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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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16. Let the word of Christ dwell. He would have the doctrine of the gospel be familiarly known by them. Hence we may infer by what spirit those are actuated in the present day, who cruelly 449449     “Si estroitement et auec si grande cruaute;” — “So strictly and with such great cruelty.” interdict the Christian people from making use of it, and furiously vociferate, that no pestilence is more to be dreaded, than that the reading of the Scriptures should be thrown open to the common people. For, unquestionably, Paul here addresses men and women of all ranks; nor would he simply have them take a slight taste merely of the word of Christ, but exhorts that it should dwell in them; that is, that it should have a settled abode, and that largely, that they may make it their aim to advance and increase more and more every day. As, however, the desire of learning is extravagant on the part of many, while they pervert the word of the Lord for their own ambition, or for vain curiosity, or in some way corrupt it, he on this account adds, in all wisdom — that, being instructed by it, we may be wise as we ought to be.

Farther, he gives a short definition of this wisdom — that the Colossians teach one another Teaching is taken here to mean profitable instruction, which tends to edification, as in Romans 12:7He that teacheth, on teaching; also in Timothy — “All Scripture is profitable for teaching.” (2 Timothy 3:16.) This is the true use of Christ’s word. As, however, doctrine is sometimes in itself cold, and, as one says, 450450     “Comme a dit anciennement vn poëte Latin; — “As a Latin poet has anciently said.” when it is simply shewn what is right, virtue is praised 451451     “Probitas laudatur et alget;” — “Virtue is praised and starves,” — that is, is slighted. See Juv. 1:74. — Ed. and left to starve, 452452     “Il se trouue assez de gens qui louënt vertu, mais cependant elle se morfond: c’est a dire, il n’y en a gueres qui se mettent a l’ensuyure;” — “There are persons enough who praise virtue, but in the mean time it starves; that is to say, there are scarcely any of them that set themselves to pursue it.” he adds at the same time admonition, which is, as it were, a confirmation of doctrine and incitement to it. Nor does he mean that the word of Christ ought to be of benefit merely to individuals, that they may teach themselves, but he requires mutual teaching and admonition.

Psalms, hymns. He does not restrict the word of Christ to these particular departments, but rather intimates that all our communications should be adapted to edification, that even those which tend to hilarity may have no empty savor. “Leave to unbelievers that foolish delight which they take from ludicrous and frivolous jests and witticisms; 453453     “Plaisanteries pleines de vanite et niaiserie;” — “Pleasantries full of vanity and silliness.” and let your communications, not merely those that are grave, but those also that are joyful and exhilarating, contain something profitable. In place of their obscene, or at least barely modest and decent, songs, it becomes you to make use of hymns and songs that sound forth God’s praise.” Farther, under these three terms he includes all kinds of songs. They are commonly distinguished in this way — that a psalm is that, in the singing of which some musical instrument besides the tongue is made use of: a hymn is properly a song of praise, whether it be sung simply with the voice or otherwise; while an ode contains not merely praises, but exhortations and other matters. He would have the songs of Christians, however, to be spiritual, not made up of frivolities and worthless trifles. For this has a connection with his argument.

The clause, in grace, Chrysostom explains in different ways. I, however, take it simply, as also afterwards, in Colossians 4:6, where he says, “Let your speech be seasoned with salt, in grace,” that is, by way of a dexterity that may be agreeable, and may please the hearers by its profitableness, so that it may be opposed to buffoonery and similar trifles.

Singing in your hearts. This relates to disposition; for as we ought to stir up others, so we ought also to sing from the heart, that there may not be merely an external sound with the mouth. At the same time, we must not understand it as though he would have every one sing inwardly to himself, but he would have both conjoined, provided the heart goes before the tongue.




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