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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Colossians 3

 

 

Verse 1

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

Ver. 1. If ye then be risen with Christ] As ye profess to be, Colossians 2:12.

Seek those things, &c.] As Christ risen spake and did only the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, Acts 1:3, and waited alway for his exaltation into heaven; there should be continual ascensions in our hearts. The Church is compared to pillars of smoke, elationibus fumi, Song of Solomon 3:6, as having her affections, thoughts, desires upward, heavenward. (Tremel.)


Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. Set your affections on things] Things above outlast the days of heaven, and run parallel with the life of God and line of eternity. Things on earth are mutable and momentary, subject to vanity and violence; when we grasp them most greedily we embrace nothing but smoke, which wrings tears from our eyes, and vanisheth into nothing. Here then the wise man’s question takes place, "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?" Proverbs 23:5. Wilt thou rejoice in a thing of nought? Amos 6:13. Most people are nailed to the earth, as Sisera was by Jael: they go bowed downward, as that woman in the Gospel that had a spirit of infirmity, and was bound by Satan; they strive (with the toad) who shall die with most earth in their mouths. Surely the saying of that Roman general to the soldier that kept the tents, when he should have been fighting in the field, Non amo nimium diligentes, I like not those that are thus overly busy, will be used of God, if when he calls us to seek after and set our affections upon the things above, we are wholly taken up about things of an inferior alloy. Cor camera omnipotentis regis, the heart of man is an inverted Pyramis, narrow below, almost sharpened to a point, that it might touch the earth no more than needs must; and broad above, to receive the influence of heaven. But surely, as we used to say of a top, the keen point of it is toward the earth, but it is flat and dull enough toward heaven; so are most men’s affections. "My brethren, these things ought not so to be," as St James speaketh in another case. Our souls should be like a ship, which is made little and narrow downward, but more wide and broad upward.

And not on things on earth] Set not thy heart upon the asses, said Samuel to Saul, since the desire of all Israel is to thee; so, set not your affections on outward things, since better things abide you. It is not for you to be fishing for gudgeons, {a} but for towns, forts, and castles, said Cleopatra to Mark Antony. So neither is it for such as hope for heaven to be taken up about trifles; as Domitian spent his time in catching flies, and Artaxerxes in making hafts for knives. There is a generation of Terrigenae fratres, whose names are written in the earth, Jeremiah 17:13, called the inhabitants of the earth, Revelation 12:12, in opposition to the saints and heirs of heaven. These may with the Athenians give for their badge the grasshopper, which is bred, liveth, and dieth in the same ground, and though she hath wings, yet flieth not; sometimes she hoppeth upwards a little, but falleth to the ground again. So here. Or at best, they are but like the eagle, which soars aloft not for any love of heaven; her eye is all the while upon the prey, which by this means she spies sooner and seizeth upon better.

{a} A small European fresh-water fish (Gobio fluviatilis), much used for bait. ŒD


Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. For ye are dead] Crucified to the world, as Paul, Galatians 6:14, weaned as a child from the breasts, or rather botches of the world, as David, Psalms 131:2. Dead also in regard of daily miseries, Isaiah 26:19; 1 Corinthians 15:31.

And your life is hid] As the pearl is hid, till the shell be broken; or as the life of flowers in winter is hidden in the root; or as God hid Christ under the carpenter’s son.


Verse 4

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

Ver. 4. Then shall we appear] What then do we loading onrselves with thick clay, or moiling ourselves here as muckworms?


Verse 5

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

Ver. 5. Mortify therefore] Sin hath a strong heart, and will not be done to death but with much ado. Peccata saepe raduntur, sed non eradicantur. Sins often are itchy but are not rooted out. Something is done about sins, little against them; as artificial magicians seem to wound themselves, but do not; or as players seem to thrust themselves through their bodies, but the sword passeth only through their clothes. Some part with sin, as Jacob did with Benjamin, because otherwise he should starve; or as Phaltiel did with Michal, lest he should lose his head; but to cast it away because it is offensivum Dei, et aversivum a Deo, an offence against God, and a breach of his law, this is mortification; this is more than to have seraphical knowledge and cherubinical affections in any duty. This (saith a Father) is the hardest text in all the Bible, and the hardest task in all Christianity that we can go about; but hard or not hard, it must be done, or we are undone, and check must be given to our corruptions, though full mate we cannot give.

Covetousness, which is idolatry] For it robs God of his flower, his trust, and draws a man away from all the commandments, Psalms 119:36. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 5:5"}


Verse 6

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

Ver. 6. On the children of disobedience] Unpersuadable, uncounsellable persons, that regard not good courses or discourses.


Verse 7

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

Ver. 7. When ye lived in them] Man’s life is a walk, and each action a step either to heaven or hell.


Verse 8

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

Ver. 8. Filthy communication] The devil’s drivel. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 5:4"}


Verse 9

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

Ver. 9. Lie not one to another] No, not in jest, lest ye go to hell in earnest. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 4:25"}

Ye have put off the old man] As the serpent doth his slough, the eagle his bill, the lizard his skin in spring and autumn. (Arist. Hist. Animal. viii.)


Verse 10

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

Ver. 10. After the image] If moral virtue could be beheld with mortal eyes, saith the philosopher, it would stir up wonderful loves of itself. How much more would the image of God in the hearts of his people! {See Trapp on "Ephesians 4:24"}

Of him that created him] Adam and Eve were not then created simple and stupid, and without the use of reason; else they would not have been so deceived; as the Rabbis, and, after them, the Socinians have dreamed.


Verse 11

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

Ver. 11. Christ is all, and in all] Not only in the hearts of men, but in all things else, εν πασι, in the neuter gender. This second Adam hath filled all things again; neither is there anything else required to justification and salvation.


Verse 12

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Ver. 12. As the elect of God, holy and beloved] Therefore holy, because elect, and therefore beloved, because holy; as God’s name is holy, and therefore reverend, Psalms 111:9. God chose his for his love, and now loves them for his choice.

Bowels of mercies] Draw out thy soul as well as thy sheaf to the hungry, Isaiah 58:10. Steep thy thoughts in the mercies of God, saith one, and they will dye thine, as the dye vat doth the cloth.

Humbleness of mind] Even to be content to "be trampled upon," as the word signifieth; {a} or to be laid low as earth, as Paul, Philippians 4:12; to have a low mind in a high conversation, as Athanasius ( υφηλου βιας ταπεινον φρονημα). Humility is the veil of a Christian, that maketh the bride look most lovely.

{a} ταπεινος, quasi πατεινος, vel εδαφεινος.


Verse 13

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.

Ver. 13. If a man have a quarrel] Occasions will be given, and offences will happen. Now it is the glory of a man to pass over a transgression, Proverbs 19:11; see 1 Samuel 10:27; and to forgive where there is just cause of complaint. If no quarrel, no thank.


Verse 14

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

Ver. 14. Above all these] "Put on love," as the upper garment, the "parti-coloured coat," whereby all God’s children are known (as Joseph, and Tamar, David’s daughter, were), the cognizance of every true Christian, John 13:35. {See Trapp on "John 13:35"}

The bond of perfectness] Or the couple, the juncture, the tie, συνδεσμος. As the curtains of the tabernacle were joined by loops, so are all true Christians by love.


Verse 15

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.

Ver. 15. And let the peace of God rule] βραβευετω, it certaminis moderator: let it rule after the manner of a moderator or an umpire. Let it oversee and overrule in all your personal discords. Or (as others sense it) let it carry away the prize, or distribute the garlands.

And be ye thankful] sc. To those that are courteous and beneficial to you. 2 Ingratum dixeris, omnia dixeris. Lycurgus would make no law against unthankfulness, because he could not think there could be any such evil committed. If there be any sin in the world against the Holy Ghost, said Queen Elizabeth in a letter to Henry IV of France, it is ingratitude. This saith one, is a monster in nature, a solecism in good manners, a paradox in divinity, a parching wind to dam up the fountain of divine and human favours. (Camden.) Ventus urens et exsiccans.

{a} Arbor honoretur cuius nos umbra tuetur.


Verse 16

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.

Ver. 16. Dwell in you richly] ενοικειτω πλουσιως, indwell in you, as an ingrafted word, incorporated into your souls; so concocted and digested by you, as that you turn it in succum et sanguinem, into a part of yourselves. This is your riches; and thus David reckons of his wealth Psalms 119:32.

Teaching and admonishing one another] It is rightly observed by a late reverend writer, {a} that although we know that which we ask of others as well as they do, yet good speeches will draw us to know it better, by giving occasion to speak more of it, wherewith the Spirit works more effectually, and imprints it deeper, so that it shall be a more rooted knowledge than before. For that doth good that is graciously known; and that is graciously known that the Spirit, seals upon our souls.

In psalms and hymns] Papists forbid people to sing psalms, and permit only choristers to sing, lest the music should be marred. (Binnius.) But the apostle biddeth every saint to sing. And Nicephorus writeth that the Christians of his time, even as they travelled and journeyed, were wont to sing psalms. Tatianus also saith, That every age and order among the Christians were Christian philosophers, yea, that the very virgins and maids, as they sat at their work in wool, were wont to speak of God’s word. {Hist. Eccl. iii. 37}

With grace in your heart] This is the best tune to any Psalm.

{a} Dr Sibbs on Cant. v.


Verse 17

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.

Ver. 17. Do all in the name] By the warrant of his word, and with an aim to his glory. For his sake and service; and to God’s acceptance, through Christ’s assistance.


Verse 18

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

Ver. 18. Wives, submit yourselves] Inferiors are ordered before superiors to teach them to do duty before they expect it. Love descendeth, duty ascendeth. Submit is a short word, but of large extent. It comprehendeth, 1. Reverence; "Let the wife see that she reverence her husband," Ephesians 5:33, as Sarah did, and is chronicled for it, 1 Peter 3:6. But God hath a barren womb for mocking Michal. 2. Obedience to all his lawful commands and restraints, as the Shunammite, 2 Kings 4:22, and the Shulamite, who lives by Christ’s laws, and yields to his will, direction, and discretion.

As it is fit] Ut decet, as it is comely; and women love comeliness, delight to be neat. Hereby shall appear comely, first, to God, 1 Peter 3:4. Next, to men in the gate, Proverbs 31:23; Proverbs 31:31. Thirdly, to their husbands and children, Proverbs 31:28. Fourthly, to all, even opposites, as being an ornament to sincerity and holiness, Titus 2:3.

In the Lord] Though the husband’s will be crooked (so it be not wicked), the wife’s will is not straight in God’s sight, if not pliable to his. Sed liberum arbitrium, pro quo tantopere contenditur, viri amiserunt, uxores arripuerunt, saith an author.


Verse 19

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

Ver. 19. Husbands, love your wives] He saith not, Rule over them, subdue them if they will not submit, but love them, and so win them to your will; make their yoke as easy as may be, for they stand on even ground with you, as yokefellows, though they draw on the left side. "Yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant," Malachi 2:14. He therefore that is free may frame his choice to his mind; but he that hath chosen must frame his heart to his choice.

" Uxorem vir amato, marito pareat uxor:

Coniugis illa sui cor, caput ille suae."

And be not bitter against them] Nothing akin to Nabal, to those Chaldeans, a bitter and furious nation, or to that star, Revelation 8:11, called wormwood, that embittereth the third part of the waters. The heathen, when they sacrificed at their marriage feasts, used to cast the gall of the beasts sacrificed outside; to signify that married couples should be as doves without gall. (Plut. praec, coniug.) Vipera virus ob venerationem nuptiarum evomit, saith Basil. The viper, going to copulate, vomiteth up her venom; and wilt not thou, for the honour of marriage, lay aside thy bitterness and boisterous behaviour?


Verse 20

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

Ver. 20. In all things] Vultu saepe laeditur pietas. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 6:1"}


Verse 21

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

Ver. 21. Provoke not your children] {See Trapp on "Ephesians 6:4"}

Lest they be discouraged] αθυμωσιν, dispirited, and through despondency grow desperate in their resolutions.


Verse 22

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

Ver. 22. Not with eye service] {See Trapp on "Ephesians 6:5"} {See Trapp on "Ephesians 6:6"} It is in the original, "Not with eye services," in the plural, μη εν οφθαλμοδουλειαις; to show that do they never so much service, yet if not in sincerity, all is lost.

Fearing God] That hath power to cast body and soul to hell. Fear him more than you do your masters, that have power over the flesh only.


Verse 23

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

Ver. 23. Do it heartily, as to the Lord] This is to make a virtue of necessity, while in serving men we serve the Lord Christ, going about our earthly businesses with heavenly minds, with not only a habitual, but an actual intention, as much as may be, of glorifying God in all.


Verse 24

24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Ver. 24. The reward of inheritance] And so be made of servants sons, whose it is to inherit.

For ye serve the Lord Christ] While godliness runneth through your whole lives as the woof doth through the web, and you seek to approve yourselves to Christ in all your actions and employments.


Verse 25

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

Ver. 25. But he that doth wrong] Be it but by not doing right to poor servants, which in those days were bondslaves. Note here, saith an interpreter, the apostle’s candour; he was not of the humour of lawyers, that seldom speak much but for great men, or when they may have great gifts.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Colossians 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/colossians-3.html. 1865-1868.

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