Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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COLOSSIANS - Chapter 3

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Colossians 3

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  WARNINGS AGAINST FALSE TEACHERS  2, 4 -- 3, 4 (continued)

3, 1-4:  Mystical Death and Resurrection.  To those who believe in the gospel, who live a new life of faith, other realities than the material things of earth are all-important.  Like the martyr Stephen (Act 7, 55), they bear witness by their attitude to their risen Lord, occupying a position of honor and authority in heaven.  Hidden now from men, their spiritual life will one day be made manifest to all.

III.  THE IDEAL CHRISTIAN LIFE IN THE WORLD  3, 5 -- 4, 6

3, 5-11:  Renounce Vices.    5.  Members: it may be that here there is another use of the language of the false teachers.  They recommended feasts and fasts as a means "to mortify earthly members," men who clung to worldly things instead of the vaunted higher Christianity of the heretics.  St. Paul takes up their words: "Indeed, 'put to death your earthly members,' i.e., in the light of Rom. 6, 19-21, the vices to which you are inclined."  He then names several typical sins by which the pagan world was bound to Satan, adding covetousness to carnal sins, for the voluptuary needs money to obtain satisfaction of his evil desires.  For more complete lists see Gal. 5, 19-21; Rom. 1, 29-31.    7.  Life for them had at one time (see 1, 21; 2, 13) consisted in these sinful pleasures.    8.  Put them all away: the sins of their pagan years, both what has been listed and is yet to be mentioned.  Anger: vehement outbursts of temper.  Wrath: a feeling of anger nursed in the soul.  Malice: a disposition to harm others.  To these the Apostle adds sins of the tongue.    9 f.  The precepts given in 5-8 are repeated under the figure that lies behind 2, 11.  See Rom. 6, 6.  Through the working of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3, 5) the new man within us (2 Cor. 4, 16) is ever renewed, recast in a perfection modeled on God's holiness.    11.  Here, in the new man, distinctions based on religion, culture, and social standing fall away.  In Christ we receive everything (Rom. 8, 32).

3, 12-17:  Practise Virtues.    12.  The virtues here recommended were sadly lacking in pagan life (Rom. 1, 31).    13.  This verse is connected by Eph. 4, 32 with 2, 13, where forgiving is attributed to God (the Father).    14.  The bond of perfection: achieving a permanent union among the members of the Mystical Body, a condition in which the virtues recommended in the previous verses will be continuously practised.    16.  The teaching of Christ is to be embodied in songs, and inculcated and spread through singing them in religious gatherings.    17.  The name, in scriptural usage, is the person as known.  All the speech and all the actions of a Christian must proceed from a principle in union with Christ.  A habitual reference of our words and deeds to God suffices.  See also Eph. 5, 20 and 1 Cor. 10, 31.

3, 18-21:  The Christian Family.    18.  In the Lord: as disciples of Christ.  The manner and degree of subjection is determined by Christian teaching.  See 1 Cor. 11, 3-16; Eph. 5, 22-23.    19.  The recommendations made in 12-13 are to be applied by husbands to their wives.  If they find that their spouses do not come up to their expectation in all things, they may not be harsh, irritable, or sullen towards them; but must practise kindness, meekness, and longsuffering.    20 f.  The dutiful subjection of children will be easier if the commands of fathers are not given in a haughty manner or with too great severity.

3, 22 -- 4, 1:  Slaves and Masters.    22-25.  To slaves a high ideal of service is here proposed.  "Consider yourselves slaves of our Lord Christ."  In their relation to God the slaves stand on an equal footing with their masters (4, 1).  But the latter have claims on them, based on custom and civil law, which are not to be set aside.  Even at laborious tasks the slaves are to work with a will, without complaint, acknowledging thus the wise designs of God's providence, who requires such obedience of them.  From their earthly masters they receive neither salary nor inheritance, but our Lord will repay them in full.  Wrong done to masters will also be requited; even the Christian slave who wrongs a pagan master may expect no benefit of faith.  [Commentary on this section is continued at the beginning of the next chapter.]


Confraternity Bible:

Mystical Death and Resurrection  1 Therefore, if you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  2 Mind the things that are above, not the things that are on earth.  3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  4 When Christ, your life, shall appear, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Renounce Vices  5* Therefore mortify your members, which are on earth: immorality, uncleanness, lust, evil desire and covetousness (which is a form of idol-worship).  6 Because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the unbelievers, 7 and you yourselves once walked in them when they were your life.  8 But now do you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, abusive language and foul-mouthed utterances.  9 Do not lie to one another.  Strip off the old man with his deeds 10 and put on the new, one that is being renewed unto perfect knowledge "according to the image of his Creator."  11* Here there is not "Gentile and Jew," "circumcised and uncircumcised," "Barbarian and Scythian," "slave and freeman"; but Christ is all things and in all.

Practise Virtues  12 Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience.  13 Bear with one another and forgive one another, if anyone has a grievance against any other; even as the Lord has forgiven you, so also do you forgive.  14 But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection.  15 And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts; unto that peace, indeed, you were called in one body.  Show yourselves thankful.  16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly: in all wisdom teach and admonish one another by psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing in your hearts to God by his grace.  17 Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The Christian Family  18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is becoming in the Lord.  19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter towards them.  20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for that is pleasing in the Lord.  21 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, that they may not be discouraged.

Slaves and Masters  22 Slaves, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service seeking to please men, but in singleness of heart from fear of the Lord.  23 Whatever you do, work at it from the heart as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  Serve the Lord Christ.  25 For he who does a wrong will reap the wrong he did, and there is no respect of persons.
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5: Covetousness is the worship of mammon (Matt. 6, 4).

11: In the higher Christian life of grace, social and racial distinctions count for nothing.