Colossians 3:12 MEANING

Colossians 3:12
(12) Elect of God.--For the description of the election here signified see Ephesians 1:4-6. The name is obviously applied to the whole Church, as "elect to privilege "; it is not opposed to "called" (as in Matthew 20:16), but coincident with it, representing, indeed, the secret act of God's gracious will, which is openly manifested in calling. (Comp. the other instances of the word in the Epistles, Romans 8:33; Romans 16:13; 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; Revelation 17:14.)

Holy and beloved.--Of such election there are here two signs. The elect are "holy," consecrated to God in thought and life; and "beloved," accepted and sustained in their consecration by His love. Both epithets belong to them as conformed to the image of Christ (Rev. 8:29); for He is "the Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34), who "sanctifies Himself for us, that we also may be sanctified in truth" (John 17:19); and He is also the "Beloved," the "Son of God's love" (Colossians 1:13; Matthew 3:17; Ephesians 1:16), and we are accepted in Him. The two epithets here seem intended to prepare for the two-fold exhortation following. They are "beloved," therefore they should love one another (Colossians 3:12-15); they are holy, therefore they should thank God and live to His glory (Colossians 3:16-17).

(12, 13) Comp. Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:31; Ephesians 5:1-2. The word "tenderhearted" in those passages corresponds to the "bowels (or, heart) of mercies" here;" kindness" and "forgiveness," "humility," "gentleness," "forbearance," appear in both. But the enumeration here is more exact in order of idea. St. Paul starts with the natural and universal instinct of compassion or sympathy; he next dwells on "kindliness and lowliness of mind," which are closely akin, since readiness to oblige others grows naturally out of a self-neglectful humility; from these he passes to "gentleness and long-suffering "in case of injury, ready" to forbear and to forgive; lastly, from these particulars he rises to the general spirit of "love," ruling under "the peace of God."

Verse 12. - Put on, therefore, as elect of God, holy, [and] beloved (vers. 9,14; Ephesians 4:24; Ephesians 1:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 1:1; Romans 8:28-39; 1 Peter 1:1, 2; 1 John 3:1). The terms "elect," "holy" (same as "saints," Colossians 1:2; see note), "beloved," apply alike and separately to those addressed. Bengel, Meyer, Alford, Ellicott prefer to read "holy and beloved elect (ones);" but "holy" and "beloved" are used frequently by St. Paul as distinct substantive expressions, and indicate conditions ensuing on, rather than determining, election. 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 (1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 1:4, 5; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 8:28-30; 1 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 (Colossians 1:22, 23; Romans 9:30-33; Romans 11:5-10, 17-24). "Elect" and "called," with St. Paul, are coextensive terms: comp. Romans 1:7 (R.V.) with this passage, also 1 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 (Colossians 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 (Colossians 1:21, 22), as it was the purpose of God's eternal election of believers (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 2:9). "And" is marked as doubtful by Lightfoot, Westcott and Heft; "it is impossible not to feel how much the sentence gains in form by its omission" (Lightfoot). "Beloved" (ἠγαπημένοι) 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 (1 Thessalonians 1:4). This love dictated their election and set at work the means by which it should be secured (Ephesians 1:3-14; Ephesians 2:4; Romans 8:28-30, 39; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 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, etc.), 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 (Romans 8:39; 1 John 4:16), must in turn beget a loving heart in them (1 John 4:11). A heart of pity, kindness, lowliness of mind, meekness, long suffering (Ephesians 4:1, 2, 32-5:2; Philippians 2:1-4; Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Titus 3:2; 1 Peter 3:8, 9; Matthew 5:5, 7; Matthew 11:29; Luke 6:35, 36). "The σπλάγχνα are properly the nobler viscera" rather than the bowels. The use of this figure, found three times in Philemon, is Hebraistic (comp. Luke 1:78; 2 Corinthians 6:12; Philemon 1:7, 12, 20; James 5:11; 1 John 3:17), though similar expressions occur in Greek poets. "Pity" (or, "compassion") is an attribute of God in Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:3: comp. Luke 6:36 ("pitiful") (On kindness, or kindliness, see Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 6:6 - in each case following "long suffering;" Romans 11:22, where it is opposed to "severity" in God (comp. 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; Matthew 12:35, etc.); but "goodness" looks chiefly to benefit intended or conferred, "kindness" to the spirit and manner of bestowal (see Trench's 'Synonym'). The objects of "pity" are the suffering and miserable; of "kindness," the needy and dependent. The "lowliness of mind" of Colossians 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; 1 Peter 5:5; Luke 14:11; Luke 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 (1 Corinthians 13:5), is a delicate consideration for the rights and feelings of others, especially necessary in administering rebuke or discipline (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Titus 3:2), and conspicuous in Christ (Matthew 11:29; Matthew 21:5; 2 Corinthians 10:1). St. Peter marks it as a womanly virtue (1 Peter 3:4). "Long suffering" is called forth by the conduct of "the evil and unthankful" (see Colossians 1:11, and note). St. Paul claims this quality for himself (2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Timothy 3:10). Throughout Scripture it is ascribed to God (Exodus 34:6; Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Peter 3:9, 15, etc.).

3:12-17 We must not only do no hurt to any, but do what good we can to all. Those who are the elect of God, holy and beloved, ought to be lowly and compassionate towards all. While in this world, where there is so much corruption in our hearts, quarrels will sometimes arise. But it is our duty to forgive one another, imitating the forgiveness through which we are saved. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts; it is of his working in all who are his. Thanksgiving to God, helps to make us agreeable to all men. The gospel is the word of Christ. Many have the word, but it dwells in them poorly; it has no power over them. The soul prospers, when we are full of the Scriptures and of the grace of Christ. But when we sing psalms, we must be affected with what we sing. Whatever we are employed about, let us do every thing in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in believing dependence on him. Those who do all in Christ's name, will never want matter of thanksgiving to God, even the Father.Put on therefore,.... As the apostle had argued for the putting off of the members of the body, from their having put off the old man himself; so he now argues from their having put on the new man, to their putting on of his members; that is, to the exercise of the various graces of the Spirit, and the discharge of the several duties of religion; which though they would not be a robe of righteousness, or garments of salvation to them, yet would be very becoming conversation garments, such as would be adorning to themselves, to the doctrine of Christ, and their profession of it, without which they would be naked in their walk, and exposed to shame, , "to be clothed with the Holy Spirit", is a phrase used by the Cabalistic doctors (d); and is indeed a Scripture phrase, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon", clothed Zechariah, 2 Chronicles 24:20 and so Esther is said, by the Jewish writers (e), to be "clothed with the Holy Ghost" Here the metaphor is taken from the putting off of clothes; and what is here directed to, is like Joseph's coat, a coat of many colours. The arguments made use of lie in the characters under which the saints are addressed,

as the elect of God, holy and beloved; that is, "as becomes the elect of God", as the Arabic version renders it; as such who were chosen in Christ from eternity, according to the sovereign will and pleasure of God, and his free grace unto salvation and eternal life; which 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; since hereby their salvation appears to be not of man's will and works, but of God, that shows mercy; and such who are the objects of this grace are vessels of mercy. The apostle calls all the members of this church by this name, though every individual of them might not be chosen of God; but because they were all under a visible profession of faith and holiness, and the greater part of them were truly believers, he in a judgment of charity gives them all this appellation, and upon the same foot, the next, "holy"; not by birth, for they were by nature unclean and filthy, conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; nor by baptism, which takes away neither original nor actual sin, but leaves men as it finds them, and who ought to be holy before they partake of that; but in Christ imputatively, as he was made of God unto them sanctification; and by him efficaciously, in virtue of his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, by which he sanctifies his people; and by his spirit inherently and internally, who is the author of the work of sanctification in the heart; and they were likewise so externally in a professional way, and therefore it highly became them to exercise and practise the following graces and duties, to which they were still more obliged, inasmuch as they were "beloved"; that is, of God, as appeared both from their election and sanctification. God had loved them, and therefore had chosen them in his Son, and had given his Son to die for them, that he might sanctify them; and because of his great love to them, had quickened them when dead in sin, and sanctified them by his spirit: wherefore, since God had so loved them, they ought to show love again to him, and to one another, and put on

bowels of mercies; a sympathizing spirit with saints in distress, weeping with them that weep, suffering with them that suffer, being touched, as their high priest is, with a feeling of their sorrows and weaknesses: it denotes inward pity and compassion to distressed objects, the most tender regard to persons in misery, and such compassion as is free from all hypocrisy and deceit, and therefore is expressed by "bowels"; and what is very large, and reaches to multitudes of objects, and is displayed and exerted various ways, and therefore signified by "mercies". Now such a spirit is a very beautiful one; the apostle begins with the innermost of these garments, adding to it

kindness, which is this inward, tender, unfeigned, and abundant mercy put into act and exercise; this is doing good to all men, especially to the household of faith, distributing to the necessities of the saints, and a showing mercy with cheerfulness, and is very ornamental to a Christian professor: as is also

humbleness of mind; which lies in the saints entertaining mean thoughts of themselves, looking upon themselves as the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints; as inferior to others in knowledge, experience, gifts, and graces; in esteeming others better than themselves; in ascribing all they have, and are, to the grace of God; in doing works of mercy and righteousness without ostentation, and boasting of them, or depending on them; owning, that when they have done all they can, they are but unprofitable servants; and this is a beautiful dress for a believer to appear in: be ye clothed with humility; see 1 Peter 5:5. And of the like nature is

meekness; which shows itself in not envying the gifts and graces, the usefulness and happiness of others, but rejoicing therein; in quietly submitting to the will of God in all adverse dispensations of Providence, and patiently bearing what he is pleased to lay on them; and in enduring all the insults, reproaches, and indignities of men with calmness. This ornament of a meek and quiet, spirit is in the sight of God of great price, 1 Peter 3:4. And what follows is natural to it, and explanative of it,

longsuffering: whereby a person patiently bears the evil words and actions of others, and is not easily provoked to wrath by them, but puts up with injuries, and sits down contented with the ill usage he meets with.

(d) Sepher Jetzirah, Nethib, 17. p. 136, (e) T. Megilla, fol. 14. 2. & 15. 1. Zohar in Numb. fol. 70. 3. & 76. 2. & Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 38. 3.

Courtesy of Open Bible