #3748)] - inasmuch as it is "idolatry." Compare note, Ephesians 4:19, on its connection with impurity. Self and mammon are deified in the heart instead of God (Matthew 6:24; note, Ephesians 5:5).


Verse 6

For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

(Note, Ephesians 5:6.)


Verse 7

In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

Walked sometime - `once.'

When ye lived in them - as in your very element (before ye became once for all dead with Christ to them): no wonder, then, that ye "walked" in them. Contrast 'living in the Spirit,' and its consequence, 'walking in the Spirit' (Galatians 5:25). The living comes first; the walking follows.


Verse 8

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

But now - that ye are no longer living in them.

Ye also - like other believers: answering to "ye also" (Colossians 3:7), like other unbelievers formerly.

Put off - imperative.

All these , [ ta (Greek #3588) panta (Greek #3956)] - 'the whole of these;' those just enumerated, and those which follow. Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy - rather, 'reviling,' 'evil-speaking' (note, Ephesians 4:31).

Filthy communication. The context favours 'foul language,' abusiveness, as well as filthiness.


Verse 9

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

(Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:26)

Put off , [ apekdusamenoi (Greek #554)] - 'wholly put off.' The conditions into which they had entered rendered a selfish and untruthful life a self-contradiction (Ellicott).

The old man - the unregenerate nature before conversion.

His deeds - habits of acting (Galatians 5:24).


Verse 10

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

The new man. [Here neon (Greek #3501) means 'the recently-put-on nature at regeneration (note, Ephesians 4:23-24).]

Which is renewed , [ anakainoumenon (Greek #341)] - 'which is being renewed;' namely, its development into a perfectly renewed nature continually progressing, by the Spirit's working (2 Corinthians 4:16; Titus 3:5).

In knowledge - rather [ epignoosin (Greek #1922)], 'unto perfect knowledge' (notes, Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:9-10; Colossians 2:2). Perfect knowledge of God excludes sin (John 17:3).

After the image of him that creates him - namely, created the new man (Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23-24). The new creation is analogous to the first (2 Corinthians 4:6). As man was made in the image of God naturally, so is he now spiritually. But the image of God formed in us by the Spirit is as much more glorious than that borne by Adam, as the Second Man, the Lord from heaven, is more glorious than the first (Genesis 1:26). Holiness constitutes our chief likeness to God, as originally. Adam, when fallen, begat a son in his own fallen likeness and image (Genesis 5:3). The "image" is claimed for man, 1 Corinthians 11:7; the "likeness," James 3:9. Origen ('Principia,' 3: 6) taught the image was something in which all were created, and which continued to man after the fall (Genesis 9:6). The likeness was something toward which man was created, that he might strive after and attain it. Trench thinks God in the double statement in Genesis 1:26 contemplates both man's first creation and attain it. Trench thinks God in the double statement in Genesis 1:26 contemplates both man's first creation and his being "renewed ... after the image of Him that created him."


Verse 11

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Where - `Wherein;' namely, in the sphere of the renewed man.

Neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free. 'There is no such thing as [ ouk (Greek #3756) eni (Greek #1762)] Greek and Jew (difference of national privilege), circumcision and uncircumcision (difference of legal standing, Galatians 6:15), bond man, free man (social difference).' The present Church is called out of the flesh, and the present world-course (Ephesians 2:2), wherein such distinctions exist, to life in the Spirit, and to the future first resurrection; because Satan has such power now over the flesh and the world. At Christ's coming, when Satan shall no longer rule the flesh and the world, the nations in the flesh and the world in millennial felicity shall be willing subjects of Christ and his glorified saints (Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27; Luke 19:17; Luke 19:19; Revelation 20:1-6; Revelation 3:21). Israel in Canaan typified that future state when the Jews, so miraculously preserved distinct in their dispersion, shall be the central Church of the Christianized world. As Scripture abolishes the religious distinction of Jew and Greek now, so does it expressly foretell that, in the coming new order, Israel shall be first of the Christian nations; not for her own selfish aggrandizement, but for their good, as the medium of blessing to them. Finally, after the millennium, the life that is in Christ transfigures nature in the new heaven and the new earth; as, before, it transfigured the spiritual, then the political and social world.

Scythian - heretofore more barbarian than the barbarians. Though 'bond and free' existed, yet, in relation to Christ, all alike were free, and yet servants of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 3:28).

Christ is all - Christ combines all prerogatives and blessings, and absorbs in Himself all distinctions, being to all alike all they need for justification, sanctification, and glorification (1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Galatians 2:20).

In all - who believe, without distinction; the sole distinction is, how much each draws from Christ. The unity of the divine life, shared in by all believers, counterbalances differences as great as that between the polished "Greek" and the rude "Scythian." Christianity imparts to the most uncivilized the only spring of sound culture, social and moral.


Verse 12

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Put on therefore - As you have put on the new man, put on all its characteristic qualities (Ellicott).

The elect of God - no "the" in Greek (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:4). As chosen out of darkness: answering to "seeing that ye have put off the old man" (Colossians 3:9). The order is, "elect ... holy ... beloved." Election from eternity precedes sanctification in time: the sanctified, feeling God's love, imitate it (Bengel).

Bowels of mercies. So B. But, 'Aleph (') A C G f g, Vulgate, read singular, 'mercy.' Bowels express yearning compassion, which we feel to act on our inward parts (Genesis 43:30; Jeremiah 31:20; Luke 1:78, margin).

Humbleness of mind - true 'lowliness of mind:' thinking lowly, and therefore truly of ourselves; not the mock "humility" of the false teachers (note, Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:23).


Verse 13

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Forbearing - as to present offences.

Forgiving - as to past.

One another [ alleeloon (G240)] ... one another , [ heautois (Greek #1438)] - literally, yourselves: one Christian "forbearing" the other; each "forgiving" all; so doing a benefit redounding to HIMSELF, he being included in the all, Christians being members of each other.

Quarrel , [ momfeen (Greek #3437)] - 'cause of complaint.'

Christ - who had so infinitely greater cause of complaint against us (Colossians 2:13). So C. But A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'the Lord.' 'Aleph ('), 'God,' from Ephesians 4:32.


Verse 14

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Above , [ epi (Greek #1909) pasi (Greek #3956)] - "over," as in Ephesians 6:16.

Charity - the crowning grace which covers others' sins (1 Peter 4:8), must overlie all the graces enumerated. Which is - i:e., for it is; literally, 'which thing is.'

Bond of (belonging to) perfectness - its distinctive bond: an upper garment, completing and keeping together the whole suit, which without it would be loose. Seeming graces, where love is wanting, are hypocrisy. Justification by faith is assumed as already realized (cf. Colossians 3:12, "elect of God, holy and beloved;" Colossians 2:12); so Rome's plea for justification by works is vain. Love and its works 'perfect' - i:e., evidence, maturity of faith (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 5:48, "Love ... be ye ... perfect," etc.; Romans 13:8; 1 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 1:5; James 2:21-22; 1 John 2:5; 1 John 4:12). As to "bond," cf. Colossians 2:2, "knit together in love;" Ephesians 4:3, "the bond of peace."


Verse 15

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Peace of God. From Philippians 4:7. So C. But A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'the peace of (coming from) CHRIST.' Therefore Christ is God. Peace was His legacy (John 14:27). Peace is peculiarly His to give: following love (Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 4:2-3).

Rule - `as umpire' [ brabeuetoo (Greek #1018)]: the same Greek verb simple as appears compounded, Colossians 2:18. The false teacher, as a self-constituted umpire, defrauds you of your prize; but if the peace of Christ, as umpire, rule in your hearts, your reward is sure. Let it act as umpire when wrong passions arise, and restrain them. Let not them rule, so that you should lose your prize.

In your hearts. Many have a peaceful look and mouth, while war is in their hearts (Psalms 28:3; Psalms 55:21).

To the which - i:e., with a view to which state of Christian peace (Isaiah 26:3; 1 Corinthians 7:15).

Ye, are called , [ kai (Greek #2532) ekleetheete (Greek #2564)] - 'ye were also called:' besides Paul's exhortation, they have also, as a motive to "peace," their having been once for all called. (So as to remain)

In one body (Ephesians 4:4). Its unity supposes "peace" among the members.

Be (become) ye thankful - for your 'calling.' Thanksgiving is prominent in Paul: forty-one times he uses the word. Not to have 'peace ruling in your hearts' would be inconsistent with the 'calling in one body,' and would be practical unthankfulness to God who called us (Ephesians 5:4; Ephesians 5:19-20).


Verse 16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

The form which 'thankfulness' (Colossians 3:15) ought to take.

Let the word of Christ - the Gospel word, by which ye were called. Having exhorted to thankfulness, he also shows the way.

Richly (Colossians 2:2; Romans 15:14) in all wisdom Alford joins with "teaching," etc.; for so Colossians 1:28 has "teaching in all wisdom:" the two clauses thus correspond, 'In all wisdom teaching,' and 'in grace singing in your hearts' (so Greek order). The participles mark the outgoing in word and deed of 'Christ's word dwelling within' (Romans 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:14).

And ... and. 'Aleph (') B C Delta G f g read 'psalms, hymns, spiritual songs' (note, Ephesians 5:19). In their family circles they were to be so full of the Word of Christ in the heart that the mouth should utter hymns of instruction, admonition, and praise (cf. Deuteronomy 6:7). Tertullian ('Apology' 39) records that at the love-feasts [ agapai (Greek #26)], after the water had been furnished for the hands, and the lights lit, according as any had remembrance of Scripture, or could compose, he was invited to sing praises to God for the common good. Paul contrasts the songs of Christians at social meetings with the bacchanalian, licentious songs of pagan feasts. Singing formed part of the entertainment at Greek banquets (cf. James 5:13).

With grace , [ en (Greek #1722) tee (Greek #3588) chariti (Greek #5485)] - 'IN grace, the element in which singing is to be: 'the grace of the indwelling Spirit. This expresses the seat of true psalmody, whether private or public-namely, the heart as well as the voice (cf. Colossians 3:15); the psalm of love being in the heart before it finds vent by the lips, and even when not actually expressed, as in closet-worship. The Greek order forbids translating, "with grace in your hearts;" rather, 'singing in your hearts.'

To the Lord. 'Aleph (') and the oldest authorities read 'to God.'


Verse 17

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Literally, 'And every thing whatsoever ye do ... do all,' etc.; words as well as deeds.

In the name of the Lord Jesus - as disciples called by His name as His; seeking so to act as to gain His approval (Romans 14:8; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:15; 1 Peter 4:11 : cf. Colossians 3:18, and Colossians 3:11, end). 'In that spiritual element which His name betokens' (Ellicott).

God and the Father. A B C 'Aleph (') omit "and," which crept in from Ephesians 5:20.

By (through) him - as the channel of His grace to us, and of our thanksgiving to Him (John 14:6, end).


Verse 18

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Unto your own husbands. 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit [ idiois (Greek #2398)] "own," which crept in from Ephesians 5:22.

As it is fit in the Lord , [ aneeken (Greek #433)] - 'was fit,' implying there was at Colosse some failure in this; 'as was your duty as disciples of the Lord.'


Verse 19

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Be not bitter - ill-tempered, provoking. Many polite abroad are rude at home, because they are not afraid there. (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:22-23)


Verse 20

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

Obey , [ hupakouoo (Greek #5219)] - not merely "submit yourselves" to the authority (Colossians 3:18), as wives ought [ hupotassesthe (Greek #5293)], but obey the command. (See Ephesians 6:1)

Unto the Lord. 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'IN the Lord;' i:e., this is acceptable to 'God when done in the Lord; namely, from faith, as disciples in union with the Lord.


Verse 21

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

'Irritate not' [ erethizete (Greek #2042)]. So B. But 'Aleph (') A C Delta G [parorgizete], provoke to wrath; perhaps a conformation to Ephesians 6:4. By perpetual fault-finding "children" are [athumosin] 'disheartened,' seeing the parents so hard to please. A broken-down spirit is fatal to youth.


Verse 22

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

Masters , [ kuriois (Greek #2962)] - implying rule: despotes would imply absolute tyranny. (See Ephesians 6:5-6)

Eye-service - Greek, 'in eye-services.' To fear God is, when, though none see, we do no evil; but if we do, it is not God, but men, whom we fear.

Singleness - without duplicity [ haploteeti (Greek #572), 'simplicity'].

Fearing God. So C. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta G read 'the Lord.'


Verse 23

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

And. Omitted in A B C Delta G f g, Vulgate (cf. Ephesians 6:7-8). Compare the same principle in Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:21; Romans 12:11).

Do, do it. Distinct verbs [ poieete (Greek #4160), ergazesthe (Greek #2038)]; 'whatsoever ye do, work at it' (labour at it).

Heartily - not from servile constraint, but 'from the soul' or heart [ ek (Greek #1537) psuchees (Greek #5590)].


Verse 24

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Reward, [ antapodosin (G469)] of the inheritance - `Knowing that it is from the Lord (the Fountain of reward) ye shall receive the recompence (which will amply amend for your having no possession, as slaves, now), consisting of the inheritance' (a term excluding merit by works: it is all of grace, Romans 4:14; Galatians 3:18; 1 Peter 1:4).

For ye serve. 'Aleph (') A B C Delta, Vulgate, omit "for." Translate as Vulgate, 'serve ye the Lord Christ' (cf. Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 7:22-23).


Verse 25

But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

But. A B C Delta G 'Aleph (') f g, Vulgate, read 'For,' which accords with 'serve ye,' etc. (Colossians 3:24): for gives a motive for obeying the precept. Serve ye the Lord Christ; leave your wrongs as slaves in His hands to put to rights: 'For he (the master) that doeth wrong shall receive back [ komisetai (Greek #2865)] the wrong which he hath done (just retribution in kind); and there is no respect of persons' with the coming Great Judge. He favour the master no more than the slave (Revelation 6:15).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Colossians 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/colossians-3.html. 1871-8.

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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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