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Bible Commentaries

People's New Testament
Colossians 3



SUMMARY.--Fellowship with the Risen Christ. Our Lives with Him. Hence, All the Evil Deeds of the Old Life Must Be Put Away. All Distinctions Done Away in Christ. Hence, Brotherly Love Must Be Cherished. The Indwelling of Christ's Word. Concerning Songs. Various Duties.

Verses 1-4

If then ye were raised together with Christ. The Revision is correct. A definite act, not a state, is referred to. The definite act is named in Colossians 2:12 above. When they were "buried with him in baptism," they were also raised from this burial with him through faith, quickened. Hence here he says, "If then ye were raised with him," if your obedience was from the heart and in faith, if you rose therefore {with him} (these are the emphatic words), then seek those things which are above. The risen Christ ascended; let your aspirations ascend also.

Where Christ sitteth, etc. See notes on Ephesians 1:20.

Set your affection on things above. This is a condition of seeking the things above. Our hearts must be in heaven with our beloved Lord.

For ye died. This is a reason for not loving earthly things. We died to the world, crucified with Christ, and were buried. See notes on Colossians 2:12. Also Romans 6:2; Galatians 2:20. This death was a definite act, like the burial and the rising, not a state. The Revision is a great improvement on such passages.

Your life is hid. They died, but they are not dead. Yet the world does not see their true life, the eternal principle within. Their life is in Christ, and can never be fully manifested until he shall be manifest; but (Colossians 3:4) when he shall be manifested, then the glory and the blessedness of the life in us shall be shown forth. Like the tree in the winter, not dead, but the life hidden. When the spring comes, its life shows itself in glory. Compare Romans 8:19.

Verses 5-8

Mortify therefore your members. The Greek word is stronger. It means, "Put to death." Since you died to the world and the flesh, slay also the earthly lusts and passions which belong to the flesh. They belong to the old nature, not to the new creature.

Uncleanness. Every kind of impure act.

Inordinate affection. Lustful passion.

Covetousness. See note on Ephesians 5:5.

For which things' sake. Because these things are practiced by those who live in disobedience, God's wrath is coming upon them.

In the which ye also walked. They had been Gentile heathen, and among them licentiousness was at that time universal. See notes on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Even moralists sanctioned every kind of unchastity except that of a wife.

Also put off all these. The sins that follow as well as those named above.

Anger, wrath, malice. A climax, full of evil to other men.

Blasphemy, filthy communication. The Revision says, "Railing, shameful speaking." Sins manifested by the tongue. The reference is to low, profane, filthy abuse, due to "anger, wrath, and malice."

Verses 9-11

Lie not. Christ is truth, and they who are of Christ will be truth in word and deed.

Seeing. Lying would be a proof that the old man (the old fleshly nature, Ephesians 4:22; Romans 6:6) with his deeds had not been put off.

Have put on the new man. Are born again (John 3:5) and become new creatures in Christ. The new man has a new heart, new thoughts, a new life.

Is renewed in knowledge. With the new man there is a growth, a renewal. He grows continually in knowledge of Christ and into his image.

Where there cannot be Greek, etc. In Christ there can be no distinction of race, or of caste. The Greek, when he is converted, becomes a new being; not a Greek, but a Christian. So of Jew, Roman, Scythian. They are all naturalized into a new kingdom, that of Christ, and belong to a new, holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). All the old barriers to fraternity are removed.

Barbarian. The Greeks long called all who were not Greeks barbarians, but in the apostolic age applied it more particularly to those who had not accepted the Greek civilization.

Bond nor free. The master and the slave were on a level in the church. "{Humanity} is a word which you look for in vain in Plato and Aristotle; the idea of mankind as one family, as the children of one God, is an idea of Christian growth."--{Max Muller}.

But Christ is all. He is the life of all the new creation, and in all.

Verses 12-15

Put on, therefore, as the elect of God. As a chosen, holy and beloved nation, put on these graces.

A heart of compassion (Revision), etc. These are all traits of Christ, and must be found in us if he is our life.

Forbearing... forgiving. How often and earnestly long-suffering and forbearance are enjoined! Nor have we grounds for expecting that God will forgive us unless we also forgive (Matthew 6:12). Christ is our example.

Above all these things put on love. If our souls are imbued with love, like that of Christ, it will be easy then to forbear and forgive.

The bond of perfectness. All the Christian graces are bound together in love. It is the source of them all.

Let the peace of Christ rule. The peace of those who are made brethren in Christ and filled with his love. It must reign in the heart, then it will rule in the acts. This is the peace to which Jew, Gentile, and every race is called in one body. There must be no discord, schism, or factious spirit in the fold.

Verse 16-17

Let the word of Christ. The word that has been preached to you.

Dwell in you. As in a temple.

Richly in all wisdom. If we treasure it up richly we will have the divine wisdom in our hearts.

Teaching and admonishing. Those having the indwelling word would have ability to teach.

In psalms, etc. Teaching and admonishing were to be present even in song. Song was to have another object than to please the ear. It was not for enjoyment, but for edification. The species of song are named here and in Ephesians 5:19. For the distinction, see notes there.

Singing with grace. With Christ's grace in your hearts; that is, with hearts pervaded by the love of Christ.

Whatsoever ye do. Whether it be singing, whether it be word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Neither in worship, nor in his business and pleasures, must be the Christian engage in anything that cannot be done in Christ's name; {i. e.,} by his authority and in prayer to him. This covers the whole life. It applies to conduct, to places of resort, to secular calling. If doubtful, see if you can on your knees ask Christ to go with you and bless you in what you are about to undertake.

Giving thanks. The Christian should always be thankful, because if he "does all in the name of Jesus," the Lord will always be with him, and work out all for good.

Verses 18-21
The section from 3:18 to 4:1, is very similar to Eph. 5:22 to 6:9. I will refer the reader to Ephesians for fuller notes.

Wives, submit yourselves. See notes on Ephesians 5:22.

Husbands, love your wives. See notes on Ephesians 5:25.

Children, obey your parents. See notes on Ephesians 6:1.

Fathers, provoke not your children. See notes on Ephesians 6:4.

Verses 22-25

Servants, obey. See notes on Ephesians 6:5-6.

And whatsoever ye do. See notes on Ephesians 6:7.

Knowing that of the Lord. See notes on Ephesians 6:8.

He that doeth wrong. Whether master or slave. All will be requited, and before Christ, all, master and slave, stand upon the same footing.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Colossians 3:4". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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