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3. Rules for Holy Living

1If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. 3For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. 5Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: 7wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things; 8but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: 9lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, 10and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all. 12Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; 13forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: 14and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. 17And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 20Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord. 21Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged. 22Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: 23whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; 24knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. 25For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

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14. On account of all these things. The rendering that has been given by others, “super omnia haec,” (above all these things,) instead of insuper, (over and above,) is, in my opinion, meagre. It would be more suitable to render it, Before all these things. I have chosen, however, the more ordinary signification of the word ἐπί. For as all the things that he has hitherto enumerated flow from love, he now on good grounds exhorts the Colossians to cherish love among themselves, for the sake of these things — that they may be merciful, gentle, ready to forgive, as though he had said, that they would be such only in the event of their having love. For where love is wanting, all these things are sought for in vain. That he may commend it the more, he calls it the bond of perfection, meaning by this, that the troop of all the virtues 444444     Virtutum omnium chorum. See Cic. 50:3, Offic. c. ult. — Ed. is comprehended under it. For this truly is the rule of our whole life, and of all our actions, so that everything that is not regulated according to it is faulty, whatever attractiveness it may otherwise possess. This is the reason why it is called here the bond of perfection; because there is nothing in our life that is well regulated if it be not directed towards it, but everything that we attempt is mere waste.

The Papists, however, act a ridiculous part in abusing this declaration, with the view of maintaining justification by works. “Love,” say they, “is the bond of perfection: now perfection is righteousness; therefore we are justified by love.” The answer is twofold; for Paul here is not reasoning as to the manner in which men are made perfect in the sight of God, but as to the manner in which they may live perfectly among themselves. For the genuine exposition of the passage is this — that other things will be in a desirable state as to our life, if love be exercised among us. When, however, we grant that love is righteousness, they groundlessly and childishly take occasion from this to maintain, that we are justified by love, for where will perfect love be found? We, however, do not say that men are justified by faith alone, on the ground that the observance of the law is not righteousness, but rather on this ground, that as we are all transgressors of the law, we are, in consequence of our being destitute of any righteousness of our own, constrained to borrow righteousness from Christ. There remains nothing, therefore, but the righteousness of faith, because perfect love is nowhere to be found.




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