Colossians chapter 3.12-25


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 God does not intend the Christian life to be lived in a vacuum.

The old has to be discarded, and the flesh ruthlessly dealt with. However, there is a new attire to be clothed with that speaks of the graces of Christ, for God would have us all to be like His Son.

Such features will help us in the assembly to maintain an atmosphere of love and respect.  They will help us in the family – whether wives, husbands or children – and they will govern our behaviour in the work place as well.

Wherever we are and whatever relationship we are found in, we represent the name of the Lord Jesus (chapter 3.17).

This ought to cause our hearts to well up in thanksgiving to the Father through Christ, whose peace rules in our hearts.

Colossians chapter  3.12-25

Graces to put on (verses 12-14)

What we have to put on is in keeping with what we are before God.  We are the subjects of Divine election, sanctification and affection, and certain Christ-like characteristics need to be displayed.  We are to have a heart of compassion which demonstrates a practical goodness and tender consideration of others.  We should be characteried by a genuine lowliness of mind, coupled with the ability to maintain control of personal strength and to bear up under pressure and opposition, while showing the quality to exhibit patient endurance with each other.  If we have a complaint against someone, it affords the opportunity to show them the kind of forgiveness that the Lord Jesus has already shown to every one of us.  Then, to crown these graces, Paul says “put on love.”  Love is that which binds believers together and provides the impetus to make progress towards the spiritual completeness intended by God.

Presiding peace and the indwelling word (verses 15-17)

– Love is the crown of all the graces

These verses may be paraphrased as follows: Allow the peace of Christ to arbitrate if disputes arise among you.  Let the word of Christ abide in you in all the richness of its wealth.  Let the wisdom of the doctrine of Christ admonish each one of you.  Let the worship of Christ arise as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, being thankful to God.  Everything we say and do must be in subjection to the authority of the Lord Jesus, and through Him our gratitude is directed to God the Father.  Is Jesus Christ Lord of my words and works?

Christian behaviour in various relationships (verses 17-25)

Paul deals with the home and the workplace in these verses.  In every mention of wives in the epistles, the principle of subjection is emphasised.  Note, it is always to her own husband that the wife is to submit, and Paul adds that this is befitting in the Lord.

Husbands have to love their wives and not to be irritating them out of a bitter spirit.  Here the love is unqualified, but in Ephesians 5, a husband must love his wife as he loves himself and “as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.”

Children are exhorted to obey their parents, and, Paul adds, “in everything.”  Note the higher thought that this is well pleasing not just to the parents, but is in keeping with a desire to please the Lord Himself.

This instruction to children is balanced by the requirement that fathers should not provoke or stir up their children.  By displaying the wrong attitude, it is possible to dishearten your children so as to take any feeling or passion out of them.

In verse 22 we enter the work place with an appeal to servants or slaves. Perhaps with the background of Onesimus (chapter 4.9), the converted slave being sent back to his master Philemon, Paul deals more extensively with responsibilities in this context.  Obedience, continuance, diligence and reverence are the features that must characterise their service. Whatever they are asked to do, and whether anyone is watching or not, they will work, putting their soul into it with energy as serving the Lord Himself.

They may be slaves down here and may have nothing of their own in this life, but the Lord will recompense their labour with a heavenly inheritance.  What dignity is conferred on the Christian slave and indeed all of us, when we remember that we serve the Lord Christ!  William Kelly has made the following observation on this passage: “No person becomes obedient by good rules. The heart must be filled with right motives.” It truly elevates even the most mundane level of service when the motive is to serve the risen Christ.

Next time:

Exhortations, the opening of doors and opportunities.

Colossians Chapter 3.1-11


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As a risen people enjoying the life of Christ we have a new object for our minds.  It may be good to examine how much time we actually spend being occupied with the things which are above.

What do we know of heaven and the place of exaltation where the Lord Jesus is now enthroned?

People in the world wonder where our pleasures are and what our life consists of.  Christians are an enigma to unbelievers!  However, one day we will come out of heaven with Christ when He returns to set up His visible manifested kingdom in this world that, today, has rejected Him and us.  Then the true nature of what it means to be linked with a glorified Man will be made evident to all.

Thus, in a world that is so concerned about “image projection,” we as believers endeavour only to present the image of our exalted Lord.

Colossians chapter 3.1-11

Risen with Christ

At the end of chapter 2 Paul reminded us that we died with Christ when He died.  Now we are instructed that we were also raised with Christ and as a result our ambitions are completely changed.  We are to demonstrate an earnest desire for heavenly things, being occupied with the truth that the Lord Jesus is on the right hand of God.  The right hand is the place of power and privilege.  Could it be that our minds are more often directed towards the horizontal outlook of this world rather than the more spiritual vertical sphere.  We are to have elevated thoughts because we are linked with an elevated Person in glory.  We died, and the self-life, living for earthly temporal pleasures, no longer appeals to us.

Our actual life is not evident here on earth, it is lived where Christ is and hidden in God from the eyes of men.  However, our life will be seen one day when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in His manifested glory.  Paul anticipates that day in 2 Thessalonians 1.10 “When He shall come to be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe.”

Having dealt with the occupation of our minds, Paul now turns to the mortification of our members in verses 5-8.

Paul deals with three categories of sins which may be summed up under the following headings: immoral lusts (verse 5), injurious actions and inappropriate language (verse 8).

We have to put to death any of these sins whenever they raise their heads, and we must be ruthless and relentless in attending to them.  They include: illicit sexual intercourse; impure thoughts; lustful passions; evil desires; and the basic root that covers all of these, namely the sin of covetousness.  This is literally “the desire to have more,” and reminds us that the flesh is never satisfied.

Covetousness is called idolatry because it dethrones God and displaces Christ in our affections, in order to pursue what the flesh craves for itself.

For the practice of these sins, the retribution of God will fall on those characterised by unbelieving disobedience.  These sins once belonged to the past life of the Colossians, before they were saved, but now their behaviour is different.

Next, Paul instructs them that they are to discard and be done with behaviour that disturbs and damages other people.  Wrath means a settled indignation fermenting in the heart, anger is the furious outburst of temper like a fire bursting out in the straw!  Malice is the perverse inclination to cause harm to someone, slander is to revile, and filthy communication is abusive speech.  Along with all these, lying, which is really any kind of falsehood, is to be discarded once for all.

The old and the new man

Paul reminds them that the old man has been put off, and the characteristics just listed all belong to the man we once were in Adam. There is therefore no place for these in the expression of the new man created by the Lord. The new man is renewed in knowledge and represents Christ, as well as resembling Him in reflecting His image.  The ultimate purpose of God for us is that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son,” and the inward work of accomplishing that has begun with the creation of the new man.

In this new creation there is no place for racial, religious, cultural or social boundaries (verse 11).  Paul asserts that there is only Christ, who is all and in all.  He is everything that is required and He is in everything that is worthwhile.

Next time: Respect and Relationships

Colossians chapter 2.16-23


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This passage alerts us to the danger of being deceived into accepting something less than what God has given us in Christ.

There may have been some excitement and appeal about worshipping angels, but that can never compare to the thrill in our souls of being in vital union with the living Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Many people today have nothing and no-one to hold onto.  Praise God we have the risen Christ.

Ritual and rules will only relegate us to the shadows and ultimately bring ruin.

Christ unites us and nourishes us and brings us into an atmosphere of love that encourages growth and development for our mutual benefit.

Are we satisfied with Him?

Colossians chapter 2.16-23

Christ is the substance
It has already been pointed out that there were elements of Jewish tradition mixed into the dogma of the false teachers.  In this passage Paul warns the readers against allowing anyone to pass judgment on them on the basis of the rites, rituals and regulations which the false teachers were attempting to impose on them.  Dietary regulations, the observance of special days in the calendar, rites or rituals relating to food, festivals and the like were no longer necessary in Christianity.  These belonged to the types and shadows of the Old Testament times (Hebrews 8.5: Hebrews 10.1), but now Christ the antitype has come.  Going back to shadows would be a denial of the all-sufficiency of Christ!  Paul tells them not to allow this to happen.  The word “beguile” in verse 18 means to decide against so as to rob of the prize.

The false premise was, since the Colossians were not following the rules of the false teachers, then they were unworthy and therefore disqualified. They professed humility by implying that they were too insignificant to directly approach God and so worshipped angels who would act as intermediaries for them. It would seem that the false teachers also claimed and took the stand that they had received visions. However, this was without substantiation and was the result of inflated pride due to a mind puffed up by the flesh.

The function of the headship of Christ is explained in verse 19.

It is clear that the false teachers had no grasp of the Head and consequently were not part of the body. It is the members of the body who hold fast to the head. There is vital union with Him indicated by the use of the illustrative joints and uniting bands. From the Head also a full supply of nourishment is ministered to all the members of the body. The result is that there is growth and development in the body according to the increase that God would give.

Thus we are completely dependent upon Christ our Head and we have a healthy inter-dependence with other members of the body.

The implications of having died with Christ.

Paul has revealed in the Roman epistle that believers died to sin (Romans 6.2) and have died to the law (Romans 7.4), but now here he states that we have died to the elements of the world. Sin is no longer a dictator over us and the law’s demands no longer apply when we have died. Likewise the elementary principles of the world do not determine the life-style of the believer. Worldly ordinances would place restrictions to tell us what not to touch or taste or handle (verse 21). The implication is here that, if certain foods were refused, the body would be better governed and they would become more spiritual. Paul dismisses this as also did the Lord Jesus in Matthew 15.17. “Do ye not understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly and is passed out into the draught.” Paul says these are just the commands and teachings of men!

Summing up in verse 23, Paul is scathing. Their wisdom is just outward show, the worship they engage in is inferior, their humility is not real and their imposed rituals to govern the body have no spiritual value at all. Indeed all of that only serves to indulge the flesh!

Far better to embrace the substance of all we have in Christ and to hold fast to Him.

Next time: risen with Christ


Colossians chapter 2.8-15


Paul was ever wary of introducing human wisdom into the things of God. In 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 he states that His “preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

What he would not do in Corinthians he seeks to prevent others from doing at Colosse!

We must remember that the wisdom of men is foolishness with God and must be discarded.

Human wisdom would rob Christ of his personal glory and deny His absolute deity.  Human wisdom would also dispense with the cross-work of the Lord Jesus and relegate His bodily resurrection to the realms of the impossible.

No wonder Paul writes, “Beware!”

Colossians chapter 2.8-15

Complete in Him

Paul warns against the tactics of the false teachers in verse 8.  The idea of “spoil” is to make a prey of you, and the bait they use is to deceive through human philosophy and human traditions, which are established on the elementary principles of this world.  Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and, given that Paul has already informed them in verse 3 that all the treasures of wisdom are found in Christ, that ought to have been sufficient to safeguard them against the error.

In chapter 1.19 Paul has stated that “Divine fullness was pleased to dwell in Him.”  Now in chapter 2.9 he affirms that “all the fullness of the Godhead subsists bodily in Him.”  The word “Godhead” is not just referring to the attributes of God (compare Romans 1.20), but means all that the Godhead is in essence and the Divine personality, dwells bodily in Christ.   Note the present tense “dwelleth” is used here to emphasise that this is an eternal unchanging truth!  “Ye are complete in Him” means to be filled up, made full with the fullness of Christ.  Paul asserts that Christ is the head of all angelic rule and authority, showing His supremacy over them.

In verse 11 Paul speaks of spiritual circumcision, which is different from the physical rite practiced in Judaism.  Man has no part in it at all, as it is accomplished by Christ, and our position in Him makes it good to us at conversion.  It involves the body of the flesh being stripped off in the cutting off of Christ in His death at the cross.  “Body of the flesh” (note “sins of” should be omitted) refers to the body conditioned by our evil fallen nature.  God has dealt with our evil state as man in the flesh, through our association with the death of Christ.  Two further steps are emphasised through the symbolism of baptism, namely that we were buried and raised together with Christ.  Note that this (baptism) is also a demonstration of our faith in what God has done in raising Christ from the dead.  Those who were dead in their trespasses and who pursued the unrestrained passions of the flesh have now, in association with Christ, been made alive by God, who has also freely forgiven them.  So in Christ we are made alive and enjoy forgiveness, and all our indebtedness to God is blotted out.  The demands of the full penalty of the ordinances of the law, which we were unable to meet, have been forever removed through the work of Christ at the cross.

There was an unseen battle at Calvary, against Satan and the hosts of Hell. These rulers of the darkness were spoiled by the mighty Victor, who exhibited His power over them through the glorious triumph of His cross. This conflict with infernal foes was envisaged in Psalm 22.21 in the cry from the cross “Save me from the lion’s mouth; for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”  God surely heard that cry, and every last foe was soundly defeated, publicly disgraced and dispatched back into the darkness from whence they came.

Well might we repeat the refrain of Moses and the children of Israel in Exodus 15.1, “I will sing unto the Lord for He hath triumphed gloriously.”

Next time:

Further warnings and the benefits derived from Christ as the Head