Colossians 3

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

Colossians 3

white house under maple trees

More thoughts about Colossians 3:1-4

In these verses, Paul writes what one writer calls a “hinge” between the primarily doctrinal content in chapters 1-2 and the main practical living teaching in chapters 3-4. In 3:1-4 Paul states:

1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. What does this mean for us and the future? The Scriptures are abundantly clear. Consider some of the passages which deal with the impact of Jesus being at the right hand of the Father.

This Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, is “the Son of God” (Luke 22:69–70). Only He could qualify to sit in the seat of power over the universe.

This Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, is our High Priest. He offered “one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Heb. 10:12). He died for you and me that we might have eternal life. He will protect The investment of His life in us!

This Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, is the “author and perfecter” of faith (Heb. 12:2). The lifted up Christ draws us to Him, and He leads us in our faith to perfection.

This Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, “intercedes” (Rom. 8:34) for us. Pause a moment and think about it! The Lord of all the universe prays for us.

This Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, worked with His disciples and confirmed the Word with signs following (Mark 16:19–20). Today, He is with us as we do His work. He is right beside us as we witness.

This Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, conquered His enemies through His death and resurrection. The enemies of Christ will be made a footstool for His feet (Heb. 10:13).

This Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, will return. We will see Him “coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64).

Paul’s message to the Colossians is “loud and clear.” Christ Jesus is supreme. He alone is the Savior of the world. They should avoid false teaching and stay true to Christ. They must set their minds on things above. They are in Christ and fully under His command. This message is for believers now and all others in the future.

In my next post, I will begin commenting on the practical exhortations that Paul wrote to the Colossians. The “theology” that God revealed to Paul has practical implications for how we live.

More Thoughts about Colossians 3:5-11

Up to now in his letter, Paul has written primarily about his theology of the supremacy of Christ. Now, he will focus on the impact of that theology on practical Christian living. He begins his comments with the word “Therefore.” Therefore, because Christ is supreme, our lifestyle will undergo change.

First, Paul exhorts the Colossians to “consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry (verse 5). At one time, they walked and lived in this way, using their bodies to express their evil intentions and sinful nature. Now, they should consider, or reckon, that their bodies are dead to this kind of living. Because of this type of living, Paul says, the wrath of God will come.

At this point, Paul continues his list of sins to be avoided. He states: “8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another.” Such practices are expressions of our sinful nature. Many believers are vulnerable on some of these points.

Second, Paul tells the Colossians that they should not do such things, “9 since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 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.” The Colossians have positionally put off the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self. Using a present participle, Paul says that now they are being renewed. As people are renewed, they will have true knowledge and will be shaped in the image of God.

Third, this renewal is for all believing people. It is, Paul says, “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” (verse 11). All may repent and turn to God. We as believers are all a part of one body, the body of Christ. Given that, we know how to act.

More Thoughts about Colossians 3:12-17

In this passage, Paul tells the Colossians that they as believers have put off the old self and put on the new self. He stresses that they are continually being renewed. In 3:5-11 he emphasizes the characteristics that they have put off. Now, in verses 12-17, he writes about the new self that they have put on. Today, we will consider verses 12-14, and tomorrow I will take up verses 15-17.

Paul states: “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; 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. 14 And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (3:12-14).

The believers have been chosen by God. They are holy and beloved and have put on the characteristics that reflect the image of Christ. Beyond all the qualities that Paul lists, he says that they have put on love. Through love, they are united with a perfect bond. When people love others, the qualities that Paul names are readily expressed.

Paul gives us an outstanding list of the characteristics of the new self. In Galatians 5:22-23, four of these qualities are listed as fruit of the Spirit. The four are kindness, gentleness, patience, and love. All of the qualities of the new self are a fruit of the Spirit. Without the work of the Spirit in our lives, we would not manifest the new self. With His Spirit, we can progress toward the ideals outlined in this passage.

Tomorrow, I will post some thoughts on 3:15-17. In these verses, Paul comments on teaching and worship. Worship is an important part of our lives when we have put on a new self. Teaching, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are all a part of their experience.

More Thoughts about Colossians 3:15-17

When people believe in Christ and put on the new self, they are to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts. They are a part of the body of Christ and should be thankful for that. Whatever they do in word or indeed, they are to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Next, Paul writes about teaching and worship. He says, 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” (verse 16).

First, this statement has been interpreted in two ways. One interpretation is that the saints are to teach and admonish one another using singing with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The singing was not only a vehicle of praise but also a way to teach. The other interpretation is that Paul speaks about two separate activities, which are teaching and singing. The first approach is more common. It accords better with Ephesians 5:19.

Second, according to one view, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are distinct modes of singing. Others minimize the differences. The term “spiritual songs” could apply to all the modes of singing or just to its category. It appears to me that the adjective “spiritual” primarily modifies “songs,” but the noun “songs” is a broad term and could include psalms and hymns.

Third, the term “spiritual songs” can apply, also, to spontaneous and unpremeditated songs inspired by the Spirit (compare Ephesians 5:18). In 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, Paul uses “with the Spirit” to refer to singing in tongues. All of these modes of singing are ways to praise and worship God. Moreover, worship is another way to teach and admonish the saints.

More Thoughts about Colossians 3:18-4:1

At this point in his letter, Paul inserts some specific comments concerning household relationships. Those relationships included wives and husbands, children and parents, and slaves and masters. Paul writes a longer parallel passage in Ephesians 5:22-6:9. I will make several observations.

First, the supremacy of Christ affects all aspects of life. For example, in the parallel passage in Ephesians 5:23 Paul says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church.” In addition, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Christ’s love for the church is a model for how husbands should love their wives.

Second, Paul has words for both parties in every relationship, husband and wife, children and parents, slaves and masters. For example, children are to be obedient to their parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord (verse 21). Once again, all is to be done to please the Lord. Children can do this by honoring their fathers and mothers (Ephesians 6:1-2).

The obedience of children is important, but this does not mean that parents can be unloving tyrants. Paul says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). When parents and children are properly related to the Lord, they will have a loving relationship with their children.

Third, we may apply Paul’s teaching to the family of God as well as to our immediate families. We are sons of God and members of His family. When we put our faith in Jesus, we enter into this relationship. From that point on, we should love and respect the other members of the family.

NAS Colossians 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they may not lose heart. 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. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

4:1 Masters, grant to your slave’s justice and fairness knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. (Col. 3:18 NAS)

NAS Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great, but I am speaking in reference to Christ and the church.

George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

What's Next

We would love to answer any question you have or help suggest next steps on your journey.