Instructor's Notes

Chapter 3


chapter contains exhortations to several duties, some more general, which relate to all Christians, and others more particular, which belong to saints in such and such a state of life. The apostle begins with an exhortation to seek things heavenly, and not earthly, and to set the affections on the one, and not on the other: the arguments used to enforce it are taken from the saints being risen with Christ; from Christ being in heaven at the Father's right hand; from their being dead to sin, the law, and the world; from their having life in Christ safe and secure; yea, from Christ being their life, and their appearance with him in glory (Col. 3:1). And next he proceeds to an exhortation to the mortification of sin, and the deeds of it, which he urges from the wrath of God coming upon men for these things, and from the consideration of their former state and condition, expressed by walking and living in them (Col. 3:5), and by a metaphor taken from the putting off and on of garments, he exhorts to the putting off of the old man, with his deeds, several of which are mentioned (Col. 3:8), and to the putting on of the new man, and to the exercise of various graces, as mercy, meekness, forbearance, forgiveness, charity, and peace (Col. 3:10). And then he proceeds to exhort to such duties as relate to the word and worship of God; as that the word of Christ should have an abiding place in them, and that they should teach and instruct one another by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and do all they did in a religious way, in the name of Christ, with thankfulness to God by him (Col. 3:16). And closes the chapter with the duties of wives to their husbands, and of husbands to their wives, and of children to their parents, and of parents to their children, and of servants to their masters (Col. 3:18).

· If ye then be risen with Christ—"If" is a first class conditional clause which assumes the answer is true to what follows. Paul here reaffirms the fact that as believers we are risen (aorist tense—past completed action) with Christ. This resurrection is a unique association where the bond is immutable or irrevocable.

· seek those things which are above—(emphatic in the Greek—"the things above, keep on seeking"). There must be a deep desire to seek the things above by the believer; we seek the things above because we reside in heavenly places. This is not to be understood as something that accompanies salvation or comes by some process of osmosis. "Seek" is a present tense verb which denotes a continual action and is a lifestyle that is enabled or accomplished by the power of God. Note that Paul here emphasizes that the road that is to be traveled by the Christian is through Christ and not some mysticism or asceticism. The believer is to lay hold of the of heavenly things "in the first place with all affection, earnest desire, care, and diligence" [J. Gill] (our mind must be on heavenly things) and his life will be directed accordingly.

· where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God—This "contains other reasons and arguments to engage believers to look upwards, and seek after heavenly things" [J. Gill]. Where Christ is seated the believer is seated and if raised with Christ he has at his disposal vast power to lead a godly life.

Synthesis:[2] Two things should be here noted; (1) The believer should seek the things above; this will affect how he reacts to the things below or those things that God allows in our lives. Our perspective becomes progressively more and more attuned to God’s perspective. Seeking the things above is seeking His will in every situation. (2) We are to set our mind on the things above or "the upward things." The believer is to have an inward disposition toward a deliberate upward focus which will work out the "completeness" that he seeks. In conclusion, the believer is to continually center his interests in Christ.

· Set your affection on things above—This phrase suggests a striving on the part of the believer. The active voice in the Greek ("set" and "affection") involves an act of the will which a continual daily seeking the things above (all verbs are in the present tense). "The word signifies to mind them, and think on them, to favour and approve of them, to be affectionately desirous of them, and concerned for them" [J. Gill]. "Paul is not advocating a form of mysticism, he desires that the Colossians’ preoccupation with heaven govern their earthly responses" [J. MacArthur]. It should also be noted that this is in the imperative mood indicating that the act is mandatory. Yet, such ability is provided by the power of God and is not accomplished in our own strength.

· not on things on the earth—The things on the earth are the things mentioned in Chapter 2 which include legalistic and ascetic principles and practices ("things, temporal enjoyments, riches, and honours; and though food and raiment, and the necessaries of life" [J. Gill]). The Christian may be bound to the earth physically and must put aside worldly lusts, but his spiritual life needs to be directed toward heavenly things.

Synthesis: The same One that makes the new birth a reality of the elect also makes a new standard of life possible. The Christian is to judge everything according to this new standard.

· For ye are dead—"For" introduces the reason why we are to reject earthy things and look to heavenly things. We are "dead" to the things of the world and alive to the things of God. We cease to have vital functions (towards the world) which is a completed action accomplished by God for us. When we died in the past (aorist tense), we died to the power, rule, mastery, and enslavement of sin. However, although this is an accomplished fact, the believer must make daily choices to live in and walk by the truth. Such is the life of self-denial; dieing to self and the world and living for those things that are eternal. "Believers being dead with Christ, should have no regard to the rudiments of the world, the ceremonies of the law, and the ordinances of men; to worldly lusts, and to the things that are in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; but should be dead as to their desires after, affections for, and subjection to these things" [J. Gill].

· and your life is hid with Christ in God—The Greek word for "hid" is in the perfect tense (completed in the past, has results existing in the present time) which would indicate that we were hidden in Christ at some point in time and with the residual effect of permanency and irrevocability. The "death" is over, but the results of the hiding of our life in Christ abides now as well as in the future. We share a common bond "with" the Father due to our status in Christ.

Synthesis: The Christian has died to the old order, to the world’s way of thinking and doing. Being hid in Christ it is now possible to live by the power of God.

· When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear—Christ does not merely give life, He is life. Christ is the Author of spiritual life for the believer, and He shall appear or manifest Himself "in all the perfections and glory of deity, which will be manifest and apparent to everyone" [J. Gill].

· then shall ye also appear with him in glory—When Christ appears again he will bring many sons to glory. For "the dead bodies of the saints will then be raised and united to their souls, which he will bring with him, when he appears; and living saints shall be changed, and be caught up together with the raised ones, into the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so they all shall be with him together, wherever he is, whether in the air, or on earth, or in heaven,…" [J. Gill]. Our calling is accompanied with the great hope that Christ shall return and redeem unto Himself those that are "hid" in Him and that they shall also appear with Him in glory. Our appearance will be a manifestation of our true character and "the world which persecutes, despises, ignores now, will then be blinded with the dazzling glory of the revelation" [Lightfoot]. This is the prime reason why there are strong reasons to set our affections on things in heaven, and not on earth (Col. 3:2).

Synthesis: Our interests are to be centered on Christ because one day He will return to receive unto Himself those that are hidden in Him. On that day Christ will reveal to all that there is but one way of salvation and that the character of those hidden in Him shall manifest that change expedited by that very salvation.

· Mortify therefore your members—Paul begins a list of eleven sins that need to be mortified (put to death) followed by ten virtues that are to be embraced. Because we now have a new heart accompanied with a new character, we are to put aside those things emblematic of the old nature. We are not to attempt to co-exist with those things alien to living a life in the Spirit. We are not to obey the commands of God halfheartedly but we are to press towards the high calling of God ever mindful that we must complete the task before us depriving and destroying the strength inherent within the body of indwelling sin. Treat sin as truly dead for it has no part in the new spiritual man that is in Christ Jesus.

· which are upon the earth—Our bodies may be bound to the earth for a time, but while the Christian has an eternal soul and an earthy body, there is no excuse not to bridle the earthy desires. The Christian is to have a radical transformation of the will and a extreme shift from self-centeredness to a death to the world allowing the Word to dwell richly in us.

· fornication—Any illicit sexual activity out side of the bounds established by marriage. Immorality heads the list of the deeds of the flesh and is evidence that one has turned their back on God.

· uncleanness—Inner impurities or the manifestation of the repulsive desires of the heart.

· inordinate affection—Desires that do not rest until they are satisfied. An inward emotion that is aroused by external stimuli.

· evil concupiscence—lasciviousness of the mind that produces unhealthy appetites that lead to action. The Christian prayer should be "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps. 51:10).

· and covetousness—Which is greed ("an insatiable desire of having more, and of having more than a man's own;" [J. Gill]). When ones desires becomes his god, than he is serving that god.

· which is idolatry—greed is equal to idolatry because it means placing the affections on earthy things rather than heavenly things.

Synthesis: Although we have died with Christ spiritually, there is the need to mortify the deeds of the flesh. Our Adamic nature is something that we will struggle against until the Day of the Lord. However, such a struggle may be overcome through the power of God.

· For which things' sake—Paul explains the reasons why we should mortify the members of our sinful flesh. Namely, the wrath of God is coming on sin and sinners. "The false doctrine of the Gnostics had failed to check the sensual indulgence. The true doctrine of the apostle has power to kill the whole carnal man. The substitution of a comprehensive principle for special precepts—of the heavenly life in Christ for a code of minute ordinances—at length attains the end after which the Gnostic teaches have striven, and striven in vain" [Lightfoot].

· the wrath of God—wrath is understood as the anger that proceeds from God which includes God’s present displeasure or anger towards that affairs of man and the state of men. Wrath is as much a part of the nature of God as is love. A God who does not exercise wrath against injustice is an immoral God. God will judge the universe according to their deeds and as such shall not let suchlike deeds go unchallenged or unpunished.

"There have been already instances of God's displeasure at sin, his indignation against it, and his judgments on account of it: his wrath is revealed from heaven, and it will come down from thence on disobedient and rebellious sinners, and that suddenly, and with great power, like a mighty torrent, that there will be no standing before it. This is a reason why such who have life in Christ should mortify, repress, and abstain from the above sins; for though this regards sinners, and ungodly persons, yet the effects of God's wrath on such show how much such sins are displeasing to him, and detested by him, and therefore to be avoided by the saints" [J. Gill].

· cometh on the children of disobedience—The word "cometh" is a present tense verb meaning it is coming or is already on its way. This verb "denotes the certainty of the future event [Vincent]. God will judge those that seek glory through mystic encounters, self effort or moral turpitude. If one continues in their sins there is no divine power available to mortify these sins, therefore, these are destined for God’s wrath and the Lake of Fire! Wrath is coming upon those who arrogantly willfully refuse the only remedy for overcoming the power of sin—Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The children of disobedience do not run from their sins; they run headlong into the wrath of God blinded by their own evil idolatrous desires fueled by a greedy unrepentant heart. Yet, the believer needs to be mindful of Hebrews 12.

Synthesis: Yielding to sin brings God’s wrath. God may forgive sin, but He does not condone it.

· In the which ye also walked some time—This speaks metaphorically of the state in which we previously walked. Our course of life was such that we were unregenerate in our Adamic nature. "…walking herein denotes a continued series of sinning, a persisting in it, a progress therein, a proceeding from evil to evil, taking pleasure, and going on securely in it; and which is the case and state of God's elect before conversion" [J. Gill].

· when ye lived in them—The consideration that we have formerly lived in sin is a good argument why we should forsake it. The paths that we once walked led only to destruction and the wrath of God. "To live in sin is to live after the flesh, after the dictates of corrupt nature, to live a sinful course of life;" [J. Gill]. Let us take heed and not be conformed to our former lusts resulting from our ignorance.

Synthesis: Paul lists the sins that were representative of the Colossians before becoming Christians. Then he lists other sins that must be resisted and to stay clear of the false teaching of the Gnostics that the physical body had no influence upon the spiritual nature of the individual..

· But now ye also put off all these—"But now" is in contrast to our former state. The moral misconduct of the Colossians was part of their former disposition. This points to the fact that the Christian life must contrast with the former life. We are to "put off" the habits of the old life now! We are to put off the old man of lying; of spiritual encumbrances and sin; of filthiness and wickedness; of malice and of works of darkness. We are to walk away from these things; we are to put the activity of these things aside as well as those things that contribute to them. We are "to separate, remove, and put at a distance from them all sins, and every vice, to lay them aside as dead weights upon them, and put them off as filthy garments" [J. Gill].

· anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy—"Anger" is a deep resentful bitterness. It is an attitude settled in the heart. Provocations do not create anger, they merely reveal the state of the heart.

"Wrath" is an intense expression of the inner self, frequently expressed as strong indignation, a state of intense displeasure or rage (violent and uncontrolled anger). Wrath may issue in revenge; it is an emotion that quickly blazes up and quickly subsides. This continual type of behavior may indicate that the person is unsaved.

"Malice" is a mean spirited or vicious attitude or disposition. There is a desire to harm other people and often hides behind good actions.

"Blasphemy" is slander or speech that denigrates or defames the good name of another. It is the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame, belittle or damage another’s reputation and cause them to fall into disrepute or to receive a bad reputation. Blasphemy is against God, slander is against a person. However slander against men is blasphemy against God.

· filthy communication—This is to be foul mouthed or the use of obscene speech. Such language is not to proceed out of the mouth of a Christian!

· out of your mouth—The last three forbidden things have to do with unwholesome speech. Christians are to be kind and therefore, all slanderous and malicious talking is forbidden. We should well follow the prayer of the psalmist; "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips."

Synthesis: We are to lay-aside the characteristics of the old man as we would lay aside an old garment. We are to rid ourselves of anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy and filthy language which are the very characteristics of the old man.

· Lie not one to another—This means that we are not to tell a falsehood or attempt to deceive by lying. We are not to speak falsely or deceitfully. Our command is to STOP LYING! (This may imply that this was a practice of the Colossians). Since the Christian community is a "body" lying to one another is a disservice to the "body" as a whole.

· seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds—Paul here reminds the Colossians that since they have wholly put off the "old" man—the whole unregenerate man—(aorist tense—completed action in the past) there is a need for complete separation of things characteristic of the old man; a separation from the darkness and a living in the light of the change. The past act ("put off") is the foundation of a true spiritual life.

Synthesis: We are to stop lying to each other (imperative). Evidently, the Colossians were in the throes of lying to one another. Lying was included in the list of some very unsavory sins. It can thus be concluded that lying is just as terrible in the sight of God. After putting of the old man, why would they want to pick it up again by habitually conducting themselves in the same manner.

· And have put on the new [man]—At the moment of regeneration and conversion the old man (self) died (aorist middle—a once for all action) and the new man was born. We have been set free from the power of sin. This "putting" on is "the new nature, the new principle, or work of grace in the soul, elsewhere called a new creature; and it bears this name in opposition to, and distinction from the old man, or corruption of nature" [J. Gill].

· which is renewed in knowledge—this is a renewal through experiential sanctification. The more our knowledge of Christ increases the more we decrease. True knowledge is obedience to the Word whereby we mortify those deeds of the flesh previously listed. This is understood as growing in grace which is a progression towards spiritual maturity. Sanctification is a growth in goodness and Christ-likeness "for as the outward man decays, the inward man, which is the same with this new man, is renewed day by day, increases in holiness and righteousness, grows in grace" [J. Gill]. This process of renewal brings increased knowledge; where there is not an increase of knowledge there is no growth.

· after the image of him that created him—The restoration of the image of God in us, is gradual and progressive and as we grow in the knowledge of the Word of God, we are progressively transformed by the Spirit of God into the image of God through the renewing of our minds. Thus the goal of the believer is to grow to the image of the One that created him in the new birth. The old is put aside and the new is conformed to the image of the Son of God.

Synthesis: Here the Christian is encouraged to progress in sanctification which is a purifying process. As we grow in the knowledge of Christ we crucify the old man.

· Where there is neither Greek nor Jew—There are no human distinctions (race) in the new economy…there is no distinction between male and female. There is radical class distinction in the world but our earthy status (no racial barriers or cultural snobbery) does not give us advantage in the kingdom of Christ. Our position is determined by our position in the Head. We are not so much Gentile or Jew as we are Christian ("he is a Jew, which he may be outwardly, and not inwardly; and he may be born again" [J. Gill]).

· circumcision nor uncircumcision—The Greek and Jew, one circumcised and the other uncircumcised, were separated by seemingly insurmountable racial and religious barriers but are now brought together under one Head. "…neither one nor the other is of any account with God, nor makes the man either better or worse" [J. Gill].

· Barbarian, Scythian—"It matters not of what nation a man is, so be it he is but a good man; especially in Christianity, all distinctions of this kind cease" [J. Gill]. It matters not a man’s refinement or the history of their nation.

· bond [nor] free—"bond" refers to one that is a slave under the control of a master while "free" is one given to independent freedom of acting and movement. Again, these states are not the determining factor as to salvation which is available through Christ. "…the grace of God in regeneration is not bestowed upon a man because he is a free man, or withheld from another because he is a bond servant" [J. Gill].

· but Christ [is] all, and in all—The Christian church has no barriers of nationality, race, education level, social standing, wealth, gender, religion, or power. Christ breaks down every barrier and all that call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. He is all comprehensively and is blessed with all spiritual blessings for his people.

Synthesis: As far as God is concerned all distinctions are man-made and result from our fallen view of the world. Christ has abolished all such distinctions.

· Put on therefore—Here is given the idea of the new man as he puts on the new garment of salvation and all of the expectations, modifications and duties of the new creature in Christ. Accompanying the new standing is the full acceptance of the doctrines of Christ. We are "to become so possessed of the mind of Christ as in thought, feeling, and action to resemble Him and, as it were, reproduce the life he lived’ [Thayer].

· as the elect of God, holy and beloved—"as becomes the elect of God." This "carries in it a strong argument to enforce the performance of good works, since men are hereby chosen unto holiness, and good works are what God has foreordained that they should walk in, and especially to mercy, and acts of it" [J. Gill]. Because we are God’s chosen from all eternity, bought with a great price, the expatiation is that we should reciprocate with acts of kindness and grace (a change in characteristics which is sanctification [positional and experiential]).

· bowels of mercies—We are to have a heart of compassion or a tender sensitivity (sympathizing spirit) to others (a heart of pity).

· kindness—Kindness is the action that reveals compassion, action that arises out of a sense of sympathy. Doing good to one’s fellow man and especially the saints.

· humbleness of mind—We are not to consider ourselves superior to others. We are to do "works of mercy and righteousness without ostentation, and boasting of them, or depending on them" [J. Gill].

· meekness—"Gentleness" is a characteristic of having the old nature tamed by the grace of God and the blood of Christ. We are to submit quietly to the trials of the Christian life and understand them as the providence of God.

· longsuffering—"Patience" is our reaction not so much to our situation but the people we encounter. We are to bear the injustice and actions of others directed towards us. Patience is an attitude of restraint which endures another’s exasperating conduct.

Synthesis: God’s people should not be addicted to the sins previously mentioned. Instead, they should put on the things about to be mentioned. These are the garments of the new life.

· Forbearing one another—We are to make allowance for the faults of one another…we are to put up with each other. It should be noted that each of us are apt to annoy someone else. When one acts in a negative manner we are not to seek revenge.

· and forgiving one another—"Forgiving" (present tense) we are to forgive unceasingly. We are not to hold others accountable for their trespasses or offenses. We are to keep in mind those things we have been forgiven. We must endure grief and provocation, and refuse to retaliate. Lack of forgiveness results in malice of the heart.

· if any man have a quarrel against any—"If anyone has a complaint against you" it needs to be forgiven.

· even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye—We are to forgive because we have been forgiven. Christ is our motivation to forgive others regardless of their attitudes or actions.

Synthesis: The "garments" of the new life also include the ability to forgive one another. As we have experienced true forgiveness through the cross of Christ, we are now expected to forgive and not harbor grievances against fellow Christians.

· And above all these things—All of the things previously spoken of…treat the things of the past as put aside.

· [put on] charity—Believers will not bear with each other or forgive each other unless they love one another. Without love there is nothing; actions spawned outside of love for show, is mere hypocrisy. Love is the only "principle that true sympathy, real kindness, undisguised humility, and meekness, patient longsuffering, and forbearance, and hearty forgiveness proceeds" [J. Gill].

· which is the bond of perfectness—Love is the perfect garment that bonds all other Christian virtues together. The perfect unity of the Christian faith if brotherly love; love gives perfectness or completeness. The love produced by Christ constrains, restricts, and forces Christians to love and serve one another.

Synthesis: "Charity" or "Love" is the belt of the new garments. It is that which causes the machinery of Christianity to run smoothly and the motivating force of the believer.

· And let the peace of God rule in your hearts—The idea of "rule" here is that of guide or umpire. Let the calmness of Christ rule among us. The peace of God produced by the Spirit of God is to rule the church. We are to make the right decisions based on the divine purpose and this will ensure peace among the brethren as in unity we yield to the sovereign direction of God.

· to the which also ye are called in one body—Our effectual calling is a call to peace with God and with one Head, Christ. We are called to one body, and our relationship in that body must be one of harmony and peace.

· and be ye thankful—When there is peace in the heart, there will be praise on the lips. We need be thankful to God for now there is on enmity and we can be thankful that Christ has justified us and reestablished the broken relationship. The old has passed away, behold all things have become new. "Where love is in exercise, and where the peach of God rules, thankfulness is inevitably produced, and that out of a sense of entire indebtedness to God for what was wrought in Him in Christ to bring about that peace, and out of a sense of deep gratitude for it and its governing power" [Vines].

Synthesis: The peace of God will serve as a umpire to allow the virtues of the new man to abide within him. We are not to be controlled by our situations (Remember Paul’s present incarceration). Peace results in thankfulness which will become a way of life.

· Let the word of Christ dwell in you—Paul here attacks the false teachers at Colosse by saying the Christ is that which needs to be magnified in the believer. It was not the word of false teachers that won their salvation, but the word of truth of the Gospel. The Scriptures speak the truth about Christ who testifies of the Father. The truth "dwelled" in them and had a constant and fixed place in them which means that they had a constancy in the reading and a experiential knowledge of the Word.

· richly—The Word dwells richly in the believer when he applies its teaching consistently and constantly in all circumstances. Paul’s "meaning is, that not one part of the Scripture only should be regarded and attended to but the whole of it, every truth and doctrine in it, even the whole counsel of God" [J. Gill].

· in all wisdom—Spiritual wisdom is here spoken of in the things relating to salvation and a greater apprehension of Christ. That is true wisdom!

· teaching and admonishing one another—Teach and instruct yourselves in the truths concerning Christ and the doctrines of the Gospel. You need to "get so full of ‘the word of Christ’ in all forms of it, that you may over run with it. You know it cannot come out of you if it is not first in you. If you do not get ‘the word of Christ’ into you, you will not be instructive in your general conversation" [C.H. Spurgeon].

· in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs—Such psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are to be instructive and edifying to the saints. Our songs should teach, instruct and edify and therefore MUST be doctrinally correct (not mealy mouth, feel good, arm waving, experiences—a singer has no more right to sing a lie than a preacher has a right to preach a lie).

· singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord—Singing with GRACE in the heart or with a heart of thanksgiving and a grateful spirit. If the Word of God is not in the heart, one cannot sing with such grace and gratitude to God. The object here, as there, is "to the Lord"; the Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory, of his person and grace" [J. Gill].

Synthesis: It is "imperative’ that the believer allow the Word of Christ indwell them. The Gospel message (not the Gnostic message) is true wisdom and must be central our teaching, hymns and hearts.

· And whatsoever ye do in word or deed—"Whether in preaching the word of Christ, in hearing the Gospel, in singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and in conference and conversation with each other; or in whatsoever action, civil or religious throughout the whole life and conversation, in the performance of things natural, moral, and evangelical, relating to God or man, or one another, in the world or church:" [J. Gill]. There is a sense that whatever we do as Christians is to be done in the name of Jesus.

· [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus—We are constantly under the authority and approval of Christ and we must act in accordance with the mind of Christ in the performance of our duties. There must be a marriage between the believer’s position and the believer’s practice all of which is clothed in Christ.

· giving thanks to God and the Father by him—We are to give thanks unto the Lord for all things. There is no "other way of bringing and offering the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to God" [J. Gill], except through Jesus Christ. There was much the Colossians were to be thankful for and none could be contributed to false teachers.

Synthesis: This is a summary of the fundamental principle of Christian ethics in that we are to so conduct ourselves as to not to bring reproach on Christ. Our lifestyle is based on gratitude to God rather than on a prescribed set of duties. We do because we are grateful.

· Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands—This indicates that the man has the responsibility of headship and leadership in the home. The Gospel leaves no stone unturned and provides instruction for orderly leadership within the family unit thereby ensuring a unity within the family as there is unity within the church. This is not a Scripture verse that is chauvinist but is a governing authority established by God. The man is not better in quality but higher in position; the woman is to follow the husbands leadership as long as it does not compromise her loyalty to Christ. The Greek verb tenses in this verse conveys the idea of the wife putting herself under her husband not by compulsion, but willingly. Note: It is difficult to see how Christianity can have any positive effect on society if it cannot transform its own homes.

· as it is fit in the Lord—This is "fitting" because it is one’s duty according to the divine plan and is obligatory or a necessary duty. This obligation on the part of the wife is fitting in the Lord in the sense that she is as to her position in salvation, in Christ, and a person in such a position has the moral obligation to obey the Scriptures when they command the wife to be in subjection to her husband. Scripture here says to the wife, "Be willing to place yourself in a position under your husband who is the authority of the family." The wife makes a choice to place herself as an equal underneath another equal, in order that there can be order and function in the family. The purpose of which meets the order that God has established.

The following Scriptures give an indication of why one is be submissive:

So the meaning of submission in not an inferior to a superior. It is of two equals. One chooses for the sake of the divine scheme to do what God says to do. The motivation to be submissive is to serve the Lord and we are to model our submissiveness after His.

Synthesis: The supremacy of Christ requires voluntary submission to spiritual leaders.

· Husbands, love [your] wives—This is a covenant type of love. It is the type of love that is imperative on the husband to love his wife with the same kind of love he had for her at the beginning of the marriage; it must not give way to bitterness and is based on self-sacrifice. A wife’s submission to her husband operates in the context of love.

· and be not bitter against them—The husbands love for his wife is not to turn to a settled hostility that poisons the relationship. Bitterness leads to wrath, which Paul has previously admonished the Colossians not to harbor, which is an outward explosion of the inward feelings. He that is married cares for the things that may please his wife (1 Cor. 7:33-34). John Calvin writes that God "requires love on the part of husbands, and that they be not bitter, because there is a danger lest they should abuse their authority in the way of tyranny." The husband is not to be overbearing and abuse his authority, but to show his love of God in every respect to his wife.

Synthesis: Husbands are obligated to love their wives with a consistent and godly love.

· Children, obey [your] parents—Note the order of the Word. The relationship between parents and children cannot be right unless the relationship between husband and wife is right. "…children should be subject and obedient in all things lawful, just, and good; in everything that is not sinful and unlawful, by the word of God" [J. Gill].

· in all things—To all things that are not contrary to the laws of God. Nevertheless, children are to be obedient in things that are difficult and that would separate them for the world and follow the leadership and authority of godly parents.

· for this is well pleasing unto the Lord—"…whatever is grateful and well pleasing to God ought to be done with pleasure by us" [J. Gill].

Synthesis: Christian children are expected to obey their parents in everything in the Lord.

· Fathers, provoke not your children [to anger]—"Neither by words; by unjust and, unreasonable commands; by contumelious and reproachful language; by frequent and public chidings, and by indiscreet and passionate expressions: nor by deeds; preferring one to another; by denying them the necessaries of life; by not allowing them proper recreation; by severe and cruel blows, and inhuman usage; by not giving them suitable education" [J. Gill]. A father is not to provoke their children to the point that they become resentful. We should let the word of God dwell richly in us that me by teach and admonish in a manner worthy of being Christian.

· lest they be discouraged—Unhealthy provocation will dishearten and discourage a child causing them to lose motivation and be broken in spirit. The duty of a parent includes discipline but it also demands encouragement. "Spare the rod and spoil the child. It is true. But beside the rod keep the apple to give him when he does well’ [M. Luther].

Synthesis: Father’s are not to become to severe with their children but rather treat them with respect and godly love.

· Servants, obey in all things [your] masters—The relationship of slave to master is the same as a child to a parent where there is a constant obedience expected. Yet, in spiritual matters the master and the slave were co-equals (brothers in the family of God).

· according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart—This refers to working only when the master was watching and seeking to please only when under his direct observation. But the servant is to sever out of the sincerity of the heart and not seek to take advantage over his master. fearing God—Out of a reverential respect for God the servant is to conduct himself "with all diligence, uprightness, faithfulness, and sincerity, do his duty, seek his master's good and interest, and cheerfully obey all his lawful commands" [J. Gill] be the master watching or not. Note; For the Christian we are always under the watchful eye of God.

Synthesis: Servants are to be faithful to their masters at all times.

· And whatsoever ye do—All Christian behavior ought to be characterized by an enthusiasm, confidence, and diligence not found in the attitude of the unsaved. Likewise, the servant is to conduct himself in a manner becoming to his master’s expectations.

· do [it] heartily—Not with mere eye service but the work of the servant is to be done with the attitude that it is being done unto the Lord Himself.

· as to the Lord, and not unto men—The servant is to conduct himself primarily because it is thus pleasing unto the Lord and not for the accolades on man.

Synthesis: The servants attitude is as important as their faithful service. Whether servants or masters, when one looks upon the Lord, their total mental outlook changes.

· Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance—The servant will receive from the Lord the things promised by Him. The real and ultimate reward does not come from an earthy master (a temporal reward at best) but rather the heavenly MASTER! (eternal reward).

· for ye serve the Lord Christ—Our Master stands good on His promises and as servants we are fellow heirs.

Synthesis: Reward is the expectation of faithful service and faithful service is always unto the Lord.

· But he that doeth wrong—Servants that serve earthy masters as well as servants of the heavenly MASTER are required to perform to expectations of the master to receive their due reward and not to neglect their assigned duties. All else is wrong!

· shall receive for the wrong which he hath done—Poor performance will be reward in this world as well as in the next.

· and there is no respect of persons—There shall be no respect given based on status (master or servant) but rather on performance.

Synthesis: Failure to fulfill responsibilities in our vocations is wrong and unrighteous. One who sows righteous acts shall reap righteous acts.


[1] Verse by Verse Commentary was supplemented from John Gill, Exposition of the New Testament, Vol. III,  Colossians, The Baptist Standard Bearer, ed., 1989.

[2] “Synthesis” material was extracted from Bernard Rosier, The Complete Biblical Library, Galatians through Philemon, World Library Press, Inc., Springfield, Missouri, 1991.