Col. 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col. 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
These verses refer back to the truth presented in chapter 2, verses 11-13. The child of God has died to the flesh and has been given new life in Christ. This is what is pictured in our baptism—death, burial and resurrection. Again we meet that little word “if,” because it is only “in Christ” that we are empowered to “seek those things which are above” through His Spirit. Above is defined as “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God”—heaven. This is a reference to spiritual treasure. This is what Jesus referenced in His Sermon on the Mount.
Matt. 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
Matt. 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Matt. 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
What are those treasures? I think Paul answers this best in is letter to the Corinthians.
1Cor. 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
“affection” = to exercise the mind…to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience)…savor, think.
Paul is counseling the Colossians to have their minds occupied with meditation about the joys and blessings that will be ours for eternity with Christ rather than occupying their minds with the temporary pleasures of the things of this world. It sounds as if it should be so simple, but it’s not. I find myself more and more often questioning the wisdom of investing chunks of time in the things of this world. These aren’t bad activities with which I’m being confronted; it’s just trying to seek God’s heart regarding time invested in spiritual endeavors and time invested in the things associated with my life now on planet earth. Thankfully, many of these activities are entertwined regarding family and establishing a spiritual heritage and legacy, but more and more I’m learning to let go of nonessentials, things with no eternal benefit. I still have a long way to go, mind you, but I have also come a long way in the last few years in particular.
I found this quote from Augustine in the JFB Commentary.
“No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal life.”
I think this statement gets to the heart of the matter. We should get to the point that our true heart’s desire is centered on our eternal future. It’s at the heart of Paul’s statements to the Corinthians and the Philippians.
2Cor. 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Phil. 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Phil. 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Phil. 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Phil. 1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Col. 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Paul is very specific in this verse—The believer is to reckon himself dead (to the flesh). We have been born again in the spirit to new life “with” Christ “in” God. This wording stood out to me since Paul uses the expression “in Christ” so often. The Greek for with states “denoting union.” We are united as one with Christ in a fixed position of rest in God. Paul pictures Christ as the head of one body of believers.
Eph. 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph. 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
We are also joined as one through the indwelling of the same Holy Spirit.
1Cor. 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Though it is important to recognize the distinction in Father, Son and Spirit, it is also important to understand that they are also the same. So, even though Paul is making a point as to the Father’s provision for us through His Son, it is clear that if we are “in Christ,” we are “in God.”
Col. 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
This is a when statement, not an if statement. Jesus Christ will manifest Himself in all His glory to those on planet earth. When that time comes, the body of believers will be with Him.
“who is our life” – I think it is important to emphasize again that it is “in Christ” that we have new life.
1Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
2Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Col. 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Col. 3:6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
Col. 3:7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
Paul is telling the Colossian believers that they are to “deaden, subdue” their body of flesh and all its parts regarding the works of the flesh. He then goes on to define these fleshly practices that provoke God to wrath.
Š Fornication = to act the harlot, i.e. (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practise idolatry
Š Uncleanness = physical or moral impurity
Š Inordinate affection = excessive passion
Š Evil concupiscence = longing or desire for what is forbidden, harmful, or wicked
Š Covetousness = avarice, i.e. (by implication) fraudulency, extortion…greediness
At first I thought that only covetousness was being connected to idolatry (which is how most of the translations read), but on further thought, I believe idolatry is associated with each one of these practices. Each one references using one’s body for things other than that which is pleasing to God; it is an act of yielding to the flesh rather than God. As I looked at the list again, I noticed that it represents broad categories of wicked actions and wicked desires.
These are the very sins for which God’s wrath is going to be expended on the earth and its inhabitants in the “day of the Lord,” the day of God’s wrath. I think it is important to note that God’s wrath will be directed at “children of disobedience.” Whose children? Satan’s. Jesus made this clear in His condemnation of the Pharisees.
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
I think it is also important to note that God’s children are promised deliverance from that time of wrath.
1Th. 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Rom. 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Paul is also making a point of the fact that the Colossian believers had participated in some of these very sins in time past. It’s always important to remember our roots. That memory should serve to make us compassionate and motivate us to share the good news of the gospel with those who are bound by such sin. We should always remember that “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
Emphasis is on the fact that this is reference to a past way of life, an old life. They are now experiencing a new life in Christ with the empowerment to overcome sin through the Holy Spirit.
Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Col. 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Since we have been given new life in Christ, there should be some noticeable changes in the way we live. Our new life in Christ is spiritual, but we are still housed in bodies of flesh that are cursed with a sin nature. Because of that fact, Paul tells the Colossian believers that they must take specific action to quit doing or refrain from certain actions.
All of these actions are wicked and evil, and their definitions broadened my understanding. I was surprised to see that wrath included “killing.” It’s very disconcerting to note that malice includes “delighting” in harming someone else or “delighting” in their misfortune.
As new creations in Christ, we are to reckon ourselves dead to the old man of the flesh and its wicked actions.
Col. 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Col. 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
This is another place in which I wish I knew Greek. Almost every other translation is clear in stating that the new man “is continually being renewed.” We were created in the image of God, and through salvation we begin the process of being restored to the perfection with which we were first created. That process is brought about through becoming more and more knowledgeable about God and His truth. The Greek for knowledge is a reference to “recognition and full discernment.” In other words, it’s not just becoming aware of facts; it’s understanding who we are in the image of our Creator by understanding Who He Is. Paul states it clearly in his letter to the Ephesians.
Eph. 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
(4/12) As I read through this section again, I thought it important to note that though we are declared righteous in Christ, we are in the process of being sanctified until we find completion in our glorified bodies.
As I read through verse 11, I was reminded that men weren’t separated into nations until after the flood. Mankind was created in fellowship with the Creator. Once we decided to rebel against the Creator, man became more and more self-serving until “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). So God sent the flood and gave man a new start. It didn’t take long before a leader emerged to lead the community of men in rebellion against the Lord, so He decided to step in and create divisions in mankind through giving them different languages and resulting in the different nations.
The true church is essentially a picture of what God intended for mankind to begin with. It’s a fellowship of believers with the common bond of love for their Lord in which all are on equal footing and there is no respecter of persons. We are united in Christ; there should be no division in the family of God. (4/12) In Christ there is no distinction between Gentile and Jew or slave and free man. I think today we could add or between Baptist and Methodist or any other denomination. Those who are truly saved are one in Christ.
Obviously, it’s a sad statement on the spiritual condition of the “church” today that we have become so divided. That is why our testimony doesn’t have the effect for change that it should in our world today. The Lord was very clear that our love for one another is the dominant characteristic that would identify us as His before the world.
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Col. 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Col. 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.
Since we have put off the old man and his deeds of the flesh and have put on the new man through faith in Christ, our lives should be characterized by the deeds that are befitting our new position in Christ. We are to make these deeds a part of our lives in recognition of the truth that we have been chosen by God to be holy and His beloved children.
If an offending party is unrepentant, it does no good for the offended one to hold on to their hurt and bitterness. Even if true forgiveness and reconciliation cannot be made because there is no recognition of wrong, the offended party still can and must give it to the Lord God and make the promise of forgiveness unto God. We can do this after the pattern of Jesus in Luke 23:34, “ Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” If we do this, it will be evident by a lack of bitterness and resentment towards the offending party, and a willingness to restore the relationship at the slightest evidence of repentance.
Col. 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
I couldn’t help but think of my ongoing study in 1Corinthians with this verse. In chapters 12-14 Paul is teaching on the giftings of the Spirit, their purpose and proper use. The believers were eager to possess these miraculous abilities, but Paul very emphatically establishes that unconditional love for the brethren is the possession we should most desire. As with spiritual gifts of the Spirit, the character traits listed in the previous two verses are important and to be desired; but again Paul emphasizes that unconditional love of the brethren is the most valuable trait of all. This type of love is what allows one to most effectively utilize his/her gifts and please God in the process and is the heart foundation from which the traits listed above can most easily flow. This type of love is the uniting factor for these traits in the believer to produce moral excellence as well as the uniting factor in the body of Christ to bring us to maturity and completeness so that we lack nothing. When we are acting with unconditional love, the church as a whole benefits, because the Spirit has provided for our every need through His working in the life of every individual that makes up the whole.
Col. 3:15 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” = by implication, prosperity:—one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again.
“rule” = to arbitrate, to govern, from a root that states: (an umpire of uncertain derivation); an award (of arbitration)
I just think seeing definitions from the original language often help me to understand so much better. The peace of God is a result of our hearts being “at one” with Him again, our fellowship with Him has been restored. Through that restoration we can now benefit from His provision for us through the Holy Spirit. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit we can now control our thoughts and feelings toward one another. That empowerment will always lead us to thoughts and actions that are in line with God’s thoughts and actions. Christ is the head of the body (the church), and the body should always act in accordance to the directions from the Head. When we yield to the working of the Spirit in our lives, we are allowing the peace of God to rule in our hearts. That is our purpose. This reminds me of a verse in Isaiah.
Is. 43:7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Those who are called by His name have been created for His glory. Isaiah was speaking to the Israelites, but the truth is just as applicable to the church. We are privileged to have been chosen along with Israel to be identified with His name. When we fulfill that purpose, we have great cause to give thanks. Not only does it glorify God, it benefits us individually and as a body.
Col. 3:16 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.
“richly” = copiously, abundantly, wealthy, abounding with
Paul now encourages the Colossian believers to have their hearts and minds saturated with the word of Christ, the scriptures. They were not just to mindlessly memorize it; they were to learn it and apply its truth to how they lived; that is wisdom. They weren’t to treat what they learned as their private treasure. They were to share it with one another through teaching. They were to use it to gently remind one another of its truths and advise caution and warning when necessary.
One of the best ways to give these reminders is through spiritual songs. When the truth of scripture is put to music, it’s more easily remembered and brought to mind when we need comfort or are faced with times of testing or temptation. That is one reason I love our music director (Clay Hecocks) so much; he gives an emphasis to using music that is basically scripture set to music. This kind of music is an expression of gratitude and joy resulting from the ministry of the Holy Spirit to our hearts. It’s accomplishing two things at one time--we are praising the Lord and guarding our hearts through the same process.
Col. 3:17 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.
“whatsoever” = anything and everything
Paul is basically saying that any action we take and any word we say should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus—in recognition that we have declared Jesus Lord in our lives and that everything we do and say either honors or dishonors Him. A heart of love, devotion and gratitude is the only acceptable response to the sacrifice He made for us and the blessings He has given us. Even as I write these words, I am convicted. Why is it so hard to live in His presence? I truly can’t wait until He comes to take us home so that I will finally be rid of my sin nature and am no longer distracted by the things of this world--and I really believe that time is near.
We should also be ever mindful of the fact that everything that is provided for us through the Son is according to the will of the Father and through the empowerment of the Spirit. This amazing truth should be cause for great thanksgiving on our part. Again, I think this verse is acknowledging the Trinity. God is a reference to the Holy Spirit, since scripture is clear that “God is a spirit.” (John 4:24) The wording “and” the Father gives further distinction between them.
Col. 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Our culture and society has certainly made this directive distasteful to most women today. Submission is understood as weakness and as designating inferiority. That is not God’s intention. We must always remember that every command and instruction that God has given us is for our good. Because in general men have rebelled from their responsibilities before God and women have asserted their “equality” in every area, this aspect of God’s ordained structure for the family has basically been ignored—the implication being that we know better than God what is good for us. The thing to remember is that Paul is writing to believers, those who should be embracing God’s will for their lives. I can’t help but be curious as to why this verse was inspired to precede the following verse. It is much easier for wives to understand and accept submission in light of God’s command to the husbands. The sobering truth is that this distinction is a result of the curse for sin.
Gen. 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
It’s not the relationship God established with the creation; it’s a relationship that became necessary because of our rebellion. The most important motivation for every Christian wife is to remember that we are submitting to the Lord in submitting to our husbands. (4/12/) In other words, our obedience is to be rooted in obedience to God and should not be determined by the perceived “worthiness” of the husband.
I liked a quote from Warren Wiersbe I found in David Guzik’s commentary.
“The idea of submission doesn't have anything to do with someone being smarter or better or more talented. It has to do with a God-appointed order. "Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that 'rank' has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability."
Col. 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
In my opinion, husbands are given the much harder command. They are to love us unconditionally and not act bitterly toward us. According to Webster, to act bitterly is to cause physical pain or to cause pain or distress to the mind. He also defines it as actions that are severe, cruel, harsh, or stern. As you can see, this directive applies to both “words and deeds” as referenced in verse 17 above. When a Christian husband is obedient to this instruction from the Lord, it will not be hard for the wife to be submissive. She will be confident that her husband is always watching out for her well being because he is being submissive to the Lord.
This brings up another important point in my thinking regarding being sure that you do not get unequally yoked to an unbeliever. If a Christian woman puts herself in that position, she is just asking for trouble. 1Peter makes it clear that you are to be submissive to the unbelieving husband in hopes of winning him to faith by your example.
1Pet. 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
1Pet. 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
Col. 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Paul now directs his instruction to the children. In each case—wife, husband, child—I think Paul is singling out the most important instruction for each for creating a happy home that honors the Lord. The hardest thing for a child to do is obey. The instruction is that they obey all of the time—not just part of the time. Again, if their parents are themselves submissive and obedient to the Lord, an environment is created that makes this instruction easier to follow; it does not, however, ensure compliance. Until a child comes to saving faith and in possession of the Holy Spirit, he most naturally follows the desires of his flesh. He has to be taught what is good and right. He has to be taught about the Lord and the things that please the Lord. I would assume that Paul is directing his comments to children that have proclaimed their faith in Jesus and have a desire to please Him, since that is the motivation that he attaches to the directive.
Col. 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
It’s interesting to note that the next directive is to Fathers—not mothers or parents. As the established authority in the home, the Father is held accountable for the disciplinary structure in the home. It doesn’t mean that he works independently of the mother; in fact, a wise father makes full use of his “helpmeet” to ensure the proper environment and in establishing the disciplinary guidelines for the family. It’s easy for one in authority to abuse that authority—especially in a parent-child relationship. The father is wise that guides his children with a firm, but loving hand. He is clear in his expectations and in the consequences for not adhering to those expectations. Children may not like it, but they understand and appreciate consistent, protective parameters. Fathers who aren’t consistent in their actions and are unclear in making their expectations understood only provoke anger in their children with their responses. They will get discouraged because they will never be sure of how to please you.
If we want our children to grow in spiritual maturity and learn to be submissive and obedient to the Lord, we need to ensure that they see fathers and mothers who are submissive and obedient to the Lord.
Col. 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
The Greek for servants is a reference to someone who is a slave, whether willingly or unwillingly. In the whole of biblical times, slavery was a part of society. (4/12) Though I can find nowhere in scripture that prohibits the practice, kidnapping and selling human beings is prohibited.
Exodus 21:16 “And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.”
Deuteronomy 24:7 “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.”
1 Timothy 1:9–11 “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
There is a verse in Jeremiah, however, that indicates that the Lord would that all men be free.
Jer. 34:13 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying,
Jer. 34:14 At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear.
Jer. 34:15 And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name:
Jer. 34:16 But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.
There are, however, many guidelines as to proper treatment of slaves. Paul gives a clear statement regarding the treatment of slaves in his letter to the Ephesians.
Eph. 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Eph. 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Eph. 6:7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Eph. 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
Eph. 6:9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
Having said all that, Paul is instructing Christians who are slaves. He is clear that they are to be obedient to their masters in every way—whether they are being watched or not. They are to serve their masters with the heart that they are serving God in the process. Verse 8 from Ephesians (above) gives the best motivation. You can’t outgive the Lord. The Lord will reward you for your good service (the implication being even if your master doesn’t).
Col. 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Col. 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Verse 23 begins with a repeat of the instruction in verse 17. I think the key truth that keeps jumping out in this chapter is that we are to live “as to the Lord.” I am sure that a slave would especially need these words of encouragement—especially if serving a hard master. They especially need to be focused on the fact that the Lord looks at their service to their master as though they are serving Him. Again, their work will not go unrewarded; they have a heavenly inheritance awaiting them.
Our culture is so full of pleasing self and earning the accolades of people. As Christians, the only One we should worry about pleasing is the Lord. Why? Because we are joint-heirs with Christ, and our eternal inheritance will far surpass any earthly treasure or accolades we may accumulate. We serve the “Lord Christ,” the Messiah, the Savior, THE Supreme Authority.
Col. 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
“doeth wrong” = to be unjust, i.e. (actively) do wrong (morally, socially or physically):—hurt, injure, be an offender
In context, this statement seems connected to the instruction to “servants.” God will not let those who claim His name go unpunished for wrongdoing. Sin always has consequences. There is no valid excuse before the Lord for doing wrong. Scripture is clear that you will reap what you sow.
Job 4:8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
The Lord is a righteous judge; He is no respecter of persons.
2Chr. 19:7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
Rom. 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
1Pet. 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
Though in context this instruction is to servants, it is applicable to every believer.