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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Colossians 3

 

 

Verses 1-3

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ,—

Leave all these outward rituals, and formalities, and ordinances of men, —

Colossians 3:1-3. Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

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

This exposition consisted of readings from Colossians 2:6-23; and Colossians 3:1-3.


Verses 1-4

Colossians 3:1. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Oh! how often we need to be called to this, for the flesh is groveling, and it holds down the spirit; and very often we are seeking the things below as if we had not yet attained to the new life, and did not know anything about the resurrection power of Christ within the soul. Now, if it be that you, believers, have risen with Christ, do not live as if you had never done so, but “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”

Colossians 3:2. Set your affection.

Not “your affections.” Tie them up into one bundle. Make one of them.

Colossians 3:2. On things above, not on things on the earth.

You say that you were dead with Christ, and that you have risen with Christ. Live, then, the risen life, and not the life of those who have never undergone this matchless process. Live above.

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

The old life is dead. You are dead to it. You will not be consumed by it:

you cannot be controlled by it. You have a newer and higher life. Let it have full scope.

Colossians 3:4. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Christ was hidden while he was here. The world knew him not. So is your life. But there is to be a glorious manifestation. When Christ is made manifest, so shall you be. Wait for him.

Colossians 3:5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Since you are dead, let all the lusts of the flesh be put to death. Kill those.

They were once a part of you. Your nature lusted this way. Mortify them.

Do not merely restrain them and try to keep them under. These things you are to have nothing to do with.

Colossians 3:6-7. For which things sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

“When ye lived in them” But now you do not live in them. You are dead to them. If it should ever come to pass that you fall into any of these things, you will loathe yourself with bitterest repentance that you could find comfort, satisfaction, life in them. You are dead to them.

Colossians 3:8-10. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds: And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

No lies. Such communications are filthy. But you put these things away through your union with Christ in his risen life. Therefore, abhor them.

Avoid the very appearance of them, and cry for grace to be kept from them, for you have been “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

Colossians 3:11. Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

In the new life there is no distinction of race and nationality. We are born into one family; we become members of Christ’s body; and this is the one thing we have got to keep up — separation from all the world beside: no separations in the church, no disunion, nothing that would cause it, for we are one in Christ, and Christ is all. Now, as we have to put off these things, that is the negative side: that is the law’s side, for the law says, “Thou shalt not” — “Thou shalt not.” But now look at the positive side.

Colossians 3:12. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering:

This is what you have got to wear, even on the outside — to put it on; not to have a latent kindness in your heart, and a degree of humbleness deep down in your soul if you could get at it; but you are to put it on. It is to be the very dress you wear. These are the sacred vestments of your daily priesthood. Put them on.

Colossians 3:13. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Just as readily, just as freely, just as heartily, just as completely.

Colossians 3:14-15. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts.

For that is the great foundation of every godly fruit. We are in such a hurry, in such dreadful haste, so selfish, so discontented, so impetuous, and the major part of our sins spring from that condition of mind. But if we were godly, restful, peaceful, how many sins we should avoid! “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”

Colossians 3:15. To the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

It looks like a very small virtue to be thankful. Yet, dear friends, the absence of it is one of the grossest of vices. To be ungrateful is a mean thing: to be ungrateful to God is a base thing. And yet how many may accuse themselves of it! Who among us is as grateful as he should be? Be thankful.

Colossians 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you.

Alexander had a casket of gold studded with gems to carry Homer’s works. Let your own heart be a casket for the command of Christ. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you.”

Colossians 3:16-18. 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. 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. Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

See how our being Christians does not relax the bonds of our Christian relationship, but it calls us to the higher exercise of the responsibilities and duties connected therewith.

Colossians 3:19. Husbands love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Oh! there are some spirits that are very bitter. A little thing puts them out, and they would take delight in a taunt which grieves the spirit. I pity the poor woman who has such bitterness where she ought to have sweetness: yet there be some such husbands.

Colossians 3:20-21. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

The duties are mutual. Scripture maintains an equilibrium. It does not lay down commands for one class, and then leave the other to exercise whatever tyrannical oppression it may please. The child is to obey, but the father must not provoke.

Colossians 3:22. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers;

How much there is of that! How quickly the hands go when the master’s eye looks on! But the Christian servant remembers God’s eye, and is diligent always. “Not with eye service as men-pleasers.”

Colossians 3:22-25. But in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; and there is no respect of persons.

Colossians 4:1-2. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

See how he keeps putting that in — “Be ye thankful” — “with thanksgiving.” Why, that is the oil that makes the machinery go round without its causing obstruction. May we have much of that thanksgiving.

Colossians 4:3-4. Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

So the preacher of the gospel asks your prayers: and it is a part of the duties arising out of the relationship between Christian men that those who are taught should pray for those who teach God’s Word.

This exposition consisted of readings from Colossians 3; Colossians 4:1-4. Psalms 28:1-6.


Verses 1-17

Colossians 3:1. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Your Lord and Master has gone up to heaven. You profess that he represents you, and that you have gone up there in him and with him. Then do not seek the things that are down here below, the things of earth; but live where your life has gone. Where your treasure is, there let your heart be also. “Seek those things which are above.”

Colossians 3:2-3. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, —

You profess to be dead to the world; is that profession false? You have observed that Scriptural ordinance in which you profess to be buried with Christ; was that observance only an empty form?

If there was any truth in your profession, “Ye are dead,” —

Colossians 3:3. And your life is hid with Christ in God.

You have a new life now; it is up yonder, “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Do you not feel drawings upward? Are there no longings after the high and heavenly estate where Jesus is? Come, beloved, let your soul break loose for a while; and, like a lark that, having found its liberty, ascends with joyous wing, singing as it rises till it is out of mortal sight, so let it be with you.

Colossians 3:4. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

You are hidden now, your life is veiled in him; but, at his second coming he shall shine forth in all his glory, and “then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Beloved, seek no greatness here; ask not for any exaltation of yourself among the sons of men; but wait for your true manifestation with Christ in glory.

Colossians 3:5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Kill all these evil things; do not let them live in you for a single moment. The command applies, not only to the grosser actions which are summed up under the head of fornication and uncleanness, but to all that leads to those foul sins; not only to the fire, but also to the sparks, such as “inordinate affection,” a sort of softness which is seen in some persons, men and women, too, and which often leads to something far worse; —and “evil concupiscence,” the first desires towards that which is unchaste. God give us grace to kill these loathsome things at once, for if thoughts of evil are indulged, they soon become acts of evil, and then who knows how far we may go in the way of unholiness? Sin, if allowed to grow in the heart, will soon take gigantic strides, and come out in the life. Depend upon it, whenever a professing Christian goes into overt sin of the kind mentioned here, he does not do it on a sudden. The evil has long been festering and fomenting within his heart, or it would not have manifested itself thus. Oh! if he had only watched, and destroyed the thief ere he broke open the house, what a mercy it would have been! You notice that covetousness is put down with the most filthy sins, and it is described as idolatry. The desire to possess the goods that belong to others, the lust to get gain at any price, this is idolatry.

Colossians 3:6-7. For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

This was true of the Colossians, and it was true of almost all those to whom Paul wrote, for these gross evils were scarcely regarded as sins in his time, so polluted had the nations become. I hope that, in the case of many now living, they have been preserved by Christian training from having walked even for a time in such sins.

Colossians 3:8. But now ye also put off all these; —

Put them all off, like old clothes that are never to be worn again: “Put off all these;” —

Colossians 3:8. Anger, —

It is hard work for some to pull that garment off, for it fits them so tightly. This burning coat of wrath will not readily come off; but the apostle’s command is, “Put it off! Put it off!” It does not become a Christian to be an angry man.

Colossians 3:8. Wrath, malice,

Christ will not live in a heart that harbors malice.

Colossians 3:8. Blasphemy, —

Thank God that, if we ever wore that robe, we pulled it off long ago.

Colossians 3:8. Filthy communication out of your mouth.

All talking that is of a dubious character must go. Anything which savours of corruption and defilement must be put away from every Christian.

Colossians 3:9. Lie not one to another, —

In Paul’s day, lying was thought to be a virtue unless the liar happened to be found out; in that case, it was considered wrong; but to lie through thick and thin, and to lie so dexterously as to deceive, was looked upon by an Oriental as an accomplishment of which he might be proud. So the apostle might well write, “Lie not one to another,” —

Colossians 3:9-10. Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

There is nothing false or untrue in God. God is true, and in him is no falsehood at all; and if you and I have really been renewed, as we profess to have been, we shall hate the very semblance of a lie, and our word will be as good as our bond.

Colossians 3:11. Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Whenever you hear certain very wise brethren say, “Such-and-such a promise in the Bible is for Israel, not for the Gentiles,” do not you be misled in the least by their assertion; but just quote this text to them: “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” These distinctions all vanish when once we come to Christ; we are one in him, and every promise to believers is good to all who are in Christ Jesus, for “Christ is all, and in all.”

Colossians 3:12. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, —

Be ready to feel for others; be very considerate of their needs. Look at others as if they were your kith and kin; if you and they are in Christ, they are indeed your kin, so put on kinned-ness, or “kindness,’ —

Colossians 3:12. Humbleness of mind, —

Do not try to be a big man. He who thinks himself big has not yet learnt the true spirit of Christianity. Especially towards those who are sorrowful and sad, be pitiful, be kind, be humble.

Colossians 3:12. Meekness, —

If others try to provoke you, do not be provoked by them; but be gentle and meek.

Colossians 3:12. Longsuffering; —

Continue to put up with others, remembering the Lord’s longsuffering with you.

Colossians 3:13. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Hear this, beloved, I pray you; especially those of you who have hot tempers, and have fallen out with one another. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Remember how much Christ has forgiven you, and show a forbearing and forgiving spirit to others.

Colossians 3:14. And above all these things put on charity, —

Or, rather, “love,” —

Colossians 3:14. Which is the bond of perfectness.

The perfect bond, the girdle that goes round, and keeps every other garment of virtue in its place.

Colossians 3:15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body;

Do not fall out with one another. You are called to peace, for you are cared in one body. Does one hand in the body fight with the other hand? Does the foot contend with the eye? Of course not, for they are in one body. So are you in one body with all your fellow-Christians, therefore lay aside all strife. I deeply deplore when I see Christians — and especially eminent Christians — contending with one another about minor matters of small account. Surely, almost anything ought to be borne before there should be public strife among members of the one body. God grant that such a state of things may speedily come to an end wherever it has existed! We have enough to do to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” without contending for our own dignity or honour.

Colossians 3:15. And be ye thankful.

That is a nice little text, “Be ye thankful.” When you are grumbling at your plain food, put this as a sandwich between your bread and butter, “Be ye thankful.” When you are complaining of the East wind, just try if you cannot spell this little sentence, “Be ye thankful.” When you are murmuring about those sharp pains and that long sickness, this is the kind of tune for the little bird to whistle at your window, “Be ye thankful.” We have all much for which we ought to be thankful, however sad we may think our lot to be. Look on the bright side, rejoice in God: “Be ye thankful.”

Colossians 3:16-17. 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. 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.

Do not draw any line of demarcation, and say, “So far is secular, and so far is religious.” Let your whole life be religious; and if there is anything proposed to you, in which you cannot glorify God, do not touch it,. “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.” If any of you go to the theater, can you go there in the name of the Lord Jesus? Why, you would not dare to cross the threshold with such blasphemy in your soul! And when you go to any place of doubtful amusement, can you go there giving thanks to God and the Father by Jesus Christ? Can you thank the Lord that you are permitted to go, and pray for divine blessing when you go, and when you come away? A lady once said to a Christian minister, “The pleasures of going to the play are very great; there is the pleasure of thinking of it beforehand, the enjoyment of it at the time, and then the pleasure of thinking of it afterwards.” “Yes, madam,” said the good man, “and there is one other pleasure which you seem to have forgotten, that is the pleasure of thinking of it on your dying bed; I would like you to remember that.” Let me read this verse again: “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” If you cannot do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, do not do it at all if you are a Christian; and even if you are not a Christian, you will be accountable to God, by-and-by, for all that you do.


Verses 1-25

Colossians 3:1-2. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

This is the best proof that we are really “risen with Christ,” that we set our affection on things above.

Colossians 3:3-15. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

You notice that the apostle again and again speaks of what we have put off and what we have put on, or of what we are to put off and to put on: “Ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man.” “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; . . . And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Let the blessed girdle of love bind upon you all these choice adornments of a true Christian’s character.

Colossians 3:16-17. 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. And whatever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Now the apostle, guided by the Holy Spirit, gives injunctions concerning various family and domestic relationships:—

Colossians 3:18. Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

It is seemly according to nature; and it is still more “fit in the Lord.”

Colossians 3:19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Never say a bitter word against them; and, especially, never dishonour them in the household, before children or servants, as some have done; but do all that you can to manifest love and tenderness toward them.

Colossians 3:20. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

Nowadays, there are some children who seem to be at the head of the family, and the parents obey them in all things. This is very foolish and wrong; and when their children grow up, and become their plague and curse, they will bitterly lament their folly in putting things out of joint, and not keeping the house as God would have it kept, the children in their place, and the father in his.

Colossians 3:21. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Some fathers do; they expect more of children than they will ever get, and more than they ought to expect; and they lay heavy burdens upon them, which are grievous to be borne; and for little faults there are severe chastisements. This also is wrong.

Colossians 3:22-24. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

If you do all your work in that spirit, how noble it becomes, and how cheerfully you will get through it! You may have a master who is unworthy of your service; yet, if you “do it heartily, as to the Lord,” you will have rest of heart even in serving those who are froward and perverse, and the Lord will reward your service in due time.

Colossians 3:25. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

This exposition consisted of readings from Colossians 3 and Colossians 4:1-4.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Colossians 3:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/colossians-3.html. 2011.

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