The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Colossians 3

Col 3:1

RAISED WITH: Gr "sunegeiro": to be raised together with. Sw Col 2:12.

THINGS ABOVE: "The world is poor because her fortune is buried in the sky and all her treasure maps are on the earth."

An eagle had been captured when it was quite young. The farmer who snared the bird put a restraint on it so it couldn't fly, and then he turned it loose to roam in the barnyard. It wasn't long till the eagle began to act like the chickens, scratching and pecking at the ground. This bird that once soared high in the heavens seemed satisfied to live the barnyard life of the lowly hen.

One day the farmer was visited by a shepherd who came down from the mountains where the eagles lived. Seeing the eagle, the shepherd said to the farmer, "What a shame to keep that bird hobbled here in your barnyard! Why don't you let it go?" The farmer agreed, so they cut off the restraint. But the eagle continued to wander around, scratching and pecking as before. The shepherd picked it up and set it on a high stone wall. For the first time in months, the eagle saw the grand expanse of blue sky and the glowing sun. Then it spread its wings and with a leap soared off into a tremendous spiral flight, up and up and up. At last it was acting like an eagle again.

Perhaps we have let ourselves be comfortable in the barnyard of the world -- refusing to claim our lofty position as God's children. He wants use to live in a higher realm -- to "seek those things which are above." Like the eagle, it's not too late for us to soar to greater heights.

CHRIST IS SEATED: Suggesting finality, completeness of his work (Heb 10:12). By contrast, the angels (Col 2:18) STAND in God's presence (Luk 1:19).

Col 3:2

// Isa 55:8,9.

Col 3:3

YOU DIED: Died to sin, as the example of Paul on the Damascus Road.

YOUR LIFE IS NOW HIDDEN: The "bread of LIFE", hidden manna, kept in the Most Holy until the High Priest returns from offering sacrifice on the "Day of Atonement" (cp Heb 9:4,28; Exo 16:32,33).

Cp Isa 26:20,21: at the time of the Assyrian invasion, Yahweh encouraged His people to take refuge in Him. Speaking of the Babylonian invasion, the prophet Jeremiah encourages the people to trust in Yahweh (Jer 39:18). Likewise the prophet Zephaniah echoes the words of Jeremiah, his contemporary (Zep 2:3).

Col 3:4

Eternal life, not a present possession. Instead, to be bestowed at Christ's second coming: Phi 3:21; 1Jo 3:2.

Col 3:5

PUT TO DEATH: "Mortify" (AV). The logical consequence of v 3: "you died"... therefore, "put to death"! Cp Rom 6; Gal 2:20; 1Co 9:24-27.

AND GREED, WHICH IS IDOLATRY: This is an age dedicated to getting more and yet more money, in order to spend it on more and yet more selfishness: fine houses, fine foods, expensive trips, and the worship (yes, it is "idolatry" -- Col 3:5!) of car and garden and, last but not least, our own adorned, deodorized, tanned, and groomed selves! It is an age when millions succumb to the enticements of health spas and country clubs, to exercise, and diet, and build the new and improved "You". It is as though we can, and should, "recreate" ourselves in a more pleasing image -- an object suitable to be "idolized"! One cannot help but draw the analogy to Isaiah's ironic description of the idolater -- who seeks out a tree trunk and cuts and shapes and polishes it into an extraordinary beauty, finally to fall down and worship it: "Deliver me, for thou art my god" (Isa 44:14-17).

Col 3:8

// Eph 4:24.

"Profanity disgraces the user and demeans the hearer" (French proverb).

Col 3:9

TAKEN OFF: "Old self", or "old man", is put off at baptism: Rom 6:6. See Article, "Old man" and "new man".

Col 3:10

PUT ON: "New self", or "new man", is the new life of the believer patterned after Christ: Rom 6:5-11; 2Co 5:17. "New man" = "new mind": Eph 4:23,24. Not a new nature: cp Psa 51:10; 2Co 4:16; Rom 7:22; 1Pe 1:14-16.

Col 3:12

KINDNESS: "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted" (Aesop). "I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for any fellow being, let me do it now... as I shall not pass this way again" (William Penn). "Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men's souls, and a beautiful image it is" (Blaise Pascal).

GENTLENESS: See Lesson, Gentleness.

Col 3:13

FORGIVE AS THE LORD FORGAVE YOU: Christ's forgiveness of us, alone, makes the new life possible.

"The best memory is that which forgets nothing but injuries. Write kindness in marble and write injuries in the dust" (Persian Proverb. "To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee" (WHO Walton).

Col 3:14

LOVE, WHICH BINDS THEM ALL TOGETHER: Love is the "outer" garment, which holds the other, "inner" garments (ie v 12) in their places. Or, alternatively, "above all, LOVE (ie, the 'agape-feast'), which binds us together" (Woos 666).

Col 3:15

Peace: made (Col 1:20), preached (Eph 2:17), enjoyed (Rom 5:1), filling hearts (Rom 15:13), given (John 14:27), keeping (Phi 4:7), and ruling (Col 3:15).

Col 3:16

"God respects you when you work, but He loves you when you sing!"

Col 3:18

Col 3:18--Col 4:1: 3 related sets: (a) wives and husbands; (b) children and parents; and (c) servants and masters. The same order in Eph 5:22--Eph 6:9.

Vv. 18,19: Marriage is the God-designed "fit" of things! Marriage needs to take into account the "manufacturer's specifications"!

Col 3:22

A young man working in a restaurant was admonished by his supervisor to be courteous and friendly to all guests as they arrived and left. "Why should I bother?" he asked. "I'm off to university, and I won't be here after two more months."

"Well," said the boss, "that's not exactly true! Actually, you won't be here after two more MINUTES! You can pick up your check now."

Col 3:23

DO IT WITH ALL YOUR HEART: "Enthusiasm finds the opportunities, and energy makes the most of them" (HS Huskiness). "Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm; it moves stones, it charms brutes. Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it" (E.G. Litton).

Col 3:24

IT IS THE LORD CHRIST YOU ARE SERVING: "Speaks then the apostle to those so-called 'right reverend fathers', the bishops, or 'the venerable the archdeacons'? No, indeed, Paul knew nothing of these mere inventions of man. Not even to pastors and teachers, or to the wealthy and esteemed among believers, was this word spoken, but to servants, ay, and to slaves. Among the toiling multitudes, the journeymen, the day labourers, the domestic servants, the drudges of the kitchen, the apostle found, as we find still, some of the Lord's chosen, and to them he says, 'Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.' This saying ennobles the weary routine of earthly employments, and sheds a halo around the most humble occupations. To wash feet may be servile, but to wash his feet is royal work. To unloose the shoe-latchet is poor employ, but to unloose the great Master's shoe is a princely privilege. The shop, the barn, the scullery, and the smithy become temples when men and women do all to the glory of God! Then 'divine service' is not a thing of a few hours and a few places, but all life becomes holiness unto the Lord, and every place and thing, as consecrated as the tabernacle and its golden candlestick" (CHS).

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