Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Colossians 3 - Renewed to a True Knowledge

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.

Therefore -- Refers all the way back to

Colossians 2:12

having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Chapter two has been a discourse on the ramifications of our death with Christ. We are no longer to live in a world where we must obey a set of commandments to become pleasing to God. We have died to that world. Paul ended Chapter two with the comment that performance is of no value toward ending fleshly indulgence. Now in Chapter three Paul goes on to explain what is of value.

if you have been raised up with Christ -- Just as we died with Christ to the beginning principles of the Mosaic Law, now we have been raised up with Christ to the mature principles of the New Covenant age.

keep seeking the things above -- As those now alive in Christ we are to focus our minds on the things above where we have been resurrected with Christ. We are to focus on our position of favor with God as we are in Christ and not on our earthly position of having to perform to become pleasing to God.

where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God -- We are where Christ is, in the place of privilege in His heavenly kingdom.

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

Set your mind -- What is of value against fleshly indulgence is to focus our minds.

on the things above -- We are to focus our minds on our heavenly position seated in the place of God's favor with Christ. We are to focus on God's favor toward us.

the things that are on earth -- The things on earth refers to the Law - as illustrated by "do not handle, do not taste, do not touch." The things below are all destined to perish, while the things above will last forever. We are not to focus on earning God's approval. We are rather to focus on resting in God's approval.

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

For you have died -- All that we were as sons of Adam died with Christ on the cross. Our relationship to the world of commandments ceased when our sins were nailed to His cross.

your life is hidden with Christ in God -- Our life now is hidden from this earth. We live by faith in our heavenly approval and disregard the appearance of God's disapproval we see in our flesh and in the world around us. Our entire life is now seated with Christ in the loving presence of the approving God.

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

Christ, who is our life -- Christ is now our life instead of the Law of Moses. The Law of Colossians chapter two was never able to impart life but now through our resurrection with Him to the heavenly places we have been given a life that never ends.

Galatians 3:21

Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.

is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory -- The history of the early church as recorded in the book of Acts tells of Christians being persecuted by the unbelieving Jews. The Jews, considered the church to be worthy of death because they had abandoned the Law of Moses in favor of resting in the fulfillment of Christ. The early Christians believed that the Lord Jesus would return to deliver them from this persecution and reveal that they were right to abandon the Law and turn to Christ.

Acts 21:26-28

Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them. When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, "Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place."

These believers in Christ were anxiously awaiting their vindication as Christ came in judgment of the Old Covenant system of Law. At this judgment the early church would be able to share in the glory of Christ as manifested in the destruction of the Law of Moses with its earthly temple.

Matthew 12:6

"But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here."

1 Peter 4:12-17

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

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

Therefore -- Refers back to verse 3, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Our death to the Law and our new life in Christ is the foundation for the advise that follows.

consider -- "Consider as dead" is the New American Standard Bible's way of translating the Greek word "nekrao" which literally means "to make dead". I think that they translate it this way because they consider this passage as parallel to

Romans 6:11

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Here, in Romans 6:11, "consider yourselves to be dead to sin" two words make up the concept of dead to sin. "Logizomai" means consider or to reckon, to count as true. "Nekros" means dead and is to noun form of the "nekrao" found in Colossians 3:5.

I agree with the NASB translation of this passage and I will comment on the passage as they have translated it.

the members of your earthly body -- Paul is concerned with our earthly body as opposed to our heavenly body. We are not to put to death or kill our earthly body. That happened on the cross many years ago. We are to remember that our earthly body is already dead and act accordingly. We are to disregard our earthly bodies, (the things that are on earth) and give our full attention to our heavenly bodies, (the things above), as in verse 3:2.

as dead -- We are dead in the sense that we are separated from our old life under the Law of Moses.

Romans 6:7

for he who has died is freed from sin.

Romans 7:4

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry -- It sounds odd that Paul says that we are to consider our earthly body as dead to these various sins as he said in Romans 6:7 when in Romans 7:4 he says that we are dead to the Law. So in what sense is dead to sin the same as being dead to the Law?

Romans 7:5,6

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

In Paul's mind the Law aroused the sinful passions and increased the transgressions. As we focus on keeping the Law we actually sin more. Paul's remedy for fleshly indulgence is to focus on our heavenly position in Christ as no longer under the boundaries of the Law of Moses.

To Paul, trying to keep the Law actually resulted in "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry." Not trying to keep the Law of Moses and, instead, focusing our minds on our heavenly position is Paul's way to rid ourselves of fleshly indulgence.

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

because of these things -- The list of sins from the previous verse must be judged as not reflecting the image of God.

the wrath of God -- Those who choose to remain under the sin and death of the Law of Moses and choose not to believe that the Son has given them life remain under the wrath of God.

John 3:36

"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Notice the contrast between believing in the Son and not obeying the Son. Believing in the Son is the same as obeying the Son.

Romans 16:25,26

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith

Faith (believing in His Son) results in obedience.

the sons of disobedience -- The sons of disobedience are those who remain in Adam, whose fleshly attempts to please God led him to be banished from God's fellowship. The sons of obedience are those who have believed in the Christ who has made us pleasing to God and free from His wrath.

Romans 5:19

For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.

in them you also once walked -- Our entire lives were spent in the frustration that results from trying to obey the impossible commands of Moses. Our failure to find happiness through obeying the commandments results in our seeking happiness elsewhere as is evidenced through each of the listed sins.

when you were living in them -- We were living in the sinful acts that were a manifestation of trying to please God in our flesh instead of eating from the tree of life, instead of believing in His Son, instead of resting in His pleasure in us.

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

put them all aside -- Set your minds on the things above where we are all seated with Christ at the right hand of God.

anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth -- Notice that the list of sins has changed from our inward desires to our outward expression of sin toward others. Living a life as slaves to the Law of Moses leads to judging one another and condemning one another. Living life as those freed from the Law of Moses leads to the unity of the body as those whose every sin has been forgiven.

Galatians 5:13-16

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Galatians 5:26

Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

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

Do not lie to one another -- Do not deceive one another into going back under the Law.

Galatians 3:1-3

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices -- Since we have focused our minds on the fact that we are now in Christ and no longer under the Law. Notice that "laid aside" is past tense. We "laid aside the old self" when we first believed in Christ.

Colossians 2:6

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him

10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him--

have put on the new self -- Once again, this is past tense because it occurred when we first believed. When we believe we take off the mind of Adam and put on the mind of Christ.

who is being renewed to a true knowledge -- When we first believe we begin the process of growth in the knowledge of God's love for us. We are being renewed from the false knowledge imparted by the Law to the true knowledge of who we are in Christ.

Ephesians 3:16-19

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

according to the image of the One who created him -- Adam and Eve were created in God's image. They were to reflect the love between the Father and the Son. As we change from the mind of Adam to the mind of Christ we are restored to reflecting the image of love for one another.

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.

a renewal -- It is our minds that are being made new, not our flesh or our bodies.

no distinction -- This list of distinction is not exhaustive. The is absolutely now no distinction no between individuals. The Law of Moses was all about distinctions, whether based on birth or behavior. Now all these distinctions have been done away with. We are all one in Christ.

Christ is all, and in all -- The reason there is now no distinction is because Christ is all and in all. If Christ is the fulfillment of all of the Law and Christ is equally in each person then what right have we to make distinction where God makes no distinction????

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

chosen of God, holy and beloved -- The choice of God is not based on anything we have done. God has chosen us, holy and beloved. This does not mean that we are to be holy and beloved, but rather that we are holy and beloved. He has chosen us as holy and beloved. Because God has chosen us as holy in His sight, we are not to see the failings of others. We are to see one another as complete in Christ, lacking nothing. Because God has chosen us as beloved in His sight, we are to love one another as He has loved us and as He has loved them.

put on a heart -- Heart, mind, and attitude are all synonyms for Paul. We are to love because He first loved us.

compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience -- Each of these attitudes is a reflection of God's attitude toward us.

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.

bearing with one another -- Just as the Lord puts up with our failings.

forgiving each other -- Not just seventy times seven but whenever we have something to forgive.

just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you -- This how we fulfill the royal law spoken of in James. We are to treat one another as we would want to be treated. We have been treated by God as we want to be treated, so we should treat one another as God has treated us.

James 2:8

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF," you are doing well.

This is also called the law of liberty in

James 2:12

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

As we have been set free (forgiven) by God we are to set others free.

It is also the second great commandment mentioned by Jesus.

14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Beyond all these things put on love -- Each of these attitudes is an expression of love; our love for one another and God's love for us.

the perfect bond of unity -- Love is the glue that hold all things together.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

peace of Christ -- The enduring peace that we now have with God, not as a result of anything we have done, but because of the work of Christ on our behalf.

Romans 5:1

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

rule in your hearts -- Let our peace with God control our attitude.

to which indeed you were called -- We were called to peace with God. That is why we were chosen or elected.

in one body -- We were chosen to be the body of Christ on earth to demonstrate to the world the unity resulting from our peace with God.

be thankful -- A thankful heart is a result of a mind focused on the peace we now have with God.

16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

the word of Christ -- This is the message of what Christ has done for us as revealed by he Holy Spirit.

richly dwell within you -- We are to let the word of Christ find its home in us just as the word of the Lord found its home in the temple under the Old Covenant. This word reveals the riches we have in Christ.

with all wisdom -- All the wisdom of God is expressed in Christ's work on our behalf.

teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs -- The word of Christ is able to teach and admonish. It explains our purpose in this world and warns us not to fall away from our hope in Him.

singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God -- Our hearts should always be focused on the peace we have with God through Christ and that peace should bring a song of joy to our hearts.

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

do all in the name of the Lord Jesus -- "In the name of" is an idiom that is used infrequently in our contemporary culture. I think of "Stop in the name of the Law" as an example. It this modern example "name" means something like "authority".

In the New Testament writings, the word, "name", means, first, "character", and then, "reputation" as based on that character, and finally, "authority" as based on that reputation.

In the next few verses Paul gives some examples of acting in the name of the Lord Jesus. In each instance "in the name of" almost seems to convey the idea of acting in the "place" of Jesus. This idea would fit with the concept that the church is the visible expression of the love of Jesus to the world today.

giving thanks through Him to God the Father -- Our expression of the love of Christ to the world demonstrates our gratitude to God the Father for the gift of His Son as an expression of His love for us.

Notice that in each of verses 15-17 Paul mentions being thankful. I think that this thankfulness is the key to being able to reflect Christ's love in each of the relationships Paul is about to discuss. Only as we see our husbands, our wives, our parents, our children, our masters, and our slaves as gifts from the Lord, only then will we be able to treat them as we would want to be treated.

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Wives, be subject to your husbands -- Paul's first example of acting in the name of the Lord, takes us back to the creation story.

Genesis 1:27

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

As wives submit are subject to their husbands they reflect, to the world, the image of the Son subjecting Himself to the Father.

as is fitting in the Lord -- As is fitting to reflect the character of Christ to the world.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

Husbands, love your wives -- As husbands love their wives they reflect the image of the Father loving the Son.

do not be embittered against them -- I think that bitterness is the result of an abiding anger.

Ephesians 4:26

BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

As we continually forgive one another and let our anger subside we will not develop a bitter heart. This forgiveness is an example of our love reflecting the love of God to the world.

20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

Children, be obedient to your parents in all things -- Children express their love for their parents through obedience and so reflect the love of the Son for His heavenly Parent.

for this is well-pleasing to the Lord -- As children obey their parents they bring pleasure to the Lord as His obedience to His Father is reflected to the world.

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

Fathers, do not exasperate your children -- As fathers treat their children with gentleness they will not become frustrated and will rest in their fathers' love.

so that they will not lose heart -- As fathers deal gently with their children they reflect the patience that God has for all of His earthly children.

Matthew 18:14

"So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth -- The earthly slave-master relationship reflects the relationship of believers with their heavenly master. The Bible describes salvation with the language of a marketplace where a slave is purchased from another master (sin or the Law of Moses) and set free by the new master (God the Father). Once set free, the slave freely enslaves himself to the new master.

2 Peter 2:1

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

not with external service -- We are not to obey as slaves who only do the least amount of work necessary to avoid punishment.

as those who merely please men -- As those trying to please their earthly masters out of fear of punishment.

but with sincerity of heart -- Rather, our obedience is to reflect a heart set free and now desiring to obey out of love for the One who has paid the price for our freedom.

fearing the Lord -- Fearing the Lord means respecting the Lord. Peter demonstrates this use of fear to mean respect in

1 Peter 2:18

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.

We are to be submissive out of respect even to good and gentle masters who would be no cause of fear in the sense of punishment. It is important that Peter adds that we should be submissive to those who are unreasonable, because that takes away the burden of deciding which commands to obey. We should obey all commands given by our masters because they are acting in the place of the Lord and, through our earthly obedience, we show the world our respect for our heavenly master.

23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,

Whatever you do -- Our every action and word is part of a spectacle, both to men and to the unseen angels. Everything we do is to be a reflection of the image of God so that the earthly and heavenly realms may see our lives and glorify our Father in heaven as we reflect His love.

1 Corinthians 4:9

For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.

Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

1 Peter 1:12

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look.

do your work heartily -- The word translated "heartily" is literally "from the soul". The idea is that our whole being is controlled by our desire to express the love of Christ through our submission to one another. Also, the more difficult the situation in which the Lord places us, the darker background we have to present the contrast of the light of God's love. So we should give our all in every situation.

as for the Lord rather than for men -- All of our actions are to be motivated by the desire to bring glory to the Lord. Because of this we can rejoice in even the most difficult situations because they are the best stages to manifest the glory of God.

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

knowing that from the Lord you will receive-- Paul says that we will receive the reward; not that we might receive the reward. The reward is not conditioned on our performance but is guaranteed by God's grace.

the reward of the inheritance -- It sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it? A reward is something one earns and an inheritance is something one has by being part of a family.

Also, a slave doesn't inherit from his master. Inheritance is a family matter. We are the Lord's slaves whom He has bought and set free and made part of His family of those who now serve Him willing.

The inheritance in the Old Testament was the Israelite's rest in the land of promise. This was a foreshadowing of our inheritance of the rest in eternal life in Christ, Himself.

It is the Lord Christ whom you serve -- Wouldn't our lives be different if we saw the Lord Christ in the place of our earthly masters. We would be eager to serve the One who loved us enough to give His very life for us. But that is the reality of our service. As we serve our earthly masters we are really serving Christ and bringing glory to His name.

25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

For he who does wrong -- Notice that there is no mention of "he who does right". This verse is setting up a contrast of those spoken of as receiving the unconditional reward of the inheritance of eternal life with those who do wrong. This probably refers to the unbelieving masters who are mistreating the slaves.

will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done -- Those who have not received the gift of eternal life still live under the law of sin and death. They still have not received the freedom from sin and death in Christ Jesus. Paul is reminding the Colossians that it is not up to us to provide consequences of the wrongs but to leave that to the Lord.

Romans 12:19

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.

and that without partiality -- Those who are doing wrong will not be spared the Lord's consequences because of their high position, whether as members of the nation of Israel or as wealthy gentiles.


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