Colossians 3






The apostle, having delivered his attack on the system of error inculcated at

Colossae, now passes from the controversial to the more practical purport

of his letter. There is no break, however, in the current of his thought; for

throughout this chapter he urges the pursuit of a practical Christian life in a

sense and in a manner silently opposed to the tendencies of Gnosticizing

error. How much more congenial was the task to which he now addresses

himself we may judge, perhaps, from the ease and simplicity which mark

the language of this chapter, as compared with the abrupt and seemingly

embarrassed style of the last section. We may analyze the teaching section

of the Epistle (ch. 3:1- ch. 4:6) as follows:


  • ch. 3:1-4, urging the Colossians to maintain a lofty spiritual life;
  • vs. 5-8, to put off their old vices, impurity, malice, falsehood;
  • vs. 9-14, to put on the new Christian virtues, especially gentleness,

forgivingness, love;

  • vs. 15-17, to let the sovereign influence of Christ sway their whole

life — inward, social, secular;

  • v. 18 – ch. 4:1, enjoining the Christian discharge of their relative

duties, as wives and husbands, children and fathers, servants and

masters, under the sense of their allegiance to the Lord Christ;

  • ch. 4:2-4, exhorting to constant prayer, and especially for

the apostle himself at the present juncture; and

vs. 5-6, to wise conduct and edifying speech toward them that are



It will be seen how much more comprehensive and systematic is

the view thus presented of Christian duty than that furnished by earlier

Epistles; and how the ideas of the supremacy of Christ, the unity of the

Christian brotherhood, and the sacredness of the natural constitution of

human life, which were threatened by the rise of Gnosticism in Colossae,

underlie the apostle’s exposition of Christian ethics. Verses 1-17, we have

grouped together under the title given to this section;  vs. 18- ch. 4:1,

demands a separate treatment; and vs. 2-6 will finally be  bracketed together.


1  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  2  Set your affection

on things above, not on things on the earth.”   (ch. 2:11-13, 20; Romans

6:1-11; Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 3:20; Matthew 6:19-20; Luke 12:13-40).

The apostle has already shown that when his readers, entering the gate of

baptism, became Christians through faith in Christ, they died with Him (ch.

2:20), were buried, then raised and made alive together with Him (Ibid. 11-13):

Compare Romans 6:1-11. So they were restored to peace and favor with God

(ch. 1:21-23; 2:13-14), severed from their old life of sin (Ibid. 2:11), and set in

the path of holiness (Ibid. 1:22). At the same time, they left behind all

childish, tentative forms and notions (“rudiments”) of religion, whether

Jewish or non-Jewish (ch.2:8, 11, 18, 20-23). They became dead both from

sin and from human modes of salvation. Both are included in “the things upon

the earth,” to which belong at once the grosser sensual forms of sin (v. 5) with

its “surfeiting of the flesh” (ch. 2:23), and that vaunted philosophy, which is

after all earth born and earthward tending (Ibid. vs.:8, 20), bringing the soul

again into bondage to material things. The apostle lifts his readers into a new,

heavenly sphere.  He bids them make “the things above,” i.e. “the things of

Christ,” the one object of their thought and endeavor. So they will master the

flesh by rising above it, instead of fighting it on its own ground by ceremonial

rite and ascetic regimen. “The things above” are no abstract, transcendental

conception, as in the theology of Paul’s opponents, for they are “where

Christ is.” The things “in the heavens” as well as those “upon the earth”

were created “in Him, through Him, unto Him” (ch. 1:16);  Romans 11:36)

there He is Lord, even as here (ch. 1:17; 2:10; Matthew 28:18).  His presence

gives distinctness and positiveness to the Christian’s view of heaven, and

concentrates his interests and affections there (compare Philippians 1:23; 3:20;

I Thessalonians 1:10; Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; Matthew 6:19-20; John 12:26; 14:3;

Acts 1:11; 7:56). “Seated” is placed with emphasis at the end of its clause,

indicating the completeness of the Saviour’s work and the dignity of His

position (compare Ephesians 1:20-22; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12-13; Revelation 3:21).

 For “the things above,” see vs. 3-4; also chps. 1:5 and 2:18 compared with

Philippians 3:11-14, 20-21; Romans 2:7; 8:17-23; I Corinthians 15:42-49;

II Corinthians 4:16-5:8; John 17:24.) To “seek” these things is to strive

that they may be ours in the future; to “mind” them is to occupy our

thoughts with them in the present. (For the word “mind” (φρονέω – phroneo –

to think), compare Philippians 3:19 and Romans 8:5-7 (φρόνημαphronema –

thought; minding); in Romans 14:6 it is rendered by “regard.”) 


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

(ch. 2:11-13, 20; Ephesians 4:22; Philippians 3:20; Romans 6:1-14; 7:1-6;

II Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 2:20; I Corinthians 3:23; John 15:5;

12:26; Revelation 3:21).  In this hidden life of the Christian lies the

ground and the spring of the more outward life of thought and endeavor

of vs. 1-2. And this life comes through death, from that “dying with Christ”

out of which we “rose with Him” (v. 1; ch. 2:11-13, 20; Romans 6:3-4, 8).

“The aorist ἀπεθάνετε  – apothanete - ye died - denotes the past act; the perfect

κέκρυπται – kekruptai - - hath been and is hid -  the permanent effects”.

(On the nature of this death, see notes to ch. 2:11-13.) “Died

— and your life!” this paradox is explained in Romans 6:10-11, and

repeated in Galatians 2:20; II Corinthians 5:14-15. The Christian’s

life is lodged in the sphere of “the unseen and eternal.” It centers in Christ,

and as He is hidden — withdrawn from the world of sense, yet with us

always in His Spirit (John 14:16-20; 16:16-22) — so our life with Him.

And if “with Christ,” then “in God;” for “Christ is God’s” (I Corinthians

3:23); “lives to God” (Romans 6:10), and “is at God’s right hand” (v. 1),

being “the Son of his love” (ch. 1:13; John 1:18). The apostle says, “in God”

(“in heaven,” Philippians 3:20), to emphasize the fact of the union of Christ

with God, or perhaps to deepen the reader’s sense of the sacredness of this life

in Christ (compare I Timothy 6:14-16). “Is hid” (ch.  1:26-27; 2:2-3), another

allusion to the fondness of the Colossian errorists for mysteries. In ch. 1:26

Paul spoke of the ancient mystery of a Christ for all the world; then of the new,

perpetual mystery of a Christ dwelling within believing hearts. But this

second mystery is equally that of our life in Christ as of Christ’s life in us,

 lifting us to heaven while it brings Him down to earth. This mutual indwelling

of the Head in heaven and the members upon earth is the most intimate and

inscrutable of all secrets (John 14:20; 15:1-7; 17:22-23, 26). The world knows

neither Christ nor Christians, and Christians do not even know themselves.

But as the old historic secret had its manifestation at last (ch. 1:26),

so will the new secret that lies enfolded within every Christian life.




Heavenly Things the True Object of Christian Contemplation

                                       (vs. 2-3)



“Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are

upon the earth; for ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

We must not only seek things above, but think them.




Ø      Not things upon the earth, because


o       they are below us (Philippians 3:8, 19);

o       unsatisfying (Luke 8:18; Proverbs 23:5; Hosea 13:13;

Psalm 78:39);

o       full of anxieties (Matthew 13:22; Job 38:22);

o       unnecessary to our happiness (Job 28:14);

o       transient and uncertain (Proverbs 23:5; Luke 12:19-20).


Ø      Things that are above.” (See hints on previous verse.) We

ought to set our mind upon them, because


o       they are satisfying;

o       suitable;


Ø      because our treasure is there — of riches (Matthew 6:19-21),

of honors (1 Samuel 2:30), of pleasures (Psalm 16:11).



OF THOUGHT AND AFFECTION. This is the secret of heavenly

mindedness. “Tell me what a man thinks, and I will tell you what he is.”


Ø      It is our duty not to set our mind on things on the earth, because:


o       God may give them to you as your entire portion (Psalm


o       you may provoke him to take them away (ibid. ch. 78:5-7);

o       they will turn away your thoughts from heaven (ibid.  10:3-4);

o       they will distract you in duty (Ezekiel 33:31);

o       they involve the guilt of idolatry (v. 5).


Ø      It is our duty to set our mind on things above, because


o       there is nothing else worth our serious thought (1 John 2:15);

o       they will keep you from over anxiety about the affairs of this

life (Philippians 4:11-12);

o       the thought of them will increase your fitness for duty (Acts 20:24);

o       they will make the thought of death more pleasant in anticipation (Philippians 1:23).



BELIEVING CONTEMPLATION. “For ye died, and your life is hid with

Christ in God.” The thought is twofold — it refers to a past act and to a

continuous state.


Ø      Our death in Christ. This involves


o       our death to sin (Romans 6:2) and

o       our death to the world (Galatians 6:14). We are, therefore,

cut loose from “things on the earth.”


Ø      Our hidden life in God. “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”


o       The Christian life is a hidden life:


§         in its origin (John 3:8);

§         it is hid, as an experience, from the world;

§         it is hid from the believer himself in times of spiritual


§         the full glory of this life is hidden even from the believer

(1 John 3:1).


o       the Christian life has its hidden source and abiding strength

with Christ in God.” Christ is now hid in heaven and our life

is hid with Him.


o       It is hid with Him as our Representative; this marks its security; this is the sheet anchor of our spiritual existence.


o       It is hid with Him as its constant source; “For He is our Life,” in

whom we realize a growth in all the graces of the Spirit (Galatians

5:22);  Because I live, ye shall live also; I am come that ye may

have life.., more abundantly.”  (John 10:10)


o       God is Himself the sphere or element in which our life is hid.

It is “with Christ in God.” The Son is “in the bosom of the

Father,” and thus we have fellowship with both the Father and

the Son (1 John 1:3). Thus THE BELIEVER IS DOUBLY

SECURE!   He is not  only hidden in God’s home; he is hidden

in God’s heart. Therefore we can understand the import of the

phrase, “And ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians



4   “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear

with Him in glory.”  (Jude 1:14; Romans 8:18-23; Philippians 3:21; I Corinthians

1:7; 4:5; I Thessalonians 1:10; I Timothy 6:15; II Timothy 2:10-12; 4:8; Titus 2:13;

I John 3:2; 2:28). Our future destiny, with our present redemption (ch. 1:14),

is  wrapped up in Christ. Our life is not only “with Him” (v. 3); it is “Himself”

(Philippians 1:21; Hebrews 1:3; John 1:4; 6:50-57; 14:6; I John 5:12); He is its

source and ground, way and rule, means and end — its all (v. 11: compare

1:20; 2:6-10; Ephesians 1:3, 23; 3:17-19; 4:13; Philippians 3:10; 4:19).  From the

hour of His ascension He has been hidden (Acts 1:9; 3:21; I Peter. 1:8); and His

manifestation is as much a part of the Christian creed as His death and resurrection

(Acts 17:31; I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16; II Thessalonians 1:10; 2:8; I Corinthians

15:23; Philippians 3:20; II Timothy 4:1; John 14:3; I John 3:2-3; Revelation 22:12, 20).

Then the Christian will have his manifestation also with Him, in the “revelation

of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19); who will receive their second “adoption,

to wit, the redemption of their body” (Ibid. 8:23). “Seeing Him as He is” in His

glory, “we shall be like him” (I John 3:2) in glory. At last the spiritual life of the

soul will have its due organic expression, in a body perfect and heavenly as itself

(I Corinthians 15:35-49; II Corinthians 5:1-5; Job 19:25-27).  This is already the

case with our human nature in Christ (Philippians 3:21); and the change will proceed

from the Head to the members (I Corinthians 15:23), who will be conformed to His

“body of glory,” as now they are being conformed to His spiritual image (Romans

8:9-11, 29-30; 12:2; II Corinthians 3:18; John 17:22-26; I John 4:17).  Observe that

“Christ” is repeated four times in the last four verses.


5   Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth;”(ch. 2:11; 3:9;

Ephesians 4:21-22; Philippians 3:19; Romans 6:6; 8:13; 13:14). “Your” is omitted by

most textual critics, but English idiom requires it in translation. In its absence a stronger

emphasis falls on the defining clause, “that are upon the earth.” As these things may

no longer be pursued or studied (vs. 1-2), the organs devoted to them must be put

 to death. These members are indeed those of the actual body (Romans 6:13, 19; 7:5,

23; 8:13); but these in so far as ruled hitherto by sinful impulse and habit,

constituting the body of “the old man” (v. 9; Ephesians 4:22; Romans 6:6), “of the

flesh” (ch. 2:11), “of sin,” and “of death” (Romans 6:6; 7:24), with “sinful

passions working in its members, bearing fruit unto death” (Romans 7:5): compare,

note, ch. 2:11. That body is “made dead” by destruction of the evil passions that

animated it. The body of “the new man” is physically identical with it, but different

in moral habit and diathesis — a difference that manifests itself even in bodily

expression and manner (II Corinthians 5:17) - Νεκρόω – nekroo – to make dead;

mortify - occurs besides in the New Testament only in Romans 4:19 and Hebrews

11:12 (in Romans 8:13, a still stronger word is used of “the practices” of the

body): as the aged Abraham had been made dead in respect of the natural

possibility of fatherhood, so the body of the Christian is to be dead for purposes of

sin. If there were any doubt as to the writer’s meaning, the next clause removes it.

His language has approached that of the philosophical ascetics (see ch. 2:23, note

and quotations); hence the abrupt explanatory apposition that follows: “fornication,

uncleanness, inordinate affection (sensual passion), evil concupiscence (evil

desire), and covetousness, which is idolatry:” -  (Ephesians 5:3-5; Philippians

3:19; I Corinthians 6:9-11; 5:11; Romans 1:29; I Timothy 6:17; Matthew 6:24,

31-32; Luke 12:21; Psalm 49:6; 52:7). To these vices the Colossian Gentiles

(some of them at least) had been to such a degree devoted that their members

 had become virtually identified therewith. The first two sins are related as particular

and general. The second pair, πάθος – pathos – affection of the mind; a

passionate desire; and ἐπιθυμία – epithumia – a desire, longing, craving,

mostly of evil desires; sometimes translated lust; are combined in I Thessalonians

4:4 in contrast to “(bodily) sanctification and honour” (compare ch. 2:23, and

“passions of dishonour,” Romans 1:26). The former denotes a morbid,

inflamed condition of the sensual appetite; the latter, craving for some

particular gratification of it. Neither of these words is etymologically, or invariably,

evil in sense. The degradation of such terms in all languages is a sad evidence of the

corruption of our nature - πλεονεξίαpleonexia – covetousness -  is both

wider and more intense in meaning than our covetousness. It denotes radically the

disposition to “have more,” “grasping greed,” “selfishness grown to a

passion.” Hence it applies to sins of impurity, greediness for sensual pleasure

(I Thessalonians 4:6; Ephesians 4:19); but by the emphatic use of the article (“the

covetousness”), and by the words that follow, it is marked out as a distinct

type of sin; so in Ephesians 5:3, 5, where “uncleanness” and “greed”

are stigmatized as vile forms of sin. This word, often used by St. Paul, is

peculiar to him in the New Testament. (ἥτιςhaetis - “The which” -  compare

Ἅτινά - hatina – ch.2:23) gives a reason while it states a fact (“inasmuch as

 it is idolatry”). For the thought, compare Ephesians 5:5 and I Timothy 6:17,

also Matthew 6:24; it is a commonplace of religion, and appears in Philo and

Jewish rabbis.


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

disobedience:” - Ephesians 2:2-3; 5:6; Galatians 5:21; Romans 1:18; 2:5-9; 5:9;

I Thessalonians 1:10; 2:16; II Thessalonians 1:5-10; John 3:36; Revelation 6:17;

Malachi 3:2). “The anger of God is coming” is a sentence complete in itself

(compare Romans 1:18). God’s “anger”- ὀργή - orgae - is His settled punitive

indignation against sin, of which His “wrath” - θυμός – thumos - is the terrible

outflaming (Revelation 16:1; 14:10);  “Cometh” implies a continuing fact or

fixed principle; or rather, perhaps, signifies that this “anger” is in course of

manifestation, is “on the way:” compare I Thessalonians 1:10, “the anger that

 is coming,” not “to come,” also the use of ἔρχομαι  –erchomai – I am coming

 in John 14:3, 18; Hebrews 10:37. The objects of this anger “children of wrath,”

Ephesians 2:2-3) are “the sons of disobedience.”  The expressive Hebraism by

which a man is said to be s child or son of the dominant quality or influence of his

life  is frequent in the New Testament. 


7   “In the which ye also walked some time (once), when ye lived in them.”

(Ephesians 2:3; 5:8; Romans 6:19-21; I Corinthians 6:11; 12:2;  Titus 3:3;

I Peter 4:3).  These sins are visited with the Divine anger, and moreover are the

very sins in which the Colossians aforetime had lived; observe the same

connection in Ephesians 5:6-8; I Corinthians 6:10-11 – “ye lived” stands opposed

to “mortify” or make dead of v. 5, and to “ye are dead” (v. 3: compare ch. 2:20;

Galatians 2:20); it marks the time when “the old man” (v. 9), with his “earthly

 members’’ (v. 5) was alive and active (compare Romans 7:5, 9, “sin came

 to life”).   When ye lived “in these things”  - τούτοις,– toutois -  points to

the things enumerated in v. 6, with a mental gesture of contempt. 




                        The Duty of Mortifying the Old Man (vs. 5-7)


The apostle proceeds to deduce the practical consequences of our “death in

Christ” in the mortifying of tendencies to impurity, covetousness, malice,

and falsehood. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth;

fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, evil desire, and covetousness, which is





Ø      Its nature. It is to resist the solicitations of sin, to suppress its first

motions, to weaken its power.


o       It is a gradual process — it is “to crucify the flesh,” implying a lingering process; it is a destruction that goes on daily, for the remains

   of the old life still abide, though not in power, in the believer.

o       The word “mortify” implies that sin is not to be allowed to die out of

itself; we must kill it.

o       It is a painful process.


Ø      The duty of mortification.


o       It is commanded. We are to show no more mercy to the “old man” than

to the “right eye” or the “right hand” that offends us (Matthew 5:29-30).


o       It is done in the power of the Spirit. “For if ye through the Spirit do

mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13). Therefore

it becomes not only possible, but actual. Thus “our instruments of

unrighteousness are turned into “instruments of righteousness unto God”  (ibid. ch. 6:13).


o       It is the true consequence of our “death in Christ;” for the apostle says, “Mortify therefore your members,” in allusion to this death

(ch.  2:20; 3:3). We must carry out this principle of death to

sin, to the flesh, to the world.


·         THE SPHERE OF THIS MORTIFICATION, “Your members which

are upon the earth.” He refers:


Ø      To the instruments of sinfulness. They are called members in allusion to

the apostle’s figure of sin, as a body of sin (ch.  2:11), and in

allusion to the necessity of the bodily organization to their action. They are

upon the earth,” because they belong to our body or our earthly

condition, or tend to mere earthly gratification. But they are to be turned

into “instruments of righteousness unto God.”


Ø      To the various manifestations of this sinfulness.


o       Sins affecting our personal life.


§         Sins of impurity.


                     (α) Fornication.


                  (i.) It is God’s will we should abstain from it                                          (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

                           (ii.) It is one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19).

                           (iii.) It ought not once to be named among Christians

                                  (Ephesians 5:12).

                           (iv.) It takes away the heart (Hosea 4:11).

                           (v.)  It brings dishonour and shipwreck of character                                             (Proverbs 6:27-29; 23:28).

                          (vi.) The body was made, not for a harlot, but for the                                           Lord (1 Corinthians 6:15-16). It is a sin against our                                                 own bodies.

                          (vii.) The promises of the gospel ought to engage us to                                          “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh                                         and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”                                      (II Corinthians 7:1).


(β) Uncleanness. This is a generic product, as fornication is                  a specific product, of “the earthly members.” The observations in the one apply to the other. Those who commit such sins are “alienated from the life of God

                     through their ignorance and hardness of heart”                                          (Ephesians 4:17), and are “delivered up to a reprobate                                     mind” (Romans 1:24, 26).


(γ) Lustfulness and evil desire. These point to “the lust of concupiscence” (1 Thessalonians 4:5), which is of the devil (John 8:44), which wars against the soul (1 Peter 2:11), which drowns men in destruction and perdition

(1 Timothy 6:9), and keeps men from “coming to the

knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7).

These various sins of impurity are to be mortified: how?


ü      We can only cleanse our hearts by taking heed to the Word (Psalm 119:9).

ü      By prayer, as the apostle did with the thorn in his flesh (II Corinthians 12:9).

ü      By watchfulness (Proverbs 23. 26-27). We ought to guard against idleness (Ezekiel 16:49), fullness of bread, evil company (Proverbs 1:20).

ü      We must not “fulfil the lusts of the flesh,” but “put on Christ” (Romans 13:14).


o       The sin of covetousness. The apostle here introduces a new type of sin by the use of the definite article, as if he thus exhausted the full catalogue of sin in the world. It is curious to find it linked with sins of impurity. Yet it is so elsewhere (1 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:3;

II Peter 2:14). There is a likeness between these two classes of sins. They both imply an unlawful direction of desires not in themselves unlawful, and they both grow by indulgence.



§        Covetousness: 


(α) Issues, as a defiling thing, “out of the heart of man”

      (Mark 7:22).


(β) It implies a greedy and distracting care (Luke 12:15).


(γ) It exposes to many a piercing sorrow (1 Timothy 6:10).


(δ) It is a trouble to a man’s own house (Proverbs 15:27).


(ε) It argues little dependence or faith in the Lord (Luke 

     12:30)  Therefore“let us have our conversation without

     covetousness and be content with such things as we have” 

     (Hebrews 13:5).


(ζ) Its heinousness“seeing it is idolatry.” It sets up another

     object of worship besides God. We cannot “serve both God

     and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Covetousness is base,         because it sets up self in the heart, it is odious to God        (Psalm 10:3), turns our hearts away from Him (1 John

      2:15), and grudges the time spent in God’s worship

      (Amos 8:5). Sins of impurity are the sins of youth as the

      sin of covetousness is the sin of old age.



MORTIFICATION. “For which things’ sake cometh the wrath of God

upon the sons of disobedience: in the which ye also walked aforetime,

when ye lived in these things.”


Ø      The consideration of the wrath of God.


o       It is the displeasure of a personal God, the moral Governor, against sin, and the moving cause of the punishment He inflicts. It is not identical with the punishment, which is only the effect of it. It is a first principle in natural theology (Romans 1:32); it has its root in the moral excellence of God; and is inseparable from the attitude of God toward moral evil (Hebrews 3:11; Romans 9:22).


o       It is an enduring fact of God’s moral government“the wrath of God doth come.” Nothing has occurred to break the connection between sin and God’s anger, except in the case of those whom Christ has “delivered from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).


o       It is directed against the sons of disobedience, who disregard

alike the principles of Law and gospel.


Ø      A consideration of the former state of the Colossians. “In the which ye

also walked aforetime, when ye lived in these things.” It is good to be

reminded of our past sin,


o       because it recalls the misery and guilt of our former state and makes us shrink from the thought of a return to it;

o       because it humbles us under a sense of our personal unworthiness;

o       because it quickens our sense of God’s mercy that drew us out of it.


8   “But now ye also put off all these (things);” -  (v. 9; ch. 2:11; Ephesians

4:22, 25; Romans 13:12; I Peter 2:1). The thought of the death of the old life

gives place to that of the divesting of the old habit; the new life wears a new

dress, Mark the triumphant emphasis in “but now!” (opposed to the “once” of

v. 7), characteristic of the writer (compare ch. 1:21, 26; Romans 3:21; 6:22).

Τὰ πάντα  (“all these things,” “the whole” of them) summarizes the vices

specified in v. 5, and forms the starting point of another series, in which malice

 predominates, as impurity in the previous list; anger, wrath, malice, evil

speaking, foul speech from your mouth (Ephesians 4:26-31; 5:4; Romans 1:29-31;

I Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:20-21; Titus 3:3). There is a similar order and

division between these two chief classes of sin in the parallel passages. In

Ephesians 4:31-32 and 5:3-5 the order is reversed. “Anger” (ὀργή) is

ascribed to God in v. 6 (compare Ephesians 4:26; Hebrews 10:30). (On “anger”

and “wrath” (or “rage”), see v. 6.) The latter is once ascribed to God by Paul

(Romans 2:8), more frequently in the Apocalypse. In man it is universally

condemned. (For κακία kakia –malice, malignity, badness of disposition,

 compare Romans 1:29; I Corinthians 14:20;  Titus 3:3) - Βλασφημία –-

blashphemia – blasphemy - in its original sense, includes injurious speech of any

kind, either against man or God (see Romans 3:8; 14:16;  I Corinthians 10:30;

Titus 3:2) -  αἰσχρολογίαaischrologian – filthy communication -  (only here

in the New Testament) denotes, like the English “foul,” either “scurrilous” or “filthy.”

The former kind of speech is suggested by the foregoing blasphemia; but especially

in such an atmosphere as that of Greek city life (USA - ??? – CY – 2011),

scurrility commonly runs into filthiness. In Ephesians 5:4, where a slightly

different word occurs, the latter idea is prominent. The two last vices, being sins

of speech, must be put away “out of your mouth.” “Your” bears the emphasis

in the Greek; such utterance is quite unfit for a Christian mouth (compare

Ephesians 4:29; 5:3-4; James 3:10; and the prohibition of lying in the next verse).


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

deeds;” - (Ephesians 4:14-15; 20-25; I Timothy 1:6; Revelation 21:8; ch. 2:11;

Romans 6:6; 8:12-13;  Galatians 5:16, 24). The imperatives of vs. 5 and 8 were

aorists, enjoining a single, decisive act; this is present, as in vs. 1-2, 15, 18, etc.,

giving a rule of life. Only in Colossians and Ephesians do we find the apostle give

a general warning against lying. What reason there was for this we cannot tell;

unless it lay in the deceit of the heretical teachers (ch. 2:8: compare Ephesians

4:14-15; Acts 20:30; II Corinthians 11:13;  I Timothy 4:2; II Peter 2:1; I  John

4:1; Revelation 2:2; 3:9). The lying in question is uttered within the Church

(“to one another”), and is fatal to its unity (v. 11;  Ephesians 4:25; Acts 20:28-30).

The following aorist participles, “having stripped off” and “having put on” (v. 10),

may, grammatically, be part of the command “put off,” and “lie not” — as e.g.

 in I Thessalonians 5:8;  Hebrews 12:1; or may state the fact on which that command

is based. The latter view is preferable for the participles describe a change already

realized — a change of principle, which has, however, still to be more fully carried

out in practice (ch.2:11-13, 20;  here: v.1, 3,7,11; Ephesians 4:20-24; Galatians

3:27-28):  in v. 12 the imperative mood is resumed with an emphatic “therefore,”

implying a previous reference to fact. (On the double compound ἀπ εκ δυσάμενοι  

apekdusamenoi -  having stripped off (and put) away,” see notes, ch. 2:11, 15.)

The “Old man”; is the former self, the “I no longer living” (Galatians 2:20)

of the Colossian believer, to whom “the members that are upon the earth”

(v. 5) belonged — the entire sinful personality of “him who is in the flesh”

(Romans 8:8). His πράξεσιν – praxesin - deeds; practices;business;

habits of doing - Romans 8:13) are the pursuits of which vs. 5, 8-9

supply examples.


10   And have put on the new man,  which is renewed in knowledge, after

the image of Him that created him:” - (Ephesians 2:15; 4:23-24;; Romans 6:4; 7:6;

8:1-4; 13:12-14; II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; ch.1:9; 2:2-3; Genesis 1:26-28;

Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:10;  I Peter 1:16; Romans 8:29). New (νέον – neon -  

new; young; that which is recent; (compare the “once,” “but now” of vs. 7-8;

also ch. 1:5-8; I Peter 2:1-2). whose birth was well remembered, and which

presented  so vivid a contrast to the “old man with his deeds.” - (ἀνακαινούμενον

anakainvoumenon - “being  renewed” derived from the adjective καινός

kainos - new) sets forth the other side of this newness, its novelty of quality and

condition (compare “newness of life,” Romans 6:4). And this participle is in the

present tense (continuous), while the former is in the aorist (historical). So

the notions are combined of a new birth taking place once for all, and a

new character in course of formation. In Ephesians 4:23-24 these

ideas are in the same order. “Full knowledge” was one purpose of this renewal,

the purpose most necessary to be set before the Colossians. The nature and

objects of this knowledge have been already specified (ch. 1:6, 9, 27-28; 2:2-3, 9-10:

compare Ephesians 1:18-19; 3:18-19; Philippians 3:8-14; I Corinthians 1:18-31; and

on ἐπίγνωσιν epignosin – knowledge - see note, (ch.1:6).  After (the) image”

is clearly an allusion to Genesis 1:26-28; so in Ephesians 4:24 (“after God).  It is

adverbial to “renewed,” not to “knowledge.” Man’s renewal in Christ makes

him  what the Creator at first designed him to be, namely, His own image

 (compare note on “reconcile,”  - ch.1:20). Some take “Christ” as “Him that

created,” in view of 1:15-16; but then it is said that all things “were created in…

through… for Christ,” not absolutely that Christ created them. But “the image

of God after which” man was created and is now recreated, is seen in Christ

(Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18; 4:4; John 1:18).


11  “Where there is neither Greek and Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision,

Barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free:” - (Galatians 3:28; 6:15; Ephesians 2:14-18;

4:25; I Corinthians 12:13; Romans 15:5-12; Philemon 15-16; John 13:12-17;

17:20-23; Luke 22:24-27;). “In Christ” these distinctions are non-existent.

There is no place for them. These and the following words indicate the sphere, as

unto knowledgethe end, and “after the image” the ideal or norm, of the

progressive renewal to be effected in the Colossian believer. It can be carried on

only where and so far as these distinctions are set aside. The “new man” knows

nothing of them. The enmity between Greek and Jew being removed, the malice

and falsehood that grew out of it will disappear (vs. 8-9: compare Romans 15:7;

Ephesians 4:25). In Galatians 3:28 “Jew” stands first, and the distinction of sex is

added. The distinctions here enumerated appear as looked at from the Greek side.

Only here in the New Testament does “Greek” precede “Jew” (compare Romans

1:16; I Corinthians 12:13). “Barbarian” (Romans 1:14) and “Scythian” (only here

in the New Testament) are together opposed to “Greek,” and imply want of

culture rather than alien nationality, the Scythian being the rudest of barbarians.

Such terms of contempt would, in Asia Minor, be commonly applied by Greeks to

the native population. The party who affected philosophic culture (ch. 2:8, 23) may,

perhaps, have applied them to simple, uneducated Christians (see note on ch.1:28).

(On “circumcision,” see 2:11; and for the connection with v. 9, compare Galatians

6:15.) For “bond” and “free,” a division then pervading society universally,

compare Galatian list. Onesimus and Philemon are doubtless in the apostle’s mind.

On this relationship he enlarges in the next section (vs. 22-4:1). The four pairs of

opposed terms represent distinctions:


  • of race,
  • of religious privilege,
  • of culture,
  • of social rank.


“but Christ is all, and in all.”  (ch.1:15-20; 2:9-10; 3:4, 17; Ephesians 1:3,10,

22-23; 2:13-22; 3:8, 19; Philippians 1:21; 3:7-14; 4:19; Galatians 2:20; 5:2, 4;

Romans 5:10; 8:32, 39). “Christ” stands at the end of the sentence, with

accumulated emphasis. The Church regards and values each man in his

relation to Christ, and bids every other consideration bow to this. He is “all things”

- our common center, our standard of reference, and fount of honor, the sum of all

we acknowledge and desire; and He is “in all” — the common life and soul of

His people, the substance of all we experience and possess as Christians. The

second “all” is masculine, referring more specially to the classes just enumerated.

Similarly, in Ephesians 4:6: compare ch.1:27; Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 1:15; 2:20;

4:19. (While He is “in all,” it is equally true that all are “in Him:” compare

John 15:4; 17:23, 26.) Just as in the spiritual sphere, and in the relations between

God and man, Christ is shown to be all, so that “principalities and powers” are

comparatively insignificant (ch.1:16; 2:9-10, 15); so in the moral sphere, and in the

relations between man and man. All human distinctions, like all angelic offices,

 must pay homage to His supremacy, and submit to the reconciling unity of

His kingdom (Ephesians 1:10).


12  “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved,” - (vs. 9,14;

Ephesians 1:3-5; 4:24; Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14; I Thessalonians 1:4; 5:8;

II Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 1:1; Romans 8:28-39; I Peter 1:1-2; I John 3:1). The

terms “elect,” “holy” (same as “saints,”  ch. 1:2; see note), “beloved,”

apply alike and separately to those addressed. Colossian believers are “elect” in

virtue of an antecedent choice of them to salvation on the part of God, as those who

would believe on His Son (I Thessalonians 1:4; II Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 1:4-5;

2:8; Romans 8:28-30; II Peter 1:1-2). Their whole Christian standing springs from and

witnesses to God’s eternal (Ephesians 1:4) election of them — an election which,

however, presumes faith on their part from beginning to end (ch.1:22-23; Romans

9:30-33; 11:5-10,17-24). “Elect” and “called,” with Paul, are coextensive terms:

compare Romans 1:7 (Revised Version) with this passage, also I Corinthians 1:26-27.

To address the Colossian Christians as elect is to remind them of all that they owe to

God’s grace. “Elect” as chosen by God, they are “holy” as devoted to God. By the

latter title they were first addressed (ch.1:2); holiness is the essence of Christian

character. That they should gain this character and appear in it at the last judgment

was the purpose of Christ’s atoning death (ch.1:21-22), as it was the purpose of God’s

eternal election of believers (Ephesians 1:4; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter. 2:9).

ἠγαπημένοι - aegapemenoi – beloved -  is the perfect participle passive; it describes

the position of those who, carrying out by their present holiness the purpose of their

past election, are the objects of God’s abiding love (I Thessalonians 1:4). This love

dictated their election and set at work the means by which it should be secured

(Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:4; Romans 8:28-30, 39; I John 3:1; 4:9-10). As its purposes

are increasingly fulfilled in them, it rests on them with an abiding complacency and

satisfaction (Ephesians 5:1; John 14:21-23). Christ is “the beloved One”

(Ephesians 1:6; Matthew 3:17), and those who are “in him” in their measure share

the same title (John 17:23-26). But their choice by God and devotion to God, who

is all love to them (I John 4:16), must in turn beget a loving heart in them (I John

4:11) – “bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long

suffering;” - (Ephesians 4:1-2, 32-5:2; Philippians 2:1-4; Galatians 5:22;

I Corinthians 13:4; I Peter 3:8-9; Matthew 5:5, 7; 11:29; Luke 6:35-36). “The

σπλάγχνα  – splagchna - are properly the nobler viscera, always in the plural,

and properly denotes the physical organs of the intestines rather than the bowels.

The use of this figure, found three times in Philemon, is Hebraistic (compare Luke

1:78; II Corinthians 6:12; Philemon 7, 12, 20; James 5:11; I John 3:17), though

similar expressions occur in Greek poets.“Pity” (or, “compassion”) is an attribute

of God in Romans 12:1; II Corinthians 1:3: compare Luke 6:36 (“pitiful”) 

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear

Him.” (Psalm 103:13)  On kindness, or kindliness, see Galatians 5:22;

I Corinthians 13:4; II Corinthians 6:6 — in each case following “long suffering;”

Romans 11:22, where it is opposed to “severity” in God (compare Romans 2:4);

Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4, where it is ascribed to God in His dealing with men in

Christ; also Matthew 11:30.) It is synonymous with“goodness” (Galatians 5:22;

Ephesians 5:9; Matthew 7:11; 12:35); but “goodness” looks chiefly to benefit

intended or conferred,“kindness” to the spirit and manner of bestowal. The

objects of “pity” are the suffering and miserable; of “kindness,” the needy and

dependent. The “lowliness of mind” of ch. 2:18, 23 was something specious

and to be guarded against; here it is the central and essential element of the true

Christian temper (Acts 20:19; Philippians 2:3; I Peter 5:5; Luke 14:11; 18:14), its

self-regarding element (Romans 12:3). It is linked with meekness, as in Ephesians 4:2

and Matthew 11:29. “Pity” and “kindness,” preceding “humility,” relate to the

claims of others upon us; “meekness” and “long suffering,” to our bearing towards

them. “Meekness,” the opposite of rudeness and self assertion (I Corinthians 13:5),

is a delicate consideration for the rights and feelings of others, especially necessary

in administering rebuke or discipline (Galatians 6:1; II Timothy 2:25;

I Corinthians 4:21; Titus 3:2), and conspicuous in Christ (Matthew 11:29; 21:5;

II Corinthians 10:1). Peter marks it as a womanly virtue (I Peter 3:4). “Long

 suffering” is called forth by the conduct of “the evil and unthankful” (see

ch.1:11, and note). Paul claims this quality for himself (II Corinthians 6:6;

II Timothy 3:10). Throughout Scripture it is ascribed to God (Exodus

34:6; Romans 2:4; 9:22; I Timothy 1:16; II Peter 3:9,15).


13   “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have

a quarrel against any:” - (Ephesians 4:1-2, 32; 5:1; I Thessalonians 5:14;

I Corinthians 6:7-8; II Corinthians 2:10; Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25;

Luke 17:3-4). (On “bearing with” or “forbearing,” see I Corinthians 4:12;

II Corinthians 11:19-20; Matthew 17:17.) It is ascribed to God, with “long-

suffering,” especially as shown in His dealing with the sins of men before the coming

of Christ (Romans 2:4; 3:26: compare Acts 17:30). Long suffering may be shown

towards all who do us injury; forbearance especially towards those from whom

regard or obedience is due. It falls short of forgiveness, which can only ensue on

repentance (Luke 17:3-4: compare Romans 3:25-26; Acts 17:30). The change of

pronoun in the two participial clauses appears also in Ephesians 4:2 and 32: the first

is reciprocal, but the second is reflexive, implying the oneness of the forgiving and the

forgiven party. Forgiving a Christian brother, it is as though a man were forgiving

himself (compare vs. 14-15; Galatians 6:1; Romans 12:5; 15:5-7; and the same

variation in I Peter 4:8-10). “Forgive” is literally “to grant grace,” used of

Divine forgiveness in ch. 2:13 (see note).  The words, “if any have any complaint,”

would certainly apply to Philemon as against Onesimus (Philemon 18-19: compare

II Corinthians 2:5-11; Mark 11:25) – “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

(ch.. 2:13; Ephesians 1:7; 4:32; Romans 3:24-26; II Corinthians 5:19; Acts 5:31;

13:38;  I John 1:9; Matthew 9:1-8; 18:27; Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 103:3). This

argument is latent in the appeal to the “elect” and “beloved” of v. 12. The evidence

for the alternative readings, “Lord” and “Christ,” is nearly equal in weight. In any

case, the “Lord” is “Christ” in this passage (ch. 2:6; 3:17, 24): and that He forgave

(compare 1:20, note) is quite consistent with the assertion that God forgave (2:13),

for God forgave “in Christ” ( Ephesians 4:32).  So “God in Christ reconciled”

(II Corinthians 5:19); and yet “Christ reconciled us” (ch. 1:20-21; Ephesians 2:16).

“Forgiving,” supplied in thought from previous context, completes the sense of

“so also ye.”  V. 14 shows that the leading imperative, “put on,” of v. 12 is still

in the writer’s mind. For the reciprocal double καί - kai - even.., also”), compare

ch.1:6 or Romans 1:13; is characteristic of the writer.


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

(ch. 2:2; Ephesians 4:2-3; 5:1; Philippians 2:2; I Corinthians 13.;  Galatians 5:13-15,

22; Romans 13:8-10; II Peter 1:7; I John 4:7-21; John 13:34-35). In I Corinthians 13

“love” is the substance or substratum of the Christian virtues; in Galatians 5:22

it is their head and beginning; here it is that which embraces and completes them.

They imply love, but it is more than them all together. They lie within its circumference;

wanting it, they fall to pieces and are nothing. For συνδεσμός – sundesmos - bond

or  band - compare ch. 2:19.  In Ephesians 4:3 we have the “bond of peace” (see

next verse below). Love is the bond in the active sense, as that wherewith the

constituents of a Christian character or the members of a Church are bound together: 

peace, in a  passive sense, as that wherein the union consists (compare I Corinthians

1:10; II Corinthians 13:11).  “Love” (compare “covetousness,” v. 5) is made

conspicuous by the Greek definite article — being that eminent, essential grace of

Christian love (ch. 1:4, 8; 2:2; I Corinthians 13.; I John 4:16).  “Perfectness” is

genitive of object, not of quality: love unifies the elements of Christian goodness

and gives them in itself their “perfectness” - (Romans 13:10). (For “perfectness,”

see note on “perfect,” ch.1:28; and compare ch. 4:12.) Against Galatian teachers of

circumcision, and Corinthian exalters of knowledge, the apostle had magnified the

supremacy of love (Galatians 5:6; I Corinthians 8:1-3); and so against the

Colossian mysticism and asceticism he sets it forth as the crown of spiritual

perfection, the goal of human excellence (compare Ephesians 4:15-16).



       The Duty of Putting on All the Characteristic Qualities of the New Man

                                                 ( vs. 12-14)


We must not only “cease to do evil” in putting off the old man, we “must

learn to do well.” “Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a

heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering.”



elect, holy and beloved.” They are chosen unto holiness that they should be

without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4). The saints are:


Ø      The elect ones of God. They are chosen to final salvation (Matthew

24:22, 24, 31; Revelation 17:14; Titus 1:1; Romans 8:33).


Ø      The elect are:


o       holy:


§         consecrated to God,

§         subjectively holy (II Corinthians 7:1);


o       beloved :


§         the election is connected with God’s love (Romans 11:28);

§         it is a free love (Hosea 14:5),

§          a tender love (Joel 2:13),

§         an everlasting love (Zephaniah 3:17).



are to put on:


Ø      A heart of compassion; not a head of high knowledge, after Gnostic

perception. The apostle begins with the natural and universal instinct of

pity, which is here more an act of grace than of nature, for it springs from

love to God. We ought to cultivate it,


o       because the Father of mercies is merciful (Matthew 5:45);

o       because those who need it are our own flesh (Isaiah 58:7);

o       because it will attest the reality and worth of our religion (James 1:27);

o       because we shall reap after the measure of mercies both here and

hereafter (Hosea 10:12).


Ø      Kindness. This is the temper of mind which produces a sweet and happy

intercourse with others. Our English word is derived from “kin,” and thus a

kind man is a kinned man; we ought to regard the saints as kinsfolk, for

they are children of God and brethren in Christ.


Ø      Humility. This is the temper of mind which affects our estimate of

ourselves. It is closely allied to kindness, for it takes an unselfish view of

personal interests. We ought to “seek lowliness” (Zephaniah 2:3),



o       It is one of Christ’s own graces (Matthew 11:29).

o       God regards it as a grace eminently worthy of our vocation

(Ephesians 4:1-2).

o       He loves to dwell in a lowly soul (Isaiah 57:15). He giveth grace to

the lowly (1 Peter 5:5-6).

o       He does not despise their prayers (Psalm 102:7).


Ø      Meekness, long suffering. They affect our outward bearing towards

others, especially in the case of injury or insult. They are linked together as

companion graces in Galatians 5:22. They are eminently illustrated in

the life of Christ, and are both fruits of the Spirit (ibid.). God

will guide the meek in judgment and teach them His way (Psalm 25:9).

It is the praise of Christian love that it suffers long (1 Corinthians 13:4).


Ø      Forbearance and mutual forgiveness. “Forbearing one another, and

forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any.” This

temper is eminently conducive to peaceful relations and diminishes the

natural friction of life. It implies:


o       a bearing with the infirmities of others (Galatians 6:2);

o       a disposition to take wrong rather than stand upon the last jot of our

rights (1 Corinthians 6:7);

o       a pleasing of our neighbor for his good to edification (Romans 15:1-2);

o       a frank forgiveness of our neighbor in case of a fault, — jars and

discords may arise even among saints.

o       It is a temper which is illustrated and enforced by the example of

Christ: “Even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye.” His example

is decisive both as to the act and the manner of it. He forgave His enemies; He forgave freely; He forgave finally, for salvation.


Ø      Love. “And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of

perfectness.” This love to the brethren is to be put on as the cincture to

bind the other graces together.


o       The necessity of this love.


§         It is the proof of faith (Galatians 5:6).

§         It tends to the increase of the mystical body (Ephesians 4:17).

§         It makes us like God Himself (1 John 4:16).

§         It is a demonstration of the reality of religion to a godless world

(John 15:8; Matthew 5:16).


o       The dignity of this love; it is “the bond of perfectness.” It holds

together all the graces which make up perfection. The Judaeo-Gnostics

found their perfection in knowledge; the apostle finds it in love.

Knowledge puffeth up, charity edifieth” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Love

binds believers together, and looks to their final perfection in God.

“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.”  (Psalm 138:8)


15   “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” - (ch.1:14, 20-22; 2:18;

Ephesians 2:13-18; Romans 5:1,10; II Corinthians 5:18-21; Acts 10:36;

Hebrews 13:20; Philippians 3:14). “Of God,” the reading of the Received Text, is

borrowed from Philippians 4:7, where, however, “in Christ Jesus” follows

(compare v.13b, and Ephesians 4:32). “The peace of Christ” is that which He

effects in reconciling men to God, and to Himself as their Lord (v.13b; ch.1:20,

see note; Romans 5:1). Here is the source of inner tranquility and health

of soul (see note on “peace,”-  ch 1:2; Romans 8:6-9; John 16:33); and of the

outward union and harmony of the Church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:16;

4:2-3; Romans 14:15-19; 15:7). In John 14:27, on the other hand, Christ’s peace,

His “legacy,” is that which He possessed and exemplified — an idea foreign

to this context. This “peace” is to  “rule” or “act as umpire” in the Christian’s

heart. The compound κατα βρὰβεύω - kata brabeuo - “act as umpire against you”-

 has already been used in ch. 2:18 (see note; also Philippians 3:14, cognate βραβεῖον

brabeion – prize) of the  false teacher who, in condemning the faith of the

Colossian Christians as insufficient for the attaining of “perfectness” (v. 14)

without angel worship, etc., virtually took away their prize and judged them

“unworthy of eternal life.” The Greek commentators seem to be right in

retaining the primary sense of the verb instead of generalizing it into “rule”

or the like. It stands in precise antithesis, both of sense and sound, to

ch. 2:18: “Let not the deceivers decide against you, but let the

peace of Christ decide in your hearts.”  The peace of Christ” dwelling

within the heart is to be the security of the Colossian believer against the threats

of false teachers: “They seek to rob you of your prize; let this assure you of it.”

Present, conscious peace with God is a warrant of the Christian’s hope of

everlasting life (Romans 5:1-11; 8:31-39; 15:13; Ephesians 1:13-14;

I Thessalonians 5:23; Titus 3:7). This assurance is identical with “the witness of

 the Spirit” - (Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:6-7; Ephesians 1:13-14). The

apostle argued in ch.1:4-5 from the present faith and love of his readers to

“the hope laid up for them in heaven;” here he bids them find in the peace

which Christ has brought to their souls the earnest of their future bliss.

It is but a generalizing of the same idea when he speaks in Philippians 4:7 of “the

peace of God” as “garrisoning the heart and thoughts” against fear and doubt.

“to the which also ye are called, in one body;” -  (ch. 1:12, 18; 2:2;

Ephesians 4: 1-6, 14-18; Philippians 1:27-28; I Corinthians 10:17; 12:12-13;

Romans 12:5). So this “peace” is to be at once their inward safeguard, and the

ground of their outward union. They are to stand together in its defense

(Philippians 1:27-28). Error, which blights the Church’s hope, destroys

her unity.  So the maintenance of that “one hope of our calling,” assured by

a Divine peace within the soul, unites all Christian hearts in a common cause

(compare the connection of vs. 18 and 19 in ch. 2.). With Paul, the peace of

God’s children with Him and with each other is so essentially one that he speaks

almost indistinguishably of both (Ephesians 2:15-16; II Corinthians 13:11;

II Thessalonians 3:16). He adds, “and be ye thankful.” -  (ch.1:3-5, 12; 2:7; 3:17;

4:2; Ephesians 5:20); viz. “for this assurance of your future blessedness afforded by

the peace of Christ within your hearts, with its outward evidence in your Christian

unity.” The apostle gave thanks for them on like grounds (ch.1:3-5: compare

ch.1:12-14).  The command to give thanks prevails in this Epistle, as that to rejoice

in Philippians. “Be” is the Greek γίνομαι  – ginomai - become; so in Ephesians

4:32; 5:1,17. It implies “striving after an aim as not yet realized” - compare John 15:8 –

rather, therefore, “to be in act,” “to prove” or “show one’s self thankful”

(compare Romans 3:4; Luke 10:36).


16   “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom;” - (ch.1:5,9,27-28;

2:2-3; 4:5-6; Ephesians 1:17-18; 3:8-9; I Corinthians 1:5-6; II Timothy 3:15). The

“word of Christ” is the Christian doctrine, the gospel in the widest sense of the term

(ch.1:5), as proceeding from Christ (Galatians 1:11-12; Hebrews 2:3; Matthew 28:20;

II Corinthians 13:3). This precise phrase occurs only here, where the name of Christ

is emphasized in so many ways (compare I Thessalonians 1:8; II Thessalonians 3:1).

The apostle, it may be, alludes primarily to the personal teaching of Christ Himself

(compare Acts 20:35; I Corinthians 7:10). “You” is understood collectively by

some interpreters and others (“amongst you”); but the verb“dwell in”

 (Romans 8:11; II Timothy 1:5, 14) requires the stronger sense, suggested also

by the “in your hearts” of v. 15 (compare note on “in you,” – ch. 1:27). As

“the word” is rich in the Divine wealth stored in it (Ibid.; Ephesians 1:7, 18;

2:4,7; 3:8; Titus 3:6), so it is to dwell “richly” in those who possess it. “In all

wisdom” God’s grace abounded (Ephesians 1:8), and Paul himself taught

(ch.1:28); so with the richly indwelling word in the minds of the Colossians,

especially as they were beset by intellectual forms of error (ch.1:9; 2:2-4, 8, 23:

compare ch.4:5; Ephesians 5:15) - “teaching and admonishing one another” –

[or, yourselves: compare v. 13, note] (ch.1:28; Romans 15:14; Hebrews 5:12;

10:24-25; Ephesians 4:15-16). (For this absolute participial nominative, so

marked a feature of Paul’s style, compare 1:10; 2:2; Ephesians 1:18; 4:2;

Philippians 1:30; 3:10; II Corinthians 7:5) What he is doing in his own ministry

and by writing this letter, he bids the Colossians do for each other. “Teaching”

precedes, being suggested by “wisdom”  - “in psalms and hymns and spiritual

songs,” - (Ephesians 5:19; I Corinthians 14:26). These are to be a chief means of

mutual edification. The repeated “and,” also the singular “heart,” and “Lord” in

place of “God” in the sequel of the verse, are borrowed by the Received Text from

Ephesians 5:19. The Greeks, the Asiatic Greeks in particular, were devoted to the

arts of music. Song and jest, stimulated by the wine cup, were the entertainment

 of their social hours (Ephesians 5:4,18-19). Their Christian intercourse is still to be

enlivened by the varied use of song, and by the play of wholesome wit (ch. 4:6;

Ephesians 4:29); but both song and speech are to be “in grace,” stamped with a

spiritual character and governed by a serious Christian purpose. A ψαλμοῖς

psalmoi - psalm - (from ψάλλω - psallo -  to play an instrument) is “a song set to

music;” but this name was already in the Septuagint appropriated to its present use.

Whether its application here is restricted to the psalms of the Old Testament is

doubtful (compare I Corinthians 14:15,26).  (ὕμνοις - humnois -  hymn) denotes a

solemn, religions composition, or song of Divine praise. The word, ᾠδή  - ode –

song -  is wider in sense; hence is qualified by “spiritual,” equivalent to “with

[or, ‘in’] the Spirit” - (Ephesians 5:18) — “songs of a spiritual nature, inspired

by the Holy Ghost” (compare “spiritual wisdom,”-ch.1:9). Such songs would

echo the varied sentiments and experiences of the Christian life. In Ephesians 5:14

and II Timothy 2:11-13, very possibly, we have fragments of an early Christian song.

Paul’s own language, in more exalted moods, tends to assume a rhythmic and lyrical

strain (ch.1:15-20) – “singing with grace in your hearts to God.”  θεῷ –- theo –

God - not κυρίῳ  kurio – Lord - (ch.4:5; Ephesians 5:19; I Corinthians 14:2,15,28;

Romans 8:27; Revelation 2:23; I Samuel 16:7; I Chronicles 28:9). The correct reading

is ἐν τῇ χάριτι - en tae chariti - in the grace);  The tendency to omit the article in

prepositional phrases should be taken into account in its favor here. And the article helps

the sense by giving “grace” a definite Christian meaning (so “the love,” v. 14). Other-

wise, ἐν χάριτι  may mean no more than “gracefully,” “pleasantly;” compare ch.4:6.

“The (Divine) grace” is the pervasive element and subject matter of Christian song.

Its constant refrain will be, “to the praise of the glory of His grace!” (Ephesians

1:6, 12,14: compare Romans 1:5-6). “In your hearts” (v. 15) — the inner region

of the soul — there is the counterpart, audible “to God,” of the song that vibrates

on the lips. In Ephesians 5:19 we read, “with your hearts” — the instrument

(here the region) of the song. (For the connection of “in your hearts” and

“to God,” compare vs. 22-23; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Romans 8:27;

I Thessalonians 2:4; I John 3:19.)    


17  “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the

Lord Jesus,” -  (I Corinthians 5:4; 10:31; Ephesians 5:20; II Thessalonians 2:17).

V. 16 speaks of “word” only; to it is added the “deed,” which stands for all the

practical activities of life. Both meet in the following “all.” “The name of the

Lord Jesus” is the expression of His authority as “Lord” (ch.1:13, 15, 18;

2:6; Philippians 2:9-11; Ephesians 1:21-23; I Corinthians 12:3; Romans 14:9;

Acts 10:36), and of His personal character and relation to us as “Jesus”

(Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12; 16:31, Revised Text) - “giving thanks to God and

the Father by Him.” (v. 15; ch.1:12-14; 2:7; 4:2). Again thanksgiving is urged

on the Colossians. It is to be the accompaniment of daily talk and work

to be offered to God in His character as “Father”- (see notes on ch.1:2-3, 12),

and “through the Lord Jesus” - (Romans 1:8; 7:25), by whom we have access

to the Father (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12; Romans 5:1-2; Hebrews 10:19-22)

and receive from Him all the benefits of redemption (ch.1:14; Ephesians 2:5-10;

Romans 3:24-26; Titus 3:4-7).  (Mighty powerful words indeed! – CY – 2011)





We note that in each of the three family relations here dealt with, the subordinate

party is first addressed, and the duty of submission is primarily insisted upon

(vs.18, 20, 22: compare I Peter 2:13,18; 3:1-6). So in Ephesians 5:21-24; 6:1-3,

5-8.   There may have been some special reason for this in the state of the Asiatic

Churches or of Greek society in that region. But other indications show

(I Corinthians 7:24; 11:3-16; 14:34-35; Galatians 5:13; I Thessalonians 4:11;

II Thessalonians 3:11-12; I Timothy 2:11-12; 6:1-2; Titus 2:5, 9-10; 3:1) that the

apostle perceived and sought to check the danger of unsettlement in the natural

order of family and social life which often attends great spiritual revolutions,

especially when they are in the direction of religious liberty. As in the case

of Luther, the apostle’s later teaching is largely directed against the antinomianism

which resulted, by way of perversion and abuse, from the preaching of salvation

by grace and of the sanctity of the individual believer (compare introductory

note to this chapter). Observe how the Lord and His authority are made to

furnish a higher sanction for each of these natural duties.


18  “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as is fit in the

Lord.” -  (Ephesians 5:22-24; I Timothy 2:11-15; Titus 2:5; I Corinthians 11:3;

14:34-35; I Peter 3:1-6; Genesis 3:16).  On this duty the apostle dilates in the

Ephesian letter, in illustration of its teaching respecting “Christ and the Church”

(compare the very different treatment of it in I Peter 3:1-7), The use of the article

(αἱ γύναικεςhai gunaikes – wives) in the nominative of address is frequent

in New Testament, though not in classical Greek. Ανηκεν– anaken – proper;

literally - it was fit; -  stands in the imperfect tense, denoting a normal propriety

(compare Ephesians 5:4, for the general expression, see I Corinthians 11:13-14;

Philemon 1:8; Ephesians 5:3; I Timothy 2:10; Philippians 4:8; Romans 1:29). Like

all men of a sound moral nature, Paul has a strong sense of natural propriety. The

adjunct “in the Lord” belongs to “was fit,” not “be subject” (compare v. 20).

The constitution of nature, as we have learnt in ch.1:15-18, is grounded

“in the Lord.” In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul shows that this inherent propriety

has a deep spiritual significance; and he makes the subjection of the Church

to her heavenly Lord a new reason for wifely submission.




                                    The Duties of Wives (v. 18)


The apostle next proceeds to enjoin family duties, not in the spirit of those

errorists, who imagined that such duties were vulgar and inconsistent with

the contemplative aspect of the Christian life. His first practical exhortation

is to wives, and is summed up in the single duty — “submit yourselves.”


·         THE DUTY OF SUBMISSION. “Wives, submit yourselves to your

own husbands.” This duty includes:


Ø      Honor. They must honour their husbands as their head

(1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 3:6).

Ø      Truthfulness. (Proverbs 2:17.)

Ø      Obedience. (Ephesians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 7:34.)

Ø      Cooperation with their husbands in all family affairs. They must “guide

the house with discretion” (Titus 2:4-5).

Ø      They must not assume authority over their husbands, either in

ecclesiastical or in domestic affairs (1 Timothy 2:14).


·         REASONS FOR THIS DUTY. “As it is fit in the Lord.” In Oriental

countries, woman was the slave rather than the companion of man, but in

the Grecian communities of Asia Minor, woman held a higher position,

and her new position under the gospel may have led her to carry her

freedom to the point of licence. It was, therefore, necessary to define her

position accurately. Her subjection to man is “fit in the Lord” on several



Ø      From man’s priority of creation. (1 Timothy 2:13.)

Ø      The woman was made for man, not the man for the woman.

 (1 Corinthians 11:9.)

Ø      The woman’s priority in the original transgression. (1 Timothy


Ø      The man’s headship over the woman. (1 Corinthians 11:3.)

Ø      Her weakness. She is “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7), and

therefore stands in need of his greater strength and protection.

Ø      The subjection to man is placed on the same basis as the subjection of

the Church to Christ. (Ephesians 5:22-24.)

Ø      But the apostle’s language in the text implies a limitation upon her

submission; for she is to be subject to him “in the Lord.” Both husband and wife must have a due consideration for each other’s position, because they are “heirs of the grace of life,” and they must see that “their prayers are not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).


19  “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” (Ephesians

5:25-31; I Peter 3:7). “Love” is ἀγαπᾶτε -  agapate -  the word which expresses

the highest spiritual affection — “even as Christ loved the Church” (Ephesians

5:25).  Here, first and most of all, the“new commandment” of John 13:34 applies.

Paul only uses the verb πικραίνεσθε - pikrainesthe  - to make bitter - here, but

he has the noun πικρία – pikria – bitterness -  in a wider application in

Ephesians 4:31. It denotes “exasperation,” prompting to hasty severity, a type of

hatred infused into love???




                                    The Duties of Husbands (v. 19)


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


·         THE DUTY OF LOVE. This love, which is consistent with his headship

over her, implies:


Ø      That he is to delight in her (Proverbs 5:18-19), and please her

(1 Corinthians 7:33).

Ø      That he is to cherish her as Christ the Church (Ephesians 5:29),

providing for her support and comfort (1 Timothy 5:3).

Ø      That he is to protect her as the weaker vessel.

Ø      That he is not to be bitter against her, using bitter words or sour looks,

acting rigorously or imperiously, as if she were a slave and not a


Ø      That he is to seek her spiritual good, for she is to be an heir with him of

the grace of life. (1 Peter 3:7.)




Ø      The intimacy of the relationship between them. He leaves father and

mother to cleave to his wife. She is bone of his bone and flesh of his

flesh (Ephesians 5:28-29, 33).

Ø      She was originally provided as a help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18.)

“Yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant” (Malachi 2:14).

Ø      She is the glory of the man. (1 Corinthians 11:7.)

Ø      The strongest argument is the analogous love of Christ to His Church.

(Ephesians 5:25-28.)


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

the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:1-2; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Leviticus 19:3;

Proverbs 23:22; Luke 2:51-52). In Ephesians 6:1-2 - (κατὰ πάντα - kata panta -

in regard to all things) is wanting; and not the extent, but the intrinsic rightness of the

command as it is found in the Decalogue is insisted on. But here, where “Christ is

 all and in all” (v. 11), it is “in the Lord” (Revised Text) that the child’s obedience

is declared to be “well pleasing.” There is something especially pleasing in the

behavior of a lovingly obedient child, that wins “favor” both “with God and man”

(Luke 2:52). The law of filial obedience has its creative ground “in Him” (ch.1:16),

and is an essential part of the Christian order of life, which is the natural order

restored and perfected. “Well pleasing” is a favorite word of Paul’s - (compare

ch.1:10; Ephesians 5:10; Philippians 4:8; Romans 14:18; Titus 2:9;  used also in




                                    The Duties of Children (v. 20)


“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”


·         THE DUTY OF CHILDREN m OBEDIENCE. This includes:


Ø      Reverence. (Leviticus 19:3; Ephesians 6:1-2.)

Ø      Readiness to receive instruction from parents. (Proverbs 1:8.)

Ø      Submission to their rebukes. (ibid. ch. 13:1.)

Ø      Gratitude. (1 Timothy 5:4.)

Ø      Submission to their just commands. They are to obey “in all things,” that

is, in all lawful things, for it must be done “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1).


·         THE GROUNDS OF THIS DUTY. “For this is well pleasing to the

Lord.” This is, in itself, a sufficient reason for filial obedience, But it is well

pleasing to the Lord for several reasons. It is not enough to serve God, but

we must serve Him so as to please Him (Hebrews 12:28).


Ø      It is agreeable to His Law. (Exodus 20:12.)

Ø      It is right in itself. (Ephesians 6:1.)

Ø      Christ was obedient to his parents. (Luke 2:51.)

Ø      It is necessary to the good order of family life.

Ø      The welfare of the child depends upon its obedience, especially at a time

when it cannot reason upon what is right.


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

 (Ephesians 6:4).  ἐρεθίζετε – erethizete – provoke or irritate) Paul uses once

besides (II Corinthians 9:2), in a good sense. It implies a use of parental authority

which, by continual exactions and complaints, teaches the child to look on the

father as his enemy rather than his friend. The synonymous παροργίζετε

 parorgizete –  of Ephesians 6:4, found here in many copies, is, more definitely

“to rouse to anger.” ἀθυμῶσιν – athumosin -  (only here in the New Testament)

means “to lose heart,” “to be spiritless” -  to have the confidence and high

spirit of youth broken. In place of this treatment, “the discipline and admonition

 of the Lord” are recommended in Ephesians 6:4. 





                                    The Duties of Fathers (v. 21)


“Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged.”


·         THE DUTY OR PARENTS. It is here exhibited on its negative side.

They are not to abuse their authority over their children by too great

severity either in words or deeds. Some parents spoil their children by

indulgence; others, by unwise severities. Bitter words are used,

unreasonable commands are given, immoderate correction is administered.

Parents are to behave lovingly to their children, even while maintaining

their just authority over them.



discouraged.” They may lose heart; their spirit may be broken; they may

become morose, sullen, and reckless. Thus they may be turned aside from

the service of God, lose the capacity to do great things, become

pusillanimous (timid; spineless) , and eventually become a sad disappointment

to their parents.


22  “Servants (literally, bondmen), obey in all things your masters according to

the flesh;” - (Ephesians 6:5-9; I Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; I Corinthians 7:21-24;

Romans 13:1, 5; I Peter 2:18-25). The duties of servants and masters are prominent

here (v. 22- ch.4:1), in view of the emphasis thrown upon the lordship of Christ; and

partly, no doubt, with reference to the case of the runaway slave Onesimus (ch.4:9;

Epistle to Philemon).  “Servant” is δοῦλοςdoulos - bondman, is common in

Paul’s writings. In I Peter. 2:18 we have the milder οἰκέται – oiketai – a house

servant; domestic. The vast majority of servants of all kinds at this time in the Greek

and Roman world were slaves. In most districts the slaves were much more numerous

than the free population. And they were undoubtedly numerous in the early Church.

The gospel has always been welcome to the poor and oppressed. The attitude of Paul

and of Christianity towards slavery claims consideration under the Epistle to Philemon.

Here and in Ephesians 6:5 (compare vs. 7-8) the apostle calls the master κύριος

kurios  - lord) in reference to “the Lord Christ” (vs. 22b, 24); elsewhere in the New

Testament, as in common Greek, the opposite of δοῦλος is δεσποτής  – despotes –

one who has absolute ownership and uncontrolled power - (I Timothy 6:1-2;

II Timothy 2:21), “According to the flesh,” that is, “in outward, earthly relationship”

(compare Romans 4:1): Christ is the Lord in the absolute and abiding sense of the

word (similarly, “in the flesh” and “in the Lord,” - Philemon 16) – “not with

eyeservice (literally, not in eye services), as man pleasers; but in singleness

of heart, fearing God.” - (Ephesians 6:6; 5:21; I Thessalonians 2:4; Galatians 1:10;

Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34; James 1:5-8; Psalm 123:2; Isaiah 8:13; Revelation 2:23).

“Eye service” is plural here, according to Revised Text; singular in Ephesians 6:6.

Here the word ὀφθαλμοδουλεία – ophthalmodoulia – eyeservice – denotes

service performed only under the master’s eye, diligently done when he is

 looking, but neglected in his absence.  It first occurs in Greek, like

ἐθελοθρησκεία  ethelothreskeia – will worship – voluntarily adopted

worship, whether bidden or forbidden, not that which is imposed by

others, but one which affects what they think of you -  (ch. 2:23). It strikes

at the besetting sin of servants of all kinds.  Ανθρωπάρεσκος  - anthropareskos –

man pleaser -  occurs in the Septuagint, Psalm 52:6 - (compare I Thessalonians 2:6;

Galatians 1:10). The servant whose aim it is to please his earthly master in what

will catch his eye, plays a double part, acting in one way when observed, in

another when left to himself; with this duplicity is contrasted “singleness of heart”

- (compare Romans 12:8; II Corinthians 11:3; ἀπλότης – haplotes – singleness –

implying liberality; bounty; generosity; sincerity -  in II Corinthians 8:2 and 9:11, 13 has

a different application). “Fearing the Lord” more than the eye of his earthly lord,

the Christian servant will always act in “singleness of heart;” for “the eyes of the

Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” – (Proverbs 15:3) –

In the same manner the apostle – a bondman of Christ Jesus - speaks of his own

relations to men and to the Lord Christ respectively (I Corinthians 4:3-5;

II Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 1:10; I Thessalonians 2:4-6; - compare John 5:37-44).


23   “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men.”

(v. 17; Ephesians 6:6-7; I Corinthians 7:21-23). (On the first clause, see v. 17.) In the

Revised Text, however, the turn of expression differs from that of ver. 17, παν -– pan

- everything  -  being cancelled. The writer is thinking, not so much of the variety of

service possible, as of the spirit which should pervade it. “Do” is replaced in the –

second clause by the more energetic “work,” opposed to indolent or useless doing

(compare Ephesians 4:28; II Thessalonians 3:10; John 5:17; 9:4). “From ἐκ -ek -

out of] the soul”  indicates the spring of their exertions — inward principle,

not outward compulsion; the servant must put his soul into his work. “Soul” -

ψυχῆς - psychaesheart, mind, soul -  implies, even more than “heart,”

the engagement of the man’s best individual powers (compare Philippians 1:27,

as well as Ephesians 6:6). The slaves’ daily task-work is to be done, not only in

sight and in fear of the Lord (v. 22b; Ephesians 5:21), but as actually “to the Lord.”

Him they are serving (v. 24b), who alone is “the Lord” (ch.2:6); every mean

and hard task is dignified and sweetened by the thought of being done for Him,

and the commonest work must be done with the zeal and thoroughness

that His service demands (compare Ephesians 6:7, “with good will doing

bond service”). The word “not” (οὐ instead of μὴ) implies that their

service is actually rendered to One other and higher than “men” (I Corinthians

7:22; Galatians 1:10).

24  “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance:”

-  (Ephesians 6:8; Romans 2:6-11; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12; Psalm 62:12). 

(εἰδότες – eidotes -  knowing — that of which one is aware, not merely learning or

γινώσκω – ginosko - getting to know -  see both words in Ephesians 5:5 and John

14:7, Revised Text; also Romans 6:6 and 9; I John 5:20.  The absence of the definite

article” before Kuri>ou – kuriou Lord - is the more remarkable, because it is

studiously inserted in the context. Paul virtually says, “There is a Master who will

recompense you, if your earthly masters never do (compare ch.4:1). The ἀντὶ 

- anti - in ἀνταπόδοσιν – antapodosin – recompence; renders it a just

recompense or reward - (a word common in Septuagint),  implying “equivalence”

or “correspondence” (compare  . ἀνταναπληρῶ  - antanaplaero – to fill up; -

in ch.1:24; also Romans 11:35; 12:19; I Thessalonians 3:9; II Thessalonians

1:6; Luke 6:38; 14:12,14) — a reward in the case of each individual, and in

peach particular, answering to the service rendered to “the Lord” (compare

Matthew 25:14-30). The opposite truth is asserted in v. 25; Ephesians 6:8

combines them both. The recompense of the faithful Christian slave is nothing

less than “the inheritance” of God’s children (ch. 1:12; Ephesians 1:5,11,14; 3:6;

5:5; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; I Corinthians 6:9-10; 15:50; Titus 3:7;

I Peter 1:4), which the apostle has so often under other terms assured to his readers

(ch.1:5, 23, 27; 2:18; 3:4, 15). For a slave to be heir was “a paradox”: see

Galatians 4:1,7; Romans 8:15-17. No form of praise could be more cheering and

ennobling to the despised slave than this. “In Christ,” Onesimus is “no longer

 as a slave, but a brother beloved” ( Philemon 1:16), and if a brother, then a

joint heir with his master Philemon in the heavenly inheritance (3:11) - “for ye

serve the Lord Christ.” -  (vs. 22, 25; ch.2:6; Ephesians 6:6; Romans 14:8-9;

I Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:22-23; John 13:13); that is, Christ is the Lord whose

 bondmen ye are. “For” is probably a correct gloss, though a corrupt reading.

Its insertion indicates that the sentence was read indicatively; not imperatively

“serve the Lord Christ.”. The verse amounts to this: “Work as for the Lord: He

will repay you; you are His servants.”



25  “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done:

and there is no respect of persons.”  (Ephesians 6:8-9; Philippians 1:28;

II Thessalonians 1:5-7; I Peter 1:17; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6). Here we have the

other side of the recompense promised in v. 24a, to which the explanatory “but” points

back. The impartial justice which avenges every wrong guarantees the reward of the

faithful servant of Christ. So the Old Testament saints rightly argued (Psalm 37:9-11;

58:10-11; 64:7-10) that the punishment of the evil doer affords hope to the righteous

man.  This warning is quite general in its terms, and applies alike to the unfaithful

servant and to the unjust master (compare Ephesians 6:8). At the judgment seat of

Christ there will be no favoritism: all ranks and orders of men will stand on precisely

the same footing (ch.3:11). The word ἀδικῶν – adikon – wrong; wrong doing;

 twice employed here, denotes a legal wrong or injury (I Corinthians 6:7-8); e.g.

the conduct of Onesimus towards Philemon (v. 18). The verb (κομίζομαι

komisetai - carry off, gain; to receive back again; - Ephesians 6:8;

II Corinthians 5:10; I Peter 5:4; Matthew 25:27) looks more to the receiver,

 whereas ,  ἀπολήμψεσθε ἀπό  (v. 24) points to the giver. Προσωπολημψία  -

 prosopolempsia - literally, accepting of the face- here translated respect

of persons”) is a pure Hebraism, found in St. James twice, and four times in Paul’s

writings. In the next chapter the apostle turns from the slave to address his master.




                                    The Duties of Servants (vs. 22-25)


The apostle enters into fuller detail in his injunctions to servants, because

his friendship with Onesimus, a Colossian slave now returning to his

master Philemon in a new character, had turned his thoughts to the

condition and difficulties of the whole class of dependants. His injunctions

to them imply that they had a right to be instructed out of the Word, and

that if men have less consideration for their interests, the Lord redoubles

his concern for them. There was a danger that slaves in the Roman empire

might repudiate their relation to their masters, and accordingly the apostle

enjoins the duty of obedience to masters, while he announces principles

destined ultimately to destroy the unnatural relation.


·         THE FAULTS OF SERVANTS. He specifies five of them.


Ø      Eye service. There was a temptation to this fault where the master’s

authority was regarded as unjust and cruel.


Ø      Hypocritical service, arising out of a divided interest and the absence of

singleness of heart.


Ø      Half service. Servants might not please their masters “in all things,” but

in such things as pleased themselves.


Ø      Godlessness. They chose to please men rather than the Divine Master.


Ø      A base and discouraged spirit, which was to be banished by prospects

            of heavenly reward.


·         THE DUTIES OF SERVANTS. These are all summed up in the one

word “obedience.” But this obedience must be becomingly rendered in

several important respects.


Ø      “Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart,

fearing God.”


o       Eye service is designed to please man. Work will be done only

      so long as the master’s eye is on the servant. There is no thought

of pleasing aught but man.

o       There must be singleness of heart, that is, simplicity and sincerity of spirit, that will lead to an undivided devotion to work, arising from “the fear of God,” because they realize that the eye of the Divine Master is ever upon them. Dissimulation, duplicity, pretence, deceit, must be far from Christian servants.


Ø      It must be hearty service. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to

the Lord, and not to men.” Servants, in obeying their masters, serve the

Lord. They do the will of God from the heart, not grudgingly or

murmuringly, but with a truly hearty obedience.


Ø      It must be obedience in all things;” that is, in all things lawful. But

servants must consider the master’s commands as well as his interests,

and seek to obey them in everything, however irksome or humiliating.


·         THE ENCOURAGEMENTS OF SERVANTS. “Knowing that of the

Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord



Ø      It is an encouragement for them to know that masters are only

according to the flesh.This limits human slavery. The master

cannot touch the soul, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 3:16), for the slave is “Christ’s freeman” (ibid. ch. 7:22).


Ø      There is a reward for true obedience as well as a compensation for

wrongs endured.


o       Servants ought to know of their blessed prospects.

o       Their works will be surely rewarded, reckoned, no doubt, of grace, not of debt. They shall receive “the reward of the inheritance,” the heavenly glory, by the Father’s bequest. God will be their Paymaster if they are wronged or defrauded by man. Therefore they have strong encouragement to give just obedience to man.


Ø      There is a retribution on unjust or tyrannical masters for the wrongs

they have done to their servants. “But he that doeth wrong shall receive

for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

Some think this refers to dishonest servants, or to both servants and

masters who may have failed in their duty to each other. It is more

natural to regard it as referring to the case of masters, for the passage is designed to encourage servants suffering injustice with the prospect of a day of judgment for those who wronged them. God is “no respecter of persons.”  Man may make a difference. God finds the claim of the slave

as valid as the claim of the master.





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                                    The True Christian Life (vs. 1-17


From above only can we be raised. There is no salvation in mere aversion.

Disgust at the vanities of life, repulsion from earthly things, will of itself

never lift us beyond them; it needs the superior influence of heavenly things

to do that. This the Colossian errorists did not rightly understand; or they

could not have made ceremonial purifications and bodily austerities the

way of holiness, the means of reaching spiritual perfection. “Touch not,

taste not” (ch. 2:20-21), — these were their chief commandments. The physical

life was their great aversion, and to reduce and harass it was the leading object

of their moral endeavors. In the last two sections of his letter (ibid. vs. 8-23) the

apostle has denounced their system as false and mischievous, to be rejected by

Christian believers, since it is not according to Christ, but is, in spite of its

high pretensions, essentially base and earthly. He now proceeds, by way of

command and appeal, to delineate the true Christian character, the working

of Christian principles of life, as contrasted with the mystico-ceremonial

and ascetic ideal of the Gnosticizing teachers. The Christian he describes is

one whose “life is Christ”a life derived from, and animated and

governed by, “the Lord from heaven,” and not by “the tradition of men and

the rudiments of the world” — “the things upon the earth” (compare

John 6:31-33, 41-42, 47-59).


·                     THE HIDDEN LIFE. (vs. 1-4.)


Ø      The vital spring of a practical Christian life is personal union with

Christ. “Ye were raised with Christ; your life is hid with Christ; ye

shall be manifested with Him; Christ is your life” (vs. 1-4).


o        Not only must the principle of a perfect and all-sufficing life for men be

heavenly; it must be personal. “We live by admiration, hope, and love.”

All really commanding and sovereign influences acting on human nature

contain a personal element. We cannot sustain ourselves on abstract

laws, or great universal ideas, or “streams of tendency;” on a

something not ourselves that makes for this or that; on formulas or

generalizations of any kind, however grand and comprehensive, however

true and useful in their place. In spite of all plausible argument and

elegant raillery, and underneath the changing modes and fashions of

polite or scientific thought, it yet remains a constitutional and fixed

necessity of the human soul to find in that which is higher than itself

Some One to reverence and to obey. Against this necessity,

Alexandrine theosophy and modern skepticism equally contend in vain.

Men want a living God, One who knows, who loves and

hates, who wills and acts — a just God and a Saviour; and they will not

have these terms explained away. We are not to be frightened or

uncomposed by being told that our God is “a magnified, non-natural

Man,” and that our notions are grossly “anthropomorphic.” We cannot

believe that the Power which is infinitely greater than ourselves

is less than a Person. “That which may be known of God is” so far

manifest in ourselves  (Romans 1:19), that what we find there of

highest and most distinctive — in thought, in will, in affection, in

moral self consciousness — must needs be an index, the surest and

most direct that reason furnishes (for it is given by the very being of

reason itself), to the nature of that Power which made and governs us.

To this first principle we are compelled to hold, notwithstanding the

metaphysical difficulties old as human thought, which surround those

indications — difficulties which meet every interpretation of them alike.

The Incarnation has confirmed, while it has corrected, this universal

assumption. In the mind of Christ, in the love of Christ, in the holy

will that says, “Father, I will… nevertheless, not what I will, but

what thou wilt” (John 17:24; Mark 14:36), we behold in its purest

and most satisfying form that which may be known of God, and the

relations in which as men we stand thereto. How much God is beyond

and behind all that, we cannot guess; but He is all that, He is nothing

less than, nothing different from, that which we see “in the face of

Jesus Christ” (ch. 1:15; II Corinthians 4:4; John 1:18).


o        The man whose “life is hid with Christ” is “joined in one spirit”

(1 Corinthians 6:17) — in a sympathy of love and fellowship of thought

and aim the most complete of which the human soul is capable — with

a living Person in heaven. He is “joined to the Lord,” who has “all

authority in heaven and in earth” (ch. 1:13, 15, 18; Romans 14:9;

John 17:2; Matthew 28:18; Revelation 1:5), with the wisdom

that touches on the one side the resources of omniscience and on the

other the everyday experience of human infirmity and suffering

(ch. 2:3; 1 Corinthians 1:24; John 2:25; 16:30; Matthew 11:27;

Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15; Revelation 2:23), and the claims on our

devotion of One who “loved us and gave Himself for us” (ch. 1:14,

20-22; Ephesians 2:13-14; Galatians 2:20; II  Corinthians 8:9; John

10:15; 15:13; Revelation 1:5; 5:12). In Him we recognize personal

being, personal worth, and personal rights in relation to ourselves,

the highest conceivable both in kind and degree. To have a life hid

with Christ is to dwell in an inward communion of heart with One

whom we can perfectly trust, perfectly love, and absolutely obey.


o        This is life indeed (John 6:53; 1 John 5:12). This fellowship

supplies, as nothing else can do in the nature of things, the means of

moral culture, the influences by which men may be “redeemed from

all iniquity” (Titus 2:14; Galatians 1:4; John 15:3), by which a Divine

character is formed in the soul (Galatians 4:19) and it is trained for

the life of heaven (ch. 1:27; Philippians 1:6). The Christian life

is nothing less than a Divine friendship (John 15:12-15; Isaiah

41:8; Exodus 33:11; Genesis 5:24; 18:17). To gain this life one

may gladly consent to die to all that is alien from the life of Christ

(v. 3; ch. 2:11, 20; Philippians 3:7-12; Romans 6:2, 11; 7:4-6).


Ø      A true union with Christ lifts our aims above this world. “Ye were

raised with Christ, seek, mind, the things above, where Christ is, for

(from the things on the earth) ye died” (vs. 1-3). Christ has gone to

heaven, and He is our Life. Thither He has carried with Him our desires

and hopes (Philippians 1:23; II Corinthians 5:6-8). To be where He is, is

the deepest longing of the Christian heart; and its attainment is the

supreme reward of faithful service (John 12:26; 14:1-6; Revelation

3:21; 14:4). Heaven is the Christian’s home, because He is there. And He

has gone thither, not simply as to “the place where He was before” (John

6:62), and to which He properly belongs (John 3:13), but as our

“Forerunner” (Hebrews 6:20), the “Firstborn among many brethren”

(ch. 1:18; Romans 8:29). Heaven is the goal which He has marked out

for His followers, the “Father’s house,” the native city of all the

members of His body, the Church (Ephesians 1:18-23; Philippians

3:20; John 14:2; Hebrews 11:10, 13-16). “The prize of our high

calling (τῆς ἄνω κλήσεω - taes ano klaeseo -  that calls us above) is

bestowed at “the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:9-21).


o        As workmen, as tradesmen, as citizens, our aims terminate with the

things upon the earth; as Christians, we seek the things that are

above.  The present in our view is the seed time, the training school

for the immortal future; and its value lies in what it leads to rather

than in what it is. Our present spiritual life, the knowledge of Christ

and communion with Him we now enjoy, is but “the earnest of our

inheritance,” “the firstfruits of the Spirit” (Ephesians 1:14; Romans

8:23; Philippians 3:12-14). “By” this “hope we are saved” (Romans

8:17-25); for this, most of all, do we give thanks (ch. 1:3-5, 23;

Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 1 Peter 1:3-7)


o        Yet this minding of the things above involves no disparagement of the

interests and claims of secular life. For this present is the pathway to

that future. How seriously important, how carefully to be studied and

appraised, how diligently to be improved, are the “few things” of our

earthly stewardship, if by a right management of them we may become

lords of the “many things” of the everlasting habitations (Matthew

25:14-30; Luke 16:9-12; 1 Corinthians 7:31)! But we must keep

our thoughts and aims above the world, taking care not to be

overcharged with “cares and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14;

21:34), “declaring plainly that we seek a country” (Hebrews 11:14),

turning earth at every step into “a scale to heaven,” MAKING

CHRIST ALL IN ALL in family and social life, in business and

in politics.


Ø      The Christian life is, therefore, in its essence a mystery. “Your life is

hid (v. 3).


o        “The world knoweth us not” (1 John 3:1). As to the life of the

children of this world, and of the Christian man so far as he is a man

of the world, everything is plain. The principles and motives of the man

of business, the politician, or the scientist are easily stated and generally

intelligible. And the influences which govern the depraved, ungodly man

are all too plain; “the works of the flesh are manifest” (Galatians 5:19).

But the man whose “citizenship is in heaven  (Philippians 3:20), who

walks by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7), who is “looking for

and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (II Peter 3:12),

whose life it is to love and serve a Master who was crucified

two thousand years ago, and whom he expects to see only after he

himself is dead, — such a person is an enigma to natural men born only

of this world; he is “judged of no man” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).

Political economy, experimental psychology with its “analysis of the

human mind,” fail to account for him; and the philosopher haply will

pass him by as a pretence or an abnormity. He is like a planet deflected

from its course by some unknown body out of telescopic reach, whose

magnitude and position it is impossible scientifically to determine.


o        Our life is hidden, because He who is our Life is hidden. Ye see

me no more,” said Jesus; and again, “The world seeth me no more;

but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also” (John 16:10; 14:19).

“Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not”

(1 John 3:1). Our life is wrapped up in One “whom we have not seen”

(1 Peter 1:8-9), with whom we can have no kind of sensible

communication; in a Christ who indeed was “manifested in the flesh,”

but was scornfully disbelieved and put to death, “justified” only “in

the Spirit, seen only” of angels” (1 Timothy 3:16). A mystery to the

world, the Christian life is a mystery also to its possessor as respects

the methods by which it is bestowed and sustained on God’s part.

“The things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit

of God,” and though we receive this Spirit, “we know” but “in part”

His operations (1 Corinthians 2:11; 13:12). “Thou hearest the voice

thereof — that is all (John 3:8). There is a supernatural something

that defies analysis and measurement in the experience of every

Christian — a Divine life as distinct from the natural soul life, as that

is from mere animal vitality; and this is just the sovereign creative

factor of his religion, the principle of his new birth and new manhood:

his life is “hid in God.”  But while this life itself is hidden, its fruits

are not (v. 5 to ch. 4:6; Ephesians 5:8-14; Philippians 2:1-16; Titus

2:11-12; Matthew 5:14-16; John 13:35; 1 Peter 2:9, 12, 15; 3:1-2,



Ø      But the mystery of the Christian life is to have its revelation. “When

Christ shall be manifested, then shall ye also be manifested with him, in

glory(v. 4). This riddle of life must be solved (1 Corinthians 13:12,

Revised Version  margin); “the things shaken” must be removed, “that

the things unshaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:27); appearance must

give place to reality; “mortality” must be “swallowed up of life;” God

has “wrought us for this very thing” (II Corinthians 5:4-5). Faith is the

virtue of education, and must have its reward in sight; if there is nothing

to be seen, then those are not “blessed,” but only mistaken, “who have

not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Hope must be crowned

with fruition, or it will “put us to shame” (Romans 5:5). And love,

content now to “see Him not” (1 Peter 1:8), is only so content on the

assurance that “we shall see Him even as He is” (1 John 3:3; Acts 1:11;

John 14:3).


o       Christ shall be manifested. He has pledged Himself, both to His

friends and to His foes, to return (John 14:3; Matthew 26:63-64). That

pledge He gave in the most public and solemn manner possible, in

assertion of His Divine sonship and Messiahship. HIS SECOND

COMING is the goal of New Testament prophecy, and of the Church’s

hope and longing through the ages (Matthew 25:19, 31; Acts 3:21;

17:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13; Hebrews

9:28; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 John 2:28; Revelation 1:7; 22:20). It

is the consummation of human history, the denouement (result) of the

great time drama, “the one far off Divine event, to which the whole

creation moves.” But He waits till “the gospel of the kingdom is

preached to all the nations,” “till His enemies be made His footstool,”

till “the harvest of the earth is ripe,” till the hour has struck

appointed  in the Father’s eternal counsels (Mark 13:10, 32;

Hebrews 10:12-13; Revelation 14:15, 18).  Then He will appear in

that glory (Matthew 25:31; 26:64; Titus 2:13), something of which

the three saw “in the holy mount” (II Peter 1:16-18), which dying

Stephen beheld as he fell asleep, and Saul of Tarsus as he journeyed

to Damascus, and John in Patmos (Acts 7:56; 9:3-6; Revelation 1:13-18);

of which in entering upon His earthly estate He had “emptied himself,

taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7). “We shall see him

even as He isthe Lord of glory” (1 John 3:3; James 2:1).


o        Christ’s glory his saints will share. They, too, will be manifested.

There will be an “unveiling of the sons of God” (Romans 8:18-25).

“In this tabernacle we do groan, being burdened” (II Corinthians

5:4). Our life is “cribbed, cabined, and confined.” The body, virtually

dead because of sin,” oppresses and conceals, while it contains,

the immortal “spirit, which is life because of righteousness” (Romans

8:10-11). “Now we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

We move about as if under a heavy, muffling cloak. “We are spirits

in prison, able only to make signals to each other.” But we shall then

 enjoy “the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

This “natural body” will become a “spiritual body,” in which the

spirit will be perfectly expressed and for ever at home.  (I Corinthians



o        Then Christ’s glory will be manifest in us. He will be “glorified in His

saints,” and they glorified in Him (II Thessalonians 1:10; Psalm

90:16-17). Like some sculptor’s work, prepared in concealment and with

long labor, carved out of the rough, unshapely block by many a painful

stroke of hammer and of chisel, till the artist’s glorious ideal is wrought

out, and on some public day the finished masterpiece is at last unveiled;

so the man, perfect in Christ, will be “presented faultless before the

 presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (ch. 1:22, 28; Jude 1:24).


·                     THE DEATH OF THE OLD SELF. (vs. 5-9)  Impurity, greed,

malice, falsehood, these are the leading features of the former life of sin

which the apostle represents his readers as having followed before they

became Christians. He does not, of course, charge all of them equally and

alike with these offences. But then, as now, these four types of vice were

prevalent amongst the great mass of ungodly men (v. 7; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Such statements, when applied to men living under the influences of Christian

society, must be applied with discrimination, and in the light of our Lord’s

teaching addressed to the moral Jews in Matthew 5:17-48, etc. These vices are

native to the soil of the human heart (Mark 7:20-23). By habitual practice

they take possession of the man, so that his “members” are made “slaves to

uncleanness and iniquity” (Romans 6:19; John 8:34), and his body becomes

a “body of sin” and “of death” (ch.  2:11; Romans 6:6; 7:23-25). They

become virtually His “members that are upon the earth” (v. 5). Under the

sway of sensual appetite and worldly desire, ungoverned by any influence

from “the things above,” his person becomes more and more completely an

incarnation of sin (Romans 7:5, 20, 23). These “members,” then,

individually and collectively, must be “put to death;” this “body of the

flesh,” as a “body of sin,” must be “stripped off” and “done away”

(ch. 2:11; Romans 6:6). Christ cannot dwell in the soulwhile

sin reigns in the mortal body” (ibid. v. 12). He has no

concord with Belial,” or with Mammon (II Corinthians 6:15;

Matthew 6:24). “The old man” must be “so buried, that the new man

may be raised up” in us (compare Ephesians 4:17-24).


Ø      Unchastity was the most conspicuous sin of the Gentile world in which

St. Paul moved. There it prevailed in the grossest and most shameless

forms; and its prevalence is a fearful warning, as he points out


CIVILIZATION.  The society of the populous Greek cities of that

day was one in which “fornication, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil

desire (v. 5), had free course, and its moral condition was only less

abandoned than the “reeking rottenness” of Sodom and Gomorrha.

Adultery, indeed, was condemned as a civil crime by pagan moralists;

but fornication they held, as a rule, to be an innocent and almost a

necessary thing. It was in writing to Corinth, perhaps the most licentious

city in that licentious age, that the apostle launched his sternest and most

vehement interdict against this crime, which is a moral leprosy and

pestilence. There he marks it out as peculiar from all other sins

in being a sin against a man’s own body, and an especial insult and

outrage to the Holy Spirit who claims the human body for His temple

(1 Corinthians 6:13-20: compare 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8). There are too

many evidences in the state of modern society, both in high quarters

and in low, that as Christian sentiment grows weak and religious faith

dies down, in the same proportion the perversion of 19-20) the relaxation

of moral fiber, the destruction of social confidence, and the physical

decay of the corrupted race. Man begins by denying his Maker, and ends

by degrading himself.  There are times and places where plain speaking

on this subject is needful, and no prudery or sentimental delicacy should

prevent it. The tempted must be warned; the guilty rebuked; bodily

self respect must be taught in good time. The pure will know how to do

this, like the apostle himself and like his Master, “in all purity.” When

once inward chastity has been lost and uncleanness spots the soul,

the stain is not easily effaced. Evils of this kind flourish in the dark

and love to be ignored.  (John 3:18-19)


Ø      Covetousness is idolatry. (v. 5.) It is, obviously and directly,

worshipping and serving the creature” (Romans 1:25). While it

appeases to be self love, it is really the sacrifice of self to the world,

offered at the shrine of wealth, or fame, or pleasure. The man seeks to

gain power over other men or things; but if this becomes his supreme

desire, or if he seeks to attain it by evil means, then from that moment

the object of his guilty pursuit gains power over him, and begins to

entangle and enslave him (John 8:34; Romans 7:23). His passion

becomes his tyrant, his ambition an insanity, his pursuit of pleasure

an infatuation.  Even the thirst for knowledge, the noblest of natural

desires, may grow into a selfish greed, jealous and grasping, eating

out the best affections, and producing an accomplished scholar, a master

of science, void of all goodness of heart and human worth. All creaturely

things, regarded out of God, are but “passing shows” (εἰδωλα - eidola -

idols) of the absolute and enduring goodness that belongs to Him

(Matthew 19:17). The homage rendered to them — whether by the

 savage to his fetish, by the civilized worldling to his wealth or rank,

or by the scientist to his laws and forces of nature — is idolatry, the

worshipping of shams and shows, in so far as it is a departing from the

living God (Hebrews 3:12; Exodus 20:3; Isaiah 43:10; 1 Corinthians

8:4-6). And with life thus perverted at its fountainhead, it becomes a

mere vanity and vexation of spirit.


Ø      Malice is universally denounced. Moralists of all schools and all ages

agree in proscribing this vice, though in little else. The malicious man is

instinctively dreaded; he is a peril to every one. Sins of malice and of

falsehood strike directly at the existence of society, while the two

former classes of offence threaten it more gradually and indirectly.


o        Yet it can scarcely be denied that anger, wrath, malice, railing,

shameful speaking, are, to a large extent, congenital to human

nature. It is true that there is an instinctive benevolence, a fellow

feeling for one’s kind, only exceptionally wanting; but at the same

time there exists a tendency, that is often terribly strong even in its

earliest manifestations, in the opposite direction. “Cain was of that wicked one, and slew his brother; and wherefore slew he him?

because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous”

(1 John 3:12). It is a weak and fatal delusion to rely on natural benevolence as an effective and commanding moral force, a stable foundation for a system of practical ethics. Nor is it possible in the

nature of things that enlightened self interest or any combination of prudential or utilitarian considerations should ever teach men to love their neighbors as themselves, or should succeed in suppressing

rage and jealousy and the murderous passions slumbering in

the blood of the race. We must be “taught of God to love

one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:9; see 1 John 2:7-11;

3:13-24; 4:7-21).


o        The love of Christ will at last subdue the fratricidal passions of

mankind, will “make wars to cease unto the ends of the earth”

(Psalm 46:9); and one day will bring men of the most distant

climes and hostile interests to clasp each other’s hands and

look into each other’s eyes and say, “Beloved, if God so

loved us, we ought also to love one another!” (ibid. v.11)

Here lies the only hope of the fraternization of mankind.


Ø      If impurity dishonours the body, falsehood dishonours the mind. This

sin at once degrades the man, wrongs by deceiving his fellow, and

insults his God, the ever present Witness and Guardian of truth

(Acts 5:4; Romans 9:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; >Psalm 139:4;

Jeremiah 5:3). Here the apostle points out:


o        its inconsistency with the Christian character of the man (vs. 9-10); and


o        its contradiction to the Christian view of society (v. 11). Similarly in

      Ephesians 4:25: “For we are members one of another.” For a man to

      deceive his neighbor by word or deed, is as if the eyes should conspire to

      trick the ear or misguide the hand. The ancients condemned falsehood

      between men of the same community, but generally regarded it as a   lawful weapon to use against enemies or strangers; although the Stoics, with their wider views of humanity, taught on this point, as on others, a          higher morality. The “Greek” might deceive the “barbarian,” the       “bondman” might lie to his master, and have no sense of moral wrong.         And so it has been too commonly in the dealing of servants or           schoolboys with their masters, of civilized men with savages, of     libertines in their conduct towards the other sex. Witness the immoral       maxim, “All’s fair in love and war.” One chief cause of deceit would

      be removed if men would understand that the instinct of honor which           bids them be truthful to their equals and comrades, requires the same   honesty in dealing with every man as man. The Christian acts on this   principle; he will not in any sense “hold the faith of our Lord Jesus

      with respect of persons” (James 2:1). Many men who would resist the           temptation to utter a lie in so many words, will silently act it; especially         in a continued course of action, where the deception lies not in any

      single definite act, but in the general construction which they lead

      others to put on their proceedings. Such deception is no less blameable

      in itself, and as a rule still more disastrous in its effects, than a palpable         lie. And again, men find it easy to lie collectively who would not do so

singly. Though men of probity in their private affairs, they will put their

      hands to documents, they will consent with others to acts, which they

      know to be misleading, or, at least, which they do not know to be true.

      And now that business is becoming more and more a matter of “limited

      liability,” the perils of divided responsibility in this direction should be          well understood.


Ø      “Because of all these things God’s anger is coming on the sons of

disobedience (v. 6). Every act or thought of any of these kinds is a

disobedience, a breach of “the holy and just and good Law” under which

man was first created in his Maker’s image (v. 10). This “Law worketh

out wrath,” inexorably and perpetually, against “every soul of man that

doeth evil” (Romans 2:9; 4:15). And that anger of God is coming

(Isaiah 30:27-28). THERE IS A DAY COMING FOR ITS “revelation’’

(Romans 2:5, 16; Malachi 4:1), even as for “the manifestation of

the sons of God” (v. 4; Romans 8:19). It is already “revealed from

heaven (Romans 1:18), and gives forewarning of its advent in many a

personal and public calamity (Isaiah 26:9; Malachi 3:5; Matthew

24:3-42; 1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 11:30-32). On every account, the

Christian must have done with the old life of sin. He sees it to

be incompatible with fellowship with Christ, to be hateful to God,

to be ruinous to himself and to his fellow men. No return to it, no

renewal of it, no dallying or temporizing with it in any kind or

degree, can be tolerated. IT MUST DIE IF HE IS TO LIVE!


·                     THE UNITY OF MANKIND IN CHRIST. (vs. 10-11.) This truth

belonged, at least in St. Paul’s time, to the more advanced Christian

knowledge, “unto which” the believer was “being renewed” (v. 10); and

the Church still comes far short of its full apprehension.


Ø      The gospel of Christ reveals the spiritual unity of mankind. To make

this known was a part of the apostle’s mission, and of the special

mystery God” entrusted to him (ch. 1:25-28; Ephesians 3:1-6;

Romans 3:9-30; 15:5-12). Its manifestation, and the consequent

breaking down of the middle wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14),

were necessary to a complete Christian virtue, the proper virtue of man

as man, carried out in all his relations to God and to his fellows; and for the regeneration of human society, the salvation of the world. There was a preparation for this belief in the breaking down of the old nations into the unity of the Roman empire, in the decay of local and ancestral religions, and in the advance of philosophy from the narrower and more political ethics of Plato and Aristotle to the moral system of the Stoics, which was at once more inward and more humane. But there was wanting that conception of a living, Divine center of the human race, given in Christ, which alone could make the sentiment of universal humanity a creative, organic force.


Ø      This unity has been realized in the Christian Church. It appears in the

beautiful simplicity of its childlike beginning, in the communism of the

infant Church of Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-47). It was set forth in a larger

and fuller way by the Apostle Paul in addressing the mixed Churches of the great cities where he labored; and was actually put into practice there in a good degree. Jew and Greek (Galatians 2:12), rich and poor

(1 Corinthians 11:20-22; the exception proves the rule: compstr James 2:1-4), master and slave (Philemon 1:16-17), met at the same table of the Lord, mingled as equals in the same Christian society, distinguished only by the measure of “grace” and “spiritual gifts” bestowed on each (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). And the records of the first three

Christian centuries show how faithfully, on the whole, this principle was

maintained, and how nobly the Church held herself superior to temporal

distinctions of wealth and rank. Far indeed has she subsequently departed

from this rule; and lost how much thereby in spiritual dignity and power!  We admire it now as a proof of special humility if the titled or cultured man forgets amongst Christian brethren his worldly eminence; if the employer of labor is glad to sit at the feet of his workman, when that workman, as may often be the case, is his spiritual superior; if the wealthy contributor to a Church fund does not expect, on that account, to dictate in its management.


Ø      The Church is destined to gather mankind into a spiritual common,

wealth. In it there is to be no “strife as to who shall be greatest;” but in

humility and self forgetfulness “the greater shall be as the younger, and the chief as he that doth serve” (Luke 22:24-26). There “all are brethren,

with one Master even Christ” (Matthew 23. 8-12). All authority and office are derived from Him, and attested by His Spirit in His people

(1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Acts 1:24; 13. I-4; Galatians 1:1; John

20:21). The Church is His body, complete in Him — a unity in itself and in its action, because in every limb it draws its life and gets its direction from the Head. And as the Church becomes a greater and more pervasive power in the world, the spiritual brotherhood it creates will work appeasingly on the “wars and fightings,” on the aristocratic exclusiveness and haughtiness, the democratic bitterness and jealousy, the invincible prejudices, the clashing interests, by which society is distracted and its bonds are strained almost to rending, and the nations are kept in arms and hurled repeatedly against each other in deadly conflict. When mankind recovers its unity in Him in whom it was created and redeemed, when it

is reconciled to God and bows its every knee “at the name of Jesus,” —then at last there will be “peace on earth.” Where “Christ is all and in all” antipathy must cease.


·                     THE NEW CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. (vs. 12-17.) We have

traced the principle of the Christian life in its inner ground and aim, as “hid

with Christ” and seeking its home in heaven (vs. 1-4); in its

uncompromising and mortal warfare with the old life of sin (vs. 5-9); in

its purpose to form a new humanity in the individual soul, and in the world

at large (vs. 10, 11). We are now to follow its practical working, to see

how the “new man” is to show himself in a new habit and style of living,

how the “hidden life” is to blossom out into its fragrance and beauty, and

its “celestial fruit” to “grow on earthly ground.” We note that the Christian

character is one derived from God and that refers to God in everything. It

is as “God’s elect, His holy and beloved ones’ (v. 12), that we are called

to assume the new habits of Christian grace and goodness. Knowing what

the Divine Father is, and what He has done for us (ch. 1:12-14), and what He intends us to be (Ephesians 1:4-6), sensible of our filial relation to Him

(Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:1-7; 1 John 3:1-2), loyally embracing His will (Romans 6:22) and seeking to be conformed to His nature as that is translated

for us into “the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29; II Peter 1:4; 1 John 4:17), we shall be “holy in all manner of conversation.” But God is known to us through

Christ. And, therefore, in the formation of the Christian character “Christ is

all and in all” (v. 13; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Romans 15:3; Philippians 2:5;

1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 2:6; John 13:15). It is nothing else than Christ formed

in us (Galatians 4:19). In the perfect Christian character, then:


Ø      Christ’s love rules. (vs. 13-14; II Corinthians 5:14; 1 John 3:23;

John 13:34.) The tender heart of compassion, the gentle, sympathetic kindliness, the lowliness of mind, the uncomplaining meekness,

the patient long-suffering, the forbearance and forgivingness

(vs. 12-13) of the Christian nature, — these center in the all-perfect

and all-perfecting grace of Christ-like love (1 Corinthians 13;

1 John 4:7-21; Romans 13:9-10). He in whose heart dwells the love of Christ cannot “shut up his compassion” from any within reach of help who need it (1 John 3:17); cannot be rude and ungracious, or hard and unforgiving (Ephesians 4:31-32; II Corinthians 2:5-11); cannot be self-asserting, clamorous, overbearing (ibid. ch. 10:1; Philippians 2:6,

Revised Version margin; Matthew 12:19); cannot be passionate and resentful, irritable and fault finding, obstinate in prejudice, intolerant of opposition.  The love of Christ will assimilate His whole disposition and make it sweet, gracious, unselfish, loving, and lovable as that of an innocent child (Matthew 18:1-4). And the Christian man who in the spirit of this love can “possess his soul in patience” (Luke 21:19), through all the strenuous endeavors and painful collisions and vexing wrongs of life, wears “the girdle of perfectness,” and has attained the perfect Christian temper.


Ø      Christ’s peace guards. (v. 15.) The Christian’s faith and hope are

assailed by a thousand enemies. Sometimes amid the common incidents

of life, sometimes in “the heavenly places” of his richest experience and most exalted communion with spiritual things (Ephesians 6:12) —

sometimes brought about by open and palpable causes, sometimes by

strange influences shadowing the inner life and coming we know not

whence or how — sometimes through the ruggedness and gloom of his

providential rule, sometimes through mental perplexities and the chilling

and confused intellectual atmosphere around him, — in any or in all of

these ways “the trial of his faith” comes — comes, in one shape or other,

to every man who has a faith worth trial. And then, whatever be the form

which the assault takes or the quarter from which it is directed, he may find in “the peace of Christ” his strong tower of defense and harbor of refuge. His difficulties may not disappear under this influence; his doubts may not be at once dispelled; the conflict may still rage furiously around and within him; but he will be kept, the fortress of his heart will not be surrendered (1 Peter 1:5; Philippians 4:7). So long as “we have peace with

God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and “His love is shed abroad in our hearts” (Romans 5:1-5), nothing can shake our essential faith or rob us of our immortal hope (Psalms 27 and 46; Luke 12:32; Revelation 1:17), Neither sophistry (ch. 2:4) nor threatening (ibid. v.18) will take from us “the prize of our high calling.” “One thing,” at any rate, “we know” (John 9:25); and to it “we have the witness in ourselves” (1 John 5:10),

in “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” “to which we were called,” in the “new heart and right spirit” He has “put within” us, in the moral victory attained over self and the world (1 John 5:4-5): “we know that we have passed from death unto life” (ibid. ch. 3:14). And we safely infer that He “who has begun a good work in us” will carry it through (Philippians 1:6); that He will keep that which we commit to Him, and “none shall pluck us out of His hand” (II Timothy 1:12; John

10:27-29; Romans 8:31-39).  So, unitedly and thankfully, we “hold fast the beginning of our confidence, and the glorying of our hope, firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:6, 14).


Ø      Christ’s word inspires. (v. 16.) It is to “dwell in the heart richly”

to be the welcome visitant and constant inhabitant of the mind; to be

listened to and diligently learned; to be cherished and pondered in inward

meditation, not as an object of theoretic study only, but as the power which is to shape the character and guide the life of the Christian

(Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Psalm 119:105; John 17:17), as the

soul’s daily nutriment — the bread of God, “which strengtheneth man’s

heart,” “the word of eternal life” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Jeremiah 15:16; Matthew 4:4; John 6:63, 68),


o        This word gives all wisdom —the  best of God’s gifts to man, which

instructs the mind and prompts the tongue and guides the action of its

possessor (ch. 2:2-3; 4:5-6). So furnished, every Christian (ch. 1:28) is able to minister something to his fellows of that which God has taught him by his own study of the Word and its practice in his experience of life (Matthew 13:52; Romans 15:14;  1 Corinthians 14:31). Thus the members of the Church are able, “in the meekness of wisdom,” to “teach and admonish one another,” “being knit together in love, and led into all the riches of the full assurance of the understanding, into the knowledge of the mystery of God” (ch. 2:2).


o        And it stirs in the heart an ardor of holy feeling that finds expression in

Christian song. “The word of Christ,” cherished in thought, kindles the

emotions and wakens all the music of the soul. The early Christians were a singing people, for they were a cheerful and thankful people. And

subsequent revivals of religious life, as a rule, have been attended with

fresh outbursts of sacred song (Psalm 40:3). The singing of a people

its heartiness, and simplicity, and the care and pains taken in its

cultivation, are a good test of their spiritual state. “Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs” — hymns old and new, narrative, didactic, lyrical; in every measure and every tone of expression:


§         songs of praise,

§         of confession,

§         of wailing sorrow,

§         of ecstatic joy;


for the congregation, the household, or the private chamber; —

all find a place in the diapason (a grand swelling burst of harmony)

 of the Church’s music.


o        Christ’s name hallows everything. (v. 17.) Our eating and drinking —

acts which seem the most ordinary and purely physical, and quite remote

from the interests and sentiments of the spiritual life — these are to be

sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:5), by the

mention of Christ’s name in thanksgiving to the Father, WHO

THROUGH HIM SENDS US ALL LIFE’S BLESSINGS. And if our mere animal necessities of life are capable of being thus hallowed, there is nothing in family relations, or secular employments, or social or civil duties, which may not receive and does not demand the same consecration. (A very profound thought to which I was exposed once

upon a time is THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTIANITY IS TO SANCTIFY THE SECULAR! - CY - 2021)   We may associate Christ with everything we do, doing all as His servants and under His eye, and in such a way that, by every part of our work, He may be glorified in us. And this will be a safeguard to the Christian man. If he is to do everything in Christ’s name, he must do nothing unworthy of that name, nothing with which he cannot associate it. Nowhere, in any company or on any business, must he forget, “either in word or deed,” that this “worthy name” is the name which he bears, and whose honur is in his keeping. This is the seal that marks the true Church of Christ, which every Christian wears upon his heart: “Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness”

(II Timothy 2:19).



            The Christian View of Family Duties (v. 18-ch. 4:1)


Certain general considerations bearing on the family and social constitution

of life may be drawn from the teaching of this section.


1. We note that the apostle brings each of the three primary relationships of

which he speaks into connection with “the Lord.” The natural order of

human life is grounded in Christ. If “all things were created and do consist

in Him” (ch. 1:16-17), then, amongst the rest, this also and in

chief. For man in his relation to the world around him is “the image of

God,” even as Christ is to the whole universe (1 Corinthians 11:7;

James 3:9; Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8.). And man is not a solitary

individual; he is a social being, a race unity. And those relations which

are essential and fundamental to human society:


  1. marriage,
  2. sonship,
  3. service


have, most of all, their spiritual type and creative ground in Christ. This

is obvious in the case of the two latter relations; as to the first, see

Ephesians 5:22-32.


2. The intrinsic fitness of a right discharge of natural duties is affirmed in

the first case (v. 18), and implied in the other two. The apostle

recognizes and appeals more than once to the sense of ethical propriety,

that which “nature itself teaches” (1 Corinthians 11:14), which belongs

to the universal conscience surviving in our nature though fallen and

debased. All true sentiments of natural morality the Christian revelation

reaffirms and supports with its effectual sanctions, “as is fit in the Lord”

(compare Philippians 4:8). Their consciousness of the right as the

beautiful (τὸ καλὸν - to kalon ) was a sound and valuable element in the

teaching of the best Greek moralists. They regarded conduct as a work of art, in

which grace and fitness were to be studied, and the perfection of an ideal beauty

to be the aim of life. While men may have, as a rule, a stronger sense of the

right, women better understand the fitting; and it is in regard to the place

and duties of woman that St. Paul appeals to convictions of moral fitness

and decorum (compare 1 Corinthians 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:9-10).


3. We are taught, indirectly, to cherish a pleasant and cheerful temper in

domestic life. Bitterness (v. 19) and harshness, with the distrust and

timidity which they engender (v. 21), and a sullen or constrained

obedience (v. 23), are forbidden; and these are the common elements of

domestic unhappiness. Where the husband is gentle, and the father tender

though strict, and the master considerate, and the servants willing and

honestly anxious to please, there all goes well. Whatever storms may beat

upon that house from without, there is peace and sunshine within. And this

is “well pleasing in the Lord.”


4. The principle of authority is steadfastly maintained throughout. (vs.

18, 20, 22.) In every house that is not to be “divided against itself,” there

must be a single head, a ruling will, a definite center of power and

direction. And that power God has placed, as a solemn trust, in the hands

of the husband, father, master, who is in his prerogative within his own

house an image of Christ in the Church (ch. 4:1; Ephesians 5:23), of God

Himself, the Father of men (Hebrews 12:9). This principle is the corner-stone

of order in human society. Here is “pure religion breathing household laws” (Wordsworth).


* HUSBAND AND WIFE. (vs. 18-19.) The marriage relation stands

first, being the basis of the family, which again is the basis of society and of

the community of mankind. “He which made them from the beginning,

made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4-6). Marriage is to be

had in honor among all” (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Timothy 4:1-3); and

not merely the criminal act, but any impure word, thought, or look which

offends against its sanctity, “defiles the man” from whom it proceeds,

offends in an especial way the Holy Spirit of God, and brings down His

wrath upon the offender (Matthew 5:27-28; Mark 7:20-23; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8;

1 Corinthians 6:13-20). The degree of honor and reverence in which it is

held in any society largely, determines the degree of soundness

in its moral condition. Where the opposite vices prevail, whether

secretly or openly practiced, general moral corruption and decay set in

(see homiletics, sect, 7, II. 1).


Ø      On the one side, there is to be submission. The apostle says,

“Children,… servants, obey” (s. 20, 22); but not “Wives, obey your

husbands:” “Be in subjection” (v. 18) is a gentler and fitter term to use.

Obedience implies a certain distance and inferiority that has no place here.

There is something wrong on one side, or on both, when the husband gives

formal orders to his wife. There should be such an intimacy of mutual

understanding and sympathy between them, that they seem to have but one

mind and will in all common matters, And while to that single mind the

wife contributes the queenly influence of her insight and persuasion, she

will feel and show that resolve and direction belong to him and not to her.

The final responsibility for the business of the house devolves on the

husband, by the ordinance of God and by the nature of things, which are

but two expressions of the same fact (1 Corinthians 11:3-15). It is his

part to “rule well his own house” (1 Timothy 3:4).


Ø      It was not so needful to say, “Wives, love your husbands;” though the

apostle once enjoins this, in speaking of “the younger women” in Titus

2:4. For failure on the wife’s side in this respect is comparatively rare. But

the man, full of business, often absent, and with his more exacting nature,

is more liable to fall into some disloyalty. He allows other company to

become more agreeable to him; seeks amusements and pursuits in which

his wife cannot join; no longer makes her his confidante and the sharer of

his inner life; and allows home to become little more to him than a selfish

convenience. And with this selfishness and the uneasiness of conscience

that attends it, there supervenes often an irritableness of temper that chafes

over every domestic care or trouble, and makes no allowance for infirmities

in others; that magnifies every trifling mistake or mishap into an injury, and

ignores the wife’s patient affection and eagerness to please. How different

is all this from the exalted ideal that St. Paul holds up to the Christian

husband! — “Love your wife even as Christ loved the Church, and gave

himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Bengel’s shrewd and caustic remark

on this passage is too often verified: “There are many, who out of doors

are civil and kind to all; when at home, towards their wives and children

whom they have no need to fear, they freely practice secret bitterness.”


* FATHER AND CHILD. (vs. 20-21,)


Ø      From children, obedience to their parents in all things is required, and

therefore in many things contrary to their inclination and opinions.

Childhood means dependence and ignorance. It is only under the shelter of

parental oversight that the incipient faculties and plastic nature of the child

can be formed to the strength of judgment and firmness of character which

will enable him to meet the tasks and the perils of adult life. And for this

discipline to be effective, the submission of the child must be absolute.

Only when a parental command plainly contradicts the Law of God and

violates the child’s conscience, can any kind of disobedience be justified. In

that case, obedience cannot be “well pleasing in the Lord.” But even the

worst of parents will rarely be found to have so little respect for the

conscience of childhood as to enforce such an injunction. The requirement

addressed to the child presumes that the parent exacts obedience. This is

his inalienable prerogative. Instant, unmurmuring obedience should be

made the habit of the child’s life, and as a law of nature to it. To have this

understood from the first is the simplest and easiest course. If the child be

allowed, through passion or persistence, once successfully to rebel, a

mischief is done not easily to be repaired. His own self mastery, and the

sense of law and of duty which are to attend him through the whole of life,

largely rest on this basis of ingrained obedience. For this purpose, children

should be in their earliest years as much as possible under the direct

influence of their parents’ presence and authority. The parental office

cannot be discharged by proxy.  (It is said that if a parent does not his

work with the child, it is for ever undone! CY - 2021) And there must be unity

of parental administration, as well as harmony between precept and practice, if a true and reverent obedience is to be possible. In no State was the authority of

the father (patria potestas - the power of the father) so strict and absolute as in ancient Rome. And there can be little doubt that this stern maintenance of family discipline largely helped to form the Roman character with its extraordinary vigor and tenacity, and to preserve that rigid, firmly knit order and devoted loyalty which were the secret of Rome’s invincible strength.


Ø      On the other hand, the father must beware lest his authority should wear

a needless aspect of severity. His righteous desire to “command his

children and his household after him” (Genesis 18:19), and his anxious

sense of responsibility, may occasion this, if not relieved by more genial

influences. The innocent liveliness and the many unintended offences of

childhood must not provoke him to ill temper. He must learn by patience

and tenderness to win the child’s affection and open-hearted trust, without

impairing its submissive reverence. A mechanical, unsympathetic strictness,

or an angry and unequal discipline, will fatally alienate the sensitive heart of

the child, which in that case either sinks down into a dull, spiritless apathy,

or prepares for a passionate revolt when the hour of its strength shall

come. Too often those most anxious to commend religion to their children

have made it odious by presenting it in forms unintelligible to the young

mind, and associating it with tasks unsuited to its powers, and burdens that

it found “grievous to be borne.” (Matthew 23:4) As the child should find in

the child Jesus its pattern and model (Luke 2:40-52), so the parent should seek to be to his children an image of “our Father in heaven.”


*  MASTER AND SERVANT. (v. 22 —-ch.4:1.) This third relationship is one which we may be sure will continue to exist, however varied the forms it may take, so long as the world stands. And what the apostle says here is of universal application, though slavery has happily given place to free service. Even when our lower classes shall have

become so far raised in intelligence and independence that cooperation in

industrial labor will become the rule instead of the exception, still there

must be some to command, others to obey. Indeed, the more extended and

complicated the operations of trade and manufacture become, the more

thoroughly labor needs to be organized and authority graduated, and the

more entirely success depends on management and discipline and on a right

adjustment of the relations of master and servant.


Ø      From servants Christianity demands, what conscience demands, an

honest obedience, that serves as well behind the master’s back as to his

face (v. 22). As a mere matter of commercial advantage, the uniform

presence of this quality would be an incalculable economy and enrichment

of the community. And religion secures this, directly and of necessity. The

man who does his work in God’s sight — “as ever in his great

Taskmaster’s eye” — and as for the judgment day, cannot skimp any part

of it. He is serving, not a man like himself, but a heavenly Lord, whose

searching eye is always upon him, who understands and can judge every

man’s work (v. 24; 1 Peter. 1:17), and who has promised infinite rewards

for faithfulness in the “few things” of our earthly probation (Matthew

25:21, 23). These convictions form the best guarantee, with the mass of

men the only sufficient and effectual guarantee, for good work and

thorough workmanship in every department of life.


“A servant with this clause,

Makes drudgery divine;

Who sweeps a room as for thy laws,

Makes that and the action fine.”

                        (George Herbert.)


Ø      And the Christian master, whether at the head of a farm or a factory, of

a commercial house or a private family, will remember that he has his

duties along with his rights as a master. He is dealing with human beings,

not with machines. The laws of political economy are not to be his only

guide. “The nexus of cash payments” can never be the sole link that

associates any two men together. Woe be to him if he says, with Cain, “Am

I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). “Just dealing and fairness”

(ch. 4:1) must rule in the relations of master and man, if they

are to be on a moral and righteous footing. He will not take a hard

advantage of his servant’s necessity; or allow, if he can help it, his dealings

with him to degenerate into a mere struggle between capital and labor for

every inch of advantage. The cruel greed that grasps at immediate gain at

whatever cost of toil and poverty to others, and that “grinds the faces of

the poor” (Isaiah 3:15), may enrich the individual, but in the long run

is fatal to the class or the trade which practices it. And the rich oppressor

will have to appear at a tribunal where “there is no respect of persons”

(v. 25). Political economy itself teaches that ill-paid labor is the most

expensive and wasteful. The man who has want and fear gnawing at his

heart cannot be a good workman, even if, in spite of extreme temptation,

he be an honest one. Injustice and over reaching on the part of the rich and

governing classes, political and social institutions that favor “the fat and

the strong” at the expense of the weak and poor (Ezekiel 34:16-27),

are sure of God’s heavy judgment. They generate in the hatred excited in

those subject to them an explosive force which, with a suitable train of

circumstances, will burst forth, as in the French Revolution, in some

volcanic upheaval that the strongest social fabric will be unable to resist.

Christ’s golden rule of equity (Luke 6:31) is the only safe, as it is the

only righteous, basis for the dealings of man with man, of class with

class, or of nation with nation in the world’s great polity.




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Ver. 1.

The obligations of the risen life.

We have here a transition to the practical part of this Epistle. “If ye then

were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ

is, seated on the right hand of God.”

I. OUR RESURRECTION WITH CHRIST. We are not only “dead with

Christ,” but “risen with him;” “not only planted in the likeness of his death,

but planted together in the likeness of his resurrection;” “that we may walk

in newness of life” (<450602>Romans 6:2-4). This translation has altered our

standpoint. We are “quickened together with Christ, and raised together

with him” (<490205>Ephesians 2:5, 6). We have now an entirely new sphere of

intellectual conception and moral aspiration. “Old things have passed away;

behold, all things have become new” (<470517>2 Corinthians 5:17).


“Seek those things which are above.”

1. “The things above” are all things pertaining to our true home — “the

new Jerusalem” and “the heavenly citizenship,” in contrast to “the things

upon the earth.” They include

(1) the vision of Christ (<431724>John 17:24);

(2) the enjoyment of God, which is promoted

(a) by our fuller knowledge of him (<431703>John 17:3),

(b) by our growing love to him (<620416>1 John 4:16), and

(c) by the manifold expressions of his love to us (<360317>Zephaniah


(3) the society of angels and saints.

2. The excellence of the things above.” They are

(1) satisfying, as things on earth are unsatisfying;

(2) certain, as things on earth are uncertain;

(3) perpetual and everlasting, as things on earth are transient and


(4) suitable, as things on earth are unsuitable to an immortal spirit.

3. They are to be sought, implying

(1) our knowledge of them;

(2) our longing for them;

(3) our anxious effort to realize them (<400633>Matthew 6:33).


DUTY. “Where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.” There are two

facts here stated.

1. Christ our Head is in heaven. Therefore heaven must be the objective

point of our thoughts as well as our hopes. We look up because he, who is

our Hope, is there — “within the vail.” The thought of Christ’s presence

gives definiteness to our ideas of heaven. “Where our treasure is, there will

be our heart also.”

2. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. This implies:

(1) His intercessory work; for he has entered into “heaven itself, now to

appear in the presence of God for us” (<580924>Hebrews 9:24; <620201>1 John


(2) His mediatorial dominion and power (<502910>Philippians 2:10).

(3) Our sitting with him — “he raised us up and made us to sit in heavenly

places in Jesus Christ.” These places are those he premised to prepare for

his people (<431402>John 14:2). “He that overcometh, to him will I give to sit

with me in my throne” (<660321>Revelation 3:21). — T. C.

Ver. 4.

The believer’s final manifestation with Christ.

“When Christ, who is our Life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with

him be manifested in glory.” The believer’s life will not be always hidden,

any more than the believer’s Lord. There will be a period of manifestation

for both. This marks the last stage of spiritual life.


than saying that our life is hid with him or that he is the Author of it. “He

that hath the Son hath life” (<620512>1 John 5:12; <480220>Galatians 2:20;

<500121>Philippians 1:21). We possess this life in virtue of our union with him

and his resurrection (<431419>John 14:19).


MANIFESTATION. 1, The manifestation of Christ is the blessed hope”

of the saints. (<560213>Titus 2:13; <540614>1 Timothy 6:14; <550110>2 Timothy 1:10;

4:1-8.) He will then be seen as he is (<620302>1 John 3:2), though mockers may

ask, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (<610304>2 Peter 3:4). He will then

appear glorious in his person, glorious in his retinue of angels, glorious in

his authority.

2. We shall share in that manifestation. “It doth not yet appear what we

shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for

we shall see him as he is” (<620301>1 John 3:1, 2); “We wait for the Saviour”

(<500321>Philippians 3:21); “The glory thou hast given me I have given them”

(<431722>John 17:22); “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also

glorified together” (<450817>Romans 8:17). We shall be manifested with Christ

in the glory of our complete manhood, when the conjunction of soul and

body shall be perfect and indissoluble. We may well set our mind on things

above in view of such a glorious prospect. — T. C.

Vers. 8, 9.

A warning against social sins.

The sins already noticed are personal; the sins now to be specified arise in

connection with man’s social relationships. “But now put ye also away all

these: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth.

Lie not one to another.” These sins, again, divide themselves into two

classes — three of each:

(1) sins of inward feeling;

(2) sins of outward expression.

I. SINS OF INWARD FEELING. “Anger, wrath, malice.”

1. Anger and wrath. There is an anger that is righteous. “Be angry and sin

not” (<490426>Ephesians 4:26). Even our Lord was angry as he looked upon

the Pharisees (<410305>Mark 3:5). But the anger here condemned is sinful. It is

a settled feeling of hatred as distinguished from wrath, which is more

passionate and transient.

(1) We are warned against both. “Cease from anger, leave off wrath, fret

not thyself to do evil” (<193708>Psalm 37:8). We are not to give place to them

(<451219>Romans 12:19). “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry”

(<210711>Ecclesiastes 7:11). We ought to be “slow to wrath” (<590119>James

1:19). We ought not “to let the sun go down upon it.”

(2) They lay the heart open to the devil (<490417>Ephesians 4:17).

(3) They grieve the Spirit of God (<490430>Ephesians 4:30, 31).

(4) They intercept prayer (<540208>1 Timothy 2:8).

2. Malice. This is the vicious habit of mind that delights in injury to others.

(1) It is the sign of an unregenerate nature (<560303>Titus 3:3; <620209>1 John 2:9).

(2) It springs from pride and envy (<201310>Proverbs 13:10).

(3) It is entirely opposed to that love that “worketh no ill to his neighbour”

(<451310>Romans 13:10).

(4) It grieves the Holy Spirit (<490430>Ephesians 4:30, 31).

II. SINS OF OUTWARD EXPRESSION. “Railing, shameful speaking out

of your mouth. Lie not one to another.”

1. Railing. This is “the strife of words.”

(1) It is speaking evil of men, and springs from envy or malice. The tongue

of the railer is compared to the sting of adders, to a sharp sword, to


(2) It leads to reprisals; for “if ye bite and devour one another, take heed

lest ye be consumed one of another” (<480515>Galatians 5:15).

(3) The Judge will condemn the railer (<590509>James 5:9).

(4) It hinders the success of the Word (<600201>1 Peter 2:1, 2). We ought,

therefore, to “put far from us a froward mouth and perverse lips”

(<200424>Proverbs 4:24).

2. Shameful speaking. This applies to foul abuse, not to obscene language.

While railing is the expression of angry and malicious feeling, this is the

expression of coarse contempt and insolence.

3. Falsehood. This habit is to be put off; for:

(1) It is that of the devil, who is the father of lies (<430844>John 8:44).

(2) God hates it (<201222>Proverbs 12:22).

(3) It is a breach of the social contract (<490425>Ephesians 4:25).

(4) It shuts out from heaven (<662215>Revelation 22:15). Let us pray God to

remove far from us vanity and lies (<200308>Proverbs 3:8). — T. C.

Vers. 9, 10.

The ground of these practical precepts.

“Seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on

the new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of

him who created him.” We have here the negative and the positive aspects

of the great spiritual change effected in conversion.


old man with his deeds.”

1. The old man is the old unconverted self, strong in his deeds of sin. His

deeds are catalogued among the “works of the flesh;” (<480522>Galatians 5:22,

23), as well as in the context. He is to be discerned, indeed, by his works

like a tree by its fruits.

2. The putting off of the old man is twofold, namely, at conversion and in

the gradual process of sanctification. Some teach that the old man is an

unchanged and unchangeable being, and that, as he has been crucified in

Christ (<450606>Romans 6:6), we have nothing more to do with him. In that

case, if we have put on the new man, we are perfectly sinless.

(1) There is a putting off of the old man at our justification.

(2) There is a gradual putting off likewise — a “mortifying your members

which are upon the earth,” which is to continue till we get rid of all his

deeds. The counsel, therefore, to put off the old man and put on the new

man is like the similar counsel, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”

(<451314>Romans 13:14), addressed to those who had already “put on Christ”

(<480327>Galatians 3:27).


new man.” This is the regenerate man. He is a “new creation” (<470517>2

Corinthians 5:17; <480615>Galatians 6:15).

1. The nature of this newness.

(1) He has a new nature — “born from above” (<430303>John 3:3). He has “a

new heart.”

(2) He has a new obedience, both as to its spirit, its matter, and its end

(<451201>Romans 12:1).

(3) He has a new citizenship (<500320>Philippians 3:20).

(4) He has new desires (<195102>Psalm 51:2; <400506>Matthew 5:6; <540408>1 Timothy


2. It is a nature constantly renewed unto full knowledge. “Which is being

renewed unto knowledge.” It is not at once complete, but in a state of

constant development by the Holy Spirit. Knowledge is a principal part of

the new grace of the believer.

(1) It is the beginning of eternal life (<431703>John 17:3).

(2) It has transforming power (<470701>2 Corinthians 7:18).

(3) It is necessary to our understanding the wiles of the devil and resisting

the temptations of the world (<600509>1 Peter 5:9).

3. Its renewal is after a Divine pattern. “After the image of him who

created him.” The allusion is to <010126>Genesis 1:26. The image of Christ in

the believer is analogous to that of the image of God in the original man,

but will be far more glorious, as the second Man is more glorious than the

first man. Thus we see the process of putting on the new man in its

beginning (<480327>Galatians 3:27), in its continuance (<451314>Romans 13:14),

and in its completeness (<461553>1 Corinthians 15:53, 54). — T.C.

Ver. 11.

All distinctions obliterated in Christ.

“Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision,

barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman: but Christ is all, and in all.” The

old distinctions which separated man from man can have no existence in

the new spiritual life.


“Greek and Jew.” The peculiar privilege of Abraham’s natural seed is gone.

Mercy is shown on exactly similar terms to Jew and to Gentile. Thus is

manifest that catholicity of the gospel which the Gnostics repudiated.


and uncircumcision.” The errorists in Galatia would have imposed

circumcision on the Gentile Christians, but neither circumcision nor the

want of it availed anything in Christ’s kingdom, but “a new creation”

(<480615>Galatians 6:15). Thus, while it was an advantage to be born a Jew

rather than a Gentile, it was none to become as a Jew by conforming to its

ritual (<460719>1 Corinthians 7:19).


REFINEMENT. “Barbarian, Scythian.” The barbarian was the foreigner,

the Scythian the savage. The gospel turns the barbarian into a brother, and

lifts even the Scythians — the lowest type of barbarians — into the dignity

of Christian fellowship.


The gospel has placed them on one level of religious privilege.


Christ is all, and in all.” He has absorbed them all into himself, filling the

whole sphere of human life in its widest varieties of development. He

dwells in all, their true Centre; for the life of all believers is “hid with Christ

in God.” This fact places the saints under immense obligations. They must

consecrate all to Christ and resign all to his wise and loving will. — T. C.

Ver. 15.

Peace and thanksgiving.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were

called in one body; and be ye thankful.”


1. Its Author.

(1) Christ is our Peace (<490214>Ephesians 2:14), and “the Lord of peace”

(<530316>2 Thessalonians 3:16), and “the Prince of peace” (<230906>Isaiah 9:6).

(2) It is his legacy to the Church (<431427>John 14:27). It is one of the fruits of

the Spirit (<480522>Galatians 5:22).

(3) He proclaims it — “that publisheth peace” (<235207>Isaiah 52:7).

2. The sphere or element of its exercise. “To the which also ye were called

in one body.” As “God hath called us in peace” (<460715>1 Corinthians 7:15),

we are to realize our unity by it as members of the body. Unity is out of the

question without peace. Let us show the fruit of our calling by being lovers

of peace. The kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace.”

3. Its enthronement as umpire in the heart. “Let it be umpire in your


(1) It is to act with decisive force in the conflict of impulses or feelings that

may arise in a Christian life.

(2) Yet we must retain truth along with peace (<581214>Hebrews 12:14;

<410950>Mark 9:50). The true wisdom is to be “first pure, then peaceable”

(<590317>James 3:17).

II. THANKSGIVING. “And be ye thankful.” It is our duty to be always

thankful to God. It held a constant place in the apostle’s thoughts. The

word, in its substantive and verbal forms, occurs thirty-seven times in his

Epistles. We must be in a constant mood of thanksgiving for his mercies,

for his grace, for his comforts, and for his ordinances. — T. C.

Ver. 16.

The use of the Word for spiritual edification.

The apostle, in view of the right exercise of the foregoing graces, counsels

the Colossians to make the Word of Christ the subject of experimental

study. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.”


1. The Scriptures are Christ’s Word. They have Christ for their Author, for

their Subject, for their End. This is the Word that is “sounded forth”

everywhere (<520108>1 Thessalonians 1:8), that “runs” everywhere, to be

glorified in its success. It is Christ, too, who gives power to this Word.

2. This Word ought to dwell in us. Not come and go, but tarry as in a fixed

abode. It ought to be an abiding power within us. “The Word of God

abideth in you” (<620214>1 John 2:14).

3. The place of its indwelling is the heart; not the memory or the head, but

the heart. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart” (is. 119:11).

4. The manner of its indwelling. “Richly in all wisdom.”

(1) Not “with a scanty foothold, but with a large and liberal occupancy.”

(2) It implies

(a) receiving the Word with all meekness and humility (<590121>James


(b) dividing it aright (<550215>2 Timothy 2:15);

(c) trying all things so as to keep that which is good (<520521>1

Thessalonians 5:21).


admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” There is a double function

here assigned to the Word: one making its influence felt upon the mind —

“teaching;” the other upon the heart — “singing” with thanksgiving.

1. The Word is useful for teaching and for warning. These represent the

positive and the negative sides of instruction.

(1) Teaching.

(a) This implies that the Word is to be used by every Christian for the