Colossians 3

Colossians 3:1

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

With Christ. The believer has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2:20, 3:3), and raised with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Eph. 2:5). See entry for Col. 3:3.

(b) Seated at the right hand of God. The Son shares his Father’s throne; see entry for Matt. 22:44.

Colossians 3:2

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

(a) Set your mind on the things above. We are offered two realities; things above and things on earth. Things above are unseen and eternal, while earthly things are temporary and passing away (2 Cor. 4:18).

A mind that is set on things above is mindful of the things of God (Matt. 16:23). What God has said and is now saying? What God has done is now doing? A mind set on spiritual things reaps peace and everlasting life (Rom. 8:6, Gal. 6:8).

(b) Not on the things that are on earth. A mind focused on earthly concerns – What do I want, how will I get it, and how will it make me look? – is headed for disconnection, destruction and death (see entry for Rom. 8:13).

Colossians 3:3

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

(a) You have died with Christ. Every man-made religion preaches self-denial and dying to self but the Bible simply declares, “You died” (Rom. 6:8, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2:20). Your old man is dead already. The key to the victorious life is not trying to reform your old self (he’s dead). It’s reckoning yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ.

Further reading: “What happened to me at the cross?

(b) With Christ. Again, Paul affirms our union with the Lord.

The believer has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2:20, 3:3, 2 Tim. 2:11), raised and made alive with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Eph. 2:5, Col. 3:1), is a joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17), is clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27), and now reigns with Christ (Eph. 2:6, 2 Tim. 2:12). Truly the believer is hidden with Christ in God.

See entry for Union.

Colossians 3:4

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Christ, who is our life. Our union with the Lord is the source of our very life (Gal. 2:20, Eph. 2:5, Col. 3:4). Apart from him we can do nothing, but in him we truly live and move and have our being.

Colossians 3:5

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Dead to immorality. Since you died with Christ, have nothing to do with your old master Sin. Since you have been given a new nature, don’t act in accordance with your old one. Since you are a butterfly, don’t act like a caterpillar.

Further reading: “If we’re holy, why does God call us to be holy?

Colossians 3:6

For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,

(a) The sons of disobedience. To be disobedient in the new covenant means to be unpersuadable. It’s someone who refuses to allow the Holy Spirit to convince them of their need for Jesus. God’s wrath is not coming on the children of disobedience because they do bad things. It’s coming on account of their stubborn refusal to receive the gift of life.

(b) Disobedience. The original word (apeitheia) means disbelief and derives from a word (peitho) that means to convince, win over, or persuade. Since faith is being persuaded or convinced that God loves you (Acts 28:24), disobedience in a new covenant sense is refusing to be persuaded. It has nothing to do with rule-keeping and everything to do with refusing to trust Jesus. This word is translated as unbelief in some Bibles.

Colossians 3:8

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

(a) Put them all aside. We put aside the old life, and put on the new self which has been created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22–24).

(b) Anger, etc. To this short list we might add deceit, hypocrisy, enmity, hatred, drunkenness, immorality, bitterness, jealousy, envy, covetousness, slander, profanity, tantrums (e.g., Gal. 5:19–21, Eph. 4:31, 1 Pet. 2:1). All these things proceed from a selfish and unregenerate heart and corrupt us (Mark 7:20–23).

The corrupting things we lay aside include anger, rage, malice, deceit, hypocrisy, enmity, hatred, drunkenness, immorality, bitterness, jealousy, envy, slander, profanity, tantrums (e.g., , Eph. 4:31, Col. 3:8, 1 Pet. 2:1) All these things proceed from a selfish and unregenerate heart and corrupt us (Mark 7:20–23).

Colossians 3:9

Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Laid aside the old self. Our old self was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), so why are we exhorted to lay the old self aside (Eph. 4:22)? Because many Christians, unaware that they died with Christ, are trying to reform their old selves. It’s a lost cause. Our flesh cannot be improved. What we need and what Christ offers is a brand new life; his life. See entry for New Life.

Colossians 3:11

a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

No distinction. Racial discrimination has no place in the new creation.

The world of Biblical times was highly segregated. The Jews were prejudiced towards women, Gentiles, and sinners; the Greeks were prejudiced towards barbarians (non-Greeks), and the Romans were prejudiced towards slaves and non-citizens. In contrast, Jesus received everyone without regard for their race, gender or status. He said his kingdom was like a dragnet cast into the sea gathering fish of every kind (Matt. 13:47), and he commissioned his disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). In contrast with the fallen kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of God welcomes people from every tribe and nation (Acts 2:5, 10:35, Rom. 10:12, Eph. 2:13, Col. 3:11, Rev. 7:9, 14:6).

Colossians 3:12

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

(a) The chosen of God are the elect or the church. “Many are called, but few are chosen,” said Jesus (Matt. 22:14). God’s call goes out to all but not all respond. Those who do are called the elect or the chosen. “For you are a chosen generation” (1 Pet. 2:9).

In a manner of speaking, the chosen choose themselves. But since the Lord initiates the call, it’s accurate to say we are chosen of God. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

(b) Holy. Christians are holy because Jesus makes them so (Heb. 10:10, 14). Collectively Christians are known as a holy priesthood and a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). The church is both God’s holy temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17, Eph. 2:21), and the Lord’s radiant and holy bride (Eph. 5:27).

Throughout scripture, Christians are consistently referred to sanctified saints. See entry for Acts 26:18.

(c) Beloved. All the epistle writers referred to believers as the beloved or dearly-loved children of God (see entry for Rom. 1:7).

Colossians 3:13

bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

(a) Forgiving… forgave. The original words (charizomai) mean to show favor or kindness. They are closely related to the word that means grace (charis). In context, both words means unconditional forgiveness (see also Col. 2:13). When we receive the unconditional forgiveness of God, we are empowered to be unconditionally forgiving of others.

(b) Just as the Lord forgave you. You need to be fully persuaded that you are completely and eternally forgiven. You were not forgiven because you said or did the right things. You were forgiven on account of his great love and grace (Eph. 1:7, 1 John 2:12).

See also the entry for Forgiveness.

Colossians 3:21

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

Do not exasperate your children. Don’t be so tough or unrealistic with your kids that they get discouraged.

Some kids are meek, others are strong-willed. All children need clear boundaries to guide them, but the last thing we want to do is break their spirits. “Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits” (Message Bible).

Sadly, many have bought into a lie which says our children are born bad to the bone. “Children are wired to rebel and destined for hell.” But that’s not what the Bible says. Your children were known to God before they were born (Ps. 139:15–16, Jer. 1:5) and are known to God now (Matt. 18:10). They were were shaped by God (Job 33:4, Ps. 100:3, Ecc. 11:5) and are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). Children are gifts from God (Ps. 127:3, Jas. 1:17).

Your children will rise no higher than your expectations of them, so have great and confident expectations. Be convinced that God knew what he was doing when he entrusted them to you. Don’t fall for the lies of manmade religion but declares the good promises of God over your children.

Colossians 3:24

knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

The reward of the inheritance. Keep your mind on things above by thinking about your coming inheritance.

Just as unbelievers need to think about how the Lord will repay them for what we have done (see entry for Rom. 2:6–8), believers need to think about how the Lord rewards those who trust him and are looking forward to his return.

The New Testament speaks of various kinds of eternal rewards such as eternal life and Jesus himself (see entry for Eternal Rewards). Here Paul adds that our inheritance in the Lord is also a kind of reward.

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