Colossians 3 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Colossians 3
Pulpit Commentary
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Verses 1-17. - SECTION VII. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN LIFE. The apostle, having delivered his attack on the system of error inculcated at Colossae, now passes from the controversial to the more practical purport of his letter. There is no break, however, in the current of his thought; for throughout this chapter he urges the pursuit of a practical Christian life in a sense and in a manner silently opposed to the tendencies of Gnosticizing error. How much more congenial was the task to which he now addresses himself we may judge, perhaps, from the ease and simplicity which mark the language of this chapter, as compared with the abrupt and seemingly embarrassed style of the last section. We may analyze the hortatory section of the Epistle (Colossians 3:1-4:6) as follows:

(a) Colossians 3:1-4, urging the Colossians to maintain a lofty spiritual life;

(b) vers. 5-8, to put off their old vices, impurity, malice, falsehood;

(c) vers. 9-14, to put on the new Christian virtues, especially gentleness, forgivingness, love;

(d) vers. 15-17, to let the sovereign influence of Christ sway their whole life - inward, social, secular;

(e) ver. 18 - Colossians 4:1, enjoining the Christian discharge of their relative duties, as wives and husbands, children and fathers, servants and masters, under the sense of their allegiance to the Lord Christ;

(f) Colossians 4:2-4, exhorting to constant prayer, and especially for the apostle himself at the present juncture; and

(g) vers. 5, 6, to wise conduct and edifying speech toward them that are without. It will be seen how much more comprehensive and systematic is the view thus presented of Christian duty than that furnished by earlier Epistles; and how the ideas of the supremacy of Christ, the unity of the Christian brotherhood, and the sacredness of the natural constitution of human life, which were threatened by the rise of Gnosticism in Colossae, underlie the apostle's exposition of Christian ethics. Paragraphs (a) to (d) in the above analysis we have grouped together under the title given to this section; (e) demands a separate treatment; and (f) and (g) will finally be bracketed together. Verses 1, 2. - If, therefore, ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at God's right hand; mind the things above, not the things upon the earth (Colossians 2:11-13, 20; Romans 6:1-11; Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 3:20; Matthew 6:19, 20; Luke 12:13-40). The apostle has already shown that when his readers, entering the gate of baptism, became Christians through faith in Christ, they died with him (Colossians 2:20), were buried, then raised and made alive together with him (Colossians 2:11-13): comp. Romans 6:1-11. So they were restored to peace and favour with God (Colossians 1:21-23; Colossians 2:13, 14), severed from their old life of sin (Colossians 2:11), and set in the path of holiness (Colossians 1:22). At the same time, they left behind all childish, tentative forms and notions ("rudiments") of religion, whether Jewish or non-Jewish (Colossians 2:8, 11, 18, 20-23). They became dead both from sin and from human modes of salvation. Both are included in "the things upon the earth," to which belong at once the grosser sensual forms of sin (ver. 5) with its "surfeiting of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23), and that vaunted philosophy, which is after all earth born and earthward tending (Colossians 2:8, 20), bringing the soul again into bondage to material things. The apostle lifts his readers into a new, heavenly sphere. He bids them make "the things above," i.e. "the things of Christ," the one object of their thought and endeavour. So they will master the flesh by rising above it, instead of fighting it on its own ground by ceremonial rite and ascetic regimen. "The things above" are no abstract, transcendental conception, as in the theology of St. Paul's opponents, for they are "where Christ is." The things "in the heavens" as well as those "upon the earth" were created "in him, through him, unto him" (Colossians 1:16); there he is Lord, even as here (Colossians 1:17; Colossians 2:10; Matthew 28:18). His presence gives distinctness and positiveness to the Christian's view of heaven, and concentrates his interests and affections there (comp. Philippians 1:23; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6; Matthew 6:19, 20; John 12:26; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Acts 7:56). "Seated" is placed with emphasis at the end of its clause, indicating the completeness of the Saviour's work and the dignity of his position (comp. Ephesians 1:20-22; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 10:12, 13; Revelation 3:21; and see Pearson on the Creed, art. 6.). (For "the things above," see vers. 3, 4; also Colossians 1:5 and Colossians 2:18 compared with Philippians 3:11-14, 20, 21; Romans 2:7; Romans 8:17-23; 1 Corinthians 15:42-49; 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8; John 17:24.) To "seek" these things is to strive that they may be ours in the future; to "mind" them is to occupy our thoughts with them in the present. (For the word "mind" (φρονέω), comp. Philippians 3:19 and Romans 8:5-7 (φρόνημα, minding); in Romans 14:6 it is rendered by "regard.")
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Verse 3. - For ye died, and your life is hid, with Christ, in God (Colossians 2:11-13, 20; Ephesians 4:22; Philippians 3:20; Romans 6:1-14; Romans 7:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:23; John 15:5; John 12:26; Revelation 3:21). In this hidden life of the Christian lies the ground and the spring of the more outward life of thought and endeavour of vers. 1, 2. And this life comes through death, from that "dying with Christ" out of which we "rose with him" (ver. 1; Colossians 2:11-13, 20; Romans 6:3, 4, 8). "The aorist ἀπεθάνετε ('ye died') denotes the past act; the perfect κέκρυπται ('hath been and is hid') the permanent effects" (Lightfoot). (On the nature of this death, see notes to Colossians 2:11-13.) "Died - and your life!" this paradox is explained in Romans 6:10, 11, and repeated in Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15. The Christian's life is lodged in the sphere of "the unseen and eternal." It centres in Christ, and as he is hidden - withdrawn from the world of sense, yet with us always in his Spirit (John 14:16-20; John 16:16-22) - so our life with him. And if "with Christ," then "in God;" for "Christ is God's" (1 Corinthians 3:23); "lives to God" (Romans 6:10), and "is at God's right hand" (ver. 1), being "the Son of his love" (Colossians 1:13; John 1:18). The apostle says, "in God" ("in heaven," Philippians 3:19), to emphasize the fact of the union of Christ with God, or perhaps to deepen the reader's sense of the sacredness of this life in Christ (comp. 1 Timothy 6:14-16). "Is hid" (Colossians 1:26, 27; Colossians 2:2, 3), another allusion to the fondness of the Colossian errorists for mysteries. In Colossians 1:26 St. Paul spoke of the ancient mystery of a Christ for all the world; then of the new, perpetual mystery of a Christ dwelling within believing hearts. But this second mystery is equally that of our life in Christ as of Christ's life in us, lifting us to heaven while it brings him down to earth. This mutual indwelling of the Head in heaven and the members upon earth is the most intimate and inscrutable of all secrets (John 14:20; John 15:1-7; John 17:22, 23, 26). "The world knows neither Christ nor Christians, and Christians do not even know themselves" (Bengel). But as the old historic secret had its manifestation at last (Colossians 1:26), so will the new secret that lies enfolded within every Christian life -
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Verse 4. - When Christ shall be manifested, our (or, your,) life, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory (Romans 8:18-23; Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:15; 2 Timothy 2:10-12; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; 1 John 3:2; 1 John 2:28). Our future destiny, with our present redemption (Colossians 1:14), is wrapped up in Christ. Our life is not only "with him" (ver. 3); it is "himself" (Philippians 1:21; John 1:4; John 6:50-57; John 14:6; 1 John 5:12); he is its source and ground, way and rule, means and end - its all (ver. 11: comp. Colossians 1:20; Colossians 2:6-10; Ephesians 1:3, 23; Ephesians 3:17-19; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:10; Philippians 4:19, etc.). From the hour of his ascension he has been hidden (Acts 1:9; Acts 3:21; 1 Peter 1:8); and his manifestation is as much a part of the Christian creed as his death and resurrection (Acts 17:31; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 4:1; John 14:3; 1 John 3:2, 3; Revelation 22:12, 20). Then the Christian will have his manifestation also with him, in the "revelation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19); who will receive their second "adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body" (Romans 8:23). "Seeing him as he is" in his glory, "we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2) in glory. At last the spiritual life of the soul will have its due organic expression, in a body perfect and heavenly as itself (1 Corinthians 15:35-49; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5). This is already the case with our human nature in Christ (Philippians 3:21); and the change will proceed from the Head to the members (1 Corinthians 15:23), who will be conformed to his "body of glory," as now they are being conformed to his spiritual image (Romans 8:9-11, 29, 30; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; John 17:22-26; 1 John 4:17). The textual change from "your" to "our" is doubtful (see note on Colossians 2:13). Observe that "Christ" is repeated four times in the last four verses.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Verse 5. - Make dead, therefore, the (or, your) members that are upon the earth (Colossians 2:11; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:21, 22; Philippians 3:19; Romans 6:6; Romans 8:13; Romans 13:14). "Your" is omitted by most textual critics, but English idiom requires it in translation. In its absence a stronger emphasis falls on the defining clause, "that are upon the earth." As these things may no longer be pursued or studied (vers. 1, 2), the organs devoted to them must be put to death. These members are indeed those of the actual body (Romans 6:13, 19; Romans 7:5, 23; Romans 8:13); but these in so far as ruled hitherto by sinful impulse and habit, constituting the body of "the old man" (ver. 9; Ephesians 4:22; Romans 6:6), "of the flesh" (Colossians 2:11), "of sin," and "of death" (Romans 6:6; Romans 7:24), with "sinful passions working in its members, bearing fruit unto death" (Romans 7:5): setup, note, Colossians 2:11. That body is "made dead" by destruction of the evil passions that animated it. The body of "the new man" is physically identical with it, but different in moral habit and diathesis - a difference that manifests itself even in bodily expression and manner (2 Corinthians 5:17). Νεκρόω occurs besides in the New Testament only in Romans 4:19 and Hebrews 11:12 (in Romans 8:13, a still stronger word is used of "the practices" of the body): as the aged Abraham had been made dead in respect of the natural possibility of fatherhood, so the body of the Christian is to be dead for purposes of sin. If there were any doubt as to the writer's meaning, the next clause removes it. His language has approached that of the philosophical ascetics (see Colossians 2:23, note and quotations); hence the abrupt explanatory apposition that follows: fornication, uncleanness, (sensual) passion, evil desire, and covetousness, the which is idolatry (Ephesians 5:3-5; Philippians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Romans 1:29; 1 Timothy 6:17; Matthew 6:24, 31, 32; Luke 12:21; Psalm 49:6; Psalm 52:7). To these vices the Colossian Gentiles (some of them at least) had been to such a degree devoted that their members had become virtually identified therewith. The first two sins are related as particular and general. The second pair, πάθος and ἐπιθυμία, are combined in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 in contrast to "(bodily) sanctification and honour" (comp. Colossians 2:23, and "passions of dishonour," Romans 1:26). The former denotes a morbid, inflamed condition of the sensual appetite; the latter, craving for some particular gratification of it (see Trench's 'Synonyms'). Neither of these words is etymologically, or invariably, evil in sense. The degradation of such terms in all languages is a sad evidence of the corruption of our nature. Πλεονεξία is both wider and more intense in meaning than our "covetousness." It denotes radically the disposition to "have more," "grasping greed," "selfishness grown to a passion." Hence it applies to sins of impurity, greediness for sensual pleasure (1 Thessalonians 4:6; Ephesians 4:19); but by the emphatic use of the article ("the covetousness"), and by the words that follow, it is marked out as a distinct type of sin; so in Ephesians 5:3, 5, where "uncleanness" and "greed" are stigmatized as vile forms of sin. This word, often used by St. Paul, is peculiar to him in the New Testament. "The which" (ἥτις: setup. α{τινα, Colossians 2:23) gives a reason while it states a fact ("inasmuch as it is idolatry"). For the thought, setup. Ephesians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 6:17, also Matthew 6:24; it is a commonplace of religion, and appears in Philo and Jewish rabbis (see Lightfoot). Lightfoot places a colon after "upon the earth," and supposes "fornication," etc., to be "proleptic accusatives," looking forward to some verb unexpressed, such as "put off" (ver. 8). But this is needless (see Winer, p. 666), and the command, "make dead your members," requires this qualifying explanation. The grammatical awkwardness of the apposition is not without rhetorical effect.
For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
Verse 6. - Because of which (things) the anger of God cometh [upon the sons of disobedience] (Ephesians 2:2, 3; Ephesians 5:6; Galatians 5:21; Romans 1:18; Romans 2:5-9; Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; John 3:36; Revelation 6:17; Malachi 3:2). The latter phrase is cancelled by Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort; but retained by Ellicott and, preferentially, by the Revisers. The witnesses against it, though numerically few, are varied and select, and the parallel (Ephesians 5:6) would suggest insertion of the words if originally absent. "The anger of God is coming" is a sentence complete in itself (setup. Romans 1:18). God's "anger" (ὀργή) is his settled punitive indignation against sin, of which his "wrath" (θυμός) is the terrible outflaming (Revelation 16:1; Revelation 14:10); see Trench's 'Synonyms.' "Cometh" implies a continuing fact or fixed principle (see Winer, p. 332); or rather, perhaps, signifies that this "anger" is in course of manifestation, is "on the way:" comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:10, "the anger that is coming," not "to come," also the use of ἔρχομαι in John 14:3, 18; Hebrews 10:37. The objects of this anger ("children of wrath," Ephesians 2:2, 3) are "the sons of disobedience." The expressive Hebraism by which a man is said to be s child or son of the dominant quality or influence of his life is frequent in the New Testament.
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
Verse 7. - In which also ye walked once, when you were living in these (things) (Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 5:8; Romans 6:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Titus 3:3; 1 Peter 4:3). Even retaining "sons of disobedience" in ver. 6, it seems better, with Alford, Lightfoot, and the English Version, to read οῖς as neuter, "in which," referring to the same antecedent (ver. 5)as "because of which" in ver. 6; not "amongst whom" (Ellicott, Meyer). The latter interpretation is against the general usage of "walk in" with St. Paul (Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 2:2, 10; Ephesians 4:17; Ephesians 5:2; Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 4:2), and seems to condemn the mere fact of living "amongst the sons of disobedience" (see, on the other hand, 1 Corinthians 5:9, 10; Philippians 2:15; John 17:15; 1 Peter 2:12). The parallel "because of which" (ver. 6) gives also its force: these sins are visited with the Divine anger, and moreover are the very sins in which the Colossians aforetime had lived; observe the same connection in Ephesians 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 6:10, 11. "Were living" stands opposed to "make dead" of ver. 5, and to "ye died" (ver. 3: comp. Colossians 2:20; Galatians 2:20); it marks the time when "the old man" (ver. 9), with his "earthly members" (ver. 5) was alive and active (comp. Romans 7:5, 9, "sin came to life"). "In these things" (τούτοις, not αὐτοῖς: Revised Text) points to the things enumerated in ver. 6, with a mental gesture of contempt.
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Verse 8. - But now do ye put away indeed all these (things) (ver. 9; Colossians 2:11; Ephesians 4:22, 25; Romans 13:12; 1 Peter 2:1). The thought of the death of the old life gives place to that of the divesting of the old habit; the new life wears a new dress, Mark the triumphant emphasis in "but now!" (opposed to the "once" of ver. 8), characteristic of the writer (comp. Colossians 1, 21, 26; Romans 3:21; Romans 6:22, etc.). Τὰ πάντα ("all these things," "the whole" of them) summarizes the vices specified in ver. 5, and forms the starting point of another series, in which malice predominates, as impurity in the previous list; anger, wrath, malice, evil speaking, foul speech from your mouth (Ephesians 4:26-31; Ephesians 5:4; Romans 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:20, 21; Titus 3:3). There is a similar order and division between these two chief classes of sin in the parallel passages. In Ephesians 4:31, 32 and Ephesians 5:3-5 the order is reversed. "Anger" (ὀργή) is ascribed to God in ver. 6 (comp. Ephesians 4:26; Hebrews 10:30). (On "anger" and "wrath" (or "rage"), see ver. 6.) The latter is once ascribed to God by St. Paul (Romans 2:8), more frequently in the Apocalypse. In man it is universally condemned. (For κακία, malignity, badness of disposition, comp. Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Titus 3:3; see Trench's 'Synonyms.') Βλασφημία, in its original sense, includes injurious speech of any kind, either against man or God (see Romans 3:8; Romans 14:16; 1 Corinthians 10:30; Titus 3:2). Αἰσχρὸς in αἰσχρολογία (only here in the New Testament) denotes, like the English "foul," either "scurrilous" or "filthy." The former kind of speech is suggested by the foregoing blasphemia; but especially in such an atmosphere as that of Greek city life, scurrility commonly runs into filthiness. In Ephesians 5:4, where a slightly different word occurs, the latter idea is prominent. The two last vices, being sins of speech, must be put away "out of your mouth." "Your" bears the emphasis in the Greek; such utterance is quite unfit for a Christian mouth (comp. Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:3, 4; James 3:10; and the prohibition of lying in the next verse).
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Verse 9. - Lie not one to another, having stripped off the old man with his deeds (Ephesians 4:14, 15; 20-25; 1 Timothy 1:6; Revelation 21:8; Colossians 2:11; Romans 6:6; Romans 8:12, 13; Galatians 5:16, 24). The imperatives of vers. 5 and 8 were aorists, enjoining a single, decisive act; this is present, as in vers. 1, 2, 15, 18, etc., giving a rule of life. Only in Colossians and Ephesians do we find the apostle give a general warning against lying. What reason there was for this we cannot tell; unless it lay in the deceit of the heretical teachers (Colossians 2:8: comp. Ephesians 4:14, 15; Acts 20:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13; 1 Timothy 4:2; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 2:2; Revelation 3:9). The lying in question is uttered within the Church ("to one another"), and is fatal to its unity (ver. 11; Ephesians 4:25; Acts 20:28-30). The following aorist participles, "having stripped off" and "having put on" (ver. 10), may, grammatically, be part of the command - "strip off," etc., and "lie not" - as e.g. in 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Hebrews 12:1; or may state the fact on which that command is based. The latter view is preferable (Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, English Version; but see Lightfoot); for the participles describe a change already realized - a change of principle, which has, however, still to be more fully carried out in practice (Colossians 2:11-13, 20; Colossians 3:1, 3, 7, 11; Ephesians 4:20-24; Galatians 3:27, 28): in ver. 12 the imperative mood is resumed with an emphatic "therefore," implying a previous reference to fact. (On the double compound ἀπ εκ δυσάμενοι, "having stripped off (and put) away," see notes, Colossians 2:11, 15.) The "Old man"; is the former self, the "I no longer living" (Galatians 2:20) of the Colossian believer, to whom "the members that are upon the earth" (ver. 5) belonged - the entire sinful personality of "him who is in the flesh" (Romans 8:8). His "deeds" ("practices," "habits of doing," Romans 8:13; see Trench's 'Synonyms' on πράσσω) are the pursuits of which vers. 5, 8, 9 supply examples.
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Verse 10. - And having put on the new (man), which is being renewed unto (full) knowledge, after (the) image of him that created him (Ephesians 4:23, 24; Ephesians 2:15; Romans 6:4; Romans 7:6; Romans 8:1-4; Romans 13:12-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 1:9; Colossians 2:2, 3; Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:10; 1 Peter 1:16; Romans 8:29). New (νέος) is "young," "of recent date" (compare the "once," "but now" of vers. 7, 8; also Colossians 1:5-8; 1 Peter 2:1, 2). whose birth was well remembered, and which presented so vivid a contrast to the "old man with his deeds." "Being renewed" (ἀνακαινούμενον, derived from the adjective καινός) sets forth the other side of this newness, its novelty of quality and condition (compare "newness of life," Romans 6:4). And this participle is in the present tense (continuous), while the former is in the aorist (historical). So the notions are combined of a new birth taking place once for all, and a new character in course of formation. In Ephesians 4:23, 24 these ideas are in the same order (see Trench's 'Synonyms'). "Full knowledge" was one purpose of this renewal, the purpose most necessary to be set before the Colossians. The nature and objects of this knowledge have been already specified (Colossians 1:6, 9, 27, 28; Colossians 2:2, 3, 9, 10: comp. Ephesians 1:18, 19; Ephesians 3:18, 19; Philippians 3:8-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; and on ἐπίγνωσις, see note, Colossians 1:6). "After (the) image" is clearly an allusion to Genesis 1:26-28; so in Ephesians 4:24 ("after God"). It is adverbial to "renewed," not to "knowledge." Man's renewal in Christ makes him what the Creator at first designed him to be, namely, his own image (compare note on "reconcile," Colossians 1:20). Chrysostom and others take "Christ" as "him that created," in view of Colossians 1:15, 16; but then it is said that all things "were created in... through... for Christ," not absolutely that Christ created them. But "the image of God after which" man was created and is now recreated, is seen in Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; John 1:18).
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
Verse 11. - Where there is (or, can be) no Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman (Galatians 3:28; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:14-18; Ephesians 4:25; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 15:5-12; Philemon 1:15, 16; John 17:20-23; Luke 22:24-27; John 13:12-17). That ἔνι means "can be," "negativing, not merely the fact, but the possibility," is doubtful in view of 1 Corinthians 6:5 (Revised Text). "In Christ" these distinctions are non-existent. There is no place for them. These and the following words indicate the sphere, as "unto knowledge" the end, and "after the image" the ideal or norm, of the progressive renewal to be effected in the Colossian believer. It can be carried on only where and so far as these distinctions are set aside. The "new man" knows nothing of them. The enmity between Greek and Jew being removed, the malice and falsehood that grew out of it will disappear (vers. 8, 9: comp. Romans 15:7; Ephesians 4:25). In Galatians 3:28 "Jew" stands first, and the distinction of sex is added. The distinctions here enumerated appear as looked at from the Greek side. Only here in the New Testament does "Greek" precede "Jew" (comp. Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13, etc.). "Barbarian" (Romans 1:14) and "Scythian" (only here in the New Testament) are together opposed to "Greek," and imply want of culture rather than alien nationality, the Scythian being the rudest of barbarians (see Lightfoot's full note). Such terms of contempt would, in Asia Minor, be commonly applied by Greeks to the native population. The party who affected philosophic culture (Colossians 2:8, 23) may, perhaps, have applied them to simple, uneducated Christians (see note on Colossians 1:28). (On "circumcision," see Colossians 2:11; and for the connection with ver. 9, comp. Galatians 6:15.) For "bond" and "free," a division then pervading society universally, comp. Galatian list. Onesimus and Philemon are doubtless in the apostle's mind. On this relationship he enlarges in the next section (Colossians 3:22-4:1). The four pairs of opposed terms represent distinctions

(1) of race,

(2) of religious privilege,

(3) of culture,

(4) of social rank. But Christ is all things, and in all (Colossians 1:15-20; Colossians 2:9, 10; Colossians 3:4, 17; Ephesians 1:3, 10, 22, 23; Ephesians 2:13-22; Ephesians 3:8, 19; Philippians 1:21; Philippians 3:7-14; Philippians 4:19; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:2, 4; Romans 5:10; Romans 8:32, 39). "Christ" stands at the end of the sentence, with accumulated emphasis. The Church regards and values each man in his relation to Christ, and bids every other consideration bow to this. He is "all things" - our common centre, our standard of reference, and fount of honour, the stun of all we acknowledge and desire; and he is "in all" - the common life and soul of his people, the substance of all we experience and possess as Christians. The second "all" is masculine (so most commentators, from Chrysostom downwards), referring more specially to the classes just enumerated. Similarly, in Ephesians 4:6: comp. Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 1:15; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:19. (While he is "in all," it is equally true that all are "in him:" comp. John 15:4; John 17:23, 26.) Just as in the spiritual sphere, and in the relations between God and man, Christ is shown to be all, so that "principalities and powers" are comparatively insignificant (Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:9, 10, 15); so in the moral sphere, and in the relations between man and man. All human distinctions, like all angelic offices, must pay homage to his supremacy, and submit to the reconciling unity of his kingdom (Ephesians 1:10).
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
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.).
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Verse 13. - Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other (literally, yourselves), if any one have a complaint against any (Ephesians 4:1, 2, 32; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 6:7, 8; 2 Corinthians 2:10; Matthew 6:14, 15; Matthew 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Luke 17:3, 4). (On "bearing with" or "forbearing," see 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 11:19, 20; Matthew 17:17.) It is ascribed to God, with "long-suffering," especially as shown in his dealing with the sins of men before the coming of Christ (Romans 2:4; Romans 3:26: comp. Acts 17:30). Long suffering may be shown towards all who do us injury; forbearance especially towards those from whom regard or obedience is due. It falls short of forgiveness, which can only ensue on repentance (Luke 17:3, 4: comp. Romans 3:25, 26; Acts 17:30). The change of pronoun in the two participial clauses appears also in Ephesians 4:2 and 32: the first is reciprocal, but the second is reflexive, implying the oneness of the forgiving and the forgiven party. Forgiving a Christian brother, it is as though a man were forgiving himself (comp. vers. 14, 15; Galatians 6:1; Romans 12:5; Romans 15:5-7; and the same variation in 1 Peter 4:8-10). "Forgive" is literally "to grant grace," used of Divine forgiveness m Colossians 2:13 (see note). The words, "if any have any complaint," etc., would certainly apply to Philemon as against Onesimus (Philemon 1:18, 19: comp. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Mark 11:25). Even as the Lord (or, Christ) forgave you, so also ye (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 4:32; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24-26; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Acts 13:38; Acts 5:31; 1 John 1:9; Matthew 9:1-8; Matthew 18:27; Exodus 34:6, 7; Psalm 103:3). This argument is latent in the appeal to the "elect" and "beloved" of ver. 12. The evidence for the alternative readings, "Lord" and "Christ," is nearly equal in weight. In any case, the "Lord" is "Christ" in this passage (Colossians 2:6; Colossians 3:17, 24): and that he forgave (comp. Colossians 1:20, note) is quite consistent with the assertion that God forgave (Colossians 2:13), for God forgave "in Christ" (Ephesians 4:32). So "God in Christ reconciled" (2 Corinthians 5:19); and yet "Christ reconciled us" (Colossians 1:20, 21; Ephesians 2:16). "Forgiving," supplied in thought from previous context, completes the sense of "so also ye" (Meyer, Alford, Ellicott). To suppose an ellipsis of the imperative, with Light foot and the English Version ("do ye"), is needlessly to break the structure of the sentence. Ver. 14 shows that the leading imperative, "put on," of ver. 12 is still in the writer's mind. For the reciprocal double καί ("even.., also"), comp. Colossians 1:6 or Romans 1:13; it is characteristic of the writer.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Verse 14. - And over all these things (put on) love, which (thing) is the bond of perfectness (Colossians 2:2; Ephesians 4:2, 3; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5:13-15, 22; Romans 13:8-10; 2 Peter 1:7; 1 John 4:7-21; John 13:34, 35). In 1 Corinthians 13. "love" is the substance or substratum of the Christian virtues; in Galatians 5:22 it is their head and beginning; here it is that which embraces and completes them. They imply love, but it is more than them all together. They lie within its circumference; wanting it, they fall to pieces and are nothing. (For συνδεσμός ("bond" or "band"), comp. Colossians 2:19.) In Ephesians 4:3 we have the "bond of peace" (see next verse). Love is the bond in the active sense, as that wherewith the constituents of a Christian character or the members of a Church are bound together: peace, in a passive sense, as that wherein the union consists (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11). "Love" (compare "covetousness," ver. 5) is made conspicuous by the Greek definite article - being that eminent, essential grace of Christian love (Colossians 1:4, 8; Colossians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:16, etc.). "Perfectness" is genitive of object, not of quality: love unifies the elements of Christian goodness and gives them in itself their "perfectness" (Romans 13:10). (For "perfectness," see note on "perfect," Colossians 1:28; and comp. 4:12.) Against Galatian teachers of circumcision, and Corinthian exalters of knowledge, the apostle had magnified the supremacy of love (Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 8:1-3); and so against the Colossian mysticism and asceticism he sets it forth as the crown of spiritual perfection, the goal of human excellence (comp. Ephesians 4:15, 16).
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Verse 15. - And let the peace of Christ be umpire in your hearts (Colossians 1:14, 20-22; Colossians 2:18; Ephesians 2:13-18; Romans 5:1, 10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Acts 10:36; Hebrews 13:20; Philippians 3:14). "Of God," the reading of the Received Text, is borrowed from Philippians 4:7, where, however, "in Christ Jesus" follows (comp. ver. 13 b, and Ephesians 4:32). "The peace of Christ" is that which he effects in reconciling men to God, and to himself as their Lord (ver. 13 b; Colossians 1:20, see note; Romans 5:1). Here is the source of inner tranquillity and health of soul (see note on "peace," Colossians 1:2; Romans 8:6-9; John 16:33); and of the outward union and harmony of the Church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 4:2, 3; Romans 14:15-19; Romans 15:7). In John 14:27, on the other hand, Christ's peace, his "legacy," is that which he possessed and exemplified - an idea foreign to this context. This "peace" is to "act as umpire" in the Christian's heart. The compound κατα βρὰ-βεύω ("act as umpire against you") has already been used in Colossians 2:18 (see note; also Philippians 3:14, cognate βραβεῖον) of the false teacher who, in condemning the faith of the Colossian Christians as insufficient for the attaining of "perfectness" (ver. 14) without angel worship, etc., virtually took away their prize and judged them "unworthy of eternal life." The Greek commentators seem, therefore, to be right, as against most moderns (but see Klopper on the other side), in retaining the primary sense of the verb instead of generalizing it into "rule" or the like. It stands in precise antithesis, both of sense and sound, to Colossians 2:18: "Let not the deceivers decide against you, but let the peace of Christ decide in your hearts" (Cramer's 'Catena'). "The peace of Christ" dwelling within the heart is to be the security of the Colossian believer against the threats of false teachers: "They seek to rob you of your prize; let this assure you of it." Present, conscious peace with God is a warrant of the Christian's hope of everlasting life (Romans 5:1-11; Romans 8:31-39; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 1:13, 14; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Titus 3:7). This assurance is identical with "the witness of the Spirit" (Romans 8:15, 16; Galatians 4:6, 7; Ephesians 1:13, 14). The apostle argued in Colossians 1:4, 5 from the present faith and love of his readers to "the hope laid up for them in heaven;" here he bids them find in the peace which Christ has brought to their souls the earnest of their future bliss. It is but a generalizing of the same idea when he speaks in Philippians 4:7 of "the peace of God" as "garrisoning the heart and thoughts" against fear and doubt. Unto which also ye were called, in one body (Colossians 1:12, 18; Colossians 2:2; Ephesians 4:14-18, 1-6; Philippians 1:27, 28; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13; Romans 12:5). So this "peace" is to be at once their inward safeguard, and the ground of their outward union. They are to stand together in its defence (Philippians 1:27, 28). Error, which blights the Church's hope, destroys her unity. So the maintenance of that "one hope of our calling," assured by a Divine peace within the soul, unites all Christian hearts in a common cause (compare the connection of vers. 18 and 19 in Colossians 2.). With St. Paul, the peace of God's children with him and with each other is so essentially one that he speaks almost indistinguishably of both (Ephesians 2:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:16). He adds, and be ye thankful (Colossians 1:3-5, 12; Colossians 2:7; Colossians 3:17; Colossians 4:2; Ephesians 5:20); viz. "for this assurance of your future blessedness afforded by the peace of Christ within your hearts, with its outward evidence in your Christian unity." The apostle gave thanks for them on like grounds (Colossians 1:3-5: comp. 1:12-14). The command to give thanks prevails in this Epistle, as that to rejoice in Philippians. "Be" is the Greek γίνομαι ("become"); so in Ephesians 4:32; Ephesians 5:1, 17. It implies "striving after an aim as not yet realized" (Meyer: comp. John 15:8) - rather, therefore, "to be in act," "to prove" or "show one's self thankful" (see Grimm's 'Lexicon;' and comp. Romans 3:4; Luke 10:36).
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Verse 16. - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom (Colossians 1:5, 9, 27, 28; Colossians 2:2, 3; Colossians 4:5, 6; Ephesians 1:17, 18; Ephesians 3:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 1:5, 6; 2 Timothy 3:15). The "word of Christ" is the Christian doctrine, the gospel in the widest sense of the term (Colossians 1:5), as proceeding from Christ (Galatians 1:11, 12; Hebrews 2:3; Matthew 28:20; 2 Corinthians 13:3). This precise phrase occurs only here, where the name of Christ is emphasized in so many ways (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). The apostle, it may be, alludes primarily to the personal teaching of Christ himself (comp. Acts 20:35; 1 Corinthians 7:10). "You" is understood collectively by Meyer and others ("amongst you"); but the verb "dwell in" (Romans 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:5, 14) requires the stronger sense, suggested also by the "in your hearts" of ver. 15 (comp. note on "in you," Colossians 1:27). As "the word" is rich in the Divine wealth stored in it (Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 1:7, 18; Ephesians 2:4, 7; Ephesians 3:8; Titus 3:6), so it is to dwell "richly" in those who possess it. "In all wisdom" God's grace abounded (Ephesians 1:8), and St. Paul himself taught (Colossians 1:28); so with the richly indwelling word in the minds of the Colossians, especially as they were beset by intellectual forms of error (Colossians 1:9; Colossians 2:2-4, 8, 23: comp. Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:15). In this connection of thought, the phrase appears to belong to the previous sentence; so English Version and Lightfoot. Bengel, Meyer, Alford, and Ellicott, however, attach it to the words which follow. Teaching and admonishing each other [or, yourselves: comp. ver. 13, note] (Colossians 1:28; Romans 15:14; Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 10:24, 25; Ephesians 4:15, 16). (For this absolute participial nominative, so marked a feature of St. Paul's style, comp. Colossians 1:10; Colossians 2:2; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 1:30; Philippians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 7:5; Winer, p. 716.) What he is doing in his own ministry and by writing this letter, he bids the Colossians do for each other. "Teaching" precedes, being suggested by "wisdom." With psalms, hymns, spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:26). These are to be a chief means of mutual edification. The repeated "and," also the singular "heart," and "Lord" in place of "God" in the sequel of the verse, are borrowed by the Received Text from Ephesians 5:19. The Greeks, the Asiatic Greeks in particular, were devoted to the arts of music. Song and jest, stimulated by the wine cup, were the entertainment of their social hours (Ephesians 5:4, 18, 19). Their Christian intercourse is still to be enlivened by the varied use of song, and by the play of wholesome wit (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29); but both song and speech are to be "in grace," stamped with a spiritual character and governed by a serious Christian purpose. A "psalm" (from ψάλλω, to play an instrument) is "a song set to music;" but this name was already in the LXX appropriated to its present use. Whether its application here is restricted to the psalms of the Old Testament is doubtful (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:15, 26). "Hymn" (ὕμνος) denotes a solemn, religions composition, or song of Divine praise. The word "song" (ode, ᾠδή) is wider in sense; hence is qualified by "spiritual," equivalent to "with [or, 'in'] the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) - "songs of a spiritual nature, inspired by the Holy Ghost" (comp. "spiritual wisdom," Colossians 1:9). Such songs would echo the varied sentiments and experiences of the Christian life. In Ephesians 5:14 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13, very possibly, we have fragments of early Christian song. St. Paul's own language, in more exalted moods, tends to assume a rhythmic and lyrical strain (see introductory note on Colossians 1:15-20). In grace singing, in your hearts, to God (Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:2, 15, 28; Romans 8:27; 1 John 3:19; Revelation 2:23; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9). "The correct reading is ἐν τῇ χάριτι (in the grace);" so Lightfoot, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Herr in margin, rejected by the Revisers. The tendency to omit the article in prepositional phrases should be taken into account in its favour here. And the article helps the sense by giving "grace" a definite Christian meaning (so "the love," ver. 14). Otherwise, ἐν χάριτι may mean no more than "gracefully," "pleasantly;" comp. Colossians 4:6. "The (Divine) grace" is the pervasive element and subject matter of Christian song. Its constant refrain will be, "to the praise of the glory of his grace!" (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14: comp. Romans 1:5, 6). "In your hearts" (ver. 15) - the inner region of the soul - there is the counterpart, audible "to God," of the song that vibrates on the lips. In Ephesians 5:19 we read, "with your hearts" - the instrument (here the region) of the song. (For the connection of "in your hearts" and "to God," comp. vers. 22, 23; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8; Romans 8:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 John 3:19.)
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Verse 17. - And everything, whatever ye he doing in word or deed, (do) all in the name of (the) Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Corinthians 5:4; Ephesians 5:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:17). Ver. 16 speaks of "word" only; to it is added the "deed," which stands for all the practical activities of life. Both meet in the following "all." "The name of the Lord Jesus" is the expression of his authority as "Lord" (Colossians 1:13, 15, 18; Colossians 2:6; Philippians 2:9-11; Ephesians 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 14:9; Acts 10:36), and of his personal character and relation to us as "Jesus" (Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12; Acts 16:31, Revised Text). (On the prominence of the title "Lord" in this Epistle, see note on Colossians 2:6.) (For the emphatic, absolute nominative πᾶν at the head of the sentence, comp. John 6:39; John 15:2; John 17:2; Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:10.) Giving thanks to God (the) Father through him (ver. 15; Colossians 1:12-14; Colossians 2:7; Colossians 4:2). Again thanksgiving is urged on the Colossians. It is to be the accompaniment of daily talk and work - to be offered to God in his character as "Father" (see notes on Colossians 1:2, 3, 12), and "through the Lord Jesus" (Romans 1:8; Romans 7:25), by whom we have access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; Romans 5:1, 2; Hebrews 10:19-22) and receive from him all the benefits of redemption (Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 2:5-10; Romans 3:24-26; Titus 3:4-7).
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Verse 18 - Colossians 4:1. - SECTION VIII. THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF FAMILY DUTIES. We note that in each of the three family relations here dealt with, the subordinate party is first addressed, and the duty of submission is primarily insisted upon (vers. 18, 20, 22: comp. 1 Peter 2:13, 18; 1 Peter 3:1-6). So in Ephesians 5:21-24; Ephesians 6:1-3, 5-8. There may have been some special reason for this in the state of the Asiatic Churches or of Greek society in that region. But other indications show (1 Corinthians 7:24; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16; 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35; Galatians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:11, 12; 1 Timothy 2:11, 12; 1 Timothy 6:1, 2; Titus 2:5, 9, 10; Titus 3:1) that the apostle perceived and sought to check the danger of unsettlement in the natural order of family and social life which often attends great spiritual revolutions, especially when they are in the direction of religious liberty. As in the case of Luther, the apostle's later teaching is largely directed against the antinomianism which resulted, by way of perversion and abuse, from the preaching of salvation by grace and of the sanctity of the individual believer (comp. introductory note to this chapter). Observe how the Lord and his authority are made to furnish a higher sanction for each of these natural duties. Verse 18. - Ye wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fit in the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; Titus 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35; 1 Peter 3:1-6; Genesis 3:16). On this duty the apostle dilates in the Ephesian letter, in illustration of its teaching respecting "Christ and the Church" (comp. the very different treatment of it in 1 Peter 3:1-7), The use of the article (αἱ γύναικες) in the nominative of address is frequent in New Testament, though not in classical Greek. Lightfoot thinks it Hebraistic. Ανηκεν stands in the imperfect tense (literally, it was fit), denoting a normal propriety (comp. Ephesians 5:4, Westcott and Hort; and for the general expression, 1 Corinthians 11:13, 14; Philemon 1:8; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Timothy 2:10; Philippians 4:8; Romans 1:29). Like all men of a sound moral nature, St Paul has a strong sense of natural propriety. The adjunct "in the Lord" belongs to "was fit," not "be subject" (comp. ver. 20). The constitution of nature, as we have learnt in Colossians 1:15-18, is grounded "in the Lord." In Ephesians 5:22-33 St. Paul shows that this inherent propriety has a deep spiritual significance; and he makes the subjection of the Church to her heavenly Lord a new reason for wifely submission.
Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
Verse 19. - Ye husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Ephesians 5:25-31; 1 Peter 3:7). "Love" is ἀγαπάω, the word which expresses the highest spiritual affection - "even as Christ loved the Church" (Ephesians 5:25). Here, first and most of all, the "new commandment" of John 13:34 applies. St. Paul only uses the verb πικραίνω ("to make bitter") here, but he has the noun πικρία ("bitterness") in a wider application in Ephesians 4:31. It denotes "exasperation," prompting to hasty severity. Bengel defines it as "odium amori mixtum" - hatred infused into love.
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Verse 20. - To children, be obedient to your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1, 2; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Leviticus 19:3; Proverbs 23:22; Luke 2:51, 52). In Ephesians 6:1, 2 "in all things" (κατὰ πάντα, "in regard to all things") is wanting; and not the extent, but the intrinsic rightness of the command as it is found in the Decalogue is insisted on. But here, where "Christ is all and in all" (ver. 11), it is "in the Lord" (Revised Text) that the child's obedience is declared to be "well pleasing." There is something especially pleasing in the behaviour of a lovingly obedient child, that wins "favour" both "with God and man" (Luke 2:52). The law of filial obedience has its creative ground "in him" (Colossians 1:16), and is an essential part of the Christian order of life, which is the natural order restored and perfected. "Well pleasing" is a favourite word of St. Paul's (comp. Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 5:10; Philippians 4:8; Romans 14:18; Titus 2:9, etc.; used also in Hebrews).
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Verse 21. - Ye fathers, do not irritate your children, lest they be disheartened (Ephesians 6:4). Αρεθίζω ("irritate" or "provoke") St. Paul uses once besides (2 Corinthians 9:2), in a good sense. It implies a use of parental authority which, by continual exactions and complaints, teaches the child to look on the father as his enemy rather than his friend. The synonymous παροργίζω of Ephesians 6:4, found here in many copies, is, more definitely "to rouse to anger." Αθυμέω (only here in the New Testament) means "to lose heart," to have the confidence and high spirit of youth broken; "fractus animus pestis juventutis" (Bengel). In place of this treatment, "the discipline and admonition of the Lord" are recommended in Ephesians 6:4.
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Verse 22. - Ye servants (literally, bondmen), be obedient in all things to your lords according to the flesh (Ephesians 6:5-9; 1 Timothy 6:1, 2; Titus 2:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:21-24; Romans 13:1, 5; 1 Peter 2:18-25). The duties of servants and masters are prominent here (ver. 22- Colossians 4:1), in view of the emphasis thrown upon the lordship of Christ; and partly, no doubt, with reference to the case of the runaway slave Onesimus (Colossians 4:9; Epistle to Philemon) "Servant" is δοῦλος, bondman, as in Colossians 1:1 and commonly in St. Paul. In 1 Peter 2:18 we have the milder οἰκετής, domestic. The vast majority of servants of all kinds at this time in the Greek and Roman world were slaves. In most districts the slaves were much more numerous than the free population. And they were undoubtedly numerous in the early Church. The gospel has always been welcome to the poor and oppressed. The attitude of St. Paul and of Christianity towards slavery claims consideration under the Epistle to Philemon; on this point see Lightfoot's 'Introduction.' Here and in Ephesians 6:5 (comp. vers. 7, 8) the apostle calls the master κύριος ("lord") in reference to "the Lord Christ" (vers. 22 b, 24); elsewhere in the New Testament, as in common Greek, the opposite of δοῦλος is δεσποτής (1 Timothy 6:1, 2; 2 Timothy 2:21, etc.), "According to flesh," that is, "in outward, earthly relationship" (comp. Romans 4:1): Christ is the Lord in the absolute and abiding sense of the word (similarly, "in the flesh" and "in the Lord," Philemon 1:16). Not with acts of eye service (literally, not in eye services), as man pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord (Ephesians 6:6; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Galatians 1:10; Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34; James 1:5-8; Psalm 123:2; Isaiah 8:13; Revelation 2:23). "Eye service" is plural here, according to Revised Text; singular in Ephesians 6:6. Here the word ὀφθαλμοδουλεία first oocurs in Greek, like ἐθελοθρησκεία (Colossians 2:23). It strikes at the besetting sin of servants of all kinds. Ανθρωπάρεσκος ("man pleaser") occurs in the LXX, Psalm 52:6 (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:6; Galatians 1:10). The servant whose aim it is to please his earthly master in what will catch his eye, plays a double part, acting in one way when observed, in another when left to himself; with this duplicity is contrasted "singleness of heart" (comp. Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 11:3; ἀπλότης in 2 Corinthians 8:2 and 1 Cor 9:11, 13 has a different application). "Fearing the Lord" more than the eye of his earthly lord, the Christian servant will always act in "singleness of heart;" for "the eyes of the Lord are in every place." In the same manner the apostle ("bondman of Christ Jesus," Colossians 1:1) speaks of his own relations to men and to the Lord Christ respectively (1 Corinthians 4:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6, etc.: comp. John 5:37-44). The reading "God" of Received Text is a copyist's emendation, a sample of a large class of corruptions of the text, where a word more familiar in any given connection is, more or less unconsciously, substituted for the original word.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Verse 23. - Whatever ye be doing, work (therein) from (the) soul, as to the Lord, and not to men (ver. 17; Ephesians 6:6, 7; 1 Corinthians 7:21-23). (On the first clause, see ver. 17.) In the Revised Text, however, the turn of expression differs from that of ver. 17, πᾶν being cancelled. The writer is thinking, not so much of the variety of service possible, as of the spirit which should pervade it. "Do" is replaced in the second clause by the more energetic "work," opposed to indolent or useless doing (comp. Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; John 5:17; John 9:4). "From [ἐκ, out of] the soul "indicates the spring of their exertions - inward principle, not outward compulsion; the servant must put his soul into his work. "Soul" implies, even more than "heart," the engagement of the man's best individual powers (comp. Philippians 1:27, as well as Ephesians 6:6). The slaves' daily taskwork is to be done, not only in sight and in fear of the Lord (ver. 22 b; Ephesians 5:21), but as actually "to the Lord." Him they are serving (ver. 24 b), who alone is "the Lord" (Colossians 2:6); every mean and hard task is dignified and sweetened by the thought of being done for him, and the commonest work must be done with the zeal and thoroughness that his service demands (comp. Ephesians 6:7, "with good will doing bond service"). The word "not" (οὐ instead of μὴ) implies that their service is actually rendered to One other and higher than "men" (1 Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 1:10).
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Verse 24. - Knowing that from (the) Lord you will receive the just recompense of the inheritance (Ephesians 6:8; Romans 2:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12; Psalm 62:12). "Knowing" (εἰδότες) - that of which one is aware, not merely learning or "getting to know" (γινώσκω): see both words in Ephesians 5:5 and John 14:7, Revised Text; also Romans 6:6 and 9; 1 John 5:20. "The absence of the definite article" before Κυρίου "is the more remarkable, because it is studiously inserted in the context" (Lightfoot). St. Paul virtually says, "There is a Master who will recompense you, if your earthly masters never do" (comp. Colossians 4:1). "Just" renders the ἀντὶ in ἀνταπόδοσιν (a word common in LXX), implying "equivalence" or "correspondence" (comp. ἀνταναπληρῶ in Colossians 1:24; also Romans 11:35; Romans 12:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:6; Luke 6:38; Luke 14:12, 14) - a reward in the case of each individual, and in each particular, answering to the service rendered to "the Lord" (comp. Matthew 25:14-30). The opposite truth is asserted in ver. 25; Ephesians 6:8 combines them both. The recompense of the faithful Christian slave is nothing less than "the inheritance" of God's children (Colossians 1:12; Ephesians 1:5, 11, 14; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 5:5; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Titus 3:7; 1 Peter 1:4), which the apostle has so often under other terms assured to his readers (Colossians 1:5, 23, 27; Colossians 2:18; Colossians 3:4, 15). For a slave to be heir was "a paradox" (Lightfoot): see Galatians 4:1, 7; Romans 8:15-17. No form of praise could be more cheering and ennobling to the despised slave than this. "In Christ," Onesimus is "no longer as a slave, but a brother beloved" (Philemon 1:16), and if a brother, then a joint heir with his master Philemon in the heavenly inheritance (Colossians 3:11). Ye serve the Lord Christ (vers. 22, 25; Colossians 2:6; Ephesians 6:6; Romans 14:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 7:22, 23; John 13:13); that is, Christ is the Lord whose bondmen ye are. "For" is probably a correct gloss, though a corrupt reading. Its insertion indicates that the sentence was read indicatively (Lightfoot, and R.V.); not imperatively ("serve the Lord Christ"), as Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, with the Vulgate, construe it. The verse amounts to this: "Work as for the Lord: he will repay you; you are his servants."
But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
Verse 25. - For he that doeth wrong shall receive again that he did wrong; and there is no respect of persons (Ephesians 6:8, 9; Philippians 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7; 1 Peter 1:17; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6). "For" is replaced by "but" in the same inferior copies which insert it in the last sentence. Here we have the ether side of the recompense promised in ver. 24 a, to which the explanatory "for" points back. The impartial justice which avenges every wrong guarantees the reward of the faithful servant of Christ. So the Old Testament saints rightly argued (Psalm 37:9-11; Psalm 58:10, 11; Psalm 64:7-10) that the punishment of the evil doer affords hope to the righteous man. This warning is quite general in its terms, and applies alike to the unfaithful servant and to the unjust master (comp. Ephesians 6:8). At the judgment seat of Christ there will be no favouritism: all ranks and orders of men will stand on precisely the same footing (Colossians 3:11). The word ἀδικέω, twice employed here, denotes a legal wrong or injury (1 Corinthians 6:7, 8); e.g. the conduct of Onesimus towards Philemon (ver. 18). The verb "receive" (κομίζομαι, carry off, gain; Ephesians 6:8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 5:4; Matthew 25:27) looks more to the receiver, whereas ἀπολήμψεσθε ἀπό (ver. 24) points to the giver. Προσωπολημψία (literally, accepting of the face) is a pure Hebraism, found in St. James twice, and four times in St. Paul. The apostle turns from the slave to address his master. Ch. 4:1. - Ye lords, show just dealing and fairness to your servants [bondmen] (Ephesians 6:8, 9; Matthew 18:23-35; Luke 6:31). The verb "show" (παρέχεσθε, afford, render) is middle in voice, and, as in Luke 7:4 and Titus 2:7, implies spontaneity - "show on your part," "of yourselves." Τὸ δίκαιον ("the just"), a concrete expression, denotes the justice of the master's dealing (comp. τὸ χρηστόν in Romans 2:4, "the kind dealing of God"). Τὴν ἰσότητα gives the principle by which he is to be guided, that of equity, fairness (so Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot). "Equity is the mother of Justice" (Philo, 'On the Creation of Magistrates,' § 14; see other illustrations in Lightfoot). Meyer contends for the stricter sense, "equality" (2 Corinthians 8:13, 14) - i.e. of Church status and brotherhood (Philemon 1:16; Colossians 3:11). But the context suggests no such special reference; it deals with the family and social relationship of master and servant "Equity" is a well-established sense of the Greek word. The law of equity bearing on all human relations Christ has laid down in Luke 6:31. Here is the germinal principle of the abolition of slavery. Moral equity, as realized by the Christian consciousness, was sure in course of time to bring about legal equality. Knowing that ye also have a Lord in heaven (Colossians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 7:22; Philippians 2:11; Romans 14:9; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16). (On "knowing," see ver. 24 a.) "Ye also," for Christ is "both their Lord and yours" (Ephesians 6:9, Revised Text). The lordship of Christ dominates the whole Epistle (Colossians 1:15, 18; Colossians 2:6, 10, 19, etc.). The assertion that the proud master who deemed his fellow man his chattel is himself a mere slave of Christ, sets Christ's authority in a vivid and striking light. This consideration makes the Christian master apprehensive as to his treatment of his dependents. He is "in heaven" (Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 6:9; Ephesians 4:10; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Acts 3:21; John 3:13; John 8:23; Hebrews 9:24), the seat of Divine authority and glory, whence he shall soon return to judgment (comp. Psalm 76:8; Romans 1:18).

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