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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Colossians 3

 

 

Verse 1-2

Colossians 3:1-2. If ye then be risen with Christ — From spiritual death to spiritual life, as spoken of Colossians 2:12-13. See also notes on Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:6. If ye be not only engaged to become new creatures, but really are such: or, which seems to be also implied, If Christ’s resurrection draw after it, and ensure, the resurrection of all men, and especially of all his true disciples, and if, therefore, you be begotten again to a lively hope of rising with him, even as to your bodies, to glory and immortality; seek the things which are above — Which relate to heaven and eternal felicity; as Christ, being raised, went immediately to heaven; where he sitteth at the right hand of God — As your forerunner, having taken possession of the incorruptible inheritance for you. Seek — That is, desire and pursue them in the way which God hath appointed; namely, 1st, By the exercise of that faith which is the evidence of things not seen, (Hebrews 11:1,) having a deep conviction and lively sense of their reality and importance. For a mere idea or opinion of them, however correct, will not suffice. Who would set sail in search of new islands or continents, and encounter the storms and perils of the ocean, with his life, and property, and all embarked, if he did not believe the real existence of the objects of his search? It is necessary to be persuaded also of the excellence and attainableness of these things. 2d, By an anticipating and joyful hope of them, grounded on your being children of God, and heirs of these heavenly joys and glories. 3d, By shunning whatever you know would grieve the Spirit of God, and so prevent your attaining the objects of your pursuit, and by conscientiously using all those means which are calculated to promote and ensure your attainment of them. And especially, 4th, Set your affection on these things; for without this you will seek them in vain. Greek, φρονειτε, discern, mind, regard, esteem, covet, delight in, things above — Things spiritual and eternal. And not on things on the earth — Things visible and temporal, things relating to this present, short, and uncertain life; things unsatisfying and transitory, which pass from you, and you from them. For remember, you cannot set your affection on things above and on things beneath also; cannot go two ways at once, nor be at the same time spiritually and carnally minded: if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15.


Verse 3-4

Colossians 3:3-4. For ye are dead — As to sin, so to the world and all earthly things, and that both by profession as Christians, and by an indispensable obligation laid upon you by Him whose laws you have engaged to observe. Yea, and you have solemnly promised and covenanted with him, at least at your baptism, to renounce the pomps and vanities of this evil world, to conduct yourselves as strangers and pilgrims on earth, and to seek a better country, even a heavenly. You are also dead in another sense; your body is dead because of sin; (Romans 8:10;) is sentenced to die, and till that event take place, your life here on earth is hardly worthy of the name of life, compared with the life you expect. It is rather death than life, because of the imperfection, shortness, and uncertainty of it. But there is provided for you a life worthy of your whole affection, of your highest esteem, most fervent desire, most lively expectation, and most cordial delight: — a life solid, satisfying, constant, eternal! This is properly your life, procured by Christ for you, in his gospel promised to you, and in consequence of his resurrection and ascension, received and taken possession of on your account. This life at present is hid — That Isaiah , 1 st, Concealed from you behind the veil of flesh and the visible heavens. Your senses can give you no information concerning it; just as the senses of the unborn child cannot discover to it the life it shall enter upon after its birth. 2d, It is laid up; reserved, kept secured, with Christ — Where he, your living Head, is, and where his members shall be. 3d, It is laid up in God, in the heart and centre, so to speak of Deity, and the infinite perfections of God, especially his wisdom, power, love, faithfulness, mercy, nay, and justice, stand engaged to confer it upon persevering believers, and upon you, if you are and continue to be such. When Christ — The abruptness of this sentence surrounds us with sudden light; who is our life — The procurer and giver of our spiritual and eternal life, yea, the fountain of our holiness and happiness in time and in eternity; shall appear — In the clouds of heaven; (which he soon shall, for behold, he says, I come quickly;) then shall ye also appear with him — He will not only come and take you hence by death, when your spirits shall be instantly with him, John 14:3; 2 Corinthians 5:6-7; Philippians 1:21; but he will appear unto your final salvation, Hebrews 9:28; Titus 2:13; Revelation 1:7; and then especially ye shall appear with him in glory — Bearing his glorious image in soul and body, 1 Corinthians 15:49; yea, you shall be completely like him, for you shall see him as he is, Revelation 22:4; 1 John 3:2.


Verses 5-7

Colossians 3:5-7. Mortify therefore — Put to death, slay with a continued stroke; your members — The members of the old man, which together make up the body of sin; inclinations and dispositions which spread themselves through all the members of the body, and draw even them into a compliance with themselves; which are upon the earth — Where they find their nourishment, or which are earthly, inclining to earthly things, and wholly engaged about them. Uncleanness — In act, word, or thought; inordinate affection — Every passion which does not flow from, and lead to, the love of God; evil concupiscence — Or desire, namely, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life. Covetousness — The desire of having more, as the word signifies, or of any thing independent of God; which is idolatry — Properly and directly, for it is giving the heart to a creature, putting that trust in a creature which ought to be placed in the Creator, and seeking that happiness in a creature which can only be found in God, and ought therefore only to be sought in him. For which things’ sake — Though the carnal and sensual regard them lightly; the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience — Even on the heathen themselves, who bid the most open defiance even to the first principles of all true religion. The apostle speaks in this severe manner against the vices mentioned, because they were commonly practised by the heathen, and had been practised by the Colossians. In the which ye also walked — Had your conversation, partaking with your neighbours in all their enormities; when ye lived in, or among, them — Kept company with the children of disobedience. By their walking in these things, the apostle seems to have meant their committing the vices, mentioned Colossians 3:5, habitually, and with pleasure. For Colosse being a city of Phrygia, where the rites of Bacchus and those of Cybele, consisting of all sorts of lewdness in speech and action, were practised with a frantic kind of madness, the Colossians, no doubt, had been much addicted to these gross impurities in their heathen state.


Verses 8-11

Colossians 3:8-11. But now ye also — Being converted to the pure, peaceable, and devout religion of the Lord Jesus; put off — Mortify; all these corrupt passions and lusts; anger, &c. — See on Ephesians 4:31; blasphemy — Or evil speaking, as the word may be properly rendered; for it includes not only impious speeches with regard to God, which is the highest degree of malignant language, but all railing and reproachful speeches against our fellow-creatures, and even speaking of the faults of absent persons, when not necessary for the caution of others, or when no good end is likely to be answered thereby. Filthy communication — The word αισχρολογια, so rendered, seems to signify the same with λογος σαπρος, rotten discourse, mentioned Ephesians 4:29, where see the note. And was there need to warn even believers in Christ against such gross and palpable sins as are here named? O what is man, till fully renewed in the spirit of his mind! Lie not one to another — Either in trade and business, or common conversation; seeing ye have put off the old man — That which (Colossians 2:11) is called the body of the sins of the flesh, and is there said to be put off by the circumcision of Christ, by Christ’s circumcising men’s hearts, or making them new creatures. The apostle means that when they professed to believe in Christ, and to offer themselves to baptism, that they might be members of the Christian Church, they had professed to put off the old man with his deeds; that is, the evil practices belonging thereto. And have put on the new man — Have professed to receive a new nature, and to manifest it by new dispositions and a new behaviour; which is renewed in, or by the means of, knowledge — Namely, spiritual and divine knowledge, the knowledge of God and Christ, and of the divine word and will; after the image of him that created him — Even of God, who is the great standard of all moral perfection, and who, in the first creation, made man after his own image. See on Ephesians 4:22-24. Where — In which case it matters not what a man is externally, whether Jew or Gentile Circumcised or uncircumcised; barbarian — Void of all the advantages of education, yea, or Scythian — Of all barbarians most barbarous; bond — A slave, subjected to the will of his master, or freeman — Who has his actions in his own power: but Christ is in all — Who are thus renewed, and is all things to them, connected with their salvation, the source of all their wisdom and grace, holiness and happiness; he is instead of all they want, and better than all the things which they possess besides him.


Verse 12-13

Colossians 3:12-13. Put on therefore — In a higher degree than before; as the elect, or chosen, of God — The appellation given in the New Testament to all the true disciples of Christ, to all that so believe in him as to be pardoned and renewed; see on Ephesians 1:4 : holy — Dedicated and conformed to him; and beloved — By him, or set apart to his service, and blessed with the tokens of his peculiar favour. Bowels of mercies οικτιρμων, of tender mercies, namely, toward all the afflicted, destitute, and distressed, especially those of the household of faith; kindness — Benevolence toward one another and all men, or sweetness of disposition, as χρηστοτης properly signifies; humbleness of mind — In your behaviour toward others, engaging you to condescend even to those that are in the lowest stations of life; meekness — Under whatever injuries or provocations you may receive, always restraining you from returning evil for evil, railing for railing, and from resenting any injury that may be done to you; long-suffering — Amidst the failings, weaknesses, and faults of your fellow-Christians; or when your trials, whether immediately from the hand of God or man, are either continued long, or are violent in their degree; forbearing — Or patiently bearing with one another, if any thing is now wrong; and forgiving one another — What is past; if any man have a quarrel ΄ομφην, complaint; against any: even as Christ forgave you, &c. — And thereby set you an example, that you might be always disposed to forgive the faults of your offending fellow-Christians or fellow- creatures. See on Ephesians 4:32.


Verses 14-17

Colossians 3:14-17. And above all these things — As including them all, and indeed being the source from whence they flow; put on charity την αγαπην, love, namely, to God, his people, and all mankind; which is the bond of perfectness — Which both contains the whole of Christian perfection, and connects all the parts of it together. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts — Influence and govern all your intentions, affections, and dispositions, nay, and even your thoughts. Or, it then shall rule in your hearts, and that as the reward (so the Greek word implies) of your preceding love and obedience. “Let it fill your hearts,” says Pasor, “with such a joy as victors have when they receive ( το βραβειον) the prize in the Olympic games.” Or rather, “let it preside in your hearts, as the master of the games does in those solemnities.” So Beza and Doddridge. To which — To the enjoyment of which inestimable blessing; ye are called — By the gospel; in one body — Not otherwise; that is, in a state of real, vital union with Christ your living Head, and one another. And be ye thankful — For the high honour and great happiness conferred upon you. Let the word of Christ — The gospel which you have received, and, as far as possible, the Holy Scriptures in general; dwell in you — In your minds and hearts, in your memories and affections, being made the matter of your daily meditation: nor let it make a short stay, or an occasional visit, but take up its stated residence in you; richly — In the largest measure, and in the greatest efficacy, so as to enlighten, quicken, and renew; to strengthen and comfort you, yea, so as to fill and govern all your powers; in all wisdom — Use your best endeavours thoroughly to understand it, and wisely to improve it to the best purposes. Teaching one another — Its important truths; and admonishing one another — Concerning its necessary duties; see on chap. Colossians 1:28; in psalms and hymns, &c. — A very engaging and pleasing way of teaching and admonishing one another, and a way the least, perhaps, liable of all others to give offence; singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord — In an humble, pious, and devout spirit, with a view to please the Lord, and expecting to receive grace from him. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed — With respect to all your discourses and actions; do all in the name of the Lord Jesus — In obedience to his will, and in imitation of his example, as your rule; from a principle of love to him as your motive; with an eye to his glory as your end; relying on the influence of his Spirit as your strength; and in dependance on his merits for acceptance; giving thanks — In your hearts, with your lips, and by your lives; to God, even the Father — That he gives you inclination and power thus to speak and act, and for all the great blessings of grace which you already enjoy, and for the greater blessings of glory which you expect hereafter to receive and possess for ever.


Verses 18-25

Colossians 3:18-25. Wives, submit yourselves — Or be subject; to your own husbands — Whether they be Christians or heathen. See on Ephesians 5:22. As it is fit — Both in regard of God’s command, and the evil that would arise from the neglect of this duty; in the Lord — In obedience to the Lord, and in all lawful things. Husbands, love your wives — As yourselves, and as Christ loved the church: see Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:28. And be not bitter — Harsh and rigorous, either in spirit, word, or deed; against them(Which may be the case without any manifest appearance of anger,)

but kind and obliging. Children, obey your parents — See on Ephesians 6:1; in all things — Namely, lawful; for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord — The Lord Christ, who, when he dwelt in flesh, was a constant example of filial piety, not only to his real mother, but to him who was only his supposed father, Luke 2:51. Fathers, provoke not your children — Deal not harshly or severely with them, so as to alienate their affections from you; lest they be discouraged — From attempting to please you, when it shall seem to be an impossible task. See on Ephesians 6:4. Rigorous treatment may also occasion their becoming stupid. Servants, obey in all things — That are lawful, 1 Peter 2:18; your masters according to the flesh — See on Ephesians 6:5 : Obey even their rigorous commands; not with eye-service — Being more attentive to their orders, and diligent, when under their eye, than at other times; as men- pleasers — As persons who are solicitous only to please men; but in singleness of heart — With a simple intention of pleasing God by doing right, without looking any further; fearing God — That is, acting from this principle. And whatsoever ye do — Whatever ye are employed in; do it heartily — Cheerfully, diligently; as to the Lord — Whose eye, you know, is upon you. Men-pleasers are soon dejected and made angry; the single- hearted are never displeased or disappointed, because they have another aim, which the good or evil treatment of those they serve cannot disappoint. Knowing that of the Lord (see on Ephesians 6:8) ye shall receive the reward, &c. — Be rewarded with the inheritance of eternal life. For ye serve the Lord Christ — Namely, in serving your masters according to his command. But he that doeth wrong — Whether master or servant; shall receive for the wrong, &c. — A just punishment. The greatness of the temptations to which rich men are exposed, by their opulence and high station, will be no excuse for their tyranny and oppression; and, on the other hand, the temptations which the insolence and severity of a tyrannical master hath laid in the way of his servant, will be no excuse for his idleness and unfaithfulness; and there is no respect of persons — With him: that is, in passing sentence, and distributing rewards and punishments, God does not consider men according to their outward condition, nation, descent, wealth, temporal dignity, &c, but only according to their spirit and conduct. “Though the word δουλος, here and elsewhere used by St. Paul, properly signifies a slave, our English translators, in all places, when the duties of slaves are inculcated, have justly translated it servant; because, anciently, the Greeks and Romans had scarce any servants but slaves, and because the duties of the hired servant, during the time of his service, are the same with those of the slave. So that what the apostle said to the slave, was in effect said to the hired servant. Upon these principles, in translations of the Scriptures designed for countries where slavery is abolished, and servants are free men, the word δουλος may with truth be translated a servant. In this, and the parallel passage, (Ephesians 6:5,) the apostle is very particular in his precepts to slaves and lords, because in all the countries where slavery was established, many of the slaves were exceedingly addicted to fraud, lying, and stealing; and many of the masters were tyrannical and cruel to their slaves.” — Macknight.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Colossians 3:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/colossians-3.html. 1857.

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