Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Colossians 3 (web)

Be Transformed by the Knowledge of Christ

Looking Above

3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ,
seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.
3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.
3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed,
then you will also be revealed with him in glory.

Putting off the Old Self

3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth:
sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;
3:6 for which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.
3:7 You also once walked in those, when you lived in them;
3:8 but now you also put them all away:
anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth.
3:9 Don't lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings,

Putting on the New Self

3:10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator,

3:11 where there can't be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.

3:12 Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,

a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance;
3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other,
if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do.

3:14 Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection.

3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;
in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another
with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord.

3:17 Whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.

Practicing Submission

3:18 Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and don't be bitter against them.

3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this pleases the Lord.

3:21 Fathers, don't provoke your children, so that they won't be discouraged.

3:22 Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh,
not just when they are looking, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.

3:23 And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men,
3:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance;
for you serve the Lord Christ.

3:25 But he who does wrong will receive again for the wrong that he has done,
and there is no partiality.

Discussion Questions

vs 1,2 What things are above, which we should set our minds on?
vs 3 In what ways have you died?
vs 5-9 If we have died, then why must we still put to death our earthly nature?
What is distinct about the list in vs 8 compared with that in vs 5?
vs 9 Why do people lie to one another?
Why in vs 11 does he seem to say that there is no distinction between slave and free and yet in vs 22 and 4:1 he makes a distinction between these two? What about gender differences?
vs 12 What if you simply don't feel these things? Should you just kind of fake it?
vs 13 In what ways may we be challenged to bear with other Christians?
vs 16 What is "the word of Christ? And how might you let it dwell in you richly?
vs 18-22 Compare the commands given to wives, children and slaves. What similarities do you see?
How do they differ from those give to husbands, fathers and masters (4:1)?
How would you categorize the roles between these two sets of people?
And how would you resolve the apparent contradiction with the idea of there being equality in Christ?
vs 23-25 How does Paul encourage those living under slavery?
How does Paul's concept of "working for the Lord" differ from that of popular institutional Christianity?
vs 24 How do you resolve the contradiction between "reward for services rendered" and salvation as a free gift?


Mind Heavenly Things

Col 3:1,2
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

"set your hearts" is literally "to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into", which is the same word Jesus used in the phrase: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to"you as well." Mt 6:33 Which ties in with verse 2 "set your minds on things above".

Much of the Christian life is a mental exercise. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Godís will isó his good, pleasing and perfect will." Rom 12:2

In Chapter 1 Paul prayed that they would be filled with the knowledge of God's will. It is by the knowledge of God that the Christian is transformed, as also he says in vs 10 "being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

But what are "the things above" which we should be setting our minds on?
Abstract concepts such as love, justice, holiness, grace, and other attributes of God from which we can formulate praise and thanksgiving.

What then would be earthly things?
Sensual lusts, greed, pride, covetousness.

You Died

Col 3:3,4 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

You who are in Christ have in fact died already. Jesus said, "whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24 How concerned are dead people with worldly affairs? "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern." 1Cor 7:29-32

Furthermore Christ is our life, as Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20 And John says, "Now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him" 1John 3:2a

Crucify the Flesh

Col 3:5,6 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.

Or as Galatians puts it, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Gal 5:24 

This is an example of the kinds of commands found in the New Testament letters. Note it does tell us how to put such things to death, but just to do it. For the Christian life is not a matter of technique, but rather a matter of walking in the Spirit. And those who belong to Christ gravitate to doing what is right.

This list is not comprehensive. We find similar lists in 1Cor 6:9,10; Eph 5:3-5 and Gal 5:19-21 In fact this verse is largely paralleled in Eph 5:5 "No immoral, impure or greedy personó such a man is an idolateró has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Though, much as the depraved may not recognize sin for what it is, Paul simply writes, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:" Gal 5:19, and as such I shouldn't have to elaborate upon these categories. Though twice he mentions that greed is a form of idolatry. Thus many today who despise idols and consider idolatry largely relegated to ancient times, yet they themselves may in fact be idolators in loving money and coveting things. In fact "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." 1Tim 6:10 

But the Christian thinks of money and possessions more along these lines: The more you have, the more you will be held accountable for. And furuthermore, the more you have, the more you will have to spend time, energy and resources to maintain. Sin enslaves, so what good is it? Sin brings wrath, so why value it?

Wrath is not our destiny. Those of us who are children of God. Rather it's the destiny of the sons of disobedience.

Control Your Tongue

Col 3:7,8 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Notice he says, "used to". Such is not the case for those who have been born of God, seeing as regeneration changes one's behavior. Likewise Paul gives a list of sins in 1Cor 6:9,10 but goes on to say, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." Once again he's indicating that they no longer live a lifestyle of sin, even though they had prior to their conversion.

But as indicated by verse 8, while we don't live a lifestyle of sin, we are not rid of sin altogether. Though we don't walk in it, we trip over it from time to time. The first three, anger, rage and malice have to do with one's temper, temperament, or disposition. These tend to particularly come to light under stress. Likewise it says in Eph 4:31 "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."

Slander and fithy language have to do with speech. Difficult to tame to the tongue.

Tell the Truth

Col 3:9,10 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Ephesians follows suit, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:22-24

Our perspective is not that we are the same person we once were, but merely with a changed behavior, rather, having been born of God, we change our behavior because we are a different person. For "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2Cor 5:17 And "we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." Rom 6:6

And as our dwelling place is with God, we value truth. "LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart." Ps 15:1,2

There are a number of reasons why people lie, but primarily for personal gain, as in false advertisement. Proverbs say, "better to be poor than a liar." Pr 19:22b And if not lying per se people also use words to mislead others. Or even mislead themselves. For The man who says, "I know God," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1John 2:4 Or "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." 1John 4:20

Likewise there are those who misuse the Word of God, either reading into it ideas which God did not intend, or even adding to it. But "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar." Pr 30:6

While lying may be a common practice in society, it should not be so for the children of God. For "The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liarsó their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur." Rev 21:8

Rid Yourself of Prejudice

Col 3:11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

This is not to say there are no differences of role among the body of Christ. For such is affirmed abundantly in these letters to the churches. In fact a few verses later in this very chapter he will begin to speak categorically of differing roles within the body.

But with respect to salvation status, there should be no prejudice, seeing as all in Christ are equally children of God. Indeed this was a great challenge in the early church, particularly with regards to the prejudice Jews had for Gentiles - a prejudice which was even evident in apostles such as Peter, even while a leader of the church at Jerusalem.

The Christian's identity is not to be determined by their ethnic or cultural background or secular status. Therefore Christians should be rid of all their prejudices. What cultural prejudices were you exposed to in your upbringing? Was your race a factor in determining what church you would attend?

Clothe Yourself with Christ

Col 3:12,13 Therefore, as Godís chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And again Ephesians follows suit. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Eph 4:32 And Peter says, "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1Peter 3:8

As it's human nature that familiarity breeds contempt, it's generally more challenging to get along with those close to us than strangers. But what helps primarily is looking out for the best interest of others, which is love. Getting along with other Christians should be as much a priority as getting rid of one's own personal sin.

In one sense one can expect Christians to be more virtuous than the world, due to the effect of regeneration. Of the world Paul writes, "there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one." Rom 3:12 (NRSV) "Kindness" there is the same word used here, which is expected of Christians. Yet the fact that these verses speak of forgiveness implies that one should not expect other Christians to be perfect in order to get along with them. In fact some falsely align themselves with the Christian community to exploit Christians for their goodness, but show their true colors when Christians don't meet their personal selfish expectations. Yet such false brethren are also those we must bear in love, so that they may be saved. And a generous person must tolerate being exploited from time to time. But perhaps the most essential, the most foundational of all character qualities is humility. All other virtues are a reflection of one's humility.

Put On Love

Col 3:14 
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If humility is the foundation (if abasement be found in a basement), then love is the roof, the pinnacle of all virtues. It is over all other virtues. But being the roof it is developed more fully later. That is particularly reflected in one's spiritual maturity. The immature may compartmentalize their Christian life. But through love, the mature integrate Christian virtues into all of life. Earlier Paul spoke of his struggles for them and went on to say, "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love" Col 2:2 So also it says, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Eph 4:2,3

With hatred comes discord, but with love unity. The fact that love is a command here and elsewhere in the letters indicates is not simply a preference but rather takes an intentional effort on our part to achieve.

Be At Peace

Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

We first have peace with God though our faith in Christ and His atoning work on the cross, which ended the hostile relationship between us and God whereby we were enemies. "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christís physical body through death." Col 1:21,22a  And "therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" Rom 5:1

Consequently we can have peace of mind. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Php 4:6,7 And also we are at peace with our fellow saints, being of a common family, and sharing a common purpose and destiny. And "if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Rom 5:1 And along with peace, thankfulness, with it be to God or others.

Dwell in the Word

Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

What was the primary cause of the corruption of the early church which turned it into Catholicism? Largely the neglect of the scriptures. If you read the early Christian writers you will find that the use of scripture became increasingly neglected in the second and third centuries until it was largely replaced with man made heresies. And the institution that arose around such corruption, namely Catholicism, not only took away scripture from people, which accounts for the large ignorance of scripture historically among Catholics, but also refused to allow itself to be scrutinized, and thus Christianity became entrenched in its heresies. And likely under such conditions, few were saved, for "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Rom 10:17

Paul instructed Timothy, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourageó with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2Tim 4:2-4

Apart from application oriented Bible study, you cannot be called a disciple of Christ, for Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." John 8:31 And it is through the  word of God that we are born again,. "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." 1Peter 1:23

And as reading stirs up the mind, singing can stir up the spirit. "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." Eph 5:19 We sing about those things which resonate with our spirit. Apparently the spirit of world resonates around sexual passion, as such is the theme of most worldly music. What music resonates with your spirit? As for content it is interesting to note that while traditional hymns are filled with doctrine, modern Christian music, due to cultural influence,  focusses on how you feel. Problem with that is that such a focus can overshadow right doctrine. Rejoicing in how you feel is not the same as rejoicing in the truth.

Be Thankful

Col 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A godly life is one is which you keep God in mind in whatever you so or say. "And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 Since we belong to Christ whatever we do or say reflects on Him, on His reputation. Your reputation reflects on His reputation. Let us also be characterized by thankfulness to God, "who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." 1Tim 6:17b So "always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Eph 5:20

As such there is no real division between the secular and spiritual in the Christian life, much as some have been trained to compartmentalize their Christian life. Consequently this verse segues into a section on basically on being a Christian at home and at work.

Wives, Submit

Col 3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Or as it says in Eph 5:22-24 "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

The wife's submission to her husband is a reflection of her submission to Christ, or lack thereof. There should be no question as to who is to be the boss in the Christian community, namely Christ. Nor should there be any question as to who is to be the boss in the family. There's a beauty in the wife's submission. "In former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands." 1Peter 3:5 And conversely there's an ugliness to a wife who is bossy, contentious and quarelsome. "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." Pr 25:24 And just as it is fitting for wives to embrace their subordinate role in the marriage, as also the church should in its relationship with Christ, and as Christ Himself did in relationship with His Father, so also contentious women are not fit to be wives.

And this should be a serious consideration when deciding whether to get married. For to become the bride of Christ one must acknowledge Christ as Lord. So also the woman must agree to the godly role assigned her in marriage. Else she should remain single. Indeed the Christian marriage vows themselves affirm this point. For among the wife's vows is to obey her husband, whereas the husband doesn't take such a vow as it would be ungodly for a husband to play the subordinate role in marriage.

 "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies." Pr 31:10 Virtuous wives are both rare and valuable. Conversely wives lacking virtue are common and of little value. Indeed such a man would be better off single if he finds not a virtuous wife.

Husbands, be Gracious

Col 3:19  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Peter elaborates on this, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner" 1Peter 3:7a In virtually every manner women are weaker than men. Consequently Men should not hold women to the same standard as to men. Feminists, both among men and women, tend to violate this principle. For when women are treated like men, they can't take it. Men, for example, have a characteristic humility not characteristic of women. Men can take criticism which women cannot take. In fact men often appreciate their friends helping them maintain a proper level of humility by criticizing them. But the pride of women is too delicate. They take offense too easily due to pride. Voted the best song of the 20th Century, Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" reflects this principle. "Why she had to go, I don't know, she wouldn't say. I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday."

I heard woman, complaining about alleged gender-bias in the workplace say that women have to work three times harder than men, which is a bit of an overstatement. Women don't have to work three times harder to do the work of a man, but what comes natural to men is an effort for women because of the nature of gender. So it's a disservice to treat men and women equally. The demands of radical feminism is a disservice to women and has proven destructive to society as a whole.

Consequently men need to consider this and other issues concerning the weakness of their wife in relating with them considerately. To treat them with respect one must hold them to a lower standard, lowering one's expectations so that any inkling of virtue may be praised.

However, despite the weak ego, husbands are to help their wives deal with sin. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." Eph 5:24-27 For as Christ considerately points out sin and consequently sanctifies us, so also are husbands to instruct their wives from the Bible with a view toward removing any unholiness.

Children, Obey

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Notice Paul here is speaking directly to children. He doesn't say - "you parents, teach your children to obey", but rather he speaks directly to children. Thus these New Testament letters are intended to be read by everyone - including children.

Or as he said elsewhere, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.'" (Deut 5:16) Eph 6:1-3 The promise is a truism. Conversely, it is also a truism that it does not go well with rebellious children. "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death." Pr 19:18

Notice through this section that Paul is speaking of "vertical relationships". For in each case he speaks of those subordinate to authority and those in authority over them. And to summarize, those under authority are to obey those in authority, and those in authority are to exercise grace towards those under their authority.

Wives and children are both in roles of subordination. In fact children learn submission from their mother in her compliance to her husband, and they learn leadership from their father in his role of leadership. Conversely rebellious children and women usurping authority over men go hand in hand. In Isaiah 3:12 God says of His people, "As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths." So mothers, don't expect your children to practice subordination to you any more than you do towards your husband.

Fathers, be Gracious

Col 3:21  Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Or as it says in Ephesians, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Eph 6:4

Notice that whether in role of husband or father, the man is instructed to be gracious. Previously I mentioned that husbands need to be lenient towards their wife, not holding them to the same standard as they may hold themselves to. So also with regards to their role as father. Don't be overbearing. Don't be strict beyond what is called for. Better yet to temper discipline with encouragement, praise and personal involvement.

Yet fathers are instructed to "manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect." 1Timn 3:4  It is the father who is the manager of the family. The mother is in a sense is first officer - carrying out the principles he lays down, his vision for the family. Both as a father and as a husband, the man is to be treated with proper respect, being the authority figure in both relationships. But while the role itself is to be respect, fathers also need to earn respect as individuals, setting the example. For example it says, "Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain." 1Tim 3:8 Being worthy of respect by setting the example will open children up to being instructed and disciplined.

Slaves, Obey

Col 3:22-25 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

Ephesians says almost the same exact thing:

Eph 6:5-8 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

Paul instructs Titus, "Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." Titus 2:9,10

Is such compliance only to be exercised towards good employers, good husbands, good fathers? "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh." 1Pet 2:18  And "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior otheir wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." 1Peter 3:1,2

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Oct 08,2016