Exhortations to Heavenly Aims, as Opposed to
Earthly, on the Ground of Union to the Risen Saviour; to Mortify and
Put Off the Old Man, and to Put on the New; in Charity, Humility,
Words of Edification, Thankfulness; Relative
1. If … then—The connection with
2:18, 23, is, he had
condemned the "fleshly mind" and the "satiating to the full the flesh";
in contrast to this he now says, "If then ye have been once for all
raised up (Greek, aorist tense) together with Christ" (namely,
at your conversion and baptism, Ro 6:4).
seek those things … above—(Mt 6:33;
sitteth—rather, as Greek,
"Where Christ is, sitting on the right of God" (Eph 1:20). The Head being quickened, the members
are also quickened with Him. Where the Head is, there the members must
be. The contrast is between the believer's former state, alive to the
world but dead to God, and his present state, dead to the world but
alive to God; and between the earthly abode of the unbeliever and the
heavenly abode of the believer (1Co 15:47, 48). We are already seated there in
Him as our Head; and hereafter shall be seated by Him, as the
Bestower of our bliss. As Elisha (2Ki 2:2) said to Elijah when about to ascend,
"As the Lord liveth … I will not leave thee"; so we must follow
the ascended Saviour with the wings of our meditations and the chariots
of our affections. We should trample upon and subdue our lusts that our
conversation may correspond to our Saviour's condition; that where the
eyes of apostles were forced to leave Him, thither our thoughts may
follow Him (Mt 6:21; Joh 12:32) [Pearson]. Of ourselves we can no more ascend than a
bar of iron lift itself up' from the earth. But the love of Christ is a
powerful magnet to draw us up (Eph 2:5, 6). The design of the Gospel is not merely
to give rules, but mainly to supply motives to holiness.
2. Translate, "Set your mind on the
things above, not on the things," &c. (Col 2:20). Contrast "who mind earthly
things" (Php 3:19).
Whatever we make an idol of, will either be a cross to us if we be
believers, or a curse to us if unbelievers.
3. The Greek aorist tense implies, "For
ye have died once for all" (Col 2:12; Ro 6:4-7). It is not said, Ye must die
practically to the world in order to become dead with Christ; but the
latter is assumed as once for all having taken place in the
regeneration; what believers are told is, Develop this spiritual life
in practice. "No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal
life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal
and your life … hid—(Ps 83:3); like a seed buried in the earth;
compare "planted," Ro 6:5.
Compare Mt 13:31, 33, "like … leaven …
hid." As the glory of Christ now is hid from the world, so also
the glory of believers' inner life, proceeding from communion with Him,
is still hidden with Christ in God; but (Col 3:4) when Christ, the Source of this life,
shall manifest Himself in glory, then shall their hidden glory be
manifest, and correspond in appearance to its original [Neander]. The Christian's secret communion with God
will now at times make itself seen without his intending it (Mt 5:14,
16); but his full
manifestation is at Christ's manifestation (Mt 13:43; Ro
8:19-23). "It doth not yet
appear (Greek, 'is not yet manifested') what we shall be"
3:2; 1Pe 1:7). As yet
Christians do not always recognize the "life" of one another, so
hidden is it, and even at times doubt as to their own life, so
weak is it, and so harassed with temptations (Ps 51:1-19;
in God—to whom Christ has ascended.
Our "life" is "laid up for" us in God (Col 1:5), and is secured by the decree of Him
who is invisible to the world (2Ti 4:8).
4. Translate, "When Christ shall be
manifested who is our life (Joh 11:25; 14:6, 19), then shall ye also with Him be
manifested in glory" (1Pe 4:13).
The spiritual life our souls have now in Him shall be extended
to our bodies (Ro 8:11).
then—and not till then. Those err who
think to find a perfect Church before then. The true Church is now
militant. Rome errs in trying to set up a Church now regnant and
triumphant. The true Church shall be visible as a perfect and reigning
Church, when Christ shall be visibly manifested as her reigning Head.
Rome having ceased to look for Him in patient faith, has set up a
visible mockhead, a false anticipation of the millennial kingdom. The
Papacy took to itself by robbery that glory which is an object of hope,
and can only be reached by bearing the cross now. When the Church
became a harlot, she ceased to be a bride who goes to meet her
Bridegroom. Hence the millennial kingdom ceased to be looked for [Auberlen].
5. Mortify—Greek, "make a corpse
of"; "make dead"; "put to death."
therefore—(See on Col 3:3). Follow out to its necessary consequence the
fact of your having once for all died with Christ spiritually at
your regeneration, by daily "deadening your members," of which united
"the body of the sins of the flesh" consists (compare Col 2:11). "The members" to be mortified are the
fleshly instruments of lust, in so far as the members of the body are
abused to such purposes. Habitually repress and do violence to corrupt
desires of which the members are the instruments (compare Ro 6:19;
8:13; Ga 5:24, 25).
upon the earth—where they find their
support [Bengel] (Compare Col 3:2, "things on earth"). See Eph 5:3, 4.
evil concupiscence—more general than
the last [Alford], the disorder of the
external senses; "lustful passion," lust within [Bengel].
covetousness—marked off by the
Greek article as forming a whole genus by itself, distinct from
the genus containing the various species just enumerated. It implies a
self-idolizing, grasping spirit; far worse than another Greek
term translated "the love of money" (1Ti 6:10).
which is—that is, inasmuch as it is
"idolatry." Compare Note, see on Eph
4:19, on its connection with sins of impurity. Self and
mammon are deified in the heart instead of God (Mt 6:24; see on Eph
6. (See on Eph 5:6.)
walked … when ye lived in
them—These sins were the very element in which ye
"lived" (before ye became once for all dead with Christ to
them); no wonder, then, that ye "walked" in them. Compare on the
opposite side, "living in the Spirit," having as its legitimate
consequence, "walking in the Spirit" (Ga 5:25). The "living" comes first in both
cases, the walking follows.
8. But now—that ye are no longer
living in them.
ye also—like other believers;
answering to "ye also" (Col 3:7) like
other unbelievers formerly.
put off—"Do ye also put away all
these," namely, those just enumerated, and those which follow [Alford].
anger, wrath—(See on Eph 4:31).
"evil-speaking," as it is translated in Eph 4:31.
filthy communication—The context
favors the translation, "abusive language," rather than impure
conversation. "Foul language" best retains the ambiguity of the
9. (Eph 4:25.)
put off—Greek, "wholly
put off"; utterly renounced [Tittmann].
the old man—the unregenerate nature
which ye had before conversion.
his deeds—habits of acting.
10. the new man—(See on Eph 4:23). Here (neon) the Greek, means
"the recently-put-on nature"; that lately received at
regeneration (see on Eph 4:23, 24).
which is renewed—Greek, "which
is being renewed" (anakainottmenou); namely, its development
into a perfectly renewed nature is continually progressing to
in knowledge—rather as the
Greek, "unto perfect knowledge" (see on Col
1:6; Col 1:9, 10). Perfect knowledge of God
excludes all sin (Joh 17:3).
after the image of him that created
him—namely, of God that created the new man (Eph 2:10;
4:24). The new creation is
analogous to the first creation (2Co 4:6). As man was then made in the image of
God naturally, so now spiritually. But the image of God formed in us by
the Spirit of God, is as much more glorious than that borne by Adam, as
the Second Man, the Lord from heaven, is more glorious than the first
1:26, "Let us make man in our
image, after our likeness." The "image" is claimed for
11:7; the "likeness," Jas 3:9. Origen [On First Principles, 3:6] taught, the
image was something in which all were created, and which
continued to man after the fall (Ge 9:6). The likeness was something
towards which man was created, that he might strive after it and
attain it. Trench thinks God in the
double statement (Ge 1:26),
contemplates both man's first creation and his being "renewed in
knowledge after the image of Him that created Him."
11. Where—Translate, "Wherein," namely,
in the sphere of the renewed man.
neither … nor … nor …
nor—Translate as Greek, "There is no such thing
as Greek and Jew (the difference of privilege between those
born of the natural seed of Abraham and those not, is abolished),
circumcision and uncircumcision (the difference of legal
standing between the circumcised and uncircumcised is done away, Ga 6:15)—bondman, freeman." The
present Church is one called out of the flesh, and the present
world-course (Eph 2:2),
wherein such distinctions exist, to life in the Spirit, and to the
future first resurrection: and this because Satan has such power now
over the flesh and the world. At Christ's coming when Satan shall no
longer rule the flesh and the world, the nations in the flesh, and the
word in millennial felicity, shall be the willing subjects of Christ
and His glorified saints (Da 7:14, 22, 27; Lu
19:17, 19; Re 20:1-6; 3:21).
Israel in Canaan was a type of that future state when the Jews, so
miraculously preserved distinct now in their dispersion, shall be the
central Church of the Christianized world. As expressly as Scripture
abolishes the distinction of Jew and Greek now as to religious
privileges, so does it expressly foretell that in the coming new order
of things, Israel shall be first of the Christian nations, not for her
own selfish aggrandizement, but for their good, as the medium of
blessing to them. Finally, after the millennium, the life that is in
Christ becomes the power which transfigures nature, in the time
of the new heaven and the new earth; as, before, it first transfigured
the spiritual, then the political and social world.
Scythian—heretofore regarded as more
barbarian than the barbarians. Though the relation of bond and free
actually existed, yet in relation to Christ, all alike were free in one
aspect, and servants of Christ in another (1Co 7:22; Ga
Christ is all—Christ absorbs in
Himself all distinctions, being to all alike, everything that they need
for justification, sanctification, and glorification (1Co
1:30; 3:21-23; Ga 2:20).
in all—who believe and are renewed,
without distinction of person; the sole distinction now is, how much
each draws from Christ. The unity of the divine life shared in by all
believers, counterbalances all differences, even as great as that
between the polished "Greek" and the rude "Scythian."
Christianity imparts to the most uncivilized the only spring of sound,
social and moral culture.
12. the elect of God—There is no "the"
in the Greek, "God's elect" (compare Ro 8:3; 1Th
1:4). The order of the words
"elect, holy, beloved," answers to the order of the things.
Election from eternity precedes sanctification in time;
the sanctified, feeling God's love, imitate it [Bengel].
bowels of mercies—Some of the oldest
manuscripts read singular, "mercy." Bowels express the yearning
compassion, which has its seat in the heart, and which we feel to act
on our inward parts (Ge 43:30; Jer 31:20; Lu 1:78, Margin).
humbleness of mind—True "lowliness of
mind"; not the mock "humility" of the false teachers (Col 2:23;
Eph 4:2, 32).
13. Forbearing—as to present
forgiving—as to past offenses.
quarrel—rather as Greek, "cause
of blame," "cause of complaint."
Christ—who had so infinitely greater
cause of complaint against us. The oldest manuscripts and
Vulgate read "the Lord." English Version is supported by
one very old manuscript and old versions. It seems to have crept in
14. above—rather "over," as in Eph 6:16. Charity, which is the crowning
grace, covering the multitude of others' sins (1Pe 4:8), must overlie all the other
which is—that is, "for it is";
literally, "which thing is."
bond of perfectness—an upper garment
which completes and keeps together the rest, which, without it,
would be loose and disconnected. Seeming graces, where love is wanting,
are mere hypocrisy. Justification by faith is assumed as already having
taken place in those whom Paul addresses, Col 3:12, "elect of God, holy … beloved,"
2:12; so that there is no
plea here for Rome's view of justification by works. Love and its works
"perfect," that is, manifest the full maturity of faith
developed (Mt 5:44, 48). Love … be ye perfect,
&c. (Jas 2:21, 22; 1Jo 2:5). "If we love one another, God's love is
perfected in us" (Ro 13:8; 1Co 13:1-13; 1Ti
1:5; 1Jo 4:12). As to "bond,"
2:2, "knit together in
4:3), "keep the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace."
15. peace of God—The oldest manuscripts
and versions read, "The peace of Christ"
4:7). "The peace of God." Therefore Christ is God. Peace was His
legacy to His disciples before He left them (Joh 14:27), "My
peace I give unto you." Peace is peculiarly His to give. Peace follows
love (Col 3:14; Eph 4:2, 3).
rule—literally, "sit as umpire"; the
same Greek verb simple, as appears compounded (Col 2:18). The false teacher, as a
self-constituted umpire, defrauds you of your prize; but if the
peace of Christ be your umpire ruling in your hearts, your reward is
sure. "Let the peace of Christ act as umpire when anger, envy, and such
passions arise; and restrain them." Let not those passions give the
award, so that you should be swayed by them, but let Christ's peace be
the decider of everything.
in your hearts—Many wear a peaceful
countenance and speak peace with the mouth, while war is in their
hearts (Ps 28:3; 55:21).
to the which—that is, with a view to
which state of Christian peace (Isa 26:3); 1Co 7:15, "God hath called us to peace."
ye are called—Greek, "ye were
also called." The "also" implies that besides Paul's exhortation, they
have also as a motive to "peace," their having been once for all
in one body—(Eph 4:4). The unity of the body is a strong
argument for "peace" among the members.
be ye thankful—for your "calling." Not
to have "peace ruling in your hearts" would be inconsistent with the
"calling in one body," and would be practical unthankfulness to God who
called us (Eph 5:4, 19, 20).
16. The form which "thankfulness" (Col 3:15) ought to take.
Let the word of Christ—the Gospel
word by which ye have been called.
richly—(Col 2:2; Ro 15:14).
in all wisdom—Alford joins this clause with "teaching," &c.,
not with "dwell in you," as English Version, for so we find in
1:28, "teaching in all
wisdom," and the two clauses will thus correspond, "In all wisdom
teaching," and "in grace singing in your hears" (so the Greek
and … and—The oldest manuscripts
read "psalms, hymns, spiritual songs" (see on Eph
5:19). At the Agapæ or love-feasts, and in their family
circles, they were to be so full of the Word of Christ in the
heart that the mouth should give it utterance in hymns of
instruction, admonition, and praise (compare De 6:7). Tertullian [Apology, 39], records that at the
love-feasts, after the water had been furnished for the hands and the
lights had been literally, according as any had the power, whether by
his remembrance of Scripture, or by his powers of composition, he used
to be invited to sing praises to God for the common good. Paul
contrasts (as in Eph 5:18, 19) the songs of Christians at their social
meetings, with the bacchanalian and licentious songs of heathen feasts.
Singing usually formed part of the entertainment at Greek banquets
(compare Jas 5:13).
with grace—Greek, "IN grace," the element in which your singing is to
be: "the grace" of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This clause
expresses the seat and source of true psalmody, whether in private or
public, namely, the heart as well as the voice; singing (compare
3:15, "peace … rule
in your hearts"), the psalm of love and praise being in the
heart before it finds vent by the lips, and even when it is not
actually expressed by the voice, as in closet-worship. The Greek
order forbids English Version, "with grace in your hearts";
rather, "singing in your hearts."
to the Lord—The oldest manuscripts
read, "to God."
17. Literally, "And everything whatsoever ye
do … do all," &c.; this includes words as well as
in the name of the Lord Jesus—as
disciples called by His name as His, seeking His guidance and help,
and desiring to act so as to gain His approval (Ro 14:8; 1Co 10:31; 2Co 5:15; 1Pe 4:11). Compare "in the Lord," Col 3:18, and "Christ is all," Col 3:11.
God and the Father—The oldest
manuscripts omit "and," which seems to have crept in from Eph 5:20.
by him—Greek, "through
Him" as the channel of His grace to us, and of our thanksgiving to Him
18. unto your own husbands—The oldest
manuscripts omit "own," which crept in from Eph 5:22.
as it is fit in the Lord—Greek,
"was fit," implying that there was at Colosse some degree of
failure in fulfilling this duty, "as it was your duty to have done as
disciples of the Lord."
19. (Eph 5:22-33.)
be not bitter—ill-tempered and
provoking. Many who are polite abroad, are rude and bitter at home
because they are not afraid to be so there.
20. (Eph 6:1.)
unto the Lord—The oldest manuscripts
read, "IN the Lord," that is, this is
acceptable to God when it is done in the Lord, namely, from the
principle of faith, and as disciples in union with the Lord.
21. (Eph 6:4.) It is a different Greek verb,
therefore translate here, "irritate not." By perpetual
fault-finding "children" are "discouraged" or "disheartened." A
broken-down spirit is fatal to youth [Bengel].
22. (Eph 6:5, 6.) This is to fear God, when, though none
sees us, we do no evil: but if we do evil, it is not God, but
men, whom we fear.
fearing God—The oldest manuscripts
read, "the Lord."
23. And—omitted in the oldest
manuscripts (compare Eph 6:7, 8).
Compare the same principle in the case of all men, Hezekiah (2Ch
31:21; Ro 12:11).
do, do it—two distinct Greek
verbs, "Whatsoever ye do, work at it" (or "labor at"
heartily—not from servile constraint,
but with hearty good will.
24. the reward of the
inheritance—"Knowing that it is from the Lord (the ultimate
source of reward), ye shall receive the compensation (or recompense,
which will make ample amends for your having no earthly possession as
slaves now) consisting of the inheritance" (a term excluding the notion
of meriting it by works: it is all of grace, Ro 4:14; Ga
for ye serve—The oldest manuscripts
omit "for," then translate as Vulgate, "Serve ye the Lord
Christ;" compare Col 3:23, "To
the Lord and not unto men" (1Co 7:22, 23).
25. But—The oldest manuscripts read,
"for," which accords with "serve ye," &c. (Col 3:24), the oldest reading: the for
here gives a motive for obeying the precept. He addresses the slaves:
Serve ye the Lord Christ, and leave your wrongs in His hands to put to
rights: (translate), "For he that doeth wrong shall receive back the
wrong which he hath done (by just retribution in kind), and there
is no respect of persons" with the Great Judge in the day of the Lord.
He favors the master no more than the slave (Re 6:15).