This section is the turning point in the epistle.
The first two chapters are doctrinal. The last two are practical, applying the truth.
v. 1 “Since ye have been risen with Christ.”
After a lengthy digression in verse 13-23 of chapter 2, the apostle resumes the truth he had been teaching in v. 12. “We are risen in Him.”
The believer is risen with Christ, glorious truth.
Resurrection power is at our disposal; we are not of the earth, we are of heaven.
As such we should “seek those things which are above.”
Set our minds on the things which are above. A.S.V.
This means the whole personality, our whole being and life should be geared to heavenly things.
“Where Christ sits at the right hand of God.”
v. 2 Reminds us that we should be a heavenly people.
Our affections, our mind, our thoughts, should be on things above.
We should seek the eternal, not the temporal.
As spiritual believers we should set our affections and concentrate our faculties on things above.
v. 3 “For ye are dead”
As far as the world is concerned we are dead.
Romans 6:2 Shall we continue in sin? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer in it?
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ, etc. See also Galatians 6:14.
The believer is dead to the flesh, the world, i.e. the sin nature.
“Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
The believer’s life is now concealed and secured with Christ in God.
Our life in Christ is hidden in the sense that it is incapable of being touched or hurt by any evil power.
We have perfect security in this union with Christ.
v. 4 “When Christ our life shall appear, then ye shall also appear with Him in glory.”
Note first of all that Christ is our life.
Christ is all in all to believers.
We live by Him—the means. We live in Him—the union. We live to Him—the incentive. We live with Him—the fellowship.
When Christ shall appear brings to mind the two aspects of the Lord’s coming.
The Rapture for His Saints. The Appearance with His Saints.
Most believers love to contemplate the rapture. Describe.
Very often we consider this to be the end of the race.
We think of it as the time of resurrection and change, when those who have died in Jesus will be raised, when those alive will be changed, when this body of humiliation will be changed into a body of glory like Christ’s.
We rejoice that mortality will put on immortality, the corruptible body will put on incorruption, and we shall be transferred with the image of Christ.
This will be the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise in John 14.
We will be received into the Father’s house.
All of this beloved, blessed though it may be, it is but the introduction to the glories yet to be revealed in the Millennium and Everlasting Kingdoms.
When our Lord Jesus appears, then shall we also appear with Him.
v. 5 At this point we reach the practical teaching of the epistle.
This particular section extends from v. 5 to v. 17, and can be broken into two parts.
v. 5 – 11 The truths expressed here relate to ourselves and should be our personal judgment of our old ways.
v. 12 – 17 The truths expressed here depict our relationship to others, in particular to our fellow believers.
In Chapter 2 we have learned of our identification with Christ in His death.
v. 5 “Therefore” we are to put to death our lower nature.
We must deal unsparingly with the sins that are common in the world today.
We must learn to abhor all uncleanness.
Paul lists five sins in this verse that are to be avoided like a plague.
We should be dead to the following sins: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed which is a form of idolatry.
These sins had been practiced by the Colossians before conversion.
Now they were to be dead to them.
v. 6 These same sins brought down the wrath of God on the antediluvian world. They also caused God to rain fire upon the cities of the plain. For a believer to practice these sins today would certainly bring down the chastisement of God.
v. 7 Many of the Colossians had lived in these sins before they knew Christ, not knowing the heinousness of them. Now that they knew how dishonoring to God they were, they should be put to death.
v. 8 Then there are other sins which are less vile and abominable that are to be put off.
These are classified as the sins of the old man.
They are described as following: anger, passionate outbursts, ill-will, evil speaking, foul-mouthed abuse, anger, wrath, malice, slander, filthy communication.
v. 9 Lie not to one another—this was a common sin in those days.
The believer must put off the old man and his deeds.
v. 10 – 11 In the next two verses we are reminded that we have cast off the old man and have put on the new. The new man is the man in Christ; the old man is the man in Adam.
The new man alone is capable of receiving instructions from God.
“Who is being renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him who created Him.”
As we receive divine truth, through the Spirit and apply it to our life, we come into a deep personal knowledge of Christ.
We also become more like the Lord through the Spirit’s sanctifying work.
This spiritual condition brings us into the sphere where there is no natural distinctions.
All barriers are destroyed in Christ.
The cultured Greek, the religious Jew, the barbarian, the Scythian (wild people outside the pale of normal civilization), whether slaves or free citizens, there is no distinction in Christ.
Christ is all and in all. Christ is all that matters; Christ is in them all.
Now we come to the second section of our passage.
Practical holiness by conformity to Christ in relation to others v. 12 – 17
We are now going to look at the believer’s new clothes.
Put on therefore as “the elect of God”—wonderful thought, chosen by God, foreknown from eternity past and made manifest in time.
“Holy and beloved”—set apart by God and dearly loved by Him.
These described should put on “compassion” – tender sympathy.
“Kindness” – showing the kindness of God to others.
These two garments are the inner garments.
The next one is a covering for the head, “Humbleness of mind.”
The natural inclination is to be proud.
The Lord was clothed with humility – a lovely attitude toward God.
“Meekness” – gentleness, “Longsuffering” – patience, the readiness to endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
The Lord is our perfect example here – A lowly attitude toward men.
v. 13 “Forbearing one another,” we must put up with one another.
We must also forgive one another, just as the Lord has freely forgiven us.
v. 14 Above all these spiritual attitudes, put on love.
Love is the girdle that binds all these new garments together.
Love never fails; but the greatest of these is love.
Love is the bond of perfectness, it binds the whole together in perfect unity.
v. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts.
Let this peace rule or umpire in your heart.
The thought here is that we should abide in constant communion with the Lord, so that our heart may be kept in peace, despite our circumstances.
v. 16 “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
There are three admonitions in this verse.
These are seen if we put the punctuation after richly, after another, and after Lord.
We are urged to “let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly.”
This is the only time the Word of Christ is used in the New Testament.
The Word of Christ, the teaching of Christ given on earth and applied by the Holy Spirit is to dwell in full measure in our hearts.
Thus equipped and controlled by the Word of Christ we will be able to bless others also.
“In all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another.”
This should be the believer’s goal, teaching and helping one another.
We should share Christ with others.
Then, thirdly, as we are controlled by the Word of Christ, and as we share Christ with others, our heart will break into singing.
Expressed in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Psalms – songs from the book of Psalms.
Hymns – other songs of praise.
Spiritual songs – in contrast to secular songs.
“Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
This would imply thankfulness, gratitude, praise.
Holiness and happiness go together.
Nehemiah: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Judah won a great victory when Jehoshaphat put the singers in the forefront of the army.
When a believer loses his praise, there is something spiritually wrong with him.
v. 17 In this verse the life of the believer is summed up. It is in subjection to God.
Whatever the believer does, whatever he says, he must do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, through whom he gives thanks unto God His Father.
In these verses, the Holy Spirit, who is not mentioned in the epistle, except incidentally in chapter 1:8, gives instructions regarding the earthly relationships of the new man.
This is a very important subject.
Both Paul in Ephesians and Peter in his first epistle mention the subject in greater detail.
There is no relationship in which believers filled with Spirit and Word can more blessedly manifest the divine union between Christ and the church than in the marriage bond.
Some marriages at best are difficult.
They are not what they were expected to be.
That sweet, loving, kind, submissive young lady develops into a self-assertive, uncooperative, merciless critic.
Though she professes her love for her husband, it is evident that she has lost respect for him.
Then there is that kindly, considerate, sacrificing, reasonable gentleman who becomes unreasonable, domineering, and selfish, and who develops other interests.
Circumstances arise in conditions like these that are hard for the flesh to take.
Will that marriage ever be the same again?
Can sanctity and compatibility be restored?
Can such a marriage be saved?
At this time Paul gives directives which should be accepted by every believer, thus ensuring a happy marriage and a blessed union.
v. 18 “Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands.”
Be in subjection to your own husband.
Submission or subordination does not mean inferiority. It means that the husband, not the wife, is the head of the home.
Where the husband and wife have put off the old man and put on the new man there is unanimity, and happiness unparalleled in the world.
May I remind you at this time that marriage is divinely ordained and “is not to be entered into lightly.”
Remember also according to the Word of God, it is not easily terminated.
“For better of for worse, until death do us part.”
There are only two things that can scripturally dissolve the marriage bond.
The first is death, 1 Corinthians 7; Romans 7. The second is adultery.
1 Corinthians 7 suggests that there may arise circumstances of unbearable cruelty and abominable conduct which can go beyond the limits of human endurance.
The wife or husband may choose to separate.
“As if in the Lord.”
In her submission to her husband, the wife should act as Christ acted while here on earth, submissive to His Father.
Was Christ a slave or inferior in any way to the other members of the Godhead. No!
Neither is the godly wife who is in submission to her husband.
v. 19 “Husbands love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
This is where many husbands fail. They expect submission from their wives but give no Christ-like love in return.
To be the head of a household is a sacred responsibility given by God.
In exercising his authority the husband should have in mind the blessing, tranquility, and harmony of his home in the love of Christ.
“Be not bitter against them.”
The husband must love his wife and show her the care and consideration as unto the weaker vessel.
Sometimes this is a task that requires the help of all the garments provided for the new man.
Husbands love your wives and be not bitter against them.
Never treat them harshly “or with resentment.”
v. 20 Now we come to some instruction for children.
Note first of all how Paul deals first with the weaker and then the stronger.
He deals with the one in submission, then the one in authority.
First we have wives and then the husbands.
Then children and fathers.
Then servants and masters.
“Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord.”
In a child’s life, parents should be unto them what God is in relation to the parent.
Children who do not obey their parents when they are young will not obey God when they are older.
The natural heart is rebellious against authority.
Believers’ children should be examples of godly submission to their parents.
Submitting to and obeying one’s parents is well-pleasing to God.
It is the best way that any child or young person can show their love for the Lord.
v. 21 “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, lest they be discouraged.”
Lest they become sullen or morose, grow up with a feeling of inferiority.
Do not harass your children, do not irritate them by over-correction.
Parental rule and authority should never cause a child to be filled with indignation and contempt.
Parental discipline should draw the tender heart in love and obedience.
Despite our manhood, we must never forget the feelings of our child.
With this in mind, our discipline should be in love, and should stir tender affection and not resentment.
The Christian father should act toward his child in the same way that his Father, God, acts toward him.
v. 22-25 “Servants, obey your master in all things.”
When Paul addresses the servants, he goes into great detail.
In those days servants were slaves, not freemen who worked for wages.
They had no protection from cruel masters and did not have the privilege of changing masters at will.
v. 22 Note the exhortation, “Servants obey . . . in all things.”
This may have been hard and difficult, but the command was “to obey in all things.”
Not only to obey when they were being watched, as most men do, but to serve them at all times with ungrudging service.
v. 23 Their secular service was to be done heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men.
This must have been encouraging to the slaves who faithfully toiled day after day with no recognition from their masters.
v. 24 They were encouraged by Paul to continue in their faithfulness to their master.
Eventually the Lord would reward them accordingly by giving them an eternal inheritance.
He reminds them again, “Ye serve the Lord Christ.”
v. 25 The faithful servant is urged to keep on giving diligent service because the unfaithful servant will be paid back in due course.
The judgment seat of Christ.
God will show no partiality. He is not a respecter of persons.
“Masters give unto your servants that which is just and equal.” Right and fair.
In every instance Paul speaks to the new man in Christ, he is not speaking to the unbeliever.
The believing master is to treat his servants in the same way as the Lord would treat them.
He has to be fair and just, knowing that he has a Master in heaven to whom he will give account.
What marvelous principles these were and are for the days in which we live.