Colossians 3:1-25 . EXHORTATIONS TO HEAVENLY AIMS, AS OPPOSED TO EARTHLY, ON THE GROUND OF UNION TO THE RISEN SAVIOUR; TO MORTIFY AND PUT OFF THE OLD MAN, AND TO PUT ON THE NEW; IN CHARITY, HUMILITY, WORDS OF EDIFICATION, THANKFULNESS; RELATIVE DUTIES.
14. above--rather "over," as in Ephesians 6:16 . Charity, which is the crowning grace, covering the multitude of others' sins ( 1 Peter 4:8 ), must overlie all the other graces enumerated.
which is--that is, "for it is"; literally, "which thing is."
bond of perfectness--an upper garment which completes and keeps together the rest, which, without it, would be loose and disconnected. Seeming graces, where love is wanting, are mere hypocrisy. Justification by faith is assumed as already having taken place in those whom Paul addresses, Colossians 3:12 , "elect of God, holy . . . beloved," and Colossians 2:12 ; so that there is no plea here for Rome's view of justification by works. Love and its works "perfect," that is, manifest the full maturity of faith developed ( Matthew 5:44 Matthew 5:48 ). Love . . . be ye perfect, &c. ( james 2:21 james 2:22 , 1 John 2:5 ). "If we love one another, God's love is perfected in us" ( Romans 13:8 , 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 , 1 Timothy 1:5 , 1 John 4:12 ). As to "bond," compare Colossians 2:2 , "knit together in love" ( Ephesians 4:3 ), "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
15. peace of God--The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "The peace of CHRIST" (compare Philippians 4:7 ). "The peace of GOD." Therefore Christ is God. Peace was His legacy to His disciples before He left them ( John 14:27 ), "MY peace I give unto you." Peace is peculiarly His to give. Peace follows love ( Colossians 3:14 , Ephesians 4:2 Ephesians 4:3 ).
rule--literally, "sit as umpire"; 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 be your umpire ruling in your hearts, your reward is sure. "Let the peace of Christ act as umpire when anger, envy, and such passions arise; and restrain them." Let not those passions give the award, so that you should be swayed by them, but let Christ's peace be the decider of everything.
in your hearts--Many wear a peaceful countenance and speak peace with the mouth, while war is in their hearts ( Psalms 28:3 , 55:21 ).
to the which--that is, with a view to which state of Christian peace ( Isaiah 26:3 ); 1 Corinthians 7:15 , "God hath called us to peace."
ye are called--Greek, "ye were also called." The "also" implies that besides Paul's exhortation, they have also as a motive to "peace," their having been once for all called.
in one body--( Ephesians 4:4 ). The unity of the body is a strong argument for "peace" among the members.
be ye thankful--for your "calling." 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 Ephesians 5:20 ).
16. The form which "thankfulness" ( Colossians 3:15 ) ought to take.
Let the word of Christ--the Gospel word by which ye have been called.
richly--( Colossians 2:2 , Romans 15:14 ).
in all wisdom--ALFORD joins this clause with "teaching," &c.not with "dwell in you," as English Version, for so we find in Colossians 1:28 , "teaching in all wisdom," and the two clauses will thus correspond, "In all wisdom teaching," and "in grace singing in your hears" (so the Greek order).
and . . . and--The oldest manuscripts read "psalms, hymns, spiritual Agapæ or love-feasts, and in their family circles, they were to be so full of the Word of Christ in the heart that the mouth should give it utterance in hymns of instruction, admonition, and praise (compare Deuteronomy 6:7 ). TERTULLIAN [Apology, 39], records that at the love-feasts, after the water had been furnished for the hands and the lights had been literally, according as any had the power, whether by his remembrance of Scripture, or by his powers of composition, he used to be invited to sing praises to God for the common good. Paul contrasts (as in Ephesians 5:18 Ephesians 5:19 ) the songs of Christians at their social meetings, with the bacchanalian and licentious songs of heathen feasts. Singing usually formed part of the entertainment at Greek banquets (compare James 5:13 ).
with grace--Greek, "IN grace," the element in which your singing is to be: "the grace" of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This clause expresses the seat and source of true psalmody, whether in private or public, namely, the heart as well as the voice; singing (compare Colossians 3:15 , "peace . . . rule in your hearts"), the psalm of love and praise being in the heart before it finds vent by the lips, and even when it is not actually expressed by the voice, as in closet-worship. The Greek order forbids English Version, "with grace in your hearts"; rather, "singing in your hearts."
to the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read, "to God."
17. Literally, "And everything whatsoever ye do . . . do all," &c.; this includes words as well as deeds.
in the name of the Lord Jesus--as disciples called by His name as His, seeking His guidance and help, and desiring to act so as to gain His approval ( Romans 14:8 , 1 Corinthians 10:31 , 2 Corinthians 5:15 , 1 Peter 4:11 ). Compare "in the Lord," Colossians 3:18 , and "Christ is all," Colossians 3:11 .
God and the Father--The oldest manuscripts omit "and," which seems to have crept in from Ephesians 5:20 .
by him--Greek, "through Him" as the channel of His grace to us, and of our thanksgiving to Him ( John 14:6 , end).
18. unto your own husbands--The oldest manuscripts omit "own," which crept in from Ephesians 5:22 .
as it is fit in the Lord--Greek, "was fit," implying that there was at Colosse some degree of failure in fulfilling this duty, "as it was your duty to have done as disciples of the Lord."
19. ( Ephesians 5:22-33 .)
be not bitter--ill-tempered and provoking. Many who are polite abroad, are rude and bitter at home because they are not afraid to be so there.
20. ( Ephesians 6:1 .)
unto the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read, "IN the Lord," that is, this is acceptable to God when it is done in the Lord, namely, from the principle of faith,and as disciples in union with the Lord.
21. ( Ephesians 6:4 .) It is a different Greek verb, therefore translate here, "irritate not." By perpetual fault-finding "children" are "discouraged" or "disheartened." A broken-down spirit is fatal to youth [BENGEL].
22. ( Ephesians 6:5 Ephesians 6:6 .) This is to fear God, when, though none sees us, we do no evil: but if we do evil, it is not God, but men, whom we fear.
singleness--"simplicity of heart."
fearing God--The oldest manuscripts read, "the Lord."
23. And--omitted in the oldest manuscripts (compare Ephesians 6:7 Ephesians 6:8 ). Compare the same principle in the case of all men, Hezekiah ( 2 Chronicles 31:21 , Romans 12:11 ).
do, do it--two distinct Greek verbs, "Whatsoever ye do, work at it" (or "labor at" it).
heartily--not from servile constraint, but with hearty good will.
24. the reward of the inheritance--"Knowing that it is from the Lord (the ultimate source of reward), ye shall receive the compensation (or recompense, which will make ample amends for your having no earthly possession as slaves now) consisting of the inheritance" (a term excluding the notion of meriting it by works: it is all of grace, Romans 4:14 , Galatians 3:18 ).
for ye serve--The oldest manuscripts omit "for," then translate as Vulgate, "Serve ye the Lord Christ;" compare Colossians 3:23 , "To the Lord and not unto men" ( 1 Corinthians 7:22 1 Corinthians 7:23 ).
25. But--The oldest manuscripts read, "for," which accords with "serve ye," &c. ( Colossians 3:24 ), the oldest reading: the for here gives a motive for obeying the precept. He addresses the slaves: Serve ye the Lord Christ, and leave your wrongs in His hands to put to rights: (translate), "For he that doeth wrong shall receive back the wrong which he hath done (by just retribution in kind), and there is no respect of persons" with the Great Judge in the day of the Lord. He favors the master no more than the slave ( Revelation 6:15 ).